What do an all-female pirate ship, inhabitants of a distant moon, and Catwoman have in common? They're all going to be part of your epic August summer reading experience. The best YA books of August are pulling out all the stops to make sure that before fall rolls around again, you get your fill of great books to lose yourself in by the pool, on the beach, or sitting right net to the air conditioner in your window.
The blockbuster here is, of course, the latest installment of the DC Icon's series, Sarah J. Maas' take on her Catwoman origin story, Catwoman: Soulstealer. But other authors are upping the ante on action and adventure, such as Natalie C. Parker with the aforementioned female captain of an all-woman ship hellbent on taking down the man that wronged them all in Seafire, and Sara Raasch's major fantasy-religious-political-thriller mashup, These Rebel Waves.
Plus, there are also two timely collections of stories and essays you need to add to your bookshelf. Fresh Ink is a collaboration with We Need Diverse Books, and Our Stories, Our Voices centers on stories about growing up female in America.
That's definitely not all. Check out the list of the 12 best YA books coming out in August to wind down your summer reading.
'Catwoman: Soulstealer' by Sarah J. Maas (August 7; Random House Books for Young Readers)
In the third installment of the DC Icons YA series, fantasy star Sarah J. Maas takes on one of the most iconic villains in the DC comics universe: Catwoman. The story follows 17-year-old Selina Kyle two years after she escapes the Gotham slums and returns home with a new identity as the socialite Holly Vanderhees. In the evenings, however, she moonlights as Catwoman. While Batman is away from Gotham, she teams up with other major female villains, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, along with Luke Fox (son of Wayne Industries' Lucius Fox) to rule the Underworld. We get a peek into Catwoman's motivations by tying in her younger half sister who has cystic fibrosis, but honestly we were already kind of cheering for her anyway, right?
'Heretics Anonymous' by Katie Henry (August 7; Katherine Tegen Books)
After yet another move because of his father's job, atheist Michael has to enroll in strict Catholic school St. Clare's. But then he meets Lucy — a feminist who wants to become a priest and reform the Church from the inside — and she introduces him to Heretics Anonymous, a whole group of St. Clare's outcasts, each for their own reason. When Michael pushes the group to go from "secret society" to rebels against the school, he takes things too far and puts everyone at risk. Taking a page from Saved!, Heretics Anonymous is a funny, thoughtful story that doesn't paint in black and white, as characters have to grapple with their faith... though not necessarily in a religious sense.
'Finding Yvonne' by Brandy Colbert (August 7; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Yvonne has always been a talented violinist, but on the cusp of high school graduation, she wonders if she's good enough to attend a conservatory post-grad. Worse, she's not sure if she ever truly had the passion for it. It's a difficult thing to face because of how her violin has always been there for her, especially after her mother walked out on the family when she was little and her relationship with her famous chef father went downhill. She doesn't feel she can open to her kinda-sorta boyfriend Warren, but then she meets Omar, a violinist busker and college drop-out, who she feels can understand her questions. Then, Yvonne becomes pregnant, only complicating her future. Brandy Colbert gives us a very relatable character — who hasn't feel confused by their future? — in her emotionally layered story.
'These Rebel Waves' by Sara Raasch (August 7; Balzer + Bray)
Sara Raasch's new YA duology is a twisty, page-turning political thriller-fantasy adventure—a genre mashup that totally works. These Rebel Waves is inspired by the Spanish Inquisition and takes place on the magic-rich island of Grace Loray. Five years ago, soldier Adeluna ("Lu") helped the island overthrow its strictly religious oppressor country, Agrid. However, during peace talks an Argridian delegate vanishes and the country quickly blames the island's magic, and specifically teenage pirate Devereux ("Vex"). Also in the mix is Agrid's crown prince Benat ("Ben") who is enchanted by Grace Loray and its magic, though he hides it from his country.
'Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America' edited by Amy Reed (August 14; Simon Pulse)
Twenty-one female YA authors of diverse backgrounds write about growing up female in America and the ways it intersects with race, class, religion, and more in this stunning anthology. The list of contributing authors is like a who's who of YA writers right now: Dumplin's Julie Murphy, Somaiya Daud (whose book Mirage is also out this month), When Dimple Met Rishi's Sandhya Menon, the prolific Ellen Hopkins, National Book Award nominee Anna-Marie McLemore, and so, so many more.
