Teen Book Reviews

Criteria for Teens Writing Book Reviews for Volunteer Hours:

Please pick a book you haven’t read before, or, if you have read it, please reread to write your review.

Books must be in our YA collection or in the teen/YA area of eLibrary.

Please include title, author, a cover image if possible, a short summary of important points (or enough information to grab a reader’s attention and interest), and any critical analysis or award/list information (i.e., is the book Own Voices? Did it earn an award or an honor? Did it make a short list for an award? Did you notice any problematic issues in the story or writing?).

Be sure to include how you would like your name to be attached to the review (first name and first initial of last name, first name only, initials of first and last name, anonymous, etc.).

Not all reviews will be chosen for inclusion for the website.

Reviews may be edited for length, spelling, grammar, and content, and the Teen Librarian may send the review back if it does not meet criteria.

If the review does not meet criteria, it will not earn two hours of credit.


 

Castle of Lies by Kiersi Burkhart

Thelia has spent her whole life scheming to get on the throne, but when the Elven army invades the kingdom and captures the castle, Thelia, Bayled, and Parsifal risk their lives to fight them. One of the elven warriors, Sapphire, decides to risk everything to help the humans when they realize that humans are not the animals they expected. The danger continues to escalate as an unstable well of magic is discovered under the castle. -Jessica (ed. by KB)

 

Lies by Michael Grant

In this third book in the Gone series, the world of Perdido Beach continues to get even stranger. There are rumors of communication with the outside world, but no one knows who to trust, especially when some dead kids start coming back among the living. The town goes up in flames as battles rage and kids start to consider death as a much needed escape. – Julia C (ed. by KB)

 

Star Wars: Tatooine Ghost by Troy Denning

This novel, set after Return of the Jedi, follows Han Solo and Leia Organa as they venture back to the infamous desert planet. There, they hope to find a long-lost painting that contains a hidden secret crucial to the integrity of the New Republic. As allies and foes alike bid for it at auction, a battle breaks out, and the painting is captured by what is left of the Empire. Desperate to get it back before the hidden secret within is found, the franchise’s most famous characters undertake a daring mission to get it back. The novel is packed with perfectly-spaced twists and action all throughout, and its moving pace perfectly suits a unique and interesting plot. – AC (ed. by KB)

 

Warcross by Marie Lu

Warcross is more than just a game to most people, it’s an experience, a lifestyle,  a world-wide phenomenon with fully immersive technology and infinite possibilities, and it was all started ten years prior by now-billionaire, Hideo Tanaka. Emika Chen is a prodigious hacker struggling to stay afloat as a bounty hunter in this dystopian society. While watching the biggest event of the year, the international Warcross Championships, Emika accidentally glitches herself into the game, for the entire world to see. Her life is turned upside down when Tanaka himself calls her with an unrefusable offer that brings her to Tokyo, right in the middle of a sinister plot with consequences that stretch outside of the game into the real world. Caught in the middle of her new life of fame and fortune, Emika forges friendships, falls in love, and fights to keep her life and relationships intact in this thrilling page turner that will keep you guessing until the very end. -bella k (ed. by KB)

 

The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J Maas

This collection of five novellas serve as a prequel to Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series, and allow for a peek into Celaena’s life as she became the kingdom’s most infamous assassin. While the novel follows Celaena as she maneuvers around pirates, frees slaves, enters a scorching desert, and tiptoes carefully in the Assassin’s Guild, all while meeting characters and building relationships with the characters we know and love in the original series, the novellas explain how Celaena became who she is, and showcases her relationship with fellow assassin Sam. The race to escape her master’s clutches and her own evolution is shown in Celaena’s history as she delves into her deadly world headfirst. This collection features five specific journeys which have compounding implications in the later books, and are the perfect introduction into the world of Celaena Sardothien. -bella k (ed. by KB)

 

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Part of the bestselling Mortal Instruments series, Clockwork Angel follows the paths of Shadowhunters and Downworlders in the year 1878 as they discover the true reach of London’s supernatural mysteries. Per her brother’s request,Tessa Gray travels to London where she is promptly kidnapped by two terrifying women who force her to unveil a power she never knew she had. Rescued by Shadowhunters, she meets the charming but moody Will Herondale, his partner and friend Jem Carstairs, and their acquaintances as she attempts to rescue her brother and accept the truth of her own existence. Tessa gets caught between the two boys she loves as she and her new allies are pitted against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of demons, vampires, werewolves, warlocks, and humans, their mechanical creatures, and their sinister vendetta. She must trek through secrets, betrayals, and lies in order to stop the Pandemonium Club from overtaking London with strange clockwork creatures. The struggles of the time period are reflected in the plot in a way that seamlessly overlaps 19th century London with the mysterious supernatural underworld, leaving readers fully immersed in the story. -bella k (ed. by KB)

