Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance, Drama
Categories: M/M, hidden identity
Content Warnings (highlight to read): Deals with homophobia & includes homophobic slurs.
Buy it at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Description: Simon, a high schooler in a small town, is gay, and nobody should know except for the mysterious boy with whom he exchanges anonymous emails. Except someone else does know—and that person has decided to blackmail him for his help in hooking up with one of Simon’s friends. How can Simon keep his grades up, decide how to come out to his friends and family, act in the school play, deal with high school friend drama, try to track down the boy he’s pretty sure he’s falling in love with, and negotiate the shady territory of being blackmailed into manipulating his own besties, all at the same time?
“As my datelike thing with Nico drew closer, the fears careening around in my head multiplied. What if Nico got flirty again? What if he didn’t get flirty again?”
– Willful Machines, Tim Floreen
Genre: Science fiction, YA
Categories: M/M, futuristic, robots
Content Warnings (highlight to read): Some terms & references to race that were… cause for pause. White mc calling himself ‘Kamikaze Lee,’ exoticising the love interest, etc.
Description: Equal parts romance and sci-fi thriller, Willful Machines is the story of the closeted son of the US president unraveling an elaborate plot involving robots & artificial intelligence… while also falling in love with the new boy at school. (And I think you can see where this is going, but I’m not going to outright spoil it for you).
“In the near future, scientists create what may be a new form of life: an artificial human named Charlotte. All goes well until Charlotte escapes, transfers her consciousness to the Internet, and begins terrorizing the American public.”
“Strange he hadn’t had a premonition of what this place would become to him all those months ago. But maybe not. So much of magic—of power, in general—required belief as a prerequisite.”
– The Raven King, Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Urban fantasy, YA
Categories: M/M, M/F, YA, multiple narrators, wizards/magicians, mythology, ghosts
Content Warnings (highlight to read): N/A
Description: A sharply-written YA series about slowly uncovering the magic underneath the mundane day-to-day world. The series follows Blue, slightly put-upon daughter of a house of psychics, and her adventures with the Raven Boys—private school boys with their own evolving mysterious pasts and destinies. Boys that could be kings, men that might be trees, magic dream worlds, ghosts, fortune-telling, high-maintenance murderers, cars, and bees?—There’s a lot there.
“For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.”
“Danny had most certainly fallen down the rabbit hole. He didn’t know if he ever wanted to return.”
– Timekeeper, Tara Sim
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Categories: M/M, alternate history
Content Warnings (highlight to read): N/A
Description: Danny is a clock mechanic, tasked with keeping the world’s clocktowers running in an alternate Victorian world. These clocktowers literally keep time: if a town’s tower is broken, time around it grows out of sync, or may even stop entirely, trapping those inside its influence in an infinite loop. When a series of bombings starts attacking clocktowers around England, Danny urgently works to solve the mystery, alongside a mysterious clock spirit that he becomes very invested in protecting.
Half Wild by Sally Green is the fantastic sequel to Half Bad, which I reviewed here.
Things have gone from bad to… well, still bad for Nathan, who now has his Gift but can’t control it, transforming into a wild animal at night and waking up with blood in his teeth. But he’s determined to stay positive, to try to find the best in things, though situations that crop up make that very, very hard.
I loved this book even more than Half Bad. Nathan is fantastically sympathetic even while he makes mistakes, or does things for the wrong reason. In my previous review, I mentioned that although we sympathize with and love Nathan, we don’t see what Gabriel sees in him. That’s clarified in this book, and we get a much deeper understanding of how Gabriel feels. Which is done fantastically well; Gabriel has rocketed up to one of my favorite characters.
The writing is still incredible. It’s experimental, and although I think some of these experiments don’t entirely work—the changing font sizes and repeated sounds can get a bit tiresome; we know what it sounds like by then, and I don’t need the visual—I still appreciate the desire to experiment, and other things work very nicely for me to build emotional effect.
The central conflict for Nathan is always one of emotional entanglements. How he feels for the girl he loves, Annalise; how he feels for the boy he knows loves him, Gabriel; how he feels for the father he never knew, how he feels for people who have hurt him but who now need him, how he feels about death and how he feels about hope.
And Green sells it to us. Nathan’s feelings are genuine and important and his desire to hope for the best shines through. As a middle book in a dark YA trilogy, things are pretty bleak at this point. I love Nathan, though, and I hope so much that his hope bears fruit.