Summer might be coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean you should put your book addiction on hold. Sure, maybe beach reading isn’t quite in the cards now, but August boasts some fantastic Young Adult novels worth exploring. From emotional standalone titles (The Smaller Evil) to tear-jerking debuts (Girl in Pieces) to thrilling sequels (A Torch Against the Night), this month’s best YA releases are perfect picks for book lovers—no matter the season.
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1. The Smaller Evil by Stephanie Kuehn
Release Date: August 2nd from Dutton Books for Young Readers
Why You'll Love It: Because it's another book from Stephanie Kuehn. Charm and Strange, Complicit, Delicate Monsters—all of her novels are beautifully intriguing thrillers that tackle hard issues. In her latest, readers follow the protagonist to a vacation retreat… that might be less of a resort and more of a cult. The Smaller Evil delivers an intense mystery that's incredibly dark and haunting.
Description: Seventeen-year-old Arman Dukoff is struggling with severe anxiety and a history of self-loathing when he arrives at an expensive self-help retreat in the remote hills of Big Sur. He's taken a huge risk—and $2,000 from his meth-head stepfather—for a chance to "evolve," as Beau, the retreat leader, says.
Beau is complicated. A father figure? A cult leader? A con man? Arman's not sure, but more than anyone he's ever met, Beau makes Arman feel something other than what he usually feels—worthless.
The retreat compound is secluded in coastal California mountains among towering redwoods, and when the iron gates close behind him, Arman believes for a moment that he can get better. But the program is a blur of jargon, bizarre rituals and incomprehensible encounters with a beautiful girl. Arman is certain he's failing everything. But Beau disagrees; he thinks Arman has a bright future—though he never says at what.
And then, in an instant Arman can't believe or totally recall, Beau is gone. Suicide? Or murder? Arman was the only witness, and now the compound is getting tense. And maybe dangerous.
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2. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
Release Date: August 9th from Thomas Dunne Books
Why You'll Love It: For those of you left hungry for more of Jay Kristoff's writing after reading Illuminae last year (a.k.a. EVERYONE), get excited. The first book in his new Nevernight Chronicles series hits shelves this month, introducing a mezmerizing fantasy world with three suns, vicious assassins and epic battles. If you're looking for a series to fill that Throne-of-Glass-shaped hole in your reading pile, add this one to your queue.
Description: The daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father's failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father's former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer… and a future she never imagined.
Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she'll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder—and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church's halls, the bloody secrets of Mia's past return to haunt her and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves. Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?
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3. Game On by Michelle Smith
Release Date: August 16th from Bloomsbury Spark
Why You'll Love It: Michelle Smith's debut YA novel, Play On, was a delightful, romantic sports story. Game On marks the second installment in her Lewis Creek series, which is perfect for Miranda Kenneally fans. And as a digital-exclusive book, you can get this one for around $4! It's a small price to pay for epic sighs and big swoons.
Description: As king of baseball in the small town of Lewis Creek, Eric Perry can have any girl he wants and win every game he plays. But when a fight lands him in jail, he's only got one more strike before his baseball career is over for good. His only chance for redemption? The girl next door, Bri Johnson.
Bri hasn't talked to Eric in months—for starters, she's been too busy dealing with her jerk of an ex-boyfriend, not to mention the fact that Eric's been preoccupied trying to drink every keg in the country dry. But when he needs a way to stay on the team, she proposes a plan: if he helps her out with community service, he can stay on the team. At first it's a nightmare—Eric and Bri stopped being friends years ago, surely that was for a good reason, right? But as volunteering turns to bonding over old memories of first kisses under the stars, they start to have trouble remembering what pushed them apart.
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4. Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliott
Release Date: August 16th from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Why You'll Love It: The second novel in Kate Elliott's bestselling Court of Fives series is here! Poisoned Blade picks up right after book one, as Jes must focus less on battling in the ring and more on trying to save the countryside.
Readers were introduced to Jes in Elliot's first book, which followed the teen as she trained for a warrior competition called the Court of Fives. It's definitely worth catching up on this thrilling saga before the third book's release next year.
Description: Jessamy is moving up the ranks of the Fives—the complex athletic contest favored by the lowliest Commoners and the loftiest Patrons in her embattled kingdom. Pitted against far more formidable adversaries, success is Jes' only option, as her prize money is essential to keeping her hidden family alive. She leaps at the chance to tour the countryside and face more competitors, but then a fatal attack on Jes' traveling party puts her at the center of the war that Lord Kalliarkos—the prince she still loves—is fighting against their country's enemies. With a sinister overlord watching her every move and Kal's life on the line, Jes must now become more than a Fives champion. She must become a warrior
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5. Vicarious by Paula Stokes
Release Date: August 16th from Tor Teen
Why You'll Love It: I don't know how Paula Stokes does it, but she manages to change genres with every YA book—and successfully pull it off. Vicarious, the first in a duology and Stokes' first sci-fi thriller, follows teen girls who have their experiences recorded through high-tech devices that allow other people to experience it as well. But when one of the girls is murdered, the recording suddenly becomes a terrifying clue. Combining elements of sci-fi and mystery, it's an expert blend from an author gifted with the ability to jump genres and stick the landing every time.
