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Holiday Reads: Best YA Books 2017


I’ve already covered the best fiction books – now it’s time to move into some of the most anticipated YA fiction of 2017. Whether you’re into epic sci-fi series or heartfelt looks at teenagehood, all of these are worth your time – whether you’re shopping for an actual young adult or simply indulging in this perennially popular genre.

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green
If there’s one book on this list you’ve likely already heard of this year, it’s this one, from the bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars. Why the hype? Well apart from his last book’s crazy popularity, it’s been five loooong years since the previously prolific author has released a new title – and for good reason. In interviews, Green has been candid about his lifelong struggle with mental health issues, which caused a ‘medium-bad’ episode in 2015. Writing became torturous, until it didn’t, and started resembling something like therapy. In his most personal novel to date, the story centers on the life of Aza Holmes, a teen struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder that very much takes her out of the moment and into her head, which fears she may be contracting life-ending diseases pretty much always. Aza is offered a distraction, however, in the form of a $100,000 reward for information about the disappearance of Russell Pickett; local billionaire that’s wanted for various crimes and happens to be the father of a childhood friend named Davis. As Aza and her friend Daisy put on their sleuthing hats, Aza must navigate a whole range of things through the lens of her illness, including but not limited to: Star Wars fan fiction, an ancient lizard, Applebee’s, an underground art show, and yes, teenage love as she reconnects with Davis.

Warcross

Warcross by Marie Lu
Author of not one, but two bestselling series, Marie Lu is about to pull a literary hat trick with her latest series, which centers on a near-future society where virtual reality is everything – the world is obsessed with a virtual battle game called Warcross that’s one part Hunger Games, one part Quidditch. Our hero is Emika Chen, a bounty hunter for hire and hacker that’s struggling to make ends meet – until a desperate hack puts her in the spotlight right at the opening of a global Warcross tournament. Soon Emika is whisked off to Japan, where Warcross’ enigmatic young founder, Hideo Tanaka, gives her the most dangerous bounty hunting mission of her life. Hidden in plain sight as part of the tournament, Emika must unravel the mystery of who is threatening Warcross, what Hideo’s keeping a secret from her, and the pressure of her newfound fame. It’s a super engaging book that ticks all the boxes for entertaining YA, all packaged in a sleek, fun package – the inevitable movie adaptation should be amazing!

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
Fairy tale retellings are a popular genre in general, and Melissa Barshardoust’s feminist take on Snow White is enchanting indeed – with a little extra magic sprinkled in. Snow White is portrayed by Princess Lynet, an orphan who is the apple of her father’s eye, until she discovers a disturbing secret about herself and her relationship to snow. Her evil stepmother takes the form of Queen Mina, a woman we find out through flashbacks is actually truly heartless; her heart replaced with one made of glass at a young age, giving her the ability to manipulate glass in many forms to do her bidding. The lines between good and evil aren’t quite so crystal clear however, as we learn about Mina’s troubled childhood and the imposing role her father played in the path that leads her to become a queen (and her desire to be loved, above all, when she believes it’s impossible), as well as the complex bond between Mina and Lynet – one where stepmother and child want to help the other, but realize they’re ultimately in opposition. Like with any story retelling, this one is primarily fun as you pick out the threads of various tellings of this story you’ve likely already encountered (from Disney to movies) and see how Bashardoust puts her own fresh spin on things again.

Dear Martin by Nic Stone
One of the most important things YA fiction can do is illuminate issues and causes for a younger audience, shaping them to become more mindful adults. Between Angie Thomas’ amazing The Hate U Give (which I also highly recommend – and who lends her name to the cover line) and Nic Stone’s Dear Martin, we’ve got some pretty compelling reads for young people when it comes to the increasingly critical topic of race relations, particularly in the U.S. The book focuses in on Justyce, an aptly named protagonist who questions the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King in a journal he drafts to him (alternately told through a third-person POV for the crux of the story), especially after he’s caught in the crosshairs – pretty much literally – of a white cop who unlawfully arrests him. The book, though slim, brings to life a portrayal of life as a young black man in America so vividly and stunningly, it’s incredible – and a must-read for young adults and adults alike. Heartbreaking yet powerful, this book takes a wholly political topic and winnows it down to the real-life impacts on a single person’s life – while somehow simultaneously providing a lot of context and commentary on America’s race issues at large. While The Hate U Give is getting a lot of attention as of late, don’t bypass this one – they’re equally great and important reads!