 

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

The second book of the #1 New York Times bestselling Infernal Devices trilogy, Clockwork Prince follows the aftermath of betrayal as Tessa and her allies attempt to locate the elusive Magister, leader of the Pandemonium Club, before his plans come to fruition and his clockwork monsters overcome London. The book highlights the struggles of women in the 1800s as Charlotte attempts to hold her position as leader of the London Institute, and the darkest sides of love as Will’s heart is revealed, and Jem and Tessa grow closer. Secrets are uncovered  and Tessa struggles to discover her true identity as the Magister’s deadly threat looms above London. Characters delve even deeper into the supernatural underworld and attempt to rise again unscathed, in the face of corruption, lies, and love. It’s an incredibly well- written follow-up to Clockwork Angel that leaves readers on the edge of their seats, rolling from shock when all is revealed.  -bella k (ed. by KB)

 

The Giver by Louis Lowry

A young boy named Jonas lives in a futuristic society where there is no such thing as fear, hatred, war, or pain. Everyone acts the same, and there’s no competition over anything. At the age of twelve, every member of the community is assigned a job based on their abilities and interests, and Jonas is given the highly respected assignment as the Receiver of Memory. As the Receiver, he must be given the memories of the past, good or bad to ensure the community doesn’t make mistakes like those ever again. The Giver and Jonas want to change the community and bring joy back. When Gabriel, a newborn child who has trouble sleeping and will soon be released (which is another word for death), Jonas steals his father’s bike and sets off with Gabriel into a landscape of color where he will soon be safe again. -A.S. (ed. by KB)

 

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Hazel Grace Lancaster has a meet-cute with Augustus Waters in a cancer patient support group. Hazel has been actively battling cancer for the past 3 years, while Augustus is going through remission from a tumor in his leg. After bonding, they both go to Amsterdam to find the author of their favorite book, ‘An Imperial Affliction,’ where they learn that life, with or without cancer, is hard in general. This book makes you think about how valuable love is, how short life can be, and how one person can change your life in the simplest way possible. -A.S. (ed. by KB)

 

Hunger by Michael Grant

This sequel to Gone takes place three months after the events of the first book. With no sign of escape from their mysterious new world, the kids of Perdido Beach are increasingly desperate. They are running out of food, and ideas of right and wrong are dissolving quickly. Kids grow resentful and even murderous. Even scarier, a sinister creature is reaching out to some kids and manipulating them. In order to survive against the odds, they must summon all of their courage and make impossible decisions. – Julia C. (ed. by KB)

 

The Boy who Harnessed the Wind by Bryan Mealer and William Kamkwamba

After being thrown out of school in Malawi for inability to pay tuition, William Kamkwamba tries to prove to his community that science is the way to save the world. During his free time, he works on trying to build a windmill to produce electricity. No one in his community had ever heard of such a thing. The one thing William needed to finish his project was his father’s bike, but since he still needed it to get from place to place, his dad was hesitant. Eventually, his dad gave William permission to use the bike, and he was able to get the windmill working. -A.S. (ed. by KB)

 

Kamisama Kiss (Volume One) by Julietta Suzuki:

Ditched by her gambling-addict father and evicted from their shared apartment, 16 year old Nanami Momozono is forced out onto the streets until the fateful day she saves a man from a dog and the man offers her his own house in gratitude. Nanami is thrown into the world of the supernatural when the man’s house turns out to be a rundown shrine, and Nanami has been appointed the new land god. Nanami is left to traverse her new status as god with the help of the shrine’s other inhabitants: two spirits and a fox familiar. – Anonymous (ed. by KB)

 

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven 

Popular girl Violet and “school freak” Finch bond over shared suicidal depression. After Violet talks Finch down on his suicide attempt, they begin to develop a romance. They are then paired up during a class project to visit famous sites around Indiana. Eventually, Finch succumbs to his mental illness. Violet feels guilty about Finch’s death, but her feelings abate after solving clues from text messages and finding a song that Finch had written for her. -A.S. (ed. by KB)

