17 of the Most Exciting YA Books to Read in 2017

by Iva-Marie Palmer

Introducing a piece on some of the best young adult books coming out in 2017 is a delightful challenge: There’s no overarching trend, no genre eclipsing all other genres, no theme so prevalent as to even call it a theme — and that’s a good thing. There is truly something for everyone this year, whether that reader enjoys things quirky and magical, extra-real real, wild, or world-building. The books, they keep on coming, and these 17 are just the beginning of what promises to make 2017 an exciting year for YA lovers.

  • Carve the Mark

    by Veronica Roth

    Divergent author Veronica Roth is back with a new series, this time set in another galaxy, instead of a dystopic Chicago. Roth’s talent for world-building is on display as ever; in Carve the Mark, every being develops a “currentgift,” a unique power to help them shape the future. But some gifts, like those belonging to Akos and Cyra, make their owners vulnerable to others’ control. With her talent for action-packed plots and powerful characters, Roth’s latest is sure to be much talked-about all of 2017.
    (On Sale: 1/17/17)

  • City of Saints & Thieves

    by Natalie C. Anderson

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    Gone Girl meets The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? Say no more and let’s just predict this will be the YA release that crosses over to adult fans. This murder mystery set in Kenya follows Tina, a girl who fled the Congo only to now suspect the wealthy and powerful Kenyan family that employed her mother as a maid may have also been responsible for her death. Living on the streets with revenge on her mind, Tina makes her way back into the world of the esteemed and criminal Greyhills that, needless to say, is both dangerous and gripping.
    (On Sale: 1/24/17)

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  • We Are Okay

    by Nina LaCour

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    LaCour’s novels The Disenchantments and Hold Still should be obligatory reads for anyone struggling with the teen years. She hits all the right notes again in We Are Okay, about Marin, who fled her old life in California for college in New York without a single word to anyone who knew her… including her best friend Mabel. This quiet novel about grief and loss and escaping sadness is perfect for readers who prefer big feels to big action.
    (On Sale: 2/14/17)

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  • Camp So-and-So

    by Mary McCoy

    McCoy, whose debut Dead to Me took on hard-boiled Los Angeles noir from a teen perspective, is back with another genre-busting work that ranks her high on the list of authors able to deliver on unexpected territory. In Camp So-and-So, 25 girls receive letters inviting them to a lakeside retreat in the Starveling Mountains that promises volleyball, rock-climbing, and Shakespeare beneath the stars. And, yet, at the time of the letters’ mailing, the camp does not exist. So, where are our heroines going? To a very dangerous place.
    (On Sale: 3/1/17)

  • Goodbye Days

    by Jeff Zentner

    Author of the acclaimed 2016 heartbreaker The Serpent King, Zentner’s sophomore novel looks to keep him on teens’ to-read lists. In Goodbye Days, has-it-all high-schooler Carver Briggs’s world is upended when one text while driving results in a car crash that kills his three best friends. Guilt-racked and fearing prison, Carver seems like he has no one on his side. When his friends’ families start asking for Goodbye Days — a time to share memories and say proper goodbyes — he feels even more worried and alone. Zentner’s characters are impossible not to empathize with.
    (On Sale: 3/7/17)

  • The Inexplicable Logic of My Life

    by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

    “He wrote one of my fave contemporaries of all time” is a sentiment expressed on Goodreads about Sáenz’s Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe — and more than once (in different words). In this follow-up, the author returns with a story about love, identity, and family. Sal grew up with an adoptive gay father as part of a huge Mexican-American family and with a solid best friend in Samantha. So why is he suddenly questioning his place in the world during his senior year? With warmth and humor, Sáenz asks and works to answer the kinds of questions teens and adults alike find themselves asking.
    (On Sale: 3/7/17)

  • You’re Welcome, Universe

    by Whitney Gardner

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    Gardner makes her YA debut with a main character who’s not like any other out there: Julia, a deaf artist who attends a school for the hearing impaired but gets kicked out when she covers up a nasty slur about her best friend on its back wall with a beautiful (but illegal) graffiti mural. Her best friend tattles, and Julia’s punished by having to attend a suburban school, where Julia continues to tag in her quest to be the next Banksy, and becomes embroiled in a graffiti battle. Aside from its unique protagonist, You’re Welcome, Universe is loaded with beautiful interior illustrations, demonstrating Gardner’s versatile talents.
    (On Sale: 3/7/17)

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  • Gem & Dixie

    by Sara Zarr

    The forthcoming release from National Book Award finalist Zarr should count as more than one book for teens who’ve not yet read her, because after finishing this one, they’ll surely dig into her back catalog (including the stellar Story of a Girl). In Gem & Dixie, Zarr takes on the world of sisters, and in this case, sisters from a home life that never quite feels like a comfortable place, due to a mom who’s fighting battles of her own and a father who’s gone more often than he’s there. While Gem has always done what she can to take care of her sister, on an unexpected trip, she realizes she might not be able to be Dixie’s constant forever.
    (On Sale: 4/4/17)

