11 Must-Read Books for AAPI Month

May 2, 2022 | 12:00 PM

11 Must-Read Books for AAPI Month

By Team Fierce Reads
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month! To celebrate this important month as well as bring increased awareness to Asian voices, we've put together a list of some must-read books by authors of Asian descent. Keep reading to find your next 5-star read, whether it be a heartwarming contemporary, a chilling mystery, or a magical fantasy! The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He Perfect for fans of Rick Yancey and Marie Lu, The Ones We're Meant to Find is a sci-fi fantasy with mind-blowing twists, ready to burst onto the YA scene, from the critically-acclaimed Descendant of the Crane author, Joan He. Cee awoke on an abandoned island three years ago. With no idea of how she was marooned, she only has a rickety house, an old android, and a single memory: she has a sister, and Cee needs to find her. STEM prodigy Kasey wants escape from the science and home she once trusted. The Metropolis—Earth's last unpolluted place—is meant to be sanctuary for those committed to planetary protection, but it’s populated by people willing to do anything for refuge, even lie. Now, she'll have to decide if she’s ready to use science to help humanity, even though it failed the people who mattered most. Symptoms of a Heartbreak by Sona Charaipotra The youngest doctor in America, an Indian-American teen makes her rounds—and falls head over heels—in the contemporary romantic comedy Symptoms of a Heartbreak. Fresh from med school, sixteen-year-old medical prodigy Saira arrives for her first day at her new job: treating children with cancer. She’s always had to balance family and friendships with her celebrity as the Girl Genius—but she’s never had to prove herself to skeptical adult co-workers while adjusting to real life-and-death stakes. And working in the same hospital as her mother certainly isn’t making things any easier. But life gets complicated when Saira finds herself falling in love with a patient: a cute teen boy who’s been diagnosed with cancer. And when she risks her brand new career to try to improve his chances, it could cost her everything. It turns out “heartbreak” is the one thing she still doesn’t know how to treat. Himawari House by Harmony Becker A young adult graphic novel about three foreign exchange students and the pleasures, and difficulties, of adjusting to living in Japan. Living in a new country is no walk in the park—Nao, Hyejung, and Tina can all attest to that. The three of them became fast friends through living together in the Himawari House in Tokyo and attending the same Japanese cram school. Nao came to Japan to reconnect with her Japanese heritage, while Hyejung and Tina came to find freedom and their own paths. Though each of them has her own motivations and challenges, they all deal with language barriers, being a fish out of water, self discovery, love, and family. Cold by Mariko Tamaki A boy, a body, a girl, a secret. From award-winning author Mariko Tamaki, Cold is a haunting YA novel about a shocking murder in a quiet town and four students who knew too much and said too little. This is the story of a boy who died—and a girl who wants to know why. Todd Mayer is dead. Now he's some sort of ghost, hovering over his body, which has just been found in the town park, naked and frozen in the snow. As detectives investigate Todd's homicide, talking to the very people who are responsible for how he died, Todd replays the events that lead him to his end in the park. Georgia didn't know Todd. But she can’t stop thinking about him. Maybe because they’re both outcasts at their school, or because they’re both queer. It might also be because Georgia has a feeling she’s seen Todd somewhere before, somewhere he wasn’t supposed to be. In the vein of The Lovely Bones, this dual narrative is told through the voices of Todd in his afterlife and Georgia as she uncovers the truth behind his death, resulting in an immersive, emotional, and provocative read. The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh Axie Oh's The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea is an enthralling feminist retelling of the classic Korean folktale “The Tale of Shim Cheong,” perfect for fans of Wintersong, Uprooted, and Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. Deadly storms have ravaged Mina’s homeland for generations. Floods sweep away entire villages, while bloody wars are waged over the few remaining resources. Her people believe the Sea God, once their protector, now curses them with death and despair. In an attempt to appease him, each year a beautiful maiden is thrown into the sea to serve as the Sea God’s bride, in the hopes that one day the “true bride” will be chosen and end the suffering. Many believe that Shim Cheong, the most beautiful girl in the village—and the beloved of Mina’s older brother Joon—may be the legendary true bride. But on the night Cheong is to be sacrificed, Joon follows Cheong out to sea, even knowing that to interfere is a death sentence. To save her brother, Mina throws herself into the water in Cheong’s stead. Swept away to the Spirit Realm, a magical city of lesser gods and mythical beasts, Mina seeks out the Sea God, only to find him caught in an enchanted sleep. With the help of a mysterious young man named Shin—as well as a motley crew of demons, gods and spirits—Mina sets out to wake the Sea God and bring an end to the killer storms once and for all. But she doesn’t have much time: A human cannot live long in the land of the spirits. And there are those who would do anything to keep the Sea God from waking… A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin Judy I. Lin's sweeping debut A Magic Steeped in Poison, first in a duology, is sure to enchant fans of Adrienne Young and Leigh Bardugo. I used to look at my hands with pride. Now all I can think is, "These are the hands that buried my mother." For Ning, the only thing worse than losing her mother is knowing that it's her own fault. She was the one who unknowingly brewed the poison tea that killed her—the poison tea that now threatens to also take her sister, Shu. When Ning hears of a competition to find the kingdom's greatest shennong-shi—masters of the ancient and magical art of tea-making—she travels to the imperial city to compete. The winner will receive a favor from the princess, which may be Ning's only chance to save her sister's life. But between the backstabbing competitors, bloody court politics, and a mysterious (and handsome) boy with a shocking secret, Ning might actually be the one in more danger. The