The best Young Adult books of February include action-packed reads, heartbreaking novels of lost love, epic fantasy tales…and maybe one swoony book (we did celebrate Valentine’s Day, after all). Three of the titles below also earned spots on our most anticipated YA novels of 2019 list, so you’re in for a treat!
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
Release Date: February 5th from Balzer + Bray
Why You’ll Love It: The second novel from Angie Thomas, author of the absolute phenomenon The Hate U Give, is finally here! At the time of this writing, On the Come Up and The Hate U Give hold the #1 and #2 spots on the New York Times Young Adult bestseller list, which should tell you all you need to know. Get. This. Book.
For Fans of: Authors like Tiffany Jackson and Brandy Colbert.
Description: Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill. But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral…for all the wrong reasons.
Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn’t just want to make it—she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.
The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf
Release Date: February 5th from Salaam Reads
Why You’ll Love It: You’ve never read a YA novel quite like this one. Set during the race riots in 1969 Malaysia, The Weight of Our Sky is a stunning piece of literary fiction. Alkaf’s novel does more than tell a powerful story of resilience and friendship—it paints a picture of a turbulent time that isn’t discussed enough.
For Fans of: Historical fiction authors like Stacey Lee and Gene Luen Yang.
Description: Melati Ahmad looks like your typical moviegoing, Beatles-obsessed 16-year-old. Unlike most other 16-year-olds though, Mel also believes that she harbors a djinn inside her, one who threatens her with horrific images of her mother’s death unless she adheres to an elaborate ritual of counting and tapping to keep him satisfied.
But there are things that Melati can’t protect her mother from. On the evening of May 13th, 1969, racial tensions in her home city of Kuala Lumpur boil over. The Chinese and Malays are at war, and Mel and her mother become separated by a city in flames.
With a 24-hour curfew in place and all lines of communication down, it will take the help of a Chinese boy named Vincent and all of the courage and grit in Melati’s arsenal to overcome the violence on the streets, her own prejudices, and her djinn’s surging power to make it back to the one person she can’t risk losing.
Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard
Release Date: February 12th from Tor Teen
Why You’ll Love It: If you’ve been keeping up with Susan Dennard’s fantastic Witchlands series, you’ll be familiar with a Bloodwitch named Aeduan. The third book in Dennard’s New York Times bestselling fantasy series gives Aeduan his own gripping story. Unfamiliar with the books? Scoop up Truthwitch and prepare to fall in love.
For Fans of: Authors who write epic fantasy novels with great banter and memorable characters (like Leigh Bardugo).
Description: High in a snowy mountain range, a monastery that holds more than just faith clings to the side of a cliff. Below, thwarted by a lake, a bloodthirsty horde of raiders await the coming of winter and the frozen path to destroy the sanctuary and its secrets.
The Bloodwitch Aeduan has teamed up with the Threadwitch Iseult and the magical girl Owl to stop the destruction. But to do so, he must confront his own father and his past.
Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto
Release Date: February 12th from Simon Pulse
Why You’ll Love It: A thrilling fantasy full of complicated families, epic betrayals and fiery phoenixes, Crown of Feathers is not to be missed. This gorgeous novel kicks off your new favorite series. (You can view the book jacket’s stunning wraparound art here.)
For Fans of: Authors like Sabaa Tahir and Natalie C. Parker.
Description: In a world ruled by fierce warrior queens, a grand empire was built upon the backs of Phoenix Riders—legendary heroes who soared through the sky on wings of fire—until a war between two sisters ripped it all apart.
Sixteen years later, Veronyka is a war orphan who dreams of becoming a Phoenix Rider from the stories of old. After a shocking betrayal from her controlling sister, Veronyka strikes out alone to find the Riders—even if that means disguising herself as a boy to join their ranks.
Just as Veronyka finally feels like she belongs, her sister turns up and reveals a tangled web of lies between them that will change everything. And meanwhile, the new empire has learned of the Riders’ return and intends to destroy them once and for all.
The Art of Losing by Lizzy Mason
Release Date: February 19th from Soho Teen
Why You’ll Love It: A story of family and sisterhood, Lizzy Mason’s debut novel is a story that tackles grief and pain with so much heart. It’s a powerful read, so don’t miss out on this one.
For Fans of: Authors like Courtney Stevens and Rebecca Phillips.
Description: On one terrible night, 17-year-old Harley Langston’s life changes forever. At a party she discovers her younger sister, Audrey, hooking up with her boyfriend, Mike—and she abandons them both in a rage. When Mike drunkenly attempts to drive Audrey home, he crashes and Audrey ends up in a coma. Now Harley is left with guilt, grief, pain and the undeniable truth that her ex-boyfriend (who is relatively unscathed) has a drinking problem.
