The holidays are over (for better or worse) and now it's time to get back to the real world. Hopefully, though, this means those stocking stuffer or gift exchange gift cards to your favorite local bookstore are piled up on your desk. Now, all you need are the perfect book recommendations. Luckily, these best of the best YA books of January 2017 should go right to the top of your list.
So now, while you're belly is full of hot chocolate and home cooking, you can settle into the winter weather with a stack of awesome young adult novels at your side.
And, you guys, January is looking STACKED.
But more than anything, the first month of the year is practically a showcase for the new voices in YA that are bound to make major noise in 2017. The debut YA list is looking crazy bananas good, and you'll want to be in the know on these before everyone else.
So relax after all that stressful family time and lose yourself in one of these incredible YA novels coming out this month. When you've worked your way through this list, be sure to check out the best fiction and the best nonfiction of January. Happy reading!
1'Because of the Sun' by Jenny Torres Sanchez (Jan. 3; Delacorte Press)
You'll nearly feel the unrelenting sun bearing down on you in the New Mexico desert in Jenny Torres Sanchez's Because of the Sun. Teenage Dani Falls's mother always taught her to trust no one and care for nothing, living in their suburban home in Florida. But when Dani's mother dies in a violent bear attack and she is sent to live with her aunt Shelly she barely knows in New Mexico, her perspective is challenged. Sanchez's story can seem bleak at times, but it's a testament to the bonds of family, because though there is a relationship building between Dani and local boy Paulo, it's the aunt-niece relationship that really shines.
2'The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett' by Chelsea Sedoti (Jan. 3; Sourcebooks)
You know how we all became hooked on Serial and How to Make a Murderer, and we became certain we could be the sleuths that finally solved the murders for real? Well that's Hawthorn Creely. The teenage misfit inserts herself into the investigation of Lizzie Lovett's death, a popular peer she hated. With the help of Lizzie's boyfriend, Hawthorn dives full-throttle into Lizzie's life, certain that her wild theories could help solve the case. But as we readers start to figure out, it's not so much about the answer to the mystery as Hawthorn's coming-of-age along the way.
3'A List of Cages' by Robin Roe (Jan. 10; Disney-Hyperion)
Debut author Robin Roe runs a mentorship program for at-risk teens, so she is able to bring that real-world, raw honesty to her story about two teenage boys — and it shows. Adam Blake's senior year elective is to aid the psychology department in his high school, but he never expected he would be assigned to bring his foster brother Julian, whom he hasn't seen in five years, to his counseling sessions he had been skipping. The brotherly bond between Adam and Julian begins to grow, as Julian is now living with his uncle, but Adam suspects there may be trouble in his former foster brother's new home. This is one compassionate story that you won't soon forget.
4'History Is All You Left Me' by Adam Silvera (Jan. 17; Soho Teen)
Adam Silvera blew us all away with 2015's More Happy Than Not, so we all have our grabby hands ready for his next novel, History Is All You Left Me. College student Theo drowned in an accident, sending both his ex-boyfriend and first love Griffin, aka "Griff," spiraling into destructive tendencies. Making things worse, Theo was dating another guy, Jackson, who he met in college. Griff narrates the story as only Silvera could tell it: in alternating timelines, History and Today. He explores his past relationship with Theo, the present day as Theo starts (against all odds) to become closer to Jackson, and he echoes the the many alternate futures Griff and Theo used to dream up when he was alive. You're going to need your tissues, but Silvera's story is complex and even hopeful about grief and moving forward.
5Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth (Jan. 17; Katherine Tegen Books)
The Divergent YA icon is releasing part one of her new duology this month with Carve the Mark. This time she trades in dystopia for an intergalactic science fiction adventure, with the shades of darkness we know Roth for. In this future galaxy, fate gives everyone a "currentgift," and individualized power that's intended to help them shape the future. However, Akos and Cyra's powers make them vulnerable. So when the two are thrust together, born to different peoples and lands, they have to decide whether they should band together or take each other down.
6'The Radius of Us' by Marie Marquardt (Jan. 17; St. Martin's Griffin)
Marie Marquardt's Dream Things True opened many eyes to the tragedy of families split via deportation, and again she is tackling issues so prevalent to our current day society. In the Radius of Us, she centers again on immigration, but also on gang and street violence and mental health. After being mugged in a parking lot in her home of Atlanta, Gretchen suffers from debilitating panic attacks. So when she thinks she spots her attacker one day, it sends her spiraling, This teen is an El Salvadorian immigrant, Phoenix, who has just brought his younger brother over the border into Atlanta to flee gang violence in their home country. Phoenix and Gretchen are drawn to each other, and the story is told in alternating perspectives, allowing readers inside each of their personal struggles that echo larger cultural problems.
7'City of Saints & Thieves' by Natalie C. Anderson (Jan. 24; G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers)
Tina and her mother fled the Congo for Kenya as refugees, and her mother took up a job as a maid for the wealthy and powerful Roland Greyhill. Except her mother is found murdered soon after discovering that Greyhill's fortune is built on corruption. Now, Tina has joined the street gang the Goondas, hellbent on exacting revenge for her mother's murder. However, after a failed heist on the Greyhill house, Tina gets an unlikely ally: Mr. Greyhill's son, who is determined to clear his father's name. Natalie C. Anderson uses a mix of Swahili, Sheng, French, and English to create a linguistically beautiful murder mystery tale that will have you tearing through the pages, all along its twist and turns.
