April is a month full of astonishing Young Adult books. From highly anticipated debuts (The Diminished) to exciting standalones (The Summer of Jordi Perez) to companion novels (Leah on the Offbeat), the best YA books of April will be brutal on your wallet but a treat to your bookshelves.
We’ve got fantasy, alternate history and swoon-filled contemporary novels. Let’s dig in.
1. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
Release Date: April 3rd from Balzer + Bray
Why You’ll Love It: Here it is: the book we’ve been waiting for all year is ready to leave you stunned. Blending alternate history, fantasy, zombies and horror, Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation is a masterpiece of Young Adult fiction. This is, hands down, my favorite novel of the year. Don’t sleep on this one.
For Fans of: Genre-blending romps through history, like Susan Dennard’s Something Strange and Deadly and Libba Bray’s The Diviners. But honestly, it’s hard to compare this book to anything.
Description: Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.
But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.
2. Munmun by Jesse Andrews
Release Date: April 3rd from Amulet Books
Why You’ll Love It: Perhaps the most unique YA title to hit shelves this year, Jesse Andrew’s latest is a departure from his previous fiction (like Me and Earl and the Dying Girl). Set in a contemporary fantasy world where your wealth determines your size, Munmun is a clever YA satire unlike any book you’ll read this year.
For Fans of: Experimental YA novels by authors like A.S. King.
Description: In an alternate reality a lot like our world, every person’s physical size is directly proportional to their wealth. The poorest of the poor are the size of rats, and billionaires are the size of skyscrapers.
Warner and his sister Prayer are destitute—and tiny. Their size is not just demeaning, but dangerous: day and night they face mortal dangers that bigger richer people don’t ever have to think about, from being mauled by cats to their house getting stepped on.
There are no cars or phones built small enough for them, or schools or hospitals, for that matter—there’s no point, when no one that little has any purchasing power, and when salaried doctors and teachers would never fit in buildings so small. Warner and Prayer know their only hope is to scale up, but how can two littlepoors survive in a world built against them?
3. The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding
Release Date: April 3rd from Sky Pony Press
Why You’ll Love It: Amy Spalding’s latest is easily the funniest YA contemporary novel I’ve read this year. Spalding consistently writes stories that are brimming with as much humor as they are heart. And this charming LGBTQ+ novel is exactly that: all humor and all heart.
For Fans of: Authors like Morgan Matson, Corey Ann Haydu and Jessica Verdi.
Description: Seventeen, fashion-obsessed and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people’s lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby has stayed focused on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a prized internship at her favorite local boutique, she’s thrilled to take her first step into her dream career. She doesn’t expect to fall for her fellow intern, Jordi Perez. Abby knows it’s a big no-no to fall for a colleague. She also knows that Jordi documents her whole life in photographs, while Abby would prefer to stay behind the scenes.
Then again, nothing is going as expected this summer. She’s competing against the girl she’s kissing to win a paid job at the boutique. She’s somehow managed to befriend Jax, a lacrosse-playing bro type who needs help in a project that involves eating burgers across L.A.’s eastside. Suddenly, she doesn’t feel like a sidekick. Is it possible Abby’s finally in her own story?
But when Jordi’s photography puts Abby in the spotlight, it feels like a betrayal, rather than a starring role. Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image that other people have of her?
4. The Diminished by Kaitlyn Sage Patterson
Release Date: April 10th from Harlequin Teen
Why You’ll Love It: Kaitlyn Sage Patterson’s fantasy novel boasts one hell of a hook: everyone lives their lives with a twin except for the “singleborn”, those born alone who rule the countryside, and the “diminished”, those who have lost a twin and go mad as a result. It’s a novel about family and identity that’s sure to captivate you from cover to cover.
For Fans of: This will fill the hole left in your heart by Elsie Chapman’s Dualed duology about twins. And if you’re a fan of high fantasy authors like Sabaa Tahir and Victoria Aveyard, you will inhale this book.
Description: In the Alskad Empire, nearly all are born with a twin, two halves to form one whole…yet some face the world alone.
A rare few are singleborn in each generation, and therefore given the right to rule by the gods and goddesses. Bo Trousillion is one of these few, born into the royal line and destined to rule. Though he has been chosen to succeed his great-aunt, Queen Runa, as the leader of the Alskad Empire, Bo has never felt equal to the grand future before him.
When one twin dies, the other usually follows, unable to face the world without their other half. Those who survive are considered diminished, doomed to succumb to the violent grief that inevitably destroys everyone whose twin has died. Such is the fate of Vi Abernathy, whose twin sister died in infancy. Raised by the anchorites of the temple after her family cast her off, Vi has spent her whole life scheming for a way to escape and live out what’s left of her life in peace.
As their 16th birthdays approach, Bo and Vi face very different futures—one a life of luxury as the heir to the throne, the other years of backbreaking work as a temple servant. But a long-held secret and the fate of the empire are destined to bring them together in a way they never could have imagined.
5. Given to the Earth by Mindy McGinnis
Release Date: April 10th from G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Why You’ll Love It: The final book in Mindy McGinnis’ Given Duet is one you don’t want to miss. We’re huge fans of her YA contemporary stories here at Paste, which deliver prose that shocks and wounds. With her debut fantasy series, McGinnis continues her streak of aweing readers, crafting a stunning world with violence and drama.
For Fans of: Authors of epic YA fantasy, like Victoria Schwabb, Heidi Heilig and Rachel Hartman.
