The Best New YA Books of March 2022Books Lists young adult
With spring drawing near, it feels like new books are busting out all over. Whether your genre of choice is complex fantasy, comforting romance, or contemporary book club picks, there are dozens of exciting new titles hitting shelves everywhere you look. (And way too little time to actually sit down and read any of them.)
So, you’re welcome in advance for this YA list, which runs the gamut from heart-wrenching to exhilarating, and includes everything from a hard swerve into contemporary fiction from a well-known fantasy writer to magical fairytale retellings and Jane Austen-esque romantic comedies. These books—listed below in order of release date—are sure to punch up your spring TBR pile.
All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir
Release Date: March 1 from Razorbill
Why You’ll Love It: Though you probably already know of author Sabaa Tahir thanks to her epic YA fantasy series, An Ember in the Ashes, you won’t want to miss her ferocious and moving contemporary YA debut. All My Rage is a story about love and grief, forgiveness and, yes, rage, the sort of deep-seated fury that inevitably sweeps through a person the moment you realize that, despite what you were perhaps told in school, the world isn’t always set up to reward those who work the hardest and that simple bad luck can derail even the most meticulously laid plans. The story alternates between the perspectives of two Muslim teens, Salahudin and Noor, who want nothing more than to escape their stifling small California town, as well as Sal’s immigrant mother Misbah, who all find themselves struggling against systemic forces (racism, poverty, drug abuse) that impact their lives beyond their control.
Publisher’s Description: Lahore, Pakistan. Then. Misbah is a dreamer and storyteller, newly married to Toufiq in an arranged match. After their young life is shaken by tragedy, they come to the United States and open the Cloud’s Rest Inn Motel, hoping for a new start.
Juniper, California. Now. Salahudin and Noor are more than best friends; they are family. Growing up as outcasts in the small desert town of Juniper, California, they understand each other the way no one else does. Until The Fight, which destroys their bond with the swift fury of a star exploding.
Now, Sal scrambles to run the family motel as his mother Misbah’s health fails and his grieving father loses himself to alcoholism. Noor, meanwhile, walks a harrowing tightrope: working at her wrathful uncle’s liquor store while hiding the fact that she’s applying to college so she can escape him—and Juniper—forever.
When Sal’s attempts to save the motel spiral out of control, he and Noor must ask themselves what friendship is worth—and what it takes to defeat the monsters in their pasts and the ones in their midst.
The Lost Dreamer by Lizz Huerta
Release Date: March 1 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Why You’ll Love It: Set in world inspired by anciet Mesoamerica, The Lost Dreamer is like nothing else on this list. Lush, atmospheric and centered on a line of powerful female seers with the ability to dream the truth. Huerta’s incredible command of language—-the rich descriptions of the Dreams the seers experience alone—are reason enough to read this. (But they’re far from the only one.)
Publisher’s Description: Indir is a Dreamer, descended from a long line of seers; able to see beyond reality, she carries the rare gift of Dreaming truth. But when the beloved king dies, his son has no respect for this time-honored tradition. King Alcan wants an opportunity to bring the Dreamers to a permanent end—an opportunity Indir will give him if he discovers the two secrets she is struggling to keep. As violent change shakes Indir’s world to its core, she is forced to make an impossible choice: fight for her home or fight to survive.
Saya is a seer, but not a Dreamer—she has never been formally trained. Her mother exploits her daughter’s gift, passing it off as her own as they travel from village to village, never staying in one place too long. Almost as if they’re running from something. Almost as if they’re being hunted. When Saya loses the necklace she’s worn since birth, she discovers that seeing isn’t her only gift—and begins to suspect that everything she knows about her life has been a carefully-constructed lie. As she comes to distrust the only family she’s ever known, Saya will do what she’s never done before, go where she’s never been, and risk it all in the search of answers.
