October’s Best New YA Fiction

This month’s best YA books are an eclectic mix of emotional reads, including Marcus Zusak’s first novel in twelve years, an adaptation of a hit Broadway musical, and the conclusion to Sarah J. Mass’s Throne of Glass saga. Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera team up for an NYC-set gay rom-com, Tahereh Mafi tackles post-9/11 Islamaphobia, and Neal Shusterman’s son Jarrod joins Neal for an apocalyptic drought story set in California.  

A Map of Days, by Ransom Riggs
The fourth book in Riggs’ bestselling series about a group of children and teens with extraordinary abilities finds Jacob and the rest of Miss Peregrine’s team leaving 1940s Wales behind and journeying to present-day America, where blending in proves nearly impossible. Vintage photographs (this time in full color) continue to add an eerie, melancholy realism to the story. 

Dear Evan Hansen, by Val Emmich (with Steven Levenson, Benji Pasek, Justin Paul)
A smash hit on Broadway, garnering six Tony awards including Best Musical, Dear Evan Hansen proves equally adept in novel form at conveying the pain of loneliness and anxiety, the lengths we go to in order to belong, and the hard-won rewards of self-acceptance. Singer-songwriter, actor, and writer Val Emmich (The Reminders) has a talent for bringing complex characters to life. The show’s composers provided him with additional, never-before-seen material to guide him, and the resulting book will delight fans of the musical as well as newcomers to the story.

Bridge of Clay, by Marcus Zusak
The Book Thief author returns after a twelve-year hiatus to tell the riveting tale of five brothers raising each other in a house without rules or parents. The Dunbar boys share a love of music, Homer’s Odyssey, and long-distance running. But when their absent father returns at last, how will they outrun the secrets youngest brother Clay has been hiding?

Kingdom of Ashby Sarah J. Maas
“Once upon a time, in a land long since burned to ash, there lived a young princess who loved her kingdom…” It’s lucky number seven for the Throne of Glass series, and the highly anticipated conclusion, so expect Maas to be in excellent form for her finale. Aelin is trapped in an iron coffin at the bottom of the ocean, leaving Aedion and Lysandra to protect Terrasen from war. Will Rowan find Aelin in time? And what does fate hold for Dorian, Chaol, and Manon?

Dry, by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman
Dystopian fantasy and sci-fi powerhouse Shusterman (Challenger Deep, Unwind) is joined by his son, debut novelist Jarrod, for this near-future tale about a California suburb’s descent into survivalist hell. The so-called Tap-Out has friends and family members turning against one another in their quest to navigate the worst drought in the state’s history. In the middle of it all is sixteen-year-old Alyssa, whose parents have vanished and whose little brother is depending on her. The father-son author duo provide exclusive chapter-by-chapter commentary in this Barnes & Noble limited edition.

What if It’s Us, by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
Two rock stars of the contemporary YA world join forces for this NYC-set gay romantic comedy about Arthur and Ben, who can’t figure out if they’re meant to be or meant to part during a summer of missed connections, awkward first (and second, and third) dates, Broadway love songs, fate, and synchronicity. What results is a beautiful romance built on learning how to communicate, appreciating what you each bring to the table, and learning how to compromise on your differences, all resulting from the world’s most adorable meet-cute.

A Very Large Expanse of Sea, by Tahereh Mafi
A year after 9/11, Muslim American teen Shirin continues to feel the weight of anger and prejudice against her family for reasons that have nothing to do with them. With the Islamophobia she has experienced, how can she risk further heartbreak and pain when a classmate who treats her kindly comes along? Ocean doesn’t always know how to say the right things, but he genuinely admires Shirin and wants to get to know her. And when Shirin’s love of breakdancing becomes more than just a hobby, she realizes there are more ways than one to find solace in a cruel world.

Someday, by David Levithan
In Every Day and Another Day, readers met A, who wakes up in a different person’s body each morning and lives (and loves) as that person until the next day, when the cycle repeats. A always assumed no one else experienced such an extraordinary reality, but it turns out A’s not alone. And at least one of those others has decided to track down A for reasons that may spell trouble for Nathan and Rhiannon, too.

Muse of Nightmares, by Laini Taylor
The conclusion to Strange the Dreamer finds Sarai (the titular godspawn) and Lazlo (the librarian Sarai loves), battling Minya, who remains fixated on revenge. Fresh perspectives give readers a new understanding of Weep (“a city that had vanished in the mists of time, filled with ancient wars and winged beings, a mountain of melted demon bones”) and the self-fulfilling prophecy of being viewed as a monster. A dream-filled, lush story with elements of high-tech science-fiction set against ancient mythology.

Grim Lovelies, by Megan Shepherd
A fantasy, murder mystery, and fairy tale in one, Grim is set in Paris and introduces us to Anouk and the rest of the Beasties, animals who’ve been magicked into humans to serve the witches who secretly run the world. But when Anouk’s creator is murdered, and Anouk becomes suspect number one, she has three days to clear her name or lose her humanity forever. Based on the success of Shepherd’s previous trilogies, readers will be clamoring for a sequel.


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