March 2018 heralds scores of incredible Young Adult books, so choosing 10 for this list was a challenge. From some of the most highly anticipated debuts of the year (Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone and Emily X.R. Pan’s The Astonishing Color of After) to quiet standalones that are sure to leave a bruise on your heart (Ashley Woodfolk’s The Beauty that Remains), the books below are sure to captivate you.
So let’s explore a fraction of this month’s amazing books, and head to your local indie bookseller to learn about the other hits this month.
1. The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk
Release Date: March 6th from Delacorte Press
Why You’ll Love It: A contender for my favorite debut of 2018, Woodfolk’s novel is a story of friendship and loss unlike anything I’ve ever read. Boasting diverse characters and a heart-wrenching story, The Beauty That Remains is sure to leave a lasting impact on your heart. I was gripped from page one, and you will be, too.
For Fans of: Heartbreaking reads by authors like Courtney Stevens (Lies About the Truth), Brandy Colbert (Pointe) and Ashley Herring-Blake (Suffer Love).
Description: Autumn always knew exactly who she was—a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan always turned to writing love songs when his love life was a little less than perfect.
But when tragedy strikes each of them, somehow music is no longer enough. Now Logan can’t stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend. Shay is a music blogger struggling to keep it together. And Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered.
Despite the odds, one band’s music will reunite them and prove that after grief, beauty thrives in the people left behind
2. Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough
Release Date: March 6th from Dutton Books for Young Readers
Why You’ll Love It: Based on the true story of Artemisia Gentileschi, this stunning book-in-verse sweeps readers away to Rome in the 1600’s and can be inhaled in a day. I highly recommend devouring it quickly, and then sitting down to savor the beautiful language.
For Fans of: YA historical novels, like those by Stacey Lee (Secret of a Heart Note), and books in verse, like novels by Christine Heppermann (Ask Me How I Got Here).
Description: Her mother died when she was 12, and suddenly Artemisia Gentileschi had a stark choice: a life as a nun in a convent or a life grinding pigment for her father’s paint.
She chose paint.
By the time she was 17, Artemisia did more than grind pigment. She was one of Rome’s most talented painters, even if no one knew her name. But Rome in 1610 was a city where men took what they wanted from women, and in the aftermath of rape Artemisia faced another terrible choice: a life of silence or a life of truth, no matter the cost.
3. Boomerang by Helene Dunbar
Release Date: March 6th from Sky Pony Press
Why You’ll Love It: I’ve adored Helene Dunbar’s powerful writing since her earlier books, These Gentle Wounds and What Remains, so I’m beyond thrilled to be getting a new contemporary read from this queen of heartbreaking prose. And in this novel, Dunbar spins the trope of the runaway teen on its head, introducing readers to a teen who takes off and has everything work out for him…but now has to return home.
For Fans of: YA novels like Run by Kody Keplinger.
Description: Michael Sterling disappeared from his Maine town five years ago. Everyone assumed he was kidnapped. Everyone was wrong.
Now, at 17, he’s Sean Woodhouse. And he’s come “home,” to the last place he wants to be, to claim the small inheritance his grandparents promised him when he graduated high school, all so he can save Trip, the boy he developed an intense and complicated relationship with while he was away.
Sean has changed, but so has his old town and everyone in it. And knowing who he is and where he belongs is more confusing than ever. As his careful plans begin to crumble, so does everything he’s believed about his idyllic other life.
4. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Release Date: March 6th from Henry Holt and Co. Books for Young Readers
Why You’ll Love It: One of our most anticipated YA books of 2018 is finally here, and it’s set to make a giant splash as one of this year’s giant blockbusters. Already optioned to be a movie and sold into scores of languages, Adeyemi’s imaginative debut is brimming with magic and luscious world building. Get ready for the next big author in YA, friends.
For Fans of: Books by Sabaa Tahir (An Ember in the Ashes) and Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows).
Description: Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.
Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.
Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.
5. Genesis by Brendan Reichs
Release Date: March 6th from G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Why You’ll Love It: I love a good genre-blending YA novel, and Reichs’ Project Nemesis series delivers exactly that. Throw some sci-fi, thriller and mystery elements together, and you’ve got a series that’s packed full of action and surprises. Nemesis kicked off the series last year, and now Genesis is one of my most anticipated sequels of 2018.
For Fans of: Reichs’ Virals series, of course, and shifting points of view books like Victoria Schwab’s This Savage Song.
