Rules For Vanishing is old-school paranormal horror: suspense, gore, and sinister threats from unexpected directions. Kate Alice Marshall orchestrates a strong ensemble and perfectly plotted twists.
Who Put This Song On is an honest exploration of the intersection of mental illness and Blackness circa 2008 that probably shouldn’t have been a novel.
If there’s any justice in the world, The Ten Thousand Doors of January will soon be a YA classic. My favorite read of 2019 so far.
Scars Like Wings is a moving, introspective story of healing from immense loss when healing can be a trauma itself. Through the eyes of a teenage burn survivor, Erin Stewart asks what it takes to truly choose life.
The (Other) F Word takes on modern fatness with an intersectional eye and a spirit of joyful defiance.
The Babysitters Coven doesn’t have the story to back up its fun hook. A shallow series-starter that might have been more successful as upper-Middle Grade.
The Young Adult rewrite of Anderson and Bolden’s award-winning One Person, No Vote never justifies its existence. Read the original instead.
It’s a Whole Spiel uses its all-star lineup of Jewish YA authors to maximum impact, painting a nuanced, intersectional picture of the joys and pains of contemporary teenage Jewish identity.
Rebel Girls attempts to repackage nostalgia as a novel, substituting pop-culture references for thoughtful worldbuilding. The result is a poorly-paced, directionless story with a disturbing lack of empathy.
Frankly in Love isn’t the fake-dating romance you might be expecting. It is, however, an outstanding YA debut: a loving look at identity, family, and growing up.
The Lady Rogue is a clever, exciting bit of historical fun. I worry that it will fly under the radar, but pick it up if you’re in the mood for a treat.
Permanent Record uses the success of Mary H. K. Choi’s bestselling debut as a springboard to reach an even more ambitious story, this time about self-ownership, direction, and love in the time of social media.
The Importance of Being Wilde at Heart tries way, way too hard. But then again, what better encapsulates the spirit of Oscar Wilde and teenagerdom than this messy, passionate exploration of the power of literature?
Swipe Right For Murder shoots high, aiming for satire, action, comedy, and drama all at once. Unfortunately, it falls short of all, ending up as an incoherent, unpleasant read.
I read the sequel to last year’s Grace and Fury mostly out of morbid curiosity and got exactly what I figured I was in for. Queen of Ruin makes a few improvements on the first installment but still doesn’t have the depth its subject matter demands.
All of Us With Wings is a gorgeous, inventive work of magical realism. Unfortunately, the beauty and empowerment are marred by a romanticized relationship between a teen and her employer, 10 years her senior.
A tense, creepy descent into the dark underbelly of a glittering princess theme park.
Five stars for this coming-of-age sci-fi mystery.
An intriguing idea dragged down by flat characters and an unpleasant protagnist: a case of autobiographical fiction gone wrong. Two stars.
Swoon. Emergency Contact was just what I needed this week. Smart, compassionate, and messy–everything a college romance should be.
Decades in the making, this unassuming book represents the central thesis of one of the greatest television critics, Emily Nussbaum. I Like to Watch isn’t just a collection of TV criticism; it’s a defense of TV criticism and television itself, celebrating the medium’s unique power and charting its evolution throughout the post-Sopranos golden age. Five stars.
Evvie Drake Starts Over tells a story of second chances with wit, compassion, and kinetic dialogue. Romantic and moving: an absolute joy to read. Five Stars.