We’ve been doing lots of Lists of the Week since our site began – and there are plenty of suggestions of books to read within those lists! – but since school’s out and the sun is up, why not do a giant guide for your YA summer reads? Old books, new books, not-yet-released books.
I’m listing them all. These are books that will relax you, excite you, make you want to read more. These are the books that remind us of summer – long hours to read, with nothing but time to read them.
If you’re looking for a fun satire on our modern culture, take a look at Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens. In Beauty Queens, a plane crash strand 13 beauty queen contestants on an island, but each one has their own secret – and each one must bond together if they are to survive. Not only is it a great summer read – full of fun, feminism, and beaches – but it’s witty, clever, and utterly quotable.
Or perhaps you’re looking for a fairy tale retelling. Sarah Ockler’s new novel The Summer of Chasing Mermaids follow Elyse, who loses her voice in a boating accident. She meets Christian Kane, who inspires Elyse to find other ways to express herself.
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han is a YA summer classic – if you couldn’t tell from the name. Belly loves her summers at the beach house and the boys who live nearby, but one summer begins to change it all.
Perhaps you need a lady who kicks ass while simultaneously championing feminism and fighting bullies everywhere. Gwenda Bond’s Lois Lane: Fallout follows aspiring teen journalist Lois Lane as she lands a gig at her local newspaper’s and sets off to report on the bullying occurring in her high school. Though Lois Lane: Fallout does have some sci-fi elements (it is, after all, set in the world of DC’s superheroes), this reads more like a contemporary mystery than anything. Who doesn’t want to see Lois Lane using her journalistic sleuthing to hunt down the bad guys?
If you like to sit at the edge of your seat, clutching your heart as you flip the pages faster. Lamar Giles‘ Endangered might fit you perfectly. Laura Daniels is an anonymous photoblogger who busts her classmates and teachers in compromising positions, until somebody begins to blackmail her.
And, of course, almost everybody you ask about summer YA reads would recommend Sarah Dessen. I would recommend That Summer – for obvious reasons – but it’s universally agreed: any Sarah Dessen book is a great summer YA read.
— Laina (@lainasparetime) June 4, 2015
Lisa Mantchev’s Eyes Like Stars is a fun adventure that can be read any time of year – but if you’re gonna lose yourself in a magical theatre, the summertime seems like a great time to do it. Beatrice Shakespeare Smith lives in a theatre where every character in a play comes to life, but she doesn’t know her own origin story.
Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst takes place in the middle of a desert – hot, dry, just like some long summer days. Liyana, trained to be the vessel for her goddess, is abandoned by her tribe when the goddess doesn’t inhabit Liyana’s body. But there is something stopping the gods from inhabiting their vessels, and Liyana is determined to find them, free them, and rejoin their tribe.
Daniel Jose Older’s Shadowshaper has a cover as colorful as a summer sunset – and a plot as interesting to match. Sierra Santiago is enjoying her summer until a corpse crashes the party of the season. Sierra discovers she has the power to put the souls of the departed into her art.
@nebrinkley THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT and OTHERBOUND – two of my fave fantasy YAs!
— Dahlia Adler (@MissDahlELama) June 4, 2015
— Marcus (@fi88r) June 4, 2015
There’s nothing more summer-y than a romp on a pirate ship – or, at least, that’s what I think. And Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer is the perfect pirate romp. Mary Faber poses as a ship’s boy named Jack so she can join the crew of the HMS Dolphin, but it’s hard to keep a secret on a small ship – and not everything is going as planned. The first in the / one of my favorite) series, Bloody Jack is just a fun romp.
Even the cover for Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming feels like a summer read. An autobiography in verse, it follows Woodson’s childhood in the 1960s and 1970s. While technically a middle-grade novel, we often showcase Brown Girl Dreaming on the site because it has such crossover appeal. And hey, it’s only won, what, a gazillion awards?
