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 (Jan 5, 2021)
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.
Roman and Jewel by Dana L. Davis (Jan 5, 2021)
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 on who should play the lead, Jerzie will learn that the price of fame is high.
Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala (Jan 5, 2021)
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 (Jan 5, 2021)
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 (Jan 5, 2021)
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 (Jan 12, 2021)
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.
You Have a Match by Emma Lord (Jan 12, 2021)
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 gave Savvy up for adoption.
Tales from the Hinterland by Melissa Albert (Jan 12, 2021)
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.
We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal (Jan 19, 2021)
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.
A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer (Jan 26, 2021)
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.
The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe (Jan 26, 2021)
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.
City of Villains by Estelle Laure (Jan 26, 2021)
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.
Written in Starlight by Isabel Ibañez (Jan 26, 2021)
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.
Wings of Ebony by J. Elle (Jan 26, 2021)
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.
Everything That Burns by Gita Trelease (Feb 2, 2021)
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.
The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna (Feb 9, 2021)
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.
The Iron Raven Julie Kagawa (Feb 9, 2021)
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.
Hot British Boyfriend by Kristy Boyce (Feb 9, 2021)
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.
Sing Me Forgotten by Jessica S. Olson (Mar 9, 2021)
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 (Mar 9, 2021)
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.
Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley (Mar 16, 2021)
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 (Apr 6, 2021)
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.
Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart (Apr 20, 2021)
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.
These Feathered Flames Alexandra Overy (Apr 20, 2021)
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 a 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.
Anna K. Away by Jenny Lee (Apr 27, 201)
Rich kids and love triangles, as it has been described as “Crazy Rich Asians meets Gossip Girl”. Anna K. Away is the second installment of a modern-day retelling of Anna Karenina. Anna K. is dealing with a scandalous predicament and the tragic death of her first love, but in a time that seems like exile she might find out who she really is. Lolly finds herself in what seems to be a love triangle, while Kimmie finds the only thing that is complicated in her relationship is having sex. Bea might be able to forgive Anna, and fall in love. Set during an unforgettable summer, the characters of this book are dealing with heartbreak, fun, new adventures, and maturing in ways they never knew possible.
Take Me Home Tonight by Morgan Matson (May 4, 2021)
Imagine running away for a night with your best friend, now imagine all the things that could go wrong … and right. Kat and Stevie decide to sneak out of their suburbs to spend the best night ever in New York City. There’s a lot that could go wrong, including some unexpected encounters with Pomeranians, but there are some cute boys and parties and endless adventures to go on. Expect the unexpected and hope Kat and Stevie can make it back to Grand Central Station by midnight.
Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean (May 18, 2021)
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.
A Sitting in St. James by Rita Williams-Garcia (May 25, 2021)
It is 1860 in the antebellum south, and Madame Sylvie Guilbert has decided she is going to sit for a portrait. Set on Le Petit Cottage in Louisiana, Madame Sylvie’s stories span from her big house to the fields. Her family is one of privilege and horrors, and while this is the story of Madame Sylvie sitting for a portrait, she paints many more with stories of her own. It is a brutal and astonishing novel that grapples with the long history of American racism.
The Lucky List by Rachael Lippincott (Jun 1, 2021)
Emily and her mom were always lucky, until three years ago when Emily’s mom succumbed to cancer. Since then, Emily can’t seem to find the connection to her mom that she has so desperately craved. It’s now the summer before her senior year and Emily feels more alone than ever. It is only when she finds her mother’s senior year bucket list and an unexpected connection with her dad’s best friend’s daughter, Blake, that Emily starts to feel whole again. In a story about facing fears and pushing past limitations, Emily finds herself facing the biggest fear of all – accepting the secret part of herself.
XOXO by Axie Oh (Jul 13, 2021)
There is always that one boy, the one that changes everything. Jaewoo is mysterious, handsome, and has a bit of a dark side, and is exactly the kind of distraction that Jenny avoids. She didn’t get to be an award-winning, classically trained cellist by being distracted by boys. Yet, when she spends the night wandering L.A. with Jaewoo the night before he leaves to go back to South Korea, she can’t help but think “what if”. However, when Jenny and her mother move to Seoul, what are the chances that Jenny once again meets her dream boy in the elite arts academy she’s been accepted into? On top of that, what are the chances that Jaewoo is a member of one of the biggest K-pop bands in the world? Jenny and Jaewoo’s relationship is forbidden, but will they sacrifice their heart for everything they worked for, or just the opposite?
The Wild Ones by NaGiza Azad (Aug 3, 2021)
They are the wild ones, and they will not be silenced. Paheli was sold to a man in exchange for a favor and when she escaped, she met Taraana. Taraana was a boy that was as shattered as she was, but there were stars in his eyes. Before disappearing, Taraana gave a box of stars to Paheli and with them, she gained access to the Between. Now Paheli collects girls and travels the world using the magic and mystery of pain, scars, and the Between. What happens when Taraan reappears and asks for their help? Only they can save him and their freedom.
They’ll Never Catch Us by Jessica Goodman (Aug 3, 2021)
Stella and Ellie Steckler are only a year apart. They are both talented runners for their Cross Country team, but they are polar opposites in the personality department. Stella is focused and keeps to herself, while Ellie likes to have a life off the course. Everything changes when the new girl, Mila Keene comes to town. The two sisters find themselves drawn to her for different reasons. Stella starts becoming distracted and Ellie has been looking for a new best friend. Yet, on the biggest day of the Steckler sisters’ lives, Mila goes missing and all eyes are on them for answers.
