Winter 2017’s Best Young Adult Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Swashbuckling Pirates, the Phantom of the Opera, and a Shrinking Universe

Winter 2017’s Best Young Adult Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Swashbuckling Pirates, the Phantom of the Opera, and a Shrinking Universe

Here at Bookish, we can’t help but feel as though there is something truly magical in the air this season. Maybe it’s the holiday spirit, or maybe the magic comes from these must-read sci-fi and fantasy books. Fan favorites Veronica Roth, Victoria Aveyard, and Shaun David Hutchinson are back with brand new reads for us. Plus, this season brings a tale inspired by The Phantom of the Opera, a graphic novel that reminds us of Mr. Robot, and more. Our fingers are crossed that this is the year Santa brings us a Time-Turner; we’ll need it if we hope to find enough time to read all of these great titles.

SP4RX

The python approach

Looking to escape into a cyberpunk graphic novel? This book is set in a future where the world is divided into four levels, with the upper classes living in luxury on the top level and the lower classes struggling to survive on the bottom. SP4RX is a hacker who makes his living selling the data he steals from corporations on the black market. While working on a freelance gig to swipe data from a powerful organization, he learns a dangerous secret: The cybernetic implants being pushed onto the lower classes are turning them into efficient, hard-working zombies—easily used and manipulated by those on higher levels. In a starred review, Kirkus called Wren McDonald’s book “a pulls-no-punches techno-thriller; Mr. Robot meets The Stepford Wives.

On shelves: December 13

RoseBlood

Darkness which you know you cannot fight

Phantom of the Opera fans, have we got a treat for you. A.G. Howard’s captivating fantasy draws from the famed original tale by Gaston Leroux and the real-life rumors that inspired it. Rune Germain’s voice is a gift and a curse. When she sings, everyone within earshot is utterly enchanted. But with each song, she grows weaker. It’s a sickness that is slowly killing her. So her mother sends her to RoseBlood, a music academy with ties to the legendary Phantom. When Rune meets Thorn, a masked violinist, she’s certain that she has found the Phantom and that he’ll cure her. In truth, Thorn serves the real Phantom, who has a deadly plan for Rune. Thorn falls harder for Rune every day, but is approaching the point of no return. He must quickly decide if he wishes to save her or do the Phantom’s dark bidding.

On shelves: January 10

Carve the Mark

In a galaxy far, far away

This is the first in a highly-anticipated new duology from Divergent author Veronica Roth. The story is set in a distant galaxy where everyone develops a power called a currentgift. Cyra’s power is a gift and a curse: She feels pain constantly, but she can give herself a moment of peace by passing the pain to another. Her brother, the Shotet people’s oppressive ruler, uses her currentgift to torture his enemies. Akos, who hails from the peaceful arctic tundra of Thuvhe, is captured alongside his brother and brought to Cyra. But her abilities don’t work on Akos because his currentgift is that he can take away others’ powers. Romance, action, redemption—this book has got it all. Fans of Divergent won’t want to miss it.

On shelves: January 17

Caraval

The greatest show on Earth

If you’ve ever dreamed of running away to join the circus, the first book in Stephanie Garber’s new fantasy series is for you. As far back as she can remember, Scarlett has longed to experience Caraval, a magical and immersive experience where performers and visitors compete in a treasure hunt. When a handsome sailor named Julian offers to whisk her and her sister, Tella, away, she accepts and they take off for Caraval. But once they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s devious ringleader, Master Legend, who decided that she is to be the treasure in this year’s hunt. Scarlett and Julian must work together to find Tella or risk losing her forever. In a starred review Publishers Weekly writes, “Intriguing characters, an imaginative setting, and evocative writing combine to create a spellbinding tale of love, loss, sacrifice, and hope.”

