Pirates, Goddesses, and Killers in This Season’s New Young Adult Fiction

A new year means it’s time to squee about all the soon-to-be released young adult science fiction and fantasy books for Spring 2018! I’ve been waiting for quite a few of these for months already, and they’re so close to being released that I have already cordoned off a section of my apartment for a brand new stack in my already-towering To Read Pile. Get your library cards ready, friendos.

Something not on my list but high on yours? Share with the class down in the comments.

Books marked with an asterisk will be reviewed on Tor.com in the coming months.


* The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Jude, a human living in Faerieland, is the star of the first in the Folk of the Air trilogy. She, her twin sister Taryn, and half-sister Vivi were raised by Madoc, the Elfhame general who killed their parents and kidnapped them. She’s bullied terribly by other faeries, especially by Prince Cardan, for being human, but when she gets the opportunity to become a knight in the High Court, she leaps at it. Political machinations, spies, court intrigue, and violence abound. To quote Tor.com reviewer Brit Mandelo, it’s “handsome and lyrical and utterly brutal, unafraid of the monstrousness required of its protagonist and her companions, and willing to produce a plethora of beautiful corpses where it needs to.”

January 2, 2018, Little, Brown


Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

In a world where death and disease were cured with scientific and technological advancements, scythes were established to keep the population under control. In the Arc of a Scythe series, Rowan and Citra return with new names and roles. As Scythe Lucifer, Rowan is a rogue agent dealing death to corrupt scythes who abuse their power. Now a junior scythe, Citra has taken the name Scythe Anastasia and is apprenticed to Scythe Marie Curie. She kills, but humanely. This sets her apart from the new breed of scythes who find pride and power in killing. Ruling over this world is Thunderhead, an AI struggling with what to do about the troublesome humans causing all this chaos. Rowan’s crusade, Citra’s opposition, and Thunderhead’s are drawn into a fight that will determine the future of Scythedom.

January 9, 2018, Simon and Schuster


* The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Decades ago, Althea Proserpine disappeared. When she returned, she published a collection of haunting fairy stories, Tales from the Hinterland, then locked herself away in her grand, isolated estate, the Hazel Wood. Her daughter Ella fled home and raised her own daughter, Alice, constantly on the move. They never stay anywhere for very long, as if Ella is running from something Alice can’t understand. When Althea dies and Ella vanishes, Alice teams up with her only friend, Hinterlands superfan Ellery Finch, to track her down. To find the Hazel Wood and her mother, Alice must endure a real life fairy tale straight out of the Grimms’ darkest nightmares. Alice, a fierce, frightened seventeen year old, is about to uncover the secrets of her past and the consequences that will determine her future. I read this a while ago and lemme tell you, it’s already a contender for my top 10.

January 30, 2018, Flatiron


The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson

Elena was born by parthenogenesis. She has no father and was born as basically a clone of her mother. Or, in more poetic terms, she was the product of a virgin birth, which is why her schoolmates taunt her with the nickname “Mary.” When her crush Freddie is shot at a Starbucks, the voices in Elena’s head tell her to heal her…but when she does the shooter vanishes. For every healing miracle she performs on someone, someone else disappears. Are her powers a gift from God or something more sinister? What does it mean to be the person left behind, whose life was traded for another’s? Is the world about to end? It sounds a bit like a cross between Wonderfalls, The Leftovers, and Pushing Daisies, so sign me right up.

February 6, 2018, Simon Pulse


* The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

The debut entry in the Belles series stars Camellia Beauregard, a teenager from Orléans, a world where most people are gray and ugly. When she and her five sisters, Padma, Valeria, Edelweiss, Hana, and Ambrosia, turn sixteen, they become Belles, girls with magical powers to turn regular people beautiful. Camellia vies for the coveted position of Belle to the royal family, but once at court, she learns the dark secrets and lies surrounding the origin of the Belles. In her world where beauty is a commodity – those who have it are on top, those without suffer at the bottom, and those who can provide it are simultaneously highly valued and pawns – nothing is what it seems. Beauty isn’t just in the eye of the beholder, it’s in the hands of the Belles. HERE. FOR. THIS.

February 6, 2018, Freeform


* When the Light Left Us by Leah Thomas

When the patriarch of the Vasquez clan abandons them, everyone left behind is emotionally devastated. Oldest son Hank ends his relationship with his boyfriend, middle daughter Ana tries to mask the pain through self-harm, and baby brother Milo struggles with hearing problems. One summer, an alien they name Luz possesses the siblings. Through Milo’s ears, Ana’s eyes, and Hank’s hands, Luz explores the world and bonds the siblings closer. But when Luz leaves as the school year starts, the kids must sift through a second powerful loss. Thomas tackles themes of family, loss, and forgiveness with a slight science fiction-y twist. If you loved Patrick Ness’ Release or Adam Silvera’s They Both Die at the End, this is the book for you.

