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12 must-read YA books to add to your 2019 TBR list

12 must-read YA books to add to your 2019 TBR list

It’s only one week into 2019 and some of this year’s most anticipated YA books are already hitting shelves. From uplifting contemporary romance and dark fantasy to historical retellings and thrilling sequels, the next twelve months have plenty of bookish delights to get excited about. Here are 12 must-read books to add to your TBR list pronto.

1. The Wicked King by Holly Black

If you thought The Cruel Prince was gripping, just wait until you delve into Holly Black’s sequel. The second book in The Folk of the Air series is one of 2019’s most anticipated YA fantasy titles, and with good reason. It’s another opportunity for readers to immerse themselves in the enchanting and deliciously dangerous world of Faerie, where the wicked and wonderful sit side-by-side in perfect harmony. After tricking the cruel prince Carden onto the throne, Jude Duarte is relishing her role of Seneschal, using her newfound power to conspire against and outmanoeuvre foes of both a personal and political nature. Not only must Jude figure out how to keep the new High King under her thumb – yet out of her head and heart – for longer than the agreed year and a day, but she also has a new traitor in court to smoke out. The Wicked King is an exhilarating, heart in your mouth blend of duplicity, murder, desire and betrayal – the very definition of an unputdownable book. (8 January, Hot Key Books)

2. Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen M. McManus

In her debut novel One of Us is Lying, Karen M McManus gave readers a gripping YA thriller, and her follow-up Two Can Keep a Secret promises to be just as dark, delectable and brilliant. Echo Ridge is a picture-perfect town in small-town America, but its history is marred by a slate of mysterious disappearances and killings, including the disappearance of Ellery’s aunt. When Ellery has to move to Echo Ridge to live with her grandmother, she finds herself living in a town of people who are all keeping secrets – dangerous ones – and most people actually aren’t all that good at keeping them. As another girl goes missing in the town right around homecoming, Ellery will soon learn that it’s safer when you keep your secrets to yourself. Expect plenty of suspense, throw in a plot twist or two to keep you guessing, and we’re set for another engrossing read – and another juicy mystery to get stuck into. (10 January, Penguin)

3. A Curse So Dark And Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

With the recent trend in fairytale retellings, it’s easy to become disillusioned with the stream of stories branding themselves as new takes on classic tales. Yet Brigid Kemmerer’s contemporary fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast is a breath of a fresh air. With richly detailed settings and a cast of endearing characters, A Curse So Dark and Lonely is an addictively readable YA romance. When Harper is kidnapped from the urban streets of Washington DC and transported to the fantastical old-worldly land of Emberfall, she doesn’t know what or who to trust. For Prince Rhen, the only remaining heir to the throne, Harper is his last chance to break the terrible curse inflicted by a wicked enchantress. True love will vanquish the curse but headstrong Harper has no intention of falling for anyone’s charms – least of all a prince. Adventurous, romantic, emotional and unexpectedly witty, this is the perfect book for fans of Marissa Meyer and Sarah J. Maas. (29 January, Bloomsbury YA)

4. The Burning by Laura Bates

From the author of Girl Up and the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project comes a YA debut about a fifteen-year-old girl confronted with modern day sexism, misogyny and oppression. After moving to a small Scottish village with her mother, Anna attempts to escape the brutal bullying at school by losing herself in a history project about a young girl accused of witchcraft hundreds of years ago. Unnerving parallels between Anna’s own persecution and those of medieval witches emerge; the teenager’s own social burning corresponding with the physical historic witch-hunt. The Burning is an important book for our times, where technology and social media make it all too easy to bully, belittle and abuse. This is essential reading for teens and adults alike if we’re ever to make a difference to the harsher realities of society. (21 February, Simon & Schuster Children’s)

5. Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Everything you need to know about Astrid Scholte’s debut novel Four Dead Queens can be summed up in three words: fantasy murder mystery. Set in the nation of Quadara, where four queens rule each of the nation’s quarters, 17-year-old Keralie Corrington – who happens to also be one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and liars – steals a package from Varin, an honest, upstanding citizen of the quarter of Eonia, and finds herself tangled up in a conspiracy that leaves all four of the nation’s queens dead. With Keralie and Varin thrown together by fate and now on the run, the two join forces to discover who killed the four dead queens and save their own lives in the process, forming a reluctant partnership along the way as they fight to stay alive. Between murder, conspiracies, romance and a fascinating new world to discover, Four Dead Queens could be one of our new favourite fantasy novels. (26 February, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers)

6. Internment by Samira Ahmed

Prejudice, rebellion, hope and complicity are at the heart of Samira Ahmed’s Internment – a timely YA novel set in a terrifying ‘fifteen minutes in the future’ USA. In this dystopian world, Muslim-Americans are placed under curfew and forced into internment camps. Trapped within the camp, seventeen-year-old Layla is intent on making a stand and fighting for freedom, leading a revolution against the camp Director and his guards with the help of her new-found friends and her boyfriend on the outside. In a world that’s constantly creating boundaries and walls between races, religions and nations, Internment is a powerful and relevant book that reads less like a piece of fiction and more a scarily plausible future scenario. Yet what should resonate with readers is the hope at the heart of the tale. If you enjoyed The Hate U Give, this should be at the top of your TBR pile when March rolls around. (7 March, Atom)