Cinder & Glass by Melissa de la Cruz
Release Date: March 8 from G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Why You’ll Love It: Those of us (cough me cough) who are eternally suckers for fairytale retellings will enjoy this French spin on Cinderella, set in the court of Versailles in which a young girl plots to escape her cruel stepmother by wedding a handsome prince, even if she’s in love with someone else. The fact that the story comes from popular YA author Melissa de la Cruz—who wrote such hits as the Blue Bloods and Alex & Eliza series—is the icing on the cake.
Publisher’s Description: 1682. The king sends out an invitation to all the maidens in France: their presence is requested at a number of balls and events that will be held in honor of the dashing Prince Louis, who must choose a bride.
Cendrillon de Louvois has more grace, beauty, and charm than anyone else in France. While she was once the darling child of the king’s favorite adviser, her father’s death has turned her into the servant of her stepmother and cruel stepsisters—and at her own chateau, too!
Cendrillon—now called Cinder—manages to evade her stepmother and attend the ball, where she catches the eye of the handsome Prince Louis and his younger brother Auguste.
Even though Cendrillon has an immediate aversion to Louis, and a connection with Auguste, the only way to escape her stepmother is to compete with the other women at court for the Prince’s hand.
Soon, as Cendrillon glows closer to Auguste and dislikes the prince more and more, she will have to decide if she can bear losing the boy she loves in order to leave a life she hates.
Daughter by Kate McLaughlin
Release Date: March 8 from Wednesday Books
Why You’ll Love It: A dark, surprisingly moving tale about a teen who discovers the father she never knew is an infamous serial murderer, a monster will only reveal the identities and locations of his remaining victims if he’s given the chance to meet with her before he dies. Packed with great characers and a plot that often feels a little too much like real life, Daughter also manages to ask thougthful questions about complicity, agency, and what justice really looks like.
Publisher’s Description: Scarlet’s life is pretty average. Overly protective mom. Great friends. Cute boy she’s interested in. And a father she’s never known – until she does.
When the FBI show up at Scarlet’s door, she is shocked to learn her father is infamous serial killer Jeffrey Robert Lake. And now, he’s dying and will only give the names and locations of his remaining victims to the one person, the daughter he hasn’t seen since she was a baby.
Scarlet’s mother has tried to protect her from Lake’s horrifying legacy, but there’s no way they can escape the media firestorm that erupts when they come out of hiding. Or the people who blame Scarlet for her father’s choices. When trying to do the right thing puts her life in danger, Scarlet is faced with a choice – go back into hiding or make the world see her as more than a monster’s daughter.
Lakelore by Ann-Marie McLemore
Release Date: March 8 by Fiewel and Friends
Why You’ll Love It: The author of books like Dark and Deepest Red and Blanca & Roja, Ann-Marie McLemore has already established a well-deserved reputation for telling beautifully written, diverse fairytales that effortlessly incorporate identities not often found in YA fiction. In Lakelore, two trans nonbinary Mexican-American teens discover a magical world under the nearby lake, a vivid, magical place that has helped both find solace from a world that they have often had problems navigating. Gorgeous language, rich descriptions of everything from the magical underwater realms to human emotion, and a pair of deeply likable protagonists.
Publisher’s Description: Everyone who lives near the lake knows the stories about the world underneath it, an ethereal landscape rumored to be half-air, half-water. But Bastián Silvano and Lore Garcia are the only ones who’ve been there. Bastián grew up both above the lake and in the otherworldly space beneath it. Lore’s only seen the world under the lake once, but that one encounter changed their life and their fate.
Then the lines between air and water begin to blur. The world under the lake drifts above the surface. If Bastián and Lore don’t want it bringing their secrets to the surface with it, they have to stop it, and to do that, they have to work together. There’s just one problem: Bastián and Lore haven’t spoken in seven years, and working together means trusting each other with the very things they’re trying to hide.
