There’s a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving in the world of Young Adult books. From a highly anticipated debut (Tara Sim’s Timekeeper) to a new series from one of YA’s biggest rock stars (Marissa Meyer’s Heartless) to the finale of a beloved trilogy (Erika Johansen’s The Fate of the Tearling), you’ll love these picks for November’s best YA fiction.
Keep these titles in mind during your holiday shopping, and maybe even treat everyone you know to a copy of Timekeeper. It’s one of my favorites of 2016, and your friends/family/neighbors/random acquaintances will thank you.
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1. The Best Possible Answer by E. Katherine Kottaras
Release Date: November 1st from St. Martin's Griffin
Why You'll Love It: With her follow up to the emotional How to Be Brave, Kottaras shows us a painful side of the overachieving-teen-whose-bubble-is-burst story. In The Best Possible Answer, an academic star finds her reputation and goals crumbling when her boyfriend shares private photos of her with the whole school. It's a powerful book about learning how to be imperfect, and it's so very, very topical.
Description: Ultra-high-achiever Viviana Rabinovich-Lowe has always had a plan—and no room to be anything less than perfect. But her quest for perfection comes to a screeching halt when her boyfriend leaks racy pictures of her to the entire school. Making matters worse, her parents are getting divorced and now her perfect family is falling apart. For the first time, Viv feels like a complete and utter failure.
Then she gets a job working at the community pool, where she meets a new group of friends who know nothing about her past. That includes Evan, a gorgeous guy who makes her want to do something she never thought she'd do again: trust. For the first time in her life, Viv realizes she can finally be whomever she wants. But who is that? While she tries to figure it out, she learns something they never covered in her AP courses: that it's okay to be less than perfect, because it's our imperfections that make us who we are.
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2. The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid
Release Date: November 1st from Simon & Schuster
Why You'll Love It: One of the most hyped YA novels this fall, Kincaid's The Diabolic delivers epic sci-fi that tackles politics with terrifying consequences…à la Battlestar Galactica and Star Wars. But in Kincaid's world, the machines that brought such terror in Battlestar Galactica and such joy in Star Wars are far more complicated.
A Diabolic is a humanoid machine that serves as a bodyguard. Nemesis, the novel's Diabolic protagonist, must go to serious extremes to protect the daughter of a high-ranking official. This is the perfect read if you grew up loving classic sci-fi or found yourself devouring graphic novels like Lazarus.
Description: Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator's daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe.
When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia's father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia: She must become her.
Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia—a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators' children. It's a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything. Amidst all the danger, action, and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life—and the empire.
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3. A Million Worlds with You by Claudia Gray
Release Date: November 1st from HarperTeen
Why You'll Love It: If you're unfamiliar with Gray's outstanding Firebird trilogy, then you're in luck. Because now you can binge read the entire series (A Thousand Pieces of You, Ten Thousand Skies Above You, and A Million Worlds with You) over the holiday season.
It's set in a future where a teen's parents have unlocked the ability to travel through multiple universes… and are consequently murdered. She'll have to explore worlds and team up with alternate versions of the people she loves to bring justice to her family.
Gray is one of the YA authors currently writing in the Star Wars universe (check out Lost Stars, which came out last year). So believe me, her sci-fi stories are fantastic.
Description: Marguerite Caine has been at the center of a cross-dimensional feud since she first traveled to another universe using her parents' invention, the Firebird. Only now has she learned the true plans of the evil Triad Corporation—and that those plans could spell doom for dozens or hundreds of universes, each facing total annihilation.
Paul Markov has always been at Marguerite's side, but Triad's last attack has left him a changed man—angry and shadowed by tragedy. He struggles to overcome the damage done to him, but despite Marguerite's efforts to help, Paul may never be the same again.
So it's up to Marguerite alone to stop the destruction of the multiverse. Billions of lives are at stake. The risks have never been higher. And Triad has unleashed its ultimate weapon: another dimension's Marguerite—wicked, psychologically twisted, and always one step ahead.
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4. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Release Date: November 1st from Delacorte Press
Why You'll Love It: In her second novel, The Sun Is Also a Star, Yoon delivers another story full of emotional heft, taking the typical "two kids meet at random in a big city" story and transforming it into something beautiful. It was nominated for the National Book Award and has been earning spots on "Best of the Year" lists across the Internet. Keep an eye out for it, and prepare to swoon.
If you missed Yoon's astonishing debut, Everything, Everything, please pick it up in addition to her latest. It's a novel that's as sweet as it is devastating, and the movie is coming soon.
Description: Natasha: I'm a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I'm definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is 12 hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won't be my story.
Daniel: I've always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents' high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?
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5. Dead Girls Society by Michelle Krys
Release Date: November 8th from Delacorte Press
Why You'll Love It: Krys' debut novel, Hexed, provided a fresh take on witches back in 2014. Now that her duology is wrapped up, she's introducing readers to her first standalone, Dead Girls Society. Leaving behind fantasy for a YA mystery/thriller, Krys' latest novel promises diverse characters, a bold protagonist, and all of the excitement fans have come to expect from her books.
Description: Hope is sick of everyone treating her like she's breakable. Sure, she has cystic fibrosis (basically really bad lungs), but she's tired of being babied by her mom and her overprotective best friend, Ethan, not to mention worrying about paying for her expensive medication and how she's going to afford college. And she's bored with life in her run-down New Orleans suburb.
When an invitation arrives from a mysterious group that calls itself the Society, Hope jumps at the chance for some excitement. This could be her ticket out. All she has to do is complete a few dares, and she might win some real money. But the Society isn't all it seems . . . and soon Hope finds that playing the game isn't a choice—it's a requirement.
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6. Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Release Date: November 8th from Feiwel & Friends
Why You'll Love It: Meyer brought us the amazing Lunar Chronicles, a series that blends sci-fi, fantasy, and fairytale retellings into fascinating novels. So you'd better believe the book world is psyched to see what she's doing next.
With Heartless, she dives into the world of fairytales again to create something new, this time tackling Alice in Wonderland. And while Lewis Carroll's beloved classic has been explored before, Meyer gives it a fresh spin while unraveling how the Queen of Hearts became an infamous villain.
Description: Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.
At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King's marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
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7. Timekeeper by Tara Sim
Release Date: November 8th from Sky Pony Press
Why You'll Love It: Steampunk! Spirits! Magical clocks! My goodness, there is so much to love about this book that it's difficult to narrow it down. Timekeeper is set in a world in which a damaged clock can actually stop time. So what's it like to be a mechanic of these magical devices… and have a family frozen in a town that you can't fix?
If you love V.E. Schwabb's fantastical novels (This Savage Song) or the lush worlds of authors like Cherri Priest (Boneshaker) or Gail Carriger (Soulless), this is the book for you.
Description: In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely. It's a truth that 17-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.
And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny's new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower's clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield's time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he's fought to achieve.
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8. This Is Our Story by Ashley Elston
Release Date: November 15th from Disney-Hyperion
Why You'll Love It: Is 2016 the year of the YA thriller? Between Last Scene Leaving (which we talked about last month), Dead Girls Society, and The Smaller Evil, it's like the book world is telling us something. And I like it.
In This Is Our Story, we're swept up in a murder mystery as a young intern finds herself unraveling one of the biggest cases in her town. With unique narration, interviews, and shifting points of view, Elston weaves together a book in which the prose is as enthralling as the mystery.
Description: No one knows what happened that morning at River Point. Five boys went hunting. Four came back. The boys won't say who fired the shot that killed their friend; the evidence shows it could have been any one of them.
Kate won't let that happen. As she gets dangerously close to the truth, it becomes clear that the early morning accident might not have been an accident at all. And if Kate doesn't uncover the true killer, more than one life could be on the line…including her own.
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9. The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Release Date: November 29th from Harper
Why You'll Love It: With The Fate of the Tearling, we bid goodbye to Johansen's thrilling fantasy trilogy. To avoid spoilers, I'll simply say that the series (which debuted with The Queen of the Tearling) follows a teen girl who grew up hidden from her kingdom before being thrust into the spotlight to reclaim her throne. It's a saga of epic magic, intense politics, and family drama.
Description: In less than a year, Kelsea Glynn has transformed from a gawky teenager into a powerful monarch. As she has come into her own as the Queen of the Tearling, the headstrong, visionary leader has also transformed her realm. In her quest to end corruption and restore justice, she has made many enemies—including the evil Red Queen, her fiercest rival, who has set her armies against the Tear.
To protect her people from a devastating invasion, Kelsea did the unthinkable—she gave herself and her magical sapphires to her enemy—and named the Mace, the trusted head of her personal guards, Regent in her place. But the Mace will not rest until he and his men rescue their sovereign, imprisoned in Mortmesne. As the suspenseful endgame begins, the fate of Queen Kelsea—and the Tearling itself—will finally be revealed.
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10. Girls in the Moon by Janet McNally
Release Date: November 29th from HarperTeen
Why You'll Love It: Something magical happens when a gifted poet writes a Young Adult contemporary novel… and that magic is called Girls in the Moon. In McNally's debut, readers are introduced to a teen girl wrestling with the complicated landscape that is her family. There's romance, music, and heartbreak… and you'll love every single page.
If you enjoy YA novels about music, like Kevin Emerson's Exile series or any of Tara Kelly's books, Girls in the Moon is absolutely the read for you, blending together that passion for music with the literary prose of YA authors like Kerry Kletter (The First Time She Drowned).
Description: Everyone in Phoebe Ferris's life tells a different version of the truth. Her mother, Meg, ex–rock star and professional question evader, shares only the end of the story—the post-fame calm that Phoebe's always known. Her sister, Luna, indie-rock darling of Brooklyn, preaches a stormy truth of her own making, selectively ignoring the facts she doesn't like. And her father, Kieran, the cofounder of Meg's beloved band, hasn't said anything at all since he stopped calling three years ago.
But Phoebe, a budding poet in search of an identity to call her own, is tired of half-truths and vague explanations. When she visits Luna in New York, she's determined to find out how she fits in to this family of storytellers, and to maybe even continue her own tale—the one with the musician boy she's been secretly writing for months.