You’d think the best Young Adult books of October would be scary reads, what with Halloween and all. And sure, there are frights (we’re looking at you, space-gargoyles in Tristina Wright’s 27 Hours). But the true monsters in this month’s most gripping reads are ordinary people. Many of these novels feature characters at their worst and life situations at their most horrifying, so prepare to be unnerved and engaged by these tales.
1. 27 Hours by Tristina Wright
Release Date: October 3rd from Entangled Teen
Why You’ll Love It: One of Paste’s most anticipated YA books of the year is finally here! A thrilling sci-fi mash-up with a diverse cast, Tristina Wright’s debut novel boasts an action-packed plot with the high-octane pressure of a kickass video game.
For Fans of: Thrilling YA sci-fi with rich world building, like Red Rising by Pierce Brown or Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza.
Description: Rumor Mora fears two things: hellhounds too strong for him to kill, and failure. Jude Welton has two dreams: for humans to stop killing monsters, and for his strange abilities to vanish. But in no reality should a boy raised to love monsters fall for a boy raised to kill them.
Nyx Llorca keeps two secrets: the moon speaks to her, and she’s in love with Dahlia, her best friend. Braeden Tennant wants two things: to get out from his mother’s shadow, and to unlearn Epsilon’s darkest secret. To save everyone they love, they’ll both have to commit treason.
During one 27-hour night, these four runaways must stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, or the things they fear most will be all that’s left.
2. Top Ten by Katie Cotugno
Release Date: October 3rd from Balzer + Bray
Why You’ll Love It: Katie Cotugno’s latest book is the novel I wished I’d had as a teen (I was busy reading High Fidelity and trying to relate to an adult with grown-up relationship problems). In Top Ten, Cotugno utilizes the list structure that makes High Fidelity so great, but she weaves it into a teen story of love and friendship that you’re absolutely going to cherish.
For Fans of: Books by Morgan Matson, Lauren Morrill and Jenny Han.
Description: Ryan McCullough and Gabby Hart are the unlikeliest of best friends. Prickly, anxious Gabby would rather do literally anything than go to a party. Ultra-popular Ryan is a hockey star who can get any girl he wants—and frequently does. But somehow their relationship just works; from dorky Monopoly nights to rowdy house parties to the top ten lists they make about everything under the sun.
Now, on the night of high school graduation, everything is suddenly changing—in their lives, and in their relationship. As they try to figure out what they mean to each other and where to go from here, they make a final top 10 list: this time, counting down the top 10 moments of their friendship.
3. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
Release Date: October 10th from Philomel Books
Why You’ll Love It: Julie C. Dao’s debut novel, which has been racking up starred reviews, is one of 2017’s big books that you don’t want to miss. A reimagining of “The Evil Queen” legend with an East Asian fantasy spin, it’s a lush fantasy novel that kicks off a thrilling new series.
For Fans of: YA retellings like Cinder by Marisa Meyer or The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine.
Description: Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her.
Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high? Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins—sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.
4. This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis
Release Date: October 10th from Katherine Tegen Books
Why You’ll Love It: My favorite thing about Mindy McGinnis’ books is that reading them is a study in being wounded by an author you love. She pens devastating stories, and her latest is another gripping, dark thriller.
For Fans of: YA psychological thrillers by authors like Stephanie Kuehn and Courtney Summers.
Description: Sasha Stone knows her place—first-chair clarinet, top of her class, and at the side of her oxford-wearing boyfriend. She’s worked her entire life to ensure that her path to Oberlin Conservatory as a star musician is perfectly paved.
But suddenly there’s a fork in the road, in the shape of Isaac Harver. Her body shifts toward him when he walks by, her skin misses his touch even though she’s never known it, and she relishes the smell of him—smoke, beer, and trouble—all the things she’s avoided to get where she is. Even worse, every time he’s near Sasha, her heart stops, literally. Why does he know her so well—too well—and she doesn’t know him at all?
Sasha discovers that her by-the-book life began by ending another’s: the twin sister she absorbed in the womb. But that doesn’t explain the gaps of missing time in her practice schedule or the memories she has of things she certainly never did with Isaac. As Sasha loses her much-cherished control, her life—and heart—become more entangled with Isaac. Armed with the knowledge that her heart might not be hers alone, Sasha must decide what she’s willing to do—and who she’s willing to hurt—to take it back.
5. Tool of War by Paolo Bacigalupi
Release Date: October 10th from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Why You’ll Love It: We listed Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker, a Printz winner and a National Book Award finalist, as one of the best YA novels of all time. It’s an epic dystopian tale set in a bleak future of poverty and extreme, careless wealth. The Drowned Cities came next, and now it’s followed by the third book in Bacigalupi’s fascinating series.
For Fans of:
The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson and futuristic dystopias like Want by Cindy Pon.
Description: Tool, a half-man/half-beast designed for combat, is capable of so much more than his creators had ever dreamed. He has gone rogue from his pack of bioengineered “augments” and emerged a victorious leader of a pack of human soldier boys.
But he is hunted relentlessly by someone determined to destroy him, who knows an alarming secret: Tool has found the way to resist his genetically ingrained impulses of submission and loyalty toward his masters. The time is coming when Tool will embark on an all-out war against those who have enslaved him.