#SummerReading: Slut-Shaming, Existential Road Trips, and More New YA Reads
When putting together a summer preview, of course we’re excited to turn you on to the hottest books of any genre—here, young adult. But what makes this summer’s reads even more compelling is that many of them come from newbies! What’s especially interesting is that this list includes multiple takes on similar themes: Slut-shaming versus viral prom photos; gamers coping with real life; boys struggling with friendships (and more!) with their male peers. And, naturally, a coming-of-age road trip or two. We’ve also got the latest from folks like Richelle Mead, Stephanie Perkins, and Maggie Stiefvater, because we need our Dhampirs, long-distance love affairs, and bad-boy werewolves. Not to mention Gene Luen Yang returning with yet another imaginative graphic novel that readers of any age will enjoy. Peruse our preview to put together the best summer reading list.
I cannot tell a lie
Jacket copy tells us to lie about this book, so… We Were Liars is about a man named Ted who was the greatest liar that ever lived… just kidding. E. Lockhart’s latest book follows Cadence Sinclair, a wealthy girl from a prominent family, and her group of friends called The Liars, on their private island during summer. Life should be perfect when you want for nothing—but that wouldn’t make for a very interesting story. There’s an underlying tension that something nefarious has gone down, but Cadence can’t seem to get past her migraines long enough to figure it out. The book is written in a choppy style that you’ll either love or hate, but the story will capture you, no question—and we’ll just say that the end is madness.
On shelves: May 13
Fans of David Levithan’s stories of boy-meets-boy puppy love will enjoy Michael Barakiva’s debut. In One Man Guy, 14-year-old Alek finds that getting sent to summer camp is the best way his summer could have gone, distancing him from his strict family and unwanted attention from a female friend—and into the path of super-cool skater Ethan, who wants to be first his friend and then more. Barakiva deftly balances issues of coming out and homophobia with his protagonist’s struggle to accept his Armenian-American identity.
On shelves: May 27
No noobs allowed
What do an MMO-playing metalhead and a Bjork-listening RPGer have in common? If you asked them, not much. But when a chance meeting brings together Minnesota teens Lesh and Svetlana, they find they have more in common then they’d have thought. Through the world of gaming, both gain a sense of who they are through playing characters who they are not. Guy in Real Life is a must read for gamers and non-gamers alike.
On shelves: May 27
Slut-shaming never gets old
Who better to write about modern high school popularity contests and girls’ bathroom wall gossip than a high school teacher? In her gripping debut, The Truth About Alice, Jennifer Mathieu exposes the damning effects of rumors by chronicling a normal girl’s fall from grace through everyone but the eponymous Alice. The he-said/she-said tale of adolescent sexuality and teenagers’ motivations for cruelty is all the more striking for the unexpected hope it’ll stir in readers. (Plus, we got Mathieu to talk about the YA heroines she modeled Alice after.)
On shelves: June 3
Another take on the high school rumor mill incorporates social media to an astonishingly high-stakes degree: In #scandal, Lucy’s forbidden kiss with her best friend’s boyfriend at prom ends up on Facebook, then goes viral, branding her a slut and a backstabber. While the plot sounds a bit outlandish, Sarah Ockler seems to have enough of a hold on the intricacies of social media betrayals—not to mention her video-game-playing heroine—that we’re confident this tale will land.
On shelves: June 17
Sex, drugs, and werewolves
Cole St. Clair is back! In a standalone companion to Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver trilogy, the bad boy wolf has returned to win back his one true love, Isabel. Sinner delves deeper into this mysterious character to show he is more than just a roguish, former celebrity addict. It’s very clear why fans of this series are itching to get their hands on this book. For those who haven’t, get on it!
On shelves: July 1
Dhampirs, Moroi, and Alchemists… oh my
After the success of the film adaptation of Vampire Academy, people have been pining for more Moroi and Dhampir action. Luckily, once you’re done with all of the Vampire Academy novels, it’s not the end. Richelle Mead’s spin-off series, Bloodlines, follows the Alchemists, humans who dabble in magic to keep the vampire world a secret. Sydney Sage, an Alchemist who helped out Dhampir Rose, has a new mission to protect the sister of the Moroi Queen. But maybe the life of an Alchemist isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Will Sydney be able to break free of the Alchemists once and for all? Find out in the fifth installment of the Bloodlines series, Silver Shadows.
On shelves: July 29
Emerging from shadows
After the success of Boxers & Saints last fall, Gene Luen Yang is back with another inventive comic aimed at young readers that combines history, personal mythology, and issues of race. With The Shadow Hero, Yang reimagines the origin story of a forgotten comic book star: the Green Turtle, the first Asian-American superhero. Before he was the Green Turtle, he was Hank, whose greatest concern was helping manage his family’s grocery store. But, spurred on by his mother’s wishes, he becomes one of comics’ seminal figures. Yang’s fresh take on the tale, combined with Sonny Liew’s illustrations, make this tale relatable to YA and comics fans alike.
On shelves: July 15
Manic Pixie Cross-Country Driver
Adi Alsaid’s debut Let’s Get Lost brings to mind the road trip roller coaster of John Green’s Paper Towns: At farflung points on the map, four strangers cross paths with Leila and her red car. Some are runaways, some are mechanics looking for love, some are travelers dealing with heartbreak—but all use Leila as their compass and find the way to right themselves. Then, of course, there’s Leila’s journey…
On shelves: July 29
On choices and sisters
Get your tissues ready; this one’s a heartbreaker. French sisters Djelila and Sohane are as different as can be. While both are Muslim, Sohane has chosen to embrace her faith and has begun wearing a headscarf to school, even though it’s illegal. Deciding that maybe hardcore faith isn’t for her, Djelila becomes more and more secular, which Sohane severely disapproves of. Djelila’s choices lead to her murder by extremist Muslims who don’t approve of her lack of adherence to the faith. Now Sohane is left with feelings of guilt and must work out for herself what is right and what is wrong. Amazingly powerful, I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister explores themes of faith, sisterhood, and freedom of choice in a deep and thought-provoking way.
On shelves: August 5
Paris, je t’aime
After a long break, the third and final book in the beloved Anna and the French Kiss series is finally here. According to author Stephanie Perkins, the gap between books was due to the mental exhaustion she felt after writing the second installment, Lola and the Boy Next Door. Isla and the Happily Ever After follows Josh (who was a junior when the first book came out) and his girlfriend Isla as they spend their senior year in France at the School of America in Paris.
On shelves: August 26