HMH Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Jenn H
Hallie did not go to war, to that horrible field where a god was slain and old friends were crippled. She stayed home and worked the fields. But in this novel that blurs the lines between fantasy and science fiction, home is a dangerous place full of secrets and festering anger, where the world next door just might come knocking. An Inheritance of Ashes asks us what makes a hero, a community, a family. Leah Bobet’s deftly written sophomore novel will linger in your mind long after there are no more pages to turn.
Balzer + Bray
Nominated by: Brandy Painter
The town of Bone Gap is full of secrets and losses, but for Finn and his brother Sean the biggest lost is Roza, Sean’s girlfriend. Finn is the only one who knows what really happened to her, but no one else will believe him. Ruby’s language is beautiful and her characters are complex and vivid. Bone Gap weaves together Finn and Roza’s narration with echoes of Greek myths and fairytales to question the pattern of stories we’re told and the stories we tell ourselves. A lovely tale of magical realism that leads to a surprising conclusion.
HMH Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Sheila Ruth
Raised from an infant in the convent dedicated to Saint Mortain, the god of Death, Annith looks forward to her first assignment so that she can truly serve him as a handmaiden of Death. But when things happen that cause her to question everything she’s ever believed, she sets off on her own, in defiance of the abbess, to find out the truth. Set in a late fifteenth-century Brittany trying to remain independent, this beautifully crafted historical fantasy is packed with heart-stopping adventure and equally heart-stopping romance. Mortal Heart examines questions of faith and the search for identity in a slightly subversive story loaded with teen appeal. Although Mortal Heart is the third book of the His Fair Assassin trilogy, it stands well alone, although enjoyment will be enhanced by reading the other two books.
Arthur A Levine
Nominated by: Katy Kramp
Sierra Santiago’s love of painting murals takes a paranormal twist in Shadowshaper. She learns she has the gift of shadowshaping — infusing ancestral spirits into paintings, music, and stories. Older paints a vivid picture of a Brooklyn neighborhood filled with magic, lush images, and a diverse culture. The voice is authentic, nailing some cultural aspects along with showing glimpses of gentrification in older neighborhoods. Readers will be swept away and applaud one strong heroine that tries to bring balance back to her world.
Nominated by: Kimberly F
This collection of short stories, each inspired by a piece of classic pop culture, has something for every horror fan. Readers who crack open its spine will find murderous white rabbits, vengeful ghosts, bargains with Death, and girls who know just how to wield a knife. The stories in this anthology range from subtly creepy to outright terrifying, and there’s not a bad one in the lot. Read them with the lights out — if you dare.
Nominated by: Cathy Potter
Thanks to experimental technology, six terminally ill teenagers are given a rare opportunity to cheat their upcoming deaths and become heroes, but it comes at a cost. They must leave their bodies behind and be transferred to weaponized robots. Once successfully transferred, the teens will train for battle against a rogue artificial intelligence program that is on a mission to destroy mankind. Mark Alpert’s novel, The Six, gives a sci-fi twist to the teens save the world theme. In it readers will be taken on an adventure that explores the emotional triumphs and difficulties of disabilities and terminal illnesses, the struggles of teenage friendships and relationships, and leaves people questioning what it really means to be human and have a soul.
Algonquin Young Readers
Nominated by: Esther Braithwaite
Amber prowls the walls of a prison, while the seemingly unrelated Violet prepares to shine in the spotlight. The girls are connected through Ori, Violet’s former best friend, in a situation that cannot be boiled down to cold, hard facts. In The Walls Around Us, Nova Ren Suma weaves a lush, tangled tale, laden with themes of betrayal, inequality and weighty consequences. Her well-crafted depictions of life behind bars, alongside the cutthroat underworld of ballet, linger and disturb long after the last page is turned.