Gift Guides Books Pop Culture

25 amazing new YA books that need to be on your reading list this year

Can you believe that half of the year is over and behind us? I am emotionally still in 2017. One good thing about reaching the second half of 2018 is that we’re finally closer to the release of these amazing upcoming books. From fantasy to contemporary, sci-fi to historical fiction, these books need to be on your radar and bookshelves.

1. What If It’s Us by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli
[Image Description: Cover of What If It’s Us] Via Goodreads
Released: October 9, 2018

Why it shines: What If It’s Us is the author collab dream. What happens when an author known for feel-good romcoms meets another who’s notorious for breaking readers’ hearts, and they decide to write a book together? The result is a bittersweet and realistic story about two boys who have an epic meet-cute and beautiful summer romance with its ups and downs.

Get it from Amazon for $17.09+.

2. A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna
[Image Description: Cover of A Spark of White Fire] Via Goodreads
Released: September 4, 2018

Why it shines: Magnificent is the word to describe this book. A glorious space opera in the veins of the Indian epic Mahabharata, the story tracks the journey of Esmae, the ultimate antiheroine in the wrong side of the war. It’s a story of war, ambition, power, betrayal and will drown you in all the feels. Also, if you’re Desi and you love Karna, you’ll love this book.

Get it from Amazon for $17.99.

3. Mirage by Somaiya Daud
[Image Description: Cover of Mirage] Via Goodreads
Released: August 28, 2018

Why it shines: A Moroccan-inspired fantasy that is lush, whimsical, gorgeous, and as spectacular as that cover, Mirage is a gripping story centered on political intrigue and, well, mirages. Standing in as a body double for a cruel princess, Amani’s story is spellbinding, her forbidden romance sizzling, and her world absolutely stunning.

Get it from Amazon for $18.99+.

4. Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
[Image Description: Cover of Darius the Great is Not Okay] Via Goodreads
Released: August 28, 2018

Why it shines: Darius’ story will resonate with anyone who has ever felt like that they don’t fit in or are a disappointment. His trip to Iran ends up as a journey of self-discovery. The novel touches upon his depression and sexuality in a subtle yet present way and is a true coming-of-age story.

Get it from Amazon for $17.99.

5. For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig
[Image Description: Cover of For a Muse of Fire] Via Goodreads
Released: September 25, 2018

Why it shines: Set in 1874, this South East Asian fantasy is a fine aesthetic mixture of theatre, music, shadow puppets, magic and will make you feel like part of the audience in an auditorium back in history. The main character’s Chinese heritage and her bipolar disorder are both shared by the author, and the authenticity meshes well with the evocative story.

Get it from Amazon for $17.99+.

6. Black Wings Beating by Alex London
[Image Description: Cover of Black Wings Beating] Via Goodreads
Released: September 25, 2018

Why it shines: Alex London returns to YA after the 2014 sequel to Proxy with a fantasy about killer eagles. Following the story of twins in a world centered on falconry, this fantasy offers everything: thrill, action, secrets, romance, sibling dynamics, conflicted emotions, and a lot of awesomeness.

Get it from Amazon for $17.99+.

7. The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta
[Image Description: Cover of The Brilliant Death] Via Goodreads
Released: October 30, 2018

Why it shines: 19th century Italy. Mafia. Family. Forbidden magic. Assassins. Court dynamics. A sexy gender non-conforming tutor and explosive romance. What else do you need to get sold on a book? This queer fantasy sounds mysterious, magical,  and too intriguing to miss out on.

Get it from Amazon for $18.99+.

8. Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
[Image Description: Cover of Girls of Paper and Fire] Via Goodreads
Released: November 6, 2018

Why it shines: To quote the author: “Girls of Paper and Fire is a YA oriental-inspired fantasy with a lesbian romance at its core. There are also demons and concubines and a hidden palace and assassins and battles in the sky, and, did I mention, lesbian lovers?” Do you need any more convincing?

Get it from Amazon for $18.99+.

