There must be something about the end of summer — this month, there are a huge number of debut novels coming to a bookshelf near you. Don’t forget that if you read something written by a previously unpublished author, you can take the time to suggest it to the William C. Morris Award committee. Because there are so many titles to hit this month, I’m switching up my style a bit from prior debut posts. Rather than a block of text to accompany a few titles, I’m going to sort the books by genre and offer up the shorter WorldCat descriptions and relevant publisher information and read alikes (though interestingly, a number of these look like they could be great read alikes to one another and I’ve tried to group them accordingly).
Fantasy and Science Fiction
The Demon Catchers of Milan by Kat Beyer (Egmont, 9781606843147)
After surviving being possessed by a demon, sixteen-year-old Mia leaves her family in New York to stay with cousins in Milan, Italy, where she must study her family’s heritage of demon catching in order to stay alive.
The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna (Balzar + Bray/HarperCollins, 9780062082312)
Fifteen-year-old Eva is the clone of a girl living far, far away on another continent–and when this ‘other’ dies, Eva must step in and take over her life.
False Memory by Dan Krokos (Hyperion/Disney, 9781423149767)
Soon after seventeen-year-old Miranda awakens with no memory, she discovers that she can release a mysterious energy that incites pure terror in everyone around her except Peter, who tells her she is part of an elite force of genetically-altered teens.
Auracle by Gina Rosati (Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan, 9781596437104)
A teenaged girl who has the power to astrally project finds her body taken over by a dead classmate, and must find a way to reclaim it if she wants to save herself and her friend who is accused of murder.
Defiance by CJ Redwine (Balzar + Bray/HarperCollins, 9780062117182)
When Rachel’s father goes missing on a mission, her attempt to escape their walled city-state and find him brings danger, heartbreak, and a new romance with her father’s apprentice. This one should appeal to Game of Thornes fans — as will the following title!
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (Bloomsbury, 9781599906959)
After she has served a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, Crown Prince Dorian offers eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien her freedom on the condition that she act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.
Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear (Flux, 9780738732480)
In 1901, on an alternate Earth, sixteen-year-old Noli rejoices when a mysterious man transports her from reform school to the Realm of Faerie, until Noli learns his sinister reason.
Glitch by Heather Anastasiu (St Martins Press, 9781250002990)
In the Community, where implanted computer chips have erased human emotions and thoughts are replaced by a feed from the Link network, Zoe starts to malfunction, or glitch, and begins having her own thoughts, feelings, identity — and telekinetic powers.
The Dark Light by Sara Walsh (Simon Pulse/Simon and Schuster, 9781442434554)
When seventeen-year-old Mia’s ten-year-old brother becomes the latest child to disappear, she discovers that her town of Crownsville, Nebraska, adjoins another world, and with help from new friend Sol, she tries to rescue him from the Suzerain who is trying to destroy her world.
Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Long (Dial/Penguin, 9780803735804)
Seven years after the forest seemingly swallowed her brother whole, seventeen-year-old Jenny, whose story about Tom’s disappearance has never been believed, sets out to finally say goodbye, but instead she is pulled into a mysterious world of faeries and other creatures where nothing is what it seems. While this technically isn’t Long’s debut novel, it is her YA debut novel and will appeal to fans of fairy/folk tales.
Survive by Alex Morel (Razorbill/Penguin, 9781595145109)
A troubled girl is stranded in an arctic winter terrain after a plane crash and must fight for survival with the only other boy left alive. This one’s a survival story and is sort of in the tradition of Gary Paulson’s Hatchet.
Between You & Me by Marisa Calin (Bloomsbury, 9781599907581)
Phyre, sixteen, narrates her life as if it were a film, capturing her crush on Mia, a student teacher of theater and film studies, as well as her fast friendship with a classmate referred to only as “you.”
Fingerprints of You by Kristen-Paige Madonia (Simon & Schuster, 9781442429208)
After spending her life moving from place to place with her single mother, pregnant seventeen-year-old Lemon takes a bus to San Francisco to seek the father she never knew, as well as truths about her mother and herself.
Counting Backwards by Laura Lascarso (Atheneum/Simon & Schuster, 9781442406902)
After stealing a car and assaulting a police officer, sixteen-year-old Taylor is sent to a boarding school that functions as a juvenile psychiatric correctional facility, where she struggles to hold onto her sanity as she battles her parents, overbearing therapists, and a group of particularly nasty fellow patients.
Smashed by Lisa Luedeke (Margaret K. McElderry/Simon & Schuster, 9781442427792)
Maine high school senior Katie Martin is set to win a field hockey scholarship until her life is derailed by drinking, a car accident, and an angry classmate.
Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle (Delacorte/Random House, 9780385741965)
Although her parents are renowned Shakespearean actors, Miranda’s performance in a school play is disastrous but before she can get away to hide, Stephen, a castmate, whisks her to sixteenth century England to meet — and save — the young Will Shakespeare.
Someday Dancer by Sarah Rubin (Chicken House/Scholastic, 9780545393782)
In South Carolina in 1959 Casey Quinn dreams of being a ballerina, and though she has never had the money for lessons, she follows her dream to New York City and the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance.
Phew! Like I said, there are a ton of debut novels in August. Remember to take the time to suggest any titles you find particularly outstanding to the Morris Award committee.
— Kelly Jensen, currently reading What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton (a September debut)