36 of the The Best YA Books of March

Spring has sprung and with it comes an extravaganza of YA. March introduces readers to necromancers, dystopian technopaths, a lesbian werewolf, and the wonders of TropeTown, in which every citizen embodies a literary trope. Charlotte Holmes is back to investigate the crimes only she can solve, the sequel to Dhonielle Clayton’s The Belles is finally here, and Fat Angie herself begins sophomore year. In the world of contemporary realism, Mindy McGinnis tackles the opioid crises and a heart transplant has wide-ranging consequences for two families. Can’t decide where to start? Here’s the rundown.

The Fever King, by Victoria Lee (March 1)
In this dystopian fantasy, set in a future, fallen U.S., teenaged Noam has just survived an attack of viral magic that left him orphaned, alone, and a technopath, able to magically manipulate technology. His new gifts usher him into the magical upper crust and into the confidence of the minister of defense, who promises to teach him how to use his magic—which Noam secretly plans to use against the government, which has worked ruthlessly to deport immigrants, like his own family, who seek refuge from magical threats. But meeting the minister’s gorgeous, dangerous son may complicate Noam’s mission.

The Shadowglass, by Rin Chupeco (March 5)
Chupeco’s Bone Witch trilogy, centering on the dark tale of bone witch Tea, comes to a close with The Shadowglass. Tea’s costly necromantic magic has served to restore both those she loves and those willing to join the army she’s amassing to bring down her world’s royals. But her consuming desire is to acquire a shadowglass, which will allow her to make the one she loves most immortal…but achieving it may be at the cost of her own heart. Rich worldbuilding and high stakes make this one a must-read.

You Asked for Perfect, by Laura Silverman (March 5)
Silverman’s sophomore beautifully captures the struggles of academic pressure and trying to do it all, which, for bisexual Ariel Stone, means maintaining the GPA that’ll keep him valedictorian (even while he’s struggling in AP Calc), being violin first chair (even if that requires learning a brand-new, difficult piece out of nowhere), being there for his best friend (who suddenly needs his violin skills as well for her own dreams of the future) (and yes, by the way, she is a lesbian), and observing Jewish traditions of Shabbat dinner and holidays with his family (including his similarly overachieving little sister). But it’s while struggling to get his math grade up that he finds the most desirable distraction of all: Amir, a classmate who’s never quite seemed to warm up to him but suddenly makes Ariel feel, uh, quite warm all over. Amir turns out to be the best thing Ariel never knew he needed, but he might be the one commitment that takes Ariel’s stress level over the top.

The Everlasting Rose, by Dhonielle Clayton (March 5)
Fallen Belle Camellia, on the run from a sadistic queen and the price on her head, searches for the true heir to the throne in this sequel to bestseller The Belles. Clayton expands her dark and decadent fantasy world, moving beyond the borders of Orléans and introducing arms of resistance, including an alt newspaper and the Iron Ladies, a group that rejects beauty treatments and helps Camellia on her increasingly perilous quest.

Out of Salem, by Hal Schrieve (March 5)
So many major points for this one right at the offset: a fourteen-year-old protag—which is all too rare in queer YA—who happens to be genderqueer and using they/them pronouns, which is one of the only things rarer. Oh, and what you don’t get from the blurb is that there’s another queer narrator, Aysel, who’s fat and Turkish and a lesbian and oh, yes, also a werewolf. (Now that is how you dual-POV.) When Z’s entire family was killed in a car accident, they were the only one to come back. Now they’re trying to maintain a normal existence as an undead, but with their body falling apart, that’s easier said than done, even with a new guardian. In a world where they’re becoming increasingly undesirable to be around and Aysel is fearing for her life amid major werewolf discrimination and suspicious murders, the two form a deep friendship that may be the only thing that can save them both.

The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project, by Lenore Appelhans (March 5)
Appelhans made her name in dystopian YA, so it’s exceptionally fun to see her taking on satirical contemporary. Her newest stars Riley, a Manic Pixie Dream Boy who lives in TropeTown, where everyone is a tropey novel character. When he steps outside his MPDB role, Riley’s sent to group therapy, and while he knows stepping back in line could get him released, he isn’t sure it’s worth it if that’s what it takes to be free. And it’s in therapy that he meets his MPDG counterpart, Zelda, and falls sublimely in love with the geek chic girl. But the two of them and the rest of the Manic Pixies need to find a way to break free, and they’ll need to uncover TropeTown’s dark secret to do it.

