It's back to school time, but you'll have to calendar off time away from essay writing and homework because this list of the
best YA books of September is stacked.
We're talking Sarah J. Maas, E. Lockhart, Marie Lu, and Kristin Cashore-level stacked. And that's only four; there's so much more. Let's just say that while you're blocking off YA reading time, you should also be putting aside some of your paycheck because your bookstore bill is going to be high.
This month, young adult authors are going to be taking you along for the ride on a time-traveling ship stealing from the Titanic, amid a fight to the death among three sisters, inside a virtual reality gaming system, alongside two teenagers on the final day of their lives, into a literal dragons den, and to a high school embroiled in a feminist revolution.
There will be fantasy, science fiction, thrillers, romance, fairy tales, and contemporary — and even one novel that blends all of these together. (We're looking at you, Kristin Cashore. Oh how we've missed you.)
So somewhere between your football game tailgates, homecoming parties, your internship (or full-time job!), and daydreaming about being back on the beach from your summer vacation, make room in your packed day planner to tackle these 18 new books on your TBR list.
'Tower of Dawn' by Sarah J. Maas (Sept. 5; Bloomsbury USA Children's)
You'd have to be living like an ostrich with her head in the sand to not know YA titan Sarah J. Maas and her epic Throne of Glass series. (And if you're that ostrich, get to a library immediately.) Tower of Dawn is the series' sixth (!!!) installment, and this time it follows once-Captain of the Guard Chaol Westfall along his
fantastical journey to find legendary healers who may be able to restore him to his former glory. Click here to buy.
'They Both Die at the End' by Adam Silvera (Sept. 5; HarperTeen)
Adam Silvera has quickly become one of the most exciting names in YA literature, but he may outdo even himself in
They Both Die at the End. In an alt-present day, Death Cast notifies people when it's their day to die, but it doesn't tell them how. That's what has happened today to both Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio. To help cope with their final hours, the app Last Friend connects the two strangers, and they live out their last day like they're dying... literally. The story has the diverse, unique love story that we adore about Silvera, and it's both insanely thoughtful and insanely heartbreaking. Click here to buy.
'Genuine Fraud' by E. Lockhart (Sept. 5; Delacorte Press)
If there are two things you can count on E. Lockhart for
it's badass ladies and killer atmosphere — Genuine Fraud has both in droves. With a noted influence from master of thrillers Patricia Highsmith, Lockhart's latest centers on similar-looking best friends and orphans Jule and Immie. Told backward — literally, the book starts with Chapter 18 — over the course of a year, the two women get caught up in mistaken identity, murder, romance, disguises, and so much more. It's a thrilling ride with Lockhart's signature feminist social commentary. Click here to buy.
'Girls Made of Snow and Glass' by Melissa Bashardoust (Sept. 5; Flatiron Books)
If you thought you were done with the re-imagined fairy tale trope, suspend your moratorium for
Girls Made of Snow and Glass. Melissa Bashardoust has created a story more than damsel-in-distress fable — with Lynet playing the Snow White role and magician's daughter Mina playing the not-so-wicked-after-all stepmother. Lynet's father The Bloody Chamber made her in her late mother's image out of snow; Mina's heart has been torn out by her father and replaced with one of glass. Bashardoust goes back and forth in time with both women, telling the story of their rivalry, yes, but more about how men and misogyny have wronged them both. Click here to buy.
'A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares' by Krystal Sutherland (Sept. 5; G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers)
Everyone in Esther Solar's family has been doomed to suffer and die from a debilitating phobia — but Esther doesn't know what her cursed fear is yet. To "prepare" herself, Esther has made a long list of all the kinds of phobias she could have, and then avoids those things in her daily life: spiders, crowds, small spaces... everything she can think of. But when old-friend Jonah Smallwood steals that list, the two
set off to confront every fear. Krystal Sutherland's story is a magical take on mental illness that feels very real. Click here to buy.
'Feral Youth' by Shaun David Hutchinson, Brandy Colbert, Tim Floreen, Ellen Hopkins, Justina Ireland, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Stephanie Kuehn, E.C. Myers, Marieke Nijkamp, and Robin Talley (Sept. 5; Simon Pulse)
Just look at the names featured in
Feral Youth, and you know you need to get your hands on it. Instead of a traditional anthology, these YA writers have teamed up to create a sort of modern-day , with each author telling the story of one of the troubled teens participating in an outdoor survival camp. Sparked by the promise of a cash prize, each person tells a fictional story that reveals so much about that teen's truth. Canterbury Tales Click here to buy.
'Before She Ignites' by Jodi Meadows (Sept. 12; Katherine Tegen Books)
Mira Minkoba is a totem for all that is beautiful and good in her land — on her birthdate, a treaty was signed uniting all the island nations of Fallen Isles. But
her privileged life all changes when she discovers a governmental plot involving her beloved dragons (a love that's considered beneath her place in society), she's relegated to an underground prison. We're given time to explore the lush, intricate world Jodi Meadows builds as Mira's story flashes between her earlier life and now her time in the Pit, constructing a plan to save the dragons and herself. Click here to buy.
'You Bring the Distant Near' by Mitali Perkins (Sept. 12; Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
draws from her own experiences as an Indian immigrant to the United States to tell a beautiful family saga, spanning generations countries around the world. You Bring the Distant Near tells of three generations of Indian women in matriarch Ranee Das's family. There's Ranee, who struggles to protect her family's Indian culture as the go from Ghana to London to Harlem; her daughters Sonia and Tara, one of whom is engaged in a forbidden romance in 1965; and her social-activist grandaughters, Chantal and Anna, in college in 1998. The story is bubbling, funny, moving, epic, and intimate all at once, and it's not one you'll easily forget. Click here to buy.