  • Literally

    by Lucy Keating

    In her debut Dreamology, Keating explored what happens when we fall in love with our dreams, and then they become reality. She remains as inventive as ever — maybe more so! — with this wonderfully meta follow-up in which the perfect-lifed Annabelle discovers she’s the new protagonist in the next novel from author Lucy Keating (yes, you read that right!). In Keating’s fun and whimsical voice, the book questions how much of our life we really want plotted out, and how much we’d like our story to be purely ours.
    (On Sale: 4/11/17)

  • The Upside of Unrequited

    by Becky Albertalli

    Author Becky Albertalli made fans nervous with her follow-up effort to the insta-YA-favorite Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. But, they had nothing to worry about, as the early word on this one is that it has just as much to love, in a different way. In an early review on Goodreads, author Adam Silvera says of overweight, lovelorn protagonist Molly (one half of a set of twins), “Molly has such a winning voice and winning heart and I can’t wait for you all to meet her.”
    (On Sale: 4/11/17)

  • The Whole Thing Together

    by Ann Brashares

    Summertime. A beach house. A guy and a girl whose lives touch one another’s in countless ways even though they’ve never met. Sasha and Ray (her dad was once married to Ray’s mom, and they had three daughters together) are both part of blended families, neither of which wants to give up a memory-filled beach house on Long Island. Brashares, with her trademark heart, tells the tale of lives intersecting, and the ripple effect that follows. Beach reads might not get better than this.
    (On Sale: 4/25/17)

  • Kill All Happies

    by Rachel Cohn

    One half of the writing duo (with David Levithan) behind Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist, Cohn is back with another out-all-night party on the page — literally. Vic Navarro is graduating, and she plans to throw the most epic bash her town has ever seen (while winning the heart of her longtime crush Jake Zavala-Kim). The setting is Happies, a restaurant in town that happens to need a nice farewell before it closes its doors for good. Everything is going amazingly, until fans of Happies start appearing out of nowhere to say good-bye and whoop it up on the deserted theme park just behind the restaurant. The wild-and-crazy bash is sure to inspire envy from would-be teen party throwers and maybe some nostalgia from adult readers too.
    (On Sale: 5/2/17)

  • The Love Interest

    by Cale Dietrich

    Set within a secret organization that cultivates teen spies — each called a “Love Interest” because forging intimate bonds is the way to get the information a spy needs — Dietrich’s book is smooth and stylish on its face, but begs deeper questions. The story focuses on Caden and Dylan, two boys living outside their spy school for the first time ever, and both with sights set on the same girl, someone crucial to the mission. Whoever doesn’t get the girl will perish but the more interesting question comes when both young men experience feelings they weren’t trained to have. Dietrich’s debut is a powerful entry into the LGBTQ YA canon.
    (On Sale: 5/16/17)

  • Once and For All

    by Sarah Dessen

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    YA superstar supreme Dessen’s 13th novel looks to be a lucky one. The frothy, funny tale (still brimming with Dessen’s tendency to evoke “all the feels”) centers on Louna, daughter of famous wedding planner Natalie Barrett. Louna lives in ballrooms, on beaches, and in fancy mansions, witnessing every vow and toast under the sun. But she’s also distrustful of the whole “happily-ever-after” ending, and has her own sad love story in her past. So when she meets Ambrose, a serial dater, of course she keeps a safe distance, and of course he decides that he must have her. This is definitely one romance lovers will say “I do” to.
    (On Sale: 6/6/17)

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  • Royal Bastards

    by Andrew Shvarts

    Besides the catchy title, Royal Bastards looks like it will indeed catch on. Author Shvarts may be making his YA book debut but he also works and writes as a video game designer. In Bastards, we follow Tilla, an intrepid but surly cast-off of Lord Kent of the Western Province, who raised her as a baby but more or less shrugged her off once he discovered his trueborn children. But when a visiting princess chooses to sit with Tilla and other kingdom bastards at a royal dinner, everything starts to change. Especially when Tilla finds herself helping to safeguard the princess’s life as rebellion brews.
    (On Sale: 6/6/17)

  • What to Say Next

    by Julie Buxbaum

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    Buxbaum, whose Tell Me Three Things earned her comparisons to Rainbow Rowell, shows she’s her own brand of heartfelt reading with her second YA novel. The story centers on an unlikely friendship, one borne of as simple a thing as popular Kit Lowell deciding, after her father’s death, to sit somewhere new at lunch: with socially isolated David Drucker. David’s blunt, Kit asks a lot of questions, and together the two of them take on finding out the mysteries of her father’s car accident.
    (On Sale: 7/11/17)

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  • The Gatlon School for Vigilantes

    by Marissa Meyer

    This new trilogy from Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles) promises to be the best of all possible doozies. It centers on a town with two schools: The slightly uppity Morris Academy, where superheroes are bred, and the less impressive Gatlon School for the Gifted, which seems to turn out minions and sidekicks. The early excitement for this one on Goodreads includes lots of all caps: “SUPERHEROES. VIGILANTES. VILLAINS. CRIME!” (The accompanying GIF reactions are harder to explain, but many include ecstatic screaming.)
    (On Sale: 11/7/17)