Today’s young adult books bring romance, adventure and social commentary. Take a look at our best bets for what to read this June.
A Chorus Rises by Bethany C. Morrow
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release date: June 1
Den of Geek says: Morrow’s A Song Below Water was a fun, fierce mermaid story on the borders of urban/modern fantasy and a compelling secondary world. A secondary character from A Song Below Water takes the spotlight in this fable about race, fame and accountability.
Publisher’s summary: Teen influencer Naema Bradshaw has it all: she’s famous, stylish, gorgeous–and she’s an Eloko, a charismatic person gifted with a melody that people adore. Everyone loves her–until she’s cast as the villain who exposed a Siren to the whole world.
Dragged by the media, and canceled by her fans, no one understands her side: not her boyfriend, not her friends, not even her fellow Eloko. Villified by those closest to her, Naema heads to the Southwest where she is determined to stage a comeback… to her family, her real self, and the truth about her magic. What she finds is a new community in a flourishing group of online fans who support her.
At first, it feels like it used to–the fandom, the adoration, the community that takes her side–but when her online advocates start targeting other Black girls, Naema will realize that–for Black girls like her–even the privilege of fame has its limits. And only Naema can discover the true purpose of her power, and how to use it.
“A watery and melodic crossroads of the real and the mythic, A Chorus Rises lures readers with its seductive and beautifully Black siren song. An enthralling tale of Black girl magic and searing social commentary ready to rattle the bones.” ―Dhonielle Clayton, New York Times bestselling author of The Belles series
A Chorus Rises is a timely confrontation of the evolving nature of popularity in a society that chooses “exceptions” and rewards “model minorities.”
Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta
Publisher: Felwel & Friends
Release date: June 29
Den of Geek says: Mecha adventure takes the fore in this mix of military intrigue and romance. Mostly we’re intrigued by the world-building, which seems to draw from everything from Pacific Rim to Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Publisher’s summary: We went past praying to deities and started to build them instead...
The shadow of Godolia’s tyrannical rule is spreading, aided by their giant mechanized weapons known as Windups. War and oppression are everyday constants for the people of the Badlands, who live under the thumb of their cruel Godolia overlords.
Eris Shindanai is a Gearbreaker, a brash young rebel who specializes in taking down Windups from the inside. When one of her missions goes awry and she finds herself in a Godolia prison, Eris meets Sona Steelcrest, a cybernetically enhanced Windup pilot. At first Eris sees Sona as her mortal enemy, but Sona has a secret: She has intentionally infiltrated the Windup program to destroy Godolia from within.
As the clock ticks down to their deadliest mission yet, a direct attack to end Godolia’s reign once and for all, Eris and Sona grow closer―as comrades, friends, and perhaps something more…
Gamora and Nebula: Sisters in Arms by Mackenzie Lee
Publisher: Marvel Press
Release date: June 1
Den of Geek says: Lee captures some of the humor and wackiness of Guardians of the Galaxy in a story that is also a heart-wrenching mix of love and rivalry between sisters. While not quite reaching the bombastic heights or distinct character voices of the movies, the book’s attitude and an ending that has lodged itself in my memory put it squarely on the list.
Publisher’s summary: Gamora arrives on Torndune―a once-lush planet that has been strip-mined for the power source beneath its surface―with a mission: collect the heart of the planet.
She doesn’t know who sent her, why they want it, or even what the heart of a planet looks like. But as the right hand and daughter of Thanos, and one of the galaxy’s most legendary warriors, her job is not to ask questions. Her job is to do what she’s told, no matter the cost.
What she doesn’t know is that her sister Nebula is in hot pursuit. Nebula has followed Gamora to Torndune in hopes of claiming the planet’s heart first and shaming her sister as vengeance for the part she played in Nebula losing her arm. While Gamora falls in with a group of miners attempting to overthrow the tyrannical mining corporation that controls their lives, Nebula allies herself with the Universal Church of Truth, whose missionaries wait on every street corner to recruit more followers and tithes for the Matriarch. Both sisters hope their alliance will give them access to one of the massive diggers capable of drilling to the center of the planet.
But the closer they get to the heart of the planet―and to each other―the closer they get to uncovering the truth of what brought them there and the role they may unknowingly be playing in a twisted competition with galactic consequences. A competition they can never win . . . unless they learn to trust each other.
And trust is the biggest lie in the galaxy.
Sisters of the Snake by Sarena and Sasha Nanua
Release date: June 15
Den of Geek says: Indian twin sisters take on the story of Indian twin sisters in this rags-and-riches fantasy with animal magic.
Publisher’s summary: Princess Rani longs for a chance to escape her gilded cage and prove herself. Ria is a street urchin, stealing just to keep herself alive.
When these two lives collide, everything turns on its head: because Ria and Rani, orphan and royal, are unmistakably identical.
A deal is struck to switch places—but danger lurks in both worlds, and to save their home, thief and princess must work together. Or watch it all fall into ruin.
This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Release date: June 29
Den of Geek says: That elegant cover is like a flower to a bee, promising something worthwhile inside. The story of a young witch discovering her powers sounds equally elegant and fantastical.
Publisher’s summary: Briseis has a gift: she can grow plants from tiny seeds to rich blooms with a single touch.
When Briseis’s aunt dies and wills her a dilapidated estate in rural New York, Bri and her parents decide to leave Brooklyn behind for the summer. Hopefully there, surrounded by plants and flowers, Bri will finally learn to control her gift. But their new home is sinister in ways they could never have imagined–it comes with a specific set of instructions, an old-school apothecary, and a walled garden filled with the deadliest botanicals in the world that can only be entered by those who share Bri’s unique family lineage.
When strangers begin to arrive on their doorstep, asking for tinctures and elixirs, Bri learns she has a surprising talent for creating them. One of the visitors is Marie, a mysterious young woman who Bri befriends, only to find that Marie is keeping dark secrets about the history of the estate and its surrounding community. There is more to Bri’s sudden inheritance than she could have imagined, and she is determined to uncover it . . . until a nefarious group comes after her in search of a rare and dangerous immortality elixir. Up against a centuries-old curse and the deadliest plant on earth, Bri must harness her gift to protect herself and her family.
From the bestselling author of Cinderella Is Dead comes another inspiring and deeply compelling story about a young woman with the power to conquer the dark forces descending around her.