Renegades by Marissa Meyer
Anti-heroes are starting to become a more and more prominent theme in YA literature – sorry Katniss, but we want to see what The Hunger Games was like from the perspective of Kato. Of course, the authors of these books are smart enough to ensure their characters have some redeeming qualities and a mission you can believe in. Such is the case with Renegades, a book told through the eyes of Nova, part of a villainous group that was overthrown by a group known as Renegades (X-men-adjacent people with extraordinary capabilities). Nova’s vengeful mission to destroy the Renegades however, is complicated when she crosses path with Adrian, a member of the ‘good guys’ contingent that not only illuminates what his side stands for, but truly believes in the greater good within Nova. In other words – imagine if Robin got the Joker all tangled up in wondering whether he really should go after Batman. That’s the gist of this action-packed story that flips the classic superhero showdown of good vs. evil on its head, from one of YA’s most prolific (and beloved) writers.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
The plotline of this book takes place over – wait for it – 60 seconds. If that sounds crazy, it’s not – Jason Reynolds, currently considered a rock star in the YA genre, crushes the concept in this very unique story. Will’s brother is killed in front of him; the next day, Will goes out to seek revenge. But as he gets into the elevator with the haziest of vengeful plans, something odd happens – the elevator stops at every floor and someone gets on. The catch? The people who get on the elevator are all people Will knows – and well, they’re dead. The addition of these elevator passengers throws Will (and the reader, at least at first) for a loop as new questions are asked – you’ll practically be holding your breath as you tear through this one. Apart from the magical realism concept, there’s also the fact the book is written in verse; each page is a mini-chapter / poem which makes it even more imminently readable. This one is serving up all the buzz – and is being mentioned in the same breath as The Hate U Give and Dear Martin – read it before your friends spill the ending for you!

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart
Speaking of books with unusual formats, YA psychological suspense writer E. Lockhart is back with her first book since the masterful We Were Liars – and it’s a whole different twist on twisted. The book starts at the end, which isn’t uncommon (I talked about it in my previous Holiday Reads roundup on fiction!) but…it literally chronologically works backwards. Each chapter skips back a week from the events you’ve just read, meaning the puzzle and mystery of the book is unwound in reverse; you might pick up on a little detail in one chapter and then several later, get why it was mentioned at all. Apart from the neat way this works, the book itself is plenty engaging and intriguing; When we meet Jule, she’s going by Imogen, a girl that’s clearly on the run. But from what? Who? Meanwhile, we come to realize that there actually is a real person named Imogen, with some eerie similarities to Jule – and while it seems that their paths have crossed by sheer fate, as the book unravels, you begin to realize that’s not exactly the case; that one of the girls had quite a heavy hand in connecting the two of them. Again, the questions will keep you going – why? Who? When? While I didn’t find this one quite as spellbinding as We Were Liars I have to say it’s still worth your time, particularly if you like thrillers and psychological books.

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
This book has been quietly building up legions of fans online since its release – and that wasn’t even that long ago! Much like Renegades, Julie C. Dao’s debut novel is about an anti-hero. Our anti-heroine is Xifeng, who believes her destiny – based on a prophecy – is to have ultimate power. In other words, to become an Empress. Living a miserable life in a small town, Xifeng finally decides to escape and pursue this path, at any cost. With hints of Macbeth (power and prophecy corrupt!) this is a fascinating look at a story where the main character isn’t necessarily likable – but is certainly enchanting in her own way as you watch what lengths she’ll go to in pursuit of supposed happiness. Not only is Xifeng herself a fascinating character to follow, the book’s setting really stands out in the typical YA dystopian / fantasy / gritty urban settings, as it’s set in a Far East-inspired land (and yes, there are still some fantastical elements because why not?)

Jane Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
I’ve never read a Kristin Cashore novel before but I was plenty intrigued to do so after diving into this mysterious, engaging book. It reminded very, very loosely of Caraval in terms of the setting of a magical place where anything can happen, only with a lot more abstract rules. Our hero is Jane, who has lived an ordinary life that is become downright bland. That is, until she’s invited to an enchanted, mysterious mansion known as Tu Reviens, where the impossible is possible, and every choice you make matters. Much like a few others on this list, Cashore is also an author defying genre expectations, as this novel doesn’t exactly follow a linear path. In fact in some ways I’d describe it as a modern take on a choose your own adventure book, as the story spirals out from a relatively linear point into all these different variants and unexpected twists and turns based on a particular decision Jane makes. If you like the idea of a book with multiple endings and how they can mirror (or wildly differ) from each other, then you’ll like this slightly odd duck of a tale – it’s definitely a change of pace not only from YA, but from anything I’ve read as of late!

Zero Repeat Forever by G.S. Prendergast
This book reminded me a little bit of the bestselling series The Fifth Wave. What elements are similar you ask? Well, it involves an alien invasion of a species called Nahx as they take over Earth. It also involves an unlikely alliance between two members of either side of the battle – Eighth, a soldier who fails his mission, and Raven, a summer camp teen that loses her boyfriend (and the link to her previous life). A series of events thrusts the twosome together as they navigate this new world order, as something I could barely call frenemies, although, given this is YA, you can expect some sparks beginning to fly between them as the story progresses. What’s extra cool about this one is the Canadian factor! The book is actually written by a Canadian and set in Canada – two very rare things not only for YA fiction, but for the sci-fi genre in general. If you want to treat someone to a gripping read while supporting a local author, this is your best bet for sure.

Landscape With Invisible Hand by M.T. Anderson
And to round things out with one other sci-fi related title, we’ve got this slim volume from M.T. Anderson, that I would only loosely call sci-fi, and only loosely call YA. The story posits a peaceful alien invasion that ultimately upends society, causing humans to have to be mighty crafty to have money for even the most basic of essentials. Our main characters Adam (an artist) and his girlfriend Chloe come up with the idea of recording themselves on retro-inspired dates (these aliens dig all things retro) on a pay-per-view basis…and while their little plot works, it puts a serious strain on their relationship. It makes you think about weird things as well, such as the commodization of love and intimacy, which is essentially what these two offer up in exchange for money (much like some celeb couples…) The book is a quick, short read, only about novella length really, making it a great choice for a quick plane trip or a lazy afternoon where you just want to get wrapped up in another world – and think.

I featured 10 fabulous YA fiction titles in this post…and someone, somewhere, is going to dive into ALL of them – cause I’m giving them all away! Want to get reading? Here’s how to enter for your chance at winning $270+ worth of top YA fiction titles for 2017!

1) READ THIS: You must be a subscriber to the Canadian Gift Guide to enter this giveaway. It’s as simple as finding ‘The Gift of Gab’ box in the righthand column and dropping in your email or clicking follow. Then leave me a comment below by December 17, 2017 telling me your top three (or more) reads from this list!

2) Entries are limited to one per person / per email address / per household (or more if you score bonus entries). A random draw will be conducted on or around December 18, 2017 to select the winners, who will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen in their place.

3) Entries are limited to Canadians that have reached the age of majority in their province. Quebec is not eligible for this promotion.

4) Bonus Entries: If you’re interested in staying in the loop on the publishers that worked with me on this post, all you have to do is sign up for their social media, and while you’re at it, earn bonus entries into this fun giveaway! Just be sure to leave separate comments with links back to earn your bonus entries.

Penguin Random House of Canada – Follow Penguin Random House on Instagram and like one of their posts. Then leave a separate comment below that tells me you’ve done so and includes your IG username. 

Simon & Schuster – Follow Simon & Schuster on Instagram and like one of their posts. Then leave a separate comment below that tells me you’ve done so and includes your IG username.

Raincoast – Follow Raincoast Books on Instagram and comment on one of their posts, tagging a friend you think would be interested in whatever title they’re featuring in that post. Link back to the post you commented on (with your Instagram username!) in a separate comment below.

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Comments
101 Responses to “Holiday Reads: Best YA Books 2017”
  1. Steven Y says:

    My top three from your list would be Zero Repeat Forever by G.S. Prendergast, Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, and Warcross by Marie Lu.

  2. Joan G. says:

    My favourites would be Jane Unlimited, Genuine Fraud and Long Way Down.

  3. Margaret Palmer says:

    I am interested in reading Dear Martin (The Hate U Give is sitting in the pile by my bed waiting for attention as we speak), Long Way Down and Warcross.

  4. Marlene V says:

    Girls Made of Snow and Glass, Jane Unlimited, and Turtles All The Way Down

  5. JDM says:

    The book, Landscape… looks like a good read.
    http://amzn.to/2k9awIU

  6. Good morning! My favourites are Turtles All The Way Down, Dear Martin, and Long Way Down. (fingers crossed! I love YA!)

  7. I follow Penguin Random House Canada on IG and liked one of their posts (I’m @trysmallthings)

  8. I follow Simon & Schuster on IG and liked one of their posts (I’m @trysmallthings)

  9. DebP says:

    Three top reads. OK. The ones that interest me the most are Girls Are Made of Snow and Glass, Renegades and Zero Repeat Forever.

  10. I follow Raincoast Books on Instagram and commented and tagged a friend here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BcFmlJ9gXi5/?taken-by=raincoastbooks

  11. mcmc says:

    mine would be Girls Are Made of Snow and Glass, Renegades and Zero Repeat Forever.

  12. Lisa Solomon says:

    My top 3 picks are: Genuine Fraud, Girls Made of Snow and Glass, Dear Martin.

  13. Girls Made of Snow and Glass, Long Way Down, Genuine Fraud

  14. I follow Penguin Random House Canada on IG and liked one of their posts (lara.maynard on IG)

  15. I follow Simon & Schuster on Instagram and liked one of their posts (lara.maynard on IG)

  16. Aimee says:

    These all look good. My top three from your list would be Zero Repeat Forever by G.S. Prendergast, Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, and Warcross by Marie Lu. I am a subscriber

  17. I (lara.maynard on IG) follow Raincoast Books on IG and liked and tagged someone on this post https://www.instagram.com/p/BcIQw7TA5vz/?taken-by=raincoastbooks

  18. I subscribe by email. dorcontest @ gmail dot com
    I am getting into my winter reading. Finished one and almost the second.
    My top three on your list are Girls Made of Snow and Glass ,Long Way Down and Zero Repeat Forever

  19. Alyssa says:

    My faves are genuine fraud, turtles all the way down, and girls made of snow and glass

  20. Alyssa says:

    I followed penguin random house of ca and liked their post @borntobewildroar

  21. Alyssa says:

    I followed Simon and schuster and liked a post! @borntobewildroar

  22. Laura Bliss says:

    Zero Repeat Forever; Turtles all the Way Down; Genuine Fraud.

  23. Mary Danieli says:

    My top 3 are: Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust; Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds and Dear Martin by Nic Stone. Thanks.

  24. cookie3 says:

    Turtles all the Way Down
    Girls Made of Snow and Glass
    Long Way Down

  25. Alyssa says:

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BbXd4O-AnMI/ Followed, liked and commented on rain coast instagram @borntobewildroar

  26. Lindsey says:

    Turtles all the way down
    Jane Unlimited
    Landscape with Invisible Hand

  27. I work in a school library so I have access to a lot of YA novels. But I’m really excited for:

    Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
    Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart
    Zero Repeat Forever by G.S. Prendergast

    Mostly cause I haven’t heard a lot about them and they weren’t on my radar for the school.

  28. Bonus entry Simon & Schuster:

    Following. Insta name: dkbains

  29. Bonus entry Penguin Random House Canada:

    Liked a post @dkbains

  30. Amie Gaudet says:

    Wow! Great job picking the books on this list. Almost every single one of them is on my TBR (To Be Read) list.

    I am a subscriber.

    The top three choices from the above books are:
    1. Renegades
    by Marissa Meyer

    2. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns
    by Julie C. Dao

    3. Turtles All The Way Down
    by John Green

    Thanks for the chance to win.

  31. Amie Gaudet says:

    I am following PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE on Instagram.

    My Instagram username is @Amiesbookreviews

    Here is a link to the Instagram post I liked and commented on:

    For those curious about the past, we have the perfect present 🎁 Link in bio! #PenguinGiftGuide

    A post shared by Penguin Random House Canada (@penguinrandomca) on

  32. Amie Gaudet says:

    I am following SIMON AND SCHUSTER on Instagram. My Instagram username is @Amiesbookreviews

    Here is a link to the post I “liked” and commented on:

  33. Kelly H says:

    MY top 3 picks are Turtles All the Way Down, Girls Made of Glass and Snow, and Landscape with Invisible Hand!

  34. Lori W... says:

    Warcross by Marie Lu, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao, Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

  35. Kavita says:

    I’m most excited to read Turtles All The Way Down, Girls Made of Snow and Glass, Dear Martin, Genuine Fraud, and Zero Repeat Forever!

  36. Kavita says:

    I followed Penguin Random House Canada on Instagram and liked this post: https://www.instagram.com/p/BcS69KclHQz/?taken-by=penguinrandomca

    My Instagram name is @kavitagurm

  37. Kavita says:

    I followed Simon & Schuster Canada and liked this post: https://www.instagram.com/p/BcYEFvkH2ND/?taken-by=simonschusterca

    My instagram is @kavitagurm

  38. Kavita says:

    I followed Raincoast Books on Instagram and liked and commented on this post: https://www.instagram.com/p/BI3blVcB-Is/?taken-by=raincoastbooks

    My instagram is @kavitagurm

  39. mousecat says:

    My top 3 reads from this list are, WarCross, Dear Martin and Long Way Down

  40. Lisa Morrison says:

    My 3 favourites are Turtles All the Way Down, Girls Made of Snow and Glass, and Zero, Repeat Forever.

  41. Susan says:

    My top three from this list are: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green, Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart, and Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds.

  42. Katy says:

    Hmmmmm probably: Girls Made of Snow and Glass, Jane Unlimited, and Turtles All The Way Down

  43. Julie P says:

    Turtles All the Way Down, Warcross, Genuine Fraud. Thanks

  44. Nicole B says:

    My top three are Zero Repeat, Renegades and Long way down!

  45. Heather Swanson says:

    Genuine Fraud,Landscape with Invisible Hand, & Zero Repeat Forever.

  46. Noodlemom says:

    I would like to read Zero Repeat Forever; Turtles all the Way Down; Genuine Fraud.

  47. Noodlemom says:

    I followed Penguin Random House of Canada on Instagram and liked a post

  48. Noodlemom says:

    –I followed Simon & Schuster on Instagram and liked a post – noodlemom1

  49. Calvin F. says:

    Already a a newsletter sub.
    I like girls made of snow and glass, renegades, and zero repeat

  50. DeeDee says:

    I like Genuine Fraud, Long Way Down and Renegades.

  51. kim says:

    My top three are Long Way Down, Turtles all the way Down and Renegades.

  52. Michelle T says:

    I like Turtles all the Way Down, Genuine Fraud and Landscape with Invisible Hand.

  53. George Meek says:

    My wife reads 24/7 so I,m sure she would be happy to win this prize.

  54. mamakatrina says:

    I think I’d have to say, with my daughter in mind, Turtles All the Way Down, Girls Made of Glass and Snow, and Landscape with Invisible Hand!

  55. mamakatrina says:

    following Penguin Random House Canada, liked a post under @katrina_badina

  56. mamakatrina says:

    following Simon & Schuster on isntagram, liked a post under @katrina_badina

  57. mamakatrina says:

    following Raincoast Books on Instagram commented and tagged on the harry potter giveaway 🙂 @katrina_badina

  58. tiffanycho15 says:

    My top 3 are Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, Dear Martin by Nic Stone and Turtles All the Way Down by John Green!! ❤

  59. tiffanycho15 says:

    followed Penguin Random House Canada on instagram and liked a picture! @ttlytiff

  60. tiffanycho15 says:

    followed simon & schuster canada on instagram, and liked a picture! @ttlytiff

  61. tiffanycho15 says:

    followed raincoast books on instagram……commented and tagged a friend on this picture https://www.instagram.com/p/BcVx_PHAY_M/?taken-by=raincoastbooks @ttlytiff

  62. Victoria Ess says:

    I’d love to read Turtles All The Way Down, Dear Martin, and Landscape!

  63. janicour says:

    Dear Martin,Landscape, and Long Way Down are my top 3 choices

  64. Colette says:

    I would like to read Girls Are Made of Snow and Glass, Renegades, and Zero Repeat Forever

  65. AnnieP says:

    My top three choices are Jane Unlimited, Girls Made of Snow and Glass, and Dear Martin.

  66. Erin N says:

    Awesome giveaway! My top three reads from this list are Turtles All the Way Down, Girls are Made of Snow and Glass, and Zero Repeat Forever!

  67. Erin N says:

    followed, liked, commented (@erinenewhouse)

    Need a foolproof gift for the book lover in your life? Choose from the season's best fiction ⭐️ #penguingiftguide

    A post shared by Penguin Random House Canada (@penguinrandomca) on

  68. Erin N says:

    followed, liked, commented, tagged (@erinenewhouse)

  69. Stacey says:

    They all look fantastic, but top three would probably be Turtles All the Way Down, Renegades, and Long Way Down.

  70. alexa says:

    girls made of snow an glass sounds good

  71. Burcu says:

    Girls Are Made of Snow and Glass, Renegades and Zero Repeat Forever.

  72. Turtles all the way down, girls are made of snow and ice and renegades

  73. Maryanne says:

    Zero Repeat Forever, Renegades and Landscape With an Invisible Hand

  74. Athena says:

    Girls Made of Snow and Glass, Jane Unlimited and Dear Martin

  75. AliKira says:

    Turtles All the Way Down, Girls Made of Snow and Glass, and Zero Repeat Forever are of most interest to me.

  76. Amy L Doyle says:

    Turtles all the way Down, Renegades, and Zero Repeat Forever

  77. Karen D. says:

    The gift 🎁 of books 📚 is a great prize pack!

  78. Jenness M says:

    My top 3 are Warcross, Renegades and Genuine Fraud.

  79. Jenness M says:

    Followed penguinrandomca on instagram @jennyjennjenesis

  80. Jenness M says:

    Followed simonschusterca on instagram @jennyjennjenesis

  81. Alison K says:

    I’m a subscriber to the Canadian Gift Guide. My top three reads from this list would be:
    Turtles All The Way Down by John Green
    Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
    Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

  82. Alison K says:

    Bonus @penguinrandomca Entry : Following Penguin Random House on Instagram and liked one of their posts https://www.instagram.com/p/BcS69KclHQz/?taken-by=penguinrandomca (soulseeker00)

  83. Alison K says:

    Bonus @simonschusterca Entry : Following Simon & Schuster on Instagram and liked one of their posts https://www.instagram.com/p/BcKv7yQgxc9/?taken-by=simonschusterca (soulseeker00)

  84. wanderingsofabookbird says:

    My top three books from this list would be Girls Made of Snow and Glass, Turtles All the Way Down and Zero Repeat Forever 🙂
    If I was lucky enough to win, please contact me on twitter (@WordsThatStay1)

  85. Kirsten N says:

    my top 3 are warcross, renegades and zero repeat forever

  86. Denae Boucher says:

    My top three are girls made of snow and glass, turtles all the way down and genuine fraud.

  87. Sharron says:

    Long way down

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