Polaris (2015)

By: Mindee Arnett

Following the events of Avalon, Jeth and his crew of teenaged mercenaries are on the run. There’s been some familial revelations along the way, which are making it difficult aboard the ship. When caught between a rock and a hard place, Jeth turns to the last person he’d thought he’d work with: an ITA soldier. However, he soon learns that everything in space comes with a price.

Guys, when I tell you I devoured these novels, I seriously devoured them. I don’t know if I could speak higher of Avalon and Polaris. The twists and turns are truly unique. The characters are brilliant. The world feels alive! Read these books. For real.

Avalon (2014)

By: Mindee Arnett

This YA sci-fi follows Jeth Seagrave in his endless pursuit of buying his parents’ ship back from the mob boss he reluctantly works for. When he and his merry band of teenaged mercenaries stumble upon some heavy tech everyone in the galaxy desperately wants, Jeth runs the risk of losing everything he cherishes, including himself.

This novel was a breath. of. fresh. air. As opposed to the standard, it’s up to a bunch of sixteen-year-olds to save the world, Avalon focuses on this small part of the galaxy, on Jeth’s world. Should he fail, there would be catastrophic results, sure, but the world would keep spinning. I devoured these novels. Everything about this world was well-crafted, and the characters were engaging and believable. They’re clearly teenagers, but they’ve also seen some stuff. It was a great balance. Definitely read this book.

The Gathering (2011)

By: Kelley Armstrong

Sixteen-year-old Maya lives in the small town built around the top-secret research facility on Vancouver Island. All she knows of her birth parents is the small paw-shaped birthmark on her hip. But then, strange things start to happen on the island. There have been a handful of mysterious deaths, and the animals in the sanctuary are becoming more brazen. Could this have to do with her shadowed past?

Honestly, I’m intrigued by novels that handle adoption. Most don’t treat the subject well, making children who’ve been adopted have inherent knowledge that they are “other” or giving them terrible relationships with their parents. The Gathering, however, handles adoption quite well.

Though the story follows a sixteen-year-old, it doesn’t fall into the same tropes as many other YA novels. Everything unfolds without much soap opera-like drama. There’s also a lot of history and Native American culture woven throughout. It’s a very entertaining read, and I can’t wait to snatch up the next book in the series.

Plus, I mean, there are werepanthers, guys. Super cool!

The Savage Blood (2011)

By: Tamara Rose Blodgett

Trying to unearth the truth of her lineage, our sphere-dwelling princess—or should I say queen?—travels the land. Along the way, she’s nearly sexually assaulted—for the sixth time—but is, of course, rescued by our muscular, masculine Savages.

Right. So. I gave this series some more time, considering I was pretty interested in the story. (yay mermaids!) That being said, there are a lot of sexual assault attempts that are thwarted at just the right time. And this is where the love triangle deepens, making the main character look incredibly indecisive and quite weak. She lets things happen to her, while everyone says what a good and gracious queen she is. In my opinion, if you say over and over again that a person has a certain quality, instead of showing it, I start to question if that’s really who they are.

Like I said for the first book in this series, check it out if you’re waffling over what to read. But, again, I caution, the genre labeling for this is wrong. It’s more steampunk/Pocahontas. With the veiled racism thrown in for good measure. Because, honestly, these people are called Savages, after all.