Mind-bogglingly good, Oakes’ The Arsonist is easily one of the most intriguing YA books of 2017. Labeled a contemporary, but with strong historical and mystery components, this novel will appeal to a wide range of readers. The story contains three distinct and interesting narrators who are tied together in ways that are slowly revealed. The third narrator’s contribution is told in diary entries, placed throughout, of her time in East Germany in 1989, before the fall of the Berlin Wall. With the complexity of the storyline and the fascinating historical elements of a time period not frequently seen in YA, The Arsonist would make for a wonderful addition to a school’s reading list. The Arsonist proves that Oakes is an up-and-coming YA author to watch for.
Molly Mavity has lost so much, with her mother dead and her father about to be executed. And she’s got questions about how her mother died. When a mysterious package arrives with a dead girl’s diary, Molly goes in search of the truth about the death of Ava Dreyman, a young East German resistance fighter. When her path crosses that of epileptic Pepper Al-Yusef and his seizure pug, they team up to find out what happened to Ava. Will their search reveal information about Molly’s family too? (DIAL, Aug., 493 pp., $17.99, HC, 12 & Up)