So it’s a surprise that she finds herself reconnecting with Raf, a neighbor and childhood friend who’s recently out of rehab and still wrestling with his own demons. At first Harley doesn’t want to get too close to him. But as Audrey awakens and slowly recovers, Raf starts to show Harley a path forward that she never would have believed possible—one guided by honesty, forgiveness and redemption
The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried by Shaun David Hutchinson
Release Date: February 19th from Simon Pulse
Why You’ll Love It: To read Shaun David Hutchinson is to read a novel that’s weird in the best way possible. From stories of aliens to virgin births to vanishing friends, his books are some of the most unique YA novels being published, and you’ll adore every word. His latest is no exception, exploring what happens when a dear friend (kind of) comes back to life.
For Fans of: Authors like A.S. King
Description: Dino doesn’t mind spending time with the dead. His parents own a funeral home, and death is literally the family business. He’s just not used to them talking back. Until Dino’s ex-best friend July dies suddenly—and then comes back to life. Except not exactly. Somehow July is not quite alive, and not quite dead.
As Dino and July attempt to figure out what’s happening, they must also confront why and how their friendship ended so badly, and what they have left to understand about themselves, each other and all those grand mysteries of life.
The Beauty of the Moment by Tanaz Bhathena
Release Date: February 26th from Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers
Why You’ll Love It: Tanaz Bhathena’s debut, A Girl Like That, was an absolute favorite last year! Her latest promises to be another novel of clashing cultures and challenging relationships, and you’ll want to get your hands on this one.
For Fans of: Authors like Lamar Giles and Maureen Goo.
Description: Susan is the new girl—she’s sharp, driven and strives to meet her parents’ expectations of excellence. Malcolm is the bad boy—he started raising hell at age 15, after his mom died of cancer, and has had a reputation ever since.
Susan’s parents are on the verge of divorce. Malcolm’s dad is a known adulterer. Susan hasn’t told anyone, but she wants to be an artist. Malcolm doesn’t know what he wants—until he meets her.
Love is messy and families are messier, but in spite of their burdens, Susan and Malcolm fall for each other. The ways they drift apart and come back together are testaments to family, culture and being true to who you are.
Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte
Release Date: February 26th from G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Why You’ll Love It: There’s been a lot of hype surrounding this exciting fantasy debut from Astrid Scholte, who worked on visual effects for movies like Avatar, District 9 and more. When an author possesses got the kind of imagination that helps craft films like that, you can bet her novel is just as stunning.
For Fans of: Fantasy novels with politics (from authors like Kendare Blake) and heists (like Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows).
Description: Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but she’s one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara’s most enlightened region, Eonia. He runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie both find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara’s queens dead.
With no other choices and on the run from Keralie’s former employer, the two decide to join forces, endeavoring to discover who has killed the queens and save their own lives in the process. When their reluctant partnership blooms into a tenuous romance, they must overcome their own dark secrets in hopes of a future together that seemed impossible just days before. But first they have to stay alive and untangle the secrets behind the nation’s four dead queens.
Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner
Release Date: February 26th from Crown Books for Young Readers
Why You’ll Love It: Jeff Zentner’s quirky novel about friendship, family and changing dreams is already one of my favorite books of 2019. His first two novels (The Serpent King and Goodbye Days) delivered delightful splashes of humor, and his latest cranks that up with joy and romance…as well as his trademark moments of heartbreak.
For Fans of: Authors like Bryan Bliss and John Green.
Description: Every Friday night, best friends Delia and Josie become Rayne Ravenscroft and Delilah Darkwood, hosts of the campy creature feature show Midnite Matinee on the local cable station TV Six. But with the end of senior year quickly approaching, the girls face tough decisions about their futures.
Josie has been dreading graduation, as she tries to decide whether to leave for a big university and chase her dream career in mainstream TV. And Lawson, one of the show’s guest performers, a talented MMA fighter with weaknesses for pancakes, fantasy novels and Josie, is making her tough decision even harder.
Scary movies are the last connection Delia has to her dad, who abandoned the family years ago. If Midnite Matinee becomes a hit, maybe he’ll see it and want to be a part of her life again. And maybe Josie will stay with the show instead of leaving her behind, too.
As the tug-of-war between growing up and growing apart tests the bonds of their friendship, Josie and Delia start to realize that an uncertain future can be both monstrous…and momentous.
We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia
Release Date: February 26th from Katherine Tegen Books
Why You’ll Love It: Tehlor Kay Meija’s debut is a stunning piece of dystopian fiction, boasting diverse characters, social commentary and gorgeous prose. We Set the Dark on Fire is the first book in a duology, and you’ll be left hungry for the next one from this author to watch. (You can read an excerpt from the novel here.)
For Fans of: Authors like Malinda Lo and Lauren Oliver.
Description: At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children, but both are promised a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class. Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her bright future depends upon no one discovering her darkest secret—that her pedigree is a lie. Her parents sacrificed everything to obtain forged identification papers so Dani could rise above her station. Now that her marriage to an important politico’s son is fast approaching, she must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society, where famine and poverty rule supreme.
On her graduation night, Dani seems to be in the clear, despite the surprises that unfold. But nothing prepares her for all the difficult choices she must make, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio. Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or to give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?