 

People Like Us by Dana Mele

Kay Donovan has left her dark past behind her and reinvented herself as a popular soccer star at her elite boarding school, but that life starts to collapse when the body of one of her classmates is found in a lake. The victim left Kay a scavenger hunt that begins revealing secrets and implicating multiple murder suspects, including Kay herself. Friends turn against each other and the police are increasingly suspicious, but Kay will do whatever it takes to survive. -Jessica (ed. by KB)

 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 

Starr Carter is 16 years old and lives with her family in a predominantly black neighborhood, but she attends a private school with mostly white students. When she attends a party with her friend Kenya, a gunfight breaks out on the dancefloor, and Starr flees the scene with her childhood best friend, Khalil. Driving home, Khalil is pulled over due to a broken taillight and is shot and killed by police for opening his door. Angry over Khalil’s death, Starr speaks out, searching for justice for her friend’s murder. After several protests yield no arrest for the officer, riots break out around town. Starr continues to fight for however long it takes to bring justice for Khalil, and she makes a promise to him to never stay silent. -A.S. (ed. by KB)

 

First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung

Loung Ung was just five years old when the Khmer Rouge took power in Cambodia and she was forced to work. The Cambodian Genocide of 1975-1979 was an attempt by te Khmer Rouge to create a classless agrarian society, which ultimately collapsed when Vietnam invaded. Loung Ung and her family began a four year journey, forced to move from one campsite to another, pretending to be peasants, until her father was recognized and the family was separated. -A.S. (ed. by KB)

 

The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson

The life of Princess Anthia of Rhodaire drastically changes the night the Illucian empire invades, killing her mother and destroying everything. She and her sister, Caliza, begin planning a dangerous rebellion after Anthia is forced to marry an Illucian prince. When she stumbles upon a crow egg, she believes she can bring back the magical elemental crows that were taken from her people, but she must be careful, because if her plan is discovered it will all fall apart, and it’s hard enough to keep hope alive. – Jessica (ed. by KB)

 

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Madeline Whittier, an 18-year-old girl who suffers from severe combined immunodeficiency, is practically confined in her own home. Being allergic to almost everything in the outside world and with only the four walls that protect her, Madeline begins to take notice of the teenage boy who moved in next door. Olly’s bedroom window is directly across from hers, and they develop a bond through signs and online messaging. When love between them grows, they risk everything to be with each other. – A.S. (ed. by KB)

 

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

After Katniss Everdeen is rescued from her second Hunger Games, she learns that she still isn’t safe. Her home has been destroyed, District Thirteen exists in secret, and a war is brewing between the Capitol and the Districts with her unknowingly at the center, but now Katniss is expected to be a willing pawn in the war and accept responsibility for many lives. She plots to take down the Capitol, while managing her own mental and emotional issues. – Jessica (ed. by KB)

 

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Jude is a human trying to find a place for herself in the High Court of Faerie, a magical but dangerous place that looks down on humans. To fit in, she will have to defy royalty and even her own family. When Jude begins to uncover a massive coup that could change the history of Faerie, she sees her chance to finally rise to the top. But first she has to survive the world of spies and poison, where one wrong move could bring it all crashing down on her. – Julia C (ed. by KB)

 

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

The basis for the movie Love, Simon, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda follows Simon Spier, a high school junior in an Atlanta suburb, as he anonymously posts to high school gossip blog Creek Secrets that he is gay. Quickly, he gets a response from another closeted gay kid at his school, but even as they fall for each other, they’re unaware of the other’s identity. Suddenly Simon’s looking at all of the guys around him to figure out who the pseudonymous Blue really is. Amid high school hijinx, blackmail from a classmate, and one epic ride on a Ferris Wheel, Simon realizes that maybe Blue was closer than he thought. This novel also won the Morris Award for Best YA Debut Book. – KB

 

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Maddy is a teenager stuck inside, unable to leave her house because of the severity and exhausting number of her allergies. The only people she sees are her mom (who is also her doctor), and her nurse. She goes to school online, and the only clothes her mom buys for her are all white. Every day feels the same, until Olly moves in next door. He doesn’t know her history, and at first they communicate with signs and notes, but gradually they fall for each other. Maddy starts buying clothes with color, rebelling in bigger and bigger ways until she uses her mom’s credit card to buy plane tickets to Hawaii for herself and Olly. She knows stepping outside the door could be deadly, but she’s ready to take a step. Neither of them could imagine what happens when Maddy finally leaves the house. This novel was made into a movie by the same name. – KB

