Barnes and Noble in Boulder is hosting a Summer Reading Kickoff Saturday June 6th at 11 AM. I will be doing teen summer reading book talks at the event. Although some of the books will include realistic novels dealing with serious issues, a fair number of my suggestions will be "summer escape reads," which, of course, include new fantasy books. Here are a few I will be recommending. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard introduces a world split into two factions depending on blood color. Silvers are elites whose blood gives them supernatural powers and Reds are born to service and conscription. Dove Arising by Karen Bao is set on the Moon, which has been populated after wars and pollution make the earth almost uninhabitable. Undertow by Michael Buckley focuses on a race of ocean dwelling warriors, who are half fish and half human, who show up on the beach in Coney Island. Finally, From a Distant Star by Karen McQuestion involves an extraterrestrial who crashes to earth just in time to save a boy dying from cancer.
Red Queen introduces Mare Barrow, a lower caste thief living in a world of elite Silver bloods with magical powers and Reds who are born to conscription. When Mare is taken to serve in the Silver castle, she unwittingly displays powers of her own, and the royals claim her as a long lost silver princess and betroth her to their younger son. As she becomes a royal insider, she still conspires to help the Scarlet Rebellion, whose goal is to dismantle the caste system and put an end to the wars waged by the Silver royalty. The problems in the story reflect many of today's social issues including political corruption, ethnic and class inequality, pollution, warfare, and the power of the media to manipulate the truth. Of course, there are potential love interests for Mare, but these take a back seat to the action at this point in the trilogy. With the book already optioned for a movie, and two sequels on the way, this is a hot YA read!
Dove Arising, focuses on Phaet, a young moon colonist who hopes to become a bio-engineer, but finds herself volunteering for the military when her mother is quarantined and she and her siblings need a means of earning money. If Phaet can finish at the top of her class, she will earn enough to keep her family out of the "Shelter," a filthy, poverty stricken district. Learning all she can from Wes, a boy who excels in their training exercises, Phaet struggles to save her siblings, free her mom and find meaning in the military life she never wanted. Discoveries of corruption in the government and a budding romance between Phaet and Wes will entice readers to pick up the sequel when it's available.
In Undertow a race of ocean dwelling Alpha warriors complicate Lyric Walker's life when they arrive on the beach near her home in Coney Island. Her mother is actually an Alpha who arrived with an exploratory party, married Lyric's dad and is now blending as an earthling. When six Alpha youth integrate her high school, Lyric is recruited to help Fathom, the Alpha crown prince, assimilate. Little did she know she would fall for him just as violence breaks out between the Alphas and the group of townspeople who resent their arrival. Sinister government plots, warring Alpha factions and forbidden attraction make this a page turner that will leave readers anxiously awaiting the sequel.
From a Distant Star opens with high school senior Emma anticipating her boyfriend Lucas's death from cancer. When he makes a miraculous recovery at the same time a UFO lands on his family farm, she is overjoyed but suspicious. The recovered Lucas is nothing like the boy she knows and loves. When Emma and Lucas's brother realize an alien has possessed and healed Lucas's body, they struggle to come up with a solution to get the alien home so that Lucas can re-emerge. Then government agents arrive asking questions, and she decides she and Lucas must escape their watchful eyes and find a way to figure things out on their own. This cross between E.T. and Starman is a fun summer read by the author of the Edgewood series.