These New YA Novels Are Just What You Need To Make It Through To Labor Day

by Caitlin White

Summer is coming to an end — even though it totally just started, right? And before the rush of heading back to college or back from your vacation from work, you also have to get in your final TBR add-ons for your summer reading. Not to make this even more difficult, but this list of 14 of the best YA novels of August 2017 is going to make that reading pile a bit longer. (Come on, you can handle it.)

Just like in the movie theaters, superheroes and comic books are dominating this month in the literary world, with YA titans like Leigh Bardugo and Jason Reynolds adapting stories starring Wonder Woman (omg, yes, more Diana, please!) and Spider-Man alter-ego Miles Morales. (We love you, Peter Parker, but you can step aside for this one.)

They're both stories non-DC or Marvel lovers (or even non-comic lovers) can totally read and fall head over heels for, but if you were looking for a break from all the superheroes, plenty of other YA authors have you covered.

This month there are singing ghosts, deals with the devil, teen pregnancies, camping trips going horrifically wrong, spellbooks, resurrecting people from the dead, family curses, unusual love triangles, and more. Basically you have all the makings of a top-notch final month of summer reading.

Better get started if you want to finish before Labor Day.

'When I Am Through With You' by Stephanie Kuehn (Aug. 1; Dutton Books for Young Readers)

Written as a letter from prison, Stephanie Kuehn's latest thriller tells the story of a school camping trip in the mountains that went horrifically awry. In his letter, Ben Gibson admits to killing his girlfriend, the love of his life, Rose — but in true Kuehn fashion, it's never as simple as good vs. evil, criminal vs. victim. As Ben crafts his story of that fateful trip, readers will become encompassed in the secrets threatening to burst onto the surface and all the twists and turns, internally and externally, that lead him here.

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'Miles Morales: Spiderman' by Jason Reynolds (Aug. 1; Marvel Press)

Jason Reynolds + Miles Morales = a match made in all our literary nerdy dreams. Miles is the first black and Puerto Rican character to become Spider-Man, and he trades in Peter Parker's comfortable suburban existence for the Brooklyn projects, where his family has a criminal past. In this story, Miles has earned a scholarship to the elite Brooklyn Visions Academy, but his spidey senses are on the fritz and he's not feeling at home in a school that lectures on the "benefits of slavery." Even if you're not a Marvel or comics fan, you'll fall for Jason Reynolds' Miles Morales because at its heart, it's a fully human — not superhuman — story.

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'The Authentics' by Abdi Nazemian (Aug. 8; Balzer + Bray)

"The Authentics" is her book's title, but it's also the concept Abdi Nazemian seeks to subvert and re-imagine in her story. Iranian-American Daria Esfandyar and her friends call themselves "the Authentics" because they're proud of their heritage — in contrast to the "Nose Job" Persian girl clique in her high school. But after researching her family history for a school project, Daria uncovers information that sends her sense of identity off-kilter. Nazemian's funny and wholly thought-provoking novel explores culture, family, and how we choose to define ourselves.

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'The Hearts We Sold' by Emily Lloyd-Jones (Aug. 8; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

Dee Moreno has made a deal with the devil — literally. In True Blood-esque style, demons have made themselves public in this world, announcing the existence of their community in a press conference when Dee was just a child. Now, as a teen, to escape the danger and turmoil from her alcoholic, abusive parents, she has made a deal with one of those demons: her heart to escape her home, via money to attend a boarding school. As any Faust reader will know, these kind of deals are always more than the character has bargained for. Emily Lloyd-Jones thrusts readers into her imaginative demon fable alongside Dee, where we meet the other "heartless," battle monsters, and even fall in love... all without a heart.

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'Spellbook of the Lost and Found' by Moïra Fowley-Doyle (Aug. 8; Kathy Dawson Books)

Moïra Fowley-Doyle brings that same beautiful maybe-magical realism (is it magic, or isn't it?) of The Accident Season to her sophomore novel Spellbook of the Lost and Found. After their summer annual bonfire, people in this small Irish town begin losing things. Olive loses small things first, such as hair clips and jewelry, but — after Rose loses something much bigger, which she won't speak of — soon she loses her BFF Rose, too. Olive meets up with Ivy and twins Hazel and Rowan, who are living in an abandoned housing development, and then, the lost things start re-appearing in town, including pages of a diary written by a girl named Laurel. Soon, a spellbook appears that claims to make things go missing and conjure back up, and that's when the secrets really start to unravel among this group of people. Lush and atmospheric, fans of Fowley-Doyle will be right at home in this imaginative novel.

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'This Is Not the End' by Chandler Baker (Aug. 8; Disney-Hyperion)

Lake Devereaux's world is the same as ours — except every person on their 18th birthday is allowed to resurrect one person who has died. There are rules, of course: no one who has committed suicide and no one who has paid for the opportunity. But ever since her brother's accident that left him paralyzed, Lake's resurrection has been illegally dedicated to him. That's before Lake is in a car accident that kills both her best friend and her boyfriend, the two people that have made her whole world since her brother's tragedy took him and her parents (mentally) away from her. Now, Lake has to decide which of the three gets her resurrection, but the more she digs into the lives of the people she thought were the closest to her, the more secrets are uncovered. Chandler Baker's story is almost compulsively readable, and you'll be tearing through the pages to the final twist reveal, but it's celebration of life and living along the way that makes it so powerful.

