10 of the Best New Young Adult Books in December 2015

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It’s almost sad to see 2015 wind to a close, because it’s been an amazing year for fans of Young Adult novels. Although the year is ending, it’s clear that many publishers have saved some of their best titles for last. From romantic tales to bold explorations of new settings, epic sci-fi thrillers to heart-wrenching dramas, the end of the year still leaves plenty to anticipate.


1. Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom?


Release Date: December 1st from Poppy
Why You’ll Love It: First, let’s talk about this cover. If you run your fingers over the title, you’ll discover that it’s written in braille on the front. It’s beautiful, and so is what’s inside: a story about a blind teen girl who leads her life according to a set of rules. It’s packed full of memorable characters and strong friendships (something I LOVE seeing in YA), with a really great contemporary love story set right in the middle. ?
Description: Parker Grant doesn’t need 20/20 vision to see right through you. That’s why she created the Rules: Don’t treat her any differently just because she’s blind, and never take advantage. There will be no second chances. Just ask Scott Kilpatrick, the boy who broke her heart.

When Scott suddenly reappears in her life after being gone for years, Parker knows there’s only one way to react—shun him so hard it hurts. She has enough on her mind already, like trying out for the track team (that’s right, her eyes don’t work but her legs still do), doling out tough-love advice to her painfully naive classmates and giving herself gold stars for every day she hasn’t cried since her dad’s death three months ago. But avoiding her past quickly proves impossible, and the more Parker learns about what really happened—both with Scott, and her dad—the more she starts to question if things are always as they seem. Maybe, just maybe, some Rules are meant to be broken.


2. Tarnished by Kate Jarvik Birch?


Release Date: December 1st from Entangled Teen?
Why You’ll Love It: Tarnished is the follow up to Kate Jarvik Birch’s Perfected, which hit bookstores last year. The story is a heavy one, set in a future where the government allows genetically engineered humans to be bought and sold as pets amongst the rich and powerful. Ella is one of those pets, and finds herself in a position where she can help others—or continue living the safe, peaceful life of a playmate. The sequel picks up where the first left off, continuing Ella’s adventure, as pets start turning up dead around the country.
Description: Ella was genetically engineered to be the perfect pet—graceful, demure…and kept. In a daring move, she escaped her captivity and took refuge in Canada. But while she can think and act as she pleases, the life of a liberated pet is just as confining as the Congressman’s gilded cage. Her escape triggered a backlash, and now no one’s safe, least of all the other pets. But she’s trapped, unable to get back to Penn—the boy she loves—or help the girls who need her. 

Back in the United States, pets are turning up dead. With help from a very unexpected source, Ella slips deep into the dangerous black market, posing as a tarnished pet available to buy or sell. If she’s lucky, she’ll be able to rescue Penn and expose the truth about the breeding program. If she fails, Ella will pay not only with her life, but the lives of everyone she’s tried to save.


3. Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner?


Release Date: December 1st from Disney-Hyperion?
Why You’ll Love It: Their Fractured Light is the final book in what’s turned out to be an awesome trilogy. If you somehow slept on this great series, it kicks off with a luxury spaceliner (you know, like a space yacht) crashing into a planet after being ripped from hyperspace. The only survivors? A poor war hero and the daughter of the richest man in the universe. You may want to skip the description below if you missed the first two books. Otherwise, read on, and say farewell to an awesome sci-fi YA epic.?
Description: A year ago, Flynn Cormac and Jubilee Chase made the now infamous Avon Broadcast, calling on the galaxy to witness for their planet and protect them from destruction. Some say Flynn’s a madman, others whisper about conspiracies. Nobody knows the truth. A year before that, Tarver Merendsen and Lilac LaRoux were rescued from a terrible shipwreck—now, they live a public life in front of the cameras, and a secret life away from the world’s gaze. Now, in the center of the universe on the planet of Corinth, all four are about to collide with two new players, who will bring the fight against LaRoux Industries to a head.

