We're still reveling in the best teen books of 2015, both award winners and our personal favorites, but 2016 YA lit is looking promising. It's almost impossible to cover them all, so first, a list of series continuations we're excited about (so far!):
Now that that's out of the way, read on for the most-anticipated 2016 YA books:
Passenger by Alexandra Bracken (Disney-Hyperion, 1/5)
The Darkest Minds author kicks off a new time-traveling series this month, starring a violin prodigy who suddenly finds herself on a wooden ship in the 1700s. She's carrying on the time-traveling legacy of her mother, Rose, who's on the run from a power-hungry, wealthy old man named Cyrus Ironwood who wants her to return something he believes she’s stolen. Read our interview with Bracken about Passenger.
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (Philomel, 2/2)
A new book from Sepetys is exciting for readers of all ages, not just teens. (Check out the February 2016 LibraryReads list!) Her new World War II drama spotlights the greatest maritime disaster in history—not the Titanic—the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German military ship evacuating civilians and wounded soldiers at the tail end of the war. View all our reviews of Sepetys' previous books.
Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina (Candlewick, 3/8)
Medina, author of the Pura Belpré Author Award winner Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, takes readers to New York City in the hot summer of 1977, full of blackouts and arson, when a serial killer named Son of Sam has been shooting young women on the streets. Medina grew up in Queens during this dangerous era, so we're excited for her to fill our minds with hazy days, disco and electrified feminism.
The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle (Simon & Schuster, 3/29)
Better Nate Than Never author Federle makes his YA debut with another story about a youngster who dreams of having his name in lights. Sixteen-year-old Quinn Roberts had plans for Hollywood before his sister, Annabeth, was killed in an accident. As sad as this sounds, we know Federle will take it in a direction that will have us laughing and dreaming those starry-eyed dreams.
This Is the Story of You by Beth Kephart (Chronicle, 4/12)
We fall in love with Kephart more and more every year, with novels like Going Over and Small Damages tapping into the joy and pain of the complex teenage experience. We're looking forward to her poetic writing and thoughtful plotting in this story of life after a superstorm destroys one girl's island home. View all our reviews of Kephart's previous books.
Saving Montgomery Sole by Mariko Tamaki (Roaring Brook, 4/19)
Tamaki is part of the team that brought us the Caldecott Honor and Printz Honor-winning This One Summer, which was one of our favorite YA books of 2014 and one of our all-time favorite YA graphic novels. In this new novel, 16-year-old outcast Montgomery, along with her two BFFs, creates the Mystery Club for investigating paranormal activity. View all our reviews of Tamaki's previous books.
The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight (Harper, 5/3)
McCreight (Reconstructing Amelia) was apparently inspired to write her YA debut as a warning to her daughters. This first book in a new series is about a troubled teenage girl trying to overcome her fears and find her missing best friend via some cryptic clues. View all our reviews of McCreight's previous books.
Whisper to Me by Nick Lake (Bloomsbury, 5/3)
The latest novel from Printz Award winner Lake is one girl's letter to the boy whose heart she broke, examining the summer when everything went wrong. Love is such a mess. Sing us the blues, Lake. View all our reviews of Lake's previous books.
Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley (Dial, 5/10)
It's like a recent offshoot of YA "sick lit": friendships and romances that feature one character who will not, or cannot, leave their house. They're agoraphobic, allergic to the sunlight, suffer from immune deficiencies, etc. Printz Award winner Whaley's new book features an agoraphobic 16-year-old who becomes the pet project of ambitious, wannabe psychologist Lisa. View all our reviews of Whaley's previous books.
Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, edited by Stephanie Perkins (St. Martins Griffin, 5/19)
Perkins (Isla and the Happily Ever After) brings together summery love stories from 12 bestselling YA authors, including Leigh Bardugo, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare and more. Summer reading has never sounded so fun.
You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour (St. Martin's Griffin, June 7)
Levithan seems to always be whipping up something great with other authors (John Green, Rachel Cohn), and we're ridiculously excited to see that he's collaborating with LaCour. Told in alternating points of view, You Know Me Well is the tale of an unlikely friendship between two high-schoolers who have sat next to each other all year but never spoken, until one fateful night.
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab (Greenwillow, 7/5)
Schwab kicks off a new series with this high fantasy, set in the city of Verity, which has been overrun with monsters, born from the worst of human evil. Schwab has said it's the "strangest book [she's] ever written." Sign us up. View all our reviews of Schwab's previous books.