7. Finale by Stephanie Garber

The highly anticipated conclusion to Stephanie Garber’s Caraval trilogy hits shelves in May and it’s a book that YA fantasy fans won’t want to miss. Finale returns readers to the magical world of Caraval, where sisters Scarlett and Tella must fight one final time for not just their joint survival, but for their hearts and happy endings. This promises to be the greatest game of all – with higher stakes, bigger consequences and an entire empire to save. Tragedy, treachery and revenge are the name of the game as Tella is intent on stopping Legend’s coronation and restoring the rightful heir to the throne. Meanwhile, Scarlett begins her own game, pitting Julian and her former fiancé Count Nicolas against each other in a bid to win her hand in marriage. Expect to read from both sisters’ perspectives as Garber brings her sweeping, spectacular story to a close. (9 May, Hodder & Stoughton)

8. There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon

Returning to characters we first met in 2017’s When Dimple Met Rishi, Sandhya Menon’s third book There’s Something About Sweetie follows Rishi’s brother Ashish when, in the wake of a break-up, he challenges his parents to set him up. Enter Sweetie Nair, a track athlete who’s constantly being told she’s lacking despite all of her achievements because of her size, so she decides that now’s the time to show everyone what she’s really made of by kicking off the Sassy Sweetie Project. When Ashish and Sweetie meet, they both have something to prove, but they can’t deny there’s something sparking between them with each date they go on. Between Dimpleand Menon’s second novel From Twinkle, With Love, we can expect another charming and sophisticated romance in this latest contemporary YA, as well as plenty of warm, realistic characters and a lot of humour too. (14 May, Simon Pulse)

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9. Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

In recent years, Jenn Bennett has emerged as one of the best contemporary YA authors out there right now, and one with a particular flair for writing great, complex characters and sweet, realistic romances. With Serious Moonlight, Bennett brings her signature style to another charming story, and just as Alex, Approximately drew inspiration from You’ve Got Mail, and Starry Eyes tapped into the beauty of stargazing and the great outdoors, Serious Moonlight hints at a Nancy Drew influence, as mystery book aficionado Birdie and intrigue-lover Daniel find themselves working the graveyard shift together in an historic Seattle hotel, and Daniel soon presents Birdie with a real-life mystery to solve. As Birdie hopes her new job will be the thing to bring her introverted, secluded self out of her shell, it’s her growing feelings for Daniel that soon proves the biggest mystery of all – and, knowing Bennett’s books, we already can’t wait to delve deeper into that riddle. (16 May, Simon & Schuster Children’s)

10. Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith

The premise of Field Notes on Love is one of those stories you hear on the news every so often, where a break-up sends one half of the couple to the internet on the hunt for someone with the same name to join them on the adventure of a lifetime. This time round, the dumped party is British-born Hugo, who goes searching for a Margaret Campbell to join him on a train trip across the US – something that new Margaret (aka Mae) takes him up on in a bid to expand her horizons. Having already proven her knack for unexpected romances and one-in-a-million situations in her previous novels The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, The Geography of You and Me and Windfall (to name just a few), it’s a story that feels very safe in Jennifer E Smith’s hands. Field Notes on Love is a sweet romantic comedy between two teens on the cusp of adulthood and struggling to find their place in the world. (30 May, Macmillan Children’s Books)

11. Romanov by Brandes Nadine

Few stories have fascinated audiences in the past century more than the end of the Romanov reign in Russia, inspiring films and musicals – and now a historical YA retelling of the family’s exile in Yekaterinburg, complete with magic, a doomed love story and a fight for survival. In Romanov, Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov is tasked with smuggling an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile – and it may be her family’s only chance at salvation. With the leader of the Bolshevik army following close behind them, Nastya’s only chances of survival are to release the spell and suffer the consequences, or to enlist the help of a handsome soldier named Zash, someone who she’s starting to develop feelings for. Despite never dabbling with magic before, it’s her feelings for Zash that scare Nastya the most, but their bond will be tested soon enough when they find themselves on the opposite sides of a firing squad. Nadine Brandes has previously given audiences a fascinating retelling of the Guy Fawkes gunpowder plot in Fawkes, and Romanov promises more of the same magic and a fresh take on a story that’s already captivated us for decades. (13 June, Thomas Nelson)

12. Into The Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo

Following her dark fantasy debut To Kill a Kingdom, which was like a more sinister, less Disney version of The Little Mermaid, Alexandra Christo returns to the YA genre with a story filled with black magic. Four young crooks embark on a perilous quest to take down their criminal leader after they discover a dangerous plot surrounding his new magic. It’s been described as gangster fantasy, which brings to mind an exciting Peaky Blinders and Six of Crows mash-up. Christo has proven that she’s a dab hand at writing a dazzling adventure full of charming characters, epic intrigues and magical settings, which means Into The Crooked Place will be a must-read when it’s published later this year. (1 October, Hot Key Books – final cover yet to be revealed)

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