The Best YA Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2018

by Feliza Casano

With the year coming to a close, it’s a great time to look back at this 2018’s best releases in young adult science fiction and fantasy. It was a great year in speculative young adult publishing, with several excellent series reaching their satisfying conclusions.

Below, find 15 of the best YA science fiction and fantasy books of 2018:

  • Tempests and Slaughter

    by Tamora Pierce

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    Longtime and brand-new fans alike will be entranced by the first book in Tamora Pierce’s newest series, The Numair Chronicles, which follows a young Numair Salmalín — a boy named Arram Draper who will one day become the greatest mage in Tortall.

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  • Thunderhead

    by Neal Shusterman

    In the sequel to Scythe, Citra and Rowan’s paths diverge: Citra is Scythe Anastasia, openly challenging the idea of a “new order” in the Scythedom, while Rowan goes off the grid, taking out corrupt scythes where he can. But Citra’s public resistance is making some people unhappy enough to threaten her life, leading to the friends reuniting in the face of the mounting threats.

  • Immortal Reign

    by Morgan Rhodes

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    In the conclusion to the Falling Kingdoms series, the fight for Mytica rages on, bringing destruction across the empire. Magnus and Cleo’s love will be put to the ultimate test — and in the face of unrest, unlikely allies will emerge in order to save the land and the people they care most about.

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  • Tess of the Road

    by Rachel Hartman

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    Set in the same universe as Hartman’s Seraphina, Tess of the Road follows one of Seraphina’s stepsiblings as she embarks on a journey after ruining her sister’s wedding night — by punching her new brother-in-law in the face. At first, her journey is an attempt to run away … but she soon discovers she’s running towards something. Tess of the Road handles a difficult topic with compassion and care, a beautiful start to a new duology.

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  • Hero at the Fall

    by Alwyn Hamilton

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    In the conclusion of Hamilton’s Rebel of the Sands trilogy, the rebel leader Prince Ahmed has been captured, and it’s up to Amani to rally the rebels in order to save him. But Amani is used to being a loner, not a leader — and she struggles with wondering whether she’s really fit to lead the rebels at all.

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  • Dread Nation

    by Justina Ireland

    When the dead rise on the battlefields at Gettysburg, the American civil war is derailed as the nation scrambles to protect itself, deciding to sacrifice children it deems expendable in the war on the undead. This subversive alternate history has horrors that abound — horrors that aren’t all of the undead variety.

  • Bright We Burn

    by Kiersten White

    The conclusion to White’s epic alternate history And I Darken series brings two nations to clash as Lada’s rule has begun to create the nation of her dreams — a country free of crime. But until the borders are impenetrable, she cannot be satisfied. Meanwhile, Mehmed and Radu ally to fight against her, but Mehmed may be underestimating Lada’s determination and will.

  • Hullmetal Girls

    by Emily Skrutskie

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    Aisha and Key became cyborg Scela soldiers for different reasons: the impoverished Aisha sought the salary to pay for her brother’s medical treatment, the privileged Key awakened with no memory of why she enlisted. They must learn to work together to become the top unit of recruits — but as rebellion stirs within the Fleet, both Aisha and Key start questioning their loyalties, forcing them to put their differences aside.

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  • A Reaper at the Gates

    by Sabaa Tahir

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    As the Martial Empire’s Emperor Marcus grows increasingly unstable, Helene Aquilla — the Blood Shrike — is desperate to protect the lives of the people in the Empire, even as other Empire leaders seem ready to kill their own citizens. Laia knows that in order to save the world, she has to stop the Nightbringer, and Elias forfeits his freedom to serve as the Soul Catcher in the land between the living and the dead. The third book in Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes quartet is an action-packed fantasy you shouldn’t miss.

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  • Seafire

    by Natalie C. Parker

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    Four years ago, Caledonia offered a helping hand to a Bullet boy claiming to be running from Aric Athair’s army — but instead, he led the warlord’s navy straight to the Mors Navis, where Caledonia and her best friend Pisces’ families fought Athair’s men to the death. Now, Caledonia captains the repaired Mors Navis and a crew of women and girls with a firm “No Bullets” rule in place … until Pisces returns with a Bullet boy who saved her life, and the battle against Athair’s dictatorial rule over the seas escalates.

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  • Smoke in the Sun

    by Renee Adieh

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    In the finale of Adieh’s Flame in the Mist duology, Mariko is forced to face the dangers of Heian Castle to infiltrate the emperor’s ranks and investigate the conspiracy that nearly led to her death and rescue Okami, her beloved. But tricking her own brother and her betrothed isn’t easy, and as she unravels the secrets of the court, Mariko finds herself ensnared in a web of political intrigue.

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  • Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix

    by Julie C. Dao

    The companion novel to Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, Dao’s retelling of Snow White following the rise of the Evil Queen Xifeng, Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix follows instead Snow White herself: Jade, the heir to the current empire and the only person who stands between Xifeng and her aspiration to place her own bloodline on the throne. Blazing Phoenix is more of a quest story than Thousand Lanterns, building up to an exciting conclusion.

  • Girls of Paper and Fire

    by Natasha Ngan

    Members of the Paper caste are the most persecuted in Ikhara, and Lei — a Paper cast teen living in a remote village — remains haunted by the memory of watching the royal guards snatch her mother. But then the guards return — for Lei herself. Taken to the palace, Lei is trained in the skills and etiquette needed to become a consort of the king, but when she falls in love, her forbidden romance becomes entwined with a plot that may destroy Ikhara’s entire way of life.

  • The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

    by Kiersten White

    In Kiersten White’s young adult retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic, Elizabeth Lavenza takes center stage as a young woman plucked from an abusive caretaker by the Frankenstein family. In fear of being cast out, it becomes Elizabeth’s role to soothe and care for the increasingly unstable Victor — no matter what unholy acts he commits in the name of his own experiments.

  • Crown of Thunder

    by Tochi Onyebuchi

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    Taj, Aliyah, and Arzu have escaped Kos and Queen Karima to a village of tastahlik, sin eaters who share Taj’s abilities to call forth a person’s sins. The sequel to Beasts Made of Night follows the three as they flee from Karima’s dark magic — and seek out their own destinies.

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