Description: Although she was born to save the kingdom by sacrificing herself to the rising sea, Khosa’s marriage to King Vincent has redeemed her. As the Queen of Stille, she’s untouchable. But being Queen hasn’t stopped her heart from longing for the King’s stepbrother, Donil. And it hasn’t stopped her body from longing for the sea itself, which still calls for her.
While Khosa is made to choose between loyalty and love, Dara is on a mission for vengeance. Years ago, the Pietra slaughtered the entire Indiri race, leaving only Dara and her twin, Donil, alive. Now, spurned by King Vincent, Dara has embarked on a mission to spill the blood of Pietra’s leader, Witt, and will stop at nothing to show his people the wrath of the last Indiri.
As the waves crash ever closer to Stille, secrets are revealed, hearts are won and lost, and allegiances change like the shifting sand.
6. Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert
Release Date: April 10th from Disney-Hyperion
Why You’ll Love It: First of all, that cover? Absolutely stunning. Second of all, the writing is just as mesmerizing. An LGBTQ+ mystery that tackles friendship, family and first love, Picture Us in the Light delivers a complex story you’ll want to savor.
For Fans of: Books by authors like Adam Silvera and Caleb Roehrig.
Description: Danny has been an artist for as long as he can remember, and it seems his path is set, with a scholarship to RISD and his family’s blessing to pursue the career he’s always dreamed of. Still, contemplating a future without his best friend, Harry Wong, by his side makes Danny feel a panic he can barely put into words. Harry and Danny’s lives are deeply intertwined and as they approach the one-year anniversary of a tragedy that shook their friend group to its core, Danny can’t stop asking himself if Harry is truly in love with his girlfriend, Regina Chan.
When Danny digs deeper into his parents’ past, he uncovers a secret that disturbs the foundations of his family history and the carefully constructed facade his parents have maintained begins to crumble. With everything he loves in danger of being stripped away, Danny must face the ghosts of the past in order to build a future that belongs to him
7. Your Robot Dog Will Die by Arin Greenwood
Release Date:April 17th from Soho Teen
Why You’ll Love It: This book is weird, and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. Set in a world where dogs are nearly extinct and robotic replacements are popular, Arin Greenwood’s novel is a not-quite-post-apocalyptic Young Adult story about animals. And it’s delightful.
For Fans of: Maybe YA sci-fi about robots, like Boy Robot by Simon Curtis. It’s hard to say, because this novel is completely unique.
Description: In the mid-21st century, dogs are all but extinct. An experiment gone awry caused every canine on Earth to become hyperintelligent. When as a species they stopped wagging their tails, hysteria ensued—followed by a program of mass euthanasia. Now the only surviving dogs are relegated to a sanctuary off the coast of Florida: Dog Island. There, they are studied in a wild, feral and protected state. And there, too, their robot replacements are tested before being sold for mass consumption.
Seventeen-year-old Nano Miller was born and bred on Dog Island, as were her two best friends, Jack and Wolf. Life has been mostly wonderful except for annual heartbreak, when another robot dog is torn from her arms and replaced with the latest model. And more recently, there is the heartbreak of her brother, Billy, who vanished without a trace a year earlier. Wolf, there to console Nano, has suddenly become more than a friend. (Bad news for Jack.) With the excitement of a surprise first romance, Nano is happier than ever, in spite of her loss. But then she makes a discovery that upends everything she took for granted: a living puppy who wags its tail. And there is no way she is letting this dog go.
8. Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
Release Date: April 24th from Balzer + Bray
Why You’ll Love It: A companion novel to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (which we called one of the best YA novels of all time), Becky Albertalli’s latest book focuses on Simon’s best friend, Leah Burke. Whether you adored the first book or laughed and cried during the movie, Leah on the Offbeat is a must-read.
For Fans of: The hilarious, swoon-filled prose of authors like Amy Spalding, Lauren Morrill and Lily Anderson.
Description: When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.
So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.
9. Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
Release Date: April 24th from Wednesday Books
Why You’ll Love It: Because it’s like a YA Vikings; what else do you need? A brutal, thrilling novel, Sky in the Deep promises a story about family woven with many axes and epic battles.
For Fans of: Action-packed novels by authors like Kendare Blake and Jennifer A. Nielsen.
Description: Raised to be a warrior, 17-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.
Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.
She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.
10. White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig
Release Date: April 24th from Feiwel & Friends
Why You’ll Love It: The sophomore novel from the author of Paste’s favorite YA novel of 2016, White Rabbit delivers another intense mystery. A master of writing stories that are as thrilling as they are inclusive, Caleb Roehrig has written another gripping title that you’ll be dying to add to your shelves.
For Fans of: Exciting YA thrillers by authors like Lamar Giles, Stephanie Kuehn and Lynn Weingarten.
Description: Rufus Holt is having the worst night of his life. It begins with the reappearance of his ex-boyfriend, Sebastian—the guy who stomped his heart out like a spent cigarette. Just as Rufus is getting ready to move on, Sebastian turns up out of the blue, saying they need to “talk.” Things couldn’t get much worse, right?
But then Rufus gets a call from his sister April, begging for help. And then he and Sebastian find her, drenched in blood and holding a knife, beside the dead body of her boyfriend, Fox Whitney.
April swears she didn’t kill Fox, but Rufus knows her too well to believe she’s telling him the whole truth. April has something he needs, though, and her price is his help. Now, with no one to trust but the boy he wants to hate yet can’t stop loving, Rufus has one night to prove his sister’s innocence…or die trying.