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    2021 YA Books We're Looking Forward To Getting Our Hands On

    2021 is clearly the year of *SO* much YA!

    Back in September, we gave you a look at 40 YA novels releasing in the first half of 2021 that we really want to read. Now that we're inching closer to 2021, here are even MORE young adult books that are on our radar.

    Farrah Penn / BuzzFeed

    1. One of the Good Ones by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

    Inkyard Press, maikaandmaritza.com

    Release date: Jan. 5

    Why we're excited: When teen activist Kezi Smith is mysteriously killed at a social justice rally, her sister Happi and her family are led to believe she was another victim in the fight against police brutality. Kenzi's sisters set out on a road trip using The Negro Motorist Green Book to honor her, all while uncovering the true nature of Kezi's death. This one sounds profound and powerful. It seems like it leads with a bit of a mystery but also isn't afraid to dive deep into racial injustices and the Black Lives Matter movement.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    2. Your Corner Dark by Desmond Hall

    SimonTeen, Twitter: @authordesmond

    Release date: Jan. 19

    Why we're excited: Frankie joins his uncle's gang in exchange for paying for his father's medical bills after he's shot, despite receiving a scholarship that will give him a future outside of Jamaica. It's been compared to American Street and Long Way Down — which makes us think this might be a verse novel? — and we can't wait to find out what happens next.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    3. The Girls I've Been by Tess Sharpe

    G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers

    Release date: Jan. 26

    Why we're excited: The Girls I've Been has already gathered hype after Millie Bobbie Brown announced she's set to star in the adaptation. This is a promising suspenseful thriller that follows Nora O'Malley, the daughter of a con artist, who is taken hostage in a bank heist. Here's hoping for a lot of twists and turns as she attempts to navigate her way out!

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    4. A Taste for Love by Jennifer Yen

    Razorbill, jenyenwrites.com

    Release date: Feb. 2

    Why we're excited: For fans of Jenny Han and Jane Austen? Sign us all the way up! When Liza Yang agrees to help her mother with her bakery's annual junior competition, there's just one catch: her mother has handpicked young, eligible Asian American men as contestants. Even worse, Liza finds herself growing more and more attracted to the impenetrable (and sexy) James Wong as she deals with conflicting feelings over her mother's approval — and James.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    5. The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold

    Penguin, davidarnoldbooks.com / Via Stephanie Arnold

    Release date: Feb. 9

    Why we're excited: Is there anything David Arnold can't write? In this next YA, we're graced with a post-apocalyptic novel that parallels our current 2020. A dangerous Fly Flu has swept the globe, leaving few survivors. One of them is 18-year-old Nico and her dog who are on a quest to find a mythical portal that her father told her about. Along the way Nico meets other survivors, navigating life and all its meaning as she searches for answers.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    6. Blood Scion by Deborah Falaye

    Harpercollins, goodreads.com

    Release date: March 8

    Why we're excited: This is a West African YA fantasy novel that follows a young Scion who is drafted into the army that has hunted descendants of the ancient Orisha gods for centuries. The only thing keeping her going is figuring out what happened the night her mother disappeared — even if that means complying with the army's demands to turn her into a killer. We're so excited to dive into the world of this unique-sounding fantasy.

    Preorder links aren't currently available, but learn more from Goodreads in the meantime.

    7. American Betiya by Anuradha D. Rajurkar

    Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, DeAnna Heidmann

    Release date: March 9

    Why we're excited: When Rani Kelkar and Oliver begin dating in secret, Rani doesn't know how to handle Oliver's troubled home life when it begins to unravel. But then she spends the summer in Pune, India, forcing her to take an honest look at herself and love. This story sounds beautiful as it promises to give us a look into interracial relationships and identity.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    8. Bruised by Tanya Boteju

    Simon & Schuster, Greg Ehlers / Via tanyaboteju.com

    Release date: March 23

    Why we're excited: This coming-of-age story has been compared to Whip It and sounds so good. Daya immerses herself into the world of roller derby to escape the mental pain and anguish of losing her parents, instead finding clarity and an unexpected family.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    9. The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman

    Simon & Schuster, Peter Jolly

    Release date: April 6

    Why we're excited: Calling all YA sci-fi lovers: this Westworld meets Warcross story is for you! Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto's life is cut short, sending her into the afterlife called "Infinity." Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used by humans on Earth, has taken over the afterlife, imprisoning humans into servitude. Nami must work with a team of rebels to overthrow this AI in order to survive.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    10. The Nobleman's Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks by Mackenzi Lee

    Harper, mackenzilee.com

    Release date: April 27

    Why we're excited: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue remains one of our favorite YAs, so we're thrilled that Lee is releasing another Montague story. Adrian Montague, diagnosed with hysteria at a young age, has a breakdown at his engagement party, making the public believe he might not be fit to run his family estate. To avoid the scandal, Adrian travels to the Caribbean to claim the last of his mother's possessions and along the way learns he has two siblings — Monty and Felicity — who disappeared over a decade ago.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    11. The Ones We're Meant to Find by Joan He

    Roaring Brook Press, joanhewrites.com

    Release date: May 4

    Why we're excited: This sci-fi fantasy sounds incredibly intriguing. Cee awoke on an abandoned island three years ago with no memories except for the fact that she has a sister — and she needs to find her. Meanwhile, Kasey resides in the Metropolis, Earth's last unpolluted place designed to help planetary protection. But is science really helping humanity if it's failed those who mattered most?

