One of my favorite things about YA in 2014 was the tremendous number of fantastic new authors introduced to the world. It was an excellent year for debuts, and now that it’s over, I for one am excited to see what they (okay, we) have coming in 2015! Considering the excellence of 2014’s sophomores, my hopes are high, and the ones I’ve been lucky enough to read already have been nothing short of fabulous.
The Start of Me and You, by Emery Lord
Lord’s debut, Open Road Summer, was one of my favorites of this year, with its wonderful friendship between the primary female characters and adorable romance with singer/songwriter Matt Finch. Fans of Sarah Dessen absolutely must have Lord on their radar, and will love this story of a girl rebuilding her life and falling in love after the accidental death of her last boyfriend.
Liars, Inc., by Paula Stokes
Stokes burst into 2014 with fun, light, sweet-with-an-edge contemporary romance The Art of Lainey. This year, she takes a sharp left into the sinister with a psychological thriller about a boy named Max who, along with his girlfriend and best friend, sells lies to his classmates. When the aforementioned best friend turns up dead, Max has to uncover what happened…because he’s suspect number one.
Endangered, by Lamar Giles
I was totally hooked on Giles’ thriller debut, Fake ID, from start to finish, so as sad as I am that his next one isn’t a sequel, I’m beyond excited to pick it up. Lauren “Panda” Daniels is an anonymous photoblogger who makes her money via blackmail, but when she finds herself on the other end, with the truth of her identity at risk, she becomes wrapped up in a deadly game that may require her to give up her biggest secret.
The Revenge Playbook, by Rachael Allen
Allen’s debut, 17 First Kisses, was the kind of quieter contemporary novel we rarely get to see these days. Though the title is by no means a misnomer, the beauty of it is the way each of those kisses is used as a vignette to show something deeper and more family or friend-oriented in the narrator’s life, rather than being romance-centric. It’s that exact kind of quiet depth wrapped in a fun, decidedly adolescent story that I anticipate from Allen’s follow-up, about a group of girlfriends who exact revenge against the football players who treat them like dirt.
99 Days, by Katie Cotugno
Cotugno’s debut, How to Love, was actually a 2013 title, and one of my favorites of that year. I was lucky enough to get to read her sophomore novel early, and was thrilled to see it’s plenty worth the wait. Cotugno is rapidly becoming one of my favorite YA authors, who doesn’t shy away for portraying characters with raw, honest, human flaws that prioritize passion and desire over the “right” choice, as actual people tend to do.
Devoted, by Jennifer Mathieu
It’s clear from her (rightfully) much-lauded debut, The Truth About Alice, that Mathieu isn’t the kind of author who shies away from controversial subjects. In her sophomore novel, she steps outside the high school setting and into a homeschooling Christian community where emphasis is on child-rearing, modesty, and prayer. Rachel is a dutiful girl with increasing curiosity about the world she doesn’t know—the world she isn’t meant to know—but the more she learns, the more she fears the life she’s living isn’t a life at all.
Crimson Bound, by Rosamund Hodge
Hodge is on my “authors to read” list, but I’ve heard enough love for Cruel Beauty to know that both she and this novel are ones to watch. Where her first novel fused Beauty and the Beast with Greek Mythology, this newest is a take on Little Red Riding Hood, filled with darkness, romance, and a bold, strong, adventurous heroine the likes of which Hodge is quickly becoming known for.