Opposite of Always,by Justin A. Reynolds (March 5)
How could everything go so wrong? Perpetual runner-up Jack Ellison King is used to not-quites. He was not-quite valedictorian. Not-quite varsity material. And not-quite the right guy for his crush and best friend Jillian, who chose Jack’s other best friend, Franny, over Jack. But then Kate enters his life and for the first time, everything’s perfect. Their love story is cut short by Kate’s terminal illness—until Jack gets a second, third, fourth, and fifth chance to maybe, possibly, not-quite save her, so long as he’s willing to sacrifice other things in his life. This debut looks to be a heart wrenching yet humorous and life-affirming story full of memorable characters, from a writer to watch.

The Truth About Leaving, by Natalie Blitt (March 5)
Lucy is fresh off two different breakups: one with her boyfriend, Scott, and the one in which her mother has left their family in Chicago to pursue a career opportunity in Berkeley. Both required Lucy to give up pieces of herself, from her love of dance to the free time she has now ceded to babysitting her little brothers. But when a new kid named Dov transfers to her small school for senior year, he gives her some of herself back, including aspects she never knew she was missing. The two are assigned to work together on a poetry assignment, and as they bond over the lyrical language of Yehuda Amichai and e.e. cummings, they also learn there’s still joy out there for both of them. But how real can it get and how long can it last when Dov is headed back to Israel next year to begin mandatory army service? This contemporary romance is a great choice for teens who already have or want a special connection to Israel, or readers who just love reading about swoony love!

Dealing in Dreams, by Lilliam Rivera (March 5)
Rivera certainly proved she had a capital-v Voice with her debut, The Education of Margot Sanchez, and she’s about to hammer it home with her sophomore, about a girl named Nalah who leads a fierce all-girl crew. Being in her position comes with a lot of perks, but it also comes with a lot of doubt, and Nalah’s feeling all of it; she’s ready for a safer, more legit life and the perks that come with that, including a spot living in Mega Towers. But landing a spot there comes with its own mission that puts Nalah at risk and threatens to alienate everyone who has had her back until now.

If You’re Out There, by Katy Loutzenhiser (March 5)
I honestly can’t imagine a comp title that would’ve landed a book on my to-read list faster than hearing something is a YA version of Where Did You Go, Bernadette? I snatched up Loutzenhiser’s debut ASAP and promptly fell head over butt into the mystery of Priya’s sudden ghosting of narrator Zan. Everyone thinks Zan should get over the fact that Priya completely cut off communication when she moved, but she can’t; no friendship that close can just vaporize. And when little things start not adding up, the mystery only intensifies, sending Zan on a mission of epic proportions.

The Last 8, by Laura Pohl (March 5)
What do aliens and aromantic representation both have in common? They’re both in this utterly epic sci-fi debut, starring a bisexual aromantic girl named Clover who’s witness to a wild apocalypse caused by aliens with ray guns, and learns after six months of surviving completely on her own that there are seven others who’ve lived through it, too. When she makes her way to their stronghold, she expects to find a team in shape to fight back; instead, she finds an apathetic crew who’d rather eat snacks and play video games. But Clover didn’t survive an alien invasion just to wither away, and it’s up to her to convince them that they didn’t, either—but the more research they do, the more they uncover that they really, really wish they hadn’t.

Barely Missing Everything, by Matt Mendez (March 5)
This powerful new debut stars Juan, a basketball player who’s counting on a scholarship to get himself out of El Paso and away from his mom’s boyfriends. Replace basketball with filmmaking, and his best friend, JD, has similar plans. Then both of their lives blow up, with an injury and a police run-in sidelining Juan. Oh, and there’s the small matter of finding out the father he’d been told was dead actually isn’t…yet. With nothing left to lose, Juan and JD head out on a forbidden road trip that’ll make the perfect documentary for JD’s film school applications: to meet Juan’s dad on Death Row.

Lovely War, by Julie Berry (March 5)
Olympian Gods meet WWI in this unique historical fantasy by Printz Honor author Berry in which Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, shows her husband Hephaestus love’s true meaning and the ways it’s connected to art and war by telling him the story of two wartime couples. There’s Hazel, a British pianist, and James, a soldier; as well as Aubrey, an African American jazz musician, and Colette, a Belgian war orphan who happens to be a gorgeous singer. The couples’ stories intertwine when Hazel follows James’s report to duty and takes a wartime volunteer position in France, where she meets Colette and introduces her to Aubrey. As war ravages everything around them and threatens the relationships they’ve forged, Hazel and Colette cling together in friendship, faith, art, love, and the hopes that they’ll see their men again.