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    12. Indivisible by Daniel Aleman

    Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, F. Angelini / Via danielaleman.com

    Release date: May 4

    Why we're excited: This contemporary sounds like a timely and powerful novel that sheds light on immigration and deportation. When Mateo returns from school, he discovers his parents have been taken by ICE. He's known it was a possibility that his undocumented immigrant parents could be sent back to Mexico, but with everything at stake Mateo faces what it really means to be American.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    13. Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney

    HarperTeen, goodreads.com

    Release date: May 4

    Why we're excited: This contemporary romance sounds both stressful and sweet. When Quinn's notebook goes missing, a blackmailer posts her list of fears on Instagram for the world to see. Quinn must face these fears or risk the rest of her journal going public. She teams up with the last person she knew to have her notebook in order to track down the blackmailer, taking a journey through everything Quinn’s been too afraid to face.

    Get it from your local indie through Indiebound here.

    14. Illusionary by Zoraida Córdova

    Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Sarah Elizabeth Younger / Via zoraidacordova.com

    Release date: May 11

    Why we're excited: This is the exciting sequel to Incendiary, a fascinating and compelling fantasy. Renata Convida teams up with her enemy Prince Castian to find the fabled Knife of Memory, kill the ruthless King Fernando, and bring peace to the nation.

    Get it from Amazon or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    15. Where the Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass

    Balzer & Bray/Harperteen, goodreads.com

    Release date: May 11

    Why we're excited: A contemporary romance inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion?! We're in. Reyna has spent her life at her family’s seaside resort in Tobago, the Plumeria. Aiden, her first love, has left to pursue his dreams of music. But Reyna must ultimately face Aiden when he returns to Tobago with his Grammy, his successful, and a new romance.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    16. May the Best Man Win by Z.R. Ellor

    Roaring Brook Press, zrellorbooks.com

    Release date: May 18

    Why we're excited: When Jeremy Harkiss comes out as a transgender boy his senior year, he refuses to let the bigots tear him down. Instead, he adds to his attention by challenging his all-star ex-boyfriend Lukas for the title of Homecoming King. Lukas is dealing with his own loss but refuses to let Jeremy take his title. But both boys take their rivalry too far and must face the consequences — and their past hurt. This sounds like the LGBT rom-com we need in 2021.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    17. It Goes Like This by Miel Moreland

    Feiwel & Friends, Lisbeth Osuna Chacon

    Release date: May 18

    Why we're excited: In this tender, heartfelt, and queer contemporary, four teens — who formed a successful band — experience a falling out in high school. When a storm devastates their town, the ex-best-friends come back together to confront their past and play one last show.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    18. The Marvelous Mirza Girls by Sheba Karim

    Quill Tree Books, Christine Rogers

    Release date: May 18

    Why we're excited: After losing her aunt, recent graduate Noreen hopes to take a gap year to New Delhi, hoping India can relief her of her grief. It's there at Noreen meets Kabir, who introduces her to the magic of India, and Noreen slowly discovers that she might be on her way to finding herself once again. This one sounds like it's a powerful story of identity, culture, grief, and love.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    19. Made in Korea by Sarah Suk

    Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Farisia Thang / Via sarahsuk.com

    Release date: May 18

    Why we're excited: Pitched as Frankly in Love meets Shark Tank, Valerie Kwon and Wes Jung run competing Korean beauty businesses at their high school for different reasons. Valerie is saving up for her dream trip while Wes plans to finance his music school tuition that he knows his parents won't front. But as they try to out-sell each other, they soon discover that there might be a hint of a spark.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    20. Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar

    Page Street Kids, goodreads.com

    Release date: May 25

    Why we're excited: We love YA with fake dating tropes! When Humaira Hani Khan comes out as bisexual, her friends don't believe her because she's only dated guys. So she lies and says she's in a relationship with the school's overachiever, Ishita Ishu Dey. Ishita agrees to go along with Humaira's lie if Humaira can help her become more popular, and despite their agreement...the two begin falling for each other.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    21. Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean

    Flatiron Books, emikojean.com

    Release date: May 25

    Why we're excited: We immediately screamed "gimmie!" when we heard this was The Princess Diaries meets Crazy Rich Asians. Izumi Tanaka doesn't exactly fit in. As a Japanese American in a Northern California (and mostly white) town, it isn't easy. But then she learns her father is the Crown Prince of Japan, which makes Izumi a princess. She decides to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she always dreamed of, but that's when she learns things aren't exactly happily ever after when you're a princess.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    22. Pumpkin by Julie Murphy

    Harper, Christy Archibald / Christy Archibald Photography (http://www.christyarchibald.com) / Via imjuliemurphy.com

