These lists are always an intense struggle. I mean, how do you narrow down 2017’s Young Adult releases to 10 books? But after much gnashing of teeth, I’ve pooled together our most anticipated YA reads of the year.
We’ve got a follow up to Paste’s best YA book of 2015, debuts that have been making headlines long before their publication, and even a bonus nonfiction collection about feminism. You don’t want to miss these books.
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1. History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
Release Date: January 17th from Soho Teen
Why You'll Love It: Adam Silvera's debut, More Happy Than Not, was Paste's pick for the best YA novel of 2015 and was included in our best YA books of all time list. So it's safe to say we're Silvera fans. In his second book, Silvera introduces us to a teenager who loses his boyfriend in a tragic accident and wrestles with grief, guilt, and of course, a terribly broken heart. Hang on tight, and prepare to cry.
Description: When Griffin's first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he's been imagining for himself has gone far off course. To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin's downward spiral continues. He's losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he's been keeping are tearing him apart. If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.
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2. Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Release Date: January 31st from Flatiron Books
Why You'll Love It: When a book starts drawing comparisons to The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, you're going to need it in your life. Stephanie Garber's novel follows two sisters who are swept away to the Caraval, a magical performance that only happens once a year. And beyond the mystical wonder surrounding the event, the book also explores the power of family bonds.
Description: Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their cruel father. Now Scarlett's father has arranged a marriage for her, and she thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.
But this year, Scarlett's long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval's mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season's Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner. Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.
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3. Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza
Release Date: February 7th from Razorbill
Why You'll Love It: In Rhoda Belleza's debut, readers are immediately swept up into a sci-fi world that reads like Game of Thrones in space. Intense political intrigue accompanied by a diverse cast of characters led by one kickass female protagonist—it's perfect for readers who loved Marissa Meyer's The Lunar Chronicles, Pierce Brown's Red Rising, and Jenny Martin's Tracked.
Description: Rhee, also known as Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta'an, is the sole surviving heir to a powerful dynasty. She'll stop at nothing to avenge her family and claim her throne.
Aly has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a holo-vision show. But when he's falsely accused of killing Rhee, he's forced to prove his innocence to save his reputation—and his life.
With planets on the brink of war, Rhee and Aly are thrown together to confront a ruthless evil that threatens the fate of the entire galaxy.
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4. Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Release Date: February 7th from Thomas Dunne Books
Why You'll Love It: If you read the book description below and find yourself thinking about the film Labyrinth, you're right on the money. Wintersong guides readers through a lushly imagined world, centering around a teen girl's mission to save her sister from a Goblin King. Blending elements of music and fantasy, S. Jae-Jones' novel is perfect for fans of Victoria Schwab's This Savage Song and Susan Dennard's Truthwitch.
Description: All her life, 19-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family's inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.
But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. In exchange for her sister's freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.
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5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Release Date: February 28th from Balzer + Bray
Why You'll Love It: There's been a lot of buzz surrounding Angie Thomas' debut, a novel inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, and all of it is justified. Told from the perspective of a teen girl who witnesses a horrible shooting, The Hate U Give proves topical and so, so emotional. You're going to cry, but along with the tears, you'll find yourself full of hope.
Description: Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does—or does not—say could endanger her life.
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6. Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
Release Date: March 7th from Crown Books for Young Readers
Why You'll Love It: Jeff Zentner's debut novel, The Serpent King, was one of Paste's favorite YA books of 2016—and with good cause. It's a slow burn of a novel, blistering with the heat of the characters' home state of Tennessee. Zentner brings that same intensity to his sophomore effort, Goodbye Days, which explores friendship and death while promising to break your heart.
Description: Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends: Mars, Eli, and Blake. Now Carver can't stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths. Then Blake's grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a "goodbye day" together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli's bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive, and Carver's own guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake.
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7. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Release Date: April 11th from Balzer + Bray
Why You'll Love It: Becky Albertalli's outstanding debut, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, went on to win numerous awards, is on its way to the silver screen, and earned a spot on our our best YA books of all time list. So you can bet we're excited for her sophomore novel, The Upside of Unrequited. The novel follows Molly, a teen girl wrestling with, well, unrequited love. It's a theme all too familiar to any of us, whether you're an adult who remembers your days as a lovesick teenager or a teen struggling with it right now.
