Well, April is here. And it’s like the classic saying goes: “April showers bring awesome sequels and highly-anticipated debut novels.” I’m actually not sure where that saying comes from, and why it doesn’t rhyme. Feels like it should, you know? I’ll have to do some research and get back to you on all that.
But really, this month is packed full of incredible Young Adult novels that you should add to your bookshelves. From epic fantasy to intense sci-fi, terrifying spins on classic childhood stories to sweeping contemporary romances, there’s a lot worth picking up this month. Let’s take a look!
1. None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
Release Date: April 7th from Balzer + Bray
Why You’ll Love It: I.W. Gregorio’s debut introduces readers to a popular teenage girl who discovers she’s intersex and explores her struggles with coming to terms with a new identity. It’s great seeing YA discussing gender and identity like this. And the fact that books like this one, and Adam by Ariel Schrag, exist is just fantastic.
Description: What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant? When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She’s a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college, and she’s madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she’s decided that she’s ready to take things to the next level with him. But Kristin’s first time isn’t the perfect moment she’s planned—something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy “parts.” Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin’s entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?
2. Skandal by Lindsay Smith
Release Date: April 7th from Macmillian
Why You’ll Love It: Cold War. Psychic abilities. An epic piece of historical fiction from a really talented writer. (And if you haven’t read Smith’s debut, Sekret, well, it’s time to start.)
Description: Life in Washington, D.C., is not the safe haven Yulia hoped for when she risked everything to flee communist Russia. Her father is reckless and aloof, and Valentin is distant and haunted by his past. Her mother is being targeted by the CIA and the U.S. government is suspicious of Yulia’s allegiance. And when super-psychics start turning up in the U.S. capitol, it seems that even Rostov is still a threat. Ultimately, Yulia must keep control of her own mind to save the people she loves and avoid an international Skandal.
Bonus: If you want a quick sampling of Lindsay’s writing, check out “Doppel,” a short story she published with tor.com here.
3. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Release Date: April 7th from Balzer + Bray
Why You’ll Love It: With a charming cover, an attention grabbing title and a relevant story that touches on issues of sexuality and bullying, how can you not be excited for this novel?
Description::Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met. Incredibly funny and poignant, this coming-of-age, coming-out story—wrapped in a geek romance—is a knockout of a debut novel by Becky Albertalli.
4. Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee
Release Date: April 8th from Flux
Why You’ll Love It: Boxing in zero gravity, you guys. Boxing. And this page-turner is marketed as “Rocky meets Gattaca.”
Description: A rising star in the weightless combat sport of zeroboxing, Carr “the Raptor” Luka dreams of winning the championship title. Recognizing his talent, the Zero Gravity Fighting Association assigns Risha, an ambitious and beautiful Martian colonist, to be his brandhelm—a personal marketing strategist. It isn’t long before she’s made Carr into a popular celebrity and stolen his heart along the way.
As his fame grows, Carr becomes an inspirational hero on Earth, a once-great planet that’s fallen into the shadow of its more prosperous colonies. But when Carr discovers a far-reaching criminal scheme, he becomes the keeper of a devastating secret. Not only will his choices put everything he cares about in jeopardy, but they may also spill the violence from the sports arena into the solar system.
5. Forged by Erin Bowman
Release Date: April 14th from HarperTeen
Why You’ll Love It: Forged concludes Erin Bowman’s sci-fi Taken trilogy, set in a place where teenagers simply vanish at midnight on their 18th birthday. It’s a little bit Maze Runner, a little bit Hunger Games and completely awesome. You’ll want to check out the first two books, Taken and Frozen, before diving into this one.
Description: Gray Weathersby knows the truth about the Laicos Project, the Order and the Forgeries. And they all must be stopped. But with each generation of Forgeries deadlier than the one before, the most familiar faces—and even the girl he loves—can’t be trusted. To make a stand against the Order, Gray will have to be ready to risk it all.
