The Best Young Adult Books of February

Posted by Marie on January 30, 2019
Welcome to the world of irresistible young adult fiction! Every month our team takes a look at the books being published and how they're resonating with early readers. We use this information to put together a roundup of soon-to-be favorites, from tales set in the suburbs to epics in realms of mystery and mischief.

For February we have a new novel from award-winning author Angie Thomas, a new duology set in the world of the bestselling His Fair Assassin series, plus an uptick of dark sci-fi and fantasy titles featuring spies, thieves, impostors, and more.

Add the books that catch your eye to your Want to Read shelf, and let us know what you're reading and recommending in the comments!


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The acclaimed author of The Hate U Give returns with a new novel about a young girl who dreams of becoming the greatest rapper of all time, no matter the odds.

Release Date: February 5

Read our interview with Angie Thomas.


No one knows why the four queens of Quadara were murdered—not even the pickpocket Keralie Corrington, whose latest larceny puts her at the center of the conspiracy.

Release Date: February 26


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Transforming metal into money is how Camille Durbonne uses her dark magic to survive. But to keep her family safe, she'll need to enchant the glittering court of King Louis XVI.

Release Date: February 5



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Based on the historical legend of Anastasia Romanov, this sci-fi adventure recasts the famous Russian royal as the lost princess and the last hope of an entire galaxy.

Release Date: February 26



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Guilt is Harley's constant companion after the night her sister ends up in a coma. She doesn't think she can move forward—until her childhood friend Raf shows her otherwise.

Release Date: February 19


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Sybella is one of St. Mortain's deadliest assassins. Surrounded by enemies in France, her only hope of staying alive is to find a sister in arms who is just as lethal as she is.

Release Date: February 5
Series: Courting Darkness #1


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In this dystopian debut, students of the Medio School for Girls are groomed to be society wives. But Daniela Vargas chooses a different career path: spying for the resistance.

Release Date: February 26





Comments Showing 1-50 of 102 (102 new)


message 1: by [deleted user] (last edited Jan 30, 2019 02:31AM) (new)

Why do all these recommended books have only female protagonists and/or female-centric story lines? Do young men no longer read? My 13-year old son turned his nose up when he read the 'blurbs' on these. He's an avid reader and an active member of our local library; if he won't read them I'd be surprised if any other male teenager would.


message 2: by Ankit (new)

Ankit Saxena Simon wrote: "Why do all these recommended books have only female protagonists and/or female-centric story lines? Do young men no longer read? My 13-year old son turned his nose up when he read the 'blurbs' on t..."

I too thought same after reading the blurbs.


message 3: by MischaS_ (new)

MischaS_ Simon wrote: "Why do all these recommended books have only female protagonists and/or female-centric story lines? Do young men no longer read? My 13-year old son turned his nose up when he read the 'blurbs' on t..."

I recently thought about this as well. YA is now mostly dominated by female writers and female protagonist.

I'm happy that there are so many strong female characters but at the same time boys seems to be left behind by the new YA books which are sad.

I recently read a comment which claimed that teenage girls read more than teenage boys so of course publishers will prefer books targeted at teenage girls rather than teenage boys. And I certainly think this is no the right thing to do! Would love to see an edition of "the best young adult books of February with male protagonist!"

Let's spread the love for reading. ❤📚

And I want to read a fantasy Young Adult with a strong male protagonist as well! It would be definitely a great change in the current YA scene.


message 4: by Charley (new)

Charley Cook If women can spend lifetimes putting themselves in male shoes in order to appreciate works of fiction for decades now I think boys can start reading from the view of women. Teach your sons that they are surrounded by women and it's important to read in their narrative to relate better to them.
I wish as a teen I knew boys who would read or watch female centric media. Maybe it would have made them more sympathetic to my life.
Give your sons books about girls, stop making it 'girls books' or 'boys books'. They are books, they are stories about dragons, politics, love and war.


message 5: by Felicia (new)

Felicia Yes! Charley Cook nailed it. Everyone can read and enjoy books with protagonists of every gender. People need to stop perpetuating the idea that boys will only read books with male leads.


message 6: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Morris We need more boys to start writing.


message 7: by Jeena (new)

Jeena MischaS_ wrote: "Simon wrote: "Why do all these recommended books have only female protagonists and/or female-centric story lines? Do young men no longer read? My 13-year old son turned his nose up when he read the..."

