The 12 Best Young Adult Novels Coming Out In February 2019
Happy Valentine's Day to you, because there are so many YA novels to fall in love with coming out this month. This list of the best young adult novels of February contains some huge names (ahem, ever heard of Angie Thomas?) and some super exciting debut authors that are already getting serious buzz.
Let's just get right to the point: Angie Thomas is following up her massive debut THUG with On the Come Up, so we're already sold, no questions asked. Plus, Robin LaFevers is returning to her His Fair Assassin universe with a new duology, and cult-fave authors Jeff Zentner and Shaun David Hutchinson are each releasing new books. As for debuts, get the names Tehlor Kay Mejia, Lizzy Mason, and Astrid Scholte on your radar now.
This month, your bookshelf will be packed to the brim with fantasies, contemporary stories, some dystopia (which feels like a return to some classic YA). Tehlor Kay Mejia's We Set the Dark on Fire is like a Latinix The Handmaid's Tale with a new spin, and S.E. Grove's The Waning Age is giving us hints of Lauren Oliver's Delirum with its premise that children eventually are waned off their emotions.
Check out the best YA books coming out this month.
'On The Come Up' by Angie Thomas (Feb. 5; Balzer + Bray)
Angie Thomas's debut heard 'round the world The Hate U Give won a laundry list of awards and was adapted into a movie—this is after a massive bidding war (13 houses!!) to publish the book. So, to say expectations are high for her sophomore YA novel would be a massive understatement. But, of course, Thomas has risen to the challenge with the vibrant and raw On the Come Up, which is set in the same neighborhood as THUG. Bri wants to be a rap superstar, just like her father was destined to be before he was killed in gang violence. But her life can't be all beats and rhymes, because she's bogged down with just getting by day to day. Bri and her mom live a life of food banks and overwhelming bills and potential homelessness.
'The Waning Age' by S.E. Grove (Feb. 5; Viking Books for Young Readers)
The Waning Age brings dystopia back to YA, in a novel that feels like Lauren Oliver's Delirum mixed up with Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. Set in a parallel San Francisco, everyone in this starts to lose their emotions when they turn 10. Natalia Peña started waning ages ago, so it's surprising that when her little brother is kidnapped by a corporation for testing because he doesn't seem to be losing his emotions, she is overcome and will do anything to get him back. Natalie uses her martial arts skills and (maybe?) her love for her brother that never faded to hunt him down, coming face to face with killers, violence, and secrets about their world.
'Courting Darkness' by Robin LaFevers (Feb. 5; HMH Books for Young Readers)
Robin LaFevers expands her His Fair Assassins universe with Courting Darkness, the first in a new duology. Assassin Sybella from Dark Triumph takes center stage, and she has one major goal: protect her younger sisters from their vicious brother and his house. To do that, she accompanies Duchess Anne to France where she will marry King Charles and, according to their agreement, take Sybella's sisters into her care. Meanwhile, we meet Genevieve, another assassin and daughter of Mortain who has been undercover in the French court for years, gathering information and waiting for an assignment. Sybella and Gen each tell their stories in alternating chapters as their paths ultimately converge.
'Lady Smoke' by Laura Sebastian (Feb. 5; Delacorte Press)
Laura Sebastian's Lady Smoke is the sequel to one of the hottest fantasies of the summer, Ash Princess. (Spoilers for book one ahead!) It starts right back where Ash Princess ended, with Theo on a boat headed away from Astrea. She wants allies and an army to free her people from the Kaiser's rule, but her aunt — her late mother, the Fire Queen's, sister and the pirate Dragonsban — convinces her the only way to achieve either is to marry. But can she do all that without losing her true self? Needless to say, we're all going to be anxiously awaiting book three after this one.
'Watch Us Rise' by Renée Watson & Ellen Hagan (Feb. 12; Bloomsbury YA)
Intersectional feminism and activism are at the core of Renee Watson and Ellen Hagan's novel Watch Us Rise. Best friends Jasmine and Chelsea start a Women's Rights Club at their progressive New York City high school, showing that racism and sexism is alive in even what we consider our safest spaces. Their club is targeted by trolls and the school administration, and so the friends learn about what it means to fight for your beliefs to act as a catalyst for change.
