Have you crawled out of your holiday stupor yet? If you haven't, now is the time to sit up at attention and grab your handy-yet-stylish day planner, because there is an insane amount of excellent young adult fiction coming your way in 2015. (Happy New Year, by the way!) And frankly, there's no better time to curl up with a book than these snowbound, ice-cold winter months, so you're going to need to grab these books before your desire to leave your house subsides.
This month, readers can look forward to follow-up books from two Printz Award winners, a handful of imports from overseas that have been deemed excellent enough to make the trip here, a new novel from a female YA favorite, a soon-to-be iconic feminist book, and so much more. There are stories based on real life tragedies and triumphs, stories about being left behind in the Rapture, hilarious books about (what else?) the devil, science fiction, surprise twist endings, intriguing puzzles, LGBTQ releases promoting diversity, and some stories based on classic literature. Bottom line: If you can't find something you want to read this month, you aren't looking hard enough.
All of the exciting January young adult releases have been narrowed down to 13 must-read books, and they are arranged in chronological order by release date so you never have to miss any.
The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick (Jan 6; Roaring Brook Press)
It's hard to follow-up a Printz Award winner, but Marcus Sedgwick hit readers with a one-two punch, releasing She Is Not Invisible to major fanfare last year and kicking off 2015 with The Ghosts of Heaven — a book reminiscent of his winning Midwinterblood in its epic scope. And when I say "epic scope," I mean it. The book begins with cave drawings and hurtles through the witch trials and a 1920s-era insane aslyum, and even into our future in space, though each of the four story is tied together by their themes of madness and obsession. To put it simply: It's magnificent and bold.
Hold Tight, Don't Let Go by Laura Rose Wagner (Jan 6; Amulet Books)
Hold Tight, Don't Let Go is a disaster story, yes, but it more so is friendship and a sense of home. Laura Rose Wagner tells a fictional story around the real-life 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, centering on two female, inseparable cousins who survive the quake to live in a refugee camp. When one of the cousins is sent for by a relative in Miami, the other is left behind in her home country, and they are separated for the first time. Although the events are tragic, the story is hopeful and is full of love for the lush country and culture of Haiti.
Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle (Jan 6; HMH Books for Young Readers)
Vivian Apple at the End of the World was previously published in the U.K. under Vivian Versus the Apocalypse, and it was such a hit that it made its way to us overseas. With a good sense of satire, Katie Coyle tells the story of Vivian Apple, who seems to have been left behind by the Rapture, according to her parents who are now gone. But to figure out the truth, Vivian embarks on a cross-country roadtrip with friends to find answers, and she finds a whole lot of unusual characters. The story is at once gritty and heartwarming, and it will definitely have you thinking.
There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake (Jan 6; Bloomsbury)
2013 Printz Award winner Nick Lake follows up his debut In Darkness with There Will Be Lies. It's hard to talk too much about the story without spoiling a major twist (!), but it's a gripping story about a young woman named Shelby who, after a car accident, runs away with her mother from something she doesn't understand. Let's just say that this is one of those books that when the twist comes, you'll be running back through the pages to re-read with this new information.
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (Jan 6; Knopf Books for Young Readers)
Some teenagers meet in unexpected places, but none quite as unexpected as Violet Markey and Theodore Finch who meet atop their school's bell tower, both contemplating jumping. They both have their reasons for committing suicide, but they put them aside (maybe) temporarily while they enjoy each other's company working on a school project together exploring the natural wonders of their state. But at least one of them never really moves on from their decision to end their life, and the repercussions are intense, memorable, and heartbreaking. Jennifer Niven's debut All the Bright Places is one that will stick with you. And yes, it's already going to be a movie starring Elle Fanning.
Hellhole by Gina Damico (Jan 6; HMH Books for Young Readers)
Hellhole is definitely not what you're expecting — unless you were expecting a book with such a provocative title to be spit-out-your-drink hilarious. Max Kilgore is learning that the devil makes a poor house guest, as he eats all the junk food, takes up the couch, and oh yeah, makes Max think about doing evil things. But then Max makes a deal with the devil to get him to leave, and well, all hell breaks loose as their adventure begins.