    Release date: May 25

    Why we're excited: 2021 is gifting us another contemporary novel by Murphy set in the Dumplin' universe, and we can hardly contain our excitement. Waylon Russell Brewer is fat, openly gay, and stuck in the small West Texas town of Clover City. But he has a plan: escape to Austin with his twin sister and live his dream life after graduation. When those plans derail, Waylon decides to send an audition tape to his favorite TV drag show, Fiercest of Them All. But when Waylon's tape is leaked, he's nominated for prom king as a joke alongside Clem’s girlfriend, Hannah Perez. Instead of giving his bullies power, Waylon decides to lean into the nomination, preparing to leave high school with a bang.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    23. Jay's Gay Agenda by Jason June

    HarperTeen, Ryan Bilawsky / Via heyjasonjune.com

    Release date: June 1

    Why we're excited: This queer and sex-positive contemporary sounds absolutely delightful. Jay is the only out gay kid in his small rural Washington town who dreams of experiencing the same types of romances as his heterosexual friends, so he creates a romance to-do list — his Gay Agenda. But when Jay's family moves to Seattle and he starts his senior year at a new high school with a thriving LGBTQIA+ community, he begins to realize that, here, he can make his agenda a reality.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    24. The [Un]popular Vote by Jasper Sanchez

    Katherine Tegen Books, jaspersanchez.com

    Release date: June 1

    Why we're excited: Mark's father is a congressman who still pretends he has a daughter and not a son, and Mark goes along with it to keep his father's image protected. When Mark spies a problematic student running for student body president, he decides to run against him. With an unlikely group of friends, Mark forms a campaign — despite knowing an investigative journalist is digging deep into his past. We can't wait to find out what happens next for Mark.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    25. An Emotion of Great Delight by Tahereh Mafi

    HarperCollins, taherehbooks.com

    Release date: June 1

    Why we're excited: After reading the moving A Very Large Expanse of Sea, we're thrilled to be getting another contemporary from bestselling Tahereh Mafi. Set in 2003 on the brink of the war on Iraq, Shadi is grieving her own troubles and concerns. Her brother has died, her father is dying, and her mother isn't handling either well. To make matters worse, Shadi is suffering a broken heart. She attempts to keep all of this inside — until she can't anymore.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    26. We Can't Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon

    Simonbooks, rachelsolomonbooks.com

    Release date: June 1

    Why we're excited: We're so excited to get our hands on another contemporary from Soloman, and this time she's back with another rom-com. Quinn Berkowitz's family are wedding planners and Tarek Mansour family are caterers, so it makes sense they've been in business together for the last several years. At the end of last summer, Quinn confessed her love to Tarek in the form of a rambling email, and he never replied. But it's a new summer and Tarek is back, which means Quinn will have to inevitably work with him again. As she fights her feelings, which are still very much there, she learns the truth behind his silence.

    Get it from Bookshop or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    27. Simone Breaks All the Rules by Debbie Rigaud

    Scholastic Press, Twitter: @debbierigaud

    Release date: June 1

    Why we're excited: Rigaud's #ownvoices rom-com promises to be a delightful mix of Never Have I Ever and You Should See Me in a Crown. Simone Thibodeaux's strict Haitian immigrant parents will allow her to go to prom under one condition: they pick her date. Recovering from this humiliating, Simon decides to create a list: a Senior Year Bucket List to be exact. She and her friends will cross off things they haven't had a chance to do (like sneaking out). But as the list becomes more complex, Simone has to figure out which rules are really worth breaking.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    28. Fire with Fire by Destiny Soria

    HMH, Southern Grace Photography / Via destinysoria.com

    Release date: June 8

    Why we're excited: Calling all fantasy lovers! This YA pick is action-packed and full of dragons. Dani and Eden Rivera are sisters who aren't similar in the slightest. When Dani forges a rare and magical bond with a dragon, she soon discovers everything she thought she knew about dragons is wrong while Eden turns to sorcery to save her sister from this magic. But what they don't realize that a powerful enemy lurks in the shadows, watching them both...

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    29. Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta

    Feiwel & Friends, zoehanamikuta.com

    Release date: June 29

    Why we're excited: This unique sci-fi fantasy is definitely on our radar! Eris Shindanai is a Gearbreaker — a rebel who specializes in taking down giant mechanized weapons known as Windups run by cruel Godolian overlords. When one mission fails, she finds herself imprisoned where she meets Sona Steelcrest, a cybernetically enhanced Windup pilot. At first Eris sees Sona as her enemy — until she learns she's infiltrated the Windup program to destroy Godolia.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    30. Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

    Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, elizabethlim.com

    Release date: July 6

    Why we're excited: This fantasy inspired by East Asian folklore sounds endlessly fascinating. Shiori'anma is the only princess of Kiata, and she holds an important secret: magic runs through her veins. When her magic is exposed during her betrothal ceremony, her stepmother banishes Shiori and turns her brothers into cranes, forbidding her to speak of it. Otherwise, her brothers will die. Now Shiori must find her brothers and uncover a dark conspiracy to seize the throne before it's too late.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    31. Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson