Pay no attention to those back-to-school commercials, my friends.
Ignore the school supply items displayed at the end of the aisle.
Nope. Not yet, baby.
It’s like when they sell Christmas decorations in October. Summer comes but once a year, and you will have to drag me from the beach, book in hand, mid-September.
Even teens who have to go back to class have a month left, and so for the young adults — and the not-so-young adults — I have here my YA suggestions, to soak up the end-of-summer like a sponge.
Whether you’re 13, or 93, Nothing says summer like a breezy romance or dystopian thriller. Pack these in your beach bag, and summer on, my friends. Summer on.
“Once And For All,” By Sarah Dessen
In my YA day, we had Ann M. Martin’s Baby-Sitters Club and Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley High. Today’s teen and tween girls have Sarah Dessen.
For millennials, Dessen is the Reigning Queen of Teen Drama and Romance, with a knack for knowing what teens want to read, and a pitch-perfect voice. If you know a tween girl who’s a reluctant reader, just put a Dessen in her hands.
The New York Times bestselling author’s latest centers on 17-year-old Louna, whose summer job is to help brides plan their Big Day — even though she stopped believing in happily-ever-after when her first love ended tragically. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged now that he’s met the girl he really loves… Maybe Louna’s second chance is standing right in front of her.
For more Dessen, try “Saint Anything,” “The Truth About Forever,” “That Summer,” or “Along for the Ride.”
“King’s Cage,” by Victoria Aveyard
I’m such a sucker for YA dystopian tales. “The Hunger Games,” The “Divergent” series, I tore through ’em all. My most recent YA discovery is Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen series, which is like X-Men meets “Game of Thrones” meets “Divergent.” So good.
The latest book in the New York Times bestselling series, “King’s Cage,” picks up right where book 2 left off. I highly suggest reading them in order.
I don’t want to give too much away about “King’s Cage,” and you won’t understand it unless you’ve started the series. So I’ll share here the publisher’s synopsis for the first book, “Red Queen.” Start there.
Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with common, Red blood serve the Silver-blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. There, before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.
As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays the only certainty is betrayal.
My main problem when I finish one addictively-good dystopian tale is needing more addictively-good dystopian tales. And so we have the newly-released “Want,” by Cindy Pon.
This is a solid thriller, hard to put down and loads of twists. It will appeal to boys and girls alike. According to the publisher’s synopsis:
Set in a near-future Taipei, which is plagued by pollution, Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits, protecting them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer.
Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things— no matter the cost.
With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.
Yet against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is, or destroying his own heart?
Very different, while following the classic YA dystopian formula for success– and food for thought in terms of global warming and green living.
“Carve the Mark,” by Veronica Roth
All hail a master.
Roth, author of the internationally bestselling “Divergent” series, now hit movies, her latest — not a part of the series, but a stand-alone— is a #1 New York Times bestseller and USA and Wall Street Journal Bestseller.
Note: If you’ve somehow never read the Divergent series, read the Divergent Series. The dystopian series released around the time when Hunger Games ruled, and they were overshadowed and underrated.
Her latest is a futuristic inter-galactic thriller, built for both boys and girls. A bit more “Star Wars” than the rest. According to the publisher’s synopsis:
Cyra Noavek and Akos Kereseth have grown up in enemy countries, locked in a long-standing fight for dominance over the planet. When Akos and his brother are kidnapped by the ruling Noavek family, Akos is forced to serve Cyra, the sister of a dictator who governs with violence and fear.
Cyra is known for her deadly power of transferring extraordinary pain unto others with simple touch, and her tyrant brother uses her as a weapon against those who challenge him. But as Akos fights for his own survival, he recognizes that Cyra is also fighting for hers, and that her true gift—resilience—might be what saves them both.
Those should last you at least ’til Labor Day.
Lauren Daley is a freelance writer and book columnist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She tweets @laurendaley1. Read more at https://www.facebook.com/daley.writer.