Click here to see all of the current Best Fiction for Young Adults nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly
Scholastic Press / Scholastic
Publication Date: May 14, 2019
In a race between the Fates and Chance, Isabelle must forge her own destiny with the help of a Fairy Queens gifts to survive. In this dark fractured fairytale, Isabelle, one Cinderella’s stepsisters, must find the lost pieces of her heart to not only survive but to save her family. She must face her past, and what others think of her, to find who she truly is and what really matters.
Teens will love the dark twist reminiscent of Grimm fairy tales found in this story. Many teens will identify with finding their own inner strength, on their own terms. Donnelly has taken a tale as old as time and made it fresh, new, and relatable to teens and to readers that love retellings. Isabelle must carve her way through obstacles and though she at first wishes only for external beauty, she comes to find that beauty is subjective, and that beauty can be found in strength, passion, and in being authentic to oneself.
Readers that love the dark and sinister elements of The Hazel Wood will enjoy this fractured fairytale and fans of the show Once Upon a Time will enjoy the combination of humor and intrigue.
Dreaming Darkly by Caitlin Kittredge
Katherine Tegen Books / HarperCollins
Publication Date: April 9, 2019
Ivy Bloodgood is starting life over at the mysterious Darkhaven mansion with a rich uncle she didn’t know existed. Attending school and begrudgingly befriending a boy there that is her family’s supposed archnemesis is the only reprieve to the secrets she’s beginning to uncover regarding her mother’s suicide and Bloodgood history.
A tried and true Gothic mystery creates a character out of the setting; set apart from the mainland, the mansion and circuitous island with its craggy rocks and caves challenges Ivy to separate what’s real and imagined. Has she inherited the hallucinations that led to her mother’s death and can they be overcome? The suspenseful manipulation of facts draws readers in and keeps a steady pace, skillfully twisting the plot that questions the intentions of her uncle and the housekeeper. Rounding out the horror though is a lighthearted romance with typical teen high school experiences to divide Ivy further. Her resilience propels the story with secondary characters, while at times not fully-fleshed, helping piece together clues including a supportive female friend and the romantic lead, Doyle.
Twists and turns that mix darkness and light matches the mood of the CW’s Riverdale and though not as sci-fi as Netflix’s Stranger Things, the parallels in questioning reality with a troupe of friends and foes blends well.
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