Five YA must-reads for April 2016, including Roshani Choksi’s much-anticipated THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN, Jesse Andrews’ THE HATERS, and Renée Ahdieh’s latest, THE ROSE AND THE DAGGER.
When it comes to books, April is definitely not the cruelest month — unless by cruel you mean ‘gah, too many awesome books to read!’ I’m having a tough time narrowing my faves this month to just five, but I love you, so somehow I managed it. From luscious storytelling integrating folktales and legends to classic road trip novels, I have you covered this month.
Drop your own anticipated titles in the comments! (Yes, including your own books.)
The Haters (Jesse Andrews)
The author of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is back with The Haters (Amulet, 5 April), another irreverent, fun YA novel that packs a secret punch. When Wes and Corey hit jazz camp, they come to the uncomfortable realisation that they don’t actually like jazz — and thus begins a roadtrip that takes them through a series of first times as they venture through the South with their own band, headed up by Ash, a troublemaker they meet at camp. It’s a classic road trip novel with the heartfelt sass you expect from Dumplin’ and the bravado found in 100 Sideways Miles.
The Rose and the Dagger (Renée Ahdieh)
The much-anticipated sequel to The Wrath and the Dawn takes on what happens next as Shazi reconciles past, present, and the man she loves. The Rose and the Dagger (Putnam, 26 April) comes with flying carpet rides, magic lessons, and the necessity of speaking truth to power as Shazi asserts herself with the people around her. She’s gone from impoverished commoner to pampered princess to desert queen, and I think I like her best of all in this setting, because it’s when she truly grows into her potential. If you dug Rae Carson’s outstanding Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, or enjoyed Malindo Lo’s Huntress, you’re going to love Ahdieh’s work.
Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here (Anna Breslaw)
Like The Haters, Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here (Razorbill, 19 April) is some light reading for the month — it’s fun, snappy, and sassy, though sometimes a little bit too much so. Many readers are comparing it to Fangirl or Kill the Boy Band, because of its fannish content, but it’s a little unfair to lump anything and everything about fannish communities into one giant glob. That said, this is a particularly sharp look at what happens when you decide to turn to your own life as a source for your characters…and everyone finds out.
A Fierce and Subtle Poison (Samantha Mabry)
The newly-released A Fierce and Subtle Poison (Algonquin Young Readers) reads like an homage to masters of magical realism like Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It’s a book that needs to be consumed slowly and carefully, even though the plot will suck you in and make you want to gallop through its pages, because it’s so lush, and there’s so much going on. Meet the mysterious girl who lives in the poison garden, the teenage son of a hotel developer, and the strange relationship that arises between them as their town is disrupted with a captivating mystery.
The Star-Touched Queen (Roshani Choksi)
Do you like slightly macabre, creepy, dark, beautiful things? Then you need to read The Star-Touched Queen (St. Martin’s Griffin, 26 April). Choksi’s hauntingly beautiful language might trick you into thinking you’re going to read something glittering and gilded, but you’re going to get a lot more than you bargained for in this fantastic debut that blends Indian folklore and mythology into a strange, fantastical universe and an ancient mystery that only our heroine can solve. You’re going to get a little whiff of Bluebeard in this story about the bride who wakes up in the underworld, and if you loved The Kingdom of Little Wounds and The Walls Around Us, you’re going to need to get your hands on this.
Cover photo: Prabhu B Doss