The Best in YA for 2017
Amid the noise and controversy within the ever-booming YA genre, this was a quietly groundbreaking year. Ahead, see which titles EW considers the 10 best YA books of the year (unranked), a diverse collection featuring thrilling new voices and a few returning favorites.
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
A sequel is already on the way for Stephanie Garber’s captivating debut YA novel Caraval. Focused on a magical five-game night in which young Scarlett must save her younger sister from their cruel father, the book is a dreamy pageturner that poignantly explores what it means to love and to lose. Buy it here.
Far from the Tree by Robin Benway
Veteran YA writer Robin Benway was met with newfound acclaim for Far from the Tree, her sixth book for young readers. Exploring the definition of family through the lens of three teenagers connected by blood, it won the National Book Award for her heartfelt, sharp, and textured portrait. Buy it here.
Fierce by Aly Raisman
This list near-exclusively features fiction, which should make Aly Raisman’s Fierce stand out all the more. It’s an accessible memoir, of an inspirational bent for young readers, but with some vital, tender discussion of her experience of sexual assault included as well. It’s a book of (appropriately) fierce advocacy. Buy it here.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
What more can be said about Angie Thomas’ stunning, urgent achievement? An experience of police brutality forever changes Starr Carter, a 16-year-old who goes to a selective prep school but lives in a poor neighborhood. What emerges is a searing work of prescient storytelling that breaks down nearly every barrier imaginable for its genre. Buy it here.
History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
Adam Silvera’s heartwrenching History Is All You Left Me isn’t the lightest read on this list: It digs deep into grief, mental illness, and guilt after an unexpected death, tracking two teens’ heartbreak after the tragedy. Silvera captures the agony of first love in an inclusive, bracingly emotional context. Buy it here.
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
Acclaimed poet Erika L. Sánchez turned to YA with this intimate study of a Mexican-American family wracked by tragedy. Sánchez’s voice is unique and fresh for the genre, a mix of the sharply comic and naturalistic. Buy it here.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Jason Reynolds’ stunning, thrilling, and intoxicatingly innovative Long Way Down takes place in a 60-second timeframe. It provides an unrelenting, lyrical take on teen gun violence, using its own, disarming method of storytelling to reel you in and never let you go. Buy it here.
One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus
Five students walk into detention, four make it out alive. Karen M. McManus’ One of Us Is Lying is easily the YA thriller of the year, a book of such propulsive momentum, soapy intrigue, and surprising insight that the mechanics of its plot sneak up on you. There’s a method to this book’s beguiling madness. Buy it here.
Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali
S.K. Ali’s debut novel features a voice and specificity that demands attention. Saints and Misfits, centered on a Muslim teen, goes to mysterious and often fascinating places, but never without maintaining an honest and distinct commitment to strong, well-rounded characters. Buy it here.
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
John Green hardly needs the accolades, but Turtles All the Way Down represents a new, exciting step for the best-selling author. He tells the story of Aza, a young would-be detective, and in the process vibrantly and sensitively tackles the thorny challenge of depicting mental illness. He succeeds, subtly but mightily. Buy it here.