April is a month of transition: winter finally gives way to spring, the days slowly lengthen, and the idea of sitting outside with a good book becomes something that might just be a reality. (Or, at least, is a heck of a lot closer than it was in March.) Luckily, this month’s young adult new releases have something for everyone—and feel even more eclectic and interesting than usual as the publishing industry gears up for the flood of summer releases headed our way in the next few months.
Here are our picks for the best young adult books hitting shelves this April, which run the gamut from twisty teen thrillers and Romeo and Juliet retellings to historical fiction shot through with magic realism. There’s something for everyone, is what we’re saying.
All the Best Liars by Amelia Kahaney
Release Date: April 5 from Flatiron Books
Why You’ll Love It: A dark coming-of-age thriller about obsession, manipulation, and the messy friendships forged by shared secrets, if the description of this story gives you major Pretty Little Liars vibes, well. You’re not alone.
Publisher’s Description: Best friends Syd, Rain, and Brie grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in the stifling California desert, desperately wishing for a way out.
In the end, each of them will escape—but not in the way they expect. One will do it by dying, another by lying, a third by taking the fall. A deadly fire is set two weeks before the end of their senior year of high school and nothing will ever be the same.
Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak by Charlie Jane Anders
Release Date: April 5 from Tor Teen
Why You’ll Love It: The sequel to Victories Greater Than Death thoroughly improves on its solid predecessor, with more action and more complex character dynamics.
Publisher’s Description: They’ll do anything to be the people they were meant to be ? even journey into the heart of evil. Rachael Townsend is the first artist ever to leave Earth and journey out into the galaxy ? but after an encounter with an alien artifact, she can’t make art at all Elza Monteiro is determined to be the first human to venture inside the Palace of Scented Tears and compete for the chance to become a princess ? except that inside the palace, she finds the last person she ever wanted to see again. Tina Mains is studying at the Royal Space Academy with her friends, but she’s not the badass space hero everyone was expecting.
Soon Rachael is journeying into a dark void, Elza is on a deadly spy mission, and Tina is facing an impossible choice that could change all her friends’ lives forever.
Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor
Release Date: April 5 from Razorbill
Why You’ll Love It: A dark YA fantasy about a Belle Époque-inspired hotel that can magically change its location every night, Hotel Magnifique follows the story of Jani and Zosa, two teens in a small port town who dream of a life filled with adventure. So when the opportunity arises to work at the infamous magical hotel, they leap at the opportunity.
Unfortunately, things are much more Hotel California inside than either girl expected, and as soon as they sign their contracts they realize almost everything they’ve heard about this supposedly incredible opportunity is a lie. Full of immersive worldbuilding and a few genuine surprises, even for those of us that read a lot in this genre.
Publisher’s Description: All her life, Jani has dreamed of Elsewhere. Just barely scraping by with her job at a tannery, she’s resigned to a dreary life in the port town of Durc, caring for her younger sister Zosa. That is, until the Hotel Magnifique comes to town.
The hotel is legendary not only for its whimsical enchantments but also for its ability to travel—appearing in a different destination every morning. While Jani and Zosa can’t afford the exorbitant costs of a guest’s stay, they can interview to join the staff, and are soon whisked away on the greatest adventure of their lives. But once inside, Jani quickly discovers their contracts are unbreakable and that beneath the marvelous glamour, the hotel is hiding dangerous secrets.
With the vexingly handsome doorman Bel as her only ally, Jani embarks on a mission to unravel the mystery of the magic at the heart of the hotel and free Zosa—and the other staff—from the cruelty of the ruthless maître d’hôtel. To succeed, she’ll have to risk everything she loves, but failure would mean a fate far worse than never returning home.
Very Bad People by Kit Frick
Release Date: April 5 from Margaret K. Elderberry Books
Why You’ll Love It: A dark academia teen thriller touted as perfect for fans of books like People Like Us, the story follows a young woman determined to find out the truth about the mysterious accident that killed her mother, a search that will lead her to uncover a powerful secret society at her new boarding school, and a dangerous game of revenge.
Publisher’s Description: Six years ago, Calliope Bolan’s mother drove the family van into a lake with her three daughters inside. The girls escaped, but their mother drowned, and the truth behind the “accident” remains a mystery Calliope is determined to solve. Now sixteen, she transfers to Tipton Academy, the same elite boarding school her mother once attended. Tipton promises a peek into the past and a host of new opportunities—including a coveted invitation to join Haunt and Rail, an exclusive secret society that looms over campus like a legend.
Calliope accepts, stepping into the exhilarating world of the “ghosts,” a society of revolutionaries fighting for social justice. But when Haunt and Rail commits to exposing a dangerous person on campus, it becomes clear that some ghosts define justice differently than others.
As the society’s tactics escalate, Calliope uncovers a possible link between Haunt and Rail and her mother’s deadly crash. Now, she must question what lengths the society might go to in order to see a victory—and if the secret behind her mother’s death could be buried here at Tipton.
This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke
Release Date: April 5 from Knopf’s Books for Young Readers
Why You’ll Love It: A truly unique mix of historical fiction and magic, this otherworldly tale of ??the revolutionary struggle to free Hungary from the post-Stalin Soviet Union is like nothing you’ve read in the YA space lately. (Curious? You can read an excerpt here.)