Description: Winter Kim and her sister, Rose, have always been inseparable. Together, the two of them survived growing up in a Korean orphanage and being trafficked into the United States. Now they work as digital stunt girls for Rose's ex-boyfriend, Gideon, engaging in dangerous and enticing activities while recording their neural impulses for his Vicarious Sensory Experiences, or ViSEs. Whether it's bungee jumping, shark diving or grinding up against celebrities at the city's hottest dance clubs, Gideon can make it happen for you, for a price.
When Rose disappears and a ViSE recording of her murder is delivered to Gideon, Winter won't rest until she finds her sister's killer. But when the clues she uncovers conflict with the neural recordings her sister made, Winter isn't sure what to believe. To find out what happened to Rose, she'll have to untangle what's real from what only seems real, risking her life in the process.
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6. Ghostly Echoes by William Ritter
Release Date: August 23rd from Algonquin Young Readers
Why You'll Love It: There's a lot to love about William Ritter's Jackaby series, which blends elements from mystery, paranormal, alternate history and fantasy genres. The unique tales follow Abigail Rook, a young detective, and her boss R. F. Jackaby, a man who can see the paranormal.
In Ghostly Echoes, the third book in the series, Abigail and Jackaby are hired by a ghost to solve her own murder. Sound intriguing? It's all very Doctor Who mixed with Sherlock, with maybe a little Buffy.
Description: Jenny Cavanaugh, the ghostly lady of 926 Augur Lane, has enlisted the investigative services of her fellow residents to solve a decade-old murder—her own. Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, Detective R. F. Jackaby, dive into the cold case, starting with a search for Jenny's fiancé, who went missing the night she died. But when a new, gruesome murder closely mirrors the events of 10 years prior, Abigail and Jackaby realize that Jenny's case isn't so cold after all, and her killer may be far more dangerous than they suspected.
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7. Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown
Release Date: August 30th from HarperTeen
Why You'll Love It: Jaye Robin Brown's second novel (check out her standalone debut, No Place to Fall, when you have a chance) tells the story of a teen pretending to be straight while living in a conservative town… and falling for a new girl at her new school. It's a little bit Jeff Zentner mixed with Robin Talley, exploring a religious family and an LGBTQ storyline that's sure to tug at your heartstrings.
Description: Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees.
Although it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn't possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if she's starting to fall for the girl. Even if there's a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right?
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8. Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow
Release Date: August 30th from Delacorte Press
Why You'll Love It: A perfect read for fans of Impulse by Ellen Hopkins or Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, Girl in Pieces doesn't shy away from telling a challenging story. This YA novel tackles mental illness and self-harm, delivering a dark yet powerful read that isn't afraid to be gritty and raw.
Description: Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen, she's already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she's learned how to forget. The thick glass of a mason jar cuts deep, and the pain washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don't have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.
Every new scar hardens Charlie's heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.
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9. The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee
Release Date: August 30th from HarperCollins
Why You'll Love It: Why are stories about wealthy, spoiled teenagers so easy to devour? Katharine McGee's sci-fi novel promises several hundred pages of their drama, sprinkled with stunning technology and dangerous luxury. Set in a futuristic New York City on a skyscraper that is literally a thousand stories tall, McGee's book promises to captivate you.
Description: A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. But people never change: everyone here wants something…and everyone has something to lose.
Leda Cole's flawless exterior belies a secret addiction—to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.
Eris Dodd-Radson's beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.
Rylin Myers's job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world—and a romance—she never imagined…but will her new life cost Rylin her old one?
Watt Bakradi is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he's hired to spy by an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.
And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is Avery Fuller, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all—yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.
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10. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
Release Date: August 30th from Razorbill
Why You'll Love It: At last, it's here. The sequel to one of the best YA novels of 2015 returns to Sabaa Tahir's thrilling fantasy world of oppressive leaders, brave rebels and two teens caught in the middle of it all.
A Torch Against the Night picks up with Laia and Elias still fighting. But now we get the viewpoint of another character: Helene, Elias' friend who has no choice but to hunt these two down. It's as heartbreaking as it is action-packed, delivering a worthy second installment in Tahir's bestselling series.
Description: Following the events of the Fourth Trial, an army led by Masks hunts Laia and Elias as they escape the city of Serra and journey across the vast lands of the Martial Empire.
Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire's most secure and dangerous prison—and save her brother, whose knowledge of Serric steel is the key to the Scholars' future. And Elias is determined to stay by Laia's side...even if it means giving up his own chance at freedom.
But Elias and Laia will have to fight every step of the way if they're going to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias's former friend and the Empire's newest Blood Shrike.
Helene's mission is horrifying, unwanted and clear: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape...and kill them both.