This month is gonna be May…hem for your bookshelves. This top 10 list is but a fraction of the amazing Young Adult novels hitting bookstores in May, so think of this as a jumping off point for discovering the best new YA books. From zombies to magic to real-world drama, these stories promise entertaining reads for months to come.
So dig in, and get psyched.
Release Date: May 8th from Balzer + Bray
Why You’ll Love It: You may have heard of Julie Murphy’s novel Dumplin’, the giant bestseller being made into a movie with original music from Dolly Parton. In Puddin’, a new companion novel to Dumplin’, Murphy allows readers to spend some time with the compelling supporting characters from that first book. And it is worth the wait.
For Fans of: Novels by authors like Becky Albertalli (Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda) and Jen Larsen (Future Perfect).
Description: Millie Michalchuk has gone to fat camp every year since she was a girl. Not this year. This year she has new plans to chase her secret dream—and to kiss her crush. Callie Reyes is the pretty girl who is next in line for dance team captain and has the popular boyfriend. But when it comes to other girls, she’s more frenemy than friend. When circumstances bring the girls together over the course of a semester, they will surprise everyone (especially themselves) by realizing they might have more in common than they ever imagined.
Release Date: May 8th from Razorbill
Why You’ll Love It: Lily Anderon’s debut, The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You, was one of my favorite reads of 2016 (there’s even a blurb from me on the cover). In her latest novel, Anderson delivers a refreshing take on the zombie novel with teens brought back to life by witchcraft on a quest to find their killer. It’s charming and hilarious story of female friendship—and revenge.
For Fans of: Michelle Krys’ Hexed series and Adriana Mather’s How to Hang a Witch.
Description: Mila Flores and her best friend Riley have always been inseparable. There’s not much excitement in their small town of Cross Creek, so Mila and Riley make their own fun, devoting most of their time to Riley’s favorite activity: amateur witchcraft.
So when Riley and two Fairmont Academy mean girls die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe everyone’s explanation that her BFF was involved in a suicide pact. Instead, armed with a tube of lip gloss and an ancient grimoire, Mila does the unthinkable to uncover the truth: she brings the girls back to life.
Unfortunately, Riley, June and Dayton have no recollection of their murders, but they do have unfinished business to attend to. Now, with only seven days until the spell wears off and the girls return to their graves, Mila must wrangle the distracted group of undead teens and work fast to discover their murderer…before the killer strikes again.
Release Date: May 8th from Greenwillow Books
Why You’ll Love It: Bryan Bliss is one of the most underrated YA contemporary authors. His sophomore novel, Meet Me Here, was an absolute favorite of mine in 2016. And now he’s back with We’ll Fly Away, a book that will leave you totally gutted. It’s a gripping novel set on death row, told in letters written by an incarcerated teen.
For Fans of: Having your heart broken? But also authors like Jason Reynolds.
Description: Luke and Toby have always had each other’s backs. But then one choice—or maybe it is a series of choices—sets them down an irrevocable path. We’ll Fly Away weaves together Luke and Toby’s senior year of high school with letters Luke writes to Toby later—from death row.
Best friends since childhood, Luke and Toby have dreamed of one thing: getting out of their dead-end town. Soon they finally will, riding the tails of Luke’s wrestling scholarship, never looking back. If they don’t drift apart first. If Toby’s abusive dad, or Luke’s unreliable mom, or anything else their complicated lives throw at them doesn’t get in the way.
Release Date: May 15th from HMH Books for Young Readers
Why You’ll Love It: Here’s the thing about an Ashley Herring Blake novel: To read one is to accept the fact that there will be tears. If you’re a fan of a good cry and stories that tackle heavy themes, Girl Made of Stars is a must-read.
For Fans of: Books by authors like Courtney Summers (All the Rage).
Description: Mara and Owen are about as close as twins can get. So when Mara’s friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn’t know what to think. Can the brother she loves really be guilty of such a violent crime? Torn between the family she loves and her own sense of right and wrong, Mara is feeling lost, and it doesn’t help that things have been strained with her ex and best friend since childhood, Charlie.
As Mara, Hannah and Charlie navigate this new terrain, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits in her future.
Release Date: May 15th from Crown Books for Young Readers
Why You’ll Love It: Nisha Sharma’s highly anticipated debut novel is finally here. Brimming with references to Bollywood films and a love story that’s simply delightful, it’s a breezy read that will leave you wanting to break out in song and dance.
For Fans of: Sandhya Menon’s lovely novels, including the one mentioned in this list.
Description: Winnie Mehta was never really convinced that Raj was her soulmate, but their love was written in the stars. Literally, a pandit predicted Winnie would find the love of her life before her 18th birthday, and Raj meets all of the qualifications. Which is why Winnie is shocked to return from her summer at film camp to find her boyfriend of three years hooking up with Jenny Dickens. Worse, Raj is crowned chair of the student film festival, a spot Winnie was counting on for her film school applications. As a self-proclaimed Bollywood expert, Winnie knows this is not how her perfect ending is scripted.
Then there’s Dev, a fellow film geek, and one of the few people Winnie can count on to help her reclaim control of her story. Dev is smart charming, and challenges Winnie to look beyond her horoscope to find someone she’d pick for herself. But does falling for Dev mean giving up on her prophecy, and her chance to live happily ever after? To get her Bollywood-like life on track, Winnie will need a little bit of help from fate, family and of course, a Bollywood movie star.