— Keeley (@ABiblioJrny) June 4, 2015
Look, if it includes the word “summer” in the title, I have to include it in this list. It’s almost obligatory. So Alaya Dawn Johnson’s The Summer Prince is a summer must-read. In futuristic Brazil, June Costa creates art in Palmares Tres, but when the new Summer King Enki wanders into town, June doesn’t see an enchanting man – she sees a fellow artist. But every Summer King is destined to die, and Enki is no different.
Dystopian sci-fi is everywhere, but the perfect dystopic summer read belongs to Orleans by Sherri L. Smith. Fen de la Guerre lives in the O-positive tribe in the Delta River. When they’re ambushed, she’s determined to get to freedom, away from the wasteland that was once New Orleans.
In More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera, memory is an option. The Leteo Institute offers a memory-relief procedure, and while Aaron could use it, he certainly doesn’t believe it works. But then Thomas shows up – sweet Thomas, kind Thomas – and Aaron realizes that, no matter how he pretends, he can’t stop being gay. So he decides the Leteo Institute can help him “straighten” out. Somebody described the launch party for Adam Silvera’s More Happy than Not as anybody who had ever touched a book wanting to attend. How can you let this one slip away?
Maybe you’re the kind of person who likes to open a can of soda, pop popcorn, and stay up late watching a scary movie. (Or, if you’re me, stay up late watching a scary movie, and then stay up the rest of the night because you can’t sleep why would you ever sleep the monsters will get you.) If that’s the case, you might want to crack open Nova Ren Suma’s The Walls Around Us. Two girls – one in jail, one an aspiring ballerina – find their lives tied together by a third girl, and their stories are told and intertwine, revealing the secrets of each. While not specifically a horror novel, The Walls Around Us will have you sitting at the edge of your seat, and the ending leaves you with chills.
Perhaps you’re a fan of terrifying cults. (Because, come on, who isn’t?) Be prepared to stay up late into the night – lights on, please – with The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes. Minnow’s life was destroyed by the Kevinian cult, who took away her family, twelve years of her life, and her hands. (Yeah. Her hands.) When the cult’s camp is destroyed, Minnow is sent to juvenile detention, but she’s not sharing what she knows.
Need something haunting and dark? Stephanie Kuehn’s Delicate Monsters follows Sadie Su, who gets kicked out of school when she nearly kills a classmate; Emerson, whose little brother is haunted, and is unhappy that secret-keeping Sadie is back in town; and Miles, who can see the future and knows what tragic violence is ahead of them.
Maybe The Devil You Know by Trish Doller is the summer horror story for you. Arcadia wants adventure, but when her cousins invite her on a road trip, she quickly finds out that one of them isn’t who he claims to be. She might not survive the trip. Doller herself described it as “come for the screaming summer horror, stay for the feminism.” Which, let’s be real, sounds amazing.
If you’re looking for a more visual read to settle in with this summer, Noelle Stevenson’s brilliant web comic novel Nimona has just been released as a graphic novel. Nimona follows a young shapeshifter named Nimona who apprentices herself to the evil Lord Ballister Blackheart. In a world that’s a strange mix of modern and medieval, they set-off to take down the maniacal Corporation.
There’s also This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki. Rose’s family just doesn’t feel the same when they had to their summer cottage on the beach. But soon, Rose meets up with her friend Windy, and they spend the summer exploring, eavesdropping, and renting scary movies. But the tension in Rose’s family – and between a girl on the beach and her boyfriend – boils over, the girls begin to realize what actually matters. This award-winning graphic novel is full of summer moments and a wonderful addition to any graphic novel collection.
Love superheroes? There now two collections of the Ms. Marvel comics for you to snag – Ms. Marvel: No Normal and Ms. Marvel: Generation Why. The collection of comics follows Kamala Khan, an ordinary Muslim girl from Jersey City who finds herself with superpowers. The comics are fabulous, fun and easy to read.
What YA summer reads would you recommend? Sound off in the comments below!