From a beloved YA series’ return (The Darkest Minds) to a thrilling debut’s release (I Am Still Alive), there are plenty of books to keep you entertained this summer. We predict that the best Young Adult novels of July will make you want to skip the backyard BBQs in favor of reading a great book.
Let’s dig in.
1. The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James
Release Date: July 3rd from HarperTeen
Why You’ll Love It: We all know that the movie Passengers was terrible. But the concept of being entirely alone in space with the means to survive for a really long time… well, that idea is gripping. And in Lauren James’ latest novel, she does it right. A story of loneliness and heartbreak blended with sci-fi thrills, it’s one of the most surprising books to arrive this year. Don’t miss out on this one.
For Fans of: Sci-fi by authors like Beth Revis.
Description: The daughter of two astronauts, Romy Silvers is no stranger to life in space. But she never knew how isolating the universe could be until her parents’ tragic deaths left her alone on the Infinity, a spaceship speeding away from Earth.
Romy tries to make the best of her lonely situation, but with only brief messages from her therapist on Earth to keep her company, she can’t help but feel like something is missing. It seems like a dream come true when NASA alerts her that another ship, the Eternity, will be joining the Infinity.
Romy begins exchanging messages with J, the captain of the Eternity, and their friendship breathes new life into her world. But as the Eternity gets closer, Romy learns there’s more to J’s mission than she could have imagined. And suddenly, there are worse things than being alone….
2. Zen and Gone by Emily France
Release Date: July 3rd from Soho Teen
Why You’ll Love It: Emily France’s debut, Signs of You, was a moving contemporary novel about love, loss and family. In her second book, she blends those themes with a story of survival in the wilderness. A novel about not giving up on those you love, Zen and Gone’s Colorado wilderness saga is as wild as it is heartwarming.
For Fans of: Authors like Kathryn Holmes and Emery Lord
Description: Born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, Essence McKree feels older than any 17-year-old she knows. Ever since weed was legalized, Mom has been working in a pot shop, high more often than not. Lately it’s been up to Essa to care for her nine-year-old sister, Puck.
When Essa meets Oliver—a brainy indoor type, in town for the summer—she is cautious at first, distrustful of the tourist crowd and suspicious of Oliver’s mysterious past in Chicago. But Puck is charmed and pushes Essa toward him. Soon Essa finds herself showing Oliver the Boulder she has forgotten: the mountain parties, the long hikes…and at Oliver’s urging, the exploration of Buddhism at the local zendo.
When Oliver agrees to accompany Essa on a three-day survival game in the Rocky Mountains, she feels a lightness she hasn’t known in a long time. Then she discovers that Puck has stowed away and followed them into the wilderness. After spending a night stuck in a mountain storm, Essa wakes to find Puck missing. Now Essa must rely on her newfound spiritual strength if she is to save her sister’s life, and ultimately her own.
3. The Brink of Darkness by Jeff Giles
Release Date: July 10th from Bloomsbury YA
Why You’ll Love It: The second book in Giles’ The Edge of Everything series is here, picking up where the first one ended. If you’re into YA fantasy novels that blur the lines of contemporary fiction and the fantastic, you’ll dig this series. The saga follows a girl from a seemingly ordinary world that collides with another realm when her father is killed and she’s assaulted by a mysterious attacker.
For Fans of: Authors like Kami Garcia and Melissa Grey.
Description: Things have changed for 17-year-old Zoe ever since the otherworldly events that brought her together with the mysterious bounty hunter she calls X. In order to save Zoe and her family, X has done the unthinkable—he’s given up his freedom and returned to captivity in the Lowlands.
X is determined to break the lords’ hold on him once and for all, but being stripped of his power pushes him toward a darkness he’s never experienced and a past he’s never known. The secrets that surface could be the key to reuniting X and Zoe…or they could mean the destruction of everything they have been fighting for.
4. Notes from My Captivity by Kathy Parks
Release Date: July 10th from Katherine Tegen Books
Why You’ll Love It: Kathy Parks’ novel follows a teen who flies around the world to try to become like her journalist idol, only to find herself held captive. It’s this list’s second survival story, one that’s as unique as it is intense.
For Fans of: Authors like Libba Bray and Adam Silvera
Description: Adrienne Cahill cares about three things: getting into a great college; becoming a revered journalist like her idol, Sydney Declay; and making her late father proud of her.
So when Adrienne is offered the chance to write an article that will get her into her dream school and debunk her foolish stepfather’s belief that a legendary family of hermits is living in the Siberian wilderness, there’s no question that she’s going to fly across the world.
But the Russian terrain is even less forgiving than skeptical Adrienne, and when disaster strikes, none of their extensive preparations seem to matter. Now Adrienne’s being held captive by the family she was convinced didn’t exist, and her best hope for escape is to act like she cares about them, even if it means wooing the youngest son.
5. The Unfortunates by Kim Liggett
Release Date: July 10th from Tor Teen
Why You’ll Love It: A Paste favorite, Kim Liggett writes horror novels that dig into the supernatural (and are amongst some of our favorites in recent memory). So this YA thrill ride that addresses affluenza (Google it, it will make you furious), dark secrets and murder is absolutely spectacular. Hold. On. Tight.
For Fans of: Authors like Courtney Alameda and Gretchen McNeil.
Description: When 17-year-old senator’s son Grant Tavish is involved in a fatal accident, all he wants to do is face the consequences of what he’s done. But the consequences never come, even if headlines of “affluenza” do. The truth soon becomes clear: Due to his father’s connections, not only will Grant not be held accountable for his actions, he’s going to get away with murder.
