Who needs lists of resolutions when you can instead make lists of all the great books to look forward to in 2021? Whether you love dreamy romance, enchanting fantasy or heart-pounding mysteries and thrillers, our list of the YA books we can't wait to discover this year has something for you.
Wings of Ebony by J. Elle
Denene Millner | January 26
The first YA novel from Denene Millner's eponymous imprint, Wings of Ebony is a fantasy novel from debut author J. Elle that's anchored by a Black teen protagonist who's transported from her Houston neighborhood to a secret magical island kingdom after her mother is murdered and her sister kidnapped. Featuring breathtaking world building and a breakneck plot, Wings of Ebony gets the year off to a strong start for fantasy fans.
The Project by Courtney Summers
Wednesday | February 2
Summers broke out in a big way with her 2018 novel, Sadie, winning an Edgar award and hitting the New York Times bestseller list. She returns with another thriller in which sisterhood plays a key role. This time, Lo is trying to save her sister, Bea, from an organization called the Unity Project, which Lo believes is a cult.
Love Is a Revolution by Renée Watson
Bloomsbury | February 2
Romance lovers will have a lot of great reads to look forward to in 2021, but Newbery Honor author Watson sets a high bar early with her latest ode to love and Black girlhood. We've been waiting for this one ever since we revealed its gorgeous cover back in September 2020!
The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold
Viking | February 9
Arnold fans appreciate his singular prose and willingness to experiment, whether it's with nonlinear storytelling or the trippy bounds of reality itself. He takes a giant leap forward in his fourth novel, which is set in post-apocalyptic New England in the aftermath of a truly nightmarish insect-borne epidemic. At this point, though, we'd follow Arnold just about anywhere.
Game Changer by Neal Shusterman
Quill Tree | February 9
Shusterman is one of the most influential and creatively ambitious writers in the contemporary YA landscape, and his latest standalone novel offers plenty of evidence why. The story of a football player who finds himself in a series of parallel universes after he takes a nasty hit during a game, Game Changer is sure to be devoured by Shusterman's legions of fans.
American Betiya by Anuradha D. Rajurkar
Knopf | March 9
This debut novel from the 2017 winner of the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Emerging Voices award tells a story that will appeal to fans of contemporary YA fiction and romance alike as it explores a cross-cultural relationship as well as themes of identity and family.
Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales
Wednesday | March 9
Gonzales stole our hearts with her delightful 2020 rom-com, Only Mostly Devastated, and she seems destined to do it again in Perfect on Paper, the story of a girl who runs an anonymous relationship advice service for her classmates, only to be threatened with blackmail and exposure unless she helps one of the most popular guys in school win back his ex.
That Way Madness Lies, edited by Dahlia Adler
Flatiron | March 16
Fifteen of today’s best and brightest YA writers, including Anna-Marie McLemore, Mark Oshiro, Melissa Bashardoust and Tochi Onyebuchi, reenvision some of Shakespeare’s best known works, from Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet to The Tempest and All’s Well That Ends Well. Adler’s 2019 collection, His Hideous Heart, gave a similar treatment to Edgar Allan Poe, so we’re looking forward to her helming of this new compendium.
Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas
Swoon Reads | March 23
Thomas' Cemetery Boys was one of the breakout YA hits of 2020, earning a spot on the long list for the National Book Award and making history by becoming the first fiction book with a transgender protagonist written by a transgender author to hit the New York Times bestseller list. Their standalone sophomore novel promises the same combination of fantasy and grounded emotion that readers loved in their debut.
Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo
Imprint | March 30
It's hard to believe that the first book in Bardugo's blockbuster Grishaverse series is almost a decade old, or that readers may be seeing the series' final volume with Rule of Wolves, the second in her duology about the swashbuckling fan-favorite Nikolai Lantsov. Readers won't have to exist without the Grishaverse for long, however, as Netflix's highly anticipated adaptation is set to launch its first season in April.
