I come bearing gifts of great reading! Here’s a comprehensive guide to young adult speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror) being published in May 2021. Up first is a short list of the books I highly recommend, followed by a long list of basically every book being published.
Get your library cards and indie bookstore pre-orders ready, y’all.
May 4, 2021
Cee has been trapped on an abandoned island for three years and seventeen days without any recollection of how she arrived, or memories from her life prior. All she knows is that somewhere out there, beyond the horizon, she has a sister named Kay. Determined to find her, Cee devotes her days to building a boat from junk parts scavenged inland, doing everything in her power to survive until the day she gets off the island and reunites with her sister.
In a world apart, 16-year-old STEM prodigy Kasey Mizuhara is also living a life of isolation. The eco-city she calls home is one of eight levitating around the world, built for people who protected the planet–and now need protecting from it. With natural disasters on the rise due to climate change, eco-cities provide clean air, water, and shelter. Their residents, in exchange, must spend at least a third of their time in stasis pods, conducting business virtually whenever possible to reduce their environmental footprint. While Kasey, an introvert and loner, doesn’t mind the lifestyle, her sister Celia hated it. Popular and lovable, Celia much preferred the outside world. But no one could have predicted that Celia would take a boat out to sea, never to return.
Now it’s been three months since Celia’s disappearance, and Kasey has given up hope. Logic says that her sister must be dead. But as the public decries her stance, she starts to second guess herself and decides to retrace Celia’s last steps. Where they’ll lead her, she does not know. Her sister was full of secrets. But Kasey has a secret of her own. (Roaring Brook Press)
May 8, 2021
Unwritten by Alicia J. Novo (The Zweeshen Chronicles #1)
Books whisper to Beatrix Alba. But they aren’t the reason she has never fit in. Bullied at home and school, she keeps a secret-a power of violence and darkness.
When the spell that keeps her hidden fails, she’s catapulted into the Zweeshen, a realm where all tales live, and her dream of meeting her favorite characters comes true. But wishes are tricky, and behind its wonder and whimsy, the Zweeshen is under attack. A character is burning bookworlds in pursuit of a weapon to rule both stories and storytellers. To succeed, he needs a riddle in Beatrix’s possession.
Now he’s hunting her down.
Joining forces with William, a cursed conjurer, Beatrix must face an enemy who knows her every weakness in a realm where witches play with time, Egyptian gods roam, and Regency heroines lead covert operations. And with her darkness as the only weapon, she may have to sacrifice everything to save a world that rejects her. (Intense Publications)
May 11, 2021
Illusionary by Zoraida Córdova (Hollow Crown #2)
Reeling from betrayal at the hands of the Whispers, Renata Convida is a girl on the run. With few options and fewer allies, she’s reluctantly joined forces with none other than Prince Castian, her most infuriating and intriguing enemy. They’re united by lofty goals: find the fabled Knife of Memory, kill the ruthless King Fernando, and bring peace to the nation. Together, Ren and Castian have a chance to save everything, if only they can set aside their complex and intense feelings for each other.
With the king’s forces on their heels at every turn, their quest across Puerto Leones and beyond leaves little room for mistakes. But the greatest danger is within Ren. The Gray, her fortress of stolen memories, has begun to crumble, threatening her grip on reality. She’ll have to control her magics–and her mind–to unlock her power and protect the Moria people once and for all.
For years, she was wielded as weapon. Now it’s her time to fight back. (Little Brown & Co)
May 18, 2021
In Thanopolis, those gifted with magic are assigned undead spirits to guard them–and control them. Ever since Rovan’s father died trying to keep her from this fate, she’s hidden her magic. But when she accidentally reveals her powers, she’s bound to a spirit and thrust into a world of palace intrigue and deception.
Desperate to escape, Rovan finds herself falling for two people she can’t fully trust: Lydea, a beguiling, rebellious princess; and Ivrilos, the handsome spirit with the ability to control Rovan, body and soul.
Together, they uncover a secret that will destroy Thanopolis. To save them all, Rovan will have to start a rebellion in both the mortal world and the underworld, and find a way to trust the princess and spirit battling for her heart–if she doesn’t betray them first. (Imprint)
May 25, 2021
Set on a family-run interstellar freighter called the Harland and a mysterious remote space station, E. K. Johnston’s latest is story of survival and self-determination.
Pendt Harland’s family sees her as a waste of food on their long-haul space cruiser when her genes reveal an undesirable mutation. But if she plays her cards right she might have a chance to do much more than survive. During a space-station layover, Pendt escapes and forms a lucky bond with the Brannick twins, the teenage heirs of the powerful family that owns the station. Against all odds, the trio hatches a long-shot scheme to take over the station and thwart the destinies they never wished for. (Dutton Books for Young Readers)
May 4, 2021
Blade of Secrets by Tricia Levenseller (Bladesmith #1)
Eighteen-year-old Ziva prefers metal to people. She spends her days tucked away in her forge, safe from society and the anxiety it causes her, using her magical gift to craft unique weapons imbued with power. (Feiwel & Friends)
Ember of Night by Molly E. Lee (Ember of Night #1)
I need to figure it out fast, because now everyone is gunning for me. And damn if I don’t want to show them what happens when you let weeds thrive in the cracks of the pavement…We can grow powerful enough to shatter the whole foundation. (Entangled: Teen)
Ten people share a prom house at the Jersey Shore for the weekend. Every one of them has a secret…and when they begin to die one by one, panic ensues. Could somebody’s prom date also be…a killer? (Underlined)
Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard (Realm Breaker #1)
A strange darkness grows in Allward. Even Corayne an-Amarat can feel it, tucked away in her small town at the edge of the sea. (HarperTeen)
Sky Breaker by Addie Thorley (Night Spinner #2)
The war between Ashkar and Zemya began centuries ago as a feud amongst the gods. Now it’s up to the two most hated people on the continent–the monstrous outcast, Enebish, and the notorious war criminal, Ghoa–to heal that spiritual divide before Kartok brings the skies crashing down on all of them. (Page Street Kids)
The Block by Ben Oliver (The Loop Trilogy #2)
Another prison break is the only chance to protect the Missing. And as reality becomes increasingly scrambled on the outside, it’ll take an army to stop Galen from carrying out his plans. (Chicken House)
May 11, 2021
Time has stopped. It’s been June 23, 2020 for nearly a year as far as anyone can tell. (Dutton Books for Young Readers)
May 18, 2021
Mister Impossible by Maggie Stiefvater (Dreamer Trilogy #2)
Something is happening to the source of the dreamers’ power. It is blocked. Diminished. Weak. If it goes away entirely, what will happen to the dreamers and those who depend on them? (Scholastic Press)
Vines & Florets by Amy McNulty (Blood, Bloom, & Water #5)
In the shadows of New York City lies forbidden North Brother Island, where the remains of a shuttered hospital hide the haunting memories of century-old quarantines and human experiments. The ruins conceal the scarred and beautiful Cora, imprisoned by contagions and the doctors who torment her. (Snowy Wings Publishing)
May 25, 2021
Spells Trouble by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast (Sisters of Salem #1)
Hunter and Mercy Goode are twin witches, direct descendants of the founder of their town of Goodeville. As their ancestors have done before them, it is now time for the twins to learn what it means to be Gatekeepers-the protectors of the Gates to different underworlds, ancient portals between their world and realms where mythology rules and nightmares come to life. (Wednesday Books)
All-out war is knocking at the gates. Galene and her friends are the only ones who can tip the scales toward justice, but their choices could save Olympus from total annihilation, or be the doom of them all. (Swoon Reads)