Stars, Hide Your Fires by Jessica Mary BestWhat it is: an outer space murder mystery starring Cass, an expert thief infiltrating the imperial palace station in order to steal from the attendees of the emperor’s ball.
What happens: The emperor is found dead, and everyone in the palace is under suspicion. Cass teams up with the mysterious rebel leader Amaris to find the murderer.
Why you might like it: This banter-filled thrill ride with Knives Out meets Star Wars vibes traces Cass’ journey from selfishness to bravery.
The King is Dead by Benjamin DeanLong live the king: After 17-year-old James’ father dies, he ascends the throne. The United Kingdom’s first Black king can’t hide his race, but he keeps his sexuality secret.
Heavy is the head that wears the crown: Amid tabloids exposing the royal family’s scandalous history, James struggles with the pressures of his role while trying to find Jonathan, his first love who has gone missing.
Is it for you? This fast-paced romantic thriller balances palace intrigue with thought-provoking social commentary on racism and monarchy.
Rana Joon and the One & Only Now by Shideh Etaat
The setting: California’s San Fernando Valley in 1996. Against the wishes of her strict Iranian immigrant parents, Rana Joon smokes weed and listens to Tupac. She also likes girls.
Speaking up: Rana wants to honor her friend Louie, killed in a car accident, by entering the rap battle he dreamed of winning. But first she must overcome her public speaking phobia and find her authentic voice.
For fans of: Adib Khorram’s Darius the Great Is Not Okay and Angie Thomas’ On the Come Up.
A Little Like Waking by Adam RexLiving the dream: When Zelda’s picture-perfect world is upended by Langston, a cute boy she’s never met, she realizes she’s actually living in a dream.
What happens: Zelda, Langston, and Zelda’s long-dead cat Patches -- who can talk!? -- set out on a wild but heartfelt journey to identify the dreamer. But Zelda’s not sure she wants them to wake up.
How it’s told: with occasional full-page illustrations and plenty of silly, dreamlike side characters, including a sinister laundromat clown.
Give Me a Sign by Anna SortinoMeet: Lilah, a hard of hearing girl who uses hearing aids. She’s excited but nervous to work at Gray Wolf, the summer camp for the Deaf and Blind she once attended.
The in-between: Though Lilah often feels outside both the Deaf and hearing worlds, she finds community at camp. She also finds summer romance with fellow counselor Isaac, who helps revive her rusty American Sign Language.
What sets it apart: the diversity of Deaf experiences and culture explored through campers’ stories.
One Great Lie by Deb CalettiThe set-up: Charlotte is in Venice for a summer writing program run by her favorite novelist, Luca Bruni. She’s also researching her ancestor, a Renaissance poet whose famous lover may have stolen her work.
The let down: Luca Bruni preys on young women, and he’s targeted Charlotte. As her dreams seem to crumble, Charlotte must find faith in herself and her talent.
Read it for: a sharp #MeToo story entwined with an atmospheric, suspenseful mystery and a dash of romance.
The Gilded Ones by Namina FornaWhat it's about: In the kingdom of Otera, intuitive 16-year-old Deka discovers that her blood runs gold, a sign of impurity that marks her as one of the alaki, near-immortal women warriors who must battle the fearsome deathshrieks and defend the society that shuns them.
Read it for: breathless action, a twisty plot, and a bold, fierce heroine.
For fans of: the Afrofantasy world-building of Jordan Ifueko's Raybearer or the feminist themes of Tracy Banghart's Grace and Fury series.
One for All by Lillie LainoffWhat it is: a reimagining of The Three Musketeers, starring a girl with a chronic illness determined to avenge her father's murder.
What happens: Tania de Batz attends a school that secretly trains young women to defend France with their wits and their swords. There she meets Aria, Portia, and Théa, who become Tania's sisters in arms.
Read it for: the compelling mystery, the chosen family story, a dash of romance, and an affirming portrayal of chronic illness.
Mars One by Jonathan MaberryThe mission: Sixteen-year-old Tristan Hart and his brilliant parents are part of a trailblazing voyage to Mars. They and the rest of a 40-person crew aim to establish the first permanent colony on the Red Planet.
What happens: In addition to dealing with leaving his girlfriend behind on Earth, Tristan faces onboard malfunctions, ongoing threats from a terrorist group opposed to space travel, and a possible rival mission. Are the mission’s goals really worth all this trouble?
Odd One Out by Nic StoneThe love triangle: Coop has been in love with his best friend Jupiter forever. But she’s gay, and currently crushing on new girl Rae. Rae, however, is not sure whether she has feelings for Coop or Jupiter. Maybe both?
How it’s told: in three parts, first narrated by Coop, then Rae, then Jupiter.
Is it for you? This honest, thoughtful book depicts characters grappling with the complexity of their identities in a world determined to put everyone in neat boxes.
Contact your librarian for more great books for age 14 and up!