Clear room on your TBR shelves, readers. We’ve rounded up this summer’s must-read young adult sci-fi and fantasy books, and you’ll want to read them all. Take a trip to a version of San Francisco where fey roam or to a far-off kingdom where a seamstress is pushed to her limits. Journey to Seoul to meet a heroine who eats men for breakfast or to an island plagued by a mysterious disease. You don’t need a passport, just a comfortable place to curl up and read.
The kingdom of Austermeer is home to libraries unlike any other. The books within are called grimoires, and with the proper provocation they can transform into deadly monsters known as Maleficts. Orphan Elisabeth Scrivener grew up in Summershall, one of the Great Libraries, and she hopes to become a warden one day and protect her kingdom from the dark magic within the library’s halls. But one night a Malefict gets loose and kills the library director and Elisabeth is blamed for his death. She’s taken to the capital for questioning by Nathaniel Thorn, a sorcerer who she soon realizes she’s misjudged. Readers looking for adventure and slow-burning romance won’t want to miss Sorcery of Thorns.
On shelves: June 4
Xochi Madrid, a Mexican-American 17-year-old, arrives in San Francisco and soon finds herself working as a live-in governess for 12-year-old Pallas, the daughter of a polyamorous family of musicians. One night while Pallas’ rockstar parents are hosting a party, Xochi and Pallas accidentally summon two fey children. The mystical beings attach themselves to Xochi, determined to seek vengeance on anyone who wrongs her and forcing Xochi to confront the past she desperately tried to leave behind. Michelle Ruiz Keil’s debut is sure to leave readers thinking about trauma, forgiveness, and growth.
On shelves: June 18
Scottish teen Brody Fair is longing for change. At school he’s relentlessly bullied and at home he’s overshadowed by his older brother and overlooked by his parents. When he meets Nico Clark Calderón, a Spanish boy who promises him an escape from reality, Brody can’t resist. Nico takes him to Everland, a magical world that opens up every Thursday at 11:21 pm. In Everland, Brody feels free to be himself. He pursues his passion for music, he’s openly gay, and he begins to make friends with the other inhabitants of the world who are escaping harsh realities of their own. But the door to Everland won’t stay open forever and Brody soon has to make a choice between a magical world with his newfound family and his old life. If you love books that blend fantasy with reality, this one’s for you!
On shelves: June 18
Take a trip to modern-day Seoul with Kat Cho this summer! Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung is a nine-tailed fox who feeds on the energy of men every full moon. Specifically, she hunts down killers with the help of a friend who can see spirits. Then one night she rescues a human boy named Jihoon from a goblin and accidentally sets off a chain of events that forces her to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s. Readers who love worlds where magic is hidden just out of human sight will find themselves captivated by this debut. Can’t wait until late June to dive in? You can read an excerpt of the book here and then listen to this K-pop playlist Cho crafted for the novel.
On shelves: June 25
Jay Kristoff’s Lifelike series continues this summer with DEV1AT3. Picking up where the last book left off, this volume finds Lemon Fresh alone in the wastelands and hiding from the corporate operatives who seek to weaponize her gift for manipulating electricity. When she ventures into a nearby city, she happens upon a group of teens who also possess incredible abilities. Meanwhile, Cricket is kidnapped by a religious cult known as the Brotherhood and sent into bot battles and Ezekiel finds himself making a dangerous alliance in hopes of reuniting with Lemon and Cricket. With our heroes in more danger than ever before, you won’t be able to put this one down until you’ve turned the very last page.
On shelves: June 25
Wilder Girls is the Kelly’s Pick for Summer 2019, and we’ve been counting down the days until it hits shelves. Rory Power’s debut transports readers to Raxter Island where a mysterious disease known as the Tox has infected every living thing from the plants and animals to the girls stranded there. The government claims a cure is being developed and while the girls wait for news they find themselves transformed: Hetty’s eye bleeds and seals shut, Byatt grows a second spine, and claws emerge on one of Reese’s hands. When Byatt suddenly goes missing, Hetty and Reese team up to find her and along the way discover unsettling clues about what’s really happening on the island. This dark and gory debut explores fierce bonds of friendship and the multitude of ways girls adapt to survive.
(Psst: You can read an excerpt of the book here!)
On shelves: July 9
The first in a new series, Spin The Dawn introduces readers to Maia Tamarin, who believes she has the ability to become the greatest tailor A’landi has ever known. But few believe that girls have the skills to succeed, so when her father receives a message asking him to travel to the Summer Palace to compete to sew for the emperor, Maia disguises herself as a boy and goes in his place. She’s one of 12 who arrive for the tournament, all hoping to earn the emperor’s favor with their designs. The competition is cutthroat and to win Maia must design a gown for his bride crafted from the sun, moon, and stars. Though the task before her seems impossible, she’ll have to make it work if she hopes to survive.
On shelves: July 9
Sixteen-year-old Fie is training for the day she’ll take over for her father as the chief of Crows. The lowest caste in the kingdom of Sabor, Crows are responsible for disposing of the dead. When Fie is summoned to retrieve two corpses from the palace, she’s shocked and furious to discover they aren’t dead at all. Crown Prince Jasimir and his bodyguard Tavin, a Hawk warrior, faked their deaths to protect Ja from Queen Rhusana. Fie wants nothing to do with either of them, until Ja offers her and the rest of the Crows his protection when he takes the throne. Fie must use all of her smarts, strength, and magical gifts to help Ja and Tavin escape the queen’s clutches if she’s ever to see the payoff Ja promised. The first in a duology, The Merciful Crow is sure to leave readers ravenous for more.
On shelves: July 30