Amazing YA Books You'll Definitely Steal From Your Favorite Teen

by Lindsey Hunter Lopez
Mar 14, 2018 at 8:00 p.m. ET
Young Adult Books to Get Excited About this Fall |
Image: Getty Images/Design: Mike Commins/SheKnows

The young-adult book genre is bigger than ever, and this has been a banner year for excellent YA titles. We've rounded up a few of our favorites that we absolutely want to steal from the teens in our lives — and, OK, for some actual literary expertise, we also spoke with librarian Derek Ivie, youth services coordinator at the Suffolk Cooperative Library System in Bellport, New York, about his top picks. Ivie knows his stuff; he’s currently a board member at large for the Young Adult Library Services Association. So, what’s new in the YA world?

Read on to check out buzzed-about new releases, from social justice-driven nonfiction to magical realism to graphic novels to (finally!) more queer and gender-fluid characters than we've seen yet. So take your tween or teen and head down to your local indie bookstore or library. Or, you know, place that one-click Amazon Prime order and read it yourself — we’re not here to judge. 

A version of this story was originally published in October 2017.

1 /15: 'The Summer of Jordi Perez' by Amy Spalding

1/15 :'The Summer of Jordi Perez' by Amy Spalding

Perpetual sidekick Abby is a lot of things — smart, queer, plus-size, a blogger — but leading lady in her own love story she is not. That is until the 17-year-old lands a fashion internship and falls for the titular Jordi Perez, her fellow intern. In a Gossip Girl-esque twist (what — you don't remember the episode where Blair and Dan are competing at the magazine internship as well as we do?), Abby and Jordi end up fighting for the role of Alpha Fashionista at the internship — while also smooching along the sidelines. Oh, and this is also a tale of betrayal, blog drama, mom issues and a lax bro hell-bent on finding the best burger in Los Angeles. Just read it, OK? (Amazon, $16.99)

2 /15: 'Mask of Shadows' by Linsey Miller

2/15 :'Mask of Shadows' by Linsey Miller

“Fantasy fans have something to dive into in this first book of a duology,” says Ivie of Mask of Shadows. The queen is looking for new assassins for her personal brigade, The Left Hand, and gender-fluid Sal jumps on the opportunity to join the court. But will revenge bring the whole thing down? “When a novel gets the thumbs up from the queen of YA fantasy Tamora Pierce, you know it must be good!” Ivie exclaims. (Amazon, $12)

3 /15: 'Dear Martin' by Nic Stone

3/15 :'Dear Martin' by Nic Stone

Stone’s debut novel (out Oct. 17) tackles race relations in America. Ivy League-bound black teenager Justyce comes to the aid of his sometimes girlfriend only to experience an unjust run-in with a cop. In an effort to process what happened to him, Justyce starts a journal to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., writing letters to see if King’s ideas still hold up. “Things continue to escalate in the novel until a scene that will leave readers stunned,” says Ivie. “Incredibly timely.” (Amazon, $11)

4 /15: 'Whichwood' by Tahereh Mafi

4/15 :'Whichwood' by Tahereh Mafi

“First you will be drawn in by the gorgeous cover, and then you will be enchanted by the tale of Laylee and the magical world of Whichwood,” says Ivie of the Nov. 14 release. Mafi’s latest book is a companion novel to award-winning Persian-inspired fantasy tale Furthermore. Though fairly dark, it skews to the younger side of the YA crowd. “Also,” Ivie adds, “if you don’t follow Mafi on social media, you should; her fashion sense is beyond amazing.” (Amazon, $12)

5 /15: 'Let’s Pretend We Never Met' by Melissa Walker

5/15 :'Let’s Pretend We Never Met' by Melissa Walker

A fun read that’s also sweet and insightful, Walker’s latest book explores middle school friendships. New girl Mattie thinks sixth grade will be a cinch with neighbor and new BFF Agnes at her side. But when she realizes Agnes isn’t exactly popular, will she end their friendship for social status? “This piece of contemporary literature explores real-life experiences (like moving, making new friends and wanting to fit in) perfectly for the lower YA age group,” says Ivie. (Amazon, $10)

6 /15: 'They Both Die at the End' by Adam Silvera

6/15 :'They Both Die at the End' by Adam Silvera

“Silvera continues to be a powerhouse in contemporary YA surrounding the lives (and deaths) of queer characters,” says Ivie of New York Times best-selling author Adam Silvera. His latest is the emotional and hopeful tale of two teenage boys on the last day of their lives. Sound depressing? It is. “They Both Die at the End will be sure to leave readers in tears or at least in a depressed funk like his first two novels," Ivie says, adding that he can’t wait to read it nonetheless. (Amazon, $13)

7 /15: 'Spinning' by Tillie Walden

7/15 :'Spinning' by Tillie Walden

This beautifully illustrated, 400-page graphic memoir tells the story of Walden, a young lesbian figure skater growing up in conservative Texas. “If you enjoyed This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki be sure to pick this up,” says Ivie. “It's tender and honest.” (Amazon, $11)

8 /15: 'Warcross' by Marie Lu

8/15 :'Warcross' by Marie Lu

Gamers will love the latest from YA favorite Marie Lu. Warcross depicts a world taken over by an online game. The story follows hacker and rising star Emika Chen, who discovers that there is more going on with the game than meets the eye. “This first in the series is for those who like future fantasy filled with action,” notes Ivie. (Amazon, $13)

9 /15: 'You Bring the Distant Near' by Mitali Perkins

9/15 :'You Bring the Distant Near' by Mitali Perkins

“In what is being touted as the Joy Luck Club for teens, we meet three generations of an Indian family,” says Ivie of You Bring the Distant Near, which has been long-listed for the National Book Award. The author’s own history informs this deeply personal story of family, love, immigration and friendship. The tale follows five girls across three generations. (Amazon, $13)

10 /15: 'Release' by Patrick Ness

10/15 :'Release' by Patrick Ness

One day will change teenager Adam Thorn’s life. Release tells the harrowing tale while balancing big subjects: sexuality, friendship, religion and even murder. “Ness has an extraordinary gift of mixing the real with the absurd,” says Ivie. This edgy novel is punctuated by the thoughts of a ghost rising from a lake, which only adds to its quirky appeal. “This story is contemporary with a touch of otherworldly,” Ivie adds. (Amazon, $13)

11 /15: 'Akata Warrior' by Nnedi Okorafor

11/15 :'Akata Warrior' by Nnedi Okorafor

“In this sequel to Akata Witch, readers continue on Sunny’s journey as a member of the secret Leopard Society,” Ivie says of Akata Warrior, out Oct. 3. Award-winning writer Okorafor weaves a magical tale set in Nigeria centered on young sorcerer Sunny. This strong female protagonist must use her magical powers in order to save the world from an impending apocalypse. (Amazon, $12)

12 /15: 'The 57 Bus' by Dashka Slater

12/15 :'The 57 Bus' by Dashka Slater

Based on author Slater’s New York Times article, The 57 Bus tells the true story of two Oakland teenagers and one horrible incident. While riding the bus home from school, agender Sasha’s skirt was lit on fire by Richard, a stranger. Sasha’s legs were left scarred, and Richard was left facing life imprisonment. Out on Oct. 17, this book is “sure to be a powerful exploration [of] humanity,” says Ivie. (Amazon, $13)

13 /15: 'All the Crooked Saints' by Maggie Stiefvater

13/15 :'All the Crooked Saints' by Maggie Stiefvater

Out Oct. 10, best-selling author Stiefvater’s latest book follows a family who can perform miracles. Set in a Colorado town called Bicho Raro, the story centers around three cousins who are working to change their futures. “Stiefvater’s writing is enchanting, wholly original and has the ability to whisk readers away to places they have never been before,” says Ivie. (Amazon, $11.60)

14 /15: 'Long Way Down' by Jason Reynolds

14/15 :'Long Way Down' by Jason Reynolds

“In a Christmas Carol-esque tale, we meet Will, who is taking the elevator down seven floors and is holding a loaded gun,” says Ivie of this fast, furious novel, out Oct. 17. Teenager Will is out for revenge after his older brother’s murder. In a journey of just 60 seconds, Will is visited (and warned) by the spirits of people from his past. “This incredible title has been long-listed for the National Book Award,” notes Ivie. (Amazon, $9.89)

15 /15: Pin it!

Best New YA Books for Fall – That We Want to Read, Too
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15/15 :Pin it!

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