12 Great New YA Novels That Take On The Classics

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Who needs Cliff’s Notes when you’ve got these excellent YA adaptations?


Via juliadrakewriter.com, Author’s Brother-in-Law / Via juliadrakewriter.com

Release date: Oct. 1, 2019

What it’s about: In this stunningly beautiful queer take on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Violet Larkin is starting over without her brother for the first time, as he spends time in treatment from his suicide attempt. She’s now in Lyric, Maine, the source of the lore that has defined their family: it’s where the ship Lyric wrecked, killing everyone on board but their great-great-grandmother, who lived on to fall in love and found the town. Now she’s determined to find the shipwreck, a dream she had always shared with Sam, and what better partner than a fellow treasure hunter who happens to be a gorgeous aspiring historian? (For another f/f YA Shakespeare, albeit with a much lighter bent, try Much Ado About Nothing retelling Nothing Happened by Molly Booth.)

Get it from Amazon for $8.99, Barnes & Noble for $16.19, or at a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


Disney Books / Via tarasim.com, Via tarasim.com

Release date: Jan. 7, 2020

What it’s about: This dual-POV fantasy takes on Alexandre Dumas’s infamous The Count of Monte Cristo, with all the glorious transformation, betrayal, and revenge of the original. The sailor-turned-prisoner-turned count in this version is actually a countess named Amaya, whose day of freedom from debt is marred beyond repair, only to be salvaged by the most dastardly of plans. But things get complicated when she tries to bring down the man who owns the ship that enslaved her, especially when she starts to fall for his son.

Get it from Amazon for $12.94, Barnes & Noble for $17.09, or a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


Flux / Via fluxnow.com, Via goodreads.com

Release date: Jan. 21, 2020

What it’s about: The third installment in Watson’s classic-retelling Seeking Mansfield series brings her back to Austen with this reimagining of Emma. Hollywood starlet Emma Crawford has just finished her first year of college and now she’s back in Manhattan and making moves. But when her attempts to turn her new assistant into a star go south, and her ex-best friend’s gorgeous older brother comes back into her life, the girl who’s used to controlling everything is suddenly knocked off her feet and forced to take a closer look at her charmed life.

Get it from Amazon for $11.19, Barnes & Noble for $14.99, or at a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


Page Street Kids / Via addiethorley.com, Via addiethorley.com

Release date: Feb. 11, 2020

What it’s about: Disney’s taken its turn with Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and now it’s YA fantasy’s turn, thanks to Thorley’s loosely inspired sophomore novel. Here, the hunchback takes its form in Enebish, a one-time warrior who spun out of control and now lives out the rest of her days in a monastery paying for her murderous mistake. Then she’s given a second chance to return to the army, if she can track down the rebel Temujin. But when she succeeds, she learns it’s not entirely clear which side the right one.

Get it from Amazon for $12.79, Barnes & Noble for $17.09, or at a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


Wednesday Books / Via us.macmillan.com, Via goodreads.com

Release date: Feb. 18, 2020

What it’s about: This ultimate revenge fantasy takes its origins from Shakespeare’s Macbeth and spins it into a coven of best friends who go after a prep school clique responsible for raping one of them at a party. No one is safe from the plotting of Jade Khanjara and her friends (the analogs to Lady Macbeth and the witches of «toil and trouble» fame), including the supposedly unassuming boy named Mack she helps rise to power while having him do her dirty work. (For a take on Macbeth with a paranormal bent, try As I Descended by Robin Talley.)

Get it from Amazon for $13.39, Barnes & Noble for $17.09, or at a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


Flatiron Books / Via us.macmillan.com, Jackson Berlin / Via us.macmillan.com

Release date: Mar. 3, 2020

What it’s about: Think Crazy Rich Asians and Gossip Girl, but make it Anna Karenina. (Your fave Tolstoy could never.) Anna K. is the queen of both Manhattan and Greenwich, a seemingly untouchable teenage girl with the perfect boyfriend and endless wealth. But when she meets the notorious player «Count» Vronsky at Grand Central, it’s infatuation at first sight, throwing both of their worlds into upheaval. And that’s just one of the romantic plots in this delightful melange of them… (Can’t get enough Anna Karenina? Try Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee.)

