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).
I’m cheating a little bit this month because there are so many releases worth knowing about. Rather than keep to the strict 12 title limit…I’m including 13. So, here are 13 titles to have on your March 2015 radar. All descriptions are from WorldCat, and I’ve included short notes as to why the title was included.
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby (March 3): Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?
Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.
As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are. (via Goodreads)
Why: This literary tale has garnered a ton of buzz (sorry, sorry) and it’s earned a number of stars. I have no doubt we’ll be seeing a lot of Printz-related talk about this one as the year goes on.
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma (March 24): Orianna and Violet are ballet dancers and best friends, but when the ballerinas who have been harassing Violet are murdered, Orianna is accused of the crime and sent to a juvenile detention center where she meets Amber and they experience supernatural events linking the girls together.
Why: I think Suma’s books should all be on everyone’s radars since they’re so outstanding, but this one might be her best. It’s received a ton of buzz, as well as three starred reviews, and all of it is well-deserved. This is a literary novel with huge appeal for readers, especially those who like their stories with a side of horror. The “Orange is the New Black Swan” tag line it’s had is pretty on point.
The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks (March 1): I can’t believe I fell for it. It was still dark when I woke up this morning. As soon as my eyes opened I knew where I was. A low-ceilinged rectangular building made entirely of whitewashed concrete. There are six little rooms along the main corridor. There are no windows. No doors. The lift is the only way in or out. What’s he going to do to me?
Why: Brooks won the UK’s Carnegie medal in literature for this book when it published over there in 2013. It then went on to get some media attention, primarily about how this isn’t “really” a book “for teens.” With the discussion it generated there, I think this is a book to keep an eye on when it comes out in the US this month.
Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman (March 10): Seraphina, half-dragon and half-human, searches for others like her who can make the difference in the war between dragons and humans in the kingdom of Goredd.
Why: This is the sequel to the 2013 Morris Award winning Seraphina.
Death Marked by Leah Cypess (March 3): After killing the leader of a clan of assassins and falling in love with his heir, a young sorceress discovers she is the one person to bring down the evil Empire that has been oppressing her people for centuries, and now, in the heart of the Empire, Ileni herself is the deadliest weapon the assassins have ever had.
Why: This is the sequel to Cypess’s Death Sworn. This is a high fantasy series featuring magical powers. Kimberly quite enjoyed the first entry in this series.
The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski (March 3): The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince is the event of a lifetime, but to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making, so as she aches to tell the truth about her engagement, she becomes a skilled practitioner of deceit and as a spy passes information and gets close to uncovering a shocking secret.
Why: This is the sequel to the popular The Winner’s Curse book, which came out last year. This is a historical fantasy series worth knowing about.
The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows (March 10): Orphaned as a child, Princess Wilhelmina together with her best friend Melanie return to the Indigo Kingdom to fight back and reclaim Wil’s throne. But Wil has a secret — one that could change everything.
Why: This is the launch of a new fantasy series. Meadows’s first series, “Newsoul,” was — and is — pretty popular and well reviewed by readers.
The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige (March 31): My name is Amy Gumm–and I’m the other girl from Kansas. After a tornado swept through my trailer park, I ended up in Oz. But it wasn’t like the Oz I knew from books and movies. Dorothy had returned, but she was now a ruthless dictator. Glinda could no longer be called the Good Witch. And the Wicked Witches who were left? They’d joined forces as the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, and they wanted to recruit me. My mission? Kill Dorothy. Except my job as assassin didn’t work out as planned. Dorothy is still alive. The Order has vanished. And the home I couldn’t wait to leave behind might be in danger. Somehow, across a twisted and divided land, I have to find the Order, protect the true ruler of Oz, take Dorothy and her henchmen down–and try to figure out what I’m really doing here.
Why: Paige’s first novel, Dorothy Must Die, was a New York Times Bestseller. This is the sequel/companion to that title. (Not a why, but worth noting that this series is from Full Fathom Five, so do with that what you will).
The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith (March 3): The story of Ariel, a Middle Eastern refugee who lives with an adoptive family in Sunday, West Virginia, is juxtaposed against those of a schizophrenic bomber, the diaries of a failed arctic expedition from the late nineteenth century, and a depressed, bionic reincarnated crow.
Why: It’s a new Andrew Smith title, and the first of two he’ll publish this year. This one is more along the lines of Grasshopper Jungle than Winger on the weird/strange scale.
Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story by David Levithan (March 17): Larger-than-life Tiny Cooper finally gets to tell his story, from his fabulous birth and childhood to his quest for true love and his infamous parade of ex-boyfriends, in the form of a musical he wrote.
Why: This is the companion to Will Grayson, will grayson, but it’s Tiny Cooper’s story. This is told in an alternate format, as well.
The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer (March 30): When Stephen moves to the small, midwestern town where his father grew up, he quickly falls in with punk girl Cara and her charismatic twin brother, Devon. But the town has a dark secret, and the twins are caught in the middle of it.
Why: Heather Brewer is perennially popular, and this is a brand new stand-alone paranormal story from her.
Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver (March 10): Two sisters inexorably altered by a terrible accident, a missing nine-year-old girl, and the shocking connection between them.
Why: Despite the fact I haven’t seen too many rave reviews of this one — not have I seen a lot of talk about it more broadly — it’s a brand new Lauren Oliver book, and she’s always popular.
Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein (March 31): Having moved to Ethiopia to avoid the prejudices of 1930s America, Emilia Menotti, her black adoptive brother Teo, and their mother Rhoda, a stunt pilot, are devoted to their new country even after war with Italy looms, drawing the teens into the conflict.
Why: New Elizabeth Wein is why enough.