January is rough as far as new releases in young adult are concerned. In the post-holiday season readers have made resolutions not to splurge on books, and as a result few publishers are putting out fresh stories. If you search though, there are more than a few gems to be had. This is exactly what I’ve done; compiling books from all genres far and wide that I believe to be worthy of us readers’ time. Let me know if any of these are on the top of your TBR, or if there’s more you’d recommend to be on the list.
Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
Perhaps the most publicized book on this list, Passengers is the first in a duology by the much acclaimed Darkest Minds writer Alexandra Bracken. Though I’m too late for the party with Bracken’s first trilogy, I’m more than a little excited to start this 2016 time travel trendsetter. For those of you living under a rock; the story follows violin prodigy Etta, a girl living in modern day New York City, as she voyages on a mysterious ship sailing centuries into the past- and reuniting her with a family legacy. Joining her is Nicholas, a ship hand living in Colonial America. As one would imagine, sparks fly between the two as they struggle to piece together Etta’s gift and how it connects with the villainous Ironwood clan’s agenda. First of all not only does this sound AMAZING (I don’t expect descriptions like “unfamiliar place”, “dangerous strangers”, and “perilous journey” to be tossed around lightly), but secondly it has the critical acclaim to back it up. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a rating any lower than four stars on Goodreads. Expect to see this one in my February Wrap-Up next month.
This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
Marieke Nijkamp is addressing a taboo issue, school shootings, head on in her debut novel. Taking place over the course of one hour, the story is told from the perspectives of staff, students, and the perpetrator himself as the tragedy unfolds. It’s an idea with a lot of potential, and if Nijkamp can manage to avoid tropes when characterizing her lengthy cast there’s a lot to be said for her unique writing. With great expectations comes great responsibility though, and with that there’s increased pressure to make sure the story is handled with tact and grace. That’s a lot of pressure for a debut author, but Nijkamp has already tackled half the battle in getting her story out there in the first place. All though advanced reviews have been mixed- with some citing the story as a travesty piggybacking on media attention- I’m willing to see for myself if This Is Where It Ends is worth the read.
The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry
The second time travel book to release in January, this one follows a bit of a different tempo than Passenger before it. For one thing it’s above all else a love story- one that just happens to be set in a science fiction setting. Normally I would lament about this to no end (I’m at my wits end of love triangles conveniently set in the buzzword dystopian setting), but I feel like since the plot is upfront with its true story there might be a way to successfully merge the two in matrimony. Even if that wasn’t the case, how could I say no to a book pitched as Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife? Hint: I can’t. Really the only thing that gives me doubts about how I’ll feel is the whole “mysterious entity” bid in the vain of Beware the Wild. I could really like it’s addition to the plot, or hate it but either way I’m bound to have strong emotions regarding it. More than any summary, author recommendation, or review though, the cover sells it to me hook, line, and sinker. Fingers crossed that beautiful art translates to a lovely story.
Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace
I have a strong feeling I’ll either really like this one or positively despise it, but in any case I will at least put it on here for all the Holly Black fans out there. For those of you out there not familiar with the story it follows Breezy, a dead girl who wakes up in a “shallow grave” one year after her passing suddenly conscious and with mysterious powers that allow her to sense those around her and their connection to her untimely death. That’s about all I know but with hardcore intense adjectives like tense, complex, and wholly engaging I’d imagine there’s a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer butt kicking and Veronica Mars sleuthing to be had. Though by nature it will clearly have an “all is not as it may seem” feel to it, I’m fairly confident that with the addition of a linear and concrete mystery to be solved the plot will keep from becoming plodding and monotonous; which was my main complaint with books like Imaginary Girls and The Accident Season. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned that the magical monsters eluded to in the synopsis were really a metaphor for some deep, existential, meaning of life (normally I’d be down for that, but lately I just don’t have the tolerance for real life issues masquerading as fantasy) but I also think there’s a good chance Kami Wallace means to make them just that.
Front Lines by Michael Grant
I’m shocked Front Lines hasn’t received more advanced praise or hype from the public as best selling author Michael Grant’s first series after the conclusion of Gone in 2013. Though the premise is right up my alley (but more on that later), I think it might be alienating to new fans and a bit out of left field for return readers. I get that, but whenever I think a book might just be a little too “weird” for me I remember my favorite book of 2015- Wolf By Wolf– was about an alternate history shapeshifter attempting to assassinate Hitler in a motorcycle race. Not exactly mainstream reading there. Speaking of that the idea behind Front Lines is eerily similar to that book- but in a good way. It follows three American girls at the start of World War II, when a draft makes women eligible to enlist and fight on the ‘front lines’. The book follows their three unique perspectives as they journey into Nazi Germany to save mankind. Expect some serious girl power to hit the fan.
Underwater by Marisa Reichardt
I wasn’t sure if I was going to include this one on the list. Sure, I added it to my TBR list on Goodreads…but was it really one of my most anticipated for the month? Because when you’ve got five hundred fifty-seven books to choose from, you know it’s time to get picky. And admittedly there really isn’t anything all that special about Underwater’s premise. It follows a girl, Morgan, who after a horrific tragedy finds herself in a debilitating state unable to leave her home. That is until new boy Evan moves in next door. I know, I know sounds like a million and one stories before it, right? The Fault In Our Stars, Everything, Everything, and All the Bright Places are just a few recent examples of a guy saving a girl’s life. This one though holds a 4.31 rating on Goodreads (practically unheard of) and in just about every review I’ve read the reader has cited how much they appreciated Reichardt writing a book where the protagonist is the hero of her own story. All in all that sounds like a pretty good read to me.
So will any of these be added to your “must buy” pile next month? Or is there a totally different January new release you’d recommend I try? Let me know in the comments!