12 must-read new YA book releases to get us through April

Redemption Prep by Samuel Miller. Image Courtesy HarperCollins Publishing
Redemption Prep by Samuel Miller. Image Courtesy HarperCollins Publishing /
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The Empire of Dreams – Rae Carson

Best-selling author Rae Carson returns to the world of her Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy with The Empire of Dreamsa story that picks up eight years after the events of the original story. It follows 17-year-old imperial foundling Red Sparkle Stone, a girl rescued from enslavement in the original trilogy by Elisa, who is now reigning Empress of Joya. But when her adoption is denied by the Empress’s political enemies, Red asks to join the Red Guard, an elite, male-only institution.

Red’s journey in the guard is a fraught and difficult one, as she must not only deal with the traditional gender issues that arise any time a woman tries to enter a traditionally male space, but also because she discovers a rumblings of a political coup that threatens everything – and everyone – she loves.

The mystery spins out in alternating chapters which not only depict Red’s journey with and acceptance into the guard, but flash back to fill in the gaps of her earlier life. It’s a standalone, self-contained story – a rarity itself these days in YA fantasy, but one that still sounds like a must-read.

The official synopsis offers some more details about the story.

"Even though Red Sparkle Stone is a foundling orphan with an odd name and a veiled past, she’s about to be adopted into the royal family—by Empress Elisa herself. Sixteen-year-old Red can hardly believe her luck. Then, in a stunning political masterstroke, the empress’s greatest rival blocks the adoption, and Red is left with no family and no future. Grieving and lost, but determined to find her place, Red hatches a daring plan: she will prove herself as a recruit for the world’s most elite fighting force, the legendary Royal Guard—something no woman has done before. But it’s no coincidence that someone wanted her to fail as a princess, someone whose shadowy agenda puts everything she loves at risk. As danger closes in, it will be up to Red and her new friends—and maybe some new enemies—to save the empire. If they can survive recruitment year."

The Empire of Dreams is available on April 7.