You might think some of February’s best Young Adult reads would include romance. And to some extent, they do. This month, the world of YA literature wants you to fall in love with everything from lush fantasy sagas (Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones) to epic space dramas (Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza). February also boasts some of Paste’s most anticipated YA books of 2017, including The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.
Here we go!
1. Denton Little’s Still Not Dead by Lance Rubin
Release Date: February 7th from Knopf Books for Young Readers
Why You’ll Love It:
Denton Little’s Deathdate, the first book in Rubin’s quirky series, introduced us to a contemporary world where people happen to know the exact date they’re going to die. And poor Denton Little is set to die the day of his senior prom.
Don’t read on if you haven’t read the first book, but it turns out that things don’t go quite as expected. And in the second book, Denton Little’s Still Not Dead, the protagonist is chased by an agency investigating how he cheated death. You wouldn’t think a series about staring death down would be so funny, but here we are.
Description: The good news: Denton Little has lived through his deathdate. Yay! The bad news: He’s being chased by the DIA (Death Investigation Agency), he can never see his family again, and he may now die any time. Huh. Cheating death isn’t quite as awesome as Denton would have thought…
2. Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza
Release Date: February 7th from Razorbill
Why You’ll Love It: One of our most anticipated titles of 2017 is finally here, and it’s a delight. Similar to a YA Game of Thrones in space, Empress of a Thousand Skies reveals a galaxy reigns by royalty and beset by war and political upheaval. And two teens find themselves in the middle of it all.
If you loved Across the Universe by Beth Revis or Red Rising by Pierce Brown, you’re going to inhale this book.
Description: Rhee, also known as Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an, is the sole surviving heir to a powerful dynasty. She’ll stop at nothing to avenge her family and claim her throne.
Aly has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. But when he’s falsely accused of killing Rhee, he’s forced to prove his innocence to save his reputation – and his life.
With planets on the brink of war, Rhee and Aly are thrown together to confront a ruthless evil that threatens the fate of the entire galaxy.
3. King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard
Release Date: February 7th from HarperTeen
Why You’ll Love It: The third book in Aveyard’s Red Queen series is upon us! If you’ve yet to dive into this bestselling fantasy series, I’ll avoid spoilers and dish the premise. Set in a world where people are divided by blood and placed into castes, this stunning fantasy series follows a teen girl named Mare who discovers that, despite being born with red blood, she has the gifts of those blessed with silver blood.
See, silver blooded humans have unbelievable abilities—it’s X-Men level stuff here. And when Mare’s abilities to control lightning reveal themselves, she becomes the catalyst in an uprising.
Description: Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother’s web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.
As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.
4. Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Release Date: February 7th from Thomas Dunne Books
Why You’ll Love It: Another one of our most anticipated YA books is finally here! If you loved Labyrinth and David Bowie’s iconic Goblin King, Jae-Jones has written a book just for you. Wintersong takes readers through a fantasy world as a teen girl seeks to save her sister from… you guessed it, a Goblin King.
But, this Goblin King isn’t all that he seems. With a stunning blend of music and magic, this is the perfect novel for fans of Victoria Schwab’s This Savage Song and Susan Dennard’s Truthwitch.
Description: All her life, 19-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.
But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue Käthe and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.
Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.
5. American Street by Ibi Zoboi
Release Date: February 14th from Balzer + Bray
Why You’ll Love It: Zoboi’s novel explores what it means to chase the “American dream” and to be an immigrant in the United States. Considering the political climate these days, American Street proves to be an important book that I’m hoping a lot of readers discover. Zoboi’s writing is lyrical and beautiful, creating a book that’s hard to put down and a story impossible to ignore.
Description: On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life. But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.
Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?
6. We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
Release Date: February 14th from Dutton Books for Young Readers
Why You’ll Love It: There’s so much to love in LaCour’s books. From her music-filled The Disenchantments to her heartbreaking debut Hold Still, she tugs at your heartstrings with prose that’s as beautiful as it is devastating. And with We Are Okay, LaCour’s provokes those feelings again.
In We Are Okay, readers meet Marin, a teen girl who has run away from home and is forced to confront her demons. This novel is a great choice for readers who love the hard-hitting prose of Courtney Stevens and Mindy McGinnis.
Description: Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun.
Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.
7. The Wish Granter by C.J. Redwine
Release Date: February 14th from Balzer + Bray
Why You’ll Love It: Beginning with The Shadow Queen last year, Redwine plunged readers into an epic fantasy series comprised of standalone books retelling fairytales. The Wish Granter tackles Rumpelstiltskin’s story, delivering another romantic thrill-ride of a book. Brimming with murder and betrayal, it’s the sort of intense tale that made The Shadow Queen so enthralling.
Redwine’s series is perfect for readers who adore Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles, with stories set in nearby kingdoms that stand on their own.
Description: The world has turned upside down for Thad and Ari Glavan, the bastard twins of Súndraille’s king. Their mother was murdered. The royal family died mysteriously. And now Thad sits on the throne of a kingdom whose streets are suddenly overrun with violence he can’t stop.
Growing up ignored by the nobility, Ari never wanted to be a proper princess. And when Thad suddenly starts training Ari to take his place, she realizes that her brother’s ascension to the throne wasn’t fate. It was the work of a Wish Granter named Alistair Teague who tricked Thad into wishing away both the safety of his people and his soul in exchange for the crown.
So Ari recruits the help of Thad’s enigmatic new weapons master, Sebastian Vaughn, to teach her how to fight Teague. With secret ties to Teague’s criminal empire, Sebastian might just hold the key to discovering Alistair’s weaknesses, saving Ari’s brother—and herself.
But Teague is ruthless and more than ready to destroy anyone who dares stand in his way—and now he has his sights set on the princess. And if Ari can’t outwit him, she’ll lose Sebastian, her brother…and her soul.
8. The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera
Release Date: February 21st from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Why You’ll Love It: If you adored Charlotte Huang’s Going Geek, here’s another fish-out-of-water story you’re guaranteed to enjoy. Rivera’s charming debut introduces Margot Sanchez, a teen who runs up a ton of money on her father’s credit card and has to work in the family grocery store to pay it off.
As sparks fly with a cute new boy and her family continues to drive her up a wall, The Education of Margot Sanchez becomes a novel full of heart about trying to find your place in the world.
Description: After “borrowing” her father’s credit card to finance a more stylish wardrobe, Margot Sanchez suddenly finds herself grounded. And by grounded, she means working as an indentured servant in her family’s struggling grocery store to pay off her debts.
With each order of deli meat she slices, Margot can feel her carefully cultivated prep school reputation slipping through her fingers, and she’s willing to do anything to get out of this punishment. Lie, cheat, and maybe even steal…
9. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Release Date: February 28th from Balzer + Bray
Why You’ll Love It: Another book from our most anticipated YA list Thomas’ debut boasts both humor and a devastating story that will rip you apart.There’s so much to love in this timely book, and you’ll be talking about it for a long time.
Pair this powerful story inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement with Ibi Zoboi’s American Street for weekend reading that will caust you to examine the world around you.
Description: Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
10. The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig
Release Date: February 28th from Greenwillow Books
Why You’ll Love It: The sequel to The Girl From Everywhere, one of Paste’s best YA books of 2016, is finally here! And it’s spectacular.
Instead of being a mere passenger on her father’s ship, Heilig’s bold protagonist, Nix, is in charge. And just as her father battled to save the person dearest to him, Nix discovers she’s fated to do the same. If you enjoyed Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken or inhaled the Outlander series, this is the perfect read for you. Hello time-traveling pirate ship with family drama.
Description: Nix has spent her whole life journeying to places both real and imagined aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. And now it’s finally time for her to take the helm. Her father has given up his obsession to save her mother—and possibly erase Nix’s existence—and Nix’s future lies bright before her. Until she learns that she is destined to lose Kash, the one she loves.
Desperate to change her fate, Nix takes her crew to a mythical utopia to meet another Navigator who promises to teach her how to manipulate time. But everything in this utopia is constantly changing, and nothing is what it seems—not even her relationship with Kash. Nix must grapple with whether anyone can escape her destiny, her history, her choices.