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (Little, Brown, 9/27)
Originally announced on Taylor's website as a standalone titled The Muse of Nightmares, this new book will be the first in a duology about a war between gods and men, mythic heroes and epic librarians, alchemy and monsters and magic. View all our reviews of Taylor's previous books.
Heartless by Marissa Meyer (Feiwel & Friends, 11/8)
Meyer wrapped up her Lunar Chronicles with Winter last November, though she's releasing a selection of Lunar Chronicles stories in February, titled Stars Above. Coming next fall, Meyer's first standalone YA novel is being called a prequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, with a young Queen of Hearts who just wants to fall in love.
Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs (Dutton)
Ahead of Tim Burton's film adaptation of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Riggs will publish a new illustrated collection of fairy tales set within the world of the bestselling Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series.
What YA books are you most looking forward to this year? Share in the comments below.
Sedgwick, who won the 2014 award for Midwinterblood, has always been fascinated with spirals, "which occur throughout nature from the microscopic to the interstellar." The Ghosts of Heaven (Roaring Brook) is composed of four "quarters," leaping from prehistory to centuries later, that can be read in any order and are all connected by sprials in some way. It's exactly the sort of narrative that Sedgwick alone can handle.
Lake, who won in 2013 for In Darkness, offers a new literary thriller that was inspired by a haunting moment in his own life: A coyote ran across his path in Scottsdale, Arizona, and this image resonated through his mind and life until coming to rest within the pages of There Will Be Lies (Bloomsbury). In a letter at the book's opening, Lake writes, "It's a book about canyons, about chasms, about cracks in reality; and it's a book about what lies beyond them."
Are you as excited for these two novels as I am?
A very sad day indeed: Walter Dean Myers died yesterday at the age of 76 following a brief illness, according to the Children's Book Council.
Myers was and will continue to be an icon in children's literature. He received two Newbery Honors, six Coretta Scott King Awards and Honors, the first-ever Michael L. Printz Award and the first Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement. In 2012 he was appointed the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and served for two years. Over the course of his 45-year career, he authored more than 100 books, both fiction and nonfiction, poetry and prose.
Richard Robinson, Chairman, President and CEO of Scholastic, shared some kind words:
“Walter Dean Myers changed the face of children’s literature by representing the diversity of the children of our nation in his award-winning books. He was a deeply authentic person and writer who urged other authors, editors and publishers not only to make sure every child could find him or herself in a book, but also to tell compelling and challenging stories that would inspire children to reach their full potential. My favorite quote from Walter is a clarion call to embrace the power of books to inform and transform our lives – he said, ‘Once I began to read, I began to exist.’ He will be missed by us all.”
Look back through our coverage of some of our favorites. Myers will certainly be missed.
Meg Wolitzer, author of The Interestings, will publish a new young adult (YA) novel this September! Coming from Dutton Children's Books, Belzhar is inspired by The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.
It's the story of 16-year-old Jam Gallahue, who is coping with the death of her boyfriend. She is sent to a boarding school in rural Vermont for "emotionally fragile, highly intelligent" teens, and she is placed in a small, elite English class that is reading Sylvia Plath. During this semester, Jam and her classmates discover a fantastical and strange world called Belzhar.
Wolitzer spoke with NPR about the new book, what it's like to write a YA novel and how Plath inspired her. I found her explanation of the Belzhar world to be especially intriguing:
". . . I guess it can be described as a kind of alternate universe in which the person (or thing) they've lost is returned to them. The fantasy is fairly lightly handled (I hope), and to my thinking somewhat metaphorical. It's about having unmet needs met, about getting rid of the ache of loss. I also employed a very light drift of fantasy in my adult novel The Uncoupling, as well as in a book for middle-grade readers about kids who meet at a Scrabble tournament, called The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman. (I remember comparing the level of fantasy in Duncan Dorfman to the amount of fudge running through one of those ice cream sundae cups we ate as kids: a very light vein, a suggestive and necessary ripple.)"
I can see this one having major crossover appeal for Wolitzer fans of all ages. Who else is excited?
What's not to love? His books are hilarious. Even though I'm not a teacher, a librarian or a parent, I have been a camp counselor and a big sister to a tween (a long time ago)—and I've seen how readers giggle as they turn the pages, then demand the next book in the Series of Unfortunate Events. (How many arguments did my tween sister and I have over which was better: Harry Potter or Unfortunate Events?)
So I am very excited to share that Lemony Snicket's "authorized autobiographical account of his childhood" will come out on October 23, with a first printing of one million copies. This will be part one of four. The first book is called Who Could That Be at This Hour?.