How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao (Aug 17, 2021)
Secrets are forced to come out when an ex-best friend of Nancy Luo turns up dead. Nancy, Krystal, Akil, and Alexander are the prime suspects in their former best friend, Jamie Ruan, murder case. They know each other’s deepest darkest secrets, right? The four students and friends must uncover who the killer really is before their secrets are released. Yet, Nancy starts to suspect that her other friends might be keeping secrets from her, too. Thrilling, addicting, and no donut a page-turner.
The Last Legacy by Adrienne Young (Sept 7, 2021)
Can Bryn prove herself to her long-lost family? It proves to be harder than it looks. Bryn Roth must gain her family’s trust if she wants to hold any power. However, the Roth family is still involved in the dark, dirty business that killed Bryn’s parents. A forbidden romance and dangerous work might cost more than Bryn can pay.
All These Bodies by Kendare Blake (Sept 21, 2021)
Sixteen bloodless bodies and found in the Midwest during the summer of 1958. You read that right, the trail of bodies have been completely drained of blood. Michael Jensen never imagines the Bloodless Murders would find their way into his town until the night the Carlson family is found murdered in their home. Their sole suspect, a fifteen-year-old girl named Marie Catherine Hale who was found covered in blood at the scene. When Michael becomes the only person she’ll talk to, he must uncover the truth of what happened that night and how Marie wound up in the middle of all these bodies.
Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray (Sept 28, 2021)
The magic hidden inside of sixteen-year-old Koffi could cost her life if anyone discovered it. Yet, when her family is threatened by the Night Zoo’s master, she unleashes the power that she doesn’t fully understand. Ekon is destined to become an elite warrior and uphold his family legacy, but on the night of his final rite of passage, he encounters a vicious monster and Koffi. The two make a tentative alliance and decide to hunt the monster that has plagued the city for a century in hopes to find the answers to Koffi’s powers and Ekon’s destiny.
The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik (Sept 28, 2021)
Would you give into destiny and accept your dark sorcery and the destruction of everything you hold dear? In the sequel to A Deadly Education, accepting fate is not on Galadriel’s agenda, but saving himself and his allies is even if it’s the last thing he does. In the school of Scholomance, all students are devoured. Either by gruesome homework or the endless waves of maleficaria. Will they all make it to graduation alive?
Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson (Oct 5, 2021)
Artemisia is training to be a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased so that their souls can pass on; otherwise, they will rise as spirits with a ravenous hunger for the living. That is until her convent is attacked by a possessed soldier. Artemisia defends it by awakening an ancient spirit bound to a saint’s relic. Yet, Artemisia releases much more than a revenant. In her efforts to stop a much bigger evil, she unravels a trail with dark magic, saints, and secrets as she faces betraying everything she has ever been taught. If the revenant doesn’t fully possess her along the way.
Jade Fire Gold by June CL Tan (Oct 12, 2021)
Ahn is no one, with no past and no family. Altan is a lost heir, his future stolen from him. In this epic adventure, the two meet and see each other as a way to gain everything they have lost. Altan is a way for Ahn to unlock her past and magic abilities. Ahn is a way for Altan to regain control of his throne. But they may have to pay a far deadlier price than they could imagine.
Little Thieves by Margaret Owen (Oct 19, 2021)
Vanja Schmidt is the adopted goddaughter of Death and Fortune, and up until a year ago, she was also the servant of Princess Gisele. See, Vanja is on the hook for one hell of a debt and she decides to steal her future back, by stealing Gisele’s life for herself. When Vanja’s double life is cursed to an untimely end, she has two weeks to figure out how to break it. With the help of some … “allies”, she’ll have to pull off her greatest heist yet.
You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao (Nov 2, 2021)
All of Julie’s plans change when her boyfriend, Sam, dies. In a desperate attempt to hear his voice one more time, she calls his cellphone to listen to his voicemail. What will Julie do when Sam picks up the phone? A touch of magic, first love and loss, this is the story of romance and heartache.
Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong (Nov 16, 2021)
The second installment of These Violent Delights series takes place in 1927, while Shanghai is on the verge of revolution. Juliette, the Scarlet gang’s heir, has sacrificed her reputation and relationship with Roma in order to protect him. Yet, Roma isn’t aware of the saving-his-life thing, so he believes that the love of his life murdered his best friend in cold blood. A new danger arrives in the city and in order to keep Shanghai from boiling over, Juliette and Roma must put their differences aside and fight the biggest threat they’ve ever faced – and I don’t mean the monsters and politics.
You’ll Be the Death of Me by Karen M. McManus (Nov 30, 2021)
Your average ditch day meets a fatal end in this thrilling novel. Ivy, Mateo, and Cal just wanted to make their day a little bit better. Ivy had just lost student council elections, Mateo was burned out from working two jobs, and Cal just got stood up … again. They thought reuniting their old friendships would be good morale, that is until they see another student skip school and walk right into the scene of his murder. They are all connected in some way to the dead kid, they’re all hiding something. Was this reconnection a coincidence at all?
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