Bringing fresh ideas and voices to the page, these 10 debuts—all reviewed in Booklist between October 15, 2015, and October 1,
2016—are must-reads. —Julia Smith
Alice and the Fly. By James Rice. 2016. Quercus, $16.99
(9781681445281). Gr. 9–12.
Using journal entries intermixed with transcripts of police interviews, Rice creates a suspenseful and beautifully plotted story that
revolves around Greg, a painfully shy and anxious teen boy, and his desire to befriend
American Girls. By Alison Umminger. 2016. Flatiron, $17.99 (9781250075000). Gr. 9–12.
Anna, 15, escapes upheaval at home by spending the summer with her half-sister, Delia, in L.A., where Anna becomes involved in a project about Charles Manson that helps
her come to terms with her family and herself.
The End of FUN. By Sean McGinty. 2016. Disney/Hyperion, $17.99 (9781484722114).
Aaron wants no more FUN—the augmented reality chip he had implanted into his skull
to directly stream social media—but its termination is no simple matter. A wildly funny,
original look at technology run rampant.
The First Time She Drowned. By Kerry Kletter. 2016. Philomel, $17.99 (9780399171031).
After spending the last three years in a mental institution, 18-year-old Cassie is haunted
by the twisted family dynamics that put her there. Cassie’s unreliable narration intermingles with the psychological mind games played by her mother in this taut read.
Gertie’s Leap to Greatness. By Kate Beasley. Illus. by Jillian Tamaki. 2016. Farrar, $16.99
(9780374302610). Gr. 5–8.
When fifth-grader Gertie learns her estranged mother is planning to move away, she
devises a five-phase plan to get her mom’s attention. Beasley takes on real-life problems
while remaining true to the feelings of childhood.
Hour of the Bees. By Lindsay Eagar. 2016. Candlewick, $16.99 (9780763679224).
Twelve-year-old Carolina isn’t pleased to be spending the summer moving her grandfather into a home for people with dementia; however, she is drawn to the incredible
stories he tells. The result is an atmospheric novel of family, heritage, and fairy tales.
The Mystery of Hollow Places. By Rebecca Podos. 2016. HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray,
$17.99 (9780062373342). Gr. 9–12.
In this charming, sharply plotted noir homage, Imogene investigates the disappearance
of her father and the years-old mystery of her missing mother by following in the footsteps of great literary detectives.
Rani Patel in Full Effect. By Sonia Patel. 2016. Cinco Puntos, $16.95 (9781941026496).
As the only Indian girl in her Hawaiian town, 16-year-old Rani finds comfort in rap and
slam poetry as well as an underground hip-hop crew that seems to offer respite from her
traumatic home life. Rani’s empowering, punchy, rhyme-infused narrative is a standout.
The Reader. By Traci Chee. 2016. Putnam, $19.99 (9780399176777). Gr. 9–12.
In a kingdom where only the elite can read, Sefia flees great danger after a book comes
into her possession. With fascinating world building, multifaceted characters, and a compelling plot, this series starter is a stunning piece of storytelling.
The Sand wich Thief. By Andre Marois. Illus. by Patrick Doyon. 2016. Chronicle, $14.99
(9781452146591). Gr. 2–5.
When someone at school starts stealing Marin’s lunch, he tightens his belt and begins
whittling down the suspects. Marois’ enchanting and hilarious mystery pairs wonderfully
with Doyon’s frenetic, hip art.
TOP 10 FIRST NOVELS FOR YOUTH
depth. Fans of character-driven novels will
appreciate this. —Sarah Hunter
Kingdom of Ash and Briars.
By Hannah West.
2016. 368p. Holiday, $17.95 (9780823436514).
Orphaned and raised as a serving girl,
16-year-old Bristal is stunned to learn that
she is one of three elicromancers—immortal,
magical beings—in her kingdom. Bristal
is quickly found by the other two elicromancers and trained in their ways. One,
Tamarice, is hungry for power and soon betrays them all, cursing the royal family and
casting the kingdom into darkness. Over the
course of the next 16 years, it falls to Bristal
to stop Tamarice’s machinations. She uses
her shape-shifting skills to secretly raise the
cursed youngest princess of the kingdom
while helping the hidden oldest princess
attend a ball and discover her heritage. At
the same time, she disguises herself as a
man to join a group of the king’s soldiers
and prepares herself for the coming fight.
The inclusion of multiple familiar stories—
Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Mulan—gives
this plenty of heft, and the scope of Bristal’s
adventures, the atmospheric magical elements, and the light touch of romance will
enchant fairy-tale fans. —Maggie Reagan
Last Seen Leaving.
By Caleb Roehrig.
Oct. 2016. 336p. Feiwel and Friends, $17.99
(9781250085634). Gr. 9–12.
This truly hair-raising, standout mystery
thriller from debut author Roehrig will
keep readers guessing until the end. When
sophomore Flynn Doherty comes home to
find police vehicles parked
outside his house, he finds
himself facing plenty of
questions about his missing girlfriend, January. The
last time Flynn saw January, she was emotional and
desperate to be intimate.
When Flynn refused, the
two parted on unsteady terms and January
all but accused Flynn of being gay, a truth
he has been avoiding for years. With the police hesitant to trust Flynn, he takes matters
into his hands and launches his own investigation with January’s coworker, friendly
and sexy Kaz. More than just fully realized,
Roehrig’s characters feel real. And if Flynn’s
circumstances are a bit sensational, his struggles with identity and relationships certainly
aren’t. Though this is not a typical problem
novel, Roehrig gives equal deference to the
mystery of January’s disappearance and
Flynn’s coming out and subsequent burgeoning romance with Kaz. Deftly weaving
fast-paced mystery with vivid, affecting
flashbacks, Roehrig coaxes readers along at
just the right pace and pulls the rug out from
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