May is a phenomenal month for new YA releases with so many big name authors releasing their newest books. Sarah J. Maas, Jay Kristoff, Becky Albertalli, and Lynette Noni all have new books out that we loved. Plus, there’s debuts from Claire Legrand, Alexandra Christo and Eleni Hale. Read on for what we had to say about all these great new reads!
Reviews by Sarah McDuling
I write this review as an empty shell of of a human being. This book has actually scooped my soul out of my body, lit it on fire and tossed the ashes into the wind. I AM DEAD! And this is totally fine with me. I’m feeling super chill about my death because but I have absolute faith that some time in 2019 the sequel to Lifel1k3 is going to come along and resurrect me (and possibly kill me all over again?) and it’s going to be so, so perfectly agonizing and potentially soul-destroying and super fun… until it ends. And then it will be a long, interminable wait for the final book in the trilogy, which is certain to leave me in a glorious mess emotions. Damn you Jay Kristoff and also… I can’t wait!!
But I’ve jumped too far into the future. For now, let’s just focus on Lifel1k3.
Pitched as Romeo and Juliet, meets Mad Max, meets X-Men with a little bit of Blade Runner – Lifel1k3 is every bit as crazy-amazing as the description suggests. This is the kind of story you never knew you always wanted, until it is handed to you and you’re like, “Of course! This is exactly what I need!”.
Set in a violent and desolate future, this post-apocalyptic, sci-fi adventure is a masterpiece in world building and character development. The characters in this book are beyond lovable! The action is explosive and the writing is punchy and dynamic. Jay Kristoff has a remarkable talent for creative slang that flows naturally and helps solidify the mood and aesthetic of the world he is creating – in this case, a brutal, sunbaked wasteland full of scavenger gangs and robots.
And the plot twists! Holy Lord the plot twists. I managed to guess a few of them but the majority caught me completely off guard and left me reeling. Lifel1k3 is a perfectly executed, genre-mashing adventure packed full of action, humour, and thrills, with a touch of horror and a dash of romance. Constantly surprising and violently joyful, this book is full of every emotion under the sun, and boasts a cast of characters so perfect and precious they will blast straight into your heart.
This book tells an amazing story while also setting the stage for what will no doubt be a phenomenal trilogy. Perfect for fans of all good books (especially books involving Jay Kristoff)! Learn more.
Furyborn is a fast-paced, action-packed, deliciously dark and deeply absorbing fantasy. Told via two separate yet intriguingly interwoven timelines, this is the story of Rielle and Eliana. An epic fantasy full of high-stakes drama, adventure and romance, this is the first book in a new trilogy and I am thoroughly hooked!
Claire Legrand’s world building is amazing. This book comes complete with a beautiful map, as well as a kind of glossary at the back to help readers keep track of the elements and the saints. The world of Avitas is vividly imagined and intricately detailed. And the characters are wonderful! Claire Legrand has created a cast of fascinating characters – in particular two very strong-willed, kickass female protagonists. I fell so deeply under the spell of this world and these characters, I completely lost track of time and reality.
Though the plot contains a lot of tropes (an ancient prophecy, a chosen one who must undergo magical trials etc.) it never once feels cliched. The writing is electric, the story flies along so quickly and so thrillingly that I found myself gobbling up all the tropes with great gusto, then begging for more!
Furyborn is told in alternating viewpoints which take place in dual timelines. Rielle’s story is the earlier timeline, while Eliana’s story takes place a thousand years later. The prologue of this book is next level and sets up an atmosphere of uncertainty and impending doom. Seriously, what a prologue! It grabbed my attention in a bruising stranglehold and immediately pitched me into a state of high anticipation and wild curiosity. So many questions! So much fear for the future! From there on in, the story unfolds in a wild explosion of magic queens, evil angels, prophecy, destiny, and drama galore. I loved every second!
Perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo, Kristin Cashore and Erika Johansen. Learn more.
This is the first Lynette Noni book I have ever read, and it impressed me so much I am now super keen to dive into her Medoran Chronicles.
Whisper is the first book in a captivating sci-fi series set in Sydney and starring a mysteriously mute main character known as 684 or Jane Doe. Jane gave me major vibes of Eleven from Stranger Things so obviously I loved her and wanted only to protect her from pain and suffering. Unfortunately, poor Jane has been subjected to a lot of pain and suffering. Trapped in a secret research facility she has been tortured and experimented on for years. She has also been silent for years because bad things happen when Jane speaks …
Whisper was super entertaining and ended on such a frustrating cliffhanger, I am very anxious to get my hands on the next book. As well as Jane, there is a whole cast of intriguing characters and by the end of the book an epic battle between good and evil is clearly brewing. I can’t wait to see how this all plays out!
Try to imagine a cross between Shatter Me and The Darkest Minds with a hint of Stranger Things and X-Men except set in Sydney, and you will start to get an idea of what Whisper is like, and why I enjoyed it so much. All the above mentioned books/shows and movies are favourites of mine and Whisper reminded me of them of them all while still managing to feel new and fresh.
Brimming with tension, mystery, romance and super-powered awesomeness, this is a great beginning to what promises to be a highly entertaining new sci-fi series. Perfect for fans of Tahereh Mafi, Alexandra Bracken and Veronica Roth. Learn more.
Reviews by Tanaya Lowden
I feel like we’ve all had those characters that are just so fantastic, and whom we love so much, that all we want is to read more books that feature them. They could just be doing super bland errands, or having some normal human moments, but because you love the characters and their friendships together, you would totally be down for reading about those things. I for one have definitely felt this way about certain characters before, and this is how I can best describe my experience with A Court of Frost and Starlight.
