Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of Dustborn by Erin Bowman

Cover Art

Dustborn by Erin Bowman
HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 20, 2021
ISBN: 978-0358244431

Delta of Dead River knows that survival in the Wasteland means two things: a family you can trust and a shoot first, ask questions later attitude. But there are some secrets that should never be shared, ones that put everyone in danger. When her village is attacked by the mysterious General and her family is kidnapped, Delta knows they are after her and the secret map branded on her back. With everyone she knows gone and in danger, Delta sets off to rescue them with the help of an old childhood friend, Asher. But the search for her family and the lost paradise of Verdant is long and perilous, filled with solar flares, geomagnetic storms, armed enemies, and endless seas of dust and desert.

Dustborn is a non-stop, post-apocalyptic joyride! Delta is absolutely ruthless and willing to do whatever she must to find her family. While not always the most likeable character, readers can relate to Delta’s courage and drive in the face of impossible odds. The writing is pretty straightforward without much flowery language, and the worldbuilding provides a solid sense of place. This action-packed apocalyptic origin story unravels into a unique and original science fiction tale that combines classic dystopian themes with wild west elements. 

While this book is reminiscent of the early dystopian Dustland series by Moira Young, it’s perfect for fans of western themed books like Erin Bowman’s other series Vengeance Road and Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis. It’s also a good fit for fans of the Horizon Zero Dawn and Fallout video games.

Shelbie Marks

Other Nominated Titles

  • The Mary Shelley Club by Goldy Moldavsky (April 13, 2021)
  • She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen (April 20, 2021)
  • Hold Back the Tide by Melinda Salisbury (January 5, 2021)

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination. 

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are available on The Hub.