Gideon Marchant is an 18-year-old computer hacker—a whiz kid and an urban warrior. He’ll climb, abseil and worm his way past the best security measures to pull off onsite hacks that others don’t dare touch. Sofia Quinn has a killer smile, and by the time you’re done noticing it, she’s got you offering up your wallet, your car and anything else she desires. She holds LaRoux Industries responsible for the mysterious death of her father and is out for revenge at any cost. When a LaRoux Industries security breach interrupts Gideon and Sofia’s separate attempts to infiltrate their headquarters, they’re forced to work together to escape. Each of them has their own reason for wanting to take down LaRoux Industries, and neither trusts the other. But working together might be the best chance they have to expose the secrets LRI is so desperate to hide.


4. All We Left Behind by Ingrid Sundberg?


Release Date: December 8th from Soho Teen?
Why You’ll Love It: A heavy read about two teens falling in love while wrestling with their past, this book hits a lot of hard topics. Loss, abuse, damaged families. It’s definitely the kind of book you read on a snowy day under a blanket with some tissues and a hot cup of tea. If you’ve read books by Courtney Summers, this might be one for you. ?
Description: When Marion Taylor, the shy bookworm, meets sexy soccer captain Kurt Medford at a party, what seems like a sure thing quickly turns into a total mess. One moment they’re alone in the middle of a lake, igniting sparks of electricity. The next, they’re on dry land, pretending they’ve never met. But rather than the end, that night is the beginning of something real, terrifying and completely unforgettable for them both. As Marion and Kurt struggle to build a relationship from the fractured pieces of their pasts, every kiss they share uncovers memories both would rather keep buried. Marion desperately wants to trust Kurt and share the one secret she’s never told anyone—but some truths aren’t meant to be spoken out loud.


5. The Trouble With Destiny by Lauren Morrill?


Release Date: December 8th from Delacorte?
Why You’ll Love It: Here’s the thing, Paste readers. I adore Lauren Morrill. In fact, I gave copies of her book, Meant To Be, away at my wedding. She’s one of the best contemporary YA authors out there, and I’ve been waiting for The Trouble With Destiny all year. And at last, it is here. Destiny is a wonderful contemporary romance set on a cruise ship that breaks down. You’ll laugh and sigh your way through this book, I promise. And if you haven’t read Morrill yet, get on that. In addition to Meant to Be, Being Sloane Jacobs is another brilliant book. ?
Description: With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm—the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize. Liza can’t imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She’s therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she’s especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens be Liza’s ex-best friend and leader of the Athenas, a show choir that’s the band’s greatest competition. But it’s not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza’s best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she’s about to find herself lost at sea.


6. Instructions for the End of the World by Jamie Kain


Release Date: December 8th from St. Martin’s Griffin?
Why You’ll Love It: Another hard hitting YA novel about friendship and family, it’s the setting of Instructions for the End of the World that make this book particularly gripping. Pulled into a community that’s off the grid by a survivalist father, a teen girl has to wrestle with either maintaining the family’s home as it breaks down without her parents or move on to an un-prepped real life. I love seeing YA novels that explore new places and untouched themes, and survivalists prepping for the end of the world… that is an interesting place to explore. ?
Description: When Nicole Reed’s father forces her family to move to a remote area of the Sierra Foothills, one without any modern conveniences, it’s too much too handle for her mother, who abandons them in the middle of the night. Heading out to track her down, Nicole’s father leaves her in charge of taking care of the house and her younger sister, Izzy. For a while, Nicole is doing just fine running things on her own. But then the food begins to run out, the pipes crack and forest fires start slowly inching their way closer every day.

Wolf, a handsome boy from the neighboring community, offers to help her when she needs it most, but when she starts to develop feelings for him, feelings she knows she will never be allowed to act on once her father returns, she must make a decision. With her family falling apart, will she choose to continue preparing for tomorrow’s disasters, or will she take a chance and really start living for today?