On shelves: January 31

Silver Stars

Soldier on

In Front Lines, Michael Grant introduced readers to three female soldiers living in an alternate history of World War II where both men and women were drafted and sent off to fight. In the second volume, soldiers Frangie, Rainy, and Rio travel to the Italian island of Sicily. California girl Rio has lost her naiveté and transformed into a skilled killer. Even as she takes to soldiering with ease, she worries about her ability to change back into the sweet girl she was when she returns home. Frangie, an African-American medic, joined the war effort to help save lives, but frequently feels overwhelmed by the violence around her, and she struggles to keep her faith alive in the face of such atrocities. Meanwhile Rainy, a Jewish intelligence operative, is thrust into an ill-conceived mission that lands her in grave danger. Grant doesn’t shy away from the horrors of war or the prejudices that the girls face based on their sex, race, and religion. It’s a dark read, yet the light of friendship and loyalty still manage to shine through.

On shelves: January 31

King’s Cage

Rise up, red as the dawn

Victoria Aveyard took the YA world by storm with her debut novel, Red Queen. This winter the third installment in the four-part series hits shelves, and fans are eager to find out what will become of Mare now that she’s King Maven Calore’s prisoner. Powerless and trapped, Mare’s future looks bleak, but she has friends on the outside who are fighting to rescue her—including the exiled prince, Cal. With a tagline that reads “All Will Burn,” we’re expecting plenty of death, bloodshed, and mayhem in this installment.

On shelves: February 7

At the Edge of the Universe

Pools of sorrow, waves of joy

The citizens in Shaun David Hutchinson’s new book think everything is normal. High schooler Ozzie Pinkerton is the only one who knows the truth: The universe is shrinking. He knows this because his boyfriend, Tommy, disappeared without a trace and no one remembers him. No one but Ozzie, of course. He’s determined to find Tommy, and refuses to let anything get in his way. But he becomes distracted when he’s paired with Calvin for a physics project. Calvin was once a wrestling champion, but these days he keeps his head down and doesn’t engage with the world around him. As Ozzie’s attraction to Calvin grows, he struggles to hold on to his loyalty to Tommy—especially when everyone is telling him that Tommy never existed in the first place.

On shelves: February 7

Velocity

Shut up and drive

The Widowmaker is a deadly, three-day race through a postapocalyptic wasteland. Aptly named, more racers die than cross the finish line. But to best friends Cassica and Shiara, the prize is worth the risk. The winners receive fame, fortune, and a one-way ticket to Olympus, a shining utopia far above the decaying world below. With the daring Cassica behind the wheel and the brilliant Shiara engineering their car with the latest tech, they can’t lose. But to claim victory they must first survive the terrain, which is littered with cannibals, weapons, and fellow drivers willing to kill to win. Buckle up, readers, this is one wild ride.

On shelves: February 28

The Beast Is an Animal

Creation of a monster

Once upon a time there were twin girls who were abandoned by their father and left to die in the woods. Consumed with fear and anger, they transformed into creatures called soul eaters. Ruled by a master known as the Beast, the soul eaters enter villages and devour the souls of adults, sparing only children. Alys was seven when the soul eaters took her family. After the attack, she and the other children were sent to live in a neighboring village. The townspeople in her new home are terrified of the soul eaters and the Beast, but Alys isn’t—perhaps that’s because she has a dark secret of her own. Indies Introduce named it one of their debut picks for the winter season saying, “This is, ultimately, a story about stories and how the tales we tell about ourselves and others shape who we and they become.”

On shelves: February 28

Daughter of the Pirate King

A pirate’s life for me

Ahoy, readers. Fans of adventure on the high seas will not want to miss Tricia Levenseller’s debut novel. Seventeen-year-old Captain Alosa is the daughter of the legendary and cutthroat pirate king. When her father discovers that an enemy ship is in possession of a valuable treasure map, Alosa is sent to steal it. She willingly allows herself to be captured by her enemies, believing that she has the upper hand. After all, who would suspect a young woman possessed such cunning? But the first mate, the devilishly handsome Riden, doesn’t trust her at all. He knows she’s hiding something and becomes determined to uncover it. Alosa must outsmart Riden, swipe the map, and bring it back to her prized ship before her true identity is discovered.

On shelves: February 28

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