Blood Scion by Deborah Falaye
Release Date: March 8 from Harper Teen
Why You’ll Love It: A rich fantasy story about a young girl descended from ancient Orisha gods, Blood Scion ticks a lot of boxes that will feel familiar to those who’ve read similar series like A Song of Wraiths and Ruin or Children of Blood and Bone. Yet, it’s setting and premise, inspired by Yoruba-Nigerian mythology, is fascinating and exacxtly what YA fantasy needs more of right now, and the story’s unique twist—that young Sloane is planning to use her forced army training to prepare herself to fight back from within the system that oppresses her—is a good one.
Publisher’s Description: Fifteen-year-old Sloane can incinerate an enemy at will—she is a Scion, a descendant of the ancient Orisha gods.
Under the Lucis’ brutal rule, her identity means her death if her powers are discovered. But when she is forcibly conscripted into the Lucis army on her fifteenth birthday, Sloane sees a new opportunity: to overcome the bloody challenges of Lucis training, and destroy them from within.
Sloane rises through the ranks and gains strength but, in doing so, risks something greater: losing herself entirely, and becoming the very monster that she ahbors.
One for All by Lillie Lainoff
Release Date: March 8 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Why You’ll Love It: Look, if the concept “OwnVoices gender-bent YA retelling of The Three Musketeers” doesn’t hook you from the jump, I don’t know what to tell you. But Lillie Lainoff’s debut novel One for All features a fierce female lead who battles chronic illness to chase her dream of becoming a Musketeer and feels like almost nothing else on shelves at the moment.
Publisher’s Description: Tania de Batz is most herself with a sword in her hand. Everyone in town thinks her near-constant dizziness makes her weak, nothing but “a sick girl”; even her mother is desperate to marry her off for security. But Tania wants to be strong, independent, a fencer like her father—a former Musketeer and her greatest champion.
Then Papa is brutally, mysteriously murdered. His dying wish? For Tania to attend finishing school. But L’Académie des Mariées, Tania realizes, is no finishing school. It’s a secret training ground for a new kind of Musketeer: women who are socialites on the surface, but strap daggers under their skirts, seduce men into giving up dangerous secrets, and protect France from downfall. And they don’t shy away from a swordfight.
With her newfound sisters at her side, Tania feels for the first time like she has a purpose, like she belongs. But then she meets Étienne, her first target in uncovering a potential assassination plot. He’s kind, charming, and breathlessly attractive—and he might have information about what really happened to her father. Torn between duty and dizzying emotion, Tania will have to lean on her friends, listen to her own body, and decide where her loyalties lie…or risk losing everything she’s ever wanted.
Being Mary Bennet by J.C. Peterson
Release Date: March 15 from Harper Teen
Why You’ll Love It: A charming, vaguely Jane Austen-adjacent story of a high school student who fears she’s more of a Mary Bennet (snappish, rude and lecture prone) rather than an effervescent Lizzie vows to change her ways in order to win the heart of a cute boy—and a the grand prize for a socially consious school project. Deep or thougthful literature? Not particularly but it does down like the best sort of sparkly treat.
Publisher’s Description: It is a truth universally acknowledged that every bookworm secretly wishes to be Lizzie Bennet. A less acknowledged truth is that Mary Bennet might be a better fit.
For seventeen-year-old Marnie Barnes, who’s convinced she is the long-suffering protagonist of her life, this revelation comes at the end of a series of self-induced disasters that force her to confront a devastating truth: Marnie has more in common with Mary Bennet—the utterly forgettable middle sister—than the effervescent Lizzie.
Determined to reinvent herself, she enlists the help of her bubbly roommate and opens herself up to the world—leading lady style. And between new friends, a very cute boy, and a rescue pup named Sir Pat, Marnie realizes that being the main character doesn’t mean rewriting your life entirely. It’s about finding the right cast of characters, the love interest of your dreams, and, most important, embracing your story, flaws and all.
What We Harvest by Ann Fraistat
Release Date: March 22 from Delacorte
Why You’ll Love It: A dark and creepy story about a mysterious blight that begins to infect people once it’s done destroying all the crops, What We Harvest isn’t your traditional zombie (or zombie adjacent) tale. A book that blends elements of horror, romance, and science fiction with some distinctly dystopian vibes on top, you’ll be surprised by how quickly debut author Ann Fraistat’s world sucks you in.