Release Date: May 15th from HarperTeen
Why You’ll Love It: With every book in her Red Queen series, Victoria Aveyard has only heightened the stakes, packing the narratives with more surprises, magic and thrills. And now the epic final book in the series has arrived.
If you’re new to the series, it focuses on a teen with magic in her blood. She lives in a world where only those with silver blood, nobles and the affluent, have magical gifts. Her blood? Commoner red.
For Fans of: Novels by authors like Marie Rutkoski (The Winner’s Trilogy), Renee Ahdieh (The Wrath and the Dawn) and Marie Lu (Legend).
Description: VICTORY COMES AT A PRICE.
Mare Barrow learned this all too well when Cal’s betrayal nearly destroyed her. Now determined to protect her heart—and secure freedom for Reds and newbloods like her—Mare resolves to overthrow the kingdom of Norta once and for all… starting with the crown on Maven’s head.
But no battle is won alone, and before the Reds may rise as one, Mare must side with the boy who broke her heart in order to defeat the boy who almost broke her. Cal’s powerful Silver allies, alongside Mare and the Scarlet Guard, prove a formidable force. But Maven is driven by an obsession so deep, he will stop at nothing to have Mare as his own again, even if it means demolishing everything—and everyone—in his path.
War is coming, and all Mare has fought for hangs in the balance. Will victory be enough to topple the Silver kingdoms? Or will the little lightning girl be forever silenced?
Release Date: May 22nd from Tor Teen
Why You’ll Love It: When I talked about my plans to start reading this novel, scores of bookish friends warned me about the impending tears. And they weren’t lying. Anger Is a Gift delivers a painful story about finding your strength and your voice amidst oppression. Don’t sleep on this one.
For Fans of: Novels by authors like Angie Thomas (The Hate U Give) and Jay Coles (Tyler Johnson Was Here).
Description: Six years ago, Moss Jefferies’ father was murdered by an Oakland police officer. Along with losing a parent, the media’s vilification of his father and lack of accountability has left Moss with near crippling panic attacks.
Now, in his sophomore year of high school, Moss and his fellow classmates find themselves increasingly treated like criminals by their own school. New rules. Random locker searches. Constant intimidation and Oakland Police Department stationed in their halls. Despite their youth, the students decide to organize and push back against the administration.
When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.
Release Date: May 22nd with Simon Pulse
Why You’ll Love It: With her debut, When Dimple Met Rishi, Sandhya Menon established herself as one of the great rom-com YA writers. And in her latest novel, she introduces us to filmmaker Twinkle and a delightful love story full of surprises.
For Fans of: Swoon-filled YA love stories by authors like Morgan Matson and Lauren Morrill.
Description: Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.
When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.
Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?
Release Date: May 22nd from Sourcebooks Fire
Why You’ll Love It: Maybe you’ve picked up one of Claire Legrand’s stunning, illustrated Middle Grade books: Foxheart and Some Kind of Happiness. With the much-hyped Furyborn, Legrand is now kicking off a new YA fantasy series. Featuring two intersecting timelines over a thousand years apart, The Emperium Trilogy is a series to watch.
For Fans of: Authors like Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows) and Susan Dennard (Truthwitch).
Description: When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.
A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable—until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.
As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world—and of each other.
Release Date: May 29th from Flatiron Books
Why You’ll Love It: Stephanie Garber’s Caraval, a magical novel set in a mysterious circus, was a hit in 2017. This month, we’re lucky enough to get a sequel. One of my most-anticipated reads of the summer, Legendary is a beautiful story worthy of a binge read.
For Fans of: Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus and Anna-Marie McLemore’s The Weight of Feathers.
Description: After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.
The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.
Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.
Release Date: May 8th from Nancy Paulsen Books
Why You’ll Love It: Aisha Saeed wrote Written in the Stars, which we listed as one of the greatest Young Adult novels of all time. So even though her sophomore novel is written for younger readers, it still deserves a spot on your shelves. A moving story about a young girl who finds herself working for a wealthy family to repay a debt, Amal Unbound is yet another gorgeous piece of writing from one of the best kid-lit authors.
For Fans of: YA novels by authors like Brandy Colbert (Little & Lion), and Middle Grade reads by authors like Jason Reynolds and Ashley Herring Blake.
Description: Life is quiet and ordinary in Amal’s Pakistani village, but she had no complaints, and besides, she’s busy pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Her dreams are temporarily dashed when—as the eldest daughter—she must stay home from school to take care of her siblings. Amal is upset, but she doesn’t lose hope and finds ways to continue learning. Then the unimaginable happens—after an accidental run-in with the son of her village’s corrupt landlord, Amal must work as his family’s servant to pay off her own family’s debt.
Life at the opulent Khan estate is full of heartbreak and struggle for Amal—especially when she inadvertently makes an enemy of a girl named Nabila. Most troubling, though, is Amal’s growing awareness of the Khans’ nefarious dealings. When it becomes clear just how far they will go to protect their interests, Amal realizes she will have to find a way to work with others if they are ever to exact change in a cruel status quo, and if Amal is ever to achieve her dreams.