Best New Young Adult Books


Some of the best fantasy, science fiction, and horror storytelling is happening in the young adult book world—if you need some specific examples, check out Den of Geek’s picks for the best fiction books of 2018.

There’s so much to look forward to in our speculative fiction future. Here are some of the young adult speculative fiction books we’re most excited about and/or are currently consuming…

read more: Best New Young Adult Books in 2018

Best New Young Adult Speculative Fiction Books in February 2019

The Waning Age by S.E. Grove

Type: Standalone novel
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Release date: 2/5/19

The Waning Age is set in a parallel San Francisco where, when you turn 10, you begin to lose you emotions. This process is known as waning. When Natalia’s little brother is captured by RealCorp, a shady pharmaceutical corporation to be tested on because he does not seem to be losing his emotions like everyone else, Natalia must use her martial arts skills and perhaps her love for her brother to get him back. Pretty cool premise, right?

Read The Waning Age by S.E. Grove

The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried by Shaun David Hutchinson

Type: Standalone novel
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: 2/19/19

When Dino DeLuca’s ex-best friend July dies and then comes back to life on the table in Dino’s family’s funeral home, things start to get weird. What follows is an examination into why Dino and July’s friendship fell apart, with two very different perspectives: July thinks it’s because of Dino’s boyfriend Rafi. Dino thinks it’s because July was jealous of Rafi. As is often the case with these situations, the answer lies somewhere in between.

Read The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried by Shaun David Hutchinson

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia 

Type: Standalone novel
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release date: 2/26/19

Welcome to Medio, a divided island nation. One side of wall is impoverished. The other side is, um, not. On the latter, the upper-class women are trained at the Medio School for Girls to be wives who either a) run the household or b) raise children. Daniela Vargas was born on the “wrong” side of the wall, but forged her papers to become a top student at the Medio School for Girls. When she is matched with a powerful man to run his household, a resistance group recruits her to spy on her new family.

Read We Set the Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard

Type: Book three in the Witchlands series
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release date: 2/12/19

Threadsisters Safiya and Iseult work to fight their way back to each other in Bloodwitch, the third book in Susan Dennard’s badass series that is set in a magical world ruled by three empires that, when the series starts, are about to come to the end of a Twenty-Year Truce that has halted a centuries-long war. Oh yeah: and, in this world, every member of the population is born with a magical skill set, known as a “witchery.”

In Bloodwitch, we learn more about Bloodwitch Aeduan’s backstory as he teams up with Iseult and magical girl Owl to stop raiders from destroying a monastery that “holds more than just faith.” These books are being adapted into a live-action TV series by The Jim Henson Company, so now is a great time to dive in, if you haven’t already! 

Read Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard

Best New Young Adult Speculative Fiction Books in January 2019

The Wicked King by Holly Black

Type: Book Two in The Folk of the Air series
Publisher: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
Release date: 1/8/19

If you haven’t heard of The Cruel Prince, then you probably didn’t read any YA in 2018. The story picks back up in The Wicked King, with Jude bound to Cardan after having tricked him into becoming king. When it becomes apparent that someone close to Jude is looking to betray her, Jude must uncover the traitor while also navigating her feelings for Cardan. #itscomplicated

Read The Wicked King by Holly Black

Slayer by Kiersten White

Type: Set in Dark Horse continuity
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: 1/8/19

A new novel set in the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Kiersten White’s story follows not Buffy, but another Chosen One trying to figure out her role in the supernatural fight while also coming of age into a confusing world. 

The eponymous Slayer here is Nina Jamison-Smythe, the daughter of Buffy’s first Watcher, and the Last Slayer. Slayer is the perfect entry point for new Buffy fans, while also sure to delight existing fans. You can read our full review here.

Read Slayer by Kiersten White

The Girl King by Mimi Yu

Type: First book in Girl King series
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Release date: 1/8/19

You’ve heard of sibling rivalry, right? Asian-inspired fantasy The Girl King takes the theme to the next level, telling the story of two sisters who become somewhat reluctant rivals in the quest to rule the empire. When their emperor father gives Lu’s birthright to her nephew, Lu leaves home to find a new path to power, while her younger sister, Min, quietly gains power from within the empire.

Read The Girl King by Mimi Yu

Imprison the Sky by A.C. Guaghen

Type: Book Two in the Elementae series
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Release date: 1/22/19

In the sequel to Reign of Earth, trading vessel ship captain Aspasia works to free as many women, children, and Elementae from slavery as she can, using her powerful magic. As Cyrus, the leader of the black market empire, gets closer to uncovering Aspasia’s secrets (that she is a wind Elementae, and that she is looking for her lost family), Aspasia finds herself at the center of a brewing war.

Read Imprison the Sky by A.C. Guaghen

Song of the Dead by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Type: Book Two in the Reign of the Fallen duology
Publisher: Razorbill
Release date: 1/22/19

In this follow-up to 2018’s fantasy breakout Reign of the Fallen, Odessa is back. This time, she is facing a Karthia where the kingdom’s borders are open for the first time in 300 years. Raising the dead has been outlawed and Odessa sets out on an ocean voyage with Meredy that takes them to “a land where the Dead rule the night and dragons roam the streets.” I’m in!

Read Song of the Dead by Sarah Glenn Marsh

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Type: Book One in King of Scars duology
Publisher: Imprint
Release date: 1/29/19

Leigh Bardugo wrote one of our 2017 faves—Wonder Woman: Warbringer—so we are here for this start to a fantasy duology (is it just me or are duologies very in right now?). King of Scars is a Slavic-influenced fantasy about Nikolai Lantsov, a young ruler with a dark magic growing inside of him following a bloody civil war.

Nikolai teams up with a young monk and ‘a legendary Grisha Squaller,” and journeys to “the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him.” Sounds like Nikolai has some big goals for 2019. Good for him.

Read King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Type: Standalone novel
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Release date: 1/29/19

Recent on-screen adaptations of Beauty and the Beast have done nothing to modernize the tale, which is one of the many reasons why I am so into the concept for this book. A cross between portal fantasy and contemporary YA, A Curse so Dark and Lonely follows Harper, a young woman with cerebral palsy who is sucked through a portal into the world of Emberfall where she meets a cursed prince. Yep, I’m in.

Read A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

What new YA speculative fiction books are on your radar? Let us know in the comments below or over at the Den of Geek Book Club!

Kayti Burt is a staff editor covering books, TV, movies, and fan culture at Den of Geek. Read more of her work here or follow her on Twitter @kaytiburt.

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