You know what the new year means, don’t you? New favorite authors to discover, of course! And this year’s crop of debuts is set to shine. Here, some of the best freshman efforts—from gritty, timely coming of age and contemp romps to new takes on fantasy and retellings—set to hit shelves in the first half of 2018.
See all 2018 previews here.
Gunslinger Girl, by Lyndsay Ely (January 2)
A second Civil War? These days, it feels like it could be all too real—and it is in this YA western from James Paterson’s YA imprint. In it, Serendipity “Pity” Jones is a motherless child turned sure shot, but even her sharp shooting skills haven’t prepared her for the darkness that has descended on the sin city of Cessation. Definitely put this one on your TBR if you’re craving a Westworld fix.
Love Hate & Other Filters, by Samira Ahmed (January 16)
Maya Aziz is an American teen with big city dreams and a camera in her hand. She’s got a crush on a maybe unsuitable boy, and parents who just don’t understand why she doesn’t straighten up and pursue the good (read: obedient!) Muslim girl path they’ve laid out for her. But that cultural tug becomes all out war when a terrorist incident incites hate in her hometown of Chicago. Timely and super-relevant, Ahmed’s debut offers another filter on a squarely American teen existence—one still rarely explored on the page.
Down And Across, by Arvin Ahmadi (January 30)
Scott Ferdowsi’s high school superlative? The Ultimate Quitter. He stopped writing that novel at chapter three, lasted one week at his internship, and hasn’t even started on his college applications, let alone chosen a career path. But a trip to DC on a whim—in the hopes of finding a professor who teaches grit, of all things—might just give Scott that sense of direction he’s looking for. Either way, he’s in for the wildest summer of his life.
The Hazel Wood, by Melissa Albert (January 30)
A Grimm-ish fairytale if ever there was one, this fantasy (by B&N Teen’s own Melissa Albert!) is a must read for those who like their stories rich, old school, and twisted. For as long as she can remember, Alice has wondered about her long-estranged grandmother, Althea, the author of a dark tome of stories set in a magical place called the Hinterland. When her mother goes missing, Alice gets some, uh, strong indications that perhaps those tales weren’t just tales after all. To save her mother, she’ll have to go on a trek to find the Hinterland, a place that may just be seeking her as much as she’s seeking it.
American Panda, by Gloria Chao (February 6)
Mei is struggling. She’s germaphobic, her parents are super strict, her brother is MIA, and she’s got a crush on Darren, who’s of Japanese descent—and definitely off limits to a Taiwanese girl, as American as she may be. Still, she’s got to pull it together when she gets into her (parents’) dream school, MIT. Can she embrace her newfound freedom while figuring out who she really is—even if that’s not who her parents want her to be?
People Like Us, by Dana Mele (February 27)
Alright, alright. Clear your schedule. Pitched as Mean Girls meets Pretty Little Liars at a cutthroat boarding school—and with a bi protagonist!—this thriller is definitely a book you’ll want to devour in a single sitting. Yes, Kay is hiding some secrets. But at Bates Academy, so is everyone else. Problem is, one of those secrets has come back to haunt Kay, in the form of dead former classmate Jessica—and unless she spills the dirt on all her BFFs, she might just end up the next one dead. Or worse: implicated.
The Beauty That Remains, by Ashley Woodfolk (March 6)
There are only two things that connect Shay, Logan and Autumn. The first: loss. Soul shattering and all consuming. The kind that has you wondering if there’s really any reason to go on. But in Woodfolk’s heartrending debut, the three learn that life does go on, and finding people who’ve been through the trauma will help them get through, too. The second: music. Cathartic, redemptive, and ultimately uplifting. This one is a heavy read, for sure, but the rhythm and melody Woodfolk sets will ensure you can’t put it down.
The Wicked Deep, by Shea Ernshaw (March 6)
Everyone knows the coastal Oregon town of Sparrow has been cursed for centuries—ever since the Swan sisters were accused of being witches and drowned, they return each summer, possessing the bodies of innocent girls and luring would-be lovers to their deaths. But when local resident Penny meets summer boy Bo, she wants to protect him—whatever it may cost her. The problem? It could cost her a lot. If you’re thinking Hocus Pocus but way creepier, you’re thinking right.
The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo (March 6)
Perhaps one of the most anticipated debuts of the year, this novel in verse centers on Dominican American Xiomara, a young girl growing up in Harlem as part of a religious immigrant family. Her mom is overbearing in impressing Catholicism on Xio and her twin brother, but Xio spills her soul in the pages of her journal, documenting the dramas and traumas of first-generation life, addressing religion, crises of faith, sexual harassment, and the rush of first love (and lust).
Children of Blood And Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi (March 6)
The much-hyped, West African–inspired Blood & Bone—sold at auction and already headed to the big screen in an adaptation—bends and twists traditional fantasy into something brand new. Zélie still remembers a world in which magic reigned. But the rulers of Orïsha abused the gifts given to them, and the gods banished it, leaving them under the rule of a tyrant king. But every kingdom needs a savior, and perhaps it’s up to Zélie to create the change she wishes to see. Fresh, fast-paced, and epic, this will be one of the biggest fantasies of 2018.
Blood Water Paint, by Joy McCullough (March 6)
Based on the life of 17th-century Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi, this stunning novel in verse follows the artist as a teenaged girl who recently lost her mother and begins apprenticing under her father’s tutelage, grinding pigment. When she’s raped by a man she thought she could trust, she suffers in silence, until she can’t take it any longer. Does she have it in her to speak out and seek justice—not just for herself, but for countless other women?