Bridging the events between A Court of Wings and Ruin, and the untitled continuation of the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, A Court of Frost and Starlight is a novella in this worldwide phenomenon and bestelling series. Narrated by Feyre and Rhys, ACOFAS follows the lead up to the Winter Solstice and highlights the deep wounds inflicted upon all the people dearest to them as a result of the war in ACOWAR.
Sarah J. Maas has been a favourite author of mine for many years and I was so excited for this novella to release. I pretty much devoured it in one sitting, because if there is one thing that Maas does right, it is writing a fun, and compelling group of characters that will make it difficult to put the book down. Whilst this novella is definitely more character driven than plot driven, I think Maas did a good job of juggling both, and ensuring that the story did fill in some details that will be pivotal for the continuation of the series.
My only complaint about ACOFAS would be that it is just too short! I know it’s a novella, but I could gladly read pages and pages and pages about these beloved characters all day long.
2018 is a big year for Sarah J. Maas with three new books releasing. ACOFAS is the perfect thing to tide us all over until we can get our hands on Kingdom of Ash, the final book in the Throne of Glass series and Catwoman: Soulstealer, the third book in the DC Icons series. Learn more.
There could not have been a more perfect time for a sequel to Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda to release. With the success of the recent movie adaptation, Love, Simon, the return to these characters and the continuation of their story was everything I didn’t realise I needed in life.
None of Leah’s friends know that she’s bi. Although her mother knows, she’s never mustered the courage to tell anyone else, including her openly gay best friend Simon. It’s senior year, and with it comes talks about college, prom, and the realisation that everything is about to change. So when Leah and Simon’s rock-solid friend group starts to fracture, tensions are high. Especially when Leah realises she might be falling in love with one of her friends.
Becky Albertalli’s books are such a joy to read, and so relatable that I find myself easily losing track of time when reading them. With Leah on the Offbeat, I was so enraptured in Leah’s story that I couldn’t put the book down.
I felt such a strong connection to Leah. She’s sarcastic, moody and opinionated, but also funny, caring and downright refreshing. At times I felt like she was my spirit animal, and at other times I felt she was crossing a line with her behaviour, but this only made me love her all the more. All these flaws that Albertalli wove into Leah added depth to her character, and made her incredibly realistic and all the more relatable.
It was also such a joy to return to the other characters we know and love. Simon and Bram are obviously characters the fans wanted more of, and it was so lovely to read about them after the events of Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda. Although there was demand from readers to know more about these beloved side characters, Albertalli easily balanced the ratio of their inclusion and ensured that Leah’s story remained the focus and continued the narrative.
I for one am loving the inclusion of more diverse reads in YA fiction, and Leah on the Offbeat is such a wonderful addition to this. It’s safe to say that if you loved Love, Simon (the book or the movie) that you will enjoy Leah on the Offbeat. And if you haven’t read or seen Love, Simon you most definitely should because both the book and the film are marvellous creations! Learn more.
Stone Girl by Eleni Hale is one hell of a ride.
Dark, raw, confronting, but oh so important, Stone Girl is the devastating story of Sophie who ends up a ward of the state after the death of her alcoholic and drug addicted mother. Following Sophie from age 12 to 16, this is her descent into a volatile world where kids make their own rules, adults don’t count and the only constant is change.
The first thing that needs to be said about this book is that this is definitely not suitable for the younger ages of the YA readership. This book deals with some incredibly heavy and intense subject matters including drugs, alcohol, sex, and domestic abuse, and it doesn’t shy away from any of the details.
This book was simply heartbreaking and like nothing else I have ever read before. No child should ever have to go through what Sophie does, and yet the unwritten implication of this book is that so many children have and do go through these events. Although fictional, the author writes from her own experiences in group homes. Whilst this makes the book all the more honest and realistic, it also makes it more tragic and devastating. The entire time I just wanted to reach into the book and give Sophie a big hug because her story was so sad.
Hale’s writing was incredibly compelling. The more I read the more difficult the book became to continue, and yet I found myself unable to put it down because of Hale’s raw but stunning prose. Without spoiling, I was so glad to see the book end on a note of hope, especially after all the dark events that occur throughout.
This is a confronting #LoveOzYA debut you won’t want to miss. Learn more.
I had high hopes going into this book, (I mean, who wouldn’t want a dark retelling of The Little Mermaid?) and I’m happy to say that these hopes were met because I absolutely adored To Kill a Kingdom.
I’m not going to lie, I generally shy away from mermaid/siren stories. They’re just not my cup of tea. The only thing that had me interested in reading this book is because I have a love of fairytale retellings. I am so glad that I put aside my prejudices towards mermaids/sirens and read this because this has been one of my favourite YA reads so far this year. I loved the characters, I loved the slow-burn relationship, I loved that the book was action-packed, and I loved that it was dark and gritty alongside all the things that I love about The Little Mermaid fairytale.
Although this book and these characters will leave you wanting more, I felt incredibly satisfied that this is only a standalone. Far too many books these days are series, and whilst this is definitely not a bad thing, it can be so refreshing to have a story pack all its punches into just one book. I will definitely be reading any future works by Alexandra Christo because I adored her writing and can’t wait to see what she does next!
If you, like me, are fans of fairytale retellings than this is one for you. And if you need another reason to pick up a copy, how about that stunning cover? Learn more.
About the Contributor
Tanaya has been a lover of books for as long as she can remember. Now, her book collection is a little out of control, mostly consisting of YA fiction and pretty hardcovers. When she’s not reading, she spends a lot of her time taking photos of books for her bookstagram account, @prettypagesblog. She also has a love of Disneyland, bullet journaling and cats.
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