New YA Books From First-Time Authors, Out In The Second Half Of 2017

by Zoraida Córdova

We're halfway through the year, and you know what that means — that's right, I promised you more 2017 YA debut novels. When I last left off back in December 2016, I covered January through June. Since then, some seriously major books have been released. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas hit #1 on the New York Times' bestseller list. Other fantasy bestsellers like Caraval by Stephanie Garber and Wintersong by S. Jae Jones have left me with a mighty need for their sequels. On the contemporary side of things, When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon and Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Nicole Lemon have solidified themselves as personal favorites.

With over 200 books, it's difficult to choose just a few for this list, which spans July through December. The second half of the year is jam-packed with books that will satisfy every reading taste. Simon & Schuster's Salaam Reads, an imprint dedicated to bringing Muslim voices to the limelight, is launching its third book this year — Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali. There are historical epics, heart-crushing contemporaries, and fantasies that bright out the rebel in you.

Here are the most anticipated YA debuts from July to December:


'Who's That Girl' by Blair Thornburgh (July 11)

Nattie McCullough's normal life is about to become, well, not so normal. When super hot musician, Sebastian Delacroix, writes a massive hit titled, "Natalie," the whole world starts asking "Who's that girl?" And Nattie is left wondering if their kiss meant more than she thought.

Why I want to read it: Who secretly hasn't wanted to be the subject of our favorite pop star's ballad?

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'The Art of Starving' by Sam J. Miller (July 11)

Matt is starving himself. A part of him believes the hunger will give him the power he needs to uncover what happened to his sister Maya. Praised by Jacqueline Woodson as "[b]eautifully rendered," this is sure to be a powerful debut.

Why I want to read it: It promises to be a brutally honest depiction of anorexia and body image.

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'The Gallery of Unfinished Girls' by Lauren Karcz (July 25)

Mercedes Moreno is an artist who finds inspiration in an unlikely manor. There, she can discover the truth of her art, the truth of her love for her best friend Victoria, and most importantly of all, the truth of herself.

Why I want to read it: It's a coming-of-age with a hint of magical realism.

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'The Wood' by Chelsea Bobulski (August 1)

When her father vanishes, Winter becomes the guardian of the wood and the keeper of all the travelers who slip through its portal. As the wood starts changing into something sinister, a young man from the past arrives with knowledge of the wood's secrets.

Why I want to read it: I'm getting serious Holly Black vibes from this one.

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'You Don't Know Me but I Know You' by Rebecca Barrow (August 29)

Audrey receives a letter dated 17 years ago from her mother who gave her up for adoption. Now, 17 and pregnant, Audrey finds herself asking the same questions her own mother asked two decades before.

Why I want to read it: This sounds like a powerful novel that examines family, self, and the tough decisions young moms-to-be must face.

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'Mask of Shadows' by Lindsey Miller (August 29)

Sal, a thief, auditions to become a member of the Left Hand – the queen’s quartet of assassins. If gender fluid Sal survives the auditions, then they can set about enacting their revenge.

Why I want to read it: It's the first YA epic fantasy with a gender-fluid protagonist.

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'The Girl With the Red Balloon' by Katherine Locke (September 1)

Sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally travels through time and ends up in 1988 Berlin. There, she gets caught up in a dark conspiracy, and finds herself entangled with embers of an underground guild who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall.

Why I want to read it: Time-travel, romance, and magic — need I say more?

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'Girls Made of Snow and Glass' by Melissa Bashardoust (September 5)

Mina's vicious father ripped out her heart and replaced it with one made of glass. Lynet was made out of snow to look just like her late mother. These two girls are meant to be enemies — so what happens when their lives collide?

Why I want to read it: You had me at feminist fairytale, but this highly anticipated book also happens to be a retelling of Frozen and Snow White.

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'Nyxia' by Scott Reintgen (September 12)

The 100 meets Illuminae in this high-octane sci-fi thriller. Emmett Atwater is one of 10 teens with troubled pasts recruited by Babel Corp to board a lightship bound for a hidden planet.

Why I want to read it: Everything is cooler in space!

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'Rebel Seoul' by Axie Oh (September 15)

This novel is set in East Asia in the year 2199. Lee Jaewon is a pilot recruited to shadow and report on Tera, a super-soldier built to fight in Neo Seoul's never-ending war. But as their partnership turns to love, Jaewon must decide where his loyalty belongs — with the republic? Or the rebellion?

Why I want to read it: It's basically Pacific Rim with a touch of K-Drama and tons of high-stakes action.

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'Speak Easy Speak Love' by McKelle George (September 19)

After being kicked out of boarding school, Beatrice is shipped to her uncle's estate in Long Island. There, she experiences a summer of of speakeasies, romance, and a comedy of errors inspired by Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.

Why I want to read it: It's set in the 1920s and the clothes and glam are totally our aesthetic.

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'Starfish' by Akemi Dawn Bowman (September 26)

Kiko Himura struggles with social anxiety and a narcissistic mother. When the opportunity to travel to the west coast arrives, Kiko jumps on it despite her fears, and embarks on a journey of self-discovery.

Why I want to read it: I love stories about the search within, and this one has a lot of heart.

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'Forest of a Thousand Lanterns' by Julie C. Dao (October 10)

Xifeng has always been sure of two truths: her beauty is unmatched and she is destined to become empress. But in order to fulfill her destiny, she must embrace the sorcery in her veins and spurn the man she loves.

Why I want to read it: It's an East Asian reimagining of the Evil Queen's story with a complex heroine that you will love to hate and hate to love.

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'Dare Mighty Things' by Heather Kaczynski (October 10)

Cassandra Gupta is brilliant and ready for the challenge of her life as she enters a grueling competition to win a a spot on a mysterious mission to the outer reaches of space.

Why I want to read it: I don't know who the other competitors are, but I'm already rooting for Cassie. Also, space.

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'Dear Martin' by Nic Stone (October 17)

Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set to attend an Ivy League school. But then he's unjustly arrested. After his release, he begins writing journal entries to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to process his emotions. But what happens when he's caught in the middle of more police brutality?

Why I want to read it: I'm a huge fan of The Hate U Give, and these books are just the beginning of the conversation.

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'Calling My Name' by Liara Tamani (October 24)

In this coming-of-age story, an African-American girl named Taja Brown narrates her struggles with life, love, and her own personal faith.

Why I want to read it: This is told in vignette chapters in the vein of Jacqueline Woodson.

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'This Mortal Coil' by Emily Suvada

Catarina Agatta is not your typical hacker. In a world where it's possible to rewrite your DNA, she's a gene-hacking genius. When a virus brings civilization to its knees, Cat might be the only hope the world has left.

Why I want to read it: Speculative sci-fi with a girl at the center of the action? Yes, please.

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'No Saints in Kansas' by Amy Brashear (November 14)

The quadruple murder of the Clutter family shakes the small town of Holcomb, Kansas. Nancy Clutter's boyfriend Bobby was the last one to see him alive. But Carly Fleming believes in his innocence. When her father is tasked with defending Bobby, the whole town turns against them, and Carly must stand up for the truth.

Why I want to read it: Inspired by Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, this book is bound to be chilling and addictive.

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