9. A Blade So Black by L. L. McKinney
[Image Description: Cover of A Blade So Black] Via Goodreads
Released: September 25, 2018

Why it shines: I have followed the author on Twitter long enough to witness this being written. So it’s surreal that it’s almost here. A darker retelling of Alice in Wonderland, where Alice is black and badass and the wonderland is filled with dangers and mysteries, is ready to wow you this fall. Also, can we flail over that cover a bit?

Get it from Amazon for $18.99+.

10. Sadie by Courtney Summers
[Image Description: Cover of Sadie] Via Goodreads
Released: September 4, 2018

Why it shines: Courtney Summers is too good at what she does, and this book is proof for that. Part mystery and part emotional masterpiece, Sadie is a narrative about a girl on the hunt to find her sister’s killer, while a podcast tries to delve into her story. The book will keep you hooked, break your heart, and leave a mark forever.

Get it from Amazon for $17.99+.

11. A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
[Image Description: Cover of A Very Large Expanse of Sea] Via Goodreads
Released: October 16, 2018

Why it shines: Tahereh Mafi is no stranger to a YA fan. But this is the author’s first contemporary novel, and she doesn’t hold anything back. Set in 2002, it’s both nostalgic and politically relevant, chronicling the story of a Muslim hijabi in America during the aftermath of 9/11. This is not going to be an easy book to read, but I can’t wait.

Get it from Amazon for $15.19+.

12. Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson
[Image Description: Cover of Dance of Thieves] Via Goodreads
Released: August 7, 2018

Why it shines: If you are a fan of Mary E. Pearson’s Kiss of Deception and the Remnant Chronicles, here’s some good news: there’s more coming your way! Set in the same world, Dance of Thieves is a cat and mouse game between a former street thief and an outlaw leader. I have so many expectations riding on this ship, give me all the angst. I’m ready.

Get it from Amazon for $15.19+.

13. Pride by Ibi Zoboi
[Image Description: Cover of Pride] Via Goodreads
Released: September 18, 2018

Why it shines: After her explosive debut, American Street, Ibi Zoboi returns with a modern and diverse retelling of Pride and Prejudice, and makes it oh-so-relevant and timely. The highlights of the book are rooted in Zuri’s pride in her roots and the importance of family. Let’s not forget the banter, though. This is enemies-to-lovers done right.

Get it from Amazon for $17.99+.

14. Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean
[Image Description: Cover of Empress of All Seasons] Via Goodreads
Released: November 6, 2018

Why it shines: Can I take a moment to squeal about all these amazing Asian fantasies??? Set in ancient Japan, Empress of All Seasons follows the competition to find the next empress. Through it, we meet Mari, who has a terrifying secret: she can transform into a monster. With a fascinating world, intriguing twists, and a potential love triangle, this book is sure to be a stunner.

Get it from Amazon for $17.99+.

15. Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer
[Image Description: Cover of Not Even Bones] Via Goodreads
Released: September 4, 2018

Why it shines: This is not your feel-good, bed-of-roses type of book. It’s bloody, gory, and mindblowing. If you are a Dexter, Hannibal, Silence of the Lambs or Criminal Minds kind of person, then this is right up your alley. Nita’s story is dark, intense, unapologetic, and full of gray morals and choices. Put simply? This book is fucked up but in the best way.

Get it from Amazon for $17.99+.

16. Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore
[Image Description: Cover of Blanca & Roja ] Via Goodreads
Released: October 9, 2018

Why it shines: If you tell me that Anna Marie Mclemore invented magical realism, I’d gladly accept that claim. She has made the genre her own with her magical and lush stories, and this combination of Snow White & Rose Red and Swan Lake is surely going to be breathtaking, swoon-worthy, and queer AF.

Get it from Amazon for $4.99+.

17. Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa
[Image Description: Cover of Shadow of the Fox ] Via Goodreads
Released: October 2, 2018

Why it shines: Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series was one of those ultra-popular fantasy worlds when I first got into YA. It’s so exciting to all her fans that she’s back, especially with dragons. Inspired by Japanese folklore, this thrilling fantasy will bring generous servings of dragons, yokai, magic, samurais, mages, and all kinds of mythical goodness to your bookshelf.

