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19 Of The Best YA Books Of 2016

These are the books that captivated us this year. Ranked in no particular order.

Farrah Penn / BuzzFeed

1. This Is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang

Greenwillow Books

Released: March 22, 2016

What it's about: Janie and Micah have been best friends since elementary school. But when Janie disappears, Micah is left with more questions about the person he thought he knew. This gorgeously written YA contemporary — told over a nonlinear timeline — will keep you engaged with Zhang's beautiful storytelling and compelling plot.

Buy it here.

2. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

St. Martin's Griffin

Released: April 26, 2016

What it's about: In this YA fantasy inspired by Indian mythology, Maya has been cursed by the stars, which has caused trouble in her father’s kingdom. She's to marry Amar and become queen of Akaran, but uncovers dark secrets that lead to more questions, all while beginning to discover her own path. Filled with gorgeous imagery and beautiful storytelling, Chokshi's fantasy debut will sit with you long after you've finished the last page.

Buy it here.

3. Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Simon Pulse

Released: May 3, 2016

What it's about: Lina is in Italy for the summer, thanks to her mother's dying wish to get to know her father — a father who hasn't been there for her the last 16 years. Armed with her mother's mysterious journal from her past, Lina not only sets to learn more about her mother, but also about herself. This adorable contemporary has all the sweetness of gelato that's sure to leave you satisfied.

Buy it here.

4. Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Viking Books for Young Readers

Released: March 8, 2016

What it's about: This YA fantasy is set in the desert nation of Miraji where Amani desperately wants a way out of Dustwalk. When an opportunity is presented in the form of a shooting contest — which she happens to be a natural at — she enters. Along the way she meets Jin and is introduced to action, adventure, and rebellion. The plot twists are turns are sure to keep you intrigued from beginning to end.

Buy it here.

5. Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas


Released: Sept. 6, 2016

What it's about: This is book #5 in the Throne of Glass series following Aelin Galathynius, onetime assassin, on a mission to become queen. Packed with romance, action, and high stakes adventure, Maas's series isn't one to be missed.

Buy it here.

6. Girls Like Me by Lola St.Vil

HMH Books for Young Readers

Released: Oct. 4, 2016

What it's about: In this contemporary YA novel mainly written in verse, Shay is trying cope with her grief after her dad's passing, as well as how she views herself and her weight. When she's targeted at school by bullies, she takes comfort in a boy she's met online. While Shay would love to meet him in real life, she's afraid of what he'll think of her in person. This story has a gorgeous rhythm throughout the pages and will have you wishing Shay were your own friend.

Buy it here.

7. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Margaret K. McElderry Books
Kelly Campbell / Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Released: March 8, 2016

What it's about: Set within Clare's Shadowhunter world, Emma, a talented warrior, and Julien, her battle partner, must solve the mystery of what has been mass murdering both humans and faeries... before they become the target. Clare's intricate plot and fast-paced yet suspenseful twists hold up incredibly well for both fans and new readers alike.

Buy it here.

8. This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Sourcebooks Fire

Released: Jan. 5, 2016

What it's about: Nijkamp cultivates a tragic, gripping story following a school shooting. Told from the perspectives of several students during a devastating 54 minutes, this novel takes you on an emotional and suspenseful journey that brings up the important conversation of similar real-life experiences in our nation today. It's a necessary story that will have you holding your breath until the very end.

Buy it here.

9. Cuckoo by Keren David

Little, Brown/Atom

Released: Aug. 4, 2016

What it's about: This heartfelt contemporary, told through video transcripts and YouTube comments, follows Jake, a teen actor who was recently fired from a show he'd starred on — and throughout, we're told what happened to contribute to Jake's downfall. David's compelling storytelling does a good job exploring the emotional depth of of her characters while also addressing the important issues of homeless youth.

Buy it here.

