The 15 Best YA Novels Of January 2018 To Get You Started On Your New Year's Reading Resolution
With the holiday rush over and all the champagne popped (or the bonus sleep gotten as the ball dropped at midnight, let's be honest) with the new year, it's time to get started on those New Year's reading resolutions. And let's be honest, all the best resolutions have to do with reading more books.
If you've promised yourself you're going to read more this year, young adult authors have given you loads of opportunities to start adding to and checking off your TBR list. The best books of January 2018 is a stacked list, which is the best way to start a new year.
YA fantasy and sci-fi stars like Marie Lu, Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner, and Holly Black all kick off the new year with new books (many of which start off their own new series!). Everyone is buzzing about debut YA novels from soon-to-be-beloved authors Sara Holland, Lianne Oelke, Samira Ahmed, Melissa Albert, and more.
As readers, we'll launch into the land of the dead; grisly, feminist fairy tales, (back!) to the land of Faerie, a high school reality show, an alien planet, a murder mystery, and so many other compelling worlds, both contemporary and fantastical. And it's awesome that so many of these books showcase diverse romantic relationships. Other YA novels will tackle issues already so vital in our society today, such as the Syrian refugee crisis, terrorism and bigotry, and spousal and parental abuse. And it's awesome that so many of these books showcase diverse romantic relationships.
Hopefully you got new bookshelves for the holiday season, because you're going to need room for these 16 books:
'Batman: Nightwalker' by Marie Lu (Jan. 2; Random House Books for Young Readers)
Marie Lu takes on the missing years of one of the most iconic comic book heroes of all time in Batman: Nightwalker. We've seen Bruce Wayne's tragic backstory and his years as Batman so many times, but Lu fills in the gaps of his troubled teen years in the newest addition to the DC Icons YA series. A trouble-making, pre-Batman Bruce gets in trouble with the police and is forced into community service at the infamous Arkham Asylum, where he meets a captivating woman with ties to Gotham's most dangerous criminal gang.
'The Cruel Prince' by Holly Black (Jan. 2; Little, Brown Books For Young Readers)
Sound the alarm because Holly Black is back with a brand-new YA trilogy set in her dark world of Faerie: The Cruel Prince will kick off the The Folk of the Air series. When she was just seven years old, human Jude witnessed the murder of her parents' at the hands of faerie Madoc, who stole her and her sisters and raised them as his own in the High Court of Faerie. The story is full of intrigue and power struggles, but it's at its most compelling when it explores the complex nature of Jude's family, nature vs. nurture, and how to find your true identity and home in this experience.
'Meet Cute' by various authors (Jan. 2; HMH Books for Young Readers)
A collection of diverse love stories by some of YA's most exciting authors? Um, is this a leftover gift from Santa? Every romance has an origin story, and these short stories center on the "how we met" of all kinds of teenage relationships. There's Dhonielle Clayton's thoughtful speculative fiction story about the gods choosing a romantic partner for a teenage girl; Nina LaCour's beautiful story has two girls connecting via an angry tweet; Jennifer L. Armentrout's adorable tale of a love story sparked by an overdue library book; and so much more. Keep this one in your tote bag for when the winter feels particularly cold.
'Everless' by Sara Holland (Jan. 2; HarperTeen)
Remember the bad Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried movie where time was literal currency? (It could just be me.) Everless spins a similar idea with far, far better execution and much more compelling characters and twists and turns. In Sara Holland's Sempera universe, the rich aristocracy extend their own lifespans by taxing the poor and middle class out of literal time off their lives in the form of iron forged with blood. Jules Ember leans that her father is dying and will do anything to earn, beg, borrow, or steal more time currency for him. So, Jules returns to the Gerling family estate, Everless, where she and her dad used to be servants before being forced to flee because of the family's cruel son. Everless is crazy addictive; it's one of those "oh shoot I missed my subway stop because I was reading" stories that will have you begging for the sequel.
'Love and Other Trainwrecks' by Leah Konen (Jan. 2; Katherine Tegan Books)
What if a "meet cute" is more of a "meet terrible?" Leah Konen gives more dimensions and flaws in her two young will-be lovers in this story that unfolds over the course of 24 hours. Ammy, a love cynic, and Noah, a hopeless romantic, meet on a broken-down Amtrak train and join forces to find other ways to make it back home for their respective purposes: Ammy, to attend her father's commitment ceremony to the woman who helped break up her parents' marriage, and Noah to try to win back his ex-girlfriend. As Ammy and Noah recover from their "meet terrible" they start to open up about their backstories, motivations, and hopes as they embark on a often-hilarious journey home and, of course, start to fall for each other.
'Nice Try, Jane Sinner' by Lianne Oelke (Jan. 9; Clarion Books)
After getting expelled from high school, Jane Sinner moves out, works for her GED at a local community college, and joins the cast of the student-run reality TV show House of Orange to subsidize her housing—and have the chance to win a car, which she aims to do. The set up also helps her get space from her Christian parents who never seemed to understand her. Behind Jane's newfound fame on the show, readers get to understand more about the events that have truly shaped her character, her attitude and wit, and her struggles in school and with her parents. Jane as a character pops off the page, and she makes for a sharp heroine that you'll love following through the story.
'Unearthed' by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (Jan. 9; Disney-Hyperion)
Starbound series collaborators Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner are back together! And they're back in space! (It's cool, I know it's been on your calendar since it was announced in 2015.) Earth is in decay thanks to devastating climate change, so they look to an extinct alien race and its planet Gaia for technology and artifacts to help. Jules and Mia encounter each other smuggling on Gaia, though each have different motivations: Jules is more Indiana Jones, as he hopes to study and learn from what he finds to save Earth; Mia wants to scavenge to sell for money to save her sister. Still the two form an unlikely alliance to get what they're looking for, if they can overcome the secrets and traps along the way.