Publisher’s Description: Wren owes everything she has to her home, Hollow’s End, a centuries-old, picture perfect American town. Tourists travel miles to marvel at its miracle crops, including the shimmering, iridescent wheat of Wren’s family farm. Until five months ago.
That’s when the quicksilver mercury blight first surfaced, poisoning the farms of Hollow’s End one by one. It began by consuming the crops—thick, silver sludge bleeding from the earth. Next were the animals. Infected livestock and wild creatures alike staggered off into the woods by day—only to return at night, their eyes, fogged white, leering from the trees.
Then, the blight came for the neighbors.
Wren is among the last locals standing. And the blight has finally come for her, too. Now, the only one she can turn to is the last person she wants to call: her ex, Derek. They haven’t spoken in months, but Wren and Derek still have one thing in common—Hollow’s End means everything to them. Only there’s much they don’t know about their hometown and its renowned miracle crops. And they’re about to discover that miracles aren’t free.
A Forgery of Roses by Jessica Olsen
Release Date: March 29 from Inkyard Press
Why You’ll Love It: A Gothic fantasy murder mystery from the author of Phantom of the Opera retelling Sing Me Forgotten, A Forgery of Roses follows the story of a young artist whose magical ability to paint portraits that alter real-life bodies puts her in danger when a powerful politician’s wife makes a dangerous—and possibly deadly—request. An intriguing reimagining of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray that mixes fantasy, romance, family bonds, and more.
Publisher’s Description: Myra Whitlock has a gift. One many would kill for.
She’s an artist whose portraits alter people’s real-life bodies, a talent she must hide from those who would kidnap, blackmail, and worse in order to control it. Guarding that secret is the only way to keep her younger sister safe now that their parents are gone.
But one frigid night, the governor’s wife discovers the truth and threatens to expose Myra if she does not complete a special portrait that would resurrect the governor’s dead son. Desperate, Myra ventures to his legendary stone mansion.
Once she arrives, however, it becomes clear the boy’s death was no accident. Someone dangerous lurks within these glittering halls. Someone harboring a disturbing obsession with portrait magic.
Myra cannot do the painting until she knows what really happened, so she turns to the governor’s older son, a captivating redheaded poet. Together, they delve into the family’s most shadowed affairs, racing to uncover the truth before the secret Myra spent her life concealing makes her the killer’s next victim.
Survive the Dome by Kosoko Jackson
Release Date: March 29 from Sourcebooks Fire
Why You’ll Love It: When the city of Baltimore erects a new safety protocol known as “The Dome”—an experimental enclosure that blocks both physical movement and electronic communication— in the wake of increased protests against police brutality, young photographer Jamal finds himself trapped in a lockdown with no end in sight. Though the specifics of how the Dome was built or the ways its technology works are occasionally messily rendered, the premise is grounded in strikingly realistic and timely themes. And it’s clear that author Kosoko Jackson (who also just showed up on our Best New Romances list last month) most assuredly has the range.
Publisher’s Description: Jamal Lawson just wanted to be a part of something. As an aspiring journalist, he packs up his camera and heads to Baltimore to document a rally protesting police brutality after another Black man is murdered.
But before it even really begins, the city implements a new safety protocol…the Dome. The Dome surrounds the city, forcing those within to subscribe to a total militarized shutdown. No one can get in, and no one can get out.
Alone in a strange place, Jamal doesn’t know where to turn…until he meets hacker Marco, who knows more than he lets on, and Catherine, an AWOL basic-training-graduate, whose parents helped build the initial plans for the Dome.
As unrest inside of Baltimore grows throughout the days-long lockdown, Marco, Catherine, and Jamal take the fight directly to the chief of police. But the city is corrupt from the inside out, and it’s going to take everything they have to survive.
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.