Jenny is the magnificent and discerning co-host of the Reading the End bookcast. She blogs about books and other sundries at the very entertaining Reading the End, where you can go for even more book recs in genres other than YA. She is also a champion goal-setter and loves a good library book sale.
In the first month of 2019, I have elected to address one of my major regrets about this column: I do not talk enough about sequels. In part, this is because I want to introduce people to books, and sequels are a harder sell—which as I’m writing this seems like a flimsy excuse. In another part, it’s because I am often behind the times on first books, which makes it harder to recommend second ones. Standalones or firsts-in-a-series are easy recs, by comparison.
But that does leave a bunch of amazing sequels out in the cold, YA Agenda–wise, and I’ve chosen to start 2019 off by talking about a few of the ones I loved this year.
I am inspired in particular by Sarah Tolcser’s Whisper of the Tide, a sequel to Song of the Current, which I also loved. Both books in this duology are damn good adventure novels about a girl at sea who accidentally runs into political conspiracy. Doesn’t hurt that the covers are gorgeous, so you’ll be thrilled to have them on your shelf. Whisper of the Tide came out in June. The initial rush at your library or bookstore should have worn off by now, so the time is ripe.
Mackenzi Lee’s A Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy isn’t so much as sequel as a companion novel to last year’s A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. It follows Monty’s sister Felicity, who will stop at nothing to realize her dream of becoming a doctor—even if that means fleeing to Germany with a pirate in the hopes of meeting someone willing to train her. A Lady’s Guide has everything you loved about A Gentleman’s Guide, except with a greater assurance in writing, a canonically asexual protagonist, and complicated lady friendships coming out its ears.
Tara Sim’s Chainbreaker follows onto her delightfully strange Timekeeper, which was about a boy who falls in love with a clock. In Chainbreaker, Danny and his friend Daphne (a biracial mechanic!) travel to Agra to discover who’s behind a mysterious rash of clock tower bombings. Back home, the clock spirit Colton finds his tower in danger and takes the risk of traveling to India to find and protect Danny. Be warned: Chainbreaker ends on a hell of a cliffhanger!
Though I am in the tank all day for hopepunk, I love Kendare Blake’s Three Dark Crowns series for its relentless darkness and strangeness—though I have every hope things will turn out well for all the heroines. The series is about three sister queens, one of whom must kill the other two in order to claim the throne. The girls have other plans. Two Dark Reigns is the latest and penultimate entrant in the series, and it will leave you desperate for the subsequent books. I love all three queens, and I extra-love Arsinoe’s ferociously loyal best friend Jules.
January YA Releases I’m Anticipating
Was it always the case that all of YA featured the aftermaths of violent death? I’m asking
rhetorically but I’d like a break from it. I would like that break to occur, however, after the release
of Kristin Russell’s debut A Sky for Us Alone (8 January, Katherine Tegen Books). Harlowe is grieving the death of his brother at the hands of the family that control everything in Strickland County. Can we think of some kind of hashtag to promote southern authors writing southern books?
Like much of America, I had very mediocre sex ed in school, which was still much better sex ed than a lot of people received. Olivia Hinebaugh’s The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me (22 January, Swoon Reads) is about a teenager who starts giving out sex advice and contraception in response to her school’s inadequate sex ed curriculum. (American sex ed curricula are so inadequate I want to scream.) Soon Lacey is keeping way more secrets than she intended. It all sounds delightfully Easy A-ish.
The Gilded Wolves, by Roshani Chokshi (15 January, Wednesday Books) is the start of a new series for those of us who didn’t get a chance to hop on The Star-Touched Queen while the hopping was good. It sounds frankly extraordinary: Paris in 1889; a powerful secret society; a team-up; chosen siblings; DID I SAY TEAM-UP LOUDLY ENOUGH THE FIRST TIME? I have decided to be early to the Gilded Wolves party so that you all quickly forget that I still haven’t read The Star-Touched Queen. Let’s never speak of that again. Roshani Chokshi sounds terrific.
When was the last time you read a high school novel where someone got to say, "Am I a bet, am I a bet, am I a fucking bet?" Because if it’s been too long for you (it has for me), it sounds like Muhammad Khan’s Kick the Moon (24 January, Macmillan Children’s Books) will have us covered. Our protagonist Ilyas is not the bet-maker: He’s a teenager working too hard who strikes up an unlikely friendship with good-girl Kelly Matthews, who is in the process of being seduced by a bad boy on a bet. (Ilyas also draws superhero comics.)
Oh, I do enjoy Lamar Giles. As a general rule I prefer SFFy YA novels to contemporary ones, because as a general rule I prefer SFF to other genres. Lamar Giles’s thrillers are a huge exception. Overturned delighted me, and I’m looking forward to his new one, Spin, coming from Scholastic Press on 29 January 2019. A local DJ has been murdered, and her best friend Kya and lead groupie Fuse are both out to find out who did it. (They suspect each other. If grudging respect doesn’t form, I’m mutinying.)
YA fans, I wish you truly the happiest New Year. What are you looking forward to?