Get it from Amazon for $19.99+.

18. Odd One Out by Nic Stone
[Image Description: Cover of Odd One Out] Via Goodreads
Released: October 9, 2018

Why it shines: I would usually run far away from a contemporary love triangle, but this is Nic Stone, my absolute queen. So I’m heading into this blindly without a single regret. Odd One Out drops any of those overused cliches in love triangles, instead choosing to explore real emotions and conflicts. Throughout the novel, interweaving nuances of race, sexuality, and fluidity seamlessly shine through. I’m ready.

Get it from Amazon for $17.99+.

19. This is Kind of an Epic Love Story by Kheryn Callender
[Image Description: Cover of This is Kind of an Epic Love Story] Via Goodreads
Released: October 30, 2018

Why it shines: Gay-childhood-best-friends-turned-into-lovers needs to become 2018’s new literary trope. This beautiful romance revolves around a classic match between a pessimist who has sworn off happy endings and his estranged childhood best friend who’s now back in his life. It’s cute, inclusive as hell, and the QPOC rom-com the world needs.

Get it from Amazon for $17.99+.

20. Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan
[Image Description: Cover of Ignite the Stars] Via Goodreads
Released: September 4, 2018

Why it shines: A space opera that sounds like a thrilling ride – and gives a lot of Rogue One vibes from the synopsis – with strong female friendships, a badass heroine. and a swoon-worthy forbidden romance? Sign me up.

Get it from Amazon for $17.99+.

21. Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman
[Image Description: Cover of Dry ] Via Goodreads
Released: October 2, 2018

Why it shines: Neal Shusterman and his son, Jarrod, (remember Challenger Deep?) get very real about climate change in this harrowing dystopian tale of survival, humanity, and the environment. Set in the aftermath of a drought with disastrous consequences, the book is timely and bound to make you think.

Get it from Amazon for $12.91+.

22. The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White
[Image Description: Cover of The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein] Via Goodreads
Released: September 25, 2018

Why it shines: Anyone who has read And I Darken knows that Kiersten White is a master of dark and sinister retellings. She returns with that magic in The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein. It’s a gothic and mysterious retelling of Frankenstein that will give a completely different point of view to the classic story by Mary Shelley.

Get it from Amazon for $18.99+.

23. Seafire by Natalie C. Parker
[Image Description: Cover of Seafire] Via Goodreads
Released: August 28, 2018

Why it shines: An epic female fantasy and celebration of sisterhood and found family that the world needs. Seafire follows the story of the fierce female captain, Caledonia, and a crew of equally badass women. And if there’s anything more amazing than an all-female cast taking down a corrupt warlord, I don’t what is.

Get it from Amazon for $14.74+.

24. Hullmetal Girls by Emily Skrutskie
[Image Description: Cover of Hullmetal Girls] Via Goodreads
Released: July 17, 2018

Why it shines: Emily Skrutskie calls this, “my little standalone sci-fi Battlestar/Pacific Rim/Sense8/Snowpiercer frolic, affectionately known as Cyborg Space Jam.” Are you flailing your arms? I certainly am. It has spaceships, angry badass girls, gray morals, an aroace MC, space adventures and machines with sass. Give it to me already.

Get it from Amazon for $17.99+.

25. To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin
[Image Description: Cover of To Be Honest] Via Goodreads
Released: August 21, 2018

Why it shines: First of all, how awesome is that cover? To Be Honest is a very realistic, hilarious and heartbreaking novel about insecurities, self-love, and, most of all, a very complicated relationship between a daughter and a mother. It’s a contemporary book full of heart and warmth.

Get it from Amazon for $16.99+.

By Mishma Nixon

Mishma is originally from Sri Lanka, and is currently an undergraduate student at The University of Iowa. Majoring in English and Creative Writing with minors in Cinema and Social Justice, she hopes to create diverse and inclusive children's stories that she has always wanted to see. She is a textbook Hufflepuff who's obsessed with antiheroes/villains, Brooklyn 99, tea and 80's teen movies.