The Astonishing Color of After, by Emily X.R. Pan (March 20)
Leigh Chen Sanders is shattered by the death by suicide of her mother—and by the fact that she was making out with her bff-turned-something more when it happened. Now, she’s grasping. The one thing she knows is true: when her mother died, she turned into a bird. And Leigh needs closure. So she heads to her mother’s native Taiwan, trying to reconcile with her mother’s death, all while connecting with her grandparents. Will she find what she’s looking for there? An absolutely astonishing tale of grief and self-discovery that will stick with you long after you’ve devoured it in a single sitting.
Tyler Johnson Was Here, by Jay Coles (March 20)
Aside from having one of the most stunning covers I’ve ever seen (pair it with Dhonielle Clayton’s equally gorgeous The Belles!), this chilling debut joins in the small chorus of novels addressing police brutality against black men and youths in America, furthering a conversation we definitely need to keep having. Marvin Johnson tags along with his twin brother Tyler when he heads to a party—and what starts out as fun and frolic turns deadly pretty quickly. But unraveling what really happened that night, and its lifelong ramifications, might just take Marvin down, too.
Ash Princess, by Laura Sebastian (April 24)
It has been a decade since the country toppled, and she saw her royal mother’s throat slit right in front of her eyes, but Princess Theodosia remembers it like it was yesterday. Now she’s a trophy for the Kaiser who claimed her queendom, subjected daily to lashes and ridicule, along with her crown of ash—a life she thinks she’ll continue living until she finally succumbs to the pain. But then a spark of hope—and revolution—finds her and brings her aflame again. Can Theodosia reclaim her kingdom via a rebellion? Or will the connection she feels to the Kaiser’s son mean the end for everyone?
Ship It, by Britta Lundin (May 1)
Cons, chaos, and cuteness galore mark this adorable debut by Riverdale writer Lundin. Fangirl Claire is uber-obsessed with the hit show Demon Heart—and she totally ships Heart and his frenemy Smokey, her ultimate OTP and the stars of all her fan-fic. But they’re hardly canon. So when, at a conference, she suggests to Forest, the actor who plays Heart, that this pairing might be ah-mazing, he freaks. His character is so not gay. This causes a social media frenzy, and to do damage control, the show decides Claire should join Forest and the gang on tour. What could go wrong?
Brightly Burning, by Alexa Donne (May 1)
Jane Eyre in space? Bring it! Stella Ainsley’s been stuck on falling-apart space wreck the Stalwart for what feels like forever, so when she’s given the opportunity to board private ship the Rochester as governess, she jumps at it. Of course, she falls for the ship’s captain, the often drunk but seductive Hugo Fairfax. But a plot to kill Hugo could just mean the end of this romance before it gets to sizzle, and we can’t have that. Unraveling what’s really going on aboard the haunted Rochester could bring Stella more trouble than she bargained for.
My So-Called Bollywood Life, by Nisha Sharma (May 15)
Bollywood meets Hollywood in this hilarious and lovelorn sendup of classic rom-com Only You. Winnie Mehta’s family psychic—because, yup, that’s a thing—has forever told her she would meet the love of her life before she turned 18, that his name would start with an R, and that he would give her a bracelet. So of course Raj is the one, right? Except they broke up. Which foils everything. And when she meets fellow film geek Dev, well, he so does not fit the prophecy. Can Winnie learn to let go and take her fate into her own hands? And, more importantly, will she get her perfect Bollywood ending?
Always Forever Maybe, by Anica Mrose Rissi (June 5)
Betts is smitten the very moment she lays eyes on Aiden—their love is sweeter than the treats at the candy shop where she works. But Betts’ BFF Jo just doesn’t understand. So Betts stops telling her. Sometimes, though, the secrets get too big, and the damage is consequential. This is a story about first love, sweet until it turns bitter. Editor turned author Rissi has a deft touch on a heavy topic, addressing abuse while still managing to infuse this meaty debut with romance, real #BFF goals, and dashes of humor.
Fat Girl On A Plane, by Kelly DeVos (June 5)
Cookie Vonn has major fashion diva plans. But fashion and fat don’t go together—or at least that’s what the world keeps telling her. Still, she manages to get a toehold, a chance to head to New York to compete for a scholarship to Parsons, her dream school. But when she’s declared too fat to fly by the airline, it’s a blow to her confidence. And once she makes it to NYC, she faces her competition: a skinny, well-connected teen who’s everything Cookie’s not. Well, that’s what could happen. Or things could go very differently, because this is book is essentially a teen Sliding Doors, with fat and skinny perspectives. Yeah, that means you’ll want to preorder now.
Sweet Black Waves, by Kristina Pérez (June 5)
This Tristan and Iseult retelling centers on wild, bright Branwen, a lady-in-waiting to the princess of a kingdom at war. She’s fiercely loyal to her cousin, the princess—until she accidentally saves the life of Tristan, who turns out to be her nemesis. Their connection unlocks her own magic, which might be the one thing that can save—or destroy—them all.
Not the Girls You’re Looking For, by Amina Mae Safi (June 19)
Fierce girls and friendships? YES! Lulu and her squad are goals for sure. They can handle anything, right? Until they can’t. This is a novel about a girl who is confident, fun, and very independent—but realizes that sometimes what you really need to get by is a little help from your (fabulous!) friends.