Publisher’s Description: In the middle of Budapest, there is a river. Csilla knows the river is magic. During WWII, the river kept her family safe when they needed it most—safe from the Holocaust. But that was before the Communists seized power. Before her parents were murdered by the Soviet police. Before Csilla knew things about her father’s legacy that she wishes she could forget.
Now Csilla keeps her head down, planning her escape from this country that has never loved her the way she loves it. But her carefully laid plans fall to pieces when her parents are unexpectedly, publicly exonerated. As the protests in other countries spur talk of a larger revolution in Hungary, Csilla must decide if she believes in the promise and magic of her deeply flawed country enough to risk her life to help save it, or if she should let it burn to the ground.
An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X. R. Pan
Release Date: April 12 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Why You’ll Love It: The latest novel from the author of The Astonishing Color of After, An Arrow to the Moon mixes Shakespearian tragedy with Chinese folklore to tell the story of two star-crossed 1990s teens who are pressured to stay apart by their Taiwanese emigrant parents. But the more external circumstances conspire against them, the more these signs drive them closer together.
Publisher’s Description: Hunter Yee has perfect aim with a bow and arrow, but all else in his life veers wrong. He’s sick of being haunted by his family’s past mistakes. The only things keeping him from running away are his little brother, a supernatural wind, and the bewitching girl at his new high school.
Luna Chang dreads the future. Graduation looms ahead, and her parents’ expectations are stifling. When she begins to break the rules, she finds her life upended by the strange new boy in her class, the arrival of unearthly fireflies, and an ominous crack spreading across the town of Fairbridge.
As Hunter and Luna navigate their families’ enmity and secrets, everything around them begins to fall apart. All they can depend on is their love…but time is running out, and fate will have its way.
This May End Badly by Samantha Markum
Release Date: April 12 from Wednesday Books
Why You’ll Love It: A charming YA rom-com that mixes a delightful array of tropes including enemies to lovers and fake dating, the story follows the centuries old-rivalry between two boarding schools, the prank war between them, and a girl who plots to win it before their two institutions become one.
Publisher’s Description: Pranking mastermind Doe and her motley band of Weston girls are determined to win the century-long war against Winfield Academy before the clock ticks down on their senior year. But when their headmistress announces that The Weston School will merge with its rival the following year, their longtime feud spirals into chaos.
To protect the school that has been her safe haven since her parents’ divorce, Doe puts together a plan to prove once and for all that Winfield boys and Weston girls just don’t mix, starting with a direct hit at Three, Winfield’s boy king and her nemesis. In a desperate move to win, Doe strikes a bargain with Three’s cousin, Wells: If he fake dates her to get under Three’s skin, she’ll help him get back his rightful family heirloom from Three.
As the pranks escalate, so do her feelings for her fake boyfriend, and Doe spins lie after lie to keep up her end of the deal. But when a teacher long suspected of inappropriate behavior messes with a younger Weston girl, Doe has to decide what’s more important: winning a rivalry, or joining forces to protect something far more critical than a prank war legacy.
You Should Have Seen This Coming by Shani Mitchell
Release Date: April 12 from Swoon Reads
Why You’ll Love It: A high stakes YA thriller about a teenage girl who can see visions of the past who must use her gift to rescue a classmate who can see the future, You Should Have Seen This Coming is an intriguing mix of genres, incorporating magical realism, mystery tropes, and a dollop of supernatural fantasy for an end result that’s completely unexpected.
Publisher’s Description: Hayden sees the past. Just touching an object will occasionally give her flashes of the previous owner’s memories. And if that memory happens to be a deeply hidden secret, then she has no problem making you pay for your crime, in cash.
Cassie sees the future, and it sucks. She will randomly wake up from dreams filled with disasters that she feels compelled to stop, and she would really like to stop watching her boyfriend fall in love with someone else!
But when Cassie tries to warn Hayden that her latest blackmailing scheme is a trap, she knows she’s really in trouble. All her visions warn her of the upcoming kidnapping, nothing she does stops it. And it’s all Hayden’s fault!
Can Hayden’s gift help her find Cassie before it’s too late?
The Genesis Wars by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Release Date: April 19 from Simon Pulse
Why You’ll Love It: Akemi Dawn Bowman’s was a dramatic tale of humanity’s afterlife being taken over by a Siri-esque personal assistant who essentially enslaved human souls before they could pass over to whatever comes next, so one has to wonder where a sequel could possibly go next. The answer: Full on rebellion, of course.
Publisher’s Description: It’s been ten months since Nami narrowly escaped the Four Courts and Ophelia’s wrath. Ten months since she was betrayed by someone she once considered a friend. Someone she poured her heart out to. And now her family here in the afterlife are gone, captured, and Nami is utterly alone.
On the run, only steps ahead of the AI forces pursuing her, and desperate to free her friends, Nami must take the allies she can find, even if she doesn’t fully trust them. And as she tests the limits of her own power, she must also reckon with the responsibility that entails.
Stakes are high as Nami navigates old enemies, unexpected allies, and an ever-changing landscape filled with dangers and twists at every turn. Along the way, she’ll learn powerful truths about who she can trust and the sacrifices that must be made in order to fight for a better, freer world for all.
Lacy Baugher Milas is the Books Editor at Paste Magazine, but loves nerding out about all sorts of pop culture. You can find her on Twitter @LacyMB.