Ever January, I go on a massive reading binge. I usually get at least a few new books for Christmas, which puts me in the mood for even more reading. Since the jolly old elf made his way down the chimney, I’ve binged my way through about 10 books. Considering I work all day and occasionally do a bit of parenting (hey, the boy is 11, he’s practically self-sustaining at this point) (I am kidding about the boy being self-sustaining…kind of), that’s a pretty good chunk of time spent cuddled on my sofa buried in a book.
Kristy wrote a fabulous post on three fun reading challenges to do this year. A lot of these books will fit one or more categories on those lists! Some of these are books that I’ve read, and some are very high up on my wish list. If you’ve already read the books on my wish list, pretty please let me know what you thought. Also, while most of the featured books are relatively new (or have newer books in the series), there is the occasional oldie but goodie. The “more like this” recommendations are a mix of old and new. Without further ado, I present:
30+ YA Fantasy Books to Add to Your 2017 Reading Wish List
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I’ve been on a massive YA fantasy kick lately, which is weird because I don’t usually read fantasy. Urban fantasy, yes, but kings and queens in alternate realms, not so much. It all started with one book in particular, the first book on our list.
A Court of Thorns and Roses (2 Books Out so Far)
Both my mom and my husband got me A Court of Thorn and Roses for Christmas. I returned one and got the second book in the series, A Court of Mist and Fury. I read both books in one weekend, and they’re pretty long. I’m anxiously awaiting the 3rd book, which comes out in May. These books got both a ton of acclaim and criticism. The acclaim came from the world building and characters. The criticism came from the fact that, while billed as a YA novel, there are a few rather steamy scenes. I don’t really have a problem with this, but I was reading Anne Rice by age 14 (as well as her even less kid-friendly books under her pseudonyms). If sex bothers you, you may want to skip these. If it doesn’t, I give them a solid 4.
More great books about what happens when the human realm collides with faerie
- Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (one of my all-time favorite YA series!)
- Glimmerglass by Jenna Black
- October Daye series (not YA, but a must-read for fans of Faerie!)
Throne of Glass Series (5 Books)
After I finished ACOTAR, I wanted more Maas, so I grabbed the first book in her other series, Throne of Glass. I have such mixed reviews on the series. I loved the first one, liked the second, really liked the third, felt “eh” about the 4th and went back and forth on the 5th. Again, Maas kind of goes from solid YA fantasy to getting a whole lot of people ticked off because she introduced hardcore sex scenes into her book. In this case, it wasn’t the sex that bothered me so much as how distracting it was to the story, and how it was kind of gratuitous. Still, take that away and this is a pretty cool series. Plus, with 5 books out and the final one on its way, you can go on a massive reading bender with Throne of Glass.
Passenger & Wayfarer
Another one that I got for Christmas, Passenger was high on my list because of the gorgeous cover. It was yet another departure from my usual genre, as I haven’t read much in the way of time travel. I haven’t read the second book, Wayfarer, yet. Maybe that says something about the book, that I didn’t rush out to buy the sequel, but honestly, I’m just being cheap right now. I spent most of my book budget on Sarah J. Maas, so I’m waiting for the price to come down a bit. Passenger is a great story for those who want a romance with a bit of science fiction and adventure thrown in (and not the other way around). While I didn’t really care for the insta-love thing and wish the author had spent more time on the amazing places she sent her travelers too, I feel like since it was the first book, it’s kind of a “set up” book. She set the scene, gave backstories and started building her world. It’s a solid 3 (that’s not a bad thing, it means I liked it, I don’t have to insanely love every book I read).
More books for fans of time travel fiction
- A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
- All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
- Timebound (The Chronos Files) by Rysa Walker
Mind Games & Perfect Lies
And now for something a little different (yet still kind of fantasy-ish), Mind Games and Perfect Lies, by Kiersten White. I’ve loved her ever since I read the Supernaturally series. Her writing is just so snappy and easy to read. While Mind Games is a bit older (it came out in 2013), I feel like it hasn’t gotten the attention that it deserves. This 2-book series will absolutely mess with your reality. From the non-linear storytelling to the alternating POV between Annie and Fia, it’s just insane. They’re both relatively short reads, with a combined total of under 500 pages, so you could probably finish them off in one binge session.
More mind-bending books about psychics & strange powers
The Book Jumper
Moving on to books that are on my wish list, I just added The Book Jumper. It came out earlier this month, and wow, look at that cover! So beautiful, right? In the story, Amy discovers she has the ability to jump into books and interact with characters. While she’s learning how to master this new ability, she finds out that someone is stealing from the books she visits. She’ll need to team up with Will, another book jumper, to get to the bottom of it. The storyline sounds a bit like a YA version of Inkheart and a less ironic/comedic version of Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series. I’m interested to see how it all plays out.
Unfortunately, there isn’t an embeddable preview for Caraval yet, but you can download a chapter sample on Amazon. the premise and the early Vine reviews sound fantastic. I’m definitely getting it as soon as it releases tomorrow (Jan 31). From Amazon:
Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.
Scarlett dreams of going to Caravel, an annual game where the audience participates in the show. She thinks she’ll never get to see it, especially since she’s being forced into an arranged marriage. Then the invitation arrives. Only, when Scarlett and her sister Tella get to the show, Tella is kidnapped. Is it all part of the show? Is the show really just a show at all? Guess we’ll find out tomorrow!
Those of us who grew up in the 80s probably remember one of the greatest fantasy movies of our generation: Labyrinth. My friend had a major thing for David Bowie and watched it pretty much because of the tight pants he wore. Me? I loved the idea of getting lost in a massive maze filled with fantastical creatures around every corner. Wintersong isn’t exactly our 80s version of Labyrinth, but it definitely has a similar story line.
Dark, romantic, and unforgettable, Wintersong is an enchanting coming-of-age story for fans of Labyrinth and Beauty and the Beast.
I am definitely looking forward to seeing the parallels between the Labyrinth that I grew up with and this retelling of sorts. I think it’s neat that so many YA writers are bringing fairy tales to life in such new and unique ways.
More books to read if you like new spins on old stories
Strange the Dreamer
This one doesn’t release until early March, so you’ll have to wait a bit, but it sounds like it will be worth it. Strange the Dreamer is not just a fantasy, it’s an epic fantasy. According to the blurb:
In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.
More books to read if you love epic fantasy
Long May She Reign
has one major thing going for it that so, so, so many YA fantasies don’t these days: it’s a stand-alone novel. I know, right? When was the last time that happened? Don’t get me wrong, I love a good series, but sometimes I want a beginning and an end all in one book. In the story, Freya (which happens to be the name of my Pharaoh Hound, FYI) never wanted to rule a kingdom. Unfortunately, things happen, people get murdered and she has to step up. Fortunately, we’ll find out if she gets to keep her kingdom by the end of the book and not have to wait a year to find out (or 6 years, like SOME series!).
More stand-alone fantasy novels to try
- The Giver by Lois Lowry
- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
- Stardust by Neil Gaiman (okay, so pretty much anything by him!)
There you go! 30+ YA fantasy novels to check out this year, and I only went as far as March with release dates. Come back closer to summer for my massive summer reading list with a ton more YA books in every genre. In the mean time, if you’ve read any of these (or have other recommendations), I’d love to hear your thoughts!