The Leaving by Tara Altebrando
Six were taken. Eleven years later, five come back–with no idea of where they’ve been.
Eleven years ago, six kindergarteners went missing without a trace. After all that time, the people left behind moved on, or tried to.
Until today. Today five of those kids return. They’re sixteen, and they are . . . fine. Scarlett comes home and finds a mom she barely recognizes, and doesn’t really recognize the person she’s supposed to be, either. But she thinks she remembers Lucas. Lucas remembers Scarlett, too, except they’re entirely unable to recall where they’ve been or what happened to them. Neither of them remember the sixth victim, Max. He doesn’t come back. Everyone wants answers. Most of all Max’s sister Avery, who needs to find her brother–dead or alive–and isn’t buying this whole memory-loss story.
WHY WE’RE EXCITED: We love a good thriller, especially one with a crazy mystery thrown in.
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows
The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.
At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane gets to be Queen of England.
WHY WE’RE EXCITED: This Waiting on Wednesday pick is a historical fiction tale about Nine-Day Queen Lady Jane Grey. More YA medieval stories please!
But What If We’re Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman
We live in a culture of casual certitude. This has always been the case, no matter how often that certainty has failed. Though no generation believes there’s nothing left to learn, every generation unconsciously assumes that what has already been defined and accepted is (probably) pretty close to how reality will be viewed in perpetuity. And then, of course, time passes. Ideas shift. Opinions invert. What once seemed reasonable eventually becomes absurd, replaced by modern perspectives that feel even more irrefutable and secure—until, of course, they don’t.
But What If We’re Wrong? visualizes the contemporary world as it will appear to those who’ll perceive it as the distant past. Chuck Klosterman asks questions that are profound in their simplicity: How certain are we about our understanding of gravity? How certain are we about our understanding of time? What will be the defining memory of rock music, five hundred years from today? How seriously should we view the content of our dreams? How seriously should we view the content of television? Are all sports destined for extinction? Is it possible that the greatest artist of our era is currently unknown (or—weirder still—widely known, but entirely disrespected)? Is it possible that we “overrate” democracy? And perhaps most disturbing, is it possible that we’ve reached the end of knowledge?
Kinetically slingshotting through a broad spectrum of objective and subjective problems, But What If We’re Wrong? is built on interviews with a variety of creative thinkers—George Saunders, David Byrne, Jonathan Lethem, Kathryn Schulz, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Brian Greene, Junot Díaz, Amanda Petrusich, Ryan Adams, Nick Bostrom, Dan Carlin, and Richard Linklater, among others—interwoven with the type of high-wire humor and nontraditional analysis only Klosterman would dare to attempt. It’s a seemingly impossible achievement: a book about the things we cannot know, explained as if we did. It’s about how we live now, once “now” has become “then.”
WHY WE’RE EXCITED: As long time fans of Chuck Klosterman, we’re always excited to read a new collection of essays!
Romeo and/or Juliet: A Chooseable-Path Adventure by Ryan North
Romeo loves Juliet. Or Rosaline. And Juliet loves Romeo. Or Viola. Or Orlando. It’s Shakespeare as you’ve never played him before.
In this choose-your-own-path version of Romeo and Juliet, you choose where the story goes every time you read! What if Romeo never met Juliet? What if Juliet got really buff instead of moping around the castle all day? What if they teamed up to take over Verona with robot suits? Whatever your adventure, you’re guaranteed to find lots of romance, lots of epic fight scenes, and plenty of questionable decision-making by very emotional teens.
All of the endings—there are over a hundred—feature beautiful illustrations by some of the greatest artists working today, including New York Times bestsellers Kate Beaton, Noelle Stevenson, Randall Munroe, and Jon Klassen.
Packed with exciting choices, fun puzzles, secret surprises, terrible puns, and more than a billion possible storylines, Romeo and/or Juliet offers a new experience every time you read it. You can choose to play as Romeo or Juliet (obviously) but you can also play as both of them, or as Juliet’s nurse, or, if you’re good, you can even unlock a fourth playable character! That’s right. We figured out how to have unlockable characters in books. Choose well, and you may even get to write the world’s most awkward choose-your-own sex scene.
Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach
Grunt tackles the science behind some of a soldier’s most challenging adversaries—panic, exhaustion, heat, noise—and introduces us to the scientists who seek to conquer them. Mary Roach dodges hostile fire with the U.S. Marine Corps Paintball Team as part of a study on hearing loss and survivability in combat. She visits the fashion design studio of U.S. Army Natick Labs and learns why a zipper is a problem for a sniper. She visits a repurposed movie studio where amputee actors help prepare Marine Corps medics for the shock and gore of combat wounds. At Camp Lemmonier, Djibouti, in east Africa, we learn how diarrhea can be a threat to national security. Roach samples caffeinated meat, sniffs an archival sample of a World War II stink bomb, and stays up all night with the crew tending the missiles on the nuclear submarine USS Tennessee. She answers questions not found in any other book on the military: Why is DARPA interested in ducks? How is a wedding gown like a bomb suit? Why are shrimp more dangerous to sailors than sharks? Take a tour of duty with Roach, and you’ll never see our nation’s defenders in the same way again.
WHY WE’RE EXCITED: Mary Roach can make any topic interesting, even ones we’re not usually fans of. Read: war.