Feature image credit: @alertnerd

2021 will be an amazing year for YA books. From fantasy to historical fiction, amazing standalones to the next in a series, there are plenty of books to keep an eye out in the new year. These books are some of the most anticipated YA reads in 2021!

One of the Good Ones by Maika Moulite, Maritza Moulite

When social activist and history buff Kezi Smith is killed under mysterious circumstances after attending a social justice rally, her devastated sister Happi is left reeling. As Kezi becomes another immortalized victim of police brutality, Happi begins to question how her sister is idolized as “one of the good ones” and if certain people are deemed unworthy to be missed. 

The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe

As the daughter of a con-artist, Nora O’Malley has picked up many identities and played many different girls. After her mother fell for the mark instead of conning a criminal, Nora spends five years escaped and playing normal. Nora must dust off her skills when she goes to the bank with her ex and newly public girlfriend and robbers hold them hostage.

Roman and Jewel by Dana L. Davis

Jerzie Jhames will do anything for the lead role in Broadway’s hottest new show, Roman and Jewel. But when mega-star Cinny wins the lead and Jerzie becomes her understudy, her hopes are crushed. Falling in love with male lead Zeppelin Reid is a bad idea as Cinny wants him for herself, but when a video of Jerzie and Zeppelin goes viral and the world chimes in who should play the lead, Jerzie will learn that the price of fame is high. 

You Have a Match by Emma Lord 

When Abby signs up for a DNA service, it’s really just to give her friend and love interest, Leo, a nudge. She already knows who she is – until she discovers she has an older sister, Instagram star Savannah Tully. Now Abby is determined to go to summer camp to figure out why Abby’s gave Savvy up for adoption. 

The Project by Courtney Summers 

After Lo’s parents died, her sister joined The Unity Project, leaving Lo with their great aunt. While The Unity Project has sold the hearts and minds of those within the Upstate New York Region with their community outreach and charitable works, Lo knows that there is more to the group than what meets the eye. When Lo gets a tip about someone’s son dying at the hands of The Unity Project, Lo is determined to reveal the group. But when she crosses paths with their charismatic leader, Lev, they strike a deal: if she can prove her suspicions, she can expose them. If she can’t, she has to leave them alone.

The Iron Raven Julie Kagawa

You may have heard of Robin Goodfellow or Puck – King Oberon’s right-hand jester from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. While the legends are many, Puck now tells his own story and faces a threat to the lands of Faery and the human world. With Iron Queen Megan Chase and her prince consort, Puck’s longtime rival Ash, Puck’s adventure is only beginning. 

These Feathered Flames Alexandra Overy

When twins are born in Tourin, their fates are decided at a young age. While Izaveta remained at court to learn the skills to be future queen, Asya was taken to be trained by her aunt, the mysterious Firebird, who ensured magic is balanced in the realm. But before Asya finishes her training, an ancient magic blooms within her, which means the queen is dead and a new ruler is to be crowned. 

Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean

Izumi Tanaka has felt like she never fit into her mostly white suburban Northern California town. It has always been her mother and Izumi – or Izzy – against the world. But when Izzy discovers a clue to her birth father who is none other than the Crown Prince of Japan, Izzy suddenly becomes a princess. When she goes to Japan to meet him, it is anything but a fairytale and suddenly she has to learn thousands of years of traditions overnight. 

Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala

Raffy has a passion for bedazzling and all things creation. He puts it above everyone and everything, determined to make his mark at this year’s biggest cosplay competition. The only problem is Raffy’s ex-boyfriend, Luca, is his main competition. While they tried to make it work as the perfect team, Luca’s insecurities and Raffy’s strive for perfection made their relationship crash and burn. When the two are forced to partner up, Raffy will have to juggle his heart and his determination. 

Lore by Alexandra Bracken

Every seven years, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals and are hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, seeking divine power and immortality. Lore Perseus left that life behind when a rival line murdered her family, and for years she has pushed away the thought of revenge on the man – now god – responsible. As the next hunt descends on New York City, Castor, a friend Lore believed to be dead, and a gravely wounded Athena seek her help. Athena offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and a way for Lore to leave the ceremony behind forever.

Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant

Tessa Johnson has never felt like the protagonist of her own life, and she rarely sees anyone pictured like herself in romance novels. The only place she feels at home is writing swoony romances she only shares with her best friend and #1 reader, Caroline. When Tessa gets accepted into the creative writing program of a prestigious art school, all of the words vanish. Caroline suggests for Tessa to look for inspiration in her romance novel-inspired list. But as Tessa checks off each step, she seems to become less and less herself and farther away from her happily ever after. 

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

In this prequel to The Have You Give, Maverick Carter knows a real man takes care of his family. Life might not be perfect with dealing with the King Lords and helping support his mother beyond her two jobs with his father in jail, but he has a fly girlfriend and a cousin who always has his back. But when Maverick discovers he is going to be a father, suddenly little Seven depends on him for everything. When Maverick is offered a chance to go straight, he takes it. 

Tales from the Hinterland by Melissa Albert 

Before The Hazel Wood, there was Althea Proserpine’s Tales from the Hinterland. Journey into the Hinterland, a brutal and beautiful world where a young woman spends a night with Death, brides are wed to a mysterious house in the trees, and an enchantress is killed twice—and still lives.

City of Villains by Estelle Laure

Mary Elizabeth Heart is a high school student by day and an intern at the Monarch City police department by night. While she has watched with envy as the detectives come and go, the city’s wealthy elite have plans to gentrify the Scar, a decaying neighborhood that once upon a time was the epicenter of all things magic. But when the daughter of an important businessman goes missing, Mary Elizabeth is thrilled she is put on the case. But the missing person’s reports multiply and the mystery starts to circle closer to home. 