February 13, 2018, Bloomsbury


Dark Goddess by Amalie Howard

In the second action-packed book in the Alpha Goddess series, Serjana Caelum has grown more comfortable with her role as the human avatar of the Indian goddess Lakshmi. It’s been a peaceful few months after her battle against Azrath, the Asura Lord of Death. When Sera seeks heavenly help battling demons, a girl named Kira is revealed to be the reincarnation of Kali, the goddess of destruction. Kira and her twin will destroy the Mortal Realm to protect the gods, pitting them against Sera, who is holy role is to maintain the balance of good and evil, and her bestie Kyle, the new Asura Lord of Death. You don’t need to know anything about Indian mythology to start this series – Howard does a fantastic job of catching you up without infodumping.

February 13, 2018, Sky Pony


* The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara

At this point, Sky Pony Press is basically the BOOM! Box of YA publishers. If you’re not a comics nerd, you probably don’t get that reference, but suffice it to say, they’re a small publisher rocking the marketplace with fantastic, unique, and inclusively diverse young adult fiction. McNamara’s debut is no exception. Mary disguises herself as a boy to take a job as a sailor on a Caribbean merchant ship, but her whole life changes when pirates attack her ship. She double-crosses her captain and sides with the pirates after seeing a swashbuckling girl standing proudly in their crew. Of course she has heart eyes for the captain’s mistress, but is she willing to sacrifice everything for love? You had me at “queer pirates.” *grabby hands*

March 6 June 19, 2018, Sky Pony


Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi

Juliette Ferrars is back in the fourth full length novel (there are also two novellas, plus two more novels on the way) in the Shatter Me series. With Warner as her right hand man, things are looking up. Sure, she still has her power to kill with her touch, but now she’s the head of Sector 45. Something tragic and terrible happens which will force her to confront some difficult truths. Not much is known about this story yet, but previous entries were full of kick-ass action and intriguing characters. If this novel anything like the rest of the series, fans of Mafi and YA dystopian fiction should enjoy the heck out of it.

March 6, 2018, HarperCollins


Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst

Coulthurst returns to the world of the Of Fire and Stars series with this prequel set 200 years in the past. Asra lives a peaceful life as a healer in a little mountain village. But she carries a dark secret: she’s a demigod with the power to rewrite the future with her blood. When bandits attack her village and the king refuses to intervene, Ina, the mortal girl Asra loves, pulls Asra into the conflict. Tragically, her spell goes awry and the bandits slaughter Ina’s family, pushing Ina into teaming up with a dragon to seek revenge against the king. Asra sets off to stop her, but along the way learns the truth of her powers.

March 6, 2018, Balzer + Bray


* Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Not long ago, Zélie Adebola’s homeland of Orïsha was brimming with magic. But after the gods punished them for abusing their powers and the people turned on the maji, the magic withered away. Zélie’s mother is slaughtered on the word of King Saran, leaving her with nothing but her rebellious courage. As she sets out to stop the king from eradicating what’s left of the maji, Zélie is joined by Princess Amari, determined to stop her father from his genocidal campaign, and Prince Inan, who is torn between loyalty to his king and justice for his people. At 544 pages, the first book in the Legacy of Orïsha trilogy is definitely on the “epic” end of the YA fantasy spectrum. There’s a reason Fox snagged the film rights months before it was even published. You’re gonna want this book.

March 6, 2018, Henry Holt


* The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan

Fifteen-year-old Leigh Chen Sanders, half Taiwanese and half Irish-American, is BFFs with the half Filipino and half Puerto Rican Axel Moreno. But the day she gets her first kiss, delivered by dreamy Axel, is also the day her mother kills herself. In her grief, she encounters a red bird she comes to believe is her mother. The bird sends her to Taiwan to meet her estranged grandparents for the first time. There, with aid of the bird, she finds more questions than answers. Through the lense of magical realism, Pan explores mental illness, desperate loneliness, hope in the face of great loss, and the complicated chaos of mother-daughter relationships in this evocative story.

March 20, 2018, Little, Brown


Alex Brown is a teen librarian, writer, geeknerdloserweirdo, and all-around pop culture obsessive who watches entirely too much TV. Keep up with her every move on Twitter and Instagram, or get lost in the rabbit warren of ships and fandoms on her Tumblr.


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