7. Wandering Star by Romina Russell?


Release Date: December 8th from Razorbill?
Why You’ll Love It: The second book in Romina Russell’s epic sci-fi fantasy series Zodiac hits shelves this month, and you should be excited. The series is a clever blend of genres, with a young girl who finds herself leading the house of her zodiac after a freak accident…supposedly. See, disaster is striking zodiac houses all over, in a universe where zodiac signs separate everyone. It’s really fun and beautifully written, and there’s a third book on the way.
Description: Orphaned, disgraced and stripped of her title, Rho is ready to live life quietly as an aid worker in the Cancrian refugee camp on House Capricorn. But news has spread that the Marad—an unbalanced terrorist group determined to overturn harmony in the Galaxy—could strike any House at any moment. Then, unwelcome nightmare that he is, Ochus appears to Rho, bearing a cryptic message that leaves her with no choice but to fight. Now Rho must embark on a high-stakes journey through an all-new set of Houses, where she discovers that there’s much more to her Galaxy—and to herself—than she could have ever imagined.


8. Thicker Than Water by Brigid Kemmerer


Release Date: December 29th from Kensington
Why You’ll Love It: Kensington has been slaying it lately with some truly exciting YA titles. In this thriller/mystery, a teen is accused of murdering his mother by the local police force… which his stepdad happens to be on. And in the middle of the mayhem? A romance, budding between the accused and the daughter of the accuser. Lots of high stakes in this one. ?
Description: Thomas Bellweather hasn’t been in town long. Just long enough for his newlywed mother to be murdered, and for his new stepdad’s cop colleagues to decide Thomas is the primary suspect. Not that there’s any evidence. But before Thomas got to Garretts Mill, there had just been one other murder in 20 years. The only person who believes him is Charlotte Rooker, little sister to three cops and, with her soft hands and sweet curves, straight-up dangerous to Thomas. Her best friend was the other murder vic. And she’d like a couple answers. Answers that could get them both killed, and reveal a truth Thomas would die to keep hidden…


9. Hear by Robin Epstein


Release Date: December 29th from Soho Teen
Why You’ll Love It: A little bit sci-fi, a little bit thriller, a little bit supernatural…well, it’s a mashup of genres, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s coming from Soho Teen, the publisher that puts out unique title after unique title. In Hear, we’re introduced to a teen that’s working in a program called HEAR, where they research… ESP? Telepathy? Psychic powers? It all seems so ridiculous, until the young protagonist starts to find her own powers. A satisfying read for fans of all genres, no doubt about that.?
Description: Expelled from high school months shy of graduation—her acceptance to Columbia revoked due to vigilante justice gone awry—Kassandra Black is sent to work in her great-uncle Brian’s lab at Henley University. She’s helping with his HEAR (Henley Engineering Anomalies Research) program, and hopefully getting him to put in a good word for her to attend Henley instead. She’s got to go somewhere, after all. But as she gets to know the other HEAR students, it becomes clear that she overlooked the “Anomalies” part of their acronym—these kids are here to help Brian run experiments that gauge ESP capacity. They’ve each been selected and recruited, including, to her astonishment, Kass herself. But ESP? She doesn’t buy any of it. And even if it were real, she definitely isn’t psychic.

Yet with each new test, she finds herself more frightened. Kass really can communicate telepathically; she can even glimpse the future. When one of her fellow HEAR students is murdered, Kass must try to forget everything she knows about herself and her family and learn to trust those who share her remarkable gift.


10. What’s Broken Between Us by Alexis Bass


Release Date: December 29th from HarperTeen
Why You’ll Love It: If you’ve enjoyed novels by Gayle Forman, then What’s Broken Between Us is for you. Bass’ debut novel, Love & Other Theories, was a wonderful contemporary read full of heartbreak and high school drama. Her latest takes on heavier themes of drinking and death. It’s heartbreaking, staggering and makes for one awesome read. You won’t be able to put it down.?
Description: A year and a half ago, Amanda Tart’s brother got behind the wheel drunk and killed his best friend. Today, he’s coming home from prison. Amanda’s been the one living with the fallout, made worse by her brother’s recent unapologetic TV interview. People think he’s a monster. Still, she loves him. It’s her dark secret, until she starts getting close to Henry again—whose sister is paralyzed from the accident. A year and a half ago, her brother destroyed his life. Now Amanda has to decide if she’ll let his choice destroy hers.