Can you believe we’re already more than five months into 2013? Some of us are still making our checks out to 2012 (how many ways can a person date herself in one sentence — yes, I still use checks sometimes). We’ve been keeping track of this year’s YA debut novels, and here are May’s additions. As usual, all of these are by first time writers within in any genre or category, and all are traditionally published titles. Descriptions come from WorldCat, and as we review any of these titles during the year, we’ll come back and link up our reviews.
If you know of other debut novels coming out in May, we’d love to know!
The Color of Rain by Cori McCarthy: If there is one thing that seventeen-year-old Rain knows and knows well, it is survival. Caring for her little brother, Walker, who is “Touched,” and losing the rest of her family to the same disease, Rain has long had to fend for herself on the bleak, dangerous streets of Earth City. When she looks to the stars, Rain sees escape and the only possible cure for Walker. And when a darkly handsome and mysterious captain named Johnny offers her passage to the Edge, Rain immediately boards his spaceship. Her only price: her “willingness.” Secretly and quickly Rain discovers that Johnny’s ship serves as host for an underground slave trade for the Touched . . . and a prostitution ring for Johnny’s girls. With hair as red as the bracelet that indicates her status on the ship, the feeling of being a marked target is not helpful in Rain’s quest to escape. Even worse, Rain is unsure if she will be able to pay the costs of love, family, hope, and self-preservation.
Coda by Emma Trevayne: Ever since he was a young boy, music has coursed through the veins of eighteen-year-old Anthem — the Corp has certainly seen to that. By encoding music with addictive and mind-altering elements, the Corp holds control over all citizens, particularly conduits like Anthem, whose life energy feeds the main power in the Grid. Anthem finds hope and comfort in the twin siblings he cares for, even as he watches the life drain slowly and painfully from his father. Escape is found in his underground rock band, where music sounds free, clear, and unencoded deep in an abandoned basement. But when a band member dies suspiciously from a tracking overdose, Anthem knows that his time has suddenly become limited. Revolution all but sings in the air, and Anthem cannot help but answer the call with the chords of choice and free will. But will the girl he loves help or hinder him?
The End Games T. Michael Martin: In the rural mountains of West Virginia, seventeen-year-old Michael Faris tries to protect his fragile younger brother from the horrors of the zombie apocalypse.
Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland: Seventeen-year-old Cricket Thompson is planning on spending a romantic summer on Nantucket Island near her long time crush, Jay–but the death of her best friend’s mother, and her own sudden intense attraction to her friend’s brother Zach are making this summer complicated.
Reboot by Amy Tintera: Seventeen-year-old Wren rises from the dead as a Reboot and is trained as an elite crime-fighting soldier until she is given an order she refuses to follow.
Riptide by Lindsey Scheibe: While training for a surfing competition to earn a college scholarship, Grace Parker struggles with her feelings toward her best friend Ford Watson and tries to conceal her family’s toxic dynamics.
Out of This Place by Emma Cameron: Luke divides his time between hanging at the beach, working at the local supermarket, and trying to keep out of trouble. Bongo, his mate, gets wasted to forget about the brother who was taken away from his addict mom and his abusive stepdad. Casey, the girl they love, looks to leave her controlling dad and find her own path. But after they leave and move onto very different lives, can they leave behind the past? And will they ever see each other again?
Parallel by Lauren Miller: A collision of parallel universes leaves 18-year-old Abby Barnes living in a new version of her life every day, and she must race to control her destiny without losing the future she planned and the boy she loves.
The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston: High school student “Meg” has changed identities so often that she hardly knows who she is anymore, and her family is falling apart, but she knows that two of the rules of witness protection are be forgettable and do not make friends–but in her new home in Louisiana a boy named Ethan is making that difficult.
Firecracker by David Iserson (from Goodreads): Being Astrid Krieger is absolutely all it’s cracked up to be. She lives in a rocket ship in the backyard of her parents’ estate. She was kicked out of the elite Bristol Academy and she’s intent on her own special kind of revenge to whomever betrayed her. She only loves her grandfather, an incredibly rich politician who makes his money building nuclear warheads. It’s all good until…“We think you should go to the public school,” Dad said. This was just a horrible, mean thing to say. Just hearing the words “public school” out loud made my mouth taste like urine (which, not coincidentally, is exactly how the public school smells). Will Astrid finally meet her match in the form of public school? Will she find out who betrayed her and got her expelled from Bristol? Is Noah, the sweet and awkward boy she just met, hiding something?
