March’s best Young Adult books deliver magic and fantasy, which feels appropriate since Beauty and the Beast is in theaters. There’s even a reimagining of that tale-as-old-as-time-tale in this month’s roundup, with Megan Spooner’s Hunted, and another beastly tale, with Wendy Higgins’ The Great Pursuit.
Not only does this month boast some thrilling fantasy titles, but it also sees the release of captivating contemporary stories (including one of our most-anticipated books of 2017). Here. We. Go.
1. Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
Release Date: March 7th from Crown Books for Young Readers
Why You’ll Love It: Zentner’s Goodbye Days was one of our most anticipated reads of 2017, and his debut, The Serpent King, was one of the best YA books of 2016. It’s certainly been a busy year for Zentner, with The Serpent King winning the Morris and gaining acclaim just about everywhere. And I anticipate Goodbye Days will earn the same well-deserved attention.
Zentner’s latest follows a teen boy who blames himself for a car crash that killed his closest friends. It’s a heartbreaking read—each chapter more painful than the last. But in the midst of all the hurt, there’s so much hope, love and redemption. Great for fans of Courtney Summers and Adam Silvera, Goodbye Days is an emotional read that will make you cry.
Description: Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli and Blake. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident, and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths.
Then Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a “goodbye day” together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli’s bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver’s own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?
2. The Great Pursuit by Wendy Higgins
Release Date: March 7th from HarperTeen
Why You’ll Love It: Higgins’ The Great Hunt was one of the more underrated books of last year—an epic fantasy romance where a princess is promised in marriage to the person who can slay a monstrous beast. It’s over 400 pages of lush world-building and complex politics.
And now readers get the sequel. If you love high YA fantasy like C.J Redwine’s The Shadow Queen or Erin Summerill’s Ever the Hunted, you’ll dig Higgins duology. Spend a week binge-reading the series. You won’t regret it.
Description: Lochlanach has traded the great beast for something far more terrible, a Lashed enemy veiled in beauty, deception and a vengeance passed down through generations: Rozaria Rocato. And she’s offering the hunter Paxton Seabolt power and acceptance he could never receive in his homeland. Pax must decide how far he’s willing to go under her tutelage, knowing she is the opponent of Princess Aerity Lochson.
In a land where traditionalists dread change, the Lochlan throne must contend with mysterious foes and traitors, while attempting to keep revolt at bay. As dire circumstances strike the royal family, matters of the castle are left in Aerity’s hands. It’s time to put aside her fears and grasp the reign, taking actions that have the potential to save or destroy her people.
3. The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Release Date: March 7th from Clarion Books
Why You’ll Love It: If you’re somehow unfamiliar with Benjamin Alire Sáenz, please pick up Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Okay? Okay.
In Sáenz’s latest, he once again tackles heavy themes of loss and fractured families in the lyrical style his readers adore. And seeing as this book talks about adoption in a very real, very profound way (a topic that Paste readers know is near and dear to me), it’s one that should be included on your to-be-read list. If you’re a fan of Robin Talley’s books, this one is definitely for you.
Description: Everything is about to change. Until this moment, Sal has always been certain of his place with his adoptive gay father and their loving Mexican-American family. But now his own history unexpectedly haunts him, and life-altering events force him and his best friend, Samantha, to confront issues of faith, loss and grief.
Suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything and discovering that he no longer knows who he really is. But if Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?
4. Proof of Lies by Diana Rodriguez Wallach
Release Date: March 7th from Entangled Teen
Why You’ll Love It: I’m a sucker for a good Young Adult spy thriller, and Wallach has written one wild ride of a book. Proof of Lies is perfect for fans of Maggie Hall’s fantastic The Conspiracy of Us series or Velvet Undercover by Teri Brown. Only, instead of just investigating the seedy underbelly of a massive conspiracy, Wallach’s protagonist is on a quest to figure out what’s happened to her family.
Description: Anastasia Phoenix has always been the odd girl out, whether moving from city to international city with her scientist parents or being the black belt who speaks four languages.
And most definitely as the orphan whose sister is missing, presumed dead.
She’s the only one who believes Keira is still alive, and when new evidence surfaces, Anastasia sets out to follow the trail—and lands in the middle of a massive conspiracy. Now she isn’t sure who she can trust. At her side is Marcus, the bad boy with a sexy accent who’s as secretive as she is. He may have followed her to Rome to help, but something about him seems too good to be true. Nothing is as it appears, and when everything she’s ever known is revealed to be a lie, Anastasia has to believe in one impossibility: She will find her sister.
5. You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner
Release Date: March 7th from Knopf Books for Young Readers
Why You’ll Love It: I was lucky enough to get an early copy of Gardner’s debut novel a few months ago, and I immediately inhaled it. Not only does the book have a moving, hilarious story involving a teen street artist, it’s packed with original artwork from the author.
Gardner introduces readers to Julia, a deaf teenager who is a brilliant graffiti artist, and follows the turf war that explodes between Julia and an unknown artist at her new school. She’s wrestling with her supposed best friend’s betrayal, a love interest that’s wrong for her and life at a new school. How it all comes together makes for one of my favorite reads this year.
Pick this one up if you loved Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda or Andrew Smith’s Winger.
Description: When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across the back of the Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful (albeit illegal) graffiti mural. Her supposed best friend snitches, the principal expels her and her two mothers set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a “mainstream” school in the suburbs, where she’s treated like an outcast as the only deaf student. The last thing she has left is her art, and not even Banksy himself could convince her to give that up.
Out in the ’burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. But Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town. Someone is adding to her tags, making them better, showing off—and showing Julia up in the process. She expected her art might get painted over by cops. But she never imagined getting dragged into a full-blown graffiti war.