The 30 Best Young Adult Books of 2017

Books Lists Best Of 2017
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1WHEN_DIMPLE_MET_RISHI.jpg 15. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Why You’ll Love It: If you adore Young Adult rom-coms, Sandhya Menon’s debut novel is for you. When Dimple Met Rishi is a diverse read that’s absolutely full of heart and deep belly laughs, and it’s from an author you should definitely follow.

For Fans of: Rom-com reads by Lauren Morrill and Stephanie Perkins, as well as authors who write about the Indian-American experience, like Tanuja Desai Hidier and Jhumpa Lahiri.

Description: Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

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1AMERICAN_STREET_IBI.jpg 14. American Street by Ibi Zoboi

Why You’ll Love It: There’s so much to love in Ibi Zoboi’s stunning debut, which was longlisted for the National Book Award, that it’s hard to know where to start. A moving story about immigration, family and romance, American Street marks the arrival of an author to watch. Zoboi’s writing is lyrical and beautiful, creating a book that’s hard to put down and a story impossible to ignore.

For Fans of: Books by Jason Reynolds, as well as this year’s smash hits from Angie Thomas and Nic Stone.

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?

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1EMPRESS_OF_A_THOUSAND_SKIES_RHODA.jpg 13. Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

Why You’ll Love It: Reading like a YA version of Game of Thrones in space (so if you like the drama of Syfy’s The Expanse, this is definitely for you), Empress of a Thousand Skies is an absolute thrill ride. Rhoda Belleza jettisons readers into a galaxy ruled by royalty and beset by war in this enthralling novel.

For Fans of: Across the Universe by Beth Revis and the Red Rising series by Pierce Brown.

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.

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1WHOS_THAT_GIRL_BLAIR.jpg 12. Who’s That Girl by Blair Thornburgh

Why You’ll Love It: Chances are, you’ve heard the song Hey There Delilah by the Plain White T’s. Well, Blair Thornburgh’s YA debut reads like the novel version of that song, and it follows a girl who is the subject of a hit single. The story is sweet and hilarious, boasting witty banter and memorable characters.

For Fans of: YA books filled with music, like Nina LaCour’s The Disenchantments and Ashley Poston’s The Sound of Us. It’s also for readers who love the delightful banter found in an Amy Spalding novel.

Description: Junior Nattie McCullough is totally OK with her place in life: Latin whiz. Member of the school’s gay-straight alliance. Joni Mitchell superfan. Seventeen-year-old who has never been kissed. So when last summer’s crush and her former classmate—Young Lungs lead singer Sebastian Delacroix—comes back to town with his new hit single “Natalie,” she can’t bring herself to believe it could possibly be about her…could it?

As Nattie sorts through the evidence (the lyrics, Sebastian’s elusive text messages and their brief romantic encounter last year), the song’s popularity skyrockets, and everyone starts speculating about “Natalie’s” identity. If that wasn’t mortifying enough, Nattie runs into another problem: her confusing, flirtation-packed feelings for her good friend Zach. With her once-average life upended, Nattie is determined to figure out once and for all if her short-lived past with Sebastian was something love songs are made of—or just a one-hit wonder.

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1OUR_DARK_DUET_VICTORIA.jpg 11. Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

Why You’ll Love It: We adored the first book in Victoria Schwab’s duology, This Savage Song, so much that we listed it as one of the best YA books of 2016. Schwab’s second novel picks up right where the first left off, and fans will find a lot to love thanks to its music and poetry—not to mention the terrifying world that Schwab has crafted and her ongoing quest to answer one major question: Are humans the real monsters in our world?

For Fans of: Epic fantasy reads by authors like Kendare Blake (Three Dark Crowns), Susan Dennard (Truthwitch) and Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows).

Description: Kate Harker is a girl who isn’t afraid of the dark. She’s a girl who hunts monsters. And she’s good at it.

August Flynn is a monster who can never be human, no matter how much he once yearned for it. He’s a monster with a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.

