Teen readers will find a lot of fantastic new books on the shelves this fall. Here is a small sampling.
Read more new and notable books for teens new this September.
Alison, 16, has been hospitalized ever since her beautiful, popular classmate, Tori, disappeared. Her claim that she disintegrated Tori landed her in the psychiatric ward and soon gets her transferred to a residential treatment facility for seriously disturbed teen patients. Confused, conflicted, fighting the deadening effects of medication, Alison is desperate to leave the hospital yet fearful of what she might do if freed. These worries are complicated by her long-held secret: She has synesthesia. This sensory cross-wiring causes Alison to experience numbers as colors; she hears stars and tastes lies…The barren, northern Ontario setting—where NASA astronauts once trained for moon landings—slyly accents a twisty plot refreshingly free of YA cliché. In bracing contrast to her passive, vampire-fodder counterparts, Alison steers her own course throughout her multilayered journey. (Science fiction. 12 & up)
For 15-year-olds Céce and Mack, it’s nearly love at first sight—not an easy feat, since they’re so remarkably different. He’s a dyslexic dropout with a police record. She’s an excellent student, studying for an entrance exam to a gifted-and-talented program. Each comes from a hard-drinking, single-parent family, although Céce’s mother exudes heartfelt affection while Mack’s father is a misanthropic hate-monger. When provoked, Mack’s anger is nearly uncontrollable, yet his transcendent sensitivity toward Céce and the pit bulls he rescues and cares for is extraordinary. Pushed together by Céce’s brother, the heartbreaking depth of their relationship is vividly depicted through affecting prose and believable dialogue…Achingly, authentically emotionally resonant, this sad, never-saccharine tale related in alternating voices will have absorbed readers reaching for the Kleenex. (Fiction. 14 & up)
Edited by Kelly Link & Gavin J. Grant
Tales range across space and time, from ancient Rome (sort of…M.T. Anderson takes history, adds a few gears and delivers a mind-boggling result) to a Dickensian North America, courtesy of Cory Doctorow, where maimed orphans fight the literal and figurative man; from Wales (Delia Sherman’s comedic “The Ghost of Cwmlech Manor”) to the melancholy present and a heroine who might be an accidental transplant from an altogether more exciting reality (Dylan Horrock’s “Steam Girl”). The collection is carefully organized, frontloaded with bound-to-be- popular selections from Libba Bray (girl power in the Old West) and Cassie Clare (unrequited love, talking dolls and second chances) and then moving into less well-known contributors…Steampunk is hot at the moment in literature, art and fashion. This collection taps into the ethos without ever seeming topical or transient, thanks to contributions rich with much more than just steam and brass fittings. (Anthology. 12 & up)
Grammy-winning, world-touring violinist Carmen Bianchi, 17, has outgrown child-prodigy status. To transition to an adult career as a virtuoso soloist, she must win the Guarneri Competition. If she loses, she’ll be just another former prodigy. Reflecting on the peculiar fame belonging to classical-music prodigies, Jeremy King—another ambitious ex-wunderkind with an equally intimidating resume—tells Carmen, “You’re a god to two percent of the population and a nobody to everyone else.”…As the competition approaches, Carmen and Jeremy—each ardently competitive and deeply smitten—form a deep but wary bond…Former child violin prodigy Martinez brings this overwrought world to tense, quivering life and guides readers through it confidently. A brilliant debut. (Fiction. 14 & up)
Guadalupe Garcia McCall
A resilient Mexican-American girl copes with familial obligation and loss in this free-verse novel. Drawing from her own teen years for inspiration, McCall highlights life in the borderlands: “En los Estados Unidos / I trained my tongue / and twisted syllables / to form words / that sounded hollow, / like the rain at midnight / dripping into tin pails / through the thatched roof / of our abuelita’s house.” Lupita’s first-person tale captures pivotal moments of her high-school years in the border town of Eagle Pass, Texas, with glimpses back at her first six years in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico. With poignant imagery and well-placed Spanish, the author effectively captures the complex lives of teenagers in many Latino and/or immigrant families. A promising, deeply felt debut. (Verse fiction. 12 & up)
Naomi Shihab Nye
How much can a writer say in a five-page story? It turns out, everything; if the devil is in the details, so is the world. In “Stay True Hotel,” Jane observes couples walking hand in hand, people with tattoos, old people with canes, parents pushing prams, burgundy peonies in buckets, ginger ale with an orange slice—the “clicking and humming of the planet.” The best of the stories present “fringe observers” happy to be invisible, extracting themselves from the crowd to observe a world full of mysteries…As she does in her poetry, Nye achieves a perfect marriage of theme and structure in stories that reflect the moments, glimpses and epiphanies of growing up…Though the stories aren’t linked, there is an accumulation of experience and feeling, and by the end of this fine collection readers will sense what life is like—what life means—for these young people. (Short stories. 12 & up)
A coming-of-age story framed by some of the most terrifying events of the last 60 years, from World War II to 9/11. Peet achieves what few writers for young adults have—a bold venture that spans generations against a backdrop of war and global politics and their effect on individual lives, while describing minute facets of those lives in intimate, cinematic detail…In delicious and often humorous meanderings through time and place, the author adroitly intertwines the brinkmanship of the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis with the teenagers’ secret romance. His narrative glides easily from Clem’s first-person retrospective to third-person storytelling from several points of view, including Kennedy’s and Krushchev’s. Sophisticated teens and adults will appreciate this subtle yet powerful exposition of the far-reaching implications of war. (Fiction. 14 & up)
A taut thriller about Angel, a 14-year-old who is pursued by a man who has a deadly need to silence her…A loner, Angel’s been homeschooled by a meth-addict mother who has hooked up with a “long string of abusive boyfriends picked with the accuracy of a heat-seeking missile.” Her latest, Scotty, is a doozy, and when Angel finds her mom buried in the desert, he realizes she can put him behind bars. A hunter of contraband, he proceeds to use all his wiles to keep her quiet…Suspense never lets up, as the third-person narrator monitors Scotty’s pursuit when Angel doesn’t…The small, decaying towns, the Salton Sea and the desert heat provide a vivid backdrop for the unfolding drama. Angel is a tough heroine who needs help but knows if she accepts it, she is risking other lives, too. Relentless, heart-stopping suspense. (Thriller. 12 & up)
Two years after the events of Fever Crumb, Fever finds herself far south of London (which continues to ready itself for mobilization), in a volcanic city where a lonely young man seeks the secret of flight. Reeve’s writing, already excellent, shines here as he turns his attention to the romantic, in both the human and poetic senses. Fever herself is a virtuoso character: prickly, even unlikable, hampered by her eminently rational upbringing and the way it distances her from others, yet compelling and even lovable by readers and characters alike. Her rational approach to the world blinds her; readers will intuit elements of the mystery consuming Fever long before she catches on. It also dooms Fever’s chance at love, because love in inherently irrational… Imaginative, inventive and exciting. (Steampunk. 12 & up)
Titanic was a floating city, “the largest moving thing on the planet ever made by man.” She sank quickly on the night of April 14-15, 1912, and only 712 of the 2,207 passengers survived. Wolf brings the history and, more importantly, the human scale of the event to life by giving voice to the players themselves—the captain, the lookout, the millionaire, the socialite and various workers and passengers representing all classes of society that floated to their doom…Wolf draws on a prodigious amount of research to fully realize each character; they are real people just telling their stories, all the more poignant because readers know their fates and recognize prophetic comments along the way…A lyrical, monumental work of fact and imagination that reads like an oral history revved up by the drama of the event. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)