6. The Death Code by Lindsay Cummings
Release Date: April 21st from Greenwillow Books
Why You’ll Love It: The sequel to The Murder Complex, The Death Code is a futuristic thriller featuring a world where where the murder rate is higher than the birthrate. Full of secrets and assassins, this action-packed story is a welcome sequel.
Description: With short, fast-paced, alternating point-of-view chapters, The Death Code starts several weeks after The Murder Complex ends. Zephyr keeps the secret about Meadow close—that if she dies, The Murder Complex will be destroyed, too. Meadow, desperate to find her brother, father and little sister, is determined to fight fearlessly to the end, even if it means sacrificing herself and her friends, new and old.
7. The Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby
Release Date: April 21st from HarperTeen
Why You’ll Love It: Because you will cry. Oh my goodness, just the premise of this YA romance makes me feel like there might be some tears welling up. Right now.
Description: After Quinn’s boyfriend, Trent, dies in an accident their junior year, she reaches out to the recipients of his donated organs in hopes of picking up the fragments of her now-unrecognizable life. But whoever received Trent’s heart has mysteriously remained silent. The essence of a person, Quinn has always believed, is in the heart. If she finds Trent’s, then in a way she still has a piece of him.
Risking everything to find peace once and for all, Quinn goes outside the system to track down 19-year-old Colton Thomas—a guy whose life has been forever changed by this priceless gift. But what starts as an accidental run-in quickly develops into more, sparking an undeniable attraction. She doesn’t want to give in to it—especially since he has no idea how they’re connected—but their time together has made Quinn feel alive again. No matter how hard she’s falling for Colton, each beat of his heart reminds her of all she’s lost . . . and all that remains at stake.
8. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Release Date: April 28th from Razorbill
Why You’ll Love It: I’m sorry, YA lovers, but April 28th is going to be known as The Great Day of Reckoning for wallets everywhere, as three incredible titles finally find their way to bookstores. The first one up is An Ember in the Ashes, an action-packed, violent and epic high fantasy novel. It’s the first in what’s going to be one awesome series, and the movie rights have already been picked up. After reading it, you’ll understand why.
Description: Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear. It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do. But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy. There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
9. The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey
Release Date: April 28th from Delacorte Press
Why You‘ll Love It: When I get a copy of a new book, I tear through it immediately. I can generally wrap up a good YA novel over the course of a few lunch breaks or during a single night on the couch. The Girl at Midnight , though? I probably spent a solid month making my way through the book, because I wanted to enjoy every minute of it. Lots of twists and truly awesome world-building make this a must read.
Description: Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one.
Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known. Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act. Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it. But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.
10. Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley
Release Date: April 28th from HarperCollins
Why You’ll Love It: Peter Damien over at BookRiot touts the novel as a must-read for fans of Bioshock Infinite, while the marketing folks for the book have been promoting this title as a mashup of Stardust and The Fault in Our Stars. Really, you don’t need much more than that.
Description: Aza Ray Boyle is drowning in thin air. Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live. So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.
Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia. Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—but as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war between Magonia and Earth is coming. In Aza’s hands lies fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?
Bonus: The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige
Release Date: March 31st from HarperCollins
Why You’ll Love It: I’m going to go ahead and toss this one in as a bonus April read. The sequel to the New York Times bestselling smash Dorothy Must Die (which transported readers to a world where Dorothy, The Tin Man, The Scarecrow and The Lion are all quite evil), this re-imagined Wizard of Oz tale is full of horrors and magic!
Description: My name is Amy Gumm—and I’m the other girl from Kansas. After a tornado swept through my trailer park, I ended up in Oz. But it wasn’t like the Oz I knew from books and movies. Dorothy had returned, and she was stealing magic from the land. The Wizard was back. Glinda could no longer be called the Good Witch. And the Wicked Witches who were left? They’d joined forces as the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, and they wanted to recruit me. My mission? Kill Dorothy. And when a group of former—possibly still—Wicked Witches tells you to do something, it’s kind of hard to say no.
Except my job as assassin didn’t work out as planned. Dorothy is still alive. The Order has vanished. And the home I couldn’t wait to leave behind might be in danger.