Get it from Amazon for $13.39, Barnes & Noble for $14.24, or at a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


Simon & Schuster / Via simonandschuster.com, Carly Gaebe / Steadfast Studio / Via kitfrick.com

Release date: June 30, 2020

What it’s about: Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca heads to the Hamptons in this gloriously twisty, unreliably narrated thriller about a girl named Anna whose confusing memories lead her to confess to a murder it’s becoming increasingly clear she did not commit. It’s impossible for Anna not to hear about Zoe Spanos almost immediately upon beginning her job as an au pair; apparently, they look a whole lot alike. But that doesn’t explain why Anna knows far more about Zoe than she should, and as Zoe’s friends and family continue to look for answers, someone’s going to have to make those things add up…

Get it from Amazon for $18.99, Barnes & Noble for $18.99, or at a local bookstore through Indiebound here.

8.

Hood by Jenny Elder Moke


Disney-Hyperion / Via goodreads.com, Via goodreads.com

Release date: June 9, 2020

What it’s about: Robin Hood extends to the next generation in this reimagining told from the perspective of Isabelle of Kirklees, daughter of the infamous outlaw with a heart of gold. When quiet Isabelle is arrested for defending villagers and thrown into the crosshairs of the king’s right hand, she has no choice but to run away. With her mother Marien’s help, she sets out to find her father, and teams up with a merry band of misfits to take on the crown, protect their families, and save her life. (For even more in the world of Robin Hood, check out Sherwood by Meagan Spooner.)

Get it from Amazon for $17.99, Barnes & Noble for $17.99, or at a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


Bloomsbury / Via bloomsbury.com, Vanessa Acosta / Via lilliamrivera.com

Release date: Sept. 1, 2020

What it’s about: Rivera’s newest takes on the myth of Orpheus, giving it an Afro-Latinx Dystopian spin with charming boy Pheus and recent Bronx transplant Eury, who’s just lost everything in Hurricane Maria. Pheus is determined to put a smile on the beautiful new girl’s face, but it’ll mean fighting all the demons that threaten to their them apart. (For a queer take on Orpheus, check out Brynn Rebele-Henry’s Orpheus Girl.)

Get it from Amazon for $18.99, Barnes & Noble for $18.99, or at a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


Simon & Schuster / Via simonandschuster.com, Kathleen Hampton

Release date: Sept. 15, 2020

What it’s about: There’s no legend currently having its YA retelling moment quite like King Arthur, and this version promises to be epic. When Bree moves into a college residence after the death of her mother, the last thing she expects to witness is a magical attack by a flying demon. And thus she discovers the Legendborn, a secret society of students whose job it is to hunt those creatures. Oh, and they happen to be descendants of King Arthur and his knights, and include a mage named Merlin who discovers Bree has powers of her own. Oh, and Merlin has ties to her mother, and helps her realize there’s more to her mom’s death than she knew. As a magical war approaches while Bree searches for the truth, she’ll have to decide whether the Legendborn are friend or foe. (For even more Arthur-reimagined greatness, get thee to Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy and The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White, both of which released in 2019 and have sequels out this year.)

Get it from Amazon for $16.23, Barnes & Noble for $16.23, or at a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


Simon & Schuster / Via simonandschuster.com, JON STUDIO / Via simonandschuster.com

Release date: Nov. 17, 2020

What it’s about: Romeo and Juliet, but make it 1920s Shanghai gangsters. Our Juliette in this case is former flapper and Scarlet Gang heir Juliette Cai. Our Romeo? Roma Montagev, mastermind of rival gang the White Flowers. The two share a romantic past that ended with Roma’s betrayal, but when a dangerous madness overtakes members of both gangs, the two will have no choice but to work together. (For another great new take on Romeo and Juliet, done in romantic contemporary style, check out Verona Comics by Jennifer Dugan, out Apr. 21.)

Get it from Amazon for $13.99, Barnes & Noble for $13.99, or at a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR / Via us.macmillan.com, Via goodreads.com

Release date: Nov. 24, 2020

What it’s about: Having already tackled The Little Mermaid in the excellent f/f fantasy The Seafarer’s Kiss, Ember is back to shake up (and rainbow up!) another famous work: Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera. Candace is a queen’s mage, forced to torture disgraced nobles with the magic that springs from her song. But when a noble childhood friend returns and tries to lure Candace to the side of the rebellion, the mage is forced to make a choice: remain on the side of the queen, or fight to bring her down. (For another new release with shades of Phantom of the Opera, check out Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles, which mashes it up with Moulin Rouge and The Night Circus!)

Get it from Amazon for $18.99, Barnes & Noble for $18.99, or at a local bookstore through Indiebound here.

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