From comedy to ghost story, from a modern-day historical reenactment village to a future New York, these new middle-grade and YA novels range wildly in genre and setting. What do these books have in common? Readers won’t be able to put them down before the last gripping page.
The first book in Maureen Johnson’s Shades of London series, The Name of the Star is an eerie, absorbing mystery. Louisiana high-school senior Rory arrives in London amidst a series of gruesome murders precisely following Jack the Ripper’s modus operandi. After a near-death experience and sightings of people her boarding school classmates can’t see, Rory falls in with an underground group investigating a possible paranormal explanation for the murders. (12 years and up)
Chelsea, protagonist of Leila Sales’s Past Perfect, works as a living history interpreter at Colonial Essex Village. This summer, the boy who broke Chelsea’s heart is also working at Essex Village, and a bitter rivalry rages with Civil War Reenactmentland across the street. Complicating matters further, Chelsea traitorously falls for a cute Civil War interpreter. Her acerbically funny narration balances thoughtful meditations on the nature of history, memory, and love. (14 years and up)
Day is one of the totalitarian Republic’s most wanted criminals; June has a personal vendetta against him. When their paths cross by chance, June — unaware of Day’s true identity — is attracted to his good looks, charm, and courage. In trilogy opener Legend, Marie Lu crafts a dystopian world rife with inequality and rebellion, with personal dynamics complicated by romance and betrayal. Fans of The Hunger Games will be hooked. (12 years and up)
Gabrielle Zevin’s All These Things I’ve Done is another dystopian tale of star-crossed lovers: Anya Balanchine is the daughter of a slain crime boss; Win Delacroix is the son of the ambitious assistant district attorney. Their New York — a city of crime, coffee speakeasies (caffeine and chocolate, the Balanchine family business, are illegal), and government ineptitude — could be set in the Prohibition era, but it’s 2083. This first volume of the Birthright series offers a romance as rich as chocolate. (12 years and up)