Fat Angie: Rebel Girl Revolution by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo (March 5)
Charlton-Trujillo’s Fat Angie won the Stonewall Book Award nearly five years ago now, and now the character is back. With KC moving away physically and Jake moving away emotionally, it’s a lousy start to Angie’s sophomore year, especially when the bullying gets amped up to the max and a memorial for her sister threatens to crush what’s left of her spirit. But when a soldier gives Angie a letter from her sister at the ceremony that contains a list of places she wanted the two of them to travel, it finally offers Angie a plan for escaping from the hellscape of home while bonding with her sister one last time.

To Best the Boys, by Mary Weber (March 5)
In this Hunger Games/Handmaid’s Tale mash-up, bestselling author Weber (Storm Siren trilogy) sends two female cousins, Rhen and Seleni, to don disguises and compete in a deadly, boys-only scholarship competition. Determined to enter the all-male university and find a cure for her mother’s ailment, aspiring scientist Rhen must take a stand against the deeply patriarchal society in which she lives. Though it’s a fantasy story, readers will find parallels to our modern world, particularly as it applies to kids from poor backgrounds and their struggle to attain an education or health care. When Rhen and Seleni enter the labyrinth, they’re in for the fight of their lives, but the cost of doing nothing would be far worse.

Cold Day in the Sun, by Sarah Biren (March 12)
Talented Holland Delviss is the only girl on the local ice hockey team, and she doesn’t like being singled out by her gender. But when the team’s selected to participate in a televised event, she stands out in a big way, and suddenly, everyone’s got an opinion. Complicating matters is her burgeoning relationship with Wes, the team captain who seems to push her harder than anyone else. Will her teammates lose respect for her if she and Wes become an item? What will it take to prove her worth to the town, and herself? Fans of Miranda Kenneally’s sporty, romantic, and realistic Hundred Oaks series will fall hard for Biren’s latest contemporary.

A Question of Holmes, by Brittany Cavallaro (March 12)
It’s one of the greatest gifts in all of bookdom that the Charlotte Holmes series was extended to a fourth title, making this one of our most anticipated sequels in the history of ever. We finally get to see Charlotte and Jamie enjoy themselves with a little pre-college bliss at an Oxford summer program while they figure out their relationship status…or at least, that’s the plan, until Charlotte gets sucked into a year-old cold case, involving a series of accidents in the theater program that led to a girl’s disappearance. With no help from the girl’s friends, Watson and Holmes have no choice but to join the theater program themselves, as danger erupts around them and they’re at risk of breaking more than a leg.

Heroine, by Mindy McGinnis (March 12)
If any author has proven you can’t guess how far she’ll go when it comes to tearing her characters and their worlds apart, it’s McGinnis, so how can you not drop everything to read this newest, centered on America’s opioid crisis? When Mickey gets injured right before softball season, she goes to drastic measures to keep herself in the game, desperate to maintain her catcher spot and take her team to a major milestone. But as the pressure mounts and the painkillers become impossible for her to live without, she’ll have to get her addiction under control or risk losing everything.

All the Walls of Belfast, by Sarah Carlson (March 12)
Set in post-conflict Belfast, this YA debut follows the alternating points of view of Fiona and Danny, two teens born in the same hospital who went on to live very different lives. While Danny stayed in his protestant neighborhood, Fiona and her mother fled to the United States when she was two. Fourteen years later, Danny’s neighborhood is separated from Fiona’s father’s Catholic one by a forty-foot peace wall. When they’re brought back together by their love of the same band, both feeling desperate to run away from their families, they must help each other to get on more stable tracks…if trauma from the past doesn’t tear them apart first.

Ruse, by Cindy Pon (March 12)
The sequel to Pon’s much-beloved cli-fi thriller, Want, sees your faves return after some explosive events, while Daiyu’s father, Jin, continues to thirst for blood. When Lingyi embarks on her own mission to help a troubled friend in Shanghai, the last thing she expects is to find that Jin is behind it…or for her friend to end up dead, and her important tech stolen. Lingyi is the only other person with access, making her a moving target and bringing Zhou to China to help Iris find Lingyi. The only rule is that Zhou isn’t allowed to tell Daiyu anything about what’s going down, a rule Zhou isn’t sure he can follow, especially when she appears in Shanghai. Can she be trusted? Or is blood thicker than water after all?

When the Sky Fell on Splendor, by Emily Henry (March 12)
Smallville meets Stranger Things in Henry’s third sci-fi/fantasy book (following The Love That Split the World and A Million Junes), about a six teens who make a harrowing discovery. Calling themselves The Ordinary, Franny and her friends have relied on one another ever since the mill in their small Ohio town exploded, taking family members and future plans with it. As a way to fill their afternoons and cope with their grief, The Ordinary make pseudo-documentaries for YouTube about their adventures in ghosthunting. But one day, they come upon an actual UFO, whose crash has consequences beyond anything they can imagine.

The Waking Forest, by Alyssa Wees (March 12)
Rhea has a pack of uncanny sisters, a feral animal companion, and a nightmare that plagues her: of someone, or something, waiting for her in the attic above her bedroom. And on the night she decides to seek the thing out in the hopes of vanquishing it, she’s drawn into a spiraling magical mystery, that has everything to do with the forest she hallucinates at the edge of her family’s backyard, that disappears when she reaches to touch it. Meanwhile, a witch waits in the forest, granting wishes to children who dare visit her in their dreams. Their stories will collide in dangerous ways in this atmospheric fantasy debut.

Kiss Number 8, by Colleen AF Venable (March 12)
Amanda keeps trying to understand the big deal about kissing, but she’s seven in and still not getting the magic. Number 8, though…number 8 is terrible in its own way, because it was with a girl (her best friend). Now Amanda finally gets why so many people love making out, but she sure wishes she didn’t. There’s no telling her family about this, and Catholic school isn’t exactly the most rainbow flag-waving environment. Oh, and her dad’s got his own secret, one that could destroy her family completely.

Tin Heart, by Shivaun Plozza (March 12)
Two families are irrevocably altered by a heart transplant in this well-rounded sophomore novel that will provoke tears and laughter. Marlowe, an Australian teen who was always considered “the shy one” in her boisterous family, receives a life-saving transplant and with it an identity crisis. Now that she’s no longer defined and consumed by her health issues, who is she really? And who does she want to be?  A prank war with a potential love interest, and a journey to seek out the family of her donor (who continue to grieve the loss of their son and brother) fill Marlowe’s “second chance at life” with emotional landmines and fulfilling relationships where she least expects them.

The Universal Laws of Marco, by Carmen Rodrigues (March 19)
High school senior Marco Suarez’s days are filled with school, a job at the grocery store, and aspirations of achieving a Ph.D. in astrophysics, aided by a full-ride scholarship to college in the fall. Along with his girlfriend, Erika, and his tight-knit pals, there’s no room for anything or anyone else, and that’s just fine with him—until his first kiss, Sally, returns to town after a four-year absence. When Sally took off after eighth grade, with no explanation, Marco was left re-living their spark moment on repeat, and now that she’s back, he doesn’t know how to move forward without hurting the people around him. Perhaps the answers he’s seeking can be found in the cosmos, or perhaps there are no short cuts to figuring out how to say goodbye to the people, places, and memories we hold dear.

Internment, by Samira Ahmed (March 19)
One of our favorite upticks in YA lately is the number of really excellent #ownvoices books with Muslim protagonists, and Ahmed’s bestselling debut, Love, Hate, and Other Filters, was one of the first in this lovely wave. She’s back now with a sophomore that looks poised to provide a much-needed punch in the face to anyone who needs it. Set in the near future, this thriller stars seventeen-year-old Layla, who’s forced into an internment camp for Muslim Americans along with her parents. But Layla won’t be kept down for long, and soon she’s forging new alliances, making use of old ones, and preparing to fight for her freedom.

Girls With Sharp Sticks, by Suzanne Young (March 19)
Enroll in Innovations Academy and learn manners, modesty, and gardening! Who needs math, science, social studies, or current events? Suppress your opinions, excel at the art of obedience, keep yourself lovely to look at, file down any unpleasant impulses or individuality, and you’ll be rewarded with a perfect future! Not sure about the vitamins? Feeling a bit creeped out by the Guardians or headmaster? Don’t worry your pretty little heads about it. There’s no reason to rise up. Compliance is its own reward… not to mention one-hundred-percent compulsory.

Sherwood, by Meagan Spooner (March 19)
Robin Hood is dead, and Maid Marian is left holding the broken pieces of his legacy in Spooner’s new retelling of a classic tale. Those suffering under the Sheriff of Nottingham still need a champion, and Marian never wanted to step into Robin’s shoes. But now, grieving her lost fiancé and facing the unwanted romantic attentions of the sheriff’s right hand man, she might find she’s the only one who can.

