Wow! It has been quite a year for YA books. Would you agree? I’ve enjoyed some great new YA titles this year including A Complicated Love Story Set in Space by Shaun David Hutchinson, Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock, and An Emotion of Great Delight by Tahereh Mafi, just to name a few. Well, if you thought 2021 was a great YA reading year, you’re going to be even more excited about 2022. From stories of survival, to historical novels in verse, from magical traveling hotels, to a Romeo and Juliet retelling based on Chinese mythology, this is going to be the best reading year yet! As was the case last year, there were just too many wonderful upcoming YA books to fit into one post. So, I’ve divided the year in half and will be sharing my most anticipated YA reads for 2022 (January – June) today. Check back in June for my most anticipated YA titles for the second half of the year.
Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves by Meg Long (January 2022) – I absolutely love a good genre-bending book and Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves sounds like exactly that. The setting — a barren ice planet, where a valuable material called exo-carbon is used to support all of the planet’s technology. The only problem is, exo-carbon can only be accessed in the world’s most treacherous regions, and only by sleds pulled by genetically-enhanced “vonenwolves” in an annual race. Sena and her wolf Iska are approached by a team of scientists who offer to pay her way off the planet (appealing because Sena is on the run from some local gangsters) on the condition that she and Iska get them to the finish life of the infamous race. Part sci fi, part survival story, part tale of the human-animal bond, this book is getting really great early reviews and I can’t wait to read it!
I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys (February 2022) – I LOVE RUTA SEPETYS. I feel like I cannot say this enough. She is one of my all-time favorite authors and I highly recommend her if you are a fan of historical fiction. In this novel she dives into a new time period (for her) — 1989 Communist Romania. The main character, Cristian Florescu, dreams of becoming a writer. But these dreams are dashed by the tyranny of the Communist regime. One day, Cristian is blackmailed by the secret police to become an informant. He must decide between doing what’s best for his loved ones or what’s best for his country. Sepetys is known for writing about events and periods in history that are not traditionally taught in schools. The fact that this story takes place only a few decades ago makes it that much more frightening.
Sunny G’s Series of Rash Decisions by Navdeep Singh Dhillon (February 2022) – I believe I said this last year and I’ll say it again — we need more humorous books. The world is just a very serious (and sometimes scary) place right now and what better than a book to help us escape from that. When I read the description to Sunny G’s Series of Rash Decisions I knew immediately that this is the book I needed to help me do that. I was sold from the first sentence of the book’s description — “Sunny G’s brother left him one thing when he died: His notebook, which Sunny is determined to fill up with a series of rash decisions.” Set on prom night with a girl who is equally into making rash decisions, this story sounds like it is going to be a hilariously wild ride.
The Lost Dreamer by Lizz Huerta (March 2022) – A Mesoamerican fantasy, this debut follows Indir, a Dreamer able to see beyond reality and possessing the rare gift of Dreaming Truth. Indir comes from a long lineage of respected seers whose existence is threatened when the old king dies and his son takes power. Saya is a seer, but not a Dreamer, and who has never been trained. A chance happening leads Saya to discover that seeing isn’t her only gift. As the two girls’ live move closer towards collision, they will be forced to face their truths to save their world. The setting alone has me swooning over this book, but the powerful feminist plot has me waiting on pins and needles for its release. I’m looking forward to the rich history, culture, and world-building this fantasy is sure to provide.
Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor (April 2022) – The Hotel Magnifique is legendary not only for its whimsical enchantments, but also for its ability to travel. For an immoderate price, guests can book a stay at this magical getaway and experience a new destination every morning. Jani and sister Zosa, once resigned to a boring life in port, are lucky enough to land a service job with the Hotel Magnifique and are whisked away on what they hope will be the grandest adventure of their lives. But underneath the grandeur hide dark and dangerous secrets — and Jani and Zosa’s contracts are unbreakable. Doesn’t this just sound so lush, lurid, and utterly irresistible?! I love a good dark fantasy and I predict this will be one of 2022’s best!
An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X. R. Pan (April 2022) – Emily X. R. Pan’s novel The Astonishing Color of Afterwas one of my favorite books of 2018. When I saw she was back with another book steeped in magical realism, I knew I had to add it to this list. This book is pitched as Romeo and Juliet meets Chinese mythology. Aside from a pair of star-crossed lovers, readers will also experience a supernatural wind and an ominous crack spreading through the lovers’ town, an arrival of unearthly butterflies, a mystical moon and an arrow straight to the heart. I don’t want to give much more away — just trust me on this one!
Kings of B’more by R. Eric Thomas (May 2022) – Two Black, queer friends facing their senior year of high school and the looming pressures of adulthood, take solace in the fact that they will be able to face this new chapter together. That is, until Harrison learns that Linus will be moving away at the end of the week. To keep from completely losing it, Harrison plans a send-off inspired by the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and worthy of his life-long best friend. What ensues is an epic journey through the streets of Baltimore all while staying ahead of their parents and the family location app they are using to track them. I know many of you readers may be too young to remember Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but I am not and I would encourage you to watch it. It’s a hilariously feel-good movie and this updated queer version of it is sure to bring the same vibes.
The Honeys by Ryan La Sala (May 2022) – This list wouldn’t be complete without the addition of a horror novel and what better setting than a secluded summer academy. Twins Mars and Caroline have always been inseparable — that is until Caroline attends the prestigious Aspen Conservancy Summer Academy and ends up dead. Genderfluid Mars insists on attending in her place, set on discovering the truth behind Caroline’s horrific death. But the longer he’s there, the more the sweet mountain air gives way to the scent of decay and Mars discovers he is being hunted by someone — or something. I read The Wilder Girlsby Rory Power a few years back and absolutely loved it. The Honeys is giving me similar vibes with hints of academic conspiracy and mean girls mixed in.
We Weren’t Looking to Be Found by Stephanie Kuehn (June 2022) – Looking for a mystery to add to your 2022 TBR? We Weren’t Looking to Be Found should fit the bill. At Peach Tree Hills, a treatment facility in beautiful rural Georgia, two girls find themselves an unlikely duo when they are roomed together. Dani comes from a rich Black family in Texas and seems to have everything she could want or need. So why does she keep engaging in self-destructive behaviors? Camilla comes from a poor Colombian-American family but works hard to get what she wants in life. So why does she self-harm? When the girls find a mysterious box full of letters written by a former resident, they have to work together to figure out who the letter-writer is and what has become of her. Upon first glance this book may appear a classic mystery, but I have a feeling there is a whole lot of complexity and heart-felt emotion wrapped up into this story as well.
My Name Is Jason. Mine Too: Our Story. Our Way. by Jason Reynolds & Jason Griffin (June 2022) – I didn’t even need to read the description to add this book to the list. Jason Reynolds is one of the most prolific young adult writers and poets of our time. His works include All American Boys, The Boy in the Black Suit, Long Way Down, and Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You just to name a few. Jason Griffin is an artist and self-described “master collaborator” whose work has been shown in major cities across the country. You can check out his Instagram here. What you will find in this book is an autobiography like no other — full of poetry, art, confessionals, and the ramblings of two besties just trying to live their best lives.
Well, there you have it folks. I hope you find some upcoming books that get you super excited about your 2022 reading year. I’ll be back later on in 2022 to give you my most anticipated list for July-December. Until then, enjoy!