One of the most popular posts I do over at Book Riot is the round-up of upcoming YA fiction titles, and one of the most popular questions I seem to get on Twitter and in my inboxes is “what should I be looking out for in YA?” For a lot of readers, especially those who work with teens either in classrooms or in libraries, knowing what’s coming out ahead of time is valuable to get those books into readers’ hands before they even ask.
Each month, I’ll call out between 8 and 12 books coming out that should be on your radar. These include books by high-demand, well-known authors, as well as some up-and-coming and debut authors. They’ll be across a variety of genres, including diverse titles and writers. Not all of the books will be ones that Kimberly or I have read, nor will all of them be titles that we’re going to read and review. Rather, these are books that readers will be looking for and that have popped up regularly on social media, in advertising, in book mail, and so forth. It’s part science and part arbitrary and a way to keep the answer to “what should I know about for this month?” quick, easy, and under $300 (doable for smaller library budgets especially).
Here are 8 titles to have on your January 2015 radar. All descriptions are from WorldCat, and I’ve included short notes as to why the title was included. This is a particularly solid month for books by authors of color.
I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios: Skylar Evans, seventeen, yearns to escape Creek View by attending art school, but after her mother’s job loss puts her dream at risk, a rekindled friendship with Josh, who joined the Marines to get away then lost a leg in Afghanistan, and her job at the Paradise motel lead her to appreciate her home town.
Why: This one has had a good amount of publisher push behind it. It’s also quite timely, and it falls into the lesser-tackled issues of post-high school military service.
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard: In a world divided by blood–those with common, Red blood serve the Silver-blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities–seventeen-year-old Mare, a Red, discovers she has an ability of her own. To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. But Mare risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard –a growing Red rebellion–even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction.
Why: This one’s been pitched as being for fans of Game of Thrones but more than that, it’s one with a lot of publicity behind it from the publisher. It’s likely this is a book teen readers will be hearing about peer-to-peer. (Unrelated, but that bloody crown is great).
This Side of Home by Renee Watson: Twins Nikki and Maya Younger always agreed on most things, but as they head into their senior year they react differently to the gentrification of their Portland, Oregon, neighborhood and the new–white–family that moves in after their best friend and her mother are evicted.
Why: I’ve heard virtually nothing about this title, and it’s a diverse one that sounds like it takes on so many fascinating topics that it should be being talked about more. It looks like the author will be doing an event with Jacqueline Woodson in March, which might spark some buzz, as well.
The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson: Rory, Callum and Boo are still reeling from a series of tragic events, while new dangers lurk around the city from Jane and her nefarious organization.
Why: This is the third book in Maureen Johnson’s extremely popular “Shades of London” series, so it will be in high demand. There will be four books in the series, so this isn’t the conclusion yet.
The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead: After their secret romance is exposed, Sydney and Adrian find themselves facing the wrath of both the Alchemists and the Moroi in this electrifying conclusion to Richelle Mead’s New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series. When the life of someone they both love is put on the line, Sydney risks everything to hunt down a deadly former nemesis. Meanwhile, Adrian becomes enmeshed in a puzzle that could hold the key to a shocking secret about spirit magic, a secret that could shake the entire Moroi world.
Why: This is the sixth and final book in Richelle Mead’s popular “Bloodlines” series.
Stone in the Sky by Cecil Castellucci: In this follow-up to TIN STAR, the desolate planet below the Yertina Feray space station is discovered to have overwhelming amounts of an invaluable resource, which suddenly makes the station a major player in intergalactic politics
Why: This is the second book in Castellucci’s duology, which began with Tin Star. It seems like there’s been a decline in science fiction in YA, but this series fits the sci fi bill perfectly.
Dove Arising by Karen Bao: On a lunar colony, fifteen-year-old Phaet Theta does the unthinkable and joins the Militia when her mother is imprisoned by the Moon’s oppressive government.
Why: I’ve gotten not just a review copy of this one (and early on!), but I’ve been pitched it a couple more times on top of it. This is a debut novel by an author of color, and it’s science fiction — again, with what seems like a genre with fewer offerings than others within YA recently, it’s worth taking a good look at!
When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez: Elizabeth Davis and Emily Daniels seem to have little in common except Ms. Diaz’s English class and the solace they find in the words of Emily Dickinson, but both are struggling with to cope with monumental secrets and tumultuous emotions that will lead one to attempt suicide.
Why: Aside from fitting the Emily Dickinson trend, this is a realistic debut YA by a Latina author.