November is the month when the weather turns cold for winter good and you're bundled up traveling for Thanksgiving. You're going to need a stack of books to get you through those weekends when you're just too cozy indoors with your spiked hot cider to actually venture out, and of course, to take on the endless plane, train, and shotgun in an automobile rides during the hectic holiday season. These 13 best YA novels of November 2016 are a great place to start.
Pretend you aren't sitting shoulder to shoulder with other weary travelers on your plane ride home by venuring into fairytale kingdoms, (literally) Wonderland, a steampunk universe, back to the '80s, or a murder mystery. Oh, and about that murder mystery: It's written by the absolute queen of them, Pretty Little Liars ' Sarah Shepard, so just put it on your list now.
Of course, not every November YA novel is fantastical, some a very brutally real. And in a month that has so much to do with old friends, relationships, and family, some introspection and honesty can be incredible, heartfelt, and totally necessary.
Pack your bags or just stay home and wear your most comfortable clothes; either way, check out some of the best YA novels hitting shelves this month.
1. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon (Nov. 1; Delacorte)
Nicola Yoon burst onto the YA scene with her debut Everything, Everything last year, and thank goodness we didn't have to wait too long for her sophomore novel The Sun Is Also a Star . The wait was totally worth it. Yoon's incredibly moving second novel centers on Natasha and Daniel, who despite all their real-life distractions, fall in love. But don't expect some sappy love story; The Sun Is Also a Star is also a novel about the brutal struggles of immigration as Natasha's family faces deportation, the role and impact of family, and, in many ways, destiny and whether it's truly sealed.
2. You in Five Acts by Una LaMarche (Nov. 1; Razorbill)
Five BFFs only have a few months until their final performance of their senior year in a New York arts school. They're under a lot of pressure, not just for this one show, but for the changes that are coming to determine the rest of their lives. Each character gets to narrate a section, directed to a changing "you," as if they are speaking directly to the reader, and each have different reasons for chosing their art — trying to make a better life for themselves, escaping into a passion, a chance for a fresh start, and lofty career ambitions. And there are love stories friendships, racisim, stereotypes, and pressures that disrupt and shape their plans. The story is a peek into the life of artists (which are always welcome in my book), but it's the social and economic climate details that make it so timely.
3. The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid (Nov. 1; Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
In S.J. Kincaid's dangerous, imaginative world, Diabolics, which are like superpowered body guards, have been outlawed. But that doesn't stop Diabolic Nemesis from continuing her duty to protect her closest friend Sidonia, who is the heir to the Senate. Nemeis and Sidonia are more than best friends, they are bound to each other. So when a rebellion takes Sidonia hostage, Nemesis disguises as her friend and plays prisoner in her place. But when she's forced to (quite literally) execute people to protect Sidonia and her family, she starts to wonder if she's nothing more than a killing machine, and what if she decided not to.
4. The Amateurs by Sara Shepard (Nov. 1; Disney-Hyperion)
Sara Shepard needs no introduction. The OG creator of Pretty Little Liars is back with a new mystery series opener, The Amateurs , that will definitely hook lovers of Aria, Hanna, Emily, Spencer, and Alison. This is a whodunnit like only Shepard can do: A new dynamic group — Seneca, Brett, Maddy, and Aerin — think they have new information about Seneca's murdered older sister Helena, and they are hot on the case. Just like in PLL, there is enough romance and thrills to captivate you as you tear through it.
5. We Are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen (Nov. 1; St. Martin's Griffin)
Travel back to the '80s for this love letter to best friendship and growing up (with a killer soundtrack you'll want to blast as you read). Michael Kun and Susan Mullen have created a male-female love story that's far more about the powerful bonds of true friendship than romance (though there is some of that, too), and it feels like a breath of fresh air. Even if you didn't come of age in the '80s, handwriting letters and making mix tapes like Scott and Cath do, you'll relate to the universal *feelings* of struggle growing up and growing apart. The story is told in letters as Scott stays at home pursuing his musical dreams and Cath heads to college.
6. Heartless by Marissa Meyer (Nov. 8; Feiwel & Friends)
Yes! The Lunar Chronicle's Marissa Meyer is the queen of fairy tale adaptations, and she has her sights set on Wonderland this time, with Heartless . But Alice isn't the star of the show, Meyer takes a page from her novel Fairest and takes on the villain's POV, showing us how the Queen of Hearts came to be. And you guys, prepare to fall in love with talented baker Catherine and her new love Jest, the King's court joker, even though — ughhh no! — you know she's going to end up the evil queen of Wonderland. Marissa trades in technology and science from The Lunar Chronicles for Lewis Carroll-type nonsense, silliness, and a whole lot of heart, despite the title, in Heartless.
7. Timekeeper by Tara Sim (Nov. 8; Sky Pony Press)
Just grab this book right now if the three words "LGBTQ steampunk romance" are really speaking your language (like mine). In an alternate Victorian-like world, the universe is controlled by clock towers. When a clock breaks, it has a literal impact of fracturing or destroying time. That's why 17-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart is so crucial to the world. On a job, he falls for a tower's clock spirit, a being that only exists in myths, which oversees one town's time. So Danny has a lot on the line when clocks around the world start breaking.
8. This Is Our Story by Ashley Elston (Nov. 15; Disney-Hyperion)
If you're anything like me, you think the chilly weather fall is perfect for thrillers, and This Is Our Story is one of those thrillers so bone-chilling you'll need an extra blanket. After a boozy party, five wealthy boys go into the woods in their small town, but only four come out. The last boy has been shot, and none of the friends are talking. But wannabe photojournalist Kate Marino is interning at the D.A.'s office, and she fully intends to get to the bottom of the dubbed River Point Boys mystery. However, Kate has her own secrets buried that are becoming harder and harder to keep quiet.
9. My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier (Nov. 15; Soho Teen)
My Sister Rosa is a totally new (and super dark) take on family and mental illness. Che Taylor loves his 10-year-old little sister Rosa, but he's nearly certain she's a diagnosable psychopath. She's been violent, manipulative, and seems to lack empathy. His parents, on the other hand, just see her as an ordinary child who is acting out. Now, feeling like he's alone in this, but that he's correct about Rosa's nature, he feels like it's his job to both protect his sister and also protect the world from her. And though the story is narrated by a white male teenager, Justine infuses the story with questions about gender, interracial relationships, and LGBTQ characters and questions that feel natural.
10. Scythe by Neal Shusterman (Nov. 22; Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
Neal Shusterman has always wonderfully played by his own rules when writing, and Scythe is no exception. The first in his new series is set in a world where, because disease has been eliminated, the only way for people to die is to be "gleaned" (or chosen) by professional reapers, called Scythes. But before you start thinking that this is some horror story about the people living in this world, remember the unique creativity of Neal Shusterman: The story focuses on Citra and Rowan, two Scythe apprentices who have to come to terms with the path of their life, especially after it becomes clear that only one of them will get the job, and their first order of business will be killing the other.
11. Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley (Nov. 22; Simon Pulse)
If you like your fantasy stories with a hearty dose of girl power (who doesn't), Fate of Flames is for you. And (yaaas) it's the first in a new series, so you'll get more. Four girls who can each control an element, known as Effigies, are tasked with legit saving the world from the evil phantoms. Their power works pretty much like slayers in Buffy: Once a certain element's effigy — earth, fire, water, air — dies, another girl inherits those abilities. The world recently has thought that new technologies could protect the world from phantoms better than these girls, but when they're proven wrong, the effigies come back to power and try to save everyone.
12. Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst (Nov. 22; Balzer + Bray)
Audrey Coulthurst has created her own fairy tale in Of Fire and Stars — one we need more of, frankly. Princess Dennaleia's life has always been set out for her: Marry the prince of Mynaria to seal and alliance and protect the kingdom from enemies. But, as most fairy tales go, things take a turn. Rather than fall for the prince as she is expected to, she develops feelings for his sister Mare. But that's not the only secret Denna has. She also has a magical gift for fire, which is dangerous in a kingdom opposed to magic of any kind.
13. The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (Nov. 29; Harper)
The series finale of The Queen of the Tearling series is hitting your shelves just in time to be straight-up desperate for that Emma Watson movie adaption of book one to finally come out. Now in Fate of the Tearling , our heroine Kelsea Glynn has transformed from her gawky teenage self to a powerful monarch, but no spoilers, because you're going to want to catch up on the first two books if you haven't already. Erika Johansen's triad is a whip-smart, futuristic story with fantasy elements that will completely enthrall you, and the last book won't disappoint.