The Best Books of 2017 (So Far): Young Adult

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The Best Books of 2017 (So Far): Young Adult

From inspiring debuts to new series from beloved authors, here are the 17 best Young Adult books released in 2017… so far. You might recognize a few of the titles from our most anticipated YA books of 2017 list, which included compelling reads like Adam Silvera’s heartbreaking History Is All You Left Me and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

So let’s dig in and see if you can find some new favorites.

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17. It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura

Why You’ll Love It: From the diverse cast of charming characters to the inclusive love story, there’s so much to adore in this wonderful debut. It’s Not Like It’s a Secret isn’t just about the secrets that Misa Sugiura’s main character, Sana, hides. It’s about feeling out of place, even when you are surrounded by people. The fact that it’s peppered with poetry makes it all the more delightful.

For Fans of: Jenny Han’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before series; Going Geek by Charlotte Huang; Geekerella by Ashley Poston; and This Is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang.

Description: Sixteen-year-old Sana Kiyohara has too many secrets. Some are small, like how it bothers her when her friends don’t invite her to parties. Some are big, like that fact that her father may be having an affair. And then there’s the one that she can barely even admit to herself—the one about how she might have a crush on her best friend.

When Sana and her family move to California, she begins to wonder if it’s finally time for some honesty, especially after she meets Jamie Ramirez. Jamie is beautiful and smart and unlike anyone Sana’s ever known. There are just a few problems: Sana’s new friends don’t trust Jamie’s crowd; Jamie’s friends clearly don’t want her around anyway; and a sweet guy named Caleb seems to have more-than-friendly feelings for her. Meanwhile, her dad’s affair is becoming too obvious to ignore anymore.

Sana always figured that the hardest thing would be to tell people that she wants to date a girl, but as she quickly learns, telling the truth is easy… what comes after it, though, is a whole lot more complicated.

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16. Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Why You’ll Love It: Francesca Zappia’s Eliza and Her Monsters is the equivalent of the feeling you get when you discover something precious in the geek universe: a new comic, a movie franchise, a Netflix series worth binge-watching. Zappia’s novel pulls at you with that same level of joy. From her drawings peppered throughout to the fun way the book is structured (showing message boards and the like), you’re going to love this one.

For Fans of: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and Nimona by Noelle Stevenson.

Description: In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

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15. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Why You’ll Love It: If you adore Young Adult rom-coms, Sandhya Menon’s debut novel is for you. When Dimple Met Rishi is a diverse read that’s absolutely full of heart and deep belly laughs, and it’s from an author you should definitely follow.

For Fans of: Rom-com reads by Lauren Morrill and Stephanie Perkins, as well as authors who write about the Indian-American experience, like Tanuja Desai Hidier and Jhumpa Lahiri.

Description: Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

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14. Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Why You’ll Love It: One of Paste’s most anticipated YA books of 2017, Wintersong is a spectacular read reminiscent of the David Bowie-starring film Labyrinth. S. Jae-Jones’ novel guides readers through a stunning fantasy world, following a teen girl’s quest to save her sister from—you guessed it—a Goblin King. But there’s more to the Goblin King than meets the eye.

For Fans of: Victoria Schwab’s This Savage Song and Susan Dennard’s Truthwitch.

Description: All her life, 19-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue Käthe and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

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13. Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

Why You’ll Love It: Another one of Paste’s most anticipated titles of 2017, Empress of a Thousand Skies is an absolute delight. Similar to a YA Game of Thrones in space, the book reveals a galaxy ruled by royalty and beset by war and political upheaval.

For Fans of: Beth Revis’ Across the Universe or Pierce Brown’s Red Rising series.

Description: Rhee, also known as Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an, is the sole surviving heir to a powerful dynasty. She’ll stop at nothing to avenge her family and claim her throne.

Aly has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. But when he’s falsely accused of killing Rhee, he’s forced to prove his innocence to save his reputation – and his life.

With planets on the brink of war, Rhee and Aly are thrown together to confront a ruthless evil that threatens the fate of the entire galaxy.

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12. Who’s That Girl by Blair Thornburgh

Why You’ll Love It: Chances are, you’ve heard the song Hey There Delilah by the Plain White T’s. Well, Blair Thornburgh’s YA debut reads like the novel version of that song, and it follows a girl who is the subject of a hit single. The story is sweet and hilarious, boasting witty banter and memorable characters.

For Fans of: YA books filled with music, like Nina LaCour’s The Disenchantments or Ashley Poston’s The Sound of Us. It’s also for readers who love the delightful banter found in an Amy Spalding novel.

