City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. AndersonBesides protecting her younger sister, 16-year-old Tina doesn't care about anything other than revenge for their mother's death. Having fled from Congo to urban Kenya, Tina lives by a strict set of self-imposed rules while working as a thief for a street gang and planning her takedown of Mr. Greyhill, her mother's former boss and likely killer. When her plan goes awry, Tina has to break one of her rules ("thieves don't have friends") in favor of a risky partnership that might help her finally discover the truth about her mother's death. Smart, suspenseful, and gritty, City of Saints & Thieves will keep you riveted from the first page.
Caraval by Stephanie GarberFantasy. Fleeing an abusive father and an arranged marriage, Scarlett and her sister Tella arrive at Caraval expecting to be dazzled: for years, they've heard astonishing stories about the magical circus/live action game run by enigmatic mastermind Legend. Their expectations turn to terror, however, when Legend kidnaps Tella and makes her the subject of that year's Caraval. To win her back, Scarlett will have to play for five nights, facing down seductive enchantments and her own deeply hidden fears, all while dealing with her growing feelings for her sailor companion, Julian. The lush language and imaginative world-building in this series debut are sure to keep fantasy fans spellbound.
The You I've Never Known by Ellen HopkinsVerse Fiction. Alternating between free verse and diary-style prose, popular author Ellen Hopkins carefully unspools the stories of two teen girls trying to find themselves outside of their toxic families. The poems follow Ariel, who's worried about how her controlling, volatile father might react to her newly realized bisexuality. The diary is written by Maya, who believes that marrying and having a baby with an older man will help her escape from her Scientologist mother. The farther you get in this "sharp, gripping read" (School Library Journal), the more clues you get about how the two stories intertwine. For a different perspective on a similar situation, try Robin Benway's Emmy and Oliver.
Focus on: Canadian Authors
Through the Woods by Emily CarrollHorror Comics. A dismembered bride. A sinister smile. A monster in human skin. A wolf outside your bedroom window. These themes, all familiar to fans of fairy tales and Gothic ghost stories, are given a visually arresting new spin in this collection of horror comics. Canadian artist Emily Carroll -- you might be familiar with her webcomics -- illustrates each chilling tale with bold colors (emphasis on the blood red), careful period details, and masterful pacing, creating suspense with each turn of the page. If you love the eerie atmosphere of Edward Gorey's art but prefer stories with an unsettling edge, don't miss this shiver-inducing journey Through the Woods.
The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E.K. JohnstonFantasy. Once, dragon slaying was a noble calling, with slayers guarding their neighbors from ferocious, carbon-hungry dragons. These days, however, most slayers work for big cities and corporations. That's why the citizens of Trondheim, a tiny town in rural Ontario, are so grateful for the protection of a renowned family of slayers like the Thorskards. It's also why Siobhan, a gifted musician, agrees to become bard (and algebra tutor) to trainee slayer Owen Thorskard and to join his family's campaign to return dragon slaying to its roots. Along with its sequel, Prairie Fire, this inventive spin on dragon lore will enchant readers with its strong characters, quirky humor, and intricate world-building.
The Truth Commission by Susan JubyFiction. To complete a "creative nonfiction" project for their Vancouver Island art school, Normandy Pale and her friends form the Truth Commission: each week, they ask students or faculty members to reveal the facts behind a piece of gossip. The results are both enlightening and unsettling, and Normandy realizes that there are times when she'd rather not know the truth -- especially if it involves her sister Keira, who's suddenly back from college and just as hostile as ever. "Hilarious, deliciously provocative and slyly thought-provoking" (Kirkus Reviews), The Truth Commission will remind readers that honesty is rarely as simple as it seems.
The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa TotenFiction. From the very first moment he sees her in Young Adult OCD Support Group, 14-year-old Adam knows that he has to save Robyn Plummer. True, the need to protect people -- like his struggling divorced mom and his anxious younger brother -- drives many of Adam's habits and rituals, but he's sure he can do better where Robyn is concerned. A connection as powerful as theirs has got to be stronger than either of their compulsions…doesn't it? Similar to Corey Ann Haydu's OCD Love Story, The Unlikely Hero of Room 13 B offers a complex, first-person look at falling in love while living with mental illness.
Blink & Caution by Tim Wynne-JonesMystery. Forced to leave home in order to escape his abusive stepfather, homeless teen Brent -- aka "Blink" due to a facial tic -- is scavenging for room-service leftovers in a hotel hallway when he witnesses the kidnapping of an oil company's CEO. Another street kid, Kitty (nicknamed "Caution, as in Toxic"), stays with her violent, drug-dealer boyfriend because she doesn't believe she deserves any better. After Blink leaves the scene of the kidnapping and Caution flees from her boyfriend, the two of them are drawn together -- and may end up being each other's salvation. Set in Toronto and narrated alternately by various characters, Blink & Caution is a gritty, fast-paced, and beautifully written novel with more than a tinge of noir.
Contact your librarian for more great books!
Teen Services Librarian
Kitchener Public Library
85 Queen St. North
Kitchener, Ontario N2H2H1