Young Adult Novels That Aren't The Same Old DystopiasS

Angry Robot Books just announced its young adult imprint, Strange Chemistry, last November — but they're already off to a thrilling start. The first three Strange Chemistry titles have been announced, and they're nothing like the usual rash of paranormal love triangles and Hunger Games-inspired dystopias we've been seeing lately.

Top image: Catfish Lake Snag by Crowdive

One of the three launch titles will be Blackwood by Gwenda Bond, whom you might know from her awesome column in Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet. Here's the description:

On Roanoke Island, the legend of the 114 people who mysteriously vanished from the Lost Colony hundreds of years ago is just an outdoor drama for the tourists, a story people tell. But when the island faces the sudden disappearance of 114 people now, an unlikely pair of 17-year-olds may be the only hope of bringing them back.

Miranda, a misfit girl from the island's most infamous family, and Phillips, an exiled teen criminal who hears the voices of the dead, must dodge everyone from federal agents to long-dead alchemists as they work to uncover the secrets of the new Lost Colony. The one thing they can't dodge is each other.

Blackwood is a dark, witty coming of age story that combines America's oldest mystery with a thoroughly contemporary romance.

Another recently announced launch title is the fascinating-sounding Shift by Kim Curran. Here's the blurb:

When your average, 16-year old loser, Scott Tyler, meets the beautiful and mysterious Aubrey Jones, he learns he's not quite so average after all. He's a ‘Shifter'. And that means he has the power to undo any decision he's ever made. At first, he thinks the power to shift is pretty cool. But as his world quickly starts to unravel around him he realises that each time he uses his power, it has consequences; terrible unforeseen consequences. Shifting is going to get him killed. In a world where everything can change with a thought, Scott has to decide where he stands.

And finally, there's a book called Poltergeeks by Sean Cummings:

Julie is an apprentice witch – or so she believes. When a dark power comes stalking out of the past to haunt her and her mother, Julie learns that she is far more than just a witch. With the help of her best friend Marcus and a rather unusual Great Dane, Julie has to race against time to ensure she can defeat the bad guy, save her mother and avoid being grounded – again!

All in all, a pretty off-beat and fascinating trio of young-adult books. And an auspicious start to the imprint, really.