Fiction Affliction is a monthly column written by Royal Street author Suzanne Johnson that examines upcoming releases by genre or sub-genre. Check back every day this week for coverage of January releases in science fiction, urban fantasy, and epic fantasy. Today’s column examines new releases in YOUNG ADULT PARANORMAL.
The Symptoms: Dystopian society has reached the teen set, as environmental disasters, water shortages, and authoritarian governments rely on an army of sixteen-year-olds to save good old Planet Earth.
The Diagnosis: Twenty-one new YA paranormals sink into chaos in January, including six dystopian tales, three supernatural serial killers, lots of heretofore-unknown emerging powers, a sex slave, and a stray ex-girlfriend who’s a real nightmare—literally.
The Cure: Purchase one of those lights that emulate sunlight, because the future’s bleak if you’re a teenager. The outlook on romance isn’t too good, either.
The Water Wars, by Cameron Stracher (Jan. 1, Sourcebooks Fire)
Welcome to a future where water is more precious than gold or oil—and worth killing for. Vera and her brother Will live in the shadow of the Great Panic, in a country that has collapsed from environmental catastrophe. Water is hoarded by governments, rivers are dammed, and clouds are sucked from the sky. But then Vera befriends Kai, who seems to have limitless access to fresh water. When Kai suddenly disappears, Vera and Will set off on a dangerous journey in search of him, pursued by pirates, a paramilitary group, and greedy corporations.
My Soul to Steal, by Rachel Vincent (Jan. 1, Harlequin)
Trying to work things out with Nash—her maybe boyfriend—is hard enough for Kaylee Cavanaugh. But complicated doesn’t begin to describe their relationship when his ex-girlfriend transfers to their school, determined to take Nash back. See, Sabine isn’t just an ordinary girl. She’s a mara, the living personification of a nightmare. She can read people’s fears—and craft them into nightmares while her victims sleep. And Sabine isn’t above scaring Kaylee and the entire school to death to get whatever—and whoever—she wants.
Trickster’s Girl, by Hilari Bell (Jan. 3, Houghton Mifflin)
In the year 2098 America isn’t so different from the U.S.A. of today. But, in a post-9/11 security-obssessed world, “secured” doesn’t just refer to borders between countries, it also refer to borders between states. Teenagers still think they know everything, but there is no cure for cancer, as Kelsa knows firsthand from watching her father die. The night Kelsa buries her father, a boy appears. He claims magic is responsible for the health of Earth, but human damage disrupts its flow. The planet is dying. Kelsa has the power to reverse the damage, but first she must accept that magic exists and see beyond her own pain.
Shadowspell, by Jenna Black (Jan. 4, St. Martin’s Griffin)
On top of spending most of her time in a bunker-like safe house and having her dates hijacked by a formidable Fae bodyguard, Faeriewalker Dana Hathaway is in for some more bad news: the Erlking and his pack of murderous minions known as the Wild Hunt have descended upon Avalon. With his homicidal appetite and immortal powers, the sexy Erlking’s got his sights set on Dana, but does he only seek to kill her, or does he have something much darker in mind?
Unearthly, by Cynthia Hand (Jan. 4, HarperTeen)
Clara Gardner has recently learned that she’s part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn’t easy. Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there’s another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara’s less angelic side.
Night School, by Mari Mancusi (Jan. 4, Berkley)
After their parents’ shocking revelation about their fae heritage and an attack on their lives, the McDonald twins are forced to hide out deep in the Swiss Alps at Riverdale Academy, a secret vampire slayer training facility. And with no way to contact their vampire boyfriends for rescue, they’re going to have to play nice with the locals. But when Sunny starts acting strange, Rayne realizes that there’s more to fear at Riverdale than getting staked by the student body.
Slice of Cherry, by Dia Reeves (Jan. 4, Simon Pulse)
Kit and Fancy Cordelle are sisters of the best kind: best friends, best confidantes, and best accomplices. The daughters of the infamous Bonesaw Killer, Kit and Fancy are used to feeling like outsiders, and that’s just the way they like it. But in Portero, where the weird and wild run rampant, the Cordelle sisters are hardly the oddest or most dangerous creatures around.
Choker, by Elizabeth Woods (Jan. 4, Simon & Schuster)
Zoe and Cara were as close as friends could be—until Zoe moves away and Cara grows into an unhappy sixteen-year-old, tormented by the popular girls and nursing a hopeless crush. Then one day Cara returns home from a miserable day at school to find Zoe sitting on her bed. Shocked and delighted, Cara agrees to hide Zoe from troubles at home and the two resume their friendship. But when one of the popular girls winds up dead, Cara begins to suspect that Zoe is responsible, and she is forced to confront a deadly truth.
XVI, by Julia Karr (Jan. 6, Speak)
Nina Oberon’s life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, goes to school, plays with her little sister. But Nina is 15. And like all girls, she’ll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday: XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world—even the most predatory of men—that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a “sex-teen” is Nina’s worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina’s mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past—one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew.
The Nascenza Conspiracy, by V. Briceland (Jan. 8, Flux)
Petro Divetri—younger brother of famed sorceress Risa Divetri—just wants to be left alone. His status as one of the seven ruling families in Cassaforte has saddled him with unwanted attention from bullies as well as favor-seekers. So when Petro and his best friend Adrio are sent to Nascenza for the Midsummer High Rites, they swap identities. Their prank goes awry when Adrio, mistaken for Petro, is kidnapped by rebels determined to overthrow the king. With the help of Emilia, a palace guard who wants to prove her worth, Petro must rescue his friend and defeat a political plot that threatens to wipe out all of Cassaforte.