 

Divergent by Veronica Roth 

In a society that divides everyone into one of five factions, 16 year old Beatrice Prior tests for something outside of those categories and is, in fact, Divergent, and to be Divergent is dangerous. Tris uncovers a secret about a looming war between two of the factions, and as her world shifts, she must figure out how to save the people she loves. -A.S. (ed. by KB)

 

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

In a world of prodigies, normal humans each with their own unique superpower, the Renegades emerged from the wreckage of the Age of Anarchy when Ace Anarchy started a revolution of chaos and bloodshed before he was defeated by the heroes, the Renegades, and order was restored. However to Nova, Ace’s niece, not all things are as simple as they may seem. She plans with the remaining Anarchists to take down the Renegades once and for all, but in order to do that she must get closer to them and gain their trust without revealing her identity as the villain Nightmare. This book is from a unique perspective and allows itself to blur the lines between hero and villain. -bella k (ed. by KB)

 

Archenemies by Marissa Meyer

In the second book of the Renegades trilogy, Nova delves deeper into the heart of the Renegades in order to fulfill one of her most daring escapades yet. The Anarchists are out for vengeance and the city’s trust in their esteemed Renegades begins to waver as Nova and Adrian grapple to retain what they know about right and wrong. Focusing more on the morals rooted behind the development of a very controversial Agent N, secrets are revealed, betrayals take place, and trust is shattered as the vendettas of both the heroes and the villains start to take shape. -bella k (ed. by KB)

 

Supernova by Marissa Meyer

In this final installment of the Renegades trilogy, every lie, half-truth, and betrayal is revealed as the city rests on the edge of destruction and war between villains and heroes. Adrian and Nova must get past their differences in order to unite their teams for the greater good or risk a second Age of Anarchy. Nova is caught between her family and the narrative she’s been familiar with for a decade, and her new family and the trust they’ve unknowingly put in her. As the story unravels, readers will find out the shocking truth. It is a satisfying ending to an action-packed trilogy with the classic enemies to lovers trope with a twist, a unique perspective on the classic heroes versus villains idea, and exceptional character development, while also making readers question the societal norms and social constructs surrounding them as they reform their morals and decide for themselves: is the definition of strictly villain and hero, good and evil,  a truly tangible idea?  -bella k (ed. by KB)

 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Katniss Everdeen volunteered to take the place of her younger sister as a contestant on her country’s mandatory fight to the death, a yearly ordeal known as the Hunger Games. She has nothing but her skills in hunting and her instincts, and the only objective is to survive and either kill or be killed. There can only be one victor. -A.S. (ed. by KB)

 

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Katniss and Peeta have returned home alive against all the odds, but she struggles to maintain relationships with both Gale and Peeta, and, even worse, there are rumors of a rebellion against the Capitol that Katniss unknowingly helped create. Now she fears she cannot stop the unrest, and isn’t even sure she should try. The stakes are higher than ever, and every choice could be the difference between life and death. -Jessica (ed. by KB)

 

Thrawn by Timothy Zahn

This Star Wars novel, set before the events of A New Hope, explores the origins of one of the franchise’s greatest villains to date. After being rescued from exile by the Empire and enlisting in their ranks, Thrawn proves to be an extraordinary warrior and strategist, catching the eye of the Emperor himself, and proving himself to be as great an ally as Darth Vader. As he demonstrates his combat proficiency and rises through the Empire’s ranks, however, Thrawn finds out that there are greater challenges than he’s faced yet, in both new allies and dangerous enemies. – AC (ed. by KB)

 

Gone by Michael Grant

When all the adults in the small town of Perdido Beach suddenly disappear, the lives of the children are thrown into chaos. Trapped in a world of horrors, they begin to fight amongst themselves for power and resources, with some of the kids realizing that they’ve developed supernatural abilities. Matters get worse as some kids realize they have new supernatural powers. As sides are chosen and war seems imminent, a mysterious force of unspeakable evil begins to emerge. – Julia C. (ed. by KB)

 

