There’s nothing cozier than curling up with a good story. But four new YA titles shake up their book-loving protagonists, pulling them out of their armchairs and into adventures of their own.
Ophelia and her eccentric bookseller aunt Emily, both poets, also share a connection to the supernatural in Michael Bedard’s The Green Man. Emily has vivid, unsettling dreams; “O” glimpses great poets of the past roaming the bookshop. Whether or not readers are familiar with French poet Arthur Rimbaud’s belief that one must be mad to be a poet, this imaginative explication of the idea makes for an entertaining tale. (11 years and up)
Protagonist Tina ponders identity and the universe in Keshni Kashyap’s graphic novel, Tina’s Mouth: An Existential Comic Diary. During her semester-long journaling project for philosophy class, the high schooler comes to find existentialism a useful tool for navigating adolescence. Tina is surprisingly relatable, and her unusual perspective is enlightening. Mari Araki’s expressive illustrations range from realism to more abstract depictions of Tina’s imagination. (14 years and up)
In Aidan Chambers’s Dying to Know You, a famous author agrees to help Karl (who’s dyslexic) write a letter to his dream girl, Fiorella. Since the author happens to be Fiorella’s favorite, the plan seems flawless, but the deception doesn’t last long. Chambers delivers a satisfying novel with equal parts philosophy and repartee. (14 years and up)
The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman follows high school senior Nora as she cracks the code of an ancient manuscript and uncovers the key to the Lumen Dei, an alchemical device intended to give man limitless knowledge and communion with God. She’s caught between two secret societies racing to build the device — both of which will kill to find out what Nora knows. Wasserman weaves contemporary American adolescence, sixteenth-century occultism, and atmospheric history into a complex plot. (14 years and up)