As readers, we all know we have plenty of books on our shelves, but then there’s always more publishing every week! And because I know you’re already thinking of what you’ll finish off your 2021 reads with and what to look forward to in 2022, here’s a list of some of my most anticipated YA reads for the rest of the year and beyond!
Jade Fire Gold by June C.L. Tan: I love a good standalone YA fantasy story inspired by Chinese mythology and Jade Fire Gold delivers. Not only does it promise action and romance, it also features soul stealing magic. I repeat: magic that can steal your soul. It’s a story about a quest for destiny and magic as well as for revenge and power.
Little Thieves by Margaret Owen: Do you think your family is complicated? Try being the adopted goddaughter of Death and Fortune. This YA fantasy retelling of “The Goose Girl” combines Owen’s particular brand of slightly darker and intriguing magic and of course, about fate and destiny. Retellings will always intrigue me and since I loved Owen’s Merciful Crow series, I am even more on board!
Within the Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood: Let’s keep the retelling train going with a YA fantasy reimagining of Jane Eyre. Because what would make Jane Eyre even better? How about a little exorcism? The original delivers some seriously spooky vibes, but Blackwood’s debut promises to ramp up the suspense and supernatural elements. Because if you had a creepy house with a sinister presence, wouldn’t you call for an exorcist?
Year of the Reaper by Makiia Lucier: Not only does Year of the Reaper feature a plague, it includes a lord’s quest for a killer and a run-in with the most intriguing character for me, Lena, a young and brilliant historian. Can we have more brainy academic heroines in YA fantasy, please? It also hints at a serious secret; one you know you shouldn’t pull at the ribbon because you aren’t sure where it’ll lead, but you do it anyway because you can’t help yourself.
You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao: Thao’s contemporary YA debut is already making waves as an emotional story about grief and love. What if you could still talk to the ones you love, even after they’re gone? Julie is given a magical chance when she calls Sam’s phone after he’s passed –and Sam picks up. It’s also a magical chance that will question Julie’s knowledge about the past and the certainty of the future.
You Can Go Your Own Way by Eric Smith: This title makes me sing Fleetwood Mac every time I read it. EVERY TIME. But if that doesn’t give you enough nostalgia, the main characters in this contemporary YA story end up trapped in an arcade during a snowstorm. It promises to deliver those nostalgic feels, but also discusses who we’d be if we were cut off from the world.
The Midnight Girls bu Alicia Jasinka: This queer standalone YA fantasy story features a kingdom covered in snow, dangerous magic that could get you killed, and two enchantresses who might be falling in love while they’re competing for the heart of the prince. Awkward! Jasinska has a reputation for swoony queer story lines and dangerous odds in her previous work, The Dark Tide, so to say I’m excited for The Midnight Girls is an understatement. Can we have all love triangles end like this?
The Coldest Touch by Isabel Sterling: All I knew before writing this article about The Coldest Touch was vampires & queer girls and that’s all I really needed to know. This paranormal YA features supernatural forces come together as a girl with the magical touch to see how her loved ones die is forced to work with a vampire. Because vampires are making a comeback!
The Kindred by Alechia Dow: Let’s start 2022 off with a YA sci-fi story that mixes mind-melding, an unlikely pair, and being framed for murder. The Kindred promises spacecraft theft, assasination, and scandalous love. Don’t the best stories have all three? I’m so excited for Dow’s second book after adoring her debut, The Sound of the Stars.
The Red Palace by June Hur: June Hur is a historical fiction queen and I am so excited for this next installment of historical YA fiction set in 18th century Korea. It features a search for a murderer, a palace nurse, and deadly secrets. If you haven’t read any of Hur’s other historical fiction, like The Forest of Stolen Girls, I highly recommend checking it out before January.
From a Dust, a Flame by Rebecca Podos: Can you imagine waking up on your birthday with completely different eyes? Would you immediately embrace them or search for a cure? Well, as Hannah and her family try to piece together why her eyes are suddenly golden, they discover a past which stretches back to her grandmother’s childhood and Nazi-occupied Prague. It’s a contemporary YA story that promises curses, family secrets, and coming to terms with the past.
Extasia by Claire Legrand: Claire Legrand is quickly becoming my go-to for eerie YA ever since I read Sawkill Girls. Not only is Extasia set in a post-apocalyptic setting, its main character, Saint Amity, joins a coven to summon the devil to protect her village. From the summary I can tell you to expect: dark magic, queer relationships, and cults.
Ophelia After All by Racquel Marie: I love a hopeless romantic and you can definitely find that in Marie’s main character, Ophelia Rojas. But what happens when everything you thought you were begins to change under your feet? In Marie’s contemporary YA debut, I’m looking forward to a journey of self-discovery, bouquets of roses, and Cuban food.
A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin: You ever see those covers and just want them as a poster on your wall? That’s how I feel about this cover. But then you tell me that it’s the start of a YA fantasy duology about a search for the kingdom’s greatest shennong-shi – Master of Tea and the series is called “The Book of Tea?” I’d like to know where to sign up.
An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X.R. Pan: The Astonishing Color of After is one of my favorite books ever, so to say I’m excited for this one is a gross understatement. It’s described as Romeo and Juliet meets Chinese mythology, which explodes my heart. I’m so excited for Pan’s YA fantasy debut which features a smoldering romance, family feuding, and magic.
Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf: Move over, chess and bring it on, Scrabble! Alkaf’s latest contemporary YA release combines a Scrabble competition with thrills and mystery. Because, honestly why wouldn’t there be murder and intrigue in a competition? I am beyond excited for this cutthroat Scrabble competition with a dash of M-U-R-D-E-R.
About Lili from Utopia State of Mind: My name is Lili and I am a scholar at heart, obsessed with SFF and always carrying a book wherever I go (including to the top of a dormant volcano and mountain for Instagram photos). I am obsessed with enamel pins, discovering new tea flavors, and dabbling in makeup. I am committed to celebrating diverse books and using USOM to champion books I feel deserve more praise and attention. You can find me on my blog, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.