It’s time to plan your summer vacation, readers. With so many amazing fantasy worlds and far-off solar systems to get away to, it can be hard to choose. To make things easier, we’ve rounded up ten of this summer’s must-read young adult sci-fi and fantasy books. Now all you have to do is select your destination. Do you want to hit Gotham City’s crime-ridden streets with Catwoman? How about visiting the Martial Empire with Sabaa Tahir? Perhaps you’d prefer a trip to Asia with 15 authors guiding you through Asian mythology and folklore? No matter where you choose to go, you’re in for an incredible adventure.
Magic comes with a cost, a lesson that bruja Lula Mortiz learns when she chooses to bring her boyfriend Maks back from the dead. On route to a school trip, the bus Lula, Maks, and her classmates are on is involved in a horrific and fatal accident. Lula’s magic saves her, but Maks isn’t so lucky. When Lula sees Lady de la Muerte arrive to collect Maks, she makes a decision to use her healing powers to resurrect him. But the spell has disastrous consequences and soon all of the crash victims become casimuertos (half dead beings who survive by eating human hearts). Bruja Born takes place eight months after the events in Labyrinth Lost. It’s a companion novel that can be read as a standalone, but we’d highly recommend reading these thrilling magical adventures together.
On shelves: June 5
In this sequel to Flame in the Mist, Hattori Mariko prepares for her marriage to the emperor’s brother, Raiden. The royal court believes that she was recently rescued from the Black Clan bandits, but in truth she’s spying for them and preparing to rescue the one she truly loves, Ōkami. While playing the part of the eager and dutiful bride, Mariko is secretly preparing to use the information she’s uncovering to save Ōkami, no matter what the cost. This tale of drama, intrigue, and magic is a must for readers who loved the first book. In their review, Booklist called Mariko “a heroine worth following to the thrilling conclusion.” We know you’ll agree.
On shelves: June 5
We’ve been wondering and theorizing for two years about where the third book in Sabaa Tahir’s Ember Quartet would take us, and the wait is finally over. A Reaper at the Gates finds our three narrators in more danger than ever before. Elias is trapped in a land between the living and the dead where he must serve the Soul Catcher. At the heart of the Martial Empire, Helene watches as Emperor Marcus and the Commandant run mad with power. Meanwhile in the east, Laia searches for a way to stop the Nightbringer from destroying them all. Fans of the series will not want to miss this action-packed installment, while new readers will want to go back to the first book (which was given a fantastic redesign last summer that features our girl Laia in all her glory).
On shelves: June 12
A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman
Reader, transport yourself to magical lands this summer with this collection of stories inspired by East and South Asian folklore and mythology. The anthology begins with Roshani Chokshi’s retelling of the Philippine story of Maria Makiling, a mountain spirit who fell in love with a mortal. Cindy Pon’s “The Crimson Cloak” follows the emperor’s daughter, who can weave colors into the sky. Lori M. Lee offers a science fiction spin with her tale of an android beginning to experience human emotions. Compiled by We Need Diverse Books’ Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman, the collection also includes contributions from Renée Ahdieh, Sona Charaipotra, Preeti Chhibber, Aliette de Bodard, Melissa de la Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Rahul Kanakia, E. C. Myers, Aisha Saeed, Shveta Thakrar, and Alyssa Wong. This stunning anthology is perfect for fans of retellings.
On shelves: June 26
The Broken Vow by Scott Westerfeld, illustrated by Alex Puvilland
Graphic novel fans won’t want to miss the second installment in the Spill Zone series. Three years ago a mysterious spill contaminated Poughkeepsie, New York and transformed the city into an unearthly wasteland. The last book saw photographer Addison venturing into the Spill Zone to capture the horrors within, using the photos to make enough money for herself and her younger sister to survive. Now, she comes face-to-face with Don Jae, a survivor of a similar disaster in North Korea. We devoured the first book in the series (and even chatted with First Second’s associate art director about the cover design), and we can’t wait to see which secrets are revealed in The Broken Vow.
On shelves: July 10
After Earth became uninhabitable, humans set off for the stars in generational ships in the hopes of finding a new home planet. But their 300-year search has turned up nothing, and an army of rebels called Fractionists are attempting to take over. The General Body, who governs the starships, is using Scela (humans turned into supersoldiers using metal and fiber exoskeletons) to quell the rebellion. Teenagers Aisha Un-Haad and Key Tanaka each sign up to become Scela. Aisha hopes to use the money she earns to support her brother and sister. However, Key wakes up from the surgery without any memory of willingly enlisting in the program. Emily Skrutskie delivers a gripping and exciting adventure that entertains while also thoughtfully touching on themes of religion, class, and sexual identity (Aisha identifies as aromantic asexual, and a member of her squad identifies as pansexual).
On shelves: July 17
Summer is the perfect time to reunite with old friends, which is why we cannot wait for late July so we can catch up with two of our favorite characters from last summer: Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo. This dynamic duo (made up of a singing skeleton and a blob of… well, goo) are off on an adventure to uncover lost memories from Rickety’s life. Rickety’s only clue to his forgotten past is a mysterious, melancholy song that comes to him when he dreams. Will Rickety ever find the answers he seeks? You’ll just have to tune into this hilarious second installment to find out.
On shelves: July 24
From Leigh Bardugo’s Wonder Woman to Marie Lu’s Batman, we have been eagerly devouring each new installment in the DC Icons series. The latest book introduces readers to Selina Kyle, who’s recently returned to Gotham City after two years in Italy working for the League of Assassins. By day, Selina acts the part of a wealthy socialite named Holly Vanderhees, but by night she’s Catwoman, the Queen of the Underworld. With Batman out of town, Selina links up with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn and sets out to shake up Gotham City. Readers who love fierce and unapologetic antiheroines won’t be able to put this one down.
On shelves: August 7
Author Somaiya Daud explores themes of colonialism and cultural erasure in her Moroccan-inspired debut set in a far-off star system. Eighteen-year-old Amani lives on the moon planet of Andala, one of the many occupied by the vicious Vathek Empire. During her coming-of-age ceremony, Amani is kidnapped and taken to the imperial palace. It’s revealed that she bears a striking resemblance to the Princess Maram, who is rumored to be as cruel and deadly as her father. With rebels seeking to harm Maram, Amani is forced to be the princess’ body double at public events. No one can know Amani’s true identity, and her only hope of seeing her family again rests on her ability to fools all those close to Maram, even her charming fiancé.
On shelves: August 28
Toil & Trouble edited by Tess Sharpe and Jessica Spotswood
Something wicked this way comes, readers. This collection, edited by Tess Sharpe and Jessica Spotswood, features fifteen bewitching tales of magic, mythology, and feminist power. Brandy Colbert’s tale is of an African American witch who tries to deny her own powers. Anna-Marie McLemore’s story follows a bruja learning to channel her craft while falling in love with a trans boy. Tehlor Kay Mejia introduces readers to a young witch who can read the stars and begins fighting, and then flirting, with a girl who is an aspiring astronomer. With genres ranging from historical to contemporary to futuristic, there’s truly something for everyone in this collection, whose other contributors include Zoraida Córdova, Andrea Cremer, Kate Hart, Emery Lord, Elizabeth May, Lindsay Smith, Nova Ren Suma, Robin Talley, Shveta Thakrar, and Brenna Yovanoff. This magical anthology will put a spell on you.
On shelves: August 28