When a long Tavish tradition approaches, a cave excursion on the Appalachian trail, Grant seizes the opportunity to take justice into his own hands by staging an accident and never coming back. But before he has a chance to enact his plans, the cave system collapses, trapping him miles beneath the surface with four other teens from much less fortunate circumstances. As they struggle to survive, they share their innermost secrets and fears. And just when it seems they might be on track to finding a way out, they realize there’s something else down there.
And it’s hunting them.
6. Hullmetal Girls by Emily Skrutskie
Release Date: July 17th from Delacorte Press
Why You’ll Love It: From the badass cybernetics to the space-opera politics, there is so much to adore about Hullmetal Girls. It’s a captivating sci-fi adventure that will make you fall madly for Emily Skrutski’s fabulous writing, if you haven’t already.
For Fans of: Authors like Cindy Pon and Pierce Brown.
Description: Aisha Un-Haad would do anything for her family. When her brother contracts a plague, she knows her janitor’s salary isn’t enough to fund his treatment. So she volunteers to become a Scela, a mechanically enhanced soldier sworn to protect and serve the governing body of the Fleet, the collective of starships they call home. If Aisha can survive the harrowing modifications and earn an elite place in the Scela ranks, she may be able to save her brother.
Key Tanaka awakens in a Scela body with only hazy memories of her life before. She knows she’s from the privileged end of the Fleet, but she has no recollection of why she chose to give up a life of luxury to become a hulking cyborg soldier. If she can make it through the training, she might have a shot at recovering her missing past.
In a unit of new recruits vying for top placement, Aisha’s and Key’s paths collide, and the two must learn to work together—a tall order for girls from opposite ends of the Fleet. But a rebellion is stirring, pitting those who yearn for independence from the Fleet against a government struggling to maintain unity.
With violence brewing and dark secrets surfacing, Aisha and Key find themselves questioning their loyalties. They will have to put aside their differences, though, if they want to keep humanity from tearing itself apart.
7. Contagion by Erin Bowman
Release Date: July 24th with HarperTeen
Why You’ll Love It: You might know Erin Bowman from her fantastic Taken trilogy or the Vengance Bound duology, but if not, Contagion’s a great place to begin. It reads like something crossed between the movie Alien and the book The Andromeda Strain. In short, you’ll love it.
For Fans of: Sci-fi authors like Olivia A. Cole and Beth Revis.
It got in us.
After receiving an urgent SOS from a work detail on a distant planet, a skeleton crew is dispatched to perform a standard search-and-rescue mission.
Most are dead.
But when the crew arrives, they find an abandoned site, littered with rotten food, discarded weapons…and dead bodies.
Don’t set foot here again.
As they try to piece together who—or what—could have decimated an entire operation, they discover that some things are best left buried—and some monsters are only too ready to awaken.
8. I Am Still Alive by Kate Alice Marshall
Release Date: July 24th from Viking Books for Young Readers
Why You’ll Love It: Sometimes a book that wasn’t on our radar arrives, and it utterly rocks us. This is that book. The story of a teen girl seeking her survivalist father, only for him die in the wilderness and leave her stranded in the cold… my goodness, it is a stunner. Terrifying and gorgeous, it’s definitely one of 2018’s must-reads.
For Fans of: The graphic novel series Sheltered or authors like Bryan Bliss.
Description: AFTER: Jess is alone. Her cabin has burned to the ground. She knows if she doesn’t act fast, the cold will kill her before she has time to worry about food. But she is still alive—for now.
BEFORE: Jess hadn’t seen her survivalist, off-the-grid dad in over a decade. But after a car crash killed her mother and left her injured, she was forced to move to his cabin in the remote Canadian wilderness. Just as Jess was beginning to get to know him, a secret from his past paid them a visit, leaving her father dead and Jess stranded.
AFTER: With only her father’s dog for company, Jess must forage and hunt for food, build shelter and keep herself warm. Some days it feels like the wild is out to destroy her, but she’s stronger than she ever imagined. She knows who killed her father… and she wants revenge.
9. The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas
Release Date: July 31st from Delacorte Press
Why You’ll Love It: If you’ve ever picked up Little Monsters or The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas, you know she writes fantastic YA mysteries/thrillers that explore complicated (and sometimes toxic) friendships between girls. Her latest centers around murdered cheerleaders in a small town and a protagonist who might have ties to their deaths.
For Fans of: Books by authors like Caleb Roehrig and Stephanie Kuehn.
Description: There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.
First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.
That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget.
But Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.
There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.
10. The Darkest Legacy by Alexandra Bracken
Release Date: July 31st from Disney-Hyperion
Why You’ll Love It: We love that we’re seeing YA authors breathing life into their old series. We’re getting more books from Tahereh Mafi in her Shatter Me world, and now a new title in Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds series! Set several years after the earlier books, The Darkest Legacy revisits an exciting world and will get you even more psyched for the movie.
For Fans of: Authors like Veronica Rossi, Diana Peterfreund and Marie Lu.
Description: Five years after the destruction of the so-called rehabilitation camps that imprisoned her and countless other Psi kids, 17-year-old Suzume “Zu” Kimura has assumed the role of spokesperson for the interim government, fighting for the rights of Psi kids against a growing tide of misinformation and prejudice. But when she is accused of committing a horrifying act, she is forced to go on the run once more in order to stay alive.
Determined to clear her name, Zu finds herself in an uncomfortable alliance with Roman and Priyanka, two mysterious Psi who could either help her prove her innocence or betray her before she gets the chance. But as they travel in search of safety and answers, and Zu grows closer to the people she knows she shouldn’t trust, they uncover even darker things roiling beneath the veneer of the country’s recovery. With her future—and the future of all Psi—on the line, Zu must use her powerful voice to fight back against forces that seek to drive the Psi into the shadows and save the friends who were once her protectors.