Labor Day weekend is always a bit of a double-edged sword–it’s a nice long weekend to relax and eat lots of barbeque but the end of it means that it’s actually September and the start of fall. Already. Here in Seattle this means crossing our fingers that we can stave off the fall rains for one more month (please, please, please…). This September there are so many stellar YA books that the best books list for the month has a half-dozen that just couldn’t be left out.
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Our spotlight pick for the month and a book I’ll continue to recommend for the rest of the year and beyond. The novel centers around boy-girl twins who are extremely close and also extremely competitive. The narrative alternates between Noah filling in the time when they were thirteen and Jude telling their story three years later, at sixteen. Somewhere in the middle things went horribly wrong and picking up clues and peeling back layers page-by-page is an unforgettable experience. I’ll Give You the Sun captures several complicated relationships in one remarkable story that has me wondering if it has left an indelible mark on my mind. I hope so.
Skink–No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen
In his first YA novel, Carl Hiaasen introduces a new generation of readers to one of his most popular characters. Richard and his cousin Malley have always had each other’s back, so after Malley disappears with a man she met on the internet, Richard knows he’s got to get her back fast. Luckily, Richard stumbles (literally) upon Skink, a man who doles out his own brand of swamp justice to eco-terrorists and sleazy internet predators alike. Skink, No Surrender is classic Hiaasen: quirky, funny, thoughtful, and compulsively readable.
Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen
Imagine a super-hot guy high school librarian who has Cyn’s best friend turning to the stacks like never before. Now imagine the hot librarian is really a demon using the student body like a supermarket of souls and his source for a future wife. Cyn finds herself somehow immune to his charms but she’s definitely in the minority. Add lots of laughs, crushes, more demons, romance, and unholy high school embarrassment opportunities, and you’ve got your next favorite read in Michelle Knudsen’s clever horror/comedy.
Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire
Gregory Maguire’s new novel is one of those unique stories that readers in a wide range of ages will love and I’ve been recommending it to all of them. Maguire is known for putting his twist on a familiar tale with Wicked, and in Egg & Spoon he does it again with the best known characters from Russian folklore, Baba Yaga and the Firebird. Russian history and class disparity are explored through a fantasy adventure that has all the ingredients of a beloved fairy tale: mistaken identity, bravery, unlikely friendship, and a magical setting. An utterly delightful read.
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
Such a cool concept to this YA story-within-a-YA story, and Westerfeld lives up to the promise. I’m not gonna lie, this book is a door stopper, but somehow it doesn’t bog down despite the page count (don’t even look). All you want to know is what’s happening next in the YA novel titled Afterworlds, written by the main character, Darcy, and in the story about Darcy that you are also reading in the pages of Afterworlds as written by Scott Westerfeld. I hope that isn’t too confusing, because it really works–you’ll see.
The Infinite Sea: The Second Book of the 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
For my reaction to this one just insert your favorite my-jaw-hit-the-floor phrase here. If you thought Yancey threw some curveballs in The 5th Wave, get out your catcher’s mitt because he’s on fire in the sequel. And the best part is, this is a well-plotted, thoughtfully written story with deliberate twists that add to the puzzle just when you had all the border pieces filled in. I don’t want to spoil anything, so let’s just say this is another obsessive read that had me looking back through the pages after it was all over. We’ll talk more once it’s published on September 16th.