10. The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Crown Books for Young Readers/Random House

Released: March 8, 2016

What it's about: In this coming-of-age YA novel, Dill, Travis, and Lydia are beginning their senior year of high school. Dill's reputation has been tarnished by his minister father and he's disheartened that Lydia wants to get out of their small town ASAP. Told via three separate POVs, this moving, character-driven story is sure to stick with you long after you finish.

Buy it here.

11. Without Annette by Jane B. Mason


Released: May 31, 2016

What it's about: After Josie and Annette are accepted into the same boarding school, Josie wants to keep their relationship on the down low — just until they settle in. But the transition isn't easy for Annette, who isn't adjusting as well as Josie. And the more distant they become, the more problems that arise. Fans of contemporary YA are sure to devour this fantastic debut.

Buy it here.

12. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir


Released: Aug. 30, 2016

What it's about: A sequel to An Ember in the Ashes, this book follows Laia and Elias as they escape the Marital Empire and head to Kauf to save Laia's brother. However, the journey isn't as easy as it seems, and Laia and Elias must try to survive being hunted by Helene, Elias's childhood friend. This YA fantasy is full of heart-stopping adventure and twists that make it hard to put down.

Buy it here.

13. Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig

Feiwel & Friends

Released: Oct. 4, 2016

What it's about: When Flynn's girlfriend is reported missing, the detectives turn to Flynn for answers. But Flynn is hiding secrets of his own — secrets about his identity that he's not ready to admit. Those who find themselves flipping through thrillers and indulging in contemporary YA will love this intriguing mix of both.

Buy it here.

14. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Delacorte Press

Released: Nov. 1, 2016

What it's about: This contemporary YA novel tells the story of Natasha and Daniel — two strangers until they meet on a crowded NYC street. Natasha and her family are about to be deported to Jamaica, while Daniel has always exceeded expectations. When the two meet, there's connection — but Natasha doesn't believe in fate. Could she be wrong? Filled with heartfelt, honest writing, Yoon makes you feel like you've known these characters a long time.

Buy it here.

15. The Reader by Traci Chee


Released: Sept. 13, 2016

What it's about: After her aunt disappears, Sefia's only clue about what happened is through a book her father left behind. Books aren't a familiar thing in her world, and Sefia is forced to uncover the pieces by comprehending what's inside the pages. This debut YA fantasy is filled with adventure, friendship, and mystery set in a rich world that won't leave you anytime soon.

Buy it here.

16. The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Victoria Webb

Released: Nov. 29, 2016

What it's about: This last installment of the Tearling series explores the journey of Queen Kelsea, in a unputdownable, epic conclusion filled with unexpected twists. You'll want to cancel all plans as this gripping adventure is easy to swallow in one sitting.

Buy it here.

17. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Orion Children's Books

Released: Sept. 27, 2016

What it's about: In this heart-pounding sequel to Six of Crows, we follow Kaz and his team after their successful heist. But there's no time to lie low, and in order to stay alive they must defeat a larger set of enemies who want to unleash the city’s darker secrets. Bardugo continues to create an intricate, compelling world and a high-stakes plot that will keep you intrigued.

Buy it here.

18. Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

Stephanie Girard

Released: Feb. 9, 2016

What it's about: In this sequel to Red Queen, Mare and Cal have escaped Maven and are recruiting and training the Scarlet Guard. But when things don't go as planned, they have to make a decision — to keep running or fight. It's full of intrigue, suspense, and adventure, and fans of YA fantasy won't be disappointed.

Buy it here.

19. Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Knopf Books for Young Readers

Released: Oct. 4, 2016

What it's about: This contemporary YA novel follows two teens: Jack, who has prosopagnosia, and Libby, who was once dubbed "America's fattest teen." Both feel incredibly alone trying to navigate school and their peers. When the two are forced together by detention, they begin to feel like they've found a little bit of hope. Niven's honest writing shares a story of friendship, confidence, strength, and identity — and it's not one to be missed.

Buy it here.

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