Truth or Dare by Jacqueline Green: In the affluent seaside town of Echo Bay, Massachusetts, mysterious dares sent to three very different girls–loner Sydney Morgan, Caitlin “Angel” Thomas, and beautiful Tenley Reed–threaten both their reputations and their lives. Kimberly’s review.
Wild Awake by Hilary T Smith: The discovery of a startling family secret leads seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd from a protected and naive life into a summer of mental illness, first love, and profound self-discovery.
How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennnifer Salvato Doktorski: Placed under a temporary retstraining order for torching her former boyfriend’s car, seventeen-year-old Rosie embarks on a cross-country car trip from New Jersey to Arizona while waiting for her court appearance.
The Summer I Became A Nerd by Leah Rae Miller (from Goodreads): On the outside, seventeen-year-old Madelyne Summers looks like your typical blond cheerleader—perky, popular, and dating the star quarterback. But inside, Maddie spends more time agonizing over what will happen in the next issue of her favorite comic book than planning pep rallies with her squad. That she’s a nerd hiding in a popular girl’s body isn’t just unknown, it’s anti-known. And she needs to keep it that way. Summer is the only time Maddie lets her real self out to play, but when she slips up and the adorkable guy behind the local comic shop’s counter uncovers her secret, she’s busted. Before she can shake a pom-pom, Maddie’s whisked into Logan’s world of comic conventions, live-action role-playing, and first-person-shooter video games. And she loves it. But the more she denies who she really is, the deeper her lies become…and the more she risks losing Logan forever.
The Falconer by Elizabeth May (Goodreads): 18-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined to a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery kills her mother. Now it’s the 1844 winter season. Between a seeming endless number of parties, Aileana slaughters faeries in secret. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, every night she sheds her aristocratic facade and goes hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways. But she never even considered that she might become attracted to one. To the magnetic Kiaran MacKay, the faery who trained her to kill his own kind. Nor is she at all prepared for the revelation he’s going to bring. Because Midwinter is approaching, and with it an eclipse that has the ability to unlock a Fae prison and begin the Wild Hunt. A battle looms, and Aileana is going to have to decide how much she’s willing to lose – and just how far she’ll go to avenge her mother’s murder.
Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan: In 1559 England, Meg, an orphaned thief, is pressed into service and trained as a member of the Maids of Honor, Queen Elizabeth I’s secret all-female guard, but her loyalty is tested when she falls in love with a Spanish courtier who may be a threat.
The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher: Angie’s quest for the truth behind her best friend’s suicide drives her deeper into the dark, twisted side of Verity High.
Zenn Scarlett by Christian Schoon (from Goodreads): Zenn Scarlett is a resourceful, determined 17-year-old girl working hard to make it through her novice year of exovet training. That means she’s learning to care for alien creatures that are mostly large, generally dangerous and profoundly fascinating. Zenn’s all-important end-of-term tests at the Ciscan Cloister Exovet Clinic on Mars are coming up, and, she’s feeling confident of acing the exams. But when a series of inexplicable animal escapes and other disturbing events hit the school, Zenn finds herself being blamed for the problems. As if this isn’t enough to deal with, her absent father has abruptly stopped communicating with her; Liam Tucker, a local towner boy, is acting unusually, annoyingly friendly; and, strangest of all: Zenn is worried she’s started sharing the thoughts of the creatures around her. Which is impossible, of course. Nonetheless, she can’t deny what she’s feeling. Now, with the help of Liam and Hamish, an eight-foot sentient insectoid also training at the clinic, Zenn must learn what’s happened to her father, solve the mystery of who, if anyone, is sabotaging the cloister, and determine if she’s actually sensing the consciousness of her alien patients… or just losing her mind. All without failing her novice year. Kimberly’s review.
The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan: Residing in a desolate abbey protected by gargoyles, two beautiful teenaged sisters in turn-of-the-twentieth-century Paris discover deadly and otherworldly truths as they search for their missing brother.
Transparent by Natalie Whipple: Sixteen-year-old Fiona O’Connell is the world’s first invisible girl, which makes her the ideal weapon for her crime-lord father. But now, she and her mother have escaped and are hiding out in a small town where they’re determined to start a normal life.
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).