The Best YA Books of 2021

As you compose your must-read list of new books, consider some YA options for 2021. There are so many exciting new titles coming out in the New Year that it’s hard to scratch the surface, but this guide should get you started on some of the best and most anticipated books to hit shelves in 2021.

There’s a reason young adult literature is becoming so popular with readers of all ages. It’s not that the genre is lighter and less stressful than any other type of book. Books set in high school and beyond can be just as serious as any other type of literature. Sometimes more. Teen fear is not a joke folks. In YA books, emotions are high, which makes it very easy to relate to and enjoy. Reading YA is also the best way to keep up with the latest on the new movies for some stupid reason. Hollywood is obsessed with getting these books to the big screen.

In order to! For all of your dramatic romances, shocking thrillers, and heartwarming needs in old age, these are the best new YA books to preorder for 2021 before all the cool kids talk about it.

1

You have a match from Emma Lord

Release date: January 12th

A secret sister threatens Abby’s plan to attract her crush at summer camp in the author’s new novel by Tweet Cute. It’s about the uncomfortable past, DNA testing, and Instagram influencers. Who could ask for more?

2

Too pretty to burn, by Wendy Heard

Release date: March 30

This book is a modern, weird adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray in the cool San Diego art scene. Do you love this twist of the “artist-muse” … and there is murder ?! Heard’s other titles include The Kill Club and Hunting Annabelle, so this should come as no surprise.

3

One of the good guys from Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

Release date: January 5th

When Happi and Genni lose their sister Kezi to police brutality, they try to figure out how best to be honored while learning about Kezi and themselves. Your trip includes the historic Green Book you may know from Lovecraft Country on HBO , and unfortunately the film Green Book.

4th

Anyway the wind blows from Rainbow Rowell

Release date: July 6th

In the finale of Rowell’s Simon Snow series, the magical trio (and Agatha) will finally put an end to their adventures … if they can! The series emerged from the author’s YA novel Fangirl and has developed into a real beast. Pro tip: Rowell is creepy good at hiding emotional bumps in the most unexpected moments. So make sure you have tissues on hand.

5

They’ll never catch us by Jessica Goodman

Release date: July 27th

Competitive sisters Stella and Ellie become suspects when the new girl in town, her cross country rival Mila, goes missing during practice. They just want to get out of their small town and Ellie actually started making friends with Mila. Now that ?! Goodman is also the author of They Wish They Were Us.

6th

Don’t breathe a word from Jordyn Taylor

Release date: May 18

In this day and age, an outsider named Eva is invited to join a secret society at her prep school, and she begins to realize how many secrets society might actually be responsible for keeping. Her story is inexplicably linked to Connies who went to school in the 1960s. Connie volunteered for a nuclear fallout shelter test to get close to her crush and landed (literally) over her head. Now Eva has a riddle to solve. Taylor is also the author of The paper girl of Paris.

7th

The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe

Release date: January 26th

You may have heard that Millie Bobbie Brown will star in the film adaptation of this book, but keep your horses! First, let the book speak for itself. It’s about a cheater’s daughter who becomes an innocent bystander in a bank robbery and is perfectly prepared to improve.

8th

The box in the woods by Maureen Johnson

Release date: 15th June

This book is the latest in the popular author’s Truly Devious series. Stevie, the protagonist and detective of teenagers, is tasked with solving her first case outside of school – a cold case to support a friend’s true crime podcast. At a summer camp, this is a summer Stevie and her friends might want to forget.

9

A Taste for Love, by Jennifer Yen

Release date: February 2nd

Yen, who began under the pen name JL Clark, is best known for her fantasy series The Avalon Relics. This new book, however, is a modern day teenage romance that is all about baking. Fun!

10

The Nobles’ Guide to Scandals and Shipwrecks by Mackenzi Lee

Release date: November 16

This is the expected third book in Lee’s Montague sibling series. The sibling at the center of this issue is concerned Adrian, who embarks on a seafaring adventure to find his missing sibling and end his family’s curse once and for all.

11

The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold

Release date: February 9

Arnold is the author of books such as Mosquitoland and Kids of Appetite. His new book is set (swallow) in an apocalypse after a deadly flu has taken over the world. Two teenagers are looking for a portal into another world. If you find it, can you call me?

12th

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

Release date: June 1

McQuiston wrote red, white, and royal blue so all you know is everyone will be talking about their new book. One Last Stop becomes more and more contemporary when a modern maiden name August falls in love with a girl named Jane from the 70s. I already feel the fear.

13th

Cool for the summer from Dahlia Adler

Release date: May 11th

Lara’s teenage dream seems to come true when the guy of her dreams finally takes an interest in her … but then a girl she met over the summer comes back into her life and throws everything off balance – or into a love triangle, that never saw her coming. How do summer lovers always find us? It’s scary.

14th

The gilded by Namina Forna

Release date: February 9

This is the first book in a new series from Forna. In it, a girl named Deka is rejected by her village and recruited to join a supernatural all-girl army instead. Who would refuse? Suddenly Deka goes from an outsider to the greatest adventure of her life.

15th

Be amazed by Ryan La Sala

Release date: January 5th

When ex-boyfriends Raffy and Luca are forced to work together in a cosplay contest, it should be a nightmare. But how … you know it’ll only add to the tension.

16

Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli

Release date: 20th of April

The latest from the author of the Love Simon verse is about how sometimes “crushing one another” with our friends makes them feel unreachable and therefore safe … but it really, really wouldn’t be fun to have that crush on would transform something more real to your friend and not to you.


Leah Marilla Thomas is an entertainment writer, UNC alum, and former Hasbro toy tester (yes, that’s a real thing) who has seen all of those Marvel shows on Netflix and loves The Good Place and Love Island alike.

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