The new year could not have kicked off in a bigger way than with this outrageously epic lineup of stunning debuts, long-awaited sequels, and the returns of some of the biggest names in the biz. From romantic clock spirits to Alaskan mysteries, bisexual necromancers to lady gladiators, amateur detectives to aspiring photographers, this month truly has a little of everything. Here are twenty-one perfect ways to kick off an epic reading year.
The Cruel Prince, by Holly Black (January 2)
New York Times bestseller Black has returned with a brand-new series called Folk of the Air, and it kicks off with this book about a mortal girl named Jude who was abducted to the High Court of the Faerie at a young age, following the murder of her parents. It’s been ten years since, and life has been no kinder to Jude, but she’s finally taking matters into her own hands. When a position arises that would enable her to enter the royal service, she jumps right in to the bloody and dangerous machinations that would allow her to take it. But civil unrest turns the world of the fey upside-down, and Jude is caught in the middle, endangering the lives of everyone she loves.
Busted, by Gina Ciocca (January 2)
Marisa wasn’t looking to become her high school’s most prominent detective, but when she catches her best friend’s boyfriend cheating, word of her scumbusting skills spreads like wildfire. Suddenly everyone wants a piece of Marisa and her camera, including Kendall. Marisa’s not exactly dying to help her recently returned ex-frenemy figure out the deal with her boyfriend, TJ, but a job’s a job…until Marisa finds that, while TJ may not have been cheating before, she sure wishes he’d make himself available now. Charming, funny, smart, mysterious, and romantic, this sophomore novel is the perfect fun read for when you’re holed up in the snow with a mug of hot cocoa.
Meet Cute, ed. by Jennifer L. Armentrout (January 2)
Romance master Armentrout helms this anthology dedicated to those first moments when it all comes together…or doesn’t, but works out eventually anyway. From Nina LaCour’s beautiful piece on girls who click over a Tweet to Jocelyn Davies’ fun and scientific take on Missed Connections, from Nicola Yoon’s clever, speculative story to Katharine McGee’s sweet and achy near future–set one, this is a seriously squee-worthy collection full of some of the most talented romantics in YA.
You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone, by Rachel Lynn Solomon (January 2)
You know it’s a good sign for an author’s career when their debut novel starts off this strong. Tovah and Adina are twins, but that doesn’t mean they’re close. They have different approaches to everything, from their future plans to the way they present themselves to their observance of their Jewish faith to whether or not they want to know if they’ve inherited the gene for Huntington’s Disease from their Israeli mother. For all their differences, nothing divides them more than when they find out only one of them has tested positive. They’ve damaged their relationship just when they need each other most, but is it too late to fix things?
The True Queen, by Sarah Fine (January 2)
First, Elli learned she had no magic. Then Ansa learned she had the magic. In this final book of the Impostor Queen trilogy, the queen that is and the queen that should be alternate perspectives as magic and nature go awry in the Kupari land. At the end of these final and fatal clashes, who will be left living? And who will be left on the throne?
Don’t Cosplay with My Heart, by Cecil Castellucci (January 2)
Team Tomorrow is about to be turned into a movie, but even great news about Edan’s favorite comic book can’t fix all the fear and stress that come with her father’s new legal troubles. Still, she never feels better than when she’s cosplaying as Gargantua, so going to Los Angeles Comic Con is exactly what she needs right now. What she doesn’t need is a bunch of geekworld sexism or an unsupportive boyfriend. But then, maybe it’s a good time to learn exactly who’s in her corner and what makes her happy.
Chainbreaker, by Tara Sim (January 2)
Our favorite timekeeper and clock spirit return in this long-awaited sequel, but all is not sunshine and making out in clock towers for Danny and Colton—not with attacks on clock towers now plaguing India. Of course, Danny is sent to investigate, but even his expertise can’t prepare him for what he’ll find about his own past and about the effects of the British occupation.
Before I Let Go, by Marieke Nijkamp (January 2)
Corey and Kyra had their problems—what best friends don’t?—but before Corey left Lost Creek, Alaska, she promised Kyra she’d return. She’s keeping that promise now, but Kyra isn’t alive to see it; her body was found beneath the ice just a few days earlier. So why doesn’t the community of Lost Creek seem more broken up about it, including Kyra’s family? Why aren’t they questioning the suspicious nature of her death? Why are they acting like this was somehow an expected and maybe even welcome thing? Corey only has a few days to get to the bottom of it all, and she’ll need to if she’s ever going to get the peace she needs to say goodbye to her friend in this haunting and powerful sophomore novel.
