From a novel about human/animal DNA splicing to a Shakespearian retelling set in the Prohibition era, the best Young Adult books of September are certainly unique. And while you may be mourning the oncoming loss of summer, you should be celebrating this new season of publishing.
September boasts books from some of our favorite YA writers of all time, like Patrick Ness and Adam Silvera (their books The Rest of Us Just Live Here and More Happy Than Not were two of our picks for the Best YA Books of All Time). And the month also heralds exciting YA debuts from authors you should be watching, like Katherine Locke and Akemi Bowman.
So relax. Take a breath. Summer is over, but an autumn of amazing reads is just beginning.
1. The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke
Release Date: September 1st from Albert Whitman & Company
Why You’ll Love It: Time travel! Magic balloons! Alternate history! There’s so much happening in Katherine Locke’s Young Adult debut, and it blends together in a way that feels effortless. Combine that with a story that shifts point of view and a world that’s spectacularly researched, and you’ve got one of the most memorable reads of 2017.
For Fans of: YA novels that blend history and magic, like The Diviners by Libba Bray, or alternate history YA that talks about identity, like Anne Blankman’s beautiful novels.
Description: When sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally time-travels via a magical red balloon to 1988 East Berlin, she’s caught up in a conspiracy of history and magic. She meets members of an underground guild in East Berlin who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall—but even to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. When it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history, Ellie must risk everything—including her only way home—to stop the process.
2. Feral Youth edited by Shaun David Hutchinson
Release Date: September 5th from Simon Pulse
Why You’ll Love It: Like Hutchinson’s first YA anthology, Violent Ends, this is another must-read. From the rock star lineup of contributors like Brandy Colbert, Justina Ireland, and Stephanie Kuehn to the amazing premise (inspired by The Canterbury Tales), Feral Youth is a powerhouse title.
For Fans of: This is a unique book, but if you like the books by authors in the collection, you’ll like this one.
Description: At Zeppelin Bend, an outdoor education program designed to teach troubled youth the value of hard work, cooperation, and compassion, 10 teens are left alone in the wild. The teens are a diverse group who come from all walks of life, and they were all sent to Zeppelin Bend as a last chance to get them to turn their lives around. They’ve just spent nearly two weeks learning to survive in the wilderness, and now their instructors have dropped them off eighteen miles from camp with no food, no water, and only their packs, and they’ll have to struggle to overcome their vast differences if they hope to survive.
3. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
Release Date: September 5th from HarperTeen
Why You’ll Love It: When Silvera’s More Happy Than Not came out in 2015, Paste named it the best Young Adult novel of the year. And now, not only did we get his second novel, History is All You Left Me, just a few months ago… we get his THIRD book this month. Once again, Silvera blends a bit of sci-fi into this heartbreaking-yet-hopeful YA contemporary novel, creating a stirring story of love and sadness that’s impossible to put down.
For Fans of: Novels by Robin Talley (What We Left Behind) and Becky Albertalli (Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda), mashed up with Denton Little’s Death Date by Lance Rubin.
Description: When Mateo receives the dreaded call from Death-Cast, informing him that today will be his last, he doesn’t know where to begin. Quiet and shy, Mateo is devastated at the thought of leaving behind his hospitalized father, his best friend, and her baby girl. But he knows that he has to make the most of this day, it’s his last chance to get out there and make an impression.
Rufus is busy beating up his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend when he gets the call. Having lost his entire family, Rufus is no stranger to Death-Cast. Not that it makes it any easier. With bridges to mend, the police searching for him and the angry new boyfriend on his tail, it’s time to run.
Isolated and scared, the boys reach out to each other, and what follows is a day of living life to the full. Though neither of them had expected that their final day on earth would involve falling in love…
4. Warcross by Marie Lu
Release Date: September 12th from G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Why You’ll Love It: Because it’s a new Marie Lu book. Okay, okay, it’s a book that delivers some serious Ready Player One vibes, mashed up with YA reads in virtual worlds, like Epic by Conor Kostick. It’s a sci-fi thriller that you won’t be able to put down.
For Fans of:
The Leveler series by Julia Durango or The Eye of Minds by James Dashner.
Description: For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started 10 years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.
Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.
5. One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake
Release Date: September 19th from HarperTeen
Why You’ll Love It: The second book in Blake’s Three Dark Crowns series is here! It’s set in a fantasy realm where triplets are born every generation. Each sister has a magical gift… and the last one to survive gets to be the queen. It’s a dark, violent world that proves to be a treat for fans of intrigue.
For Fans of: Epic YA fantasy, books by authors like Susan Dennard, Laini Taylor, and Victoria Schwab.
Description (spoilers ahead for Book One): With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off.
Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, once thought to be the strongest sister of all and the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.