The 5 Best YA Novels Out This Month Have Love Triangles, Murderous Queens, & Serial Killers

by Caitlin White

You know those couple days after Christmas, when you likely have off work and school, and the holiday shopping, family time, and neverending stream of office and friend parties are done? Those couple days where you can take a breath? Those have always been my absolute favorite days for reading. If you celebrate Christmas, the tree is probably still up and smelling great the lights are lit, but you literally have nowhere you have to be. You can get in the new cozies someone who totally gets you gifted you for the holidays and cuddle up by the tree with that stack of books you haven't gotten a chance to really sit down and read.

It's the end of the year, so you can finally delve into those best books of the year you missed along the way—and you can add these new, best YA books of December to the pile, too.

Don't get too overwhelmed though, because after all the holiday chaos, we've kept it to a tight list of five top-notch young adult novels for this month. Five books? You can bang that out with a couple strong peppermint lattes and a few days before you head back to the real life of work and school.

Whether you're looking for a smart thriller, a fantasy origin story, or a great group of love triangles, there's something for you this December.

'Foolish Hearts' by Emma Mills (Dec. 5; Henry Holt and Co.)

A high school girl navigates breakups, new crushes, and expanding friendships, all centered around her school's upcoming production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. After accidentally overhearing the breakup of her all-girls school's "It" couple, Iris and Paige, Claudia becomes the target of Iris' wrath. However, after being paired on a project that ends up having them both work in the school play, Iris and Claudia start to form an unlikely bond — and Claudia begins to expand her horizons as a whole, beyond her one BFF. This story is heartwarming and thoughtful, and it's a much-needed exploration of expanding friend groups and horizons.

Click here to buy.

'The Truth Beneath the Lies' by Amanda Searcy (Dec. 12; Delacorte Press)

You'll be staying up late nights breathlessly reading Amanda Searcy's smartly plotted thriller. Two seemingly unconnected teen girls take turns narrating the story, but are they reliable? Betsy is hiding from her past and from the burner phone she keeps under her bed. Every time that burner phone rings, someone comes to kill her. Still, she makes friends with a pregnant, Mexican girl who goes by Happy and even starts to open up and be close to her family. Then there's Kayla. Kayla wants a better life than the one she's living in her government housing complex, so she works at a supermarket to earn enough to leave. Still, she gets distracted by a crush on a cute boy, even as a killer is murdering women nearby. Betsy and Kayla's lives intersect, and as the book promises, only one of the will survive.

Click here to buy.

'Three Sides of a Heart' edited by Natalie C. Parker (Dec. 19; HarperCollins)

I can't even believe how many of my favorite YA writers are joining forces for this anthology of the most controversial (but come on, one of our favorite) tropes in literature: love triangles. There's Sabaa Tahir, Renee Ahdieh, and Veronica Roth! There's Lamar Giles! Brandy Colbert! Julie Murphy! I could go on. The stories are fresh and diverse, with love interests that range from the girl next door to (other YA trope) vampires, to the literal last three people in the world. Get ready to choose sides and declare yourself #TeamSomeone as you read through this collection.

Click here to buy.

'The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily' by Laura Creedle (Dec. 26; HMH Books for Young Readers)

Lily has ADHD, and after secretly going off her meds, she ends up in detention with Abelard, who is on the autism spectrum. The two teens bond over a mutual love of The Letters of Abelard and Heloise — a set of real-life love letters between 12th Century French thinker Pierre Abelard and his student Heloise, a romance that ended tragically — and eventually fall in love. Their romance loosely starts to follow the arc of Abelard and Heloise's, as they both struggle with their respective futures and Lily considers a surgery that could "remove" her ADHD after pressure from her mother. Her decision and their moving love story will really get you thinking about mental illness and identity.

Click here to buy.

'The Young Queens' by Kendare Blake (Dec. 26; Harper Teen)

Three Dark Crowns fans, get yourselves to a bookstore! Kendare Blake is dropping a companion book that tells of the early lives of our favorite should-be murderous triplet queens, Mirabella, Arsinoe, and Katharine. We've gotten tastes of their backstories in Three Dark Crowns and One Dark Throne, but this book will delve into who they were before they were separated and pitted against each other for the throne. It's the perfect thing to keep you going until Blake releases the next installment of the fantasy series.

Click here to buy.