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'Little & Lion' by Brandy Colbert (Aug. 8; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

Suzette has spent the year at her New England boarding school, but now she's happy to be home in Los Angeles for the summer. Mostly she's happy to be back with her brother Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Things quickly take a turn, however, when Lionel tells Suzette he's going off his medicine. As she struggles with the responsibility for keeping her brother's secret and trying to keep him mentally healthy, she's also still dealing with a homophobic act that outed her first ever same-sex relationship in school. To make matters more complicated, she has feelings for her old crush Emil but also for her coworker, the pansexual Rafaela — whom, whoops, her brother is also falling for. Brandy Colbert beautifully brings a diverse Los Angeles alive in her story of mental health, intimacy, and loyalty.

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'How to Disappear' by Sharon Huss Roat (Aug. 15; HarperTeen)

Sharon Huss Roat explores the differences between our online personas and our "real" in-person identities in this heartfelt story. Like many other teenagers (and adults, frankly) Vicky Decker has cultivated an online identity under the handle Vicurious, Photoshopping herself onto other people's photographs of love and adventure. While Vicurious gains loads of followers, Vicky IRL is struggling with social anxiety and her only friend moving away. It's a story that should resonate with so, so many readers in this Instagram/Snapchat era, and with anyone who has ever felt overlooked or alone in their lives.

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'Wicked Like a Wildfire' by Lana Popović (Aug. 15; Katherine Tegan Books)

Fraternal twins Iris and Malina are blessed with "the gleam," the ability to manipulate beauty, but their mother Jasmine forces them to keep their powers a secret in their small seaside Montenegro town. Oh and they're also forbidden to fall in love. When someone attempts to kill Jasmine, leaving her in a state between life and death, Iris and Malina go on search of the culprit and, along the way, discover the their female family members' history with the gleam and a magical curse. Lana Popović will wrap you up in her enchanting, dark magical story.

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'The Dire King' by William Ritter (Aug. 22; Algonquin Young Readers)

Jackaby fans are treated this month to the series' fourth and final installment, and they won't be disappointed. In The Dire King, an evil king has stirred up ancient tensions via a series of modern racist attacks, sending Earth and the Otherworld into battle. Of course, R.F. Jackaby and Abigail Rook are caught in the middle — while also trying to navigate their day-to-day mystery solving and their romantic lives. This quirky series comes to an end in a satisfying and true-to-self way: thrilling, creepy, and totally fun.

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'Dress Codes for Small Towns' by Courtney C. Stevens (Aug. 22; HarperTeen)

Elizabeth “Billie” McCaffrey never really fit the stereotypes of a Southern daughter of a preacher. She bucks gender norms and she gets into trouble with her friend group (composed of mostly boys) the Hexagon. And when one accident sends the whole group to perform community service, Billie starts to question her own sexual orientation, falling for one of her guy friends and also her best female friend. Reading Dress Codes for Small Towns is like becoming a teenager again, thrust into all the tumult and fun of young friendships and first relationships. Courtney Stevens so beautifully and honestly renders the teenage identity crisis that almost anyone who has been through high school can identify with someone in the story, no matter your gender or sexual orientation.

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'The Rattled Bones' by S.M. Parker (Aug. 22; Simon Pulse)

S.M. Parker's The Rattled Bones turns Stephen King's Bag of Bones into an eerie, female-powered ghost story that will definitely add a chill to your summer. Rilla Brae is a fierce lobster fishing boat captain whose life is shattered when her beloved father dies. Soon after, she sees a girl singing to her on an island (supposedly uninhabited), who then vanishes, and she wonders if it's just grief or if the veil between the living and the dead has been dropped. So when college student Sam says he's conducting archaeological research on that same island, Rilla teams up with him to figure out the mysteries of the native inhabitants who were forcibly removed from the island.

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'You Don't Know Me but I Know You' by Rebecca Barrow (Aug. 29; HarperTeen)

This isn't your cautionary tale of teen motherhood, but it isn't sugarcoated either. Rebecca Barrow presents an emotional and honest portrayal of a teenager who is faced with her options when she finds out she's pregnant. Audrey has a great life: great friends, a loving boyfriend, and a supportive adoptive mom and her live-in boyfriend. Her own biological mother had her when she was 17, and gave her up for a closed adoption. Now Audrey, and her partner Julian, are faced with the same choice: raising the baby, abortion, or adoption, like her mother. Audrey's choice is complicated by the only letter she ever received from her birth mother, and a brand new letter from her that just arrived.

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'Wonder Woman: Warbringer' by Leigh Bardugo (Aug. 29; Random House Books for Young Readers)

It's definitely the year of Wonder Woman, and thankfully YA queen Leigh Bardugo has joined the conversation with Wonder Woman: Warbringer, a badass, feminist addition to the canon. In this origin story, Diana, desperate to prove herself, saves a 17-year-old girl named Alia from a shipwreck, accidentally setting into motion what could be the end of the world. The story switches back and forth from Diana to Alia, in a refreshing spin and perspective on a character we've known for ages.

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