'The Looking Glass' by Janet McNally (August 14; HarperTeen)
Janet McNally puts the spotlight on sisterhood in her latest YA novel. Sisters Sylvie and Julia are both aspiring ballerinas at the National Ballet Theatre Academy, but older sister Julia has always been the star. That is, until Julia suffered an injury and disappeared from New York. Not even Sylvie could find her. Then, a year later, Sylvie receives a package: a book of fairy tales that she and her sister loved when they were younger. Inside is a list of names, and Sylvie believes that if she can track down these people, she can find Julia. So with the help of a little Fleetwood Mac on the soundtrack and her best friend's older brother Jack and his car, Sylvie takes off on a road trip to find her sister.
'See All the Stars' by Kit Frick (August 14; Margaret K. McElderry Books)
Kit Frick's See All the Stars intermingles two kinds of love stories, —romantic and friendship — with a psychological thriller told in two timelines, Then and Now. The story centers on four best friends: Bex, Jenni, Ellory, Ret. Ret is the center, the sun. In "Then," the four friends are enjoying a perfect summer, and Ellory is even falling in love with a longtime crush Matthias. In "Now," Ellory is returning to school a senior, estranged from her friends and without a boyfriend. As the two timelines unfold, we learn of an "incident" that changes everything for the friends, though it becomes murky who and what the reader can trust. If you're looking for a riveting summer page-turner, you found it.
'Fresh Ink: An Anthology' edited by Lamar Giles (August 14; Crown Books for Young Readers)
In partnership with We Need Diverse Books, Lamar Giles and 12 other YA authors of diverse backgrounds contributed to this anthology of short stories, a graphic story, and a one-act play. Huge, huge names in YA participated in the project, including Melissa de la Cruz, Daniel Jose Older, Walter Dean Myers, Malinda Lo, Jason Reynolds, and more.
'To Be Honest' by Maggie Ann Martin (August 21; Swoon Reads)
This body-positive YA novel centers on high school senior Savannah, "Savvy," whose home life just got shaken up. Her super-close older sister just went to college, leaving Savannah alone with her weight-loss-obsessed mother. Her mom is coming off a stint on an extreme weight-loss show after her husband cheated on her and left her for her friend. Now, Savannah's mother fills the house with "thinspiration" posts that her daughter feels are both unhealthy and a pointed message to Savannah about her own weight. For her part, Savannah is comfortable in her skin and loves wearing bright colors to stand out. This summer read tackles difficult subjects—anxiety and mental health, eating disorders, and more—while still keeping it a light and fun story about all kinds of love: parental, sibling, friendship, romantic, and most importantly, loving yourself.
'Darius the Great Is Not Okay' by Adib Khorram (August 28; Dial Books)
Adib Khorram's debut YA novel centers on Darius Kellner, whose family travels from the U.S. to visit his sick grandfather in Iran. Suffering from depression and bullied in America, Darius doesn't feel like he fits in in Iran either. His feelings change when he meets the boy next door, Sohrab, and makes a real friend for the first time. Darius the Great Is Not Okay brings Iran alive, with sounds and smells and imagery, and you'll tearfully be rooting for Darius as he struggles with this mental health, identity, and his place in the world.
'Seafire' by Natalie C. Parker (August 28; Razorbill)
Natalie C. Parker's Seafire launches a trilogy about Caledonia Styx, the captain of an all-female ship, the Mors Navis. Everyone on Caledonia's crew has been wronged by corrupt warlord Aric Athair and his bloodthirsty army, including the captain herself, whose entire family was murdered by the tyrant. Now, they have one mission: to take down Aric's armored fleet. However, when one of Aric's soldiers, a.k.a. a Bullet, defects and attempts to join the Mors Navis crew, Caledonia doesn't know if she should trust a man, one of Aric's, to enter into her all-female world. Get ready for more feminist adventure, because there's a cliffhanger ending that will have you dying for the next.
'Mirage' by Somaiya Daud (August 28; Flatiron Books)
Inspired by recent Moroccan history, Somaiya Daud tells the story of the distant moon of Cadiz that has been overthrown and occupied by the brutal Vathek empire. Teenage Amani of Cadiz is a dreamer and has always wanted a life of adventure, but she may get more than what she bargained for when she is abducted by the Vath during her coming-of-age ceremony. She learns that she is practically a doppelganger of the princess Maram vak Mathis, who is beautiful but rumored to be as cruel as her Vathek father. Amani is trained as the princess' body double in case of assassination attempts. Daud builds a rich world with a lot of real-history allusions packed into a page-turning adventure story that will have you begging for the next installment.