Description: Junior Nattie McCullough is totally OK with her place in life: Latin whiz. Member of the school’s gay-straight alliance. Joni Mitchell superfan. Seventeen-year-old who has never been kissed. So when last summer’s crush and her former classmate—Young Lungs lead singer Sebastian Delacroix—comes back to town with his new hit single “Natalie,” she can’t bring herself to believe it could possibly be about her…could it?

As Nattie sorts through the evidence (the lyrics, Sebastian’s elusive text messages and their brief romantic encounter last year), the song’s popularity skyrockets, and everyone starts speculating about “Natalie’s” identity. If that wasn’t mortifying enough, Nattie runs into another problem: her confusing, flirtation-packed feelings for her good friend Zach. With her once-average life upended, Nattie is determined to figure out once and for all if her short-lived past with Sebastian was something love songs are made of—or just a one-hit wonder.

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11. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Why You’ll Love It: Another book from Paste’s most anticipated YA list, Thomas’ debut boasts both humor and a devastating story that will rip you apart. There’s so much to love in this timely novel inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, and you’ll be talking about it for a long time.

For Fans of: American Street by Ibi Zoboi or All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely.

Description: Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

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10. Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

Why You’ll Love It: I adored the first book in Victoria Schwab’s duology, This Savage Song. So much so that it made it onto Paste’s list of the best Young Adult books of 2016. Schwab’s second novel picks up right where the first left off, and fans will find a lot to love thanks to its music and poetry—not to mention the terrifying world that Schwab has crafted and her ongoing quest to answer one major question: Are humans the real monsters in our world?

For Fans of: Epic fantasy reads by authors like Kendare Blake (Three Dark Crowns), Susan Dennard (Truthwitch) and Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows).

Description: Kate Harker is a girl who isn’t afraid of the dark. She’s a girl who hunts monsters. And she’s good at it.

August Flynn is a monster who can never be human, no matter how much he once yearned for it. He’s a monster with a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.

Nearly six months after Kate and August were first thrown together, the war between the monsters and the humans is now a terrifying reality. In Verity, August has become the leader he never wished to be, and in Prosperity, Kate has become the ruthless hunter she always knew she could be. When a new monster emerges from the shadows—one who feeds on chaos and brings out its victim’s inner demons—it lures Kate home, where she finds more than she bargained for. She’ll face a monster she thought she killed, a boy she thought she knew and a demon all of her own making.

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9. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Why You’ll Love It: An exciting, historical YA novel that features teens zipping around Europe and getting into all sorts of trouble? Sounds fun. But throw some romance into it, with two boys trying to figure out whether their friendship is something more, and you’ve got me sold. Adventure and swooning abound in this epic from Mackenzi Lee.

For Fans of: The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall and the historical thrills in books by authors like Anne Blankman (Traitor Angels) and Lindsey Smith (Sekret).

Description: Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits or waking up in the arms of strange women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

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8. North of Happy by Adi Alsaid

Why You’ll Love It: This book is as delicious as the premise. A teen who wants to be a chef? Actual recipes at the start of every chapter? Yes, please. Adi Alsaid, author of Let’s Get Lost and Never Always Sometimes, writes lyrical YA novels. And his latest tackles love, loss and food with a literary flair you’ll adore.

For Fans of: The food-loving joy in Lucy Knisley’s graphic novel, Relish: My Life in the Kitchen, and the heart-wrenching (and often heartwarming) prose in Jeff Zentner’s Goodbye Days.

Description: Carlos Portillo has always led a privileged and sheltered life. A dual citizen of Mexico and the U.S., he lives in Mexico City with his wealthy family where he attends an elite international school. His friends and fellow rich kid-peers have plans to attend college somewhere in the U.S. or Europe and eventually take over their parents’ businesses. Always a rule-follower and a parent-pleaser, Carlos is more than happy to tread the well-worn path in front of him. He has always loved food and cooking, but his parents see it as just a hobby.

When his older brother, Felix—who has dropped out of college to live a life of travel—is tragically killed, Carlos begins hearing his brother’s voice, giving him advice and pushing him to rebel against his father’s plan for him. Worrying about his mental health, but knowing the voice is right, Carlos runs away to the U.S. and manages to secure a job with his favorite celebrity chef. As he works to improve his skills in the kitchen and pursue his dream, he begins to fall for his boss’s daughter—a fact that could end his career before it begins. Finally living for himself, Carlos must decide what’s most important to him and where his true path really lies.

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7. The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

Why You’ll Love It: I loved Aditi Khorana’s Mirror in the Sky, a super underrated YA sci-fi novel. She writes beautiful stories about feeling out of place in fantastic worlds, and with The Library of Fates, she does it again. The book follows two teens on a quest to change their fate with a magic library. There’s romance, magic, betrayal, politics…just so much to adore from a writer you really need to be reading.