A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer 

The third book in the Cursebreaker Series follows as Emberfall crumbles. One part of the kingdom supports Rhen while others are determined to put Grey, the true heir, on the throne. While Grey gives it two months before attacking Emberfall, Rhen has turned away from everyone, including Harper. Lia Mara struggles to rule Syhl Shallow as some are not happy she has an enchanted prince and magical scraver by her side. As Grey’s deadline draws near, loyalties will be tested. 

We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal 

In the sequel to We Hunt the Flame, the battle of Sharr is over and the dark forest has fallen. Altair might be captive, but Zafira, Nasir, and Kifah are bound in the Sultan’s Keep, determined to finish the plan he set in motion: restore the hearts of the Sisters of Old and return magic to all of Arawiya. Nasir fights to command the magic in his blood as Zafira battles a very different darkness through her bond with the Jawarat. As Nasir and Zafira begin to fall deeper into a love they can’t lose, time is running out and drastic sacrifices will have to be made.

Written in Starlight by Isabel Ibañez 

In the sequel to Woven in Moonlight, Catalina Quiroga is a Condesa without a country. After being banished to the Yanu Jungle, Catalina knows that the chances of escaping are slim, but she is determined to leave and reclaim her throne. When Manuel, the son of her former general, rescues her, a plan forms: strike an alliance with the fierce Illari people. But the Illari are fighting against a mysterious blight that is corrupting the jungle. 

Everything That Burns by Gita Trelease 

In the sequel to Enchantée (or All That Glitters), Camille may have gambled everything to keep her sister safe, and now the Vicomtesse de Seguin seeks a new life in Paris. But as revolution threatens everything, safety may no longer be possible. Camille will turn back to her father’s printer to produce revolutionary pamphlets. 

Wings of Ebony by J. Elle

When Rue’s mother is shot dead on her doorstep, she is taken by her father away from her little sister. He takes her to Ghizon – a hidden island of magic wielders – and discovers that she is half-god, half-human. Miserable, Rue escapes to look for her little sister to discover Black kids are being forced into crime and violence. 

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. She prays for red blood to feel like she belongs, but it runs gold. A mysterious woman gives her a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her – who can defeat the empire’s greatest threat. 

Hot British Boyfriend by Kristy Boyce

After a horrifying public rejection by her crush, Ellie Nichols flees the country by joining her high school’s study abroad trip to England. Ellie is on a quest to rebuild her reputation and self-confidence by getting a hot British boyfriend. When Ellie meets Will, she vows to avoid making the same mistakes as she did with the last guy she liked. She strikes up a bargain with Dev, an overachieving classmate who she’s never clicked with, but who does seem to know a lot about the things Will is interested in—if he helps her win over her crush, then she’ll help him win over his. But Ellie still needs to figure out if this is actually the answer to all her problems…and whether the perfect boyfriend is actually the perfect boy for her.

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley 

As a biracial, unenrolled tribal member, Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in. Daunis dreams of studying medicine, but when her family is struck by tragedy, she puts her future on hold to care for her fragile mother. The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, and yet even as Daunis falls for Jamie, certain details don’t add up. When Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, she agrees to go undercover, but secretly pursues her own investigation. But the deceptions—and deaths—keep piling up and soon the threat strikes too close to home. 

The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris

Alex Rufus tries to be the best employee, the best boyfriend he can be to his amazing girlfriend, and the best protector he can be over his little brother, Isaiah. But it’s hard for him to be present when every time he touches an object or person, Alex sees into its future. When he touches Talia, he sees them at the precipice of breaking up, and that terrifies him. And when Alex touches a photo that gives him a vision of his brother’s imminent death, everything changes. With Alex now in a race against time, death, and circumstances, he and Isaiah must grapple with their past, their future, and what it means to be a young Black man in America in the present. 

Sing Me Forgotten by Jessica S. Olson

Cast into a well at birth for being one of the magical few who can manipulate memories when people sing, Isda was saved by Cyril, the opera house’s owner. Since that day, he has given her sanctuary, and all he asks in return is that she keeps ticket sales high and stays out of sight. For if anyone discovers Isda survived, they would die. But when Isdas meets Emeric Rodin and hears him sing, she finds in his memories hints of a way to leave the opera.But as she struggles with her growing feelings for Emeric, she learns that in order to take charge of her own destiny, she must become the monster the world tried to drown in the first place.

Sweet & Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley

Tamsin is the most powerful witch of her generation. But after committing the worst magical sin, she’s exiled by the ruling Coven and cursed with the inability to love. The only way she can get those feelings back—even for just a little while—is to steal love from others. Wren is a source—a rare kind of person who is made of magic, despite being unable to use it herself. When a magical plague ravages the queendom, Wren’s father falls victim. To save him, Wren proposes a bargain: if Tamsin will help her catch the dark witch responsible for creating the plague, then Wren will give Tamsin her love for her father.

Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart

Iraya has spent her life in a cell, but every day brings her closer to freedom—and vengeance. Jazmyne is the queen’s daughter, but unlike her sister before her, she has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother’s power. Sworn enemies, these two witches enter a precarious alliance to take down a mutual threat. But revenge is a bloody pursuit, and nothing is certain—except the lengths they will go to win this game.

*Disclosure: The links above are affiliate links. We are a participant in the Bookshop Affiliate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Bookshop.org while simultaneously supporting local bookstores. This affiliate program does not impact your purchase price.