The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris
Simon & Schuster | April 6
We devoured Morris' thrilling 2019 debut, Slay, which explored the intersection of online role-playing games and race, so we can't wait to get our hands on her next book, which is also a standalone novel. The Cost of Knowing features a teen boy who experiences visions of the future when he touches objects. When he foresees his own brother's death, he sets out to try to prevent it.
The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Simon & Schuster | April 6
Bowman is known for her deeply felt and gorgeously written contemporary YA novels, so it's exciting to see her turn her attention to genre storytelling in her fourth YA novel. The premise of The Infinity Courts sounds incredibly high concept and ambitious—the protagonist dies and discovers that the place where human consciousness goes after death has been taken over by a corrupt artificial intelligence—and we can't wait to see where Bowman takes it.
House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland
Putnam | April 6
Released in the summer of 2020, the film adaptation of Sutherland's debut novel, Our Chemical Hearts, brought the Aussie author (who now lives in London) to an even wider readership. Sutherland fans new and old should be ready for a different sensibility in her third novel, which will see her incorporate supernatural spookiness into her storytelling for the first time. We're already preparing to lose sleep over House of Hollow.
Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders
Tor Teen | April 13
Anders' adult science fiction novel, All the Birds in the Sky, won a Nebula Award and was a Hugo Award finalist, so to say we're excited that she's publishing her first YA novel is something of an understatement. Victories Greater Than Death promises a thrilling intergalactic adventure perfect for fans of classic sci-fi storytelling.
Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve
Amulet | April 13
Debut author Stoeve created and maintains the YA/Middle Grade Trans and Nonbinary Voices Masterlist, an incredible online resource that catalogs books about trans characters written by trans authors. They're also an up-and-coming fiction writer, having attended several Tin House workshops. Their first YA novel explores themes of identity against the backdrop of a high school Romeo and Juliet production.
Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli
Balzer + Bray | April 20
It's been three years since Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda author Albertalli's last solo-authored full-length novel. Don't get us wrong—we adored her two co-authored rom-coms, What If It's Us (co-written with Adam Silvera) and Yes No Maybe So (co-written with Aisha Saeed), and her novella, Love, Creekwood, was the perfect send-off to the Simonverse. But that doesn't mean we're not looking forward to an entire novel full of Albertalli's heartfelt perspective on friendship and romance in this new standalone book.
Take Me Home Tonight by Morgan Matson
Simon & Schuster | May 4
To read a Morgan Matson novel is to become a Morgan Matson fan for life. Over her previous five novels, Matson's grounded depictions of family, friendship and romance have earned her legions of loyal readers, and her sixth, which follows two best friends over the course of one life-changing night in New York City, looks like the perfect combination of high-concept premise and authentic emotion that readers love about her books.
Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard
HarperTeen | May 4
It's hard to name a YA fantasy series of the 2010s more successful than Aveyard's Red Queen series. The titular first volume—which was also Aveyard's first published novel—debuted in the top spot on the New York Times bestseller list, and subsequent volumes raised the bar for success each time. Three years after the final Red Queen book was published, Aveyard is embarking on a brand new fantasy series that features an ambitiously large cast of characters. It was thrilling to witness Aveyard's instincts as a storyteller mature with each subsequent Red Queen book, so our expectations for Realm Breaker couldn't be higher.
Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee
Putnam | May 4
Stacey Lee is one of the brightest stars working in YA historical fiction today, and in 2021 she'll put her spin on one of the most well-known events of the 20th century: the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912. Lee's novel will follow two British Chinese siblings whose dreams of coming to America are threatened when they're swept up in the historic tragedy.
Switch by A.S. King
Dutton | May 11
King won the 2020 Michael L. Printz Award, the highest American honor in YA literature, for her 2019 book, Dig., an intensely surreal exploration of racism and respectability politics. She's no stranger to the Printz, though, having also garnered a 2011 Printz Honor for her second novel, Please Ignore Vera Dietz. The premise of Switch—a world in which time has stopped and it's been the same date for almost a year—will almost certainly only scratch the surface of the brilliance that readers know King is capable of bringing to the page.
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