August is a quieter month in terms of debut authors, but the books that are out this month sound excellent. Don’t forget — if you’ve read a debut novel this year, one written by an author who has never been published before — you can nominate it for the William C Morris Award.
Eyes in the Mirror by Julia Mayer (Sourcebooks Fire, 9781402240406) explores the idea of what happens when a teen girl who wishes for a body double just happens to have one. Samara has a lot of challenges in her life, and she’s known to cut as a way to feel fulfilled and satisfied in her life. Then she discovers Dee, her mirror image. When they switch places, Samara discovers that maybe everything she wished to have might not be everything she needs.
One of my favorite reads this year has been Victoria Schwab’s The Near Witch (Disney Hyperion, 9781423137876). In this lush fairy tale, Lexi grew up with the knowledge of the tale of The Near Witch, who haunted the area surrounding her town of Near. The tale was used to keep children in line, but when a mysterious boy appears in town, followed by the disappearance of town children, Lexi begins wondering if this tale is more reality than fantasy. Fans of fairy tales will love this one, and the writing is among some of the most atmospheric I’ve read this year.
Rivaling The Near Witch for my favorite reads this year is Anna Sheehan’s A Long, Long Sleep (Candlewick, 9780763652601). This science fiction novel is a re-imagining of the classic Sleeping Beauty. Rosalinda Franklin has been in stasis for 62 years, but one kiss awakes her. She’s slept through a decades of change in her world, and when she awakes, she must put together the pieces and find out the truth of why she was put into stasis in the first place, as well as find out what happened to the boy she so greatly loved. It’s a twisting and turning read, and one that left me completely satisfied. The melding of science fiction with a classic novel made this quite an original read.
2011 has been the year of the dystopian novel, and Sara Grant’s debut Dark Parties (Little, Brown, 9780316085944) fits into this category. Neva’s lived her whole life under the dome that exists around her community. It’s called the Protectosphere, and it was set up by the government who says that there is nothing outside their protected nation. The thing is, Neva doesn’t believe this is true, and along with her friend Sanna, she begins building a “dark party,” meant to rattle the government through rebellion. Except, it’s not going to be as easy as Neva believes. This one sounds less Hunger Games in dystopian style and more like S. A. Bodeen’s The Compound (a 2009 YALSA Quick Pick title).
Coming out next week is Caroline Bock’s powerful book Lie (St. Martin’s Griffin, 9780312668325). This paperback release is about a hate crime that occurs on Long Island, and it is told through multiple perspectives, which gives the readers a full picture of what happened the night a pair of immigrants were attacked by a pair of local boys. Skylar, who was dating one of the accused at the time, has to make the biggest decision of her life, which is whether to speak up and admit to her boyfriend’s wrong doing or whether she should keep her mouth shut to protect herself and her relationship. This is a layered and complex novel that gives insight into the victim’s lives, too, and it’s heartbreaking. This book offers a lot of interesting discussion fodder, and it’s one for fans of contemporary fiction, especially the stories that come straight from the headlines. Although Bock has written an adult memoir before, making her ineligible for the Morris Award, this is her first foray into the world of young adult lit and one worth reading.
As the summer winds to a close, don’t forget to pick up and read a novel by a new author and don’t forget to chime in with your nomination for this year’s William C Morris Award.
— Kelly, who is reading Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey and Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez