What's Up in YA

Horror for Teens, The Death of Dystopia, and More YA Book News and New Books: October 21, 2021

Hey YA Readers!

I hope you’re having the best kind of October available to you and you’re able to find a good book or two. Let’s catch up on the latest in YA book news and new YA books this week.

A note, too: in Monday’s newsletter, I mentioned the main character in Baby and Solo being gay. He is not — his brother, however, was a member of the LGBTQ community during his life. I wanted to clarify that, since it matters pretty heavily to what Joel, the main character, wrestles with. (So many books, so many details, and so many distractions in life!).

YA Book News

There’s a lot of interesting horror-themed news and features this week!

New YA Books This Week

Please note that with supply chain issues, paper supply challenges, and the pandemic more broadly, publication dates are changing at a pace I can’t keep up with. Some release dates may be pushed back. If a book catches your attention, the smartest thing to do right now is to preorder it or request it from your library. It’ll be a fun surprise when it arrives. This goes, too, for any books you might be planning to purchase for the holidays — the sooner you pick up the hard copies, if that’s your preference, the better.


Bad Girls Never Say Die by Jennifer Mathieu

book cover for hunting by stars by cherie dimaline

Hunting By Stars by Cherie Dimaline (series)

Lies My Memory Told Me by Sacha Wunsch

Little Thieves by Margaret Owen

On Top of Glass by Karina Manta (nonfiction)

Out of the Fire by Andrea Contos

A Rebel in Auschwitz by Jack Fairweather (nonfiction)

That Dark Infinity by Kate Pentecost

Where Echoes Lie by Shannon Schuren

Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood

The Woman All Spies Fear by Amy Butler Greenfield (nonfiction)


book cover for miss meteor

City of Shattered Light by Claire Winn

Girl Crushed by Katie Heaney

Miss Meteor by Tehlor Kay Mejia and Anna-Marie McLemore

YA Book Talk on Book Riot

As always, thanks for hanging out, y’all. We’ll see you on Saturday for some ebook deals and on Monday for more YA book talk.

Until then, happy reading!

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram.

What's Up in YA

“The Hypothetical Is The Safest Space to Feel Unsure”: Lisabeth Posthuma on Abortion in YA Lit

Hey YA Readers!

baby and solo book cover

One of the best books — and among the overlooked gems — I read this year was Lisabeth Posthuma’s excellent Baby & Solo. The book, set in the 90s, is a story of growing up a middle class gay white boy in the midwest, and it dives into the stakes of that life during that time. There are a lot of topics thread through the story, and one of them is an abortion narrative.

Given the realities of abortion access in America, and specifically, the lack of access to it in Texas, there’s a lot to remember about how this health care impacts teenagers as much as it does adults. In Texas, Jane’s Due Process is one organization ensuring legal access to reproductive healthcare, including abortions, for teenagers in the state.

As I grappled with talking about abortion and teenagers, I knew a book list wouldn’t be enough. I pulled a list together on my personal blog and in doing so, realized there were likely YA authors who could talk about it in a compelling, thought-provoking way. So it was only natural that I would see if Posthuma would like to lend her voice on abortion in young adult literature.

Without further ado, I’ll leave the words to her.

lisabeth posthuma head shot
Lisabeth Posthuma

As a self-admitted ’90s nostalgic, I was thrilled when I stumbled upon full seasons of The Real World on a streaming platform. Like many of the MTV generation, I was obsessed with this show in its original run. Essentially the first reality television series, the concept was novel at the time—seven total strangers from varying backgrounds living together for five months all while every moment of their lives are filmed. It was groundbreaking in concept and in the resulting content. Never before had a TV show for the young adult market spanned so many controversial and relevant social issues from the perspective of those with lived experience. For me personally, it was The Real World, not the real world, where I was first exposed to people who were openly LGBTQIA+. It was also here that my eyes were opened to racial injustice, the AIDS epidemic, and people battling drug and alcohol addiction. And it was here where I was first learned about abortion.  

Looking back on growing up in Small Conservative Town, Midwest State, I’m surprised that I made it to age thirteen without someone inculcating me with their strong opinions about abortion. I had heard the word before by that age, but I honestly didn’t know what it was until I watched a Season Two episode of The Real World where a cast member weighs the decision of whether or not to terminate her unplanned pregnancy. Varying viewpoints are civilly shared by her roommates before the woman decides to go through with the abortion, and at the end of the half-hour, she’s shown recovering from the procedure. 

At the time, I assumed there was a “correct” choice for this woman to make, or, at least, that I should feel strongly about her options. At thirteen, so much was still riding on my ability to categorize everything into terms of “right” and “wrong.” Kids are conditioned to view the world in that dichotomy, after all, yet, I wasn’t informed enough about the complexities of any “pro” or “anti” stance to choose a side with any conviction. This was long before the word “nuance” would enter into to our cultural vernacular, and without it, there was no way to accurately explain the limbo I felt in when I thought about abortion.

This half-hour of television would end up being my only exposure to an earnest discussion on abortion for many years. It was regarded as revolutionary television when discussed on The Real World, as the subject of abortion was virtually absent from most other media targeting the young adult audience. The topic was all-but banned from my high school (and from many high schools across the country). Regardless of the fact that many young people were being faced with a decision about abortion, including several people I knew personally, it seemed like it was just too taboo a subject to talk about. 

A lot has changed in young adult media in the last thirty years. One doesn’t need to look very far these days to find stories with LGBTQIA+ themes, or ones about people struggling with addiction, or highlighting the realities of racial injustice. Scripted and non-scripted television, movies, and YA Lit have finally begun making strides toward greater representation and diversity of their storylines and storytellers. And while there’s definitely been an increase in abortion-focused stories in young adult media in recent decades (including my debut novel Baby & Solo and all of the titles on this Book Riot list from 2015), it’s still rare to come across abortion in a YA novel, despite it being one of the most relevant subjects of the last half-century.

This is a problem.

It’s at best naïve and at worst irresponsible to treat abortion as anomalous when an estimated 1 in 4 women will have one by the time they are forty-five years old—half of which will occur during their young adult years. Knowing abortion affects so many people who make up the young adult demographic, it’s a disservice not to acknowledge the subject’s necessary place in YA media. Though public discourse about abortion continues to be divisive and heated, young adult content creators can provide our audiences with low-stakes avenues through which to wrestle with their difficult feelings about difficult subjects. Realistic fiction is a valuable gateway to rediscovering the lost art of uncertainty, for recognizing the gray within the false narrative of a black-and-white world. In fact, it might be the most fertile soil for empathy to grow in.

I’m learning that the hypothetical is the safest space to feel unsure. It’s seemingly the only place where there’s no urgency to form the “right” opinion. It’s where people can privately challenge their own thoughts, explore nuances, and ultimately grow in their understanding about the issues that affect them. I wish that at thirteen I’d had more safe places to contemplate issues like abortion, but I didn’t. As an adult, however, I’m grateful that I can join with other writers who want change things for this generation’s YA audience. I am hopeful that as abortion continues to be a relevant subject, even more authors will seize the opportunity to create these spaces for teens, too.

Lisabeth Posthuma was a high school teacher, a photographer, and most importantly, a video rental clerk before becoming a writer. She holds an English degree from one of those really expensive private liberal arts colleges that no one can afford (including her). She grew up obsessed with teen soaps, which her therapist says explains a lot, and likes to brag about that one time she attended the cast party for The OC. Orange is her favorite color because in first grade no one chose it, and she felt sorry for it. She currently lives in Michigan where the winters are too long.

Thank you, Lisabeth, and I deeply appreciate the idea of fiction being a safe space for teens to navigate those gray areas. Whether or not abortion is a choice they agree with for themselves or others, the reality is abortion is healthcare and should not be outlawed. YA fiction provides such an outstanding avenue for exploring the topic and more, for helping both young people and those who care for them, understand why this healthcare is a legal right.

Big thanks for reading today, YA fans, and we’ll see you on Thursday.

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram and person who will keep pushing Baby & Solo to readers this year and beyond. Yes, those are nods to Han Solo and Dirty Dancing, both part of the story’s setting in a video rental store.

What's Up in YA

Adult Books for YA Readers, Great YA Comics, and More YA Book News and New Books: October 14, 2021

Hey YA Readers!

Let’s catch up on the latest in YA book news and new books. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been reading a lot lately, and I’ve been adding more books to my to-read than I have in a long time.

YA Book News

New YA Books

Please note that with supply chain issues, paper supply challenges, and the pandemic more broadly, publication dates are changing at a pace I can’t keep up with. Some release dates may be pushed back. If a book catches your attention, the smartest thing to do right now is to preorder it or request it from your library. It’ll be a fun surprise when it arrives. This goes, too, for any books you might be planning to purchase for the holidays — the sooner you pick up the hard copies, if that’s your preference, the better.


Any Sign of Life by Rae Carson

Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (series)

The Brightest Night by Jennifer L. Armentrout (series)

Book cover for The Delusionist

The Delusionist by Don Calame

Dragonblood Ring by Amparo Ortiz (series)

Ferryman by Claire McFall

The Gilded Cage by Lynette Noni (series)

The Heartbreak Bakery by A. R. Capetta

I Am Margaret Moore by Hannah Capin

Jade Fire Gold by June CL Tan

Keeper of the Night by Kylie Lee Baker (series)

Oksi by Mari Ahokoivu, translated by Silja-Maaria Aronpuro

Our Way Back to Always by Nina Moreno

Remember Me by Estelle Laure

Thronebreaker by Rebecca Coffindaffer


book cover of daughters of jubilation

Daughters of Jubilation by Kara Lee Corthron

Echo After Echo by A. R. Capetta

Fat Angie, Rebel Girl Revolution by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo

Golden Boys Beware by Hannah Capin (this is a new title)

The Starlight Claim by Tim Wynne-Jones

YA This Week at Book Riot

Thanks for hanging out, and we’ll see you on Saturday for some YA ebook deals. I’ve got a special guest newsletter on Monday coming up, too!

I hope you’re reading your next favorite book.

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram.

What's Up in YA

Return To Stoneybrook With These BSC Goods

Hey YA Readers!

I’m deep into reading We Are The Baby-Sitters Club edited by Marisa Crawford and Megan Milks in preparation for the second season of The Baby-Sitters Club to drop on Netflix. It’s given me so much to think about in terms of the original series — is Kristy queer? is Mallory an example of what a good ally does? why is Jessi’s skin color never consistent or correct on the book covers of the series? — and it’s making me really excited to see where the new season goes.

I’ve debated, too, whether or not The Baby-Sitters Club is YA or not. The characters are forever in eighth grade, so they straddle that line of late middle grade and early young adult and I think that’s really one of the things that makes this series special. We really see how different teens are at that age: some are mature, while others are still grappling with what it means to leave childhood behind and grow into one’s self.

I’ll be chatting with my pal and Baby-Sitters Club superfan Amma Marfo about the second season later this month on an episode of Hey YA Extra Credit (our take on the first season is here). Besides preparing by reading, I’ve also been deep into the world of Baby-Sitters Club fan merch and thought it might be a fun way to launch a new week.

Say hello to your season two Baby-Sitters Club goods from around the web.

Image of a Stoneybrook, CT travel poster

This travel poster for Stoneybrook, Connecticut, is gorgeous, fun, and a super clever take on BSC fandom. I’d hang this in my house, no question. $20.

Earrings featuring mini covers of Kristy's Great Idea

Kristy might not get why you’d wear the book on your ears, but Claudia would be all in on these BSC book cover earrings. $10.

Image of a candle with a label featuring "Baby-Sitters Book Club," as phone, books, and the description of the candle's scent.

Light up this….cake and fruit loops scented candle for all of your BSC meetings. I am both surprised and delighted by the mix of scents. It’s too perfect. $21.

Image of a canvas tote with qualities of each BSC character.

I love this tote bag. Lead, create, dress, love, chill, dance, and write like your faves. $13.

Image of the five first baby-sitters club characters on a background which looks like notebook paper.

Pop this digital illustration of the Baby-Sitters Club, inspired by the Netflix show, in your office. $10.

Image of a Stoneybrook Middle School t-shirt.

I’ve been waffling back and forth on picking up a shirt like this one, but I’m picky about my t-shirts. That problem is no longer a problem, as you can buy the digital file — the Stoneybrook Middle School 1986 logo — and apply it to whatever you’d like to. $2 for the digital download.

Image of a dark blue t-shirt with all of the character names on it.

I *would* wear this BSC character shirt, no question. $28, sizes S-3XL.

Image of an enamel pin featuring the cover of the first BSC book.

Wear this enamel pin honoring Kristy’s great idea. $15.

Image of a bookmark that reads "I'm a Kristy."

It wasn’t until I watched the first season of the adaptation where I was able to own which of the characters I really am: Kristy (much as I identify a lot with Dawn…). If you’re a Kristy, this bookmark is for you. Good news, fans of Mary Anne, Claudia, or Stacey: this shop has those bookmark options. too. $3.50.

As always, thanks for hanging out. We’ll see you on Thursday with your YA book news and new books.

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram.

What's Up in YA

Black YA Fantasy Adaptations and More of Your YA Book News and New Books: October 7, 2021

Hey YA Readers!

We might be lighter on news than usual this week, but the news is full of good stuff. Consider it making room for catching up on the latest new books because there are a ton!

Before diving in: did you know Book Riot is celebrating its 10th anniversary this week? It’s bananas to think about 10 years of talking books, reading, and all things the book life — and I’ve been part of it for at *least* eight of those years. I cannot go deep enough into my archive to find an exact year count.

To celebrate a decade, we’ve got a limited run of sweet Book Riot merch. Snag one of those hoodies, y’all — perfect fall reading attire (personally, I’m 100% here for the yellow one and plan to grab one, even though I need zero hoodies in my life).

Onto books!

YA Book News

New YA Books

Please note that with supply chain issues, paper supply challenges, and the pandemic more broadly, publication dates are changing at a pace I can’t keep up with. Some release dates may be pushed back. If a book catches your attention, the smartest thing to do right now is to preorder it or request it from your library. It’ll be a fun surprise when it arrives. This goes, too, for any books you might be planning to purchase for the holidays — the sooner you pick up the hard copies, if that’s your preference, the better.


Blackbirds in the Sky book cover

Black Birds in the Sky by Brandy Colbert (nonfiction)

Bluebird by Sharon Cameron

Briarheart by Mercedes Lackey

Crossbones by Kimberly Vale (series)

Eventide by Sarah Goodman

Everything Within and In Between by Nikki Barthelmess

The Falling Girls by Hayley Krischer

Just Ash by Sol Santana

Kingdom of the Cursed by Kerri Maniscalco (series)

Luminous book cover

Luminous by Mara Rutherford

Punching Bag by Rex Ogle

Rise Up: How You Can Join The Fight Against White Supremacy by Crystal Marie Fleming (nonfiction)

So This Is Christmas by Tracy Andreen

Tonight We Rule the World by Zack Smedley

Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson

We Light Up the Sky by Lilliam Rivera

When Night Breaks by Janella Angeles (series)

Why We Fly by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal


Feminist AF book cover

Feminist AF by Brittney Cooper, Chanel Craft Tanner, and Susana Morris (nonfiction)

The Holiday Switch by Tif Marcelo

I’m With The Banned by Marlene Perez

Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera

One Way or Another by Kara McDowell

Redemption Prep by Samuel Miller

The Shadow Mission by Shamim Sarif (series)

The Violent Season by Sara Walters

YA Book Talk on Book Riot

Two fun quizzes this week to offer you great YA fantasy book recommendations: first, a traditional quiz, then, a quiz wherein you create a fantasy world. There aren’t repeat answers, so take ’em both1

What YA should be on your radar this month.

Some new, fabulous YA series to start this fall.

As always, thanks for hanging out! We’ll see you on Saturday for your weekly deals, followed by a roundup of some fun fandom goods related to a little club of babysitters on Monday.

Cheers to your next new favorite read!

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram.

What's Up in YA

What Was The First “YA” Book?

Hey YA Readers!

In early August, I put together an episode of Hey YA Extra Credit on the topic of the first “true” “YA” book. All of those quotes for reasons that will become apparent. Because this was a scripted podcast, meaning I wrote out and crafted a narrative for it, I thought it would be worth revisiting here. You can listen to the episode in full here, read below, OR take it old school and listen as you read along — I assume other people loved those books on tape that came with the book as kids so you could do both at the same time.

I loved digging into the history here, and I’m hoping to make these semi-deep dives into YA history a regular on Hey YA Extra Credit. Note that this is a longer read, so set aside a bit of time before diving in. Links to sources and further reading are here, and they are super fascinating if this interests you!

Do you know what the first “official” YA book was? The one written specifically for teenage readers, featuring teenage protagonists? 

If your answer is The Outsiders by SE Hinton, you’re close, but you’d be wrong. It’s a different title, published decades prior, and one that is still in print today.

The First YA Book

The year is 1942. In America, teenagers aren’t yet considered a whole separate demographic. Sure, they’re young people, but the idea of their power as a group of consumers hadn’t yet been tapped. That would come after the war. 

Seventeenth Summer Book Cover

While many writers featured adolescents in their books at the time, as well as prior to, crating work specifically for teen readers had yet to come into vogue. Paul Zindel and SE Hinton would come to define early YA books in the 60s, but it was Maureen Daly’s Seventeenth Summer which most commonly earns distinction as the first book for and about teenagers.

Maureen Daly was born in Ireland, moving to the US in the 1920s. They settled in the mid-size town of Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, and Maureen attended St. Mary’s Springs. It was one of her teachers, Sister Rosita Handibode, who encouraged her to write and helped her lead a fascinating career, starting at a remarkably young age.

Seventeenth Summer is the story of Angie Marrow, a 17-year-old who just graduated from a private, all-girls prep school in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. That summer, she catches a glimpse of Jack Duluth, who graduated from the local public school. It’s ultimately a story about middle class teenagers falling in love during a summer when all things are setting up to change — Angie is preparing to go to college in the fall, whereas Jack is planning to go work the family business.

While the book is ultimately a love story between two teens on the brink of adulthood, it’s also a keen story of life for middle class white teens in the pre-war era; Jack’s family owns a successful bakery, while Angie’s mom is a strict parent, often left to parent alone while her husband, Angie’s father, travels for his job in sales.

Here’s a short excerpt, exemplifying the class differences and sensibilities. Note that throughout the book to this point, Angie’s been defending Jack’s status, but it’s clear here, there’s a difference in their upbringing and she’s starting to see it.

“In our house where we had never been allowed to eat untidily, even when we sat in highchairs! It all seemed so suddenly and sickeningly clear – I could just see his father in shirtsleeves, piling food onto his knife and never using napkins except where there was company. And probably they brought the coffee pot right in and set it on the table.

My whole mind was filled with a growing disdain and loathing. His family probably didn’t even own a butter knife! No girl has to stand for that. Never. If a boy gets red in the face, sputters salad dressing on the tablecloth, and hasn’t even read a single book to talk about when you ask him over for dinner, you don’t have to be nice to him – even if he has kissed you and said things to you that no one has ever said before!”

Seventeenth Summer green cover

Jack and Angie have their first date together at a bar — not unusual in Wisconsin — and the book is peppered with them drinking and smoking. Lorraine, who is Angie’s sister, stars in a thread through the book about the challenges of coming back home for the summer after being away in college, offering a peek at what Angie and Jack might be in for should their relationship last.

This isn’t a romance with a happily ever after. In the end, we see Angie choosing one path, while Jack is forced into a different one. And though the emotional notes and dated references and language situate the book in its time, there is a sense of timelessness to the story, too: what happens when you fall in love during your teens? What happens when that love is doomed from the start? And what happens when family meddles into those affairs: do you pursue romance or do you consider what it is your family is saying?

The History of Seventeenth Summer

Seventeenth Summer, most recent edition.

Seventeenth Summer has, believe it or not, been in print since its first publication. In some of the publicity for the book, it’s called a refreshing alternate to “modern” love stories — which is interesting to unpack, especially if “modern” in that publicity refers to, say, sex positive titles or titles featuring characters of color, queer characters, or anyone living at the intersections of various underrepresented groups.

Many contemporary reviewers of the book note that it’s long and very little happens — there is little kissing or hand holding and far more looking off into the distance together. Many note that Jack and Angie never even really talk to one another, despite how much there is for them to discuss.

Other modern critics disagree with both. Some find the book to be subtle in its portrayals of love and romance, with a softly simmering sexuality that becomes more apparent the closer one reads.

Over the course of eight decades, Daly’s book has remained in print, rereleased with a new wave of publicity in 2010. An audiobook, performed by the award-winning Julia Whelan, came out the following year, introducing a whole new audience to the classic. It has sold more than a million copies. Though initially released as an adult book — remember the category of teen or young adult hadn’t been developed yet — it was, without question, for that audience and in subsequent decades, found its way through those publication channels.

Seventeenth Summer was reviewed in the New York Times, noting the success of the novel and attributing it in part to Daly’s closeness to the characters:  “By a kind of miracle, and perhaps because she is so close to an experience not easy to recapture, Miss Daly has made an utterly enchanting book out of this very fragile little story — one which rings true and sweet and fresh and sound.” Many reviewers at the time praised the book, even though it was held to adult novel standards, due to there being no actual young adult category to which it could be compared.

Of the book, Daly said “It was a sheer outburst of creative yearning and emotional hype. I loved that town (and several of the young men in it) and wanted to express myself and my feelings at that time.”

Seventeenth summer 80s-style book cover

Seventeenth Summer was Daly’s first novel, but it wasn’t her first brush with publishing or writing. When she was 15, her short story titled “Fifteen” was published by Scholastic magazine — it earned a third place distinction in their annual contest, and at 16, her short story “Sixteen” earned a first place finish in that contest and was included in O. Henry’s best short stories. She wrote Seventeenth Summer in her parents’ basement after, but it wouldn’t be until she went to college the book would see publication. It was, once again, in part to a contest — this time, in addition to prize money of $1000, her book would be published by Dodd Mead. 

After Seventeenth Summer

Despite her success, Daly didn’t continue publishing books until much later. She pursued a career in newspapers and magazines and while working at the Chicago Tribune, she developed and wrote a popular advice column for teenagers called “On The Solid Side.” It was so popular, it ran three times a week and became syndicated across the country to over 34 papers; her sister took up the column in later years. She wrote under the name “Chi Chi” Daly, answering questions like how to avoid necking and whether or not to drink on a date. A TIME Magazine article quoted her salary for her career during this time at $22,000 — roughly $250,000 today.

Daly also reviewed books and many of those reviews are searchable on newspaper databases. When her husband died, though — he himself a mystery writer — she picked up writing books again and published more titles for teens and for adults.

A fun anecdote worth sharing here — Daly met her husband in what could only be described as a storybook scene: he bought a copy of Seventeenth Summer at Marshall Fields, where she was signing, and had to return to the store for another copy after he lost the original in a cab.  

Daly died in 2006 at the age of 85. Film rights to the book were sold, though no film was made. Her 1964 book The Ginger Horse was made into a film.

Her work opened the door to similarly themed books during the era, including books Practically Seventeen by Rosamond du Jardin in 1949, Lenora Mattingly Weber’s Beany Malone, and Fifteen by Beverly Cleary, published in 1956, 

It’s incredible to think about the history of this book and how it not only spurred an entire category of books, but it really brought to focus the importance of adolescence as a distinct time period in a person’s life. The book’s pre-war setting, too, is tremendous in what it offers for this demographic of teenagers, unaware that everything they once thought they knew would be completely upended and more, that their demographic would take on significant power socially and culturally just a decade later. 

Seventeenth Summer book cover from the 90s

You can also trace the history of the book and the history of the marketing of books for teens — and specifically teen girls — through the cover evolution of Seventeenth Summer as well. The 2010 edition mirrors the cover aesthetics of that era, with two pairs of bodyless and faceless legs dangling off a dock into a lake, while the 1985 hardcover edition has a very teen television show feel to it. The 70s edition is reminiscent of Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss, Jack and Angie in 70s-styled clothes. 

The original cover? Very much of the “trying to look like an adult novel without trying to look like an adult novel” variety. 

Should you pick up Seventeenth Summer if you haven’t? Maybe, maybe not. I personally haven’t, primarily because I think the story behind the story is likely more appealing to me than the book. But readers who want to read a slice of history, who want to see where and how YA came to be, as well as how the category has remained true to its roots, even with tremendous growth and far more inclusivity, perhaps it’s time. How many of the YA books we love follow the contours of first falling in love, navigating challenging familial relationships, and understanding one’s class status? More, how many utilize that first post-high school, pre-college setting to represent standing on that tentative precipice of adulthood?

And luckily, it remains in print and in audiobook format, making accessing Angie and Jack’s summer-before-college love story possible. 

Thanks for hanging out, and we’ll see you again on Thursday!

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen

What's Up in YA

Kacen Callender, New Teen Titans, and More of Your YA News and New Books: September 30, 2021

Hey YA Readers!

I’m Erica and I’m filling in for Kelly today. If you also follow the Hey YA podcast, you may have heard me there as I started cohosting with Kelly recently.

Anywho, let’s get into news and new releases!

YA Book News

New YA Books This Week

*A note from Kelly*: Please note that with supply chain issues, paper supply challenges, and the pandemic more broadly, publication dates are changing at a pace I can’t keep up with. Some release dates may be pushed back. If a book catches your attention, the smartest thing to do right now is to preorder it or request it from your library. It’ll be a fun surprise when it arrives. This goes, too, for any books you might be planning to purchase for the holidays — the sooner you pick up the hard copies, if that’s your preference, the better.

cover of Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray, featuring a hissing snake wrapped in ferns wrapped around the title

As Good as Dead by Holly Jackson (series)

Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray

Before We Disappear by Shaun David Hutchinson

Bend in the Road by Sara Biren

Dark Rise by C. S. Pacat (series)

Drawn That Way by Elissa Sussman

For All Time by Shanna Miles

Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone

Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber (series)

Some Faraway Place by Lauren Shippen (series)

The Splendor by Breeana Shields

Steelstriker by Marie Lu (series)

Steelstriker by Marie Lu book cover

Tell It True by Tim Lockette

Time Will Tell by Barry Lyga

You’d Be Home Now by Kathleen Glasgow


(You may have to toggle to paperback)

All This Time by Mikki Daughtry, Rachael Lippincott

Bearmouth by Liz Hyder

The Broken Raven by Joseph Elliott (series)

The Good Hawk by Joseph Elliott (series)

Hope In The Mail by Wendelin Van Draanen

How It All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi

In The Study With a Wrench by Diana Peterfreund (series)

The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah (series)

A Neon Darkness by Lauren Shippen (series)

None Shall Sleep by Ellie Marney

Thoughts and Prayers by Bryan Bliss

When Villains Rise by Rebecca Schaeffer (series)

This Week at Book Riot

It’s been nice hanging with y’all! Kelly will be back for the next newsletter send, but you can catch me talking mess with her on the Hey YA podcast here.


-Erica, @erica_eze_ on Twitter

What's Up in YA

🔱 Geek Out Over Greek YA Retellings

Hey YA Readers!

Greek mythology is having a moment. Certainly, it’s been popular for a long time, but with the rise of dark academia as an aesthetic and interest among teens especially, Greek mythology falls in line with the ideas of private schools, classic stories, and slightly foreboding possibilities.

It’s also true that the youngest readers who grew up on Rick Riordan and his mythology are seeking out YA titles as they enter their late teens and early adulthood. That Riordan has his own imprint now, too, has only increased interest in these titles.

YA retellings have used Greek myths for decades, but inspired by the increased desire for these stories, let’s look at both some new books, as well as some from the back list.

For readers who haven’t had interest in Greek mythology, these titles can be a great introduction. And in YA, we’re lucky — more and more of these retellings are being done by authors of color, adding something entirely new, fresh, and far more inclusive to mythology (which, of course, is what makes mythology exciting).

antigoddess book cover

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake

The first in a trilogy, this book follows Cassandra, a modern-day high school student and it turns out she — despite being completely unaware of the gods around her — might be a key piece in a war that’s just about to begin among those same gods and goddesses.

This is fresh, clever take on Athena and Hermes’s story.

beauty's daughter book cover

Beauty’s Daughter by Carolyn Meyer

It cannot be fun to be the daughter of the most beautiful women in the world. Meyer’s book follows Hermione, daughter of Helen of Troy, who stows away on a Greek army ship at the start of the Trojan War. It’s not safe or easy for her in the way it is for her mother, inside the encampment, and Hermione begs for the gods and goddesses to intervene and make amends for her mother’s reckless behavior.

daughter of sparta book cover

Daughter of Sparta by Claire M. Andrews

A gender-twisted remake of Daphne and Apollo, Andrews’s debut — first in a duology — Daphne, who has been training her mind and body to that of a warrior, has her life completely changed when she’s forced to find the nine items stolen from Mount Olympus. If she’s unsuccessful, not only will the power of the gods dissipate, but so will that of mortals . . . and more importantly to Daphne, her brother’s life may come to an end.

lifestyles of gods and monsters book cover

Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters by Emily Roberson

Take the Minotaur legend and combine it with a teen whose family are social media stars and you get this dark, bloody, and fun take on a classic story.

never look back book cover

Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera

After Hurricane Maria devastated her home in Puerto Rico, Eury is haunted by the tragedy and the evil spirit following her when she moves with her family to the Bronx. But then she meets Pheus, a guitar-playing cool guy who wants to do nothing but love and protect Eury.

But the world threatens to keep them apart.

This is a Latinx take on Orpheus and Eurydice, and if this one really works for you as a reader, another clever take on this myth is All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry.

the siren book cover

The Siren by Kiera Cass

Cass’s name is likely familiar because of her bestselling “The Selection” series, but before that shot her into book-land stardom, she published The Siren, which was rereleased after she’d made a name for herself.

Kahlen was rescued from the Ocean, but now she has to serve the sentence as a Siren — a single word from her lips could kill. She’s resigned to stay alone, despite how much she wants to spend time around other people, laughing, having fun, and living like the humans around her. But then she meets Akinli and starts to fall. Their connection is undeniable, but because falling in love with a human goes against the rules of the Ocean, things will not be easy.

the vicious deep book cover

The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Córdova 

Córdova’s trilogy follows Tristan, who is sucked into the sea by a tidal wave. It’s here that he learns his family legacy is not what he thought.

This is a funny, clever take on mermaids, and it plays with the Poseidon myth.  

we can be heroes book cover

We Can Be Heroes by Kyrie McCauley

This book just hit shelves and it sounds like such an interesting twist on mythology in a modern, contemporary story. Beck and Vivian aren’t friends, not really, but they are friendly because of their mutual best friend Cassie. When Cassie’s murdered and the town moves on too quickly, Beck and Vivian seek vengeance . . . with the help of Cassie’s ghost AND a true crime podcast.

Greek myths are part of the story both in obvious ways — this is a twist on the Cassandra myth — but also in the ways Beck and Vivian bring attention to Cassie’s story via murals around town.

Thanks for hanging out, and I hope you’ve found your next favorite read. I’m taking the rest of the week off to celebrate my birthday with a pile of YA novels and perfect fall weather. Your regular Thursday news and Saturday deals will hit your inbox from one of my colleagues, and I’ll be back on Monday with a fascinating slice of YA history.

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram

What's Up in YA

Star Wars, National Book Awards, and More of Your YA News and New Books: September 23, 2021

Hey YA Readers!

Let’s catch up on the latest in YA book news and new YA books. I hope you’re finding all of the cozy you can as we roll into autumn here in the northern hemisphere.

YA Book News

New YA Books This Week

Please note that with supply chain issues, paper supply challenges, and the pandemic more broadly, publication dates are changing at a pace I can’t keep up with. These are as current as I have, but some may have been pushed back. If a book catches your attention, the smartest thing to do right now is to preorder it or request it from your library. It’ll be a fun surprise when it arrives. This goes, too, for any books you might be planning to purchase for the holidays — the sooner you pick up the hard copies, if that’s your preference, the better.


Cover for All These Bodies

All These Bodies by Kendare Blake

As If On Cue by Marisa Kanter

Big Boned by Jo Watson

The Bronzed Beasts by Roshani Chokshi (series)

Into The Dying Light by Katy Rose Pool (series)

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

Maybe We’re Electric by Val Emmich

The Other Merlin by Robyn Schneider

The Other Talk by Brendan Kiely

Sidelined by Kara Bietz

She Who Rides the Storm by Caitlin Sangster

cover for things we couldn't say

Spells Like Teen Spirit by Kate M. Williams (series)

Things We Couldn’t Say by Jay Coles

This Is Why We Lie by Gabriella Lepore

To Break a Covenant by Alison Ames

When We Make It by Elisabet Velasquez


As The Shadows Rise by Katy Rose Pool (series)

Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh

The Left Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix

A Light in the Darkness by Albert Marrin (nonfiction)

Sabotage: The Mission to Destroy Hitler’s Bomb by Neal Bascomb (nonfiction)

The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi (nonfiction)

Spies: The Secret Showdown Between America and Russia by Marc Favreau (nonfiction)

White Fox by Sara Faring

This Week at Book Riot

Image of a grey t-shirt which reads "Stoneybrook middle school 1985," with a tiger face.

I’m debating picking up this sweet Stoneybrook Middle School 1986 shirt for my birthday. Is this where I post that acronym IYKYK? $21 and up, if you want to join me.

Thanks as always for hanging out. We’ll see you with deals on Saturday!

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram.

What's Up in YA

Your Guide to Fall YA Adaptations

Hey YA Readers!

We’re in for a delightful fall full of YA adaptations hitting a range of streaming services. I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to putting on my (even more) comfortable pants, making a cup of hot tea, and lighting a candle while enjoying good stories on my screen.

This roundup is going to be very white in terms of authorship. While more inclusive YA has been optioned in the last year than even in years past, this season doesn’t feature them. We will see more, but in the meantime, what’s positive is how diverse the casts of these shows are.

I’ve noted where the shows can be streamed, as well as when they hit those services.

The Baby-Sitters Club Season 2 (Netflix, October 11)

I am so freaking excited for season two of this fabulous and modern take on The Baby-Sitters Club. We’re going to meet junior members Mallory and Jessi this season.

Birds of Paradise (Prime, September 24)

If you haven’t picked up A.K. Small’s Bright Burning Stars, do it before the adaptation hits Prime. This is one for fans of ballerina stories, for stories set outside of the US, and stories of friendship, passion, and sport.

I Know What You Did Last Summer (Prime, October 14)

Still image from I Know What You Did Last Summer

I had completely forgotten the classic YA thriller I Know What You Did Last Summer was being remade, but it is and there’s a drop date. Bonus: the original film will also be available to stream, so you can make a weekend of watching both.

One Of Us Is Lying (Peacock, October 7)

Promo image for One Of Us Is Lying

Are you a fan of this mega-selling thriller? You’ll be excited to know that One of Us Is Lying will hit Peacock as a series soon. I won’t lie: this isn’t my favorite book, as I find what the “gotcha” is to be questionable, but I am eager to see what — if anything — may change on screen.

There’s Someone Inside Your House (Netflix, October 6)

I’m 100% here for YA horror finally seeing more screen time (and I’ve saved the Fear Street series for the haunting season, so I’ve got tons to look forward to). This is based on Stephanie Perkins’s There’s Someone Inside Your House. It’s a camp-y slasher, so expect there to be some gore in this one.

What are you looking forward to seeing? If these are but a taste of what’s cooking in the world of streaming YA adaptations, we are in for some great viewing for the foreseeable future.

Thanks for hanging out, and we’ll see you on Thursday.

Happy reading!

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram