One bright spot in 2017 was that publishing began to make strides–to be continued, for sure–toward publishing more books by marginalized voices. And if this list is any indication, 2018 will be an even more stellar year for your bookshelves (and mine!). Here, some of your favorite authors offer truly diverse contenders for your 2018 TBR, from startling, twisty takes on fantasy to timely, truthful contemporary that will surely break your heart.
See all 2018 previews here.
Dread Nation, by Justine Ireland
Dread Nation is at the top of my list. An alternate history where the Civil War dead rise from the battlefields and the ones tasked with slaying them are black girls who attend zombie-killing finishing schools? GIVE IT TO ME NOW. I’m a sucker for all things zombie and all things U.S. history. This is not to be missed.
–Heidi Heilig, author of The Girl From Everywhere series
Down and Across, by Arvin Ahmadi
What’s it like to not quite know what you want to do for the rest of your life? That’s kind of the essential teen experience, right? Trying to figure it out? Well, unfortunately for poor Scott in Down and Across, everyone that’s close to him has it down, and with college approaching, he’s desperate to figure it out. What unwinds is a story of self discovery and misadventures in Washington, D.C., full of heart and hope. Don’t miss out on this wonderful coming of age story, readers.
–Eric Smith, author of The Girl and the Grove
The Belles, by Dhonielle Clayton
Reading the back cover of The Belles gave me the same spine-tingly feeling that Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty did back when I found it squirreled away in the corner of my school library at 16. Girls being dark and wild while treading the thin lines of cultural aesthete is such a delicious art. Working from within that box produces ever more intricate results as a girl from either of these worlds must explore the price of compliance, weigh the risk of subterfuge, and figure out what it means to build freedom with her own two hands. Its such a timeless lesson, but always an incredible joy to view it in any incarnation. Also, that cover is stunning!
–K. Ancrum, author of the The Wicker King
Monday’s Not Coming, by Tiffany D. Jackson
I got the chance to read this early, and it is absolutely outstanding. It’s about a girl named Claudia whose best friend disappears and no one seems to notice or care. No matter how hard Claudia tries to make the adults in her life listen, she keeps getting ignored. It’s extremely frustrating to read because it perfectly embodies the feeling of powerlessness that’s so common when you’re a teen. And at the same time, the story makes it hard to look away. When Claudia’s friend shows up, your mind is going to be blown. If you loved Tiffany’s first book, Allegedly, you’re going to flip for Monday.
–Ashley Woodfolk, author of The Beauty That Remains
The Astonishing Color of After, by Emily X.R. Pan
2018 is looking to be another great year for diverse voices! I read an advance copy of The Astonishing Color of After…well, maybe devoured is a better word. It is a gorgeous, magic-tinged story about a girl dealing with grief after her mother’s suicide, and she finds answers to her family’s secrets and comes closer to knowing the woman her mother was on a trip to Taiwan. I am anticipating its release so I can read it again!
–Julie C. Dao, author of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns
Love, Hate, and Other Filters, by Samira Ahmed
This is one of those contemporary YA novels that needs to be on every bookshelf right now (or next year, when it releases!). It follows a Muslim main character who’s trying to figure out her own identity and what it means to be Muslim in America right now. What happens when you share a last name with a terrorist? It’ll make you uncomfortable and it’ll make you cheer.
–Sandhya Menon, author of When Dimple Met Rishi and From Twinkle With Love
Prettyboy Must Die, by Kimberly Reid
I’m psyched for Prettyboy Must Die, by Kimberly Reid. I love a good YA action comedy—and this one looks to be in the vein of Jennifer Lynn Barnes’s The Squad, Michele Jaffe’s Bad Kitty and Ally Carter’s I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You, all faves of mine from a while back. Reid wrote Perfect Liars and the Langdon Prep series, but rumor has it this is her breakout.
–E. Lockhart, author of Genuine Fraud and We Were Liars
The Prince and the Dressmaker, by Jen Wang
This is a graphic novel, and MAN, is it good. It follows a prince who likes to wear dresses and the dressmaker he hires and swears to secrecy. She wants to become known for her inventive dress designs, but there’s no way for her to do that while designing for Price Sebastian, who doesn’t want anyone to know it’s him in the dresses he wears out on the town at night. A sweet romance develops between them, making the story like candy for the soul, and Jen Wang’s energetic and bright illustrations make the whole book like candy for the eyes. Even if you’ve never dived into the world of comics, this book is an excellent place to start.
–Ashley Woodfolk, author of The Beauty That Remains
Ship It, by Britta Lundin
Set in the world of ships, slash, conventions, and cosplay, Ship It is told in dual narratives from opposite sides of a cult TV show–the hyper-masculine leading man just starting his acting career, and a fan shipping him hard with one of the other male characters (and discovering things about her own sexuality along the way). I was a child of fandom, and I’m so excited for Ship It to catapult me back to my years of being an obsessive teenager discovering pieces of herself in the fanfiction she read in secret on dial-up internet. Bonus–Britta is a writer for Riverdale, one of the best things on TV right now, and Ship It was originally written as a screenplay that landed on The Bitch List for the best Bechdel Test–passing screenplay.
–Mackenzi Lee, author of Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
Picture Us In the Light, by Kelly Loy Gilbert
If you’ve read Conviction, Gilbert’s first contemporary and Morris Award nominee, you already know how deftly Gilbert examines the intricacies of human relationships, especially the bonds that tie families together. In Picture Us, Chinese American artist Daniel uncovers a secret that disturbs the foundations of his family history and all he holds dear. There’s also a tenderly constructed romance with his best friend, Harry, that will have you reaching for your hankies. Do not miss this gorgeous book if you want to understand your heart.
–Stacey Lee, author of The Secret of a Heart Note and Outrun the Moon