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

As a prequel to the original Hunger Games trilogy, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes follows future president of Panem, Coriolanus Snow, through the now-forgotten events of the 10th Hunger Games. He finds himself sitting perilously on the edge of poverty, the fault lines in his fragile facade about to give way, when fate throws him in the path of the hypnotizing District 12 tribute, Lucy Gray. The novel follows the intermingling paths and inevitable fates of Lucy and Coriolanus as together they reveal the true meaning behind the games themselves. The carefully chosen words and unique perspective of the novel achieves its goal in giving the readers a glimpse into the mind of a cleverly crafted antagonist. Small details show how the original trilogy’s Panem came to be. This book is compelling because it begins with Snow’s charismatic facade intact and readers are drawn in to this illusion just as the other characters in the book are, but as the novel continues, his facade continues to crack, his true self shines through, and all that is left is the monstrous image of a cowardly boy grasping at control at the price of his own morality. – Bella K (ed. by KB)

 

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

When Corey returns to her hometown of Lost Creek, Alaska, she has to unravel the mystery behind her best friend Kyra’s sudden death while attempting to get out of the town unscathed herself. This emotional novel deals with the frustration of being misunderstood in an unaccepting society, while also covering the topics of suicide, bipolar disorder, and grief. The foreshadowing and small metaphors hidden inside the novel all correlate to a larger meaning, and it’s so carefully constructed that you won’t be able to put this novel down until you finish it. The novel itself only spans the course of a few days, but it manages to encompass a powerful metaphor about the stigmas behind mental illnesses and the danger that comes from the misinformation surrounding them in our modern world. It’s a perfectly constructed novel about important societal issues hidden under the guise of a story about an unbreakable bond in a fraying friendship between two young girls figuring out who they want to be in life. – Bella K (ed. by KB)

 

Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

Mara is a girl with a secret that refuses to stay buried. The memories that plague her worsen as her twin brother Owen is accused of rape by his girlfriend Hannah. Emotions swirl as Mara unravels who she should believe, her brother who needs her, or her best friend who would never lie like this. Mara’s trust is shattered so suddenly and completely that she struggles to pick up the pieces alone without falling apart herself. Powerful themes of sexuality, sexual assault, and victim-blaming are prevalent in this novel as each character decides who they want to be in life while simultaneously discovering the consequence of rape culture on the lives of victims in modern society. Readers will find themselves witnessing the effects of sexual assault on an entire community, while also learning about misogyny, sexual identity, and rape culture. This novel is so compellingly beautiful that it encourages teenagers to begin using their own platforms to fight back against these harmful societal norms. – Bella K (ed. by KB)

 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In the nation of Panem, the cruel Capitol keeps twelve districts in line by requiring each to send two teenagers every year to a fight to the death called The Hunger Games that is then broadcast live across the country. When her younger sister is chosen, sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her place. She knows how to survive, but winning will not be easy, and Katniss will have to make choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love. The winner of multiple awards, The Hunger Games has a truly brilliant plot that keeps readers in constant suspense. Perfectly paced to hold interest, and with no shortage of action, the book has an ideal balance of violence and human emotion, and is hard to put down. I was obsessed with the story, and recommend it to everybody looking for an exciting novel. – Jessica (ed. by KB)

 

Podkayne of Mars by Robert Heinlein

Podkayne Fries wants to be a starship pilot, but she lives in a society where nice girls just don’t do that sort of thing, so when her diplomat uncle offers to take her and her younger brother Clark from Mars to Earth via a quick stop on Venus, she jumps on the chance. Unfortunately, her uncle is spotted by someone who wants to stop the negotiations by any means necessary. Told in diary entries, this classic Heinlein juvenile delves into issues of gender roles, sibling conflict, and exploration. Nuanced readers may note a disconnect between the main story and the ending; Heinlein’s editors made him change the original conclusion. – KB

 

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Arthur Dent never could get the hang of Thursdays, so when his friend Ford Prefect rescues him at the last second from Vogons destroying the Earth to make way for a new interstellar roadway, and said friend turns out to be an alien researcher for a reference book called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Arthur just rolls with it, because honestly nothing in his life really makes sense anyway. On their travels, they meet Zappos Beeblebrox, President of the Galaxy, his girlfriend Trillian, a clinically depressed robot named Marvin, and other colorful characters, and attempt to find out why the number 42 is the answer to the great question of the meaning behind life, the universe, and everything. – KB

 

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

A stray asteroid hitting the moon and knocking it out of its orbit is enough to cause massive disasters on Earth, with earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis leading to global collapse. Miranda and her family retreat to their family sunroom and what food they have stockpiled in a cold, dark August and Miranda documents her own personal apocalypse in a year’s worth of journal entries. – KB

