Ready for your monthly dose of debut novels, YA style? I’ve been trying to keep track of everything Kim and I have read through these posts, linking to reviews where relevant. Last month’s debut post will link you to the debut posts in prior months,.
As always, summaries are from WorldCat, unless otherwise noted. Debut is defined as the first published novel by an author within any category, confirmed to the best of our ability; we include first-time publication in the US as debut (meaning if it published in Australia or the UK prior to this month, but it’s the first publication in the US, it’s a debut). If we’re missing a traditionally-published title for the month of April, let us know in the comments. And if you’ve read anything here we should make sure we don’t miss, we’d love to hear!
In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters: In San Diego in 1918, as deadly influenza and World War I take their toll, sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort and, despite her scientific leanings, must consider if ghosts are real when her first love, killed in battle, returns.
Taken by Erin Bowman: In the isolated town of Claysoot, every male is mysteriously “Heisted” on his eighteenth birthday, and seventeen-year-old Gray Weathersby is determined to figure out why.
That Time I Joined the Circus by JJ Howard: After her father’s sudden death and a break-up with her best friends, seventeen-year-old Lexi has no choice but to leave New York City seeking her long-absent mother, rumored to be in Florida with a traveling circus, where she just may discover her destiny.
The Ward by Jordana Frankel: Set in a futuristic Manhattan after a catastrophic flood called the Wash Out, sixteen-year-old Ren must race against a conspiracy to find freshwater springs and a cure for the deadly disease that has stricken her sister and many others in the Ward.
The Symptoms of My Insanity by Mindy Raf: When you’re a hypochondriac, there are a million different things that could be wrong with you, but for Izzy, focusing on what could be wrong might be keeping her from dealing with what’s really wrong–with her friendships, her romantic entanglements, and even her family.
Vengeance Bound by Justina Ireland: Amelie Ainsworth longs to graduate from high school and live a normal life, but as an abused child she became one of the Furies, driven to mete out justice on the Guilty, and lives on the run from the murders they commit.
Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce: When Megan, thirteen, arrives for her first cancer treatment, she is frustrated to be on the pediatric unit where the only other teen is Jackson Dawes, who is as cute and charming as he is rebellious and annoying, and who helps when her friends are frightened away by her illness.
Arclight by Josin L. McQuein (via Goodreads): No one crosses the wall of light . . . except for one girl who doesn’t remember who she is, where she came from, or how she survived. A harrowing, powerful debut thriller about finding yourself and protecting your future—no matter how short and uncertain it may be. The Arclight is the last defense. The Fade can’t get in. Outside the Arclight’s border of high-powered beams is the Dark. And between the Light and the Dark is the Grey, a narrow, barren no-man’s-land. That’s where the rescue team finds Marina, a lone teenage girl with no memory of the horrors she faced or the family she lost. Marina is the only person who has ever survived an encounter with the Fade. She’s the first hope humanity has had in generations, but she could also be the catalyst for their final destruction. Because the Fade will stop at nothing to get her back. Marina knows it. Tobin, who’s determined to take his revenge on the Fade, knows it. Anne-Marie, who just wishes it were all over, knows it. When one of the Fade infiltrates the Arclight and Marina recognizes it, she will begin to unlock secrets she didn’t even know she had. Who will Marina become? Who can she never be again?
The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise: Seeking to win a scholarship offered by global computing corporation Public, programming genius Audrey McCarthy writes a matchmaking app but discovers her results may be skewed by a program Public is secretly using to influence teens.
Hammer of Witches by Shana Mlawski: Fourteen-year-old bookmaker’s apprentice Baltasar, pursued by a secret witch-hunting arm of the Inquisition, escapes by joining Columbus’s expedition and discovers magical secrets about his own past that his family had tried to keep hidden.
The Loop by Shandy Lawson: In New Orleans, Louisiana, star-crossed teens Ben and Maggie try to find a way to escape the time loop that always ends in their murder.
My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi: When she loses a leading role and her leading man to another girl, sixteen-year-old Lucy, a member of the high school drama club, does something completely out of character that has life-altering consequences.
Kelly Jensen is a former librarian turned editor for Book Riot. She's the author of IT HAPPENS: A Guide to Contemporary Realistic Fiction for the YA Reader and the forthcoming Feminism For The Real World (Algonquin Young Readers, Spring 2017).