Description: Noah Livingston knows he is destined to survive. The 64 members of Fire Lake’s sophomore class are trapped in a place where morals have no meaning, and zero rules apply. But Noah’s deaths have trained him—hardened him—to lead the strongest into the future . . . whatever that may be. And at any cost.
Min Wilder knows that survival alone isn’t enough. Trapped in a violent world where brute force passes for leadership, it’s tempting to lay back and let everyone else fight it out. But Min’s instincts rebel against allowing others to decide who lives and who dies. She’s ready to fight for what she believes in. And against whomever might stand in her way.
6. The Midnights by Sarah Nicole Smetana
Release Date: March 6th from HarperTeen
Why You’ll Love It: This music-filled YA novel goes straight for the heart. I was lucky enough to read a really early copy of this one, and it absolutely won me over with a big-hearted story of family and music. Don’t sleep on this one. It will stick with you.
For Fans of: Music-filled YA novels by authors like Tara Kelly, Lauren Morrill and Nina LaCour.
Description: Susannah Hayes has never been in the spotlight, but she dreams of following her father, a former rock star, onto the stage. As senior year begins, she’s more interested in composing impressive chord progressions than college essays, certain that if she writes the perfect song, her father might finally look up from the past long enough to see her. But when he dies unexpectedly her dreams—and her reality—shatter.
While Susannah struggles with grief, her mother uproots them to a new city. There, Susannah realizes she can reinvent herself however she wants: a confident singer-songwriter, member of a hip band, embraced by an effortlessly cool best friend. But Susannah is not the only one keeping secrets, and soon, harsh revelations threaten to unravel her life once again.
7. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Release Date: March 6th from HarperTeen
Why You’ll Love It: This is a YA novel in verse about a slam poet, and it’s written by a slam poet. Powerful and beautifully written, you’ll devour every page of this gripping book.
For Fans of: YA books in verse, like Christine Heppermann’s Ask Me How I Got Here and Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming.
Description: Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.
But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.
So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.
Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.
8. The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan
Release Date:March 20th from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Why You’ll Love It: This hefty YA novel clocks in at nearly 500 pages, and I wanted it to be longer. It’s a heartbreaking novel about family, friends and love, all crafted with a splash of magic. This beautiful book is unlike anything you’ll read this year.
For Fans of: The magic and beauty found in novels by Zoraida Cordova (Labyrinth Lost) and Anna-Marie McLemore (Wild Beauty).
Description: Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.
Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.
9. Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles
Release Date: March 20th from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Why You’ll Love It: This is a debut you don’t want to miss. A novel about police brutality and family, Tyler Johnson Was Here follows a teenager who loses his twin brother in a police shooting and has to find a way to hold his family together.
For Fans of: Angie Thomas (The Hate U Give) and Jason Reynolds (Long Way Down).
Description: When Marvin Johnson’s twin, Tyler, goes to a party, Marvin decides to tag along to keep an eye on his brother. But what starts as harmless fun turns into a shooting, followed by a police raid.
The next day, Tyler has gone missing, and it’s up to Marvin to find him. But when Tyler is found dead, a video leaked online tells an even more chilling story: Tyler has been shot and killed by a police officer. Terrified as his mother unravels and mourning a brother who is now a hashtag, Marvin must learn what justice and freedom really mean.
10. The Way the Light Bends by Cordelia Jensen
Release Date: March 27th from Philomel Books
Why You’ll Love It: This is another novel in verse from Jensen, and my goodness, it is so very welcome. Tackling adoption and race, The Way the Light Bends is a moving story about the complexities of family and the quest for identity. This hits close to home for this reader, and I adored every page.
For Fans of: The other two novels in verse on this list, as well as Jensen’s debut, Skyscraping.
Description: Virtual twins Linc and Holly were once extremely close. But while artistic, creative Linc is her parents’ daughter biologically, it’s smart, popular Holly, adopted from Ghana as a baby, who exemplifies the family’s high-achieving model of academic success.
Linc is desperate to pursue photography, to find a place of belonging, and for her family to accept her for who she is, despite her surgeon mother’s constant disapproval and her growing distance from Holly. So when she comes up with a plan to use her photography interests and skills to do better in school—via a project based on Seneca Village, a long-gone village in the space that now holds Central Park, where all inhabitants, regardless of race, lived together harmoniously—Linc is excited and determined to prove that her differences are assets, that she has what it takes to make her mother proud. But when a long-buried family secret comes to light, Linc must decide whether her mother’s love is worth obtaining.