Red Palace by June Hur June Hur, critically acclaimed author of The Silence of Bones and The Forest of Stolen Girls, returns with The Red Palace—a third evocative, atmospheric historical mystery perfect for fans of Courtney Summers and Kerri Maniscalco. To enter the palace means to walk a path stained in blood... Joseon (Korea), 1758. There are few options available to illegitimate daughters in the capital city, but through hard work and study, eighteen-year-old Hyeon has earned a position as a palace nurse. All she wants is to keep her head down, do a good job, and perhaps finally win her estranged father's approval. But Hyeon is suddenly thrust into the dark and dangerous world of court politics when someone murders four women in a single night, and the prime suspect is Hyeon's closest friend and mentor. Determined to prove her beloved teacher's innocence, Hyeon launches her own secret investigation. In her hunt for the truth, she encounters Eojin, a young police inspector also searching for the killer. When evidence begins to point to the Crown Prince himself as the murderer, Hyeon and Eojin must work together to search the darkest corners of the palace to uncover the deadly secrets behind the bloodshed. A Clash of Steel: A Treasure Island Remix by C.B. Lee Two intrepid girls hunt for a legendary treasure on the deadly high seas in this YA remix of the classic adventure novel Treasure Island. 1826. The sun is setting on the golden age of piracy, and the legendary Dragon Fleet, the scourge of the South China Sea, is no more. Its ruthless leader, a woman known only as the Head of the Dragon, is now only a story, like the ones Xiang has grown up with all her life. She desperately wants to prove her worth, especially to her mother, a shrewd businesswoman who never seems to have enough time for Xiang. Her father is also only a story, dead at sea before Xiang was born. Her single memento of him is a pendant she always wears, a simple but plain piece of gold jewelry. But the pendant's true nature is revealed when a mysterious girl named Anh steals it, only to return it to Xiang in exchange for her help in decoding the tiny map scroll hidden inside. The revelation that Xiang's father sailed with the Dragon Fleet and tucked away this secret changes everything. Rumor has it that the legendary Head of the Dragon had one last treasure—the plunder of a thousand ports—that for decades has only been a myth, a fool's journey. Xiang is convinced this map could lead to the fabled treasure. Captivated with the thrill of adventure, she joins Anh and her motley crew off in pursuit of the island. But the girls soon find that the sea—and especially those who sail it—are far more dangerous than the legends led them to believe. Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta Two girls on opposite sides of a war discover they're fighting for a common purpose—and falling for each other—in Zoe Hana Mikuta's high-octane debut Gearbreakers, perfect for fans of Pacific Rim, Pierce Brown's Red Rising Saga, and Marie Lu's Legend series. We went past praying to deities and started to build them instead... The shadow of Godolia's tyrannical rule is spreading, aided by their giant mechanized weapons known as Windups. War and oppression is an everyday constant for the people of the Badlands, who live under the thumb of their cruel Godolian overlords. Eris Shindanai is a Gearbreaker, a brash young rebel who specializes in taking down Windups from the inside. When one of her missions goes awry and she finds herself in a Godolian prison, Eris meets Sona Steelcrest, a cybernetically enhanced Windup pilot. At first Eris sees Sona as her mortal enemy, but Sona has a secret: She has intentionally infiltrated the Windup program to destroy Godolia from within. As the clock ticks down to their deadliest mission yet, a direct attack to end Godolia's reign once and for all, Eris and Sona grow closer—as comrades, friends, and perhaps something more... Skyhunter by Marie Lu In this novel laced with adrenaline and filled with nonstop action, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Marie Lu creates an immersive world broken by war where the only hope against overwhelming evil lies with a team of young warriors willing to sacrifice everything to save what they love. The Karensa Federation has conquered a dozen countries, leaving Mara as one of the last free nations in the world. Refugees flee to its borders to escape a fate worse than death—transformation into mutant war beasts known as Ghosts, creatures the Federation then sends to attack Mara. The legendary Strikers, Mara’s elite fighting force, are trained to stop these monsters. But as the number of Ghosts grows and Karensa closes in, defeat seems inevitable. Still, one Striker refuses to give up hope. Robbed of her voice and home, Talin Kanami knows firsthand the brutality of the Federation. Their cruelty forced her and her mother to seek asylum in a country that finds their people repugnant. She finds comfort only with a handful of fellow Strikers who have pledged their lives to one another, soldiers determined to push Karensa back at all costs. After another devastating battle, Mara seems ready to fall. But when a mysterious prisoner is brought from the front, Talin senses there’s more to him than meets the eye. Is he a spy from the Federation? Or could he be the weapon that will save them all? Steelstriker by Marie Lu Explosive action and swoon-worthy suspense collide in this riveting conclusion to the Skyhunter duet from #1 New York Times–bestselling author Marie Lu As a Striker, Talin was taught loyalty is life. Loyalty to the Shield who watches your back, to the Strikers who risk their lives on the battlefield, and most of all, to Mara, which was once the last nation free from the Karensa Federation’s tyranny. But Mara has fallen. And its destruction has unleashed Talin’s worst nightmare. With her friends scattered by combat and her mother held captive by the Premier, Talin is forced to betray her fellow Strikers and her adopted homeland. She has no choice but to become the Federation’s most deadly war machine as their newest Skyhunter. Red is no stranger to the cruelty of the Federation or the torture within its Skyhunter labs, but he knows this isn’t the end for Mara – or Talin. The link between them may be weak, but it could be Talin and Red's only hope to salvage their past and safeguard their future. While the fate of a broken world hangs in the balance, Talin and Red must reunite the Strikers and find their way back to each other in this smoldering sequel to Marie Lu’s Skyhunter.

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