Audacity by Melanie Crowder (Jan 8; Philomel)
Melanie Crowder's Audacity should be on the bookshelves of every card-carrying feminist in the country come January. In stunning verse, Crowder tells the true story of women's- and workers-rights activist Clara Lemlich who inspired the largest strike by women in all of American history. Audacity is both intimate and powerful, and though the events take place in the past, it's a rallying cry against injustices that women still face today.
When by Victoria Laurie (Jan 13; Disney-Hyperion)
If someone told you that you could know the date of your own death, would you want to? This question will be running through your head the whole time you read Victoria Laurie's When. High school junior Maddie not only knows the date of her own death, but the death date of everyone she encounters. When she sees the death date of a young boy and tells his mother, she becomes wrapped up in a murder investigation when that boy does disappear on the date she foretold. The book is full of twists and turns and an overall eerie premise that will keep you locked into the story.
The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall (Jan 13; Putnam Juvenile)
If you're looking for a fun, exciting book to get you through those long winter months, The Conspiracy of Us would be an excellent choice. It's got a hint of Dan Brown's academic and historical mysteries with a dash of Jennifer Garner as Sydney in Alias (and we all should be missing her). Avery figures out that she's the missing heir to a powerful secret society, and so she races across the world to solve a puzzle that will help her escape this destiny.
Alex as Well by Alyssa Brugman (Jan 20; Henry Holt & Co.)
Alyssa Brugman's Alex as Well is a story about belonging, and most of all, about belonging in your own skin. While everyone around her considers Alex a boy, she has always felt more like a girl in her heart and soul, so she makes major changes to her life to better suit her identity. First published last year in Australia, Alex as Well is a thought-provoking honest story with a truly identifiable (no matter your orientation) and strong character in the lead.
I'm Glad I Did by Cynthia Weil (Jan 27; SoHo Teen)
Cynthia Weil's I'm Glad I Did veers toward middle grade, but this coming-of-age story is notable here nonetheless. You might notice that the cover blurb is written by none other than Carole King, and that's because Weil is the multiple Grammy Award-winning songwriter of Dolly Parton's "Here You Come Again," The Drifters' "On Broadway," and the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" and "(You're My) Soul and Inspiration," among many, many others. She takes her knowledge of the tough music biz to tell the story of a young, 1960s era songwriter who tries to make her way in the industry.
I Was Here by Gayle Forman (Jan 27; Viking Juvenile)
Anyone who has already read If I Stay knows just how excited to be about Gayle Forman's latest I Was Here. But even with these amped up expectations, Forman delivers. Cody and Meg are best friends, which is why Cody is sent into a tailspin when Meg commits suicide by drinking cleaning fluid in a motel room. Forman deftly discusses the aftermath of an unexpected suicide and what that means for the people who are left behind.
A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepard (Jan 27; Balzer + Bray)
Megan Shepherd is back with the third book of her Madman's Daughter series that has captured the attention of critics and YA readers alike. A Cold Legacy continues the story of Juliet, the daughter of the titular character inspired by H.G. Wells' classic The Island of Dr. Moreau — and it's just as eerie and compelling as you've come to expect not only from Shepherd, but from Wells, Mary Shelley, and other Gothic horror writers before her.
Fairest by Marissa Meyer (Jan 27; Feiwel & Friends)
I'm certainly not the only one that's jumping-up-and-down excited for Marissa Meyer's prequel to the Lunar Chronicles Fairest. It gives the much-needed back story to the woman we all love to hate: the stand-in for every fairy tale's Evil Queen, Queen Levana. And it will hopefully delve deep into what made her the tyrannical, mirror-hiding woman she is now. The story will begin when Levana is 15 years old and it will carry us readers up until 10 years before Cinder begins, making it the perfect hold-over until the fourth book in the series (chronologically), Winter, appears on shelves this fall.