12 Of The Best YA Books Of December 2015 To Carry You Through The Holidays
Now that December is here, you will likely be spending the next several weeks in a rush to do your holiday shopping in crowded malls, spend time with your overwhelming relatives, study for your final exams in excruciatingly silent libraries, and push through the mountain of work before you can travel for your New Year's Eve plans. You're going to need a good book to keep you company and spend some alone-time moments with when things get super stressful.
This month, young adult novelists have you covered, and they have come out to play. One certain newly honored National Book Award for Young People's Literature winner drops a new collection of short stories in his familiar dystopian world. A masterful fantasy author adds another episode to her epic series. And several cult favorite and beloved YA writers are back with new, unique stories that encompass an electrifying first love and lust, growing up in a survivalist family, tragic accidents, and one marching band contest on a cruise ship.
But it's not just the big names, either. Debut YA writers are about to drop on you some literary magic about unexpected first love, fantastical secret worlds, and a family of sisters trying to get by when their parents abandon them.
The best YA books of December 2015 have a little something for everyone to help you make it until the end of the year.
1. Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom (Dec. 1; Poppy)
Not If I See You First is one debut YA novel that has already been making major waves in the market. This story of blind teenager Parker Grant has already earned a place on the Indie Next list, and deservedly so. Parker has rules for how people treat her, including not trying to help her unless she asks and how there are no second chances in her life. However, she decides to switch up the latter when Scott comes back into her world, and it might just be the first in a whole lot of rule breaking.
2. All We Left Behind by Ingrid Sundberg (Dec. 1; Simon Pulse)
You know that explosive kind of electricity-feeling first love? That's Marion and Kurt. They're both withdrawn teenagers hiding hurt in their past, but when they're together, the chemistry and sexual tension is undeniable, and will probably have readers screaming for a resolution. The characters are incredibly written by Ingrid Sundberg, and their secrets and grief only make them more human.
3. Gateway to Fourline by Pam Brondos (Dec. 1; Skyscape)
Gateway to Fourline is a perfect fantasy adventure crossover novel that invokes some of the classics of genre. College student Natalie, aka "Nat," finds a door to another world behind the costume shop she just started working at to earn some cash. That world has dying, decaying magic, and it's up to Natalie to take up arms and help the exiled warriors fight for their homeland. Luckily, it's only part one of a brand new trilogy.
4. The Rosemary Spell by Virginia Zimmerman (Dec. 1; Clarion)
OK, so The Rosemary Spell is more middle grade than YA, but every Shakespeare lover needs to get her hands on a copy. Zimmerman, in her debut novel, weaves magic into Shakespeare tales to tell a story of three young friends and the bonds that pull them together. The Rosemary Spell is about memories and how we can hold onto them, the power of literature, and friendship.
5. Instructions for the End of the World by Jamie Kain (Dec. 8; St. Martin's Griffin)
Sisters Nicole and Isabel have grown up remotely, off-the-grid with their survivalist father and their mother who survived the Khmer Rouge. However, even their dad couldn't prepare them for the end of their world (as they knew it) when their mother left. Now, Nicole is left to take care of Izzy and their crumbling house. And that's just when she meets Wolf, who's staying on a spiritual retreat nearby. Jamie Kain's novel is quietly thought-provoking about family and loss, and what the difference is between surviving and living.
6. The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill (Dec. 8; Delacorte)
There's a bit of Pitch Perfect and Glee in the beloved Lauren Morrill's The Trouble With Destiny, but with the added bonus of a cruise ship. "Destiny" doubles as the name of a cruise ship that acts as one high school's marching band's last hope at funding. If they can win the $25,000 competition prize aboard, they can keep their program running. Of course, things aren't so smooth sailing. If you need a fun, romantic, and slapstick read that won't bury you in feelings and sadness in the winter, this is the ideal book to pick up and enjoy.
7. UnBound by Neal Shusterman (Dec. 15; Simon & Schuster)
Neal Shusterman is having a massive year, having just won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature for his novel Challenger Deep, and he's only adding more cherries on top with UnBound, the companion book to his insanely innovative Unwind Dystology series. Shusterman only adds more meditation, color, and tales in this short story collection set in the same world.
8. Frozen Tides by Morgan Rhodes (Dec. 15; Razorbill)
For fans of Morgan Rhodes' epic Falling Kindom series, I barely have to say anything at all because you already know that you must have this book on your shelves. Frozen Tides is the fourth book of the fantasy series, and rumor has it, it's even better than Rebel Spring, the fan favorite second book. All your favorite characters, and your favorite 'ships, are back for more adventure and danger.
9. This Raging Light by Estelle Laure (Dec. 22; HMH Books for Young Readers)
What if you fall in love at the exact inopportune moment? That's what's happening to Lucille. Everything is crumbling around her: Her father was institutionalized after having assaulted her mother during a mental illness break, but now that he's released, he is out of reach. Her mother couldn't cope and left. She's stuck in charge of her precocious younger sister. And the bills are piling up, forcing Lucille to run ragged trying to work as a waitress after her school day. Meanwhile, she's trying to keep her situation secret so CPS doesn't remove her sister from the home. But, yes, this is the time an all-consuming, electric love with her best friend's brother ignites. But with a book title that references Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night,” you know that doesn't have to be a bad thing.
10. HEAR by Robin Epstein (Dec. 29; Soho Teen)
Kassandra Black was her high school's Batman-slash-Anonymous — a vigilante in the hallways who spent her time exposing predators and bullies. But this life as an anonymous crime-fighter has gotten her expelled, and now she's working at HEAR, part of her great-uncle's research program for teenagers with ESP. And, um, things go haywire when one of the subjects is murdered, especially know that Kass is noticing she might have special telepathic powers herself.
11. Thicker Than Water by Brigid Kemmerer (Dec. 29; Kensington)
Thomas Bellweather's mother has been murdered, and his step-father cop and cop colleagues believe that Thomas is the primary suspect. But the lonely teenager has one supporter in his small town: Charlotte Rooker, which is problematic because she also happens to be the younger sister to three police officers. She's also the best friend of the only other person who was ever murdered in this small town. Thicker Than Water mixes mystery with some good old fashioned teenage lust (I mean, just look at that cover) and a hint of something a bit supernatural.
12. What's Broken Between Us by Alexis Bass (Dec. 29; HarperCollins)
Amanda’s brother, Jonathan, was drunk behind the wheel in the crash that killed his best friend on high school graduation night and shook a small town. Now he's coming home from jail, and Amanda has no idea how to bring him back in and survive the fallout of his actions. Add in her growing attraction to Henry, whose sister (and Jonathan's ex-girlfriend) survived the accident but was left paralyzed, and you have a complex story about tragedy, family, and loss in the capable hands of Alexis Bass.