All Just Glass, by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (Jan. 11, Delacorte)
Sarah Vida has given up everything for love. From a legendary family of vampire-hunting witches, Sarah was raised to never trust a vampire, to never let her guard down, and to avoid all tricky attachments of the heart. But now Sarah is a vampire—changed by the boy she thought she loved. Her family has forsaken her, and Sarah herself is disgusted by her appetite for blood. Aida Vida is Sarah’s older sister, the good, reliable sibling who always does her family proud. But when Aida’s mother insists that Sarah be found and killed, Aida is given the one assignment she may not be able to carry out.
Warped, by Maurissa Guibord (Jan. 11, Delacorte)
Tessa doesn’t believe in magic, but there’s something weird about the dusty unicorn tapestry she discovers in a box of old books. She finds the creature woven within it compelling and frightening. When she accidentally pulls a thread from the tapestry, Tessa releases a terrible centuries-old secret. She also meets William de Chaucy, an irresistible 16th-century nobleman. Together, they must correct the wrongs of the past. But then the Fates step in, and now everyone she loves will be destroyed unless Tessa does their bidding and defeats a cruel ancient enemy.
Timeless, by Alexandra Monir (Jan. 11, Delacorte)
When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor’s world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to live with the aristocratic grandparents she’s never met. In their old Fifth Avenue mansion filled with family secrets, Michele discovers a diary that hurtles her back in time to 1910. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life—a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist.
Across the Universe, by Beth Revis (Jan. 11, Razorbill)
Amy is a cryogenically frozen passenger aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed. She expects to wake up on a new planet, 300 years in the future. But fifty years before Godspeed’s scheduled landing, Amy’s cryo chamber is unplugged, and she is nearly killed. Now, she is caught inside an enclosed world where nothing makes sense. Godspeed’s passengers have forfeited all control to Eldest, a tyrannical and frightening leader, and Elder, his rebellious and brilliant teenage heir. Amy desperately wants to trust Elder. But should she? All she knows is that she must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets before whoever woke her tries to kill again.
Subject Seven, by James A. Moore (Jan. 20, Razorbill)
Years ago, scientists began developing the ultimate military weapon: deadly sleeper assassins housed within the bodies of teenagers. Now, Subject Seven, the dangerous alter ego living inside a 16-year-old boy, has escaped the lab and is on a mission. His objective? To seek others like him and build an army capable of destroying their creators. Hunter, Cody, Gene, Tina and Kylie lead typical lives until they each receive a call from a mysterious stranger—and learn that their destinies are intertwined. Subject Seven holds the key that connects them all. And a vicious, bloody battle for their lives is just beginning.
Drought, by Pam Bachorz (Jan. 25, Egmont)
Ruby dreams of escaping the Congregation. Escape from slaver Darwin West and his cruel Overseers. Escape from struggling to gather the life-prolonging Water that keeps the Congregants alive—and Darwin rich. Escape from her certain, dreary existence, living as if it’s still the early 1800s, when the Congregation was first enslaved. Finally, when the Congregants discover Ruby’s forbidden romance with an Overseer, she steals their store of Water and is banished. Ruby has everything she’s dreamed of: a modern life with the Overseer Ford. But the modern world isn’t what she thought it would be, and Ruby can’t forsake the Congregation. Love and loyalty push Ruby to return and fight for her family’s freedom—at a terrible price.
The Dark Goddess, by Sarwat Chadda (Jan. 25, Hyperion)
A Devil’s Kiss Novel. Billi’s back, and it seems like the Unholy just can’t take a hint. Still reeling from the death of her best friend, Billi’s thrust into action when the Templars are called to investigate werewolf activity. And these werewolves are like nothing Billi has ever seen.
Throat, by R.A. Nelson (Jan. 25, Knopf)
Seventeen-year-old Emma feels cursed by her epilepsy—until the lost night. She’s shocked to wake up in the hospital one morning, weak from blood loss. When her memories begin to return, she pieces together that it was a man—a monster—who attacked her: a vampire named Wirtz. And it was her very condition that saved her: a grand mal seizure interrupted Wirtz and left Emma with all the amazing powers of a vampire—heightened senses, rapid speed—but no need to drink blood.
The False Princess, by Eilis O’Neal (Jan. 25, Egmont)
Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia’s led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when it’s revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection.Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the only life she’s known and live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins—long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control—she realizes she can never be a simple village girl.
Blessed, by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Jan. 25, Candlewick)
Cynthia Leitich Smith unites the casts of Tantalize and Eternal in a dark fantasy that finds Quincie P. Morris, teen restaurateuse and neophyte vampire, in the fight of her life—or undeath. Even as she adjusts to her new appetites, she must clear her best friend and true love, the hybrid werewolf Kieren, of murder charges; thwart the apocalyptic ambitions of Bradley Sanguini, the seductive vampire-chef who “blessed” her; and keep her dead parents’ restaurant up and running.
Urban fantasy author Suzanne Johnson is annoyed that she’s far past sixteen and still hasn’t discovered her secret powers. Her new urban fantasy series, scheduled to begin with the release of Royal Street in April 2012 by Tor Books, is set in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina. Find Suzanne on Twitter and Facebook.