For the new year, I’m kicking off a new monthly feature at STACKED. 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 12 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.
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black: In the town of Fairfold, where humans and fae exist side by side, a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives awakes after generations of sleep in a glass coffin in the woods, causing Hazel to be swept up in new love, shift her loyalties, feel the fresh sting of betrayal, and to make a secret sacrifice to the faerie king.
Why: A new Holly Black book is always going to end up on a radar list.
Ignite by Sara B. Larson: King Damian and his trusted guard, Alexa, focus on rebuilding Antion after years of war and strife, but the citizens are reluctant to trust their new king, and when a new threat arises, including an assassination attempt, Alexa must protect the king she loves and uncover the enemy before it is too late.
Why: This is the sequel to Larson’s debut Defy, which won over many readers.
Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle: Sixteen-year-old Vivian Apple returns home after the alleged ‘Rapture’ to find her devout parents gone and two mysterious holes in the roof. Vivian never believed in the Rapture, or the uber powerful Church of America. Now that she has been left behind, Vivan’s quest for the truth begins.
Why: The first of many rapture/cult books in 2015 (more to come on this trend soon), Coyle’s debut was an award-winner in the UK, with a ton of buzz about it happening on Tumblr.
All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven: Told in alternating voices, when Theodore Finch and Violet Markey meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school–both teetering on the edge–it’s the beginning of an unlikely relationship, a journey to discover the “natural wonders” of the state of Indiana, and two teens’ desperate desire to heal and save one another
Why: One of the biggest buzz titles I’ve seen in a long time. It has been compared non-stop to The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor and Park.
The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds: Soon after his mother’s death, Matt takes a job at a funeral home in his tough Brooklyn neighborhood and, while attending and assisting with funerals, begins to accept her death and his responsibilities as a man.
Why: I’m going to review this one shortly, but it’s a realistic YA novel about a black boy dealing with grief, loss, and first love in Brooklyn. Reynolds’s debut, When I Was The Greatest, garnered a lot of well-earned praise last year, and his sophomore effort is even better.
X by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon: Co-written by Malcolm X’s daughter, this riveting and revealing novel follows the formative years of the man whose words and actions shook the world. Malcolm Little’s parents have always told him that he can achieve anything, but from what he can tell, that’s a pack of lies⁰́₄after all, his father’s been murdered, his mother’s been taken away, and his dreams of becoming a lawyer have gotten him laughed out of school. There’s no point in trying, he figures, and lured by the nightlife of Boston and New York, he escapes into a world of fancy suits, jazz, girls, and reefer. But Malcolm’s efforts to leave the past behind lead him into increasingly dangerous territory. Deep down, he knows that the freedom he’s found is only an illusion⁰́₄and that he can’t run forever. X follows Malcolm from his childhood to his imprisonment for theft at age twenty, when he found the faith that would lead him to forge a new path and command a voice that still resonates today.
Why: It’s timely and timeless. What do we know about Malcolm X’s adolescence? And more, from his daughter? This has been getting some good buzz.
The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson: Convinced he should have died in the accident that killed his parents and sister, sixteen-year-old Drew lives in a hospital, hiding from employees and his past, until Rusty, set on fire for being gay, turns his life around. Includes excerpts from the superhero comic Drew creates.
Why: Aside from being a male-driven narration by Hutchinson — an up-and-coming author — it’s a graphic novel hybrid, which has loads of reader appeal.
I Was Here by Gayle Forman: In an attempt to understand why her best friend committed suicide, eighteen-year-old Cody Reynolds retraces her dead friend’s footsteps and makes some startling discoveries.
Why: It’s a new Gayle Forman book, and it’s her first standalone title.
A Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall: When sixteen-year-old Avery West learns her family is part of a powerful and dangerous secret society, and that her own life is in danger, she must follow a trail of clues across Europe.
Why: This is a debut thriller, and it’s one I have received numerous review (and finished!) copies of recently. It looks like it has a real Ally Carter feel to it.
All Fall Down by Ally Carter: There are many powerful people along Embassy Row who want Grace to block out all her unpretty thoughts. But Grace will not stop until she finds out who killed her mother and make the killer pay.
Why: Speaking of Ally Carter, this is the start of a brand new series from her.
Audacity by Melanie Crowder: A historical fiction novel in verse detailing the life of Clara Lemlich and her struggle for women’s labor rights in the early 20th century in New York.
Why: This is another that I’ll be reviewing soon, but it’s included here because it’s a historical verse novel about women and the labor rights movements of the early 20th century. Though fictional, the story is based on a real Russian Jewish woman whose family was forced to immigrate to the US.
Fairest by Marissa Meyer: Queen Levana is a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now
Why: It’s another addition to Meyer’s best-selling Lunar Chronicles series.