 

Sadie by Courtney Summers

Sadie is the story, told through alternating narrative of the main character and after-the-fact true crime podcast, of a young murder victim named Mattie and her missing older sister. Piecing together the scant clues of what happened and why may not be easy, but Sadie, and later podcast host West McCray, are determined to find what answers they can in this riveting mystery. – KB

 

Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

In Carry On, Simon was the Chosen One, picked to stop the Evil Villain, while also trying to figure out if his classmate Baz was, in fact, a vampire (and maybe also if they both liked each other). Fast-forward a year, and Simon’s moping on a friend’s couch, magicless but winged, and his now-boyfriend Baz has had enough. When their friend decides to take a trip out to America to visit her maybe-boyfriend, Baz convinces Simon that they should both tag along on a wild road trip adventure. This is the kind of story that we could have gotten after the Battle of Hogwarts if Harry Potter had ended up with Draco Malfoy. – KB

 

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater

Based on a real crime and interviews with everyone involved, Dashka Slater’s long-form news article expanded into this Stonewall Award-winning non-fiction book about an agender teen and a teen who, goaded on by peers, lit a skirt on fire on a bus in Oakland, California. Dealing with issues of gender, racism, class differences, the juvenile justice system, and restorative justice, The 57 Bus offers an unbiased look at the causes and repercussions of the action of one single moment. – KB

 

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell

It’s the last day of the pumpkin season for seniors Josiah and Deja, but the best friends have far different ideas about how to end things. Josiah wants to just spend the evening the way he always does, but Deja wants to do All The Things while pushing Josiah to talk to the girl he’s been crushing on forever. Unfortunately for Josiah, the pair always seems to be one step behind the girl, but at the end of the night, Josiah and Deja find themselves not where they wanted to be, but maybe where they needed to be in this cute, one-volume graphic novel by the author of Eleanor and Park. – KB

 

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzie Lee

After accompanying her brother and his best friend on their adventures through Europe (in The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue), Felicity is more determined than ever to get away from all that romantic nonsense and become a doctor. After her boss at the bakery in Edinburgh proposes to her, she runs as fast as she can to London, trying every medical school she can possibly petition to be let in. And while this wouldn’t be an issue today, Felicity’s living in the 1700s. When the last medical school still won’t admit her, she sets out on a wild journey that takes her to Germany and beyond, with old friends, new friends, enemies, and maybe even dragons. – KB

 

After by Amy Efaw

For Devon, there is Before and After. Before, Devon played soccer and was a straight-A student, responsible and mature, and would never do anything to jeopardize her bright future. After, police are asking her questions because she stayed home sick from school on the same day a newborn baby was left in the trash to die. What, if anything, did Devon have to do with the abandoned baby? – KB

 

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

Corey and Kyra were best friends in their remote Alaskan town until Corey left to go to boarding school. Kyra promised she’d take care of herself, but mounting mental health issues take their toll, and Corey gets a call she wasn’t expecting just days before she was set to visit Kyra in Alaska again: Kyra’s dead. Corey goes back to their small town to figure out just what happened, because no one in the community is giving her a straight answer, and Kyra might not have been the only one in danger. – KB

 

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

In an alternate history where the US Civil War was interrupted by the rising of the dead, Jane has been sent from her home in Kentucky to Miss Preston’s School for Combat in Baltimore, a combat school for Negro girls to learn how to become a combination of bodyguard and servant for the well-to-do. When people start going missing, though, Jane sets off on a desperate journey to save herself, her friends, and find out the truth of what’s really going on. An author’s note provides context for the boarding schools set up to “civilize” non-white children. – KB

 

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

Cal’s life changes when his dad gets picked to join the upcoming Orpheus astronaut crew for a mission to Mars, and the family moves from hipster Brooklyn to 1960s throwback suburban Clear Lake, Texas. Cal has to leave his best friend Deb and a promising internship as a video journalist for BuzzFeed, and he doesn’t even know if he’ll be allowed to continue his livestream journalism that has gotten him thousands of followers. Fortunately, when the family arrives in Texas they meet the other astronaut families, one of whom has two other teen kids, and suddenly Cal doesn’t feel so alone. While The Gravity of Us is contemporary realistic fiction, it feels really strange to have a book set solidly in the summer of 2020 with no plague references (because obviously no one knew this was going to happen while it was being written, edited, or first published). – KB