For Fans of: YA fantasy novels like Roshani Chokshi’s The Star-Touched Queen and Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn.

Description: No one is entirely certain what brings the Emperor Sikander to Shalingar. Until now, the idyllic kingdom has been immune to his many violent conquests. To keep the visit friendly, Princess Amrita has offered herself as his bride, sacrificing everything—family, her childhood love and her freedom—to save her people. But her offer isn’t enough.

The unthinkable happens, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, who was kept by Sikander as a slave and managed to escape amid the chaos of a palace under siege. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on each other. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to go on a quest to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for each of them to reverse their fates. To go back to before Sikander took everything from them.

Stripped of all that she loves, caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, will Amrita be able to restore what was lost, or does another life—and another love—await?

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6. You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

Why You’ll Love It: Not only does Whitney Gardner’s debut have a moving, hilarious story involving a teen street artist, it’s also packed with original artwork from the author. Gardner introduces readers to Julia, a deaf teenager who is a brilliant graffiti artist, and follows the turf war that explodes between Julia and an unknown artist at her new school. How it all comes together makes for one enthralling read.

For Fans of: Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda or Andrew Smith’s Winger.

Description: When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across the back of the Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful (albeit illegal) graffiti mural. Her supposed best friend snitches, the principal expels her and her two mothers set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a “mainstream” school in the suburbs, where she’s treated like an outcast as the only deaf student. The last thing she has left is her art, and not even Banksy himself could convince her to give that up.

Out in the ’burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. But Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town. Someone is adding to her tags, making them better, showing off—and showing Julia up in the process. She expected her art might get painted over by cops. But she never imagined getting dragged into a full-blown graffiti war.

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5. Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Why You’ll Love It: Zentner’s debut novel, The Serpent King, garnered a spot on Paste’s best YA books of 2016 list. And Goodbye Days was one of our most anticipated reads of 2017, for good reason. Zentner’s latest follows a teen boy who blames himself for a car crash that killed his closest friends. It’s a heartbreaking read—each chapter more painful than the last. But in the midst of all the hurt, there’s so much hope, love and redemption.

For Fans of: Books that give you a good cry, like novels by Courtney Stevens and Adam Silvera.

Description: Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli and Blake. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident, and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths.

Then Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a “goodbye day” together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli’s bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver’s own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?

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4. History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Why You’ll Love It: One of Paste’s most anticipated books of 2017 is also written by the author who wrote our pick for the best YA book of 2015: Adam Silvera. Now he’s back, and he’s come for your tears with a powerful story about a teen who loses his first love in a tragic accident.

For Fans of: Robin Talley’s Lies We Tell Ourselves), David Arnold’s Mosquitoland and Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.

Description: When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart. If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

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3. Want by Cindy Pon

Why You’ll Love It: This is a novel (and a series, since Cindy Pon recently announced a second book) that I will be talking about for the next few years. Want takes readers to a futuristic Taipei where the world’s climate has left everyone under a constant fog of smog and disease. The wealthy can live just fine in exo-suits, but not everyone is that well off—including Pon’s bold protagonist. From the Blade-Runner-esque world building to the heart-pounding stakes, Want will stick with you long after you’ve finished it.

For Fans of: The environmental themes found in Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis, Empty by Suzanne Weyn and Breathe by Sarah Crossan, blended with the near-future sci-fi dystopia of Erin Bow (especially in The Prisoners of Peace series).

Description: Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits that protect them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without them suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother, who died as a result of the pollution, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary. Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. Against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is or destroying his own heart?

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2. Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Why You’ll Love It: Cinderella mashed up with geek culture? Yes, please. As someone who writes geeky books myself, I can promise that this one is impossible to put down.

For Fans of: Geeky love stories, from the romance and pop culture nods in Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One to the humor and heart found in Jennifer Malone’s Queen of Geeks or Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

Description: Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for ‘cons—back before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autograph signings and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

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1. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

Why You’ll Love It: One of Paste’s most-anticipated books of the year is also the best Young Adult novel of the year! If you loved Becky Albertalli’s debut, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, hang on tight. Because The Upside of Unrequited delivers more of her delightful, charming, hug-in-the-shape-of-a-book writing. From its diverse cast of characters to its exploration of friendship, body image and sexuality, there’s a lot to love in this heartfelt book of breakups and breakdowns.

For Fans of: Albertalli’s first novel, of course, along with Julie Murphy’s Ramona Blue and Lily Anderson’s books with sweetly geeky romantics.

Description: Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?