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.
A Phoenix First Must Burn: Sixteen Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance, and Hope edited by Patrice Caldwell Viking Books for Young Readers / Penguin Random House Publication Date: March 10, 2020 ISBN: 978-1984835659
Sixteen Black authors running the gamut from very well-known to up-and-coming combine to create a wide-ranging science fiction and fantasy anthology of stories about Black girls. The characters in each story are wildly different from each other, though all are complex and patriarchy-smashing.
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao Philomel Books / Penguin Books USA Publication Date: October 10, 2017 ISBN: 978-1-52473-829-7
Beautiful Xifeng is destined to be the Empress of Feng Lu, but only if she abandons those she loves and gives into her darker impulses. Escaping her abusive aunt, Xifeng uses her cunning and understanding of magic to make her way to the capital of Feng Lu. Each step along the way is complicated as a dark and powerful force encourages her to become Empress while those around Xifeng to accept another fate, be it less glorious.
While many people might wish to continue celebrating Valentine’s Day with romantic reads, there are plenty of readers who prefer their fiction fairly romance-free. If librarian listservs and Twitter conversations are anything to go by, “books with little to no romance” are a common but surprisingly challenging readers’ advisory request in libraries across the country and all year round. Again, the Hub bloggers are here to help!
This week we gathered together showcase some of our favorite young adult fiction where romance is either absent or plays a minor role in the story. Through the combined efforts of the Hub blogging team, we’ve collected a varied list of primarily recent titles that should provide books with appeal for a wide range of readers. Hopefully, you will spot something to please your readers on a quest for literature with a more platonic focus.
Owen is training to be a dragon slayer, a crucial job in a world where dragons bring death and destruction. With help from their friends and family, Owen and his female bard Siobhan seek the source of a growing dragon threat. Siobhan and Owen’s strong bond is based on their friendship and common goal, but there’s no romance involved. – Sharon R.
Kaz, a member of the Dregs gang, has scored a big heist but he needs help. He enlists five others to help him break into the unbreakable Ice Court to steal some precious cargo. – Dawn A.
Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
Ever since she fell into a nearby pond, Triss has been horribly aware that something is wrong. She’s suddenly developed an insatiable appetite, her little sister seems afraid of her and inanimate objects like dolls not only speak–they scream. To discover what’s happened to her and her family, Triss must journey into strange and bizarre worlds within, beyond, and beneath her world. – Kelly D.
Gen is the best thief in the world and can do whatever he wants to do. At least that is what he claims before he is caught and imprisoned by the King of Sounis. The king’s main advisor soon hatches a plan to harness Gen’s skills in order to steal a holy relic and conquer Sounis’ enemies. An adventure full of unusual characters, storytelling, and mythology. – Miriam W.
Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
In a different world, the library of Alexandria survived. The library governs the people, selecting knowledge to filter to the people. Jess’s father works as a book smuggler. He decides that Jess’s value lies in his future – at the library as a spy. He forces Jess to take the entrance exam. Jess passes the exam and heads off for basic training. – Jennifer R.
Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac
Lozen grew up in a divided world—there were the Ones, whose genetic and technological augmentation set them apart, and the mere humans who served them. Then the Cloud came. Digital technology stopped working and much of the world is a wasteland, peppered with monsters—the Ones’ genetically engineered pets gone wild. Now, Lozen hunts down these creatures, serving the remaining Ones in exchange for her family’s safety. But Lozen is more than a monster exterminator—she’s destined to be a hero. – Kelly D. Continue reading Hub Bloggers Love: Young Adult Fiction Without Romance
Historical and fantasy fiction have been two of my absolutely favorite genres to read since I was a child. So it follows that historical fantasy–fiction that combines elements of both genres–is one of my greatest literary weaknesses. I’m completely incapable of resisting a good historical fantasy novel!
There are already some excellent guides exploring this growing subgenre available online. Over at their fabulous blog Stacked, Kelly Jensen & Kimberly Francisco have created a number of great genre guides including this one focused on historical fantasy. Additionally, on her blog By Singing Light, Maureen Eichner has an entire page devoted to historical fantasies with middle grade, young adult, and adult titles organized by their chronological settings.
So instead of offering an overview of historical fantasy, I’m going to highlight a few titles that fit into a recent trend. Over the last couple years, I’ve noticed something of an uptick in historical fantasy exploring the first few decades of the 20th century–time periods that have sometimes been underrepresented in this particular subgenre, especially when compared to the medieval and Victorian eras. But if these recent novels are anything to go by, the years between 1900 and 1940 are especially well-suited to the creation of rich, genre-blending stories.
It may be the dawn of the 20th century but for an intelligent and independent young woman like Olivia, living life on her own terms still feels like a distant dream. She sneaks to suffragist protests and reads literature challenging the traditional vision of docile & subservient womanhood. But her domineering father, convinced that she’s heading for trouble, hires famed stage mesmerist Henri Reverie to hypnotize Olivia into forgetting her rebellious ways. But the hypnosis instead leaves Olivia both gifted and cursed; she can now see people’s inner darkness or goodness clearly–and she cannot speak her mind without feeling ill. But her new vision makes Olivia even more determined to work for her independence and the rights of women.
In 1918, the United States has become a country besieged by death and fear as a virulent influenza epidemic rages at home and a global war rages across the Ocean. Even a scientifically minded young woman like Mary Shelley Black can’t completely resist the aura of paranoia—especially since her father has been arrested for treason and her sweetheart Stephen is trapped somewhere in the European trenches. Living in San Diego with her young widowed aunt, Mary Shelley can’t escape the surgical masks, the pervasive scent of onions, or the preoccupation with séances and spirits, particularly after news of Stephen’s death arrives—only to be followed by the appearance of his ghost.