I’m not sure whether to be happy or sad it’s August. On one hand, it means that the year is flying by way too quickly — where does the time go? But on the other, the end of summer means fall is quickly approaching. I’m one of those weird people who actually dislikes summer: I do like warm weather, but I hate the oppressive heat and humidity that often come with summer along the Northeast Corridor.
One way I deal with my dislike for 90+ degree weather is by staying inside and reading. Luckily summer is an amazing time for genre book releases, and this month especially. For starters, both Wonder Woman and Miles Morales make their prose book debuts, both of which you can and should pick up, whether you’re a comics fan or not. They’re designed as entry points, and I have to say, I love this trend of pairing YA authors with iconic comic characters. There’s a lot more good stuff this month, so without further ado, here are my picks for what you should definitely keep an eye out for.
Miles Morales: Spider-Man - Jason Reynolds, illustrations by Kadir Nelson (Marvel Press, August 1)
Miles Morales, the Latino-African American Spider-Man who’s traditionally been relegated to Marvel’s alternate universe, has been written for the bulk of his history by a middle-aged white man. It’s refreshing to see a little authenticity come to the character with the pairing of Jason Reynolds for this prose novel. Reynolds really gets into the character’s head, delivering a scintillating story about a teenager who doesn’t know where he fits in the world. Reynolds deftly deals with issues of race, delivering a whole new dimension to this character so many have grown to love.
Secondborn - Amy A. Bartol (47North, August 1)
In the world that Roselle St. Sismode lives in, the first child born to a family is the one who receives everything, who has a place of importance within society. The secondborn are not. They are considered expendable; on their 18th birthdays, secondborn children are shipped out and forced to serve in whatever positions the government sees fit. Roselle is no exception, despite her powerful mother. In fact, her mom is the one who’s most eager to see Roselle gone, shipped off to the military. Bartol’s novel is convoluted and can be difficult to follow, but she creates a rich world and an appealing main character in Roselle. If you stick with it to learn the ins and outs of the world, it’s an interesting read for sure.
Noumenon - Marina J. Lostetter (Harper Voyager, August 1)
If we achieved the ability to travel beyond our solar system, where would we go? The possibilities are nearly endless, until an astrophysicist chooses a destination: a star that has such strange properties that it could be artificial. It’s going to take a long time to get there, though, so those heading out to investigate end up relying on clones. It’s a multigenerational novel of isolation, relying on a fragmented narrative to tell the story of one convoy of ships, alone among the stars. While I’m not usually one for books told over multiple generations, the clone angle makes this a really compelling read.
The Wood - Chelsea Bobulski (Feiwel & Friends, August 1)
Winter’s dad is the person who patrols the wood and makes sure that the travelers who venture through its time portals are safe. But when he disappears, the responsibility falls to Winter herself. She has no idea what to think about where he might have gone or why the wood is changing until she meets Henry, a mysterious young man who seems to know way more about the time portals, and the way the wood works, than anyone should. Can Winter trust Henry, who she knows so little about, to help find her father and find the source of the wood’s troubles, or could he make things even worse than they are now?
Spellbook of the Lost and Found - Moira Fowley-Doyle (Kathy Dawson Books, August 8)
I haven’t read this one yet, but this magical Irish story sounds like a perfect late-summer read. When Olive begins to lose things, she doesn’t think much of it. Little pieces of jewelry go missing sometimes — it happens. But as it begins to happen more and more, Olive starts to worry. She begins to wonder if her best friend, Rose, is slipping away, caught up in a secret that she won’t share. When Olive stumbles across a spell book that might fix everything and cure everyone’s ills, she’s ecstatic — but little does she know that it might make everything worse than it was before.
The Stone Sky - N.K. Jemisin (Orbit Books, August 15)
It’s honestly difficult to describe just how good N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth trilogy is. If you haven’t read it, you honestly do not even need to know what it’s about. It’s just that good. If you have read the first (Hugo award winner The Fifth Season) and the second (The Obelisk Gate), I know I don’t need to convince you to pick up the final book in the trilogy. If you haven’t read any of them, though, this is some of the best storytelling out there, period. It’s not just an amazing fantasy book, it’s an incredibly rich story. I cannot say enough great things about this book, so I’ll leave it at this: If you don’t read this trilogy, you’ll regret it.
Wonder Woman: Warbringer - Leigh Bardugo (Random House Books for Young Readers, August 29)
I’ve been looking forward to this novelization of a new Wonder Woman story by celebrated YA author Leigh Bardugo for quite some time, but even more since the movie was released. This story takes Diana back to Themyscira, as she is trying to prove herself to her fellow Amazons. She didn’t earn her place on the island, after all. She can’t blame them for treating her differently. But when a bringer of war, a descendent of Helen of Troy, finds her way to the island, Diana knows she must take action in order to save her beloved home, even if it means she can never return to the island. Bardugo does an excellent job writing Diana in this novel; it’s not set in the same timeline as the movie, but it’s another introduction to this amazing character. I can’t say enough good things about this book.
Sip - Brian Allen Carr (Soho Press, August 29)
What would happen if you could get high by drinking a shadow? Yes, your own shadow, but also the shadows of others? That’s the premise of Brian Allen Carr’s debut novel, which centers around addiction. Fast-forward almost two centuries later, and the world is starkly divided. The privileged few live in a domed city, with light everywhere, protected from shadow. Those outside must make do, knowing they are at the mercy of violences and lawlessness. When three people discover that there’s a prophecy about the shadow sickness cure, they must race against the clock to fulfill it once and for all for a chance to restore order to their world.