A Conspiracy of Stars, by Olivia A. Cole (January 2)
This debut (in YA, anyway; you may already know Cole from Panther in the Hive) duology opener centers around Octavia, who’s long held a dream of becoming a whitecoat, i.e. a scientist from the colony of N’Terra who studies the natural wonders of the planet Faloiv. Then she gets access to new information about their experiments and how they’ve been harming the native population, the Faloii. Things are coming to a breaking point, and Olivia’s nearing the center of the firestorm when she clashes with the charming and hostile new N’Terra council leader. Now, it may lie to her and her friends to prevent civil war from destroying everything and everyone they know and love.
Everless, by Sara Holland (January 2)
Time is currency in the kingdom of Sempera, and by extension, so is blood, since that’s how the aristocracy get it to consume and live for centuries. The Gerlings is one of the families that’s benefited from this malevolent practice, and Jules Ember, who was once their servant at Everless along with her father, hates them with a passion. Unfortunately, she also needs them, as her father is dying and she doesn’t know where else to turn to get him more time. Despite her father’s warnings, she returns to Everless to find that while some things have never truly changed, plenty of surprises and life-changing secrets still await, along with a mystery she may risk losing everything to solve.
Nice Try, Jane Sinner, by Lianne Oelke (January 9)
If you’ll allow me to speak in vintage MTV terms, imagine Daria joined the cast of Real World (which, yes, I know still airs) and you have some idea of what it’s like to be in the mind of Jane Sinner. Jane has high school classes to make up after needing some personal time away, and community college is the perfect place to do it, especially since it means getting out of her religious household. Or at least it will if she can afford rent. Luckily, she can do just that if she signs up for House of Orange, a web show in which a bunch of strangers live together in a house and get voted off one by one. As Jane schemes how to win, the show becomes a bigger and bigger success, landing her in the spotlight and giving her a chance to prove once and for all that she isn’t the screwup everyone thinks she is. And yes, it’s just as hilarious as it sounds.
A Taxonomy of Love, by Rachael Allen (January 9)
Spencer has had trouble connecting with people his whole childhood. The combination of having Tourette’s Syndrome and an older brother everyone adores hasn’t done him any favors. But he and Hope clicked immediately the day they meet before seventh grade, and they’ve been best friends ever since. But it also feels like their friendship has grown and changed, possibly into something romantic, as they’ve traversed years of growing up, grief, varying popularity, illness, and more…and Spencer’s scientific brain has documented it all in taxonomical charts, as he’s wont to do. But what if it doesn’t fit into a neat classification?
Love, Hate, and Other Filters, by Samira Ahmed (January 16)
Maya’s got a secret: she’s applied to NYU to pursue her dream of photography, even though it’s further than her parents would ever want her to go, and for a profession they’d never support. And, okay, she’s got another one: her crush is on a boy who isn’t Muslim. But Maya’s nothing if not determined, and she’s going to have the life she wants…until a terrorist attack strikes and the lead suspect shares her last name, throwing her life and all her plans into upheaval.
Truly Devious, by Maureen Johnson (January 16)
When Albert Ellingham founded Ellingham Academy, he intended for it to be a fun place of learning for creative minds—but he didn’t intend for his own family to become the biggest puzzle of all. That’s what happened when his wife and daughter were kidnapped, with nothing remaining in their absence but a threatening note signed “Truly Devious.” The case has never been solved, but incoming student and true crime aficionado Stevie Bell is determined to take a crack at it. Working a cold case is hard enough, but doing it while adjusting to a new school presents an additional challenge…both of which are compounded when Truly Devious strikes again, adding a brand-new mystery for Stevie in this trilogy opener from bestselling author Johnson.
