Brujas, Ships, and Zombies in This Season’s New Young Adult Fiction

Another season, another massive pile of awesome young adult science fiction and fantasy books to read. In terms of inclusive diversity—particularly in regards to authors, characters, and #ownvoices—this wasn’t a great quarter for quantity (especially with science fiction) but the quality is off the charts. With plenty of sequels and new series starters, you should find plenty to occupy your time.

Something not on my list but high on yours? Share with the class down in the comments.

Books marked with an asterisk will be reviewed on Tor.com in the coming months.

 

* Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Everything changed the day the dead rose from the grave. Although African Americans are no longer enslaved, they aren’t exactly free, either; they (and Native children) are conscripted by law to combat academies where they’re trained to kill shamblers. One of those zombie slayers is Jane, a biracial girl with a chip on her shoulder and a stubborn streak a mile wide. She’s one of the best at Miss Preston’s school, but all she really wants is to return home to her mother. When a local boy, Red Jack, asks Jane for help finding his missing sister, she and her frenemy, Katherine, incur the ire of a corrupt mayor. Shipped off to a remote Kansas outpost, Jane must battle terrible secrets, sinister conspiracies, and ever-increasing hordes of shamblers. I just finished this and OH EM GEE Y’ALL. The first in a planned duology.

April 3, 2018, Balzer + Bray

 

Queens of Fennbirn by Kendare Blake

In these prequel short stories, Blake turns the clock back to reveal the history of the land of Fennbirn and the events that led up to Three Dark Crowns, the first book Blake’s ongoing series. “The Young Queens” tells of a time when triplet heirs Katharine, Mirabella, and Arsinoe weren’t sworn enemies but sisters who loved each other. We get a peek into their lives from the day they were born up to their claiming by the three opposing housing. “The Oracle Queen” revisits the legend of mad, murderous Elsabet. Why did she slaughter three houses? Was she truly as wicked as people believe? If she could see the future, why could she not foretell her own demise? A must read for fans of the series.

April 3, 2018, HarperTeen

 

* Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier

Eighteen years ago, two princes and Lord Antoni vanished, the princes kidnapped by a rival kingdom and his father’s fate unknown. Now nineteen, Lord Elias is summoned to King Ulises’ court to examine two mysterious maps. When he discovers the maps’ creator is very likely his missing father, the boys realize he and the princes, long presumed dead, may in fact still be alive. Ulises, his cousin Mercedes, and Elias set off on a great adventure to find their lost family. As they solve the riddles of the maps, they’re pulled from land to land, sea to sea, quest to quest. Along the way they encounter monsters, magic, and mayhem. Someone is on their tail, and it’s up to Elias to uncover the truth before it’s too late. Just started this and I can hardly contain my squees. The first in a planned series.

April 10, 2018, Houghton Mifflin

 

Inferno by Julie Kagawa

Julie Kagawa wraps up her thrilling fantasy series about the dragons of Talon who can shapeshift into humans and the soldiers of the Order of St. George trained to slay them. Dragon hatchling Ember Hill has been to hell and back as she and her friends Riley, a rogue dragon, and Garrett, an ex-St. George soldier, helped her try to stop the Talon organization from unleashing a great evil. She watched the boy she loved sacrifice his life and her twin brother turn against her, but it all ends here. Ember takes her last stand against Dante and the creepy dragon clones in a desperate bid to save the world. The fifth and final book in the Talon Saga series.

April 24, 2018, Harlequin Teen

 

Ship It by Britta Lundin

Technically this isn’t science fiction or fantasy, but I’m counting it anyway because fandom! Ships! YA f/f romance! Supernatural subtweeting! Teenager Claire Strupke is deep into the Demon Heart fandom, specifically the branch that ships the two male leads, Smokey and Heart. She is has one of the biggest Smokey-Heart fanfic platforms, and takes her shipping Very Seriously. But when Forest, the young actor who plays Smokey, gets into a verbal sparring match with Claire at the Boise Comic Con, he sparks a minor controversy. The producers, desperate to ease tensions with queer and ally fans, bring Claire on to the show in an advisory capacity. As she gets to know the cast and crew, she learns more about her own identity as her crush on Tess, the cute fanartist she keeps running into, grows deeper.

May 1, 2018, Freeform

 

* Bruja Born by Zoraida Córdova

In Labyrinth Lost, Alex discovered her Encantrix powers, but at a steep cost when her entire family was nearly lost in Los Lagos, a magical underworld. Now they’re all back in Brooklyn, but Alex’s eldest sister Lula is scarred in more ways than one. When a bus full of high schoolers—including Lula’s boyfriend Maks—are killed, Lula decides his loss is one too many. She brings Maks back to life, but only after defying Death and the Deos to do it. Unfortunately, Lula’s brash act has some unintended consequences. Maks is back, but he’s not the only one. The Mortiz sisters will have to work together to stop the zombie apocalypse before it starts. I sooooo adored Labyrinth Lost, and can’t wait to dive into this one. The anticipation is seriously stressing me out. The second in the Brooklyn Brujas series.

