Winter 2018’s Best YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy Reads: Faerie, Reapers, and the Belles of the Ball

Winter 2018’s Best YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy Reads: Faerie, Reapers, and the Belles of the Ball

Winter is coming, and it’s bringing a ton of must-read books with it. Readers craving some fresh science fiction can lose themselves in a tale of human cloning or a parasitic alien invader. Fantasy lovers can choose between fairy tales, dragons, and beauty queens. We’ve also got a steampunk adventure, a superhero origin story, and much, much more.

The Cruel Prince

Choose your fate

Holly Black is kicking off the season with her Folk of the Air trilogy, set in the High Court of Faerie. After her parents were murdered, Jude and her two sisters grew up in the faerie court, raised by the faerie who orphaned them. Ten years after their arrival, the human girls still struggle to be accepted. Jude’s twin, Taryn, hopes to marry into the court to earn respect, while Jude decides to prove herself as a fierce warrior. In her desperation, she agrees to serve one of the king’s sons and places herself in more danger than she ever could’ve imagined. Cancel your plans. You won’t want to put this one down until you’ve savored every last page.

On shelves: January 2

Batman: Nightwalker

Origins of a hero

To be honest, we’d read Marie Lu’s crumbled up grocery list. She has an unmatched skill for crafting complex characters that use the line between right and wrong like a jump rope. This is why we’re thrilled to see her tackling the dark world of Gotham and exploring Batman’s teenage years. Eighteen-year-old Bruce Wayne finds himself at Arkham Asylum on community service duty after he attempts to bust a gang called the Nightwalkers and instead is caught by the cops himself. It’s there that he’s drawn to Madeleine Wallace. The police can’t wring a word from the accused murderess, but she opens up whenever Bruce comes around. We needed this book yesterday, so let’s turn on the Bat-Signal and hope it brings the release date faster.

On shelves: January 2

Everless

Tick tock

In the kingdom of Sempera, life can be extended by consuming time, created by binding blood and iron. And it’s time that Jules Ember needs when she realizes that her father is dying. Willing to do anything to save him, she travels to Everless, an estate owned by the wealthy and powerful Gerlings. Once there, she must avoid her vicious older brother, Liam, and fight her feelings for Roan Gerling, her childhood friend who is now engaged to the queen’s adopted daughter. Jules knows she should get what she needs and leave, but when she uncovers a secret about the queen, she finds herself tangled in a dangerous web. Kirkus called Sara Holland’s novel a “heady, addicting page-turner… Utterly absorbing; a must for fans of Sarah J. MaasThrone of Glass.

On shelves: January 2

Thunderhead

Do or die

In this gripping sequel to Scythe, Neal Shusterman brings readers back to his futuristic world where professional grim reapers, known as scythes, posses the power to kill (or glean) to keep the human population under control. Citra, now Scythe Anastasia, sees corruption embedded deep in the Scythedom, but is blocked every time she attempts to enact change. Meanwhile, Rowan, now Scythe Lucifer, is taking power into his own hands and is gleaning scythes he believes are abusing their powers. This novel will leave readers reeling and contemplating the complex moral questions the story inspires.

On shelves: January 9

The Hazel Wood

The wood is dark and full of terrors

Alice Proserpine’s grandmother Althea is famous for her book of dark fairy tales, but Alice has been forbidden from ever reading Tales from the Hinterland. In fact, she’s spent her life on the run with her mother Ella, avoiding the book’s cult following. When Althea dies, Ella breathes a sigh of relief. But their troubles aren’t over yet, and Ella is mysteriously kidnapped, leaving behind a note warning Alice to avoid the Hazel Wood, Althea’s estate. Determined to rescue her mother, Alice teams up with Ellery Finch, who is deeply familiar with Tales from the Hinterland, to travel to Hazel Wood and uncover the truth. Melissa Albert’s fantasy has been starred by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, School Library Journal, and Kirkus. This one’s going to be big, readers.

On shelves: January 30

Reign the Earth

Rise up

Seventeen-year-old Shalia is willing to do anything to forge peace between the people of her desert and the Bone Landers—even wed herself to Calix, the cruel Tri King. Once bound to him, she learns that his determination to rid the world of Elementae, powerful people who can control elements, cannot be quelled. And if he ever learns that she’s an earth Elementae, it’ll be her head he’s after. When rumors of rebellion reach her ears, Shalia must decide on the best course of action for her people, the Elementae, and herself. A. C. Gaughen weaves an exhilarating tale of magic, loyalty, and forbidden love.

On shelves: January 30

The Belles

The cost of beauty

The Belles is one of the most highly-anticipated books of 2018, and it does not disappoint. Told in gorgeous prose, Dhonielle Clayton’s novel sweeps readers away into an alluring and dangerous fantasy world that shrewdly examines our obsession with beauty. In Orléans beauty is controlled by the Belles. They can change everything about a person’s appearance, but it comes at a cost. It’s a Belle’s highest honor to be chosen as the favorite by the queen to serve the royal family, and Camellia Beauregard believes that role belongs to her. The palace holds darker secrets than Camellia ever could’ve imagined, and she soon realizes that the Belles are in grave danger. Roxane Gay, Sabaa Tahir, Nic Stone, Julie C. Dao, and more authors are already raving about it on Goodreads. Don’t miss out.

On shelves: February 6

Your One & Only

The needs of the many

Adrianne Finlay’s novel imagines a world where humans died out hundreds of years ago and were replaced by clones. Each model improved until disease and other human imperfections had been wiped out completely. Althea-310 is one such clone, and she can’t understand why those in charge decided to create Jack, a genetically human boy. Her interest in Jack begins to alienate her from her nine identical siblings, and the more she grows to know him the more she begins acting and thinking for herself, rather than in sync with her sister clones. Together Althea-310 and Jack will work to uncover his true purpose and what it means for their world.

On shelves: February 6

Tempests and Slaughter

The beginning

Tamora Pierce fans, the day you’ve long waited for has finally arrived. In this series starter, Pierce explores the early life of Numair Salmalín, a powerful mage from the Immortals quartet. The tale begins when he’s 10 and known by the name Arram Draper. A student at the Imperial University of Carthak, Arram is just beginning to shape his gifts and discover the strength of his power. It’s there he bonds with the lovely Varice Kingsford and Prince Ozorne Tasikhe, and he’ll need friends by his side when his powers begin to draw the attention of foes. Readers have waited years for Numair’s backstory and longtime fans won’t be disappointed.

On shelves: February 6

When Light Left Us

Give and take

Hank, Ana, and Milo Vasquez are grieving after the death of their father when they’re discovered by Luz, a parasitic creature. Luz latches onto a single body part from each sibling: Hank’s hands, Ana’s eyes, and Milo’s ears. While connected to Luz, the siblings find the senses associated with those particular body parts are heightened. But when he eventually leaves, they experience a profound sense of loss. The children, their mother, and Luz split the narration in Leah Thomas’ sci-fi novel, offering readers an intimate portrait of grief and the process of healing after major trauma.

On shelves: February 13

Ink, Iron, and Glass

The power of words

Gwendolyn Clare’s steampunk fantasy introduces readers to the science of scriptology, a method of creating worlds out of written words. Veldana is one such world, and 16-year-old Elsa is preparing for the day she’ll take over her mother’s role as the world’s caretaker. But when her mother is kidnapped, Elsa must leave Veldana behind and travel to 19th-century Italy in order to rescue her. It’s there that she seeks help from an attractive mechanist named Leo and realizes that an assassin is hot on her trail. The first in a duology, Ink, Iron, and Glass is ideal for readers looking for a book filled with adventure and unique forms of magic.

On shelves: February 20

Tess of the Road

Walk on

Rachel Hartman returns to the world of Seraphina and the kingdom of Goredd in a stunning new adventure. Tess Dombegh, one of Seraphina’s stepsiblings, refuses to let her family send her to a nunnery—a consequence brought on after she drunkenly socked a relative at her sister’s wedding. She disguises herself as a boy and sets out across the Southlands, trying to outrun a past that refuses to leave her alone. On the road, she confronts her demons and begins to let go of her bitterness and self-loathing. In a starred review Booklist raved, “This achingly real portrayal of a young woman whose self-loathing takes help to heal is a perceptive examination of rape culture rare in high fantasy. Not to be ignored, this is also a fascinating road trip adventure. Absolutely essential.”

On shelves: February 27

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