The 15 Best New YA Books Coming In October 2017
You're going to have to sit down for this one because the list of best YA books of October 2017 is pretty much mind-blowing for we young adult lovers. Let me tell you two things.
- There are multiple books coming in October that have already made the National Book Award longlist. That's a seriously big deal.
- John. Green. Is. Back. That's really all I need to say.
But before you scroll down already to the list to pre-order and put everything on your TBR, let's chat a little more about the busy month you're going to be having reading.
Starting from the bottom of the list, yes, John Green is making his long-awaited return to your bookshelf after 2012's The Fault in Our Stars (which you've probably heard of). I already have the date heart-shaped in my day planner.
But the rest of this list is so incredible, even the monumental shadow Green casts can't overshadow the talent and stories. I'll throw out a few more names: Nnedi Okorafor! Libba Bray! Philip Pullman! Jason Reynolds!
Make some room on your bookshelf, because here are the best YA books of October.
'Wild Beauty' by Anna-Marie McLemore (Oct. 3; Feiwel & Friends)
The Nomeolvides women are both blessed and cursed with magic. In a Practical Magic-esque spin, any person they fall in love with is prophesised to vanish—which is a problem because they've all fallen for the same woman. Then, one day, a mysterious man wanders into their lives, and the women wonder if he is one of this vanished lovers. Anna-Marie McLemore brings her singular lush, magical realism to this fairy-tale-style story, and it's only enhanced by the setting: All the cousins tend to the enchanting gardens of La Pradera estate, and readers are brought into this evocative world.
'Before the Devil Breaks You' by Libba Bray (Oct. 3; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Get your praise hands ready because Libba Bray and The Diviners are back! This time the latter is taking on a new enemy: ghosts. We're transported back to 1920s New York, where stories of possessions and even murder based out of an old Ward's Island asylum have the crew investigating paranormal activity—and its possible ties back to the King of Crows. Come on, fellow Bray fans: You already know you are going to love this page-turning installment.
'That Inevitable Victorian Thing' by E.K. Johnston (Oct. 3; Dutton Books for Young Readers)
E.K. Johnston takes us to a futuristic Victorian setting that imagines what would have happened if the British Empire didn't die out but overtook the globe and retained control of the world. This novel is told in a future version of that world, which is under the reign of teenager Victoria-Margaret. In this world, genetics determine your romantic match, so Canadian teen Helena holds a secret: her genes say she's intersex, which could disrupt the protocol of her world. The story is a uniquely told romance, centering on Margaret, Helena, and a boy named August, and the world-building is so compelling you'll be drawn right in.
'Far From the Tree' by Robin Benway (Oct. 3; HarperTeen)
Muppet arms for Robin Benway, because Far From the Tree is already longlisted for the National Book Award. This probably already earns it a spot on your TBR, but there's more, because people are already calling it the This Is Us of YA. 16-year-old Grace is an only child who was adopted from birth, and she just put her baby up for adoption. Facing this difficult decision makes her want to look into her own biological family, and she finds out she's not an only child, she's actually biologically a middle child. There's Maya, her younger sister, who was adopted by a wealthy family; and there's older brother Joaquin, who has spent his years in the foster care system. Through these birth siblings, Benway tells a heartfelt, tearjerking, and poignant story about family, adoption, identity, teen pregnancy, and so much more.
'Akata Warrior' by Nnedi Okorafor (Oct. 3; Viking Books for Young Readers)
We've been waiting since 2011 for a sequel to Akata Witch, and now the incredible Nnedi Okorafor has given us more of Sunny Nwazue and the Leopard Society. An older Sunny is still learning and training but is more in tune with her powers and is destined to avert an apocalypse. Readers are transported back to Okorafor's magical world, where present-day Nigeria blends with a fantasy, mythological world. Okorafor is a master, so of course you need to get your hands on this.
'The Nowhere Girls' by Amy Reed (Oct. 10; Simon Pulse)
Amy Reed's The Nowhere Girls is a call-to-action to fight back against rape culture. Grace Salter has just moved to town, and she learns that the former occupant of her new home and bedroom had accused three high school athletes of gang raping her at a party. After doing so, she was shamed and pushed out of town—and the men went unpunished. Incensed by the injustice, Grace and her two new friends Rosina and Erin, form a group to combat misogyny: The Nowhere Girls. This frank story about female sexuality and rape culture is (unfortunately) so timely and important, and hopefully the novel itself will challenge the status quo as much as the Nowhere Girls themselves do.
'Turtles All the Way Down' by John Green (Oct. 10; Dutton Books for Young Readers)
Do I even need to say that John Green releasing a new YA novel is a Really Big Deal? It's been five (long!) years since The Fault in Our Stars, so come on, we all know we're going to add this one to our collections. Turtles All the Way Down, as Green tells us, isn't about turtles at all, but is about a 16-year-old named Aza who suffers from OCD and finds herself wrapped up in solving a mystery for a $100,000 reward. Green himself lives with OCD, so expect a very honest, heartfelt portrayal of mental illness.
'All the Wind in the World' by Samantha Mabry (Oct. 10; Algonquin Young Readers)
If your crisp days of fall need some passion and dangerous romance, you can do no better than Samantha Mabry's All the Wind in the World, which has already made the National Book Award longlist. Sarah Jac and James pretend to be cousins to disguise their love as they work cutting maguey in the vast, dry fields of the Southwest. After an accident sends them on the run to a new, allegedly cursed, ranch called the Real Marvelous, their past comes back to haunt them in Mabry's evocative, dystopic fable.
'The Memory Trees' by Kali Wallace (Oct. 10; Katherine Tegan Books)
Sorrow Lovegood spent the first eight years of her life on a matriarch-run apple orchard in Vermont that had been passed through her family for generations. But after her 16-year-old sister's death, Sorrow was sent to live with her father in Florida. Now, eight years later, Sorrow returns to the orchard to test her memories of the night her sister died in a fire and uncovers mysteries and secrets about her childhood, her family, and the longstanding feud with the orchard's neighbors. Kali Wallace draws you into this darkly lyrical tale and doesn't let you go.
'Forest of a Thousand Lanterns' by Julie C. Dao (Oct. 10; Philomel Books)
Julie C. Dao has created a dark, East Asian, fantasy fairy tale that will completely captivate you. Xifeng is fated to become Empress — at least according to her abusive aunt, a witch named Guma who has raised her in an impoverished, tiny village. To achieve her destiny, Xifeng escapes Guma and runs away with the love of her life, Wei. However, she soon realizes that to become Empress, she has to sacrifice her relationship with Wei and succumb to some of her darker, more violent desires. The result is lush twist on the Evil Queen origin story from Snow White, and thankfully it's just book one of Dao's series.
'I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter' by Erika L. Sánchez (Oct. 17; Knopf Books for Young Readers)
Perfect Mexican daughter? That was Olga, who works, helps her parents, and dresses appropriately. But it's Julia that's left behind when her 22-year-old sister Olga is hit by a truck and killed. Julia, for her part, can never live up to her Amá and Apá’s expectations and rebels against their rules. Still, Julia suspects Olga's facade wasn't her true sister, and the more she explores Olga's things, the more that perfect exterior starts to crumble. Alongside her best friend and her new boyfriend, Julia learns more about her sister and also how she can be herself under her family's constraints.
'A Line in the Dark' by Malinda Lo (Oct. 17; Dutton Books for Young Readers)
How perfect is this book cover art for October? The inside, though, is even more hauntingly captivating thriller. Malinda Lo spins a unique murder mystery told half in first person and half in third and via police transcripts. Chinese-American teenager Jess Wong, our original first person speaker, has an unrequited crush on her best friend Angie, who in turn, is dating popular boarding schooler Margot. Jess worries about Margot's influence on her friend, and when one of Margot's best friends is found murdered, Jess finds herself at the center of the investigation.
'The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage' by Philip Pullman (Oct. 19; Knopf Books for Young Readers)
OK, so this book veers into middle grade but... Philip Pullman! Philip Pullman is writing a new fantasy series: The Book of Dust! It's in the very same parallel world as our girl Lyra Belacqua and His Dark Materials! We're sold. In this three-part series Pullman will tell different parts of Lyra's life and how she came to live at Jordan College. In this book, he'll start when Lyra was a baby. In the next, it will jump 20 years later. And right now, he's not spilling any secrets on book three. Characters we know will pop in and out (some will be familiar if we were paying close attention!), and honestly, he doesn't have to say anymore because we are in.
'Long Way Down' by Jason Reynolds (Oct. 24; Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books)
Jason Reynolds' Long Way Down has already been longlisted for this year's National Book Award, and the accolade is well-earned. Reynolds — never one to shy from a writing challenge — tells his story in verse over the course of one 67-second elevator ride. Black teenager Will just witnessed his older brother shot and killed on the street, and he knows his rules: "if someone you love / gets killed, / find the person / who killed / them and / kill them." So he finds his brother's gun and goes seeking revenge. But on every floor of the ride, another "ghost" from his past, another victim of gun violence, steps onto the elevator to confront him. A masterpiece in structure and in story, Long Way Down is intense and powerful, it's so full of humanity and it will move readers, especially in this current climate.
'Beasts Made of Night' by Tochi Onyebuchi (Oct. 31; Razorbill)
In Tochi Onyebuchi's gritty, Nigerian-inspired fantasy, people's sins can be drawn from themselves and materialized into literal monsters via their guilt. These sin-beasts are hunted by aki, or sin-eaters, and Taj is one of the most talented in his city of Kos. After every kill, the aki receive a tattoo denoting their achievement. However, Taj gets caught up in something much bigger than himself when he's asked to eat the sin of King Kolade himself and the beast nearly kills him, marking him. Onyebuchi's debut novel explores class, politics, religion, and so much more, all in a world that is masterfully built, sweeping, and imaginative.