8'The You I've Never Known' by Ellen Hopkins (Jan. 24; Margaret K. McElderry Books)
The You I've Never Known was inspired by Ellen Hopkins’ own personal experiences: Her daughter was kidnapped by the father for three years. It's clear that, as a result, Hopkins' signature free verse story is imbued with raw, honest emotion. Arielle's father has always claimed that her mother left them for another woman, and since then, the two have been living a nomadic life, moving from town to town. Her father is racist and controlling, and he is definitely not pleased with Arielle developing a romantic relationship with her Mexican-American best friend Monica. Except now, her whole world comes crashing down around her when it becomes clear that it has all been lies; her father kidnapped her and her mother has been trying to find them for years. But how can she live happily with a mother she's been gaslighted against her whole life?
9'Allegedly' by Tiffany D. Jackson (Jan. 24; Katherine Tegan Books)
Tiffany D. Jackson's Allegedly could not possibly be more relevant, delving into women's reproductive rights, the injustices of the court system, and systemic racial prejudices. When she was 9, Mary B. Addison was tried and convicted of murdering a baby that was in Mary's mother's care. Mary is black and the baby, white. Now, six years later, she's been dumped in a violent group home, where she meets Ted, and gets pregnant. Only, because of Mary's alleged crime, the system is trying to take her unborn child from her. The story is a searing indictment of the failures of our systems, without falling into a preachy, academic tone.
10'After the Fall' by Kate Hart (Jan. 24; Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Consent takes center stage in this novel focused around the aftermath of a sexual assault. (And we could always use more books that preach consent, consent, consent.) High school seniors Raychel and Matt have been BFFs since childhood, though Matt has always believed it would be more once he finally revealed his true feelings. However, Matt's sometimes judge-y attitudes toward Raychel's partying has her secretly falling into a relationship with Matt's more understanding brother Andrew. Things take a turn for the friends and the lovers, though, when they react to Raychel's story of being raped by a peer. Tackling everything from sexual assault, class, slut shaming, and more, debut author Kate Hart tells a supremely important story with skill and grace.
11'Caraval' by Stephanie Garber (Jan. 31; Flatiron Books)
Ugh, I love a good sisterhood story, and Stephanie Garber's Caraval weaves a tale of two sisters into a magnificent, imaginative adventure story. Scarlett and Donatella hope to escape their abusive father and travel to participate in Caraval, a legendary but mysterious five-day game. They eventually make a deal with a sailor, Julian, to take them to the private island where the game starts, against their father's clear orders. But, when they arrive, Donatella ("Tella") gets even more wrapped up in Caraval than she foresaw. Tella is kidnapped and the game revolves around a scavenger hunt to find her. Scarlett and Julian set off to win the game and retrieve her sister before she vanishes forever. The only problem is, in a game where secrets are king, how do you trust anything or anyone?
12'Our Own Private Universe' by Robin Talley (Jan. 31; Harlequin Teen)
Preacher's daughter Aki Simon is bisexual... hypothetically, she says. Because, well, she's never had a boyfriend or a girlfriend. She's hoping to change that on her church youth-group trip to Mexico, along with her best friend Lori. Her plan seems to be working when she meets Christa, but Christa is closeted as pansexual and Aki herself is still struggling with coming out as bisexual to her father. Robin Talley is refreshingly upfront about LGBTQ issues as they relate to both faith, religious institutions, and even war, and you'll get all wrapped up in Christa and Aki's steamy relationship.
13'The Edge of Everything' by Jeff Giles (Jan. 31; Bloomsbury USA Childrens)
Zoe has already been having a brutal year: her father died in a sudden accident and her close neighbors have vanished. Then, one storming night in a cabin in the woods, Zoe and her young brother Jonah are attacked. This time, things don't end in tragedy because a bounty hunter named X comes to their rescue. Turns out, though, X isn't an average bounty hunter; he works in Hell and was coming to collect the soul of their attacker. Soon, X and Zoe fall into a relationship, but their romance is totally forbidden. Jeff Giles' debut novel is a fantastical horror story mixed up with a paranormal love story that draws the kinds of characters and dialogue you'll be happy to tag along with.
14'Fire Color One' by Jenny Valentine (Jan. 31; Philomel Books)
We already knew Jenny Valentine was a beautiful writer, but she may have even outdone herself with Fire Color One, a quiet, poignant, and stunningly written story about art and family. After 16-year-old pyromaniac Iris is caught setting yet another fire, her mother sends her to live with her absentee millionaire father. But her mother has an ulterior motive: Iris's dad is dying, and her mom hopes to get her hands on his inheritance. However, once Iris and her dad reconnect, she realizes that all the stories of him leaving her all those years ago aren't exactly true, and now she's running out of time to spend with him.
15'Exo' by Fonda Lee (Jan. 31; Scholastic)
There's been an intergalactic war, and Earth lost. Now, Earth is colonized by an alien race, though there is a hold-out of humans who revolt against their controllers. Teenage Donovan, however, is not one of them. His father has a prestigious position as an ambassador to the aliens, and because of this, Donovan has an exocel, alien technology fused to his body that gives him hardened skin. So when Donovan is captured by a rebellion, they realize the major bargaining chip they stumbled across. Plus, Donovan is attracted to rebel Anya, causing him to question his role in the peace with their alien overlords. Fonda Lee's world-building is immersive, and she doesn't easily fall into the good-vs.-evil trap.