Nearly six months after Kate and August were first thrown together, the war between the monsters and the humans is now a terrifying reality. In Verity, August has become the leader he never wished to be, and in Prosperity, Kate has become the ruthless hunter she always knew she could be. When a new monster emerges from the shadows—one who feeds on chaos and brings out its victim’s inner demons—it lures Kate home, where she finds more than she bargained for. She’ll face a monster she thought she killed, a boy she thought she knew and a demon all of her own making.

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1THE_HATE_U_GIVE_THOMAS.jpg 10. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Why You’ll Love It: If you even remotely follow the book world, you heard the buzz around Angie Thomas’ debut, The Hate U Give, long before it hit bookshelves. Thomas’ novel boasts both humor and a devastating story that will rip you apart. There’s so much to love in this timely book inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, and you’ll be talking about it for a long time.

For Fans of: American Street by Ibi Zoboi and All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely.

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.

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1GENTLEMANS_GUIDE_TO_VICE_LEE.jpg 9. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Why You’ll Love It: An exciting, historical YA novel that features teens zipping around Europe and getting into all sorts of trouble? Sounds fun. But with the added romance, as two boys trying to figure out whether their friendship is something more, Mackenzi Lee has written a book that will have you hooked. Adventure and swooning abound in this epic.

For Fans of: The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall and the historical thrills in books by authors like Anne Blankman (Traitor Angels) and Lindsey Smith (Sekret).

Description: Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits or waking up in the arms of strange women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

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1NORTH OF HAPPY.jpg 8. North of Happy by Adi Alsaid

Why You’ll Love It: This book is as delicious as the premise. A teen who wants to be a chef? Actual recipes at the start of every chapter? Yes, please. Adi Alsaid, author of Let’s Get Lost and Never Always Sometimes, writes lyrical YA novels. And his latest tackles love, loss and food with a literary flair you’ll adore.

For Fans of: The food-loving joy in Lucy Knisley’s graphic novel, Relish: My Life in the Kitchen, and the heart-wrenching (and often heartwarming) prose in Jeff Zentner’s Goodbye Days.

Description: Carlos Portillo has always led a privileged and sheltered life. A dual citizen of Mexico and the U.S., he lives in Mexico City with his wealthy family where he attends an elite international school. His friends and fellow rich kid-peers have plans to attend college somewhere in the U.S. or Europe and eventually take over their parents’ businesses. Always a rule-follower and a parent-pleaser, Carlos is more than happy to tread the well-worn path in front of him. He has always loved food and cooking, but his parents see it as just a hobby.

When his older brother, Felix—who has dropped out of college to live a life of travel—is tragically killed, Carlos begins hearing his brother’s voice, giving him advice and pushing him to rebel against his father’s plan for him. Worrying about his mental health, but knowing the voice is right, Carlos runs away to the U.S. and manages to secure a job with his favorite celebrity chef. As he works to improve his skills in the kitchen and pursue his dream, he begins to fall for his boss’s daughter—a fact that could end his career before it begins. Finally living for himself, Carlos must decide what’s most important to him and where his true path really lies.

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1THE_LIBRARY_OF_FATES_KHORANA.jpg 7. The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

Why You’ll Love It: Aditi Khorana’s Mirror in the Sky is an underrated sci-fi novel. She writes beautiful stories about feeling out of place in fantastic worlds, and with The Library of Fates, she does it again. The book follows two teens on a quest to change their fate against a backdrop of romance, magic, betrayal and politics.

For Fans of: YA fantasy novels like Roshani Chokshi’s The Star-Touched Queen and Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn.

Description: No one is entirely certain what brings the Emperor Sikander to Shalingar. Until now, the idyllic kingdom has been immune to his many violent conquests. To keep the visit friendly, Princess Amrita has offered herself as his bride, sacrificing everything—family, her childhood love and her freedom—to save her people. But her offer isn’t enough.

The unthinkable happens, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, who was kept by Sikander as a slave and managed to escape amid the chaos of a palace under siege. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on each other. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to go on a quest to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for each of them to reverse their fates. To go back to before Sikander took everything from them.

Stripped of all that she loves, caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, will Amrita be able to restore what was lost, or does another life—and another love—await?

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1YOURE_WELCOME_UNIVERSE_WHITNEY.jpg 6. You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

Why You’ll Love It: Not only does Whitney Gardner’s debut have a moving, hilarious story involving a teen street artist, it’s also packed with original artwork from the author. Gardner introduces readers to Julia, a deaf teenag artist, and follows the turf war that explodes between Julia and an unknown artist at her new school. How it all comes together makes for one enthralling read.

For Fans of: Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and 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.

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1GOODBYE_DAYS_ZENTNER.jpg 5. Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Why You’ll Love It: Zentner’s debut novel, The Serpent King, garnered a spot on Paste’s best YA books of 2016 list. And Goodbye Days was one of our most anticipated reads of 2017, for good reason. 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.

For Fans of: Books that give you a good cry, like novels by Courtney C. Stevens and Adam Silvera.

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?

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1FAR_FROM_THE_TREE_ROBIN.jpg 4. Far From the Tree by Robin Benway

Why You’ll Love It: Robin Benway’s latest book is a contemporary novel about three adoptees who find one another. As an adoptee, I absolutely adored this book. So it’s no surprise that this beautiful story won the National Book Award this year. Pick. It. Up.

For Fans of: Literary YA contemporary reads, like books by Adele Griffin and Jeff Zentner.

Description: Being the middle child has its ups and downs. But for Grace, an only child who was adopted at birth, discovering that she is a middle child is a different ride altogether. After putting her own baby up for adoption, she goes looking for her biological family, including:

Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio sister, who has a lot to say about their newfound family ties. Having grown up the snarky brunette in a house full of chipper redheads, she’s quick to search for traces of herself among these not-quite-strangers. And when her adopted family’s long-buried problems begin to explode to the surface, Maya can’t help but wonder where exactly it is that she belongs.

And Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother. After 17 years in the foster care system, he’s learned that there are no heroes, and secrets and fears are best kept close to the vest, where they can’t hurt anyone but him

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1UPSIDE_OF_UNREQUITED.jpg 3. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

Why You’ll Love It: One of Paste’s most anticipated YA books of the year is also one of the year’s best. If you loved Becky Albertalli’s debut, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, hang on tight. Because The Upside of Unrequited delivers more of her charming, hug-in-the-shape-of-a-book writing. From its diverse cast of characters to its exploration of friendship, body image and sexuality, there’s a lot to love in this heartfelt book of breakups and breakdowns.

For Fans of: Albertalli’s first novel, of course, along with Julie Murphy’s Ramona Blue and Lily Anderson’s books with sweetly geeky romantics.

Description: Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

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1STARFISH_BOWMAN.jpg 2. Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Why You’ll Love It: The best YA debut novel of the year, Starfish is a book you absolutely cannot miss. Bowman’s narrative is a challenging book to read, and that’s what makes it so good. It’s a heart-wrenching story that tackles abuse, racism and identity, making it one of the most compelling reads of the year.

For Fans of: Books that address identity, like Aditi Khorana’s Mirror in the Sky and Charlotte Huang’s Going Geek, blended with the emotional punch of novels by Courtney C. Stevens.

Description: Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity despite the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

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1WANT_CINDY_PON.jpg 1. Want by Cindy Pon

Why You’ll Love It: Hands down the best Young Adult novel of the year, Cindy Pon’s Want takes readers to a futuristic Taipei blanketed by the constant fog of smog and disease. The wealthy can live healthy lives in exo-suits, but Pon’s protagonist is not so lucky. From the Blade-Runner-esque world to the heart-pounding stakes, this book is impossible to put down. It’ll stick with you long after you’ve finished it, leaving you dying to read the upcoming sequel.

For Fans of: The environmental themes found in Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis, Empty by Suzanne Weyn and Breathe by Sarah Crossan, blended with the near-future sci-fi dystopia of Erin Bow (especially in The Prisoners of Peace series).

Description: Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits that protect them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without them suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother, who died as a result of the pollution, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary. Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. Against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is, or destroying his own heart?

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Looking for more reading recommendations? Check out our lists of the best novels, best nonfiction books, best short story collections and best audiobooks of 2017.

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