'Warcross' by Marie Lu (Sept. 12; G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers)
Marie Lu takes on cyber science fiction in her latest YA series, and the result is an immersive thriller that seems as addictive as the "Warcross" game itself. Emika Chen is
a down-and-out teenage hacker-turned-bounty hunter. When she tries to make a little cash by hacking into the Warcross Championship opening ceremony, she catches the attention of the young billionaire creator Hideo Tanaka, and soon finds herself a stealth participant in the games themselves, with a hidden agenda for Hideo. Lu's future world — where virtual reality gaming is an essential part of everyday life — is wildly inventive and wholly realized. You'll be immersed. Click here to buy.
'Spinning' by Tillie Walden (Sept. 12; First Second)
Spinning is the cartoonist's intimately powerful graphic memoir. For 10 years, figuring skating has been Tillie's life. Every morning she woke up before the sun to practice, went back to the rink after school, and spent her weekends competing. Skating is her home away from a difficult life of bulling and family and friend strife. Except, she hates skating. The memoir follows Tillie through her teens as she moves across the country, falls in love with a girl, and explores passions outside of skating. Click here to buy.
'Shadowhouse Fall' by Daniel José Older (Sept. 12; Arthur A. Levine Books)
Daniel José Older's
Shadowshaper was a breakout hit of 2015, and so readers have been clamoring for this sequel — and it may even surpass book one. Sierra is now head Shadowhouse, and the next battle has arrived for her and the rest of the shadowshapers. Older weaves his artistic fantasy world in with real-life struggles with racism and police brutality in Sierra's Brooklyn neighborhood and the result is a smart, relevant, magical tale that feels essential. Click here to buy.
'Landscape With Invisible Hand' by M.T. Anderson (Sept. 12; Candlewick Press)
In 160-short pages M.T. Anderson spins a biting, satirical social commentary that's both totally unique and so on-point. In a series of vignettes,
Landscape with Invisible Hand tells of an alien invasion that brings new technologies and cures to illnesses to Earth. However, these seemingly generous invaders and their obsession the "classic" 1950s-era trends aren't helping as much as they're killing the U.S. economy. Click here to buy.
'Release' by Patrick Ness (Sept. 19; HarperTeen)
Patrick Ness — always one willing to
experiment with storytelling — centers his latest novel on one day in the life of Adam Thorn. Similar to Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, Ness substitutes in an evangelical-raised, gay 17-year-old for the high-society woman. Adam is about to have one of the most intense days of his life, and Ness's story chronicling it is heart-wrenchingly beautiful. Click here to buy.
'Moxie' by Jennifer Mathieu (Sept. 19; Roaring Brook Press)
Jennifer Mathieu's punk feminist
Moxie is a modern homage to the riot grrrl movement and an inspiring call-to-action for women to speak up against a misogynist culture. Fed up with sexist dress codes and a "boys will be boys" attitude in her high school Viv takes a cue from her mother's past as a riot grrl and anonymously circulates a feminist zine — which quickly becomes a full-blown, intersectional feminist revolution. Click here to buy.
'Jane, Unlimited' by Kristin Cashore (Sept. 19; Kathy Dawson Books)
After the Graceling series, we've been waiting what seems like ages for one of our favorite fantasy authors to return with a new book — but if you expected Kristin Cashore's latest to be just like her series we adore, you're in for a thrilling surprise.
Jane, Unlimited tells the story of ordinary girl Jane and her trip to visit family at the island mansion Tu Reviens — in fact, it tells that same story five times, in five different genres. Starting from the beginning and re-telling the tale in espionage, horror, science fiction, mystery, and fantasy genres unravels the secrets of Tu Reviens. Click here to buy.
'One Dark Throne' by Kendare Blake (Sept. 19; HarperTeen)
Sisters Katharine, Arsinoe, and Mirabella are back to continue their fight to the death in Kendare Blake's sequel to
Three Dark Crowns, One Dark Throne. And this time, it's even darker and grislier than before, in a hauntingly beautiful way. Arsinoe seems to be overtaking the major favorite Mirabella in her hunt for the crown, but there are plenty of twists, switches, and changing bonds that will occur in the path to victory. Readers will be as captivated by the unpredictable challenge as the locals in Fennburn. Click here to buy.
'Starfish' by Akemi Dawn Bowman (Sept. 26; Simon Pulse)
Kiko Himura has one plan: Graduate and attend her dream art school, Prism. So when she doesn't get in, her world is shattered, and it couldn't come at a worse time. Her already rocky home life — her mother demeans her Japanese heritiage — is completely dismantled when her abusive uncle moves in. Without a backup plan and refusing to stay in her home, Kiko takes up an offer from a childhood friend to stay with him and explore other art schools on the West Coast. In Akemi Dawn Bowman's
dazzling and moving story, Kiko has to learn to break away from the constricting walls both she and the world has built around her and figure out who she truly is and can be. Click here to buy.
'Invictus' by Ryan Graudin (Sept. 26; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Born between times, Farway Gaius "Far"
McCarthy's existence defies nature's laws. His parents are a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 A.D. and a Roman gladiator in 95 A.D. Now, as a teenager, Far commands a cast of characters aboard time-travelling ship committing thefts for the black market all through history. But then they meet the mysterious Eliot while doing a job aboard the sinking Titanic and it chances everything for Far. Ryan Graudin's electric adventure story has notes of the beloved Firefly, and so much more. There's high-tech futuristic worlds woven in with major historical events and a cast you'll want to travel the world with. Click here to buy.