Young Adult Fiction
by Ryan Galloway
This science fiction novel follows the adventures of 17-year-old Lizzy Engram, a cadet working at Mars Colony One, who -- like all the cadets -- has her memory erased each week. But one day, Lizzy discovers that all her memories -- and those of her fellow cadets -- are intact inside her head. Now all she has to do is figure out what's going on and why. The story has great details about life in the colony and a strong and interesting protagonist in Lizzy. The twisting plot and fleshed out characters lead to a satisfying ending.
by L.T. Quartermaine
Focusing on conservation in the African Serengeti, this promising YA novel follows four young people who become friends and, aided by a magical gift, fight poachers and a local militia to protect themselves and the animals living around them. Although the message in the text can be heavy-handed at times and the role of the militia is confusing, the main characters are well-developed and the plot will engage animal-loving readers. Young adults will respond to the protagonists’ efforts to find their own identities while staying loyal to the land they love.
by Douglas Pershing
Zachary, a demon Talker born into a human body for the purpose of tempting the local preacher’s daughter into damnation soon finds the love he grows to feel for Emma may cause him to betray his orders, and in turn find salvation. Though these characters are vibrant and the mythology is intriguing, core worldbuilding concepts such as the outcome of Lucifer’s battle in Heaven need to be clarified earlier, as readers may find themselves unsure as to the similarities and disparities with our own world and traditional readings of these myths. Though the idea of finding redemption in love is not original, Pershing’s many small plot twists add up to a very entertaining read.
by Angela M Hudson
In this sprawling book told from the point of view of a half-human/half werewolf, the story and characters get lost in the confusing plot -- the author is trying to do too many things at once -- and the imitation 19th-century prose. The main themes of the book are loss, grief, and depression, but they are overlaid with a lot of unnecessary diversions and underdeveloped characters.
by Magus Tor
Tor's YA novel is a sensitive but preachy story about a boy named John Bird -- called Ladybird by his classmates -- struggling with his sexuality and gender. While John is well developed and the author ably expresses his protagonist's feelings and thoughts, the reaction to John's transition is unrealistic and will take readers out of the story. The prose and story are workmanlike, but the pacing sometimes slows and some minor characters are underdeveloped.
by Alex Tully
Following his parents’ divorce, 17-year-old Brady gets involved in his dad’s business: bookmaking. Brady is a bit of a numbers savant, so he’s good at the job—until one night when a costly mistake winds up being a lucky break. What starts out as a bit of a caper, full of snappy prose and situations as funny as they are suspenseful, takes a bit of a left turn and becomes a fairly conventional teen romance. Still, the characters remain winning throughout, and young readers will find a lot to like here.
by Kim Velk
As with many time travel tales, the plot of this promising novel about 15-year-old Miles and his adventures through time from modern America to 1928 England may confuse readers at times. But as the characters are well developed and the skillful descriptions evoke far away lands, the protagonist's reasons for jumping back in time are less important than the well drawn environment and valuable life lessons Miles learns.
by Mark Lingane
Lingane's first installment in his YA Tesla Evolution series is a funny and propellant post-apocalyptic novel about an orphan named Sebastian on the run from cyborgs. And while the story doesn't veer far from the tropes of a steampunk coming-of-age novel, the characters are well developed and have heart, the prose is solid, and the dialogue is charming and witty.
by Rose M. Channing
Savannah and Ellie Senka are long-lost, 14-year-old twins who find each other and then must travel to the disrupted center of magic in an alternate realm to restore balance to the world. Although the twins are abruptly thrown into this new world, the plot drags until they begin their trip. Also, the confusing way in which characters and information are introduced, the sometimes stilted dialogue, and the lack of rationale for some characters’ decisions may take readers out of the story.