In a funny press release from publisher Little, Brown, there's a quote from Snicket himself: "These books are questionable and contain questions. I, for one, question why anyone would be interested in reading them.”
Are you excited about reading Who Could That Be at This Hour? What's your favorite Snicket book?
Also in BookPage: Read an interview with Snicket's "representative," Daniel Handler, about his Printz Honor Book, Why We Broke Up. Read about one star-struck editor's experience of meeting Handler at ALA.
Big news for fans of Holly Black! The author of The Spiderwick Chronicles has signed a deal to write a new book called The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. This story is set in the "not-so-distant future" and is about a place "where the vampire population has surged, resulting in the establishment of Coldtowns, quarantined cities of vampires and humans where predator and prey coexist in a never-ending blood party of revelry, with vlogs, live feeds, and YouTube videos constantly streaming from the endless parties at vampire mansions" (via Publishers Marketplace).
If you're a big fan of Black and that title sounds familiar, it's probably because you've read her story collection The Poison Eaters, which includes a tale called “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown." BookPage reviewed this collection in February of this year, praising Black's range.
If you can't wait until Fall 2013 for the release of the new book, you ought to read (or revisit) The Poison Eaters. Here's a preview, from our review:
Black has a gift for creating the kind of edgy, original stories teens love. She describes this collection as “rather like a lunatic cocktail party: a poisonous girl, who spends most of her undeath arguing with her ghostly sisters, a costume designer still mourning a childhood lover stolen by faeries, a wolf who might also be a prince, and a teenager who needs to drink herself into oblivion to keep from craving human blood.”
I wonder if this is the sort of tale Maria Tatar, chair of Harvard’s folklore and mythology program, had in mind when she wrote Sunday's op-ed for the New York Times titled "No More Adventures in Wonderland"?
If you're wondering whether reader enthusiasm is still high for a series started nearly a decade ago, I think Random House would say that the answer is "yes." The publisher has announced a first printing of 2.5 million (!). Combined, the first three books in the series have sold more than 25 million copies around the world.
As the series nears its conclusion, it's fun to look back at some of BookPage's coverage. In 2003, when James Neal Webb reviewed Eragon, Paolini was only 20 years old, and Webb commented on the "exciting beginning" of the author's long writing career.
Two years later, Jay MacDonald interviewed Paolini about Eldest, and the author appeared on the cover of BookPage. It's amusing to read Paolini's reflections on massive success at such a young age, and his answer to a question regarding his own personal Arya (a.k.a. love interest) made me smile.
Finally, in 2008, Karen Holt interviewed the author about Brisingr. During this conversation, Paolini spoke at length on the weight of his fans' expectations—a pressure that has only been elevated for book #4.
What are your expectations for Inheritance? Will you be part of the large number of fans who buy the book immediately on publication date?
What do you think Paolini will work on next?
Kelly—I'll be sending an e-mail your way in the next few minutes.
And keep your eyes on The Book Case for more great contests! (Like the one going on right now.)
Best-selling teen author Alyson Noël posted today on her blog that she's got a new series in the works called The Soul Seekers. Noël is the author of the popular Immortals series, about a girl who can "see auras, hear people's thoughts, and know a person's entire life story by touch." She's also written books outside of the series, including the romantic Fly Me to the Moon, "a Grey's Anatomy of the skies."
The new series will take place in the Southwest and it's about a sixteen year old girl who is able to walk among the Underworld, the Upperworld, and the dead.I will begin research/writing the first book sometime this winter (must finish UNTITLED IMMORTALS #6 first!), and it will be in stores probably sometime around early 2012.
The series went to St. Martin's for a whopping 7 figures—further proof that supernatural teen fiction isn't going anywhere. In fact, we are addressing this topic in tomorrow's edition of BookPage Reading Corner, our twice-monthly children's/teen e-newsletter filled with author interviews, book reviews and giveaways. Click here to sign up!
Children's Book Week has been around since 1919, and this year the celebration runs from May 10-16. I love these posters for the week:
The Children's Book Week website is a great resource for parents and young readers themselves. You can. . .
If you've been looking for a fun and easy way to get comprehensive info about books for kids and teens, this is it. Our first issue will come out May 26, but you can sign up now.
As our launch date gets closer, I'll post more about the newsletter, including info on how to enter a stellar kids book giveaway.
What is your family, library, school or bookstore doing to celebrate Children's Book Week? Let us know in the comments section, and share some ideas for other readers. . .