June 5, 2018, Sourcebooks Fire

 

* Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Pérez

In this YA historical fantasy retelling of the early Medieval tale of Tristan and Iseult (which was in turn based on even older Celtic legends), two teens from enemy lands fall madly in love. Branwen is the bestie, cousin, and lady-in-waiting to Essy, princess of Iveriu. The two girls loathe their enemies, the people of Kernyv, so mark Branwen down as surprised when she accidentally saves the life of one of them. Even stranger is that the act of rescuing Tristan brings forth her latent magical healing powers, as well as a growing attraction to him. As her magic grows, Branwen’s bonds with her new love and old friend will be tested. She faces the ultimate, terrible choice: Tristan or Iveriu. First in a planned trilogy.

June 5, 2018, Imprint

 

Smoke in the Sun by Renée Ahdieh

When we last left Mariko, she had joined the ranks of the Black Clan in disguise as a peasant boy, and fallen head over heels for their leader, Okami. But when her betrothed, prince Raiden, captured Okami, Mariko has no choice but to abandon the Clan and return to Heian Castle and her waiting groom. But she has no intention of sitting passively as others set the course of her life. Mariko is determined to rescue the boy she loves and reveal the dark secrets of the royal court. If she’s discovered, it could mean the end of everything she holds dear. She holds the fates of the empire, Okami, and herself in her hands, and it’ll take all the willpower she has to persevere. Second in the Flame in the Mist series.

June 5, 2018, G.P. Putnam’s Sons

 

Whisper of the Tide by Sarah Tolcser

For her whole life, Caroline Oresteia waited to be called by the river god, but when her father is arrested she is thrust into a dangerous quest to save Markos, the true prince of Akhaia. Now, Caro and Markos struggle to help him retake his throne. As they grow closer, their love for each other deepens. When a potential ally threatens their bond with a marriage proposal, Caro and Markos will have to decide which means more – their nation or their romance. Song of the Current snuck up on me last year, and I liked it so darn much it earned a spot in my Top YA SFF of 2017. If Whisper of the Tide is anything like its predecessor, we’re in for a thrilling ride. The second in the Song of the Current series.

June 5, 2018, Bloomsbury

 

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

In the Martial Empire, those who do not submit to the will of Emperor Marcus suffer a fate worse than death. Laia of Serra, while trying to rescue her imprisoned brother, finds herself taking on an entire empire. She’s joined by Elias Veturius, a former soldier who fled the army to help Laia. Fighting her own battles is Helene, the Blood Shrike. She’s stuck between the rock and hard place that are her volatile emperor and his conniving commandant. As Laia searches for the key to destroying the Nightbringer, Elias takes the mantle of Soul Catcher, a decision that may make him a slave once more. The third in the Ember Quartet.

June 12, 2018, Razorbill

 

* The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara

At this point, Sky Pony Press is basically the BOOM! Box of YA publishers. If you’re not a comics nerd, you probably don’t get that reference, but suffice it to say, they’re a small publisher rocking the marketplace with fantastic, unique, and inclusively diverse young adult fiction. McNamara’s debut is no exception. Mary disguises herself as a boy to take a job as a sailor on a Caribbean merchant ship, but her whole life changes when pirates attack her ship. She double-crosses her captain and sides with the pirates after seeing a swashbuckling girl standing proudly in their crew. Of course she has heart eyes for the captain’s mistress, but is she willing to sacrifice everything for love? You had me at “queer pirates.” *grabby hands*

June 19, 2018, Sky Pony

 

* A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman

This stunning new anthology contains fifteen short stories that retell folktales and myths from East and South Asia. The tales span the genre spectrum – science fiction, contemporary, fantasy, romance, etc. – and are set in locales around the world. Features stories by: Renée Ahdieh, Sona Charaipotra, Preeti Chhibber, Roshani Chokshi, Aliette de Bodard, Melissa de la Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Rahul Kanakia, Lori M. Lee, E. C. Myers, Cindy Pon, Aisha Saeed, Shveta Thakrar, and Alyssa Wong.

June 26, 2018, Greenwillow

 

Alex Brown is a YA librarian by day, local historian by night, pop culture critic/reviewer by passion, and QWoC all the time. Keep up with her every move on Twitter, check out her endless barrage of cute rat pics on Instagram, or follow along with her reading adventures on her blog.

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