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.
6. The End of Oz by Danielle Paige
Release Date: March 14th from HarperTeen
Why You’ll Love It: It’s time to say goodbye, to Oz—at least, until someone else introduces a clever way to explore the world. But Paige’s take on the classic story is going to be really hard to top.
The End of Oz marks the fourth and final novel in Paige’s bestselling series, in which Dorothy is a violent murderer who has taken over Oz. It’s up to a second teen from Kansas to put an end to Dorothy’s reign.
If you loved Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series, you’ll adore these books. The humor and snark crackles on the page, and it reimagines a world you’ll be happy to visit again and again.
Description: (Major series spoilers ahead.) My name is Amy Gumm. You might remember me as the other girl from Kansas. When a tornado swept me away to the magical land of Oz, I was given a mission: Dorothy must die. That’s right, everyone’s favorite Wicked-Witch-slayer had let the magic of Oz corrupt her. She turned evil. So I killed her.
But just when we thought it was safe to start rebuilding the damaged land of Oz, we were betrayed. Now I’m following the Road of Yellow Brick as it helps me escape toward the mysterious land of Ev, where the Nome King rules a bleak and angry world. And what I’m about to find is shocking: My original mission may not have been successful.
7. The Heartbeats of Wing Jones by Katherine Webber
Release Date: March 14th from Delacorte Press
Why You’ll Love It: There’s something about a good YA sports novel that just gets me, even as someone who isn’t exactly athletic. Webber’s new novel focuses on a teen runner who is swept up in the turmoil of her brother’s mistakes. It’s a moving story full of heartache, revealing that no matter how fast you can run, you still escape the problems that haunt you.
If you’re a fan of Miranda Kenneally or Courtney C. Stevens, Webber’s debut is a perfect blend of the two… mixing the charming joy of Kenneally’s YA sports novels with the devastation that comes with opening a Stevens book.
Description: Wing Jones, like everyone else in her town, has worshipped her older brother, Marcus, for as long as she can remember. Good-looking, popular and the star of the football team, Marcus is everything his sister is not, and Wing is all too aware of this.
Until the night when everything changes. Marcus, drunk at the wheel after a party, kills two people and barely survives himself. With Marcus now in a coma, Wing is crushed and angry—could the golden boy, really have done something so irresponsible, so reckless? She is tormented at school for Marcus’s mistake, haunted at home by her mother’s and grandmothers’ grief. To make matters worse, the bank is threatening to repossess her family’s house because all their money is going to pay her brother’s mounting medical bills.
Every night, unable to sleep, Wing finds herself sneaking out to go to the school’s empty track. When Aaron, Marcus’s best friend, sees her running one night, he recognizes that her speed could get her spot on the track team—and better still, a shot at a coveted sponsorship from a major athletic gear company. Wing can’t pass up the opportunity to train with her longtime crush and to help her struggling family, but can she handle being thrust out of Marcus’s shadow and into the spotlight?
8. Hunted by Meagan Spooner
Release Date: March 14th from HarperTeen
Why You’ll Love It: Here’s a Beauty and the Beast YA novel that’s perfect for those of you rushing to see the live-action remake in theaters right now. Spooner gives the story a fresh spin—a firebird here, a gray wolf there—weaving a captivating new novel. You’re going to love this one, especially if you’re a fan of Melissa Grey’s The Girl at Midnight trilogy or C.J. Redwine’s Ravenspire series.
Description: Though Yeva grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them. So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.
Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?
9. A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi
Release Date: March 28th from St. Martin’s Griffin
Why You’ll Love It: The long-awaited sequel to one of our favorite YA reads of 2016 is here! Chokshi’s YA fantasy series is a sweeping saga inspired by Indian folklore, loaded with intense politics and epic romances. In the first book, we meet Maya, a teen girl who ascends to an unwanted seat of power and discovers she’s a fighter. And she’ll have to fight to save her kingdom.
The second book…well, it’s not really a sequel. Much like how C.J. Redwine’s Darkspire books can be read independently of one another, Chokshi’s second novel stands alone from the first and follows new characters. (But I’d suggest reading the first; there’s just so much to love here.) If you enjoyed Renée Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn duology or Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes series, you’re going to love this magic-filled thrill ride.
Description: Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes—a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.
Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels. Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.
10. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Release Date: March 28th from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Why You’ll Love It: If you’re unfamiliar with Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, you have missed out. And now she’s created a new epic fantasy world, brimming with ancient gods and lost cities. There’s so much to love, and fans of Lindsay Smith’s Dreamstrider novel will be enthralled by this book.
Description: The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old, he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving? The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?