'Love, Hate & Other Filters' by Samira Ahmed (Jan. 16; Soho Teen)
In this stunning #OwnVoices novel, Indian-American Muslim Maya finds herself pulled between being the "proper" daughter her parents want her to be, escaping to New York to live out her dreams as a filmmaker, and making it through the real-life hatred and bigotry bubbling up in her small town in the aftermath of a terrorist attack far away. Maya is a beautifully and authentically drawn, compelling character, and the subject matter feels so vital in today's social and political climate.
'Truly Devious' by Maureen Johnson (Jan. 16; HarperCollins)
Be still, my Agatha-Christie-loving beating heart. An early-20th-Century tycoon founded Ellingham Academy private school for the best and brightest to study their passions. It quickly became the site of one of the most notorious crimes in history when Albert Ellingham's wife and daughter were kidnapped, and the only clue was a riddle signed by "Truly, Devious." So it feels fitting that Stevie Bell enrolls in Ellingham Academy to study crime. And her first major project? To solve the riddle and figure out what happened to Albert's family. But things get a lot more urgent when a murder points to the return of "Truly, Devious."
'A Land of Permanent Goodbyes' by Atia Abawi (Jan. 23; Philomel Books)
Accomplished Middle East-based journalist Atia Abawi returns to YA fiction with the heartbreaking, and to-the-minute timely story of the Syrian refugee crisis. Abawi gives even more humanity, depth, and understanding to the headlines, telling a story of the fictional Tareq and his family, who are trying to seek safety from their war-torn home of Syria. After losing most of his family in a bombing, Tareq, his father, and younger sister trek from their home to Turkey and eventually across the treacherous waters to Greece. The story is narrated by Destiny, and it's a difficult and heart-wrenching story that needs to be told more and more, as countries around the world are still making decisions with how to address the crisis in Syria and with refugees across the globe.
'Reign of the Fallen' by Sarah Glenn Marsh (Jan. 23; Razorbill)
Odessa is a necromancer—she is trained to venture to the Deadlands to retrieve the souls of dead nobility and raise them back to her land where the living and the dead coexist. There's one major danger in her job: If a member of the living sees beneath the dead's shroud before they are raised, the dead will become a zombie-esque monster called a Shade. And now, Shades seem to be overtaking the world, and Odessa must find the culprit who seems to be creating them on pupose. Moreover, Odessa is overcome with grief after losing her love Evander, and has taken to a potent tonic to cope. Evoking elements of the Greek myth of Eurydice and Orpheus, Sarah Glenn Marsh presents a lush fantasy world that will have you burning through the pages to learn more.
'Markswoman' by Rati Mehrotra (Jan. 23; Harper Voyager)
The Markswomen of the Order of Kali are a team of female assassins powered by telepathic daggers, and teenage Kyra is their youngest member. Members are required to forget their past and devote themselves to the Order, but Kyra secretly holds a thirst for revenge against those who murdered her family. Soon, Kyra's mentor and the leader of the group is killed, and suspicious and dangerous Tamsyn takes control of the Order. So, when Kyra assassinates a member of the gang that slaughtered her village out of revenge, Kyra escapes out of fear for what Tamsyn will do. Kyra finds refuge with the Order of Khur, the only order that is all men. She finds an unlikely alliance with one of its members, and she aims to return to her Order and defeat Tamsyn and her corrupt rule. The part-fantasy, part-post-apocalyptic world is spellbinding, and who doesn't want to read a book with an all-female group of badass assassins?
'Let's Talk About Love' by Claire Kann (Jan. 23; Swoon Reads)
Claire Kann's romance story shines a light on asexuality, which is often misunderstood and under-addressed in fiction and nonfiction across genres and age groups. Alice's relaxing summer plans are upended when her girlfriend ends their relationship after Alice shares that she's asexual. Now, she tells her self she's done with relationships for now—but that's until she meets Takumi and feels those can't-stop-thinking-about-you swoons of a real crush. Alice and Takumi work together at the library and become close, and though Alice is feeling all those feels, her last relationship has left her afraid to open up and show Takumi who she is.
'The Hazel Wood' by Melissa Albert (Jan. 30; Flatiron Books)
Alice has never really known her grandmother Althea, who achieved cult fame for her collection of dark, feminist fairy tales, and who has recently died. Instead, she's spent her life on the run from bad luck that seems to chase her and her mother, Ella. But when Ella goes missing, stolen by someone who claims to live in her grandmother's fairy tale universe, Alice has to become intimately familiar with the matriarch and the tales she spun. Alice's mother left only one clue, "Stay away from the Hazel Wood”—Althea's estate. Now, Alice has teamed up with her classmate Ellery Finch, one of Althea's most devoted fans, and gone back to the Hazel Wood to find the clues to rescue her mother, and maybe figure out secrets of her own life. Like another literary Alice before her, Melissa Albert's Alice opens up a whole new incredible fairy tale world, though this is much darker and more grisly, and it has fewer happy endings.
'The Dangerous Art of Blending In' by Angelo Surmelis (Jan. 30; Balzer + Bray)
Evan Panos is careful with his secrets. First, he kissed a boy this summer, and he's falling for his best friend Henry. Second, his devout Christian, Greek immigrant mother is frighteningly abusive, often in response to his first secret. In conflict and turmoil between his family and who he is, he finds refuge drawing in an empty church, in Dunkin' Donuts trips with his more passive father, and especially with Henry, who seems like he's reciprocating Evan's feelings. However, the more time Evan spends with Henry, the more it incites his mother's anger and abuse. You Your heart will break and yearn and ache as Evan finds his freedom, voice, and peace.