Lifel1k3 (Lifelike) by Jay Kristoff
Knopf Books for Young Readers / Random House
Publication Date: May 29, 2018
Set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland after the robot uprising, humans and robots co-exist as best they can. Evie navigates this world by fighting robots in the WarDome. After a public display of her robot destroying abilities, she must flee for her life. On the run, she stumbles upon a “Lifelike” android that holds the secrets to her past that she could never remember. When the fight of human versus machine ensues, she fights to survive, and to find the truth.
This intricately plotted sci-fi adventure begs readers to consider what a world full of androids that look like us, love like us, and can think like us would entail. Readers are made to consider the innate ramifications of having such evolved technology and the impact it would have on the world. The witty and well-crafted characters add depth to a world so heavily integrated with machines and blur the lines of what it truly is to be human. Teens will identify with the underlying themes of not letting fear drive your decisions and what it’s like to feel as if you do not control your own mind, body, and life. Kristoff takes readers down a path of death and destruction, yet masterfully weaves in humor and moments of human redemption.
Fans of Hullmetal Girls by Emily Skrutskie will enjoy the commentary on social classes and the fight for equality between cyborgs and humans, and those that like the strong female characters in the show Orphan Black will revel in the path of self-discovery and mad science moments.
My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand (et al)
HarperTeen / HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: June 26, 2018
As a plain and penniless orphan, Jane Eyre accepts a job as a governess, one of the few options available to a young woman of her station at the time. However, Jane’s secret ability to see ghosts leads a supernatural investigator, Mr. Blackwood, to follow her to the mysterious Thornfield Hall in hopes of convincing her to join his Society for the Relocation of Wayward Spirits as an agent.
When Jane’s best friend and aspiring author, Charlotte Bronté, learns of the exciting job offer, she insinuates herself into Blackwood’s mission to travel to Thornfield Hall and convince Jane to accept. However when they arrive, they discover that something isn’t quite right at Thornfield, and Jane has inexplicably fallen in love with the brooding and volatile Mr. Rochester.
This alternate version of Jane Eyre is a madcap romp that employs the familiar tropes of that Gothic romance with obvious admiration for the classic while poking fun with tongue-in-cheek wit. Along with the requisite dashing heroes and dastardly villains, the two plucky young women and one hilarious ghost keep the action, mystery, and humor in high gear, taking the reader on an entertaining ride.
Hand this to fans of My Lady Jane by the same authors and The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee. Fans of classic retellings should find much to enjoy in this book.
A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti
Simon & Schuster / Simon Pulse
Publication Date: September 18, 2018
After a traumatic incident, Annabelle manages to finish out her senior year with the support of her friends and family and the comfort of routine: school, work, cross-country. One night though, she reaches her breaking point and she begins to run. She decides she will keep running across the US from Seattle to Washington, DC, and along the way she becomes a reluctant activist.
This is a powerful and timely story about resilience with a refreshing narrative style. The novel begins as Annabelle is about to wrap up her senior year of high school, and early on, the narrator lets readers in on the fact that Annabelle has experienced an immense tragedy. The slow reveal of what exactly Annabelle experienced in her junior year of high school allows readers to focus on her journey and struggle while avoiding sensationalism, and simultaneously allows readers to slowly absorb the full scope of one person’s violent actions. The details surrounding Annabelle’s PTSD and her running routine, as well as the vivid descriptions of the landscapes she runs through add extra depth to this story. The novel explores the nuances of consent, and the ways women and girls often internalize the need to seek value in relation to the male gaze. This carefully crafted novel, with well-drawn characters, is an emotionally charged story that will resonate with readers.
Give this to fans of Jason Reynold’s Long Way Down and Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak.