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SYFY WIRE Fangrrls book club

9 YA sci-fi and fantasy novels to devour in May

By Swapna Krishna

It’s summer! Or at least, it feels like summer here in the US’s Northeast Corridor. The sun is finally shining, the temperatures have warmed up, the chill of late winter and early spring has finally passed. I love this time of year because it feels like it’s full of possibility.

And it’s also full of books! May is generally a great month for new book releases, and this month doesn’t disappoint in the YA sphere. On this month’s list, I’ve rounded up books about queer witches, Latinx and Arabian-inspired fantasy novels, a sci-fi novel about a teenage coding prodigy, and more. Happy reading!


Nocturna - Maya Motayne (May 7)

I’ve read countless fantasy novels based on historical European societies and traditions, but books that talk about other cultures and traditions are only just now starting to make their debut. That’s why I’m so excited to pick up Nocturna, which is the first in a trilogy and is inspired by Latinx culture. It stars a “face shifter” named Finn Voy who can adopt the appearance of anyone she comes across, thanks to forbidden magic. But when Finn is forced by a mobster to undertake a mission she doesn’t want to, it could change the fate of her kingdom forever.


Aurora Rising - Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (May 7)

I absolutely love Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s The Illuminae Files, a sci-fi trilogy about two megacorporations engaged in a galactic war and the ships that get caught in the middle. Picking up their next project together, The Aurora Cycle, is a no-brainer. Aurora Rising is about the latest graduates of Aurora Academy, and the star pupil, Tyler Jones, who finds himself down on his luck — but it turns out his fate might just be to save the galaxy.


Last Things - Jacqueline West (May 7)

This unique fantasy novel features Anders Thorson, who may just be a high school student, but his band is all anyone can talk about in their small Minnesota town. His talent is already legendary — but does it come with a price? Thea Malcom is one of Anders’s fans, and she seems to be following him. Is she responsible for the strange things that are happening to him? And why does she seem to be confused about the difference between dreams and reality?


Finale - Stephanie Garber (May 7)

I don’t often recommend later books in series in this column, but sometimes I make an exception when a book sounds interesting enough (and I missed the first one) or the release is big enough. That’s the case for Stephanie Garber’s Finale, the last book in the Caraval series. I haven’t picked up the first book yet, which is about a magical circus, the bond between sisters Scarlett and Tella, and the desperate search that Scarlett undertakes when the circus, Caraval, whisks away her sister.


We Hunt the Flame - Hafsah Faisal (May 14)

The first book in the Sands of Arawiya series is getting quite a bit of buzz — and for good reason. This novel, inspired by ancient Arabia, features Zafira who is known as The Hunter. She disguises herself as a man in order to traverse the forest and feed her people. When Zafira embarks on a desperate quest to restore magic to her people, and thus save her land, she doesn’t know that the crown prince Nasir has the same objective — only he’s been tasked with killing her as well.


The Lost Coast - Amy Rose Capetta (May 14)

We here at FANGRRLS are all about the witches, so you can bet that this novel about six queer witches is right up our alley. Danny doesn’t realize what brings her and her mom to Tempest, California, was, in fact, a spell cast by a coven called the Grays. It turns out the Grays need Danny because she has the power to bring back their most powerful member: Imogen. But something isn’t right in Tempest, and it’s up to Danny to figure out what’s going on.


The Candle and the Flame - Nafisa Azad (May 14)

This debut fantasy novel is based on Islamic tradition and is set in a historic city along the Silk Road called Noor. That’s where Fatima lives, one of just three humans to survive a devastating war between the djinn. But now, one of her strongest protectors has died, and Fatima finds herself changed in ways she doesn’t understand. How will this affect her city, a refuge for those of all faiths, and will Fatima survive the intrigue as she’s drawn to the court of the maharajah?


Girl Gone Viral - Arvin Ahmadi (May 21)

Opal Hopper’s life is centered around coding; you only need to describe a world to her and she can bring it to life on WAVE, the world’s largest virtual reality platform. When the founder of WAVE institutes a contest in which the winner gets to meet him, Opal knows she has to win. Not to make a good impression or to secure her future, but because she suspects that he might know what happened to her father — he might have even killed him.


The Kingdom - Jess Rothenberg (May 28)

This sci-fi theme park fantasy features a fantasist named Anna, who was designed to make guests’ dreams come true. But when she begins to fall in love with a park employee named Owen, it goes against all her programming. This new evolution is fascinating, until everything goes wrong and Owen is killed, with Anna accused of his murder. Anna may be on trial for her life, but there’s a lot more at stake here than the fate of just one person.

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