Fear of Missing Out, by Kate McGovern (March 19)
For Astrid, FOMO is way more than a hashtag. Her fear of missing out relates to the fact that she’s dying of brain cancer. A new technology, cryopreservation, suggests that Astrid may have a chance to beat death by freezing her body until a cure has been reached. Her boyfriend Mohit and best friend Chloe agree to join her on a road trip for answers, but the real journey is one that Astrid has to take alone, as she figures out what it means to live her life to the fullest at the age of sixteen. Do NOT read without tissues.

Never-Contented Things, by Sarah Porter (March 19)
The Fair Folk seduce and terrify in Porter’s latest, the tale of two human foster siblings drawn into the deadly snare of a faerie prince and his dark court. Ksenia is on the edge of aging out of foster care and being separated from Josh, two years younger and destined to be adopted into the family she’s being gently ejected from. When they stumble onto a party of beautiful, seductive revelers in the woods, it’s the prelude to a dangerous entrapment that will endanger their bond, their freedom, and their lives.

Night Music, by Jenn Marie Thorne (March 19)
Classical music has always ruled Ruby’s life, until her audition for a prestigious music school goes horribly wrong and it becomes clear performance isn’t in her future—even if her father happens to be on the faculty at said school. But when her father takes on the brilliant and wildly talented Oliver, who has already made a name for himself on YouTube and has no shortage of confidence in his skills, it’s clear there’s something in music that still makes Ruby feel alive. With so much to prove to the world and to themselves, following their hearts may be a dangerous gamble, no matter how beautiful the music they make together.

The Weight of the Stars, by K. Ancrum (March 19)
Ancrum’s newest is a soft and gorgeous near-future romance about a butch girl named Ryann whose life is a constant struggle (including the loss of her parents, her brother’s selective mutism after the accident, and the baby he brought home for them to raise in their small trailer), and Alexandria, the extremely tough new girl whose life is defined by events that happened before she was born. When Ryann’s teacher asks her to befriend Alexandria, sharing that she’s the infamous uninaut baby—conceived by an astronaut just before her one-way mission into space—Ryann has to say yes. With her own love for space, fostered by her mother’s work for NASA, she’s the only one who can understand Alexandria’s passion. Plus, Ryann has something of a history of bringing kids with tough backgrounds into the fold, and her found family of friends is up for the task. But Ryann has no idea what she’s truly in for when she agrees to help Alexandria work on receiving messages from her mother, or how far she’ll go to make her new friend happy.

Small Town Hearts, by Lillie Vale (March 19)
With the future on the horizon, life is about to change in a major way for Babe Vogel. Her best friends are going to college, her ex-girlfriend is back in Oar’s Rest and wreaking havoc on Babe’s heart, and suddenly there’s Levi, who’s spending way too much time at the coffee shop where Babe works…and in her thoughts. Living in a beach town, she knows the number one rule is that you never fall for a summer tourist who’s only going to leave you behind before the leaves even start changing. But what happens when the heart won’t stop wanting what it wants?

Once & Future, by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy (March 26)
Is there nothing this pair can’t do? In addition to their own fabulous books, now they’ve teamed up for a brand-new genderbending sci-fi series that turns Camelot on its butt, with King Arthur finding his analog reincarnated in immigrant Ari. After she crash-lands on Old Earth and pulls a sword from a stone in the tradition of her ancestor, she meets Merlin, who has aged backward into a teenager and needs Ari to help bring down the oppressive government regime. No biggie!

The Dating Game, by Kiley Roache (March 26)
As she proved with 2018’s Frat Girl, Roache knows how to write timely college-set YA. In The Dating Game, she steps it up with multiple narrators from disparate backgrounds who are forced to team up for a start-up project in their competitive, stressful, “Future Entrepreneurs” class. Hardworking Sara believes in organization above all else; Braden struggles to differentiate himself from his wealthy father; and Roberto has the most to lose if their project doesn’t impress their hard-edged professor. The trio creates a dating app that succeeds beyond their wildest dreams, but will Silicon Valley reward them for it, or chew them up and spit them out? Fans of The Social Network will devour this in a single day.

Shout, by Laurie Halse Anderson (March 26)
It’s been twenty years since Anderson’s groundbreaking and award-winning novel Speak was published, giving a voice to survivors of sexual assault (including the author herself). In this lyrical memoir, written in poetry and free verse, Anderson digs deep into the difficult truth: society’s treatment of women and girls hasn’t changed as much as it should have in the intervening two decades. By reflecting on her own experiences, the experiences of her parents, and the ways in which both inspired her writing and perspective on the world, she lifts up and celebrates people who speak out, while adding to their volume and demanding more from those in power.

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