may 2018 sff cover

9 sci-fi and fantasy books to read in May

Contributed by
May 2, 2018

Summer is always better reading time for me than winter. In winter I’m much more likely to be curled up under a blanket watching TV, but summer means I can take my lemonade (or beer) and head outside to read in the sun. And after how brutal this winter has been, I want to soak up as much sun as I can before it gets too hot.

That’s why I’m so excited by the good books coming out in May. I’m so excited to read the next installment in The Themis Files, one of my favorite series currently being written, and I can’t wait to check out gorgeous books like The Song of Blood and Stone and The Poppy War.

only human sylvain neuvel

Only Human - Sylvain Neuvel (May 1, Del Rey)

It’s hard to exaggerate just how good Sylvain Neuvel’s out-of-nowhere sci-fi novel Sleeping Giants was. It was the story of a young girl who fell into a hole and was found cradled deep underground in a giant arm of unknown origin. Fast forward a couple of decades to Only Human, the third installment of The Themis Files, and the young girl is now in charge of a mission to find all the pieces of this alien figure and put it together.

ship it britta lundin

Ship It - Britta Lundin (May 1, Freeform)

Claire is obsessed with Forest, an actor on Demon Heart, and loves writing fanfic about him and his male counterpart on the show. But when Claire asks him about the possible relationship at a Comic-Con panel, Forest doesn’t exactly embrace the ship. In fact, he laughs at it. The producers of Demon Heart know they’re in for a PR disaster, so they hire Claire for the duration of their PR tour. It seems like a sweet and fun novel that explores the ins and outs of fandom and the fan/actor relationship. I’m very much looking forward to reading it.

song of blood and stone

Song of Blood and Stone - L. Penelope (May 1, St. Martin’s Press)

It’s always fun to get in on the first book of what is sure to be an epic fantasy series, and that’s just what I think Song of Blood and Stone will be. It’s about Jasminda, an outcast with a healing power who saves the life of a spy from a rival kingdom. The cover is simply breathtaking, and it sounds like a fantastic love story set against the backdrop of a brewing war in an incredible fantasy world. 

the poppy war

The Poppy War - R. F. Kuang (May 1, Harper Voyager)

I was immediately intrigued by The Poppy War when I learned it was based on 20th-century Chinese military history. The novel centers around Rin, a poor peasant girl with powers no one foresees. The first hint of her greatness is when she scores top marks on the Empire-wide exam, giving her automatic entry into the Academies. I love the idea of a person everyone underestimates going on to control people’s destinies, and it seems like I’ve found that kind of story in this book.

girl and the grove

The Girl and the Grove - Eric Smith (May 8, Flux)

Full disclosure: Eric is a good friend of mine, which is actually why I’m so excited for his latest novel. It centers on Leila, a girl in the foster care system, who discovers that she might have some magic within her heritage. This book is a sort of shout out to adoptees who’ve felt they don’t belong anywhere — the author himself was adopted. I’m looking forward to reading about the blend of magic and the love letter to Eric’s former hometown of Philadelphia.

artificial condition martha wells

Artificial Condition - Martha Wells (May 8, Tor.com)

The first book in The Murderbot Diaries, All Systems Red, introduced us to a sentient robot which calls itself “Murderbot.” It has a bloody past, but since it has hacked its own module, which governs what it can and can’t do, Murderbot has realized that it’s something new. I really enjoyed getting to know this unique narrator, and now it’s back in a second installment that delves into Murderbot’s past. If you have a short attention span, these installments are especially good because they’re only about 150 pages each.

what should be wild

What Should Be Wild - Julia Fine (May 8, Harper)

Maisie Cothay’s family has sequestered her for most of her life. It makes sense; after all, she can kill someone (or bring them back to life) with just a touch. But when her father disappears, Maisie must venture beyond the walls that her entire life has consisted of. I love the idea of this story, the premise of a young woman who’s been somewhat forcibly sheltered her entire life emerging and discovering all the wonder of her world and her own power. I’m incredibly intrigued by this debut.

armistice lara ellen donnelly

Armistice - Lara Elena Donnelly (May 15, Tor)

I've heard such good things about Amberlough, a fantasy spy thriller featuring a covert agent who is determined to protect his lover, no matter the cost. This second book, Armistice, brings back some of the characters from that first installment and returns the reader to the fantastic 1930s-based world. It features three different main characters who work for the film industry, but are all involved in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse that could cost them their lives. Glitz and glamour is so much fun in fantasy, and this series seems to have that in spades.

the crossing jason mott

The Crossing - Jason Mott (May 15, Park Row Books)

Jason Mott writes thought-provoking literary sci-fi, and his latest novel The Crossing is no exception. Two siblings, Virginia and Tommy Matthews, have survived the foster care system through grit and persistence. When a deadly contagion devastates the population, and a war rages over remaining resources, the twins know they’re on their own. They choose to flee, rather than allow Tommy to be drafted, and they encounter a wide new world on their journey to figure out where they belong.