Best of 2018 “Young Adult” Category

“Sawkill Girls” by Claire Legrand (Katherine Tegen Books; October 2, 2018):

Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Marion: The newbie. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.

Zoey: The pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.

Val: The queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives; a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires. Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight…until now.

 

Suspense Magazine (S. MAG.): What is the best book you read in 2018?

Claire Legrand (C.L.): “Damsel” by Elana K. Arnold—a feminist fairy tale about trauma, assault, and gaslighting told with impeccably crafted prose and capped by a gloriously surprising and satisfying ending.

 

MAG.: Hollywood pitches are very brief. How would you pitch your book to the movies in ten words or less?

C.L.: Stranger Things meets Buffy. Girls hunt down interdimensional femicidal monster.

 

MAG.: What can fans expect to see from you in 2019?

C.L.: The second book in the Empirium Trilogy, “Kingsbane,” releases May 21, 2019. Fans of “Furyborn” should brace themselves and keep in mind that my favorite Star Wars movie is The Empire Strikes Back.

 

“Truly Devious” by Maureen Johnson (Katherine Tegen Books; January 16, 2018):

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.

 

 

 

You Will Be Mine” by Natasha Preston (Sourcebooks Fire; February 28, 2018):

ROSES ARE RED, VIOLETS ARE BLUE, WATCH YOUR BACK, I’M COMING FOR YOU.

Lylah and her friends can’t wait to spend a night out together. Partying is the perfect way to let loose from the stress of life and school, and Lylah hopes that hitting the dance floor with Chace, her best friend, will bring them closer together. She’s been crushing on him since they met. If only he thought of her the same way . . .

The girls are touching up their makeup and the guys are sliding on their coats when the doorbell rings. No one is there. An envelope sits on the doormat. It’s an anonymous note addressed to their friend Sonny. A secret admirer? Maybe. They all laugh it off.

Except Sonny never comes home. And a new note arrives:

YOUR TURN.

 

 

“Aftermath” by Kelley Armstrong (Crown Books for Young Readers; 5/22/2018):

Three years after losing her brother Luka in a school shooting, Skye Gilchrist is moving home. But there’s no sympathy for Skye and her family because Luka wasn’t a victim; he was a shooter.

Jesse Mandal knows all too well that the scars of the past don’t heal easily. The shooting cost Jesse his brother and his best friend—Skye.

When Jesse and Skye reunite, they can’t resist reopening the mysteries of the past. But can wounds that deep ever truly heal? Skye can’t outrun her brother’s shame.

But when Skye uncovers evidence that could clear Luka’s name, it becomes obvious that someone wants the truth to stay buried. What happened that fateful day? Skye and Jesse are dying to know. And they just might pay that price.

 

 

Suspense Magazine (S. MAG.): What is the best book you read in 2018?

Kelley Armstrong (K.A.): I’ve read several great suspense books, but I’ll give my shout-out to Sherry Thomas’s “A Study in Scarlet Women.” I love fresh takes on the Sherlock Holmes story, but because I love them, I’ve read a lot and I’m very picky. It’s been many years since I finished one that I started. I truly loved Thomas’s take, though, and I have book 2 in the series on my to-be-read shelf.

 

MAG.: Hollywood pitches are very brief. How would you pitch your book to the movies in ten words or less?

K.A.: Her brother was a high-school shooter; his was a victim.

 

MAG.: What can fans expect to see from you in 2019?

K.A.: Book 4 in my Yukon set Rockton mystery series, “Watcher in the Woods,” comes out in February. In April, I have a thriller standalone, “Wherever She Goes,” and in August, the first in a new middle-grade fantasy series, “A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying.”

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