Description: Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can't stomach the idea of rejection. So she's careful. Fat girls always have to be careful. Then a cute new girl enters Cassie's orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly's cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly's totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie's new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she'll get her first kiss and she'll get her twin back.
There's only one problem: Molly's coworker, Reid. He's a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there's absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?
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8. Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab
Release Date: June 13th from Greenwillow Books
Why You'll Love It: Another one of our favorite YA books of 2016, Victoria Schwab's This Savage Song was an absolute delight. It's set in a world where humans and these monsters have divided the landscape, and now we can expect a sequel. The follow up and the final book in Schwab's Monsters of Verity duology, Our Dark Duet picks up in the middle of the war between mankind and the terrifying creatures that are born of them.
Description: Kate Harker is a girl who isn't afraid of the dark. She's a girl who hunts monsters. And she's good at it. August Flynn is a monster who can never be human, no matter how much he once yearned for it. He's a monster with a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.
Nearly six months after Kate and August were first thrown together, the war between the monsters and the humans is terrifying reality. In Verity, August has become the leader he never wished to be, and in Prosperity, Kate has become the ruthless hunter she knew she could be. When a new monster emerges from the shadows—one who feeds on chaos and brings out its victim's inner demons—it lures Kate home, where she finds more than she bargained for. She'll face a monster she thought she killed, a boy she thought she knew, and a demon all her own
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9. Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert
Release Date: August 8th, 2017 with Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Why You'll Love It: Brandy Colbert's Pointe was on our best YA books of all time list, and now we can't wait to read her next book. Review copies of Little & Lion aren't floating around just yet, but simply because it's a Colbert book, it earned a spot on this list.
Description: When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn't sure if she'll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support. But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new...the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel's disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself—or worse.
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10. 27 Hours by Tristina Wright
Release Date: October 3rd from Entangled Teen
Why You'll Love It: In Tristina Wright's YA sci-fi debut, mankind is locked in a seemingly eternal battle with the "beasts" who inhabit a small moon. And in the middle of this war is a band of teenagers who all have a role to play in the future.
You'll have to wait a long time for this one, and there isn't even a cover yet. But if you want something to hold you over, check out Wright's short story "The Siren Son" for a taste of her fantastic, imaginative prose.
Description: Rumor Mora wants revenge. He's lived all of his 17 years on the colonized moon of Sahara, and he can't remember a time when humans weren't warring with the gargoyles—frightening beasts that attack human colonists during the night. Now the gargoyles have gone too far; they attacked his city and burned it to the ground. The sole survivor of the attack, Rumor is determined to avenge the death of his father, and no one is going to stand in his way. Not even the incredibly hot boy who keeps trying to tell him that the gargoyles aren't the monsters he thinks they are.
Nyx Llorca wants understanding. She was born deaf, and the moon vibrates under her feet in an urgent language she can't figure out.
Jude Welton wants peace. He belongs to a group of people who believe that the humans and "gargoyles"—actually called chimera—can exist together.
And Braeden Tennant wants belonging. All he wants to do is steal a spaceship and leave Sahara—maybe take an automata cat with him. But when he finds the seeds of friendship with Rumor's arrival and is pulled into a vast conspiracy involving his friends, the gargoyles, the forest rebels, and his moms, he has to decide where his loyalties lie once and for all.
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Bonus Nonfiction Pick:
Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World edited by Kelly Jensen
Release Date: January 24th from Algonquin Young Readers
Why You'll Love It: YA nonfiction is out there, but it can be pretty hard to find. We generally spotlight novels in our YA roundups, but Kelly Jensen's anthology is too good to pass up. In Here We Are, Jensen collects a ton of great pieces from authors, actresses, dancers, and more, all centered around the theme of feminism. Nova Ren Suma? Brandy Colbert? Mindy Kaling? Oof, this book is fantastic.
Description: Let's get the feminist party started! Here We Are is a scrapbook-style teen guide to understanding what it really means to be a feminist. It's packed with essays, lists, poems, comics, and illustrations from a diverse range of voices, featuring more than 44 pieces and an eight-page insert of full-color illustrations. Here We Are delivers a response to lively discussions about the true meaning of feminism on social media and across popular culture, and it's an invitation to one of the most important, life-changing, and exciting parties around.