'The Black Coats' by Colleen Oakes (Feb. 12; HarperTeen)
The titular Black Coats is a secret society of women who plot revenge on the men who hurt them. High schooler Thea Soloman is invited to join as she's grieving the death of her cousin Natalie — and the lack of justice against the perpetrator. The Black Coats use what they call "Balancings," acts of vigilantism that range from blackmail to violence. As these Balancings start to escalate in brutality, Thea has to decide where to draw the line in her quest for vengeance. It's a story not just about examining what justice is in a sexist culture, but it's about living and moving forward with grief.
'The Art of Losing' by Lizzy Mason (Feb. 19; Soho Teen)
Lizzy Mason's The Art of Losing shows how much can change over the course of one night. Harley was not meant to see what was happening behind closed doors at a party—that her boyfriend, Mike, and her younger sister, Audrey, were hooking up. In the aftermath, Mike tries to drunkenly drive Audrey home and they crash, leaving Harley's sister in a coma. Racked with guilt, anger, and grief, Harley is forced to see what she had been ignoring for so long: Mike's struggle with alcoholism. So, when Harley reconnects with a childhood friend, Raf, who is recently out of rehab, he helps her see a way forward through all this pain.
'The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried' by Shaun David Hutchinson (Feb. 19; Simon Pulse)
The Past and Other Things that Should Stay Buried has Shaun David Hutchinson's trademark weird (in the best way) and moving story. Dino DeLuca is used to death because his family runs a funeral home. But, he wasn't expecting his ex-best friend July Cooper to die, and he definitely wasn't expecting her body to start talking back to him from the table at the funeral home. Now, the two friends have another chance to mend their friendship that they lost before July's death.
'Rayne & Delilah's Midnite Matinee' by Jeff Zentner (Feb. 26; Crown Books for Young Readers)
Every Friday night, best friends Delia and Josie become Rayne Ravenscroft and Delilah Darkwood, hosts of local cable show Midnite Matinee, during which they laugh and chat while watching bad horror movies. The low-rent horror videos are essentially all Delia has from her father, who abandoned the family, and she harbors a hope that if Midnight Matinee is a success, he'll seek her out. But Josie's family wants her to move on from the show, accept a TV internship, and attend college. With high school graduation on the horizon, the two friends are in a push and pull between growing up and leaving behind "Rayne and Delilah" or holding on to what binds them together.
'We Set the Dark on Fire' by Tehlor Kay Mejia (Feb. 26; Katherine Tegen Books)
In the divided island nation of Medio, one side of the wall is impoverished and the other is upper-class. On the elite side, women are trained at the Medio School for Girls to be one of a two different kinds of wives: one who runs the household (Primera) or one who raises children (Segunda). Primera are considered the intellectual matches for the husband; Segunda are nurturers. Daniela Vargas is the school's top student, but she's hiding a secret: She was born on the other side of the wall and forged her papers. Dani is matched with a powerful man as his Primera along with her school rival Carmen Santos, the Segunda. When a resistance group discovers Dani's secret, they recruit her into spying on her new family, and she forms an unexpected and intense bond with Carmen.
'What We Buried' by Kate A. Boorman (Feb. 26; Henry Holt and Co.)
Liv was groomed for life in the spotlight. She's a reality TV star and a former pageant queen. However, her brother Jory was the opposite. He was pushed into the shadows by their parents because he was born with partial face paralysis. Now that the siblings' parents go missing, both Liv—who was in the middle of an emancipation lawsuit—and Jory are prime suspects. The estranged brother and sister join forces on a road trip to hunt down their abusive and neglectful parents, but their trip becomes surreal as they experience their memories and deja vu all along the way.
'Four Dead Queens' by Astrid Scholte (Feb. 26; G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers)
Science fiction and fantasy meld in this debut novel by Astrid Scholte. Quadara is divided into quadrants that are strictly divided and each value something different: intellectualism and education, pleasure, agriculture and nature, and technology. Keralie is a pickpocket, and she gets herself into real trouble when she finds herself in the possession of comm chips—basically SIM cards of someone's memories—that show the assassination of each of Quadara’s four queens. Caught in the middle of a conspiracy, Keralie is forced to team up with her target, from whom she stole the comm chips, to solve the murder mystery of the queens.