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.
Wilder Girls by Rory Power
Delacorte Press / Penguin Random House
Publication date: July 9, 2019
On an island off the coast of Maine, the students of an all-girls boarding school and the wilderness of the island – suffer from an infection of “the tox” which ravaged their bodies and minds as the fight for survival. Friends Hetty, Byatt, and Reece are pushed to extremes as they attempt to uncover the truth behind the mysterious disease while their classmates continue to die after gruesome flair ups of perplexing and grotesque symptoms while they wait for a cure and fight over rations delivered by boat from the mainland.
When Hetty is selected for the coveted Boat Shift, the only opportunity to see the extent to which the island has changed, and when Byatt disappears, the truth of the bleak outlook and the secrets their two remaining teachers have been keeping begin to unravel, setting off a thrilling struggle for survival.
This book will captivate readers with its gorgeous, and the frenzied first person narration that causes the story to reverberate in the bones. Atmospheric and gruesome, yet driven by fiercely loyal characters, it will appeal to teens who like action and survival stories as much as those who enjoy character-driven, introspective novels. Anyone who is interested in conspiracy theories, science and evolution, feminism, environmentalism and climate change, will not be able to put this down.
Give this to fans of action-driven sci-fi and survival stories, like Annihilation by Jeff Vandemeer, but the lush and gritty writing will also appeal to fans of Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgewick, and its stream of consciousness style evokes comparison to We Were Liars by E. Lockhart or Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke. Fans of the female-centric and atmospheric Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand will also enjoy Wilder Girls.
— Molly Wetta
Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
Margaret K. McElderry Books / Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: June 4, 2019
Elisabeth is a foundling raised among the magical books in one of the Great Libraries. She’s even seen the magical, malevolent books called grimoires kept under lock and key in the basement, lest they escape and turn into ravenous, horrible creatures. Someday, she will be a warden, charged with protecting the country from these nightmarish books. However, she is sent away for appearing to release a grimoire, to the company of an evil sorcerer (because all sorcerers are evil, Elisabeth has been taught). There, under a fragile truce with the sorcerer, she will investigate as the Great Libraries’ custody of high-level grimoires fails, one after another…
Rogerson has created a believable, strong main character in Elisabeth, who is not perfect, but is relatable and brave in challenging circumstances. Elisabeth has been told many things in her cloistered upbringing that do not seem to be correct when she is out in the real world. She must find her way in life, and her way to contribute to society, or the world will burn.
Readers of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse or Rachel Caine’s The Great Library series will find many similarities between lead female characters forced to grow due to peril and magic. Also, this book will appeal to Harry Potter fans who want a world where the restricted books Harry, Hermoine and Ron sneak in to read for forbidden knowledge are center stage.