It’s time for another round-up of debut YA novels of the month.
Like always, this round-up includes debut novels, where “debut” is in its purest definition. These are first-time books by first-time authors. I’m not including books by authors who are using or have used a pseudonym in the past or those who have written in other categories (adult, middle grade, etc.) in the past.
All descriptions are from WorldCat, unless otherwise noted. If I’m missing any debuts out in February from traditional publishers, let me know in the comments. As always, not all noted titles included here are necessarily endorsements for those titles.
Ask The Dark by Henry Turner: A thriller about Billy Zeets, a 14-year-old semi-delinquent in a deadly tango with a killer.
Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein: Behind closed doors, sixteen-year-old Azra is learning how to harness her powers and fulfill the obligations of her destiny. Mentored by her mother and her Zar “sisters,” Azra discovers she may not be quite like the rest of her circle of female Jinn … and that her powers could endanger them all.
Dating Down by Stefanie Lyons: Seventeen-year-old aspiring artist Samantha Henderson, eager to learn about life and to get away from her father’s political campaigns and her stepmother, refuses to give up on her new boyfriend, “X,” even after he proves to be trouble, damaging her friendships and introducing her to drugs.
Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin: In a world where everyone knows the day they will die, a teenage boy is determined to outlive his upcoming expiration date.
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir: Laia is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.
Fig by Sarah Elizabeth Schantz: In 1994, Fig looks back on her life and relates her experiences, from age six to nineteen, as she desperately tries to save her mother from schizophrenia while her own mental health and relationships deteriorate.
The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey: A girl who’s adopted and raised by a race of creatures with feathers for hair and magic in their veins becomes involved in an ancient war and a centuries-old love, discovering startling truths about the world she lives in.
I Am Her Revenge by Meredith Moore: Enrolled at an English boarding school, Vivian targets an innocent senior as part of a revenge plot her manipulative mother devised, but as the plan’s set into motion, Vivian starts to uncover secrets so dark and deadly they threaten to unravel the deceptive being that Mother worked so hard to create.
In A World Just Right by Jen Brooks: Eighteen-year-old Jonathan Aubrey, a scarred loner, escapes at will into other worlds of his making, but suddenly the world in which a popular girl is his long-term girlfriend is intersecting reality in startling ways.
None of the Above by I. W. Gregorio: A groundbreaking story about a teenage girl who discovers she’s intersex…and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school. Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between. Reviewed here.
Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli: Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised. With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out — without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met. Reviewed here.
Still Waters by Ash Parsons: High-schooler Jason, who lives with a drunk, abusive father at home, hopes to earn enough money to escape with his younger sister, Janie, by being tough at school, but the stakes grow ever more dangerous and soon even his fists and ability to think on his feet are not enough to keep his head above water.
Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee: As seventeen-year-old Carr ‘the Raptor’ Luka rises to fame in the weightless combat sport of zeroboxing, he learns a devastating secret that jeopardizes not only his future in the sport, but interplanetary relations