Let’s Talk About Love, by Claire Kann (January 23)
Alice had an awesome summer planned, but her girlfriend, Margot, promptly trashed it by brutally dumping her over Alice’s not wanting to have sex. It’s the last straw for Alice, who’s tired of being expected to apologize for her asexuality while still struggling to discuss the word; she’s done with dating. Or at least that was the idea, but then she meets Takumi and finds he makes romance a lot harder to resist. But their friendship is so good, and with the track record of people understanding and accepting her asexuality less than stellar, is it worth the risk of trying to turn it into something romantic and potentially losing everything they already have?
Reign of the Fallen, by Sarah Glenn Marsh (January 23)
In Karthia, when nobles die, it’s Odessa’s job, as one of the master necromancers, to bring them back by pulling their souls from the Deadlands. If they don’t remain completely covered afterward, however, the Dead turn into the far more dangerous and nefarious Shades. When one of Odessa’s friends is killed, it’s revealed that someone is intentionally creating more Shades by uncovering the Dead, turning them into a violent army and putting the necromancers in the path of the blame. It’s up to her and the other mages, including a maddening girl who might just be what Odessa needs to recover from the grief of a lost love, to figure out who’s putting Karthia in danger and save everyone they care for.
A Land of Permanent Goodbyes, by Atia Abawi (January 23)
This sadly timely and highly acclaimed sophomore novel narrated by Destiny follows Tareq, a Syrian boy happily living with his big family until bombs strike, leaving his home, family, and city in ruins. Threatened by Daesh and with nowhere to live, the only option the surviving members of his family have left is to flee to another country, then another, until they can find a place to safely settle and rebuild. There are few books releasing this year as relevant as this story, which may cover a single family but is the reality for far too many in the world right now.
The Defiant, by Lesley Livingston (January 23)
In The Valiant, one of my favorite fantasies of 2017, Celtic princess Fallon was kidnapped and brought to Rome to be enlisted in Caesar’s new academy for female gladiators. No one expected the level of success she achieved, and she encountered a major surprise of her own—one that makes the rivalry between her school and an even newer one all the more brutal. But that’s not the worst that lies ahead for her now, and her love, her life, and her empire are all at stake.
Winner Take All, by Laurie Devore (January 30)
Nell and Jackson are vicious when it comes to victory—she’s as competitive as he is manipulative. But Jackson also has the edge of wealth and privilege, something Nell’s never been able to compete with; she’s at Cedar Woods Prep Academy as the principal’s daughter. When they give in to their physical attraction to each other, sparks fly as the school’s biggest rivals turn into something else entirely. But is it all just another one of Jackson’s games? And if so, how far will Nell go to bury him?
The Hazel Wood, by Melissa Albert (January 30)
The world of dark fairytales clashes with Alice’s thoroughly modern one when her mother disappears and she’s forced to enlist a classmate and travel a dangerous, ominous path to find her. As the granddaughter of the infamous author Althea Proserpine, fairytales—specifically the ones in Proserpine’s rare, out of print tome, Tales From the Hinterland—have always been in her blood, but Alice has never had any context for that, since she’s never met the woman or been able to obtain a copy of the book. Alice has never had anything permanent at all, in fact, except her mother, Ella; they’ve spent Alice’s entire life moving from place to place, encountering untold amounts of bad luck. Now Althea has died, Ella is gone, and the Hazel Wood—Althea’s mysterious estate—beckons. Where else could Ella possibly be? But getting to the Hazel Wood won’t be easy, and the journey will be nothing compared to the truths Alice learns about her own life, past, and family. This debut is rife with critical acclaim for a reason: the writing is stunning, the voice is fabulous (I laughed out loud! Repeatedly! At a book that’s also lyrically beautiful and creepy as hell!), the premise is impossibly cool, and the execution is even better.
The Dangerous Art of Blending In, by Angelo Surmelis (January 30)
Evan Panos is struggling—with the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any room in his faith or his family for a gay son, with the secret that his mother abuses him, and with the feelings he’s been developing for his best friend, Henry. It seems like his life won’t even get a chance to start until he finally leaves the house, but when Henry reciprocates his feelings, Evan’s not sure he can wait any longer for the future to begin. He just may not be able to survive what it’ll take to get there. This gorgeous debut is definitely a heartbreaker, but the moments of warmth that peek in through the clouds and the exploration of how being a gay kid who’s first-generation American make this a standout read that’s not to be missed.