As we put the thrills of Halloween behind us and look forward to the cozy delights of the upcoming holiday season, November can often feel like a magical limbo, where all sorts of stories can find a home. (And given that this is the last big drop of new releases before that all-important Christmas shopping season, that’s actually pretty true!)
The young adult genre is unique in that it’s capable of encompassing so many genres at once, and that flexibility is on full display this month, with titles ranging from fairytale retellings and twisty thrillers to contemporary reality show-themed romance romps and lush fantasies.
Here are our picks for the best YA books of November.
She’s Gone by David Bell
Release Date: November 1 from Sourcebooks Fire
Why You’ll Love It: A gripping, twisty thriller about a teen who can’t remember the car he supposedly crashed or why his girlfriend disappeared, She’s Gone follows the story of Hunter Gifford’s fight to clear his name—-despite the fact that half the town (including Chloe’s mom) thinks he’s the reason she’s missing…and he’s not entirely sure they’re wrong. Lots of surprises right up to the last page.
Publisher’s Description: When 17-year-old Hunter Gifford wakes in the hospital on the night of homecoming, he’s shocked to learn he and his girlfriend, Chloe Summers, have been in a terrible car accident. Hunter has no memory of the crash, and his shock turns to horror when he is told Chloe’s blood has been found in the car?but she has disappeared.
Back at school, his fellow students taunt him, and his former best friend starts making a true-crime documentary about the case?one that points the finger directly at Hunter. And just when things can’t get any worse, Chloe’s mother stands in front of the entire town at a candlelight vigil and accuses Hunter of murder.
Under mounting pressure from the police, Hunter takes matters into his own hands by questioning anyone who might know the truth and posting videos to prove his innocence. When Hunter learns he and Chloe were seen arguing loudly outside the dance, he faces a sickening possibility. Was he angry enough to kill the person he loved?
Wait for Me by Sara Shepard
Release Date: November 1 from Union Square & Co.
Why You’ll Love It: The latest contemporary YA story from Pretty Little Liars author Sara Shephard, Wait for Me follows the story of precocious teen Casey Rhodes whose charmed existence is tarnished when she starts hearing an ominous voice and seeing violent visions. A satisfyingly twisty romantic mystery unfolds when she finds herself drawn to a boy named Jake who claims to remember her—but as a girl named Becky. Shepard has proven herself a master of building suspenseful and tense atmospheres in her stories, and this is no different, as each new piece of information feels as though it could change everything about the story you’re reading.
Publisher’s Description: Who is Casey Rhodes? Is she a no-nonsense realist or a hopeless romantic? A just-getting-by scholarship student or a sometimes-Cinderella dating the cool, cultured heir to a media empire and New York City’s most eligible? At seventeen years old and already in her sophomore year at NYU, Casey sheds disguises effortlessly. It’s how she navigates school and avoids the second-guessing that’s plagued her since she and her boyfriend Marcus got together.
But then Casey starts hearing voices that terrify her so badly she flees to the remote beach town of Avon where she can sort through her thoughts and reset. But the voices only get more intense and are now accompanied by visions of places she’s never been and people she’s never met, like Jake who’s lived in Avon his whole life. There’s no way Casey could know him, yet she feels an immediate connection. And, crazier still: he feels it too. Together they search for answers, finding only questions—about their connection, Avon, Casey’s memories . . . And whose voice is she hearing inside her head?
The Wicked Remain by Laura Pohl
Release Date: November 1 from Sourcebooks Fire
Why You’ll Love It: Laura Pohl’s The Grimrose Girls was a delightful departure from traditional fairytale retellings, mixing familiar princess archetypes in with murder mystery trope, serious dark academia vibes, and a determinedly feminist lens. The sequel The Wicked Remain sees Nani, Yuki, Ella, and Rory attempt to find a way to break the curse that has claimed so many lives at Grimrose Academie, but it’s Pohl’s deft focus on the complicated, empowering relationships between these very different girls—who are all on their own journeys to determine their destinies—that makes this duology shine.
Publisher’s Description: Nani, Yuki, Ella, and Rory have discovered the truth about the curse that’s left a trail of dead bodies at Grimrose. But the four still know nothing of its origins, or how to stop the cycle of doomed fates.
And each girl harbors her own secret. One is learning why she was brought to the school. One struggles to keep her new and deadly power under control. One knows exactly how much time she has left.
And one, trying to escape her dark destiny, will come even closer to fulfilling it.
Can the girls change their own stories and break the curse? Or must one of them die to end it forever?
Friends Like These by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez
Release Date: November 1 from Delacorte Press
Why You’ll Love It: A summer-y thriller in the depths of fall, Friends Like These follows the story of a beach party, a cruel prank that went very wrong, an FBI investigation, a dead body, and a killer on the loose. Fast-paced and engaging, if not particularly deep, this tale has the sort of propulsive fun you expect in your favorite beach reads.
Publisher’s Descriptions: Tegan Sheffield’s annual end-of-summer beach party is the only way to start their senior year. At least that’s what Jake Healy tells his girlfriend Jessica Sanchez.
But when a video prank from the party goes viral and a body is discovered at the beach, Jake and Jessica find themselves at the center of a national media storm and a police investigation.
It’s a race to uncover the truth before the killer strikes again.
Jasmine Zumideh Needs a Win by Susan Azim Boyer
Release Date: November 1 from Wednesday Books
Why You’ll Love It: The publisher calls this book a new spin on Election meets Darius the Great Is Not Okay , the 1970s-set Jasmine Zumideh Needs a Win follows the story of an Iranian-American high school senior who’s desperate to escape her suburban California town for the hustle and bustle of New York City. But as the Iran Hostage Crisis begins to unfold half a world away, she’ll suddenly have to wrestle with deeply understandable and relatable questions about her own identity and heritage, and where she fits in a world that has suddenly taken a brutal stance against something she considers a huge part of herself. A great heroine and a unique period setting make this contemporary tale stand out from the pack.
Publisher’s Description: It’s 1979, and Jasmine Zumideh is ready to get the heck out of her stale, Southern California suburb and into her dream school, NYU, where she’ll major in journalism and cover New York City’s exploding music scene.
There’s just one teeny problem: Due to a deadline snafu, she maaaaaaybe said she was Senior Class President-Elect on her application—before the election takes place. But honestly, she’s running against Gerald Thomas, a rigid rule-follower whose platform includes reinstating a dress code—there’s no way she can lose. And she better not, or she’ll never get into NYU.
But then, a real-life international incident turns the election upside down. Iran suddenly dominates the nightly news, and her opponent seizes the opportunity to stir up anti-Iranian hysteria at school and turn the electorate against her. Her brother, Ali, is no help. He’s become an outspoken advocate for Iran just as she’s trying to downplay her heritage.
Now, as the white lie she told snowballs into an avalanche, Jasmine is stuck between claiming her heritage or hiding it, standing by her outspoken brother or turning her back on him, winning the election or abandoning her dreams for good.
Cruel Illusions by Margie Fuston
Release Date: November 1 from Margaret K. McElderry Books
Why You’ll Love It: Described as a dark fantasy mix between Carval and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Cruel Illusions follows the story of a girl enters a potentially deadly competition held by a group of magicians for the chance to avenge her mother, who was killed by vampires. Featuring lush worldbuilding, disturbing blood magic, a compelling central love triangle, and a magical secret society that may not be everything they seem, this story is full of traditional tropes combined in fun and exciting new ways.
Publisher’s Description: Ever since a vampire murdered her mother, Ava has been determined to get revenge. This all-encompassing drive has given her the fuel she needed to survive foster home after foster home.
But it’s been ten years since anyone’s seen a vampire, and Ava has lost hope that she’ll ever find one…until she stumbles across a hidden magic show where she witnesses impossible illusions. The magicians may not be the bloodsuckers she’s hunting, but Ava is convinced something supernatural is at play, so she sneaks backstage and catches them in acts they can’t explain.
But they’ve been waiting for her.
The magicians reveal they’re part of an ancient secret society with true magic, and Ava has the same power in her blood that they do. If she joins them, they promise to teach her the skills she needs to hunt vampires and avenge her mother. But there’s a catch: if she wants to keep the power they offer, she needs to prove she’s worthy of it. And to do so, she must put on the performance of her life in a sinister and dangerous competition where illusion and reality blur, and the stakes are deadly.
Gleanings by Neal Schusterman
Release Date: November 8 from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Why You’ll Love It: Fans of Neal Schusterman’s Arc of a Scythe trilogy will devour this collection of tales from the world of the series, which offers origin stories for both favorite characters and hated foes, introducing new faces along the way. However, its most surprising efforts come from tales that explore issues of humanity—art, love, creation—in a world without death.
Publisher’s Description: There are still countless tales of the Scythedom to tell. Centuries passed between the Thunderhead cradling humanity and Scythe Goddard trying to turn it upside down. For years humans lived in a world without hunger, disease, or death with Scythes as the living instruments of population control.
Neal Shusterman—along with collaborators David Yoon, Jarrod Shusterman, Sofía Lapuente, Michael H. Payne, Michelle Knowlden, and Joelle Shusterman—returns to the world throughout the timeline of the Arc of a Scythe series. Discover secrets and histories of characters you’ve followed for three volumes and meet new heroes, new foes, and some figures in between.
Cursed by Marissa Meyer
Release Date: November 8 from Feiwel & Friends
Why You’ll Love It: The highly anticipated conclusion to YA powerhouse Marissa Meyer’s Gilded duology, one part Rumplestiltskin retelling and one part battle against a folklorish figure known as the Erlking and his deadly Wild Hunt, with a dash of Meyer’s signature style thrown on top. Heroine Serilda is desperate to find a way to break the curse that keeps her (and others) trapped in a ghostly in-between state inside the Erlking’s castle and help Gild solve the mystery of his forgotten identity, and the twists come fast and furious throughout.
Publisher’s Description: Adalheid Castle is in chaos.
Following a shocking turn of events, Serilda finds herself ensnared in a deadly game of make-believe with the Erlking, who is determined to propel her deeper into the castle’s lies. Meanwhile, Serilda is determined to work with Gild to help him solve the mystery of his forgotten name and past.
But soon it becomes clear that the Erlking doesn’t only want to use Serilda to bring back his one true love. He also seeks vengeance against the seven gods who have long trapped the Dark Ones behind the veil. If the Erlking succeeds, it could change the mortal realm forever.
Can Serilda find a way to use her storytelling gifts for good—once and for all? And can Serilda and Gild break the spells that tether their spirits to the castle before the Endless Moon finds them truly cursed?
Saint by Adrienne Young
Release Date: November 29 from Wednesday Books
Why You’ll Love It: A prequel to Adrienne Young’s popular Fable series, Saint aims to dig into the origin story of Fable’s father Saint, the man who initially abandoned her on the island of Jeval and refused to allow her to publicly claim their relationship for a huge chunk of her life. Your mileage will likely vary on whether you think Saint is the kind of character that deserves a sympathetic reinterpretation, though the sweeping story of his romance with Fable’s mother is as grand as anything the previous novels hinted at.
Young’s continued worldbuilding in this universe is very welcome, though, and The Narrows remains a fascinating setting in its own right, and the lives of its various pirates and smugglers offer a rich and well-thought-out background for Saint’s story.
Publisher’s Description: As a boy, Elias learned the hard way what happens when you don’t heed the old tales.
Nine years after his lack of superstition got his father killed, he’s grown into a young man of piety, with a deep reverence for the hallowed sea and her fickle favor. As stories of the fisherman’s son who has managed to escape the most deadly of storms spread from port to port, his devotion to the myths and creeds has given him the reputation of the luckiest bastard to sail the Narrows.
Now, he’s mere days away from getting everything his father ever dreamed for him: a ship of his own, a crew, and a license that names him as one of the first Narrows-born traders. But when a young dredger from the Unnamed Sea with more than one secret crosses his path, Elias’ faith will be tested like never before. The greater the pull he feels toward her, the farther he drifts from the things he’s spent the last three years working for.
He is dangerously close to repeating his mistakes and he’s seen firsthand how vicious the jealous sea can be. If he’s going to survive her retribution, he will have to decide which he wants more, the love of the girl who could change their shifting world, or the sacred beliefs that earned him the name that he’s known for?Saint.
Never Ever Getting Back Together by Sophie Gonzales
Release Date: November 29 from Wednesday Books
Why You’ll Love It: A hilariously charming mix of romance meets reality show tropes, Sophie Gonzales’ Never Ever Getting Back Together spins a fun enemies-to-friends-to-lovers rom-com where two girls join forces to get revenge on an ex but wind up falling for one another in the process. (I mean, perfect premise or most perfect premise, am I right???) This story is basically pure silly fluff, but it sure is fun.
Publisher’s Description: It’s been two years since Maya’s ex-boyfriend cheated on her, and she still can’t escape him: his sister married the crown prince of a minor European country and he captured hearts as her charming younger brother. If the world only knew the real Jordy, the manipulative liar who broke Maya’s heart.
Skye Kaplan was always cautious with her heart until Jordy said all the right things and earned her trust. Now his face is all over the media and Skye is still wondering why he stopped calling.
When Maya and Skye are invited to star on the reality dating show Second-Chance Romance, they’re whisked away to a beautiful mansion—along with four more of Jordy’s exes— to compete for his affections while the whole world watches. Skye wonders if she and Jordy can recapture the spark she knows they had, but Maya has other plans: exposing Jordy and getting revenge. As they navigate the competition, Skye and Maya discover that their real happily ever after is nothing they could have scripted.
A Thousand Heartbeats by Kiera Cass
Release Date: November 29 from HarperTeen
Why You’ll Love It: Author Kiera Cass is known for her sweet and sparkling love stories and A Thousand Heartbeats is no different. A tale of star-crossed lovers involving a sheltered princess and a loyal soldier on opposite sides of the war for a crown, many of the beats of this tale will necessarily feel familiar. Yes, it’s a story you’ve seen before, but Cass’s signature sweeping romantic style makes it stand out.
Publisher’s Description: Princess Annika has lived a life of comfort—but no amount of luxuries can change the fact that her life isn’t her own to control. The king, once her loving father, has gone cold, and Annika will soon be forced into a loveless marriage for political gain.
Miles away, small comforts are few and far between for Lennox. He has devoted his life to the Dahrainian army, hoping to one day help them reclaim the throne that was stolen from them. For Lennox, the idea of love is merely a distraction—nothing will stand in the way of fighting for his people.
But when love, against all odds, finds them both, they are bound by its call. They can’t possibly be together—but the irresistible thrum of a thousand heartbeats won’t let them stay apart.
House of Yesterday by Deeba Zargarpur
Release Date: November 29 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Why You’ll Love It: The ghosts of intergenerational and familial trauma haunt this lyrical contemporary YA debut, which follows the story of a young girl trying to unearth the secrets of her Afghan Uzbek family.
Publisher’s Description: Struggling to deal with the pain of her parents’ impending divorce, fifteen-year-old Sara is facing a world of unknowns and uncertainties. Unfortunately, the one person she could always lean on when things got hard, her beloved Bibi Jan, has become a mere echo of the grandmother she once was. And so Sara retreats into the family business, hoping a summer working on her mom’s latest home renovation project will provide a distraction from her fracturing world.
But the house holds more than plaster and stone. It holds secrets that have her clinging desperately to the memories of her old life. Secrets that only her Bibi Jan could have untangled. Secrets Sara is powerless to ignore as the dark truths of her family’s history rise in ghostly apparitions — and with it, the realization that as much as she wants to hold onto her old life, nothing will ever be the same.
Lacy Baugher Milas is the Books Editor at Paste Magazine, but loves nerding out about all sorts of pop culture. You can find her on Twitter @LacyMB.