I'm a girl! And I'm always on the look out for ya books with lead characters! It's interesting to kniw how the opposite gender's brains work. Why the heck do publishers think that!! Totally agree with your points


message 8: by Jeena (new)

Jeena Charley wrote: "If women can spend lifetimes putting themselves in male shoes in order to appreciate works of fiction for decades now I think boys can start reading from the view of women. Teach your sons that the..."

Yes you are right but the thing is ya books are mostly with female lead protagonists. A person can get sick of it sometimes...


message 9: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Fenn Hi all! I'd love to see boys be more open to reading YA lit written from a female POV; that being said, if you're looking for a contemporary YA written from a male POV, might I suggest (ahem, cough, cough) my own YA novel "Flight Risk?"

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3...


message 10: by Sara (new)

Sara Martínez Pérez-Tomé Charley wrote: "If women can spend lifetimes putting themselves in male shoes in order to appreciate works of fiction for decades now I think boys can start reading from the view of women. Teach your sons that the..."

Totally agree with you.


message 11: by Sara (new)

Sara Martínez Pérez-Tomé Simon wrote: "Why do all these recommended books have only female protagonists and/or female-centric story lines? Do young men no longer read? My 13-year old son turned his nose up when he read the 'blurbs' on t..."

And? What prevents him from reading it? The fact that there are female leads? I have been an avid reader since i was 8 and most of the books had male leads...I don't see why your son shouldn't read these.


message 12: by Ana (last edited Jan 30, 2019 04:25AM) (new)

Ana Fleitas Sara wrote: And? What prevents him from reading it? The fact that there are female leads? I have been an avid reader since i was 8 and most of the books had male leads...I don't see why your son shouldn't read these.

Exactly, Sara! I can't agree with you more. When I was a kid the first book I read was Harry Potter. Who was the main character there? And the second series I read as a child was Artemis Fowl. Another male protagonist. Then, I read Percy Jackson.

I never even once complained to my mother about how terrible it was that I didn't have a Katniss Everdeen to look up to. It's ridiculous to think that a boy can't read from a female perspective when we as women have been forced to read from a male perspective for years -- and we still loved and enjoyed those stories infinitely, no matter the gender of the protagonist.


message 13: by Caity (new)

Caity Phillips Charley wrote: "If women can spend lifetimes putting themselves in male shoes in order to appreciate works of fiction for decades now I think boys can start reading from the view of women. Teach your sons that the..."

We need a 'like' button of some sort so I can slam it! Nailed it!


message 14: by Noelia (new)

Noelia Lucia EXCUSE ME!! I belive you forgot Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard!


message 15: by Sara (new)

Sara Martínez Pérez-Tomé Ana wrote: "Sara wrote: And? What prevents him from reading it? The fact that there are female leads? I have been an avid reader since i was 8 and most of the books had male leads...I don't see why your son sh..."

I loved this "and we still loved and enjoyed those stories infinitely, no matter the gender of the protagonist".

Also, I believe it's cool/important to have such variety of leads. I don't say you have to like every character personality but putting aside a book just because of the gender of the lead? It's ridiculous!


message 16: by Carla (new)

Carla Charley wrote: "If women can spend lifetimes putting themselves in male shoes in order to appreciate works of fiction for decades now I think boys can start reading from the view of women. Teach your sons that the..."

Bravo


message 17: by Ari (new)

Ari Yeah... It would be nice for people to get recommendations (and find books in an easier manner) for both genders indeed.

I understand that there was a time when mostly men wrote books and now some people feel the need for "payback" (though I couldn't care less who's the narrator for myself), but even I am getting tired of reading about princesses and such to my 3 years old.. Ok, I am exaggerating, they are mostly simple girls, but it's true that I am having trouble finding books he could relate with better - and it would be just nice for this not to be the case.

Not sure why people have to argue about this matter.


message 18: by Fatima (new)

Fatima Simon wrote: "Why do all these recommended books have only female protagonists and/or female-centric story lines? Do young men no longer read? My 13-year old son turned his nose up when he read the 'blurbs' on t..."

Okay, and? Like many have said before me, women have been forced to read male perspectives for a long time! Barely any books I had to read growing up in school had a female lead. It's so refreshing to see all of these YA books written with a female lead. It's reignited my love for reading. Why are you gendering reading?


message 19: by Crystal (new)

Crystal Simon wrote: "Why do all these recommended books have only female protagonists and/or female-centric story lines? Do young men no longer read? My 13-year old son turned his nose up when he read the 'blurbs' on t..."

Even as a woman, I thought the exact same thing. It's great that there are more "strong female heroine" books for girls. However, girls by far are already more avid readers than boys in their same age group. Lets be sure to keep those boys reading with good role models too!


message 20: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Barczak #ownvoices, people. Sure, the mom should encourage her son to read outside of his comfort zone, but that doesn't mean he loses the need to find relatable voices inside a book.


message 21: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Ray Melissa wrote: "We need more boys to start writing."

We're working on it! Writing would be more common if reading were more common, but, sadly, that isn't seen as fun by many.


message 22: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Ray Felicia wrote: "Yes! Charley Cook nailed it. Everyone can read and enjoy books with protagonists of every gender. People need to stop perpetuating the idea that boys will only read books with male leads."

I don't care what gender the lead is, as long as I feel like the story is one worth experiencing! I just want to read a good book, and that depends on more than the main character's gender.


message 23: by Abby (new)

Abby Charley wrote: "If women can spend lifetimes putting themselves in male shoes in order to appreciate works of fiction for decades now I think boys can start reading from the view of women. Teach your sons that the..."


💯


message 24: by Aenea (new)

Aenea Jones Simon wrote: "Why do all these recommended books have only female protagonists and/or female-centric story lines? Do young men no longer read? My 13-year old son turned his nose up when he read the 'blurbs' on t..."

Well, it's sad your son thinks stories about women aren't worth reading.
Imagine no girl would have read Harry Potter, just because it starrs a boy.

Why are only male protagonists considered universally relevant?
This is some of the most deeply rooted sexism I have encountered.


message 25: by Aenea (last edited Jan 30, 2019 06:58AM) (new)

Aenea Jones Ari wrote: "Yeah... It would be nice for people to get recommendations (and find books in an easier manner) for both genders indeed.

I understand that there was a time when mostly men wrote books and now som..."


They argue because there is an obvious imbalance based on gender.
While it's considered normal for girls to read stories of male authors about male protagonists, it seems to be inacceptable that boys read female authors and/or about female protagonists.
Girls are expected to be able to identify with boys, but not vice versa.
That is unjust, and sexist.


message 26: by Aenea (new)

Aenea Jones If women can spend lifetimes putting themselves in male shoes in order to appreciate works of fiction for decades now I think boys can start reading from the view of women. Teach your sons that they are surrounded by women and it's important to read in their narrative to relate better to them.
I wish as a teen I knew boys who would read or watch female centric media. Maybe it would have made them more sympathetic to my life.
Give your sons books about girls, stop making it 'girls books' or 'boys books'. They are books, they are stories about dragons, politics, love and war."



Best. Comment.


message 27: by Megan (new)

Megan Koopman A great article from Shannon Hale (an amazing author for girls and boys) on this topic!
https://www.washingtonpost.com/entert...

Also, there are plenty of YA books that follow both boys and girls! Leviathan is one of my favorite series for this. Gone is also good, but may be for slightly older teens.


message 28: by Karen (new)

Karen And why are they all so bleak sounding?


message 29: by Jacky (new)

Jacky Simon wrote: "Why do all these recommended books have only female protagonists and/or female-centric story lines? Do young men no longer read? My 13-year old son turned his nose up when he read the 'blurbs' on t..."

I've actually thought the same thing. I think it's important for young boys to be represented as much as girls are. I would love to see more books about boys, and those including boys of color.


message 30: by Jacky (new)

Jacky Aenea wrote: "Simon wrote: "Why do all these recommended books have only female protagonists and/or female-centric story lines? Do young men no longer read? My 13-year old son turned his nose up when he read the..."

Aeana, you could legit say that about white characters. How it's often a struggle to find books about people of color in the libraries that I go to. And when we are written into book, we're just there because the writer wanted to check off the fact that they were "diverse". How white characters are considered universally relevant because the white experience is the default experience.
Maybe Simon's son would like to see himself represented as something other than the love interest who has nothing to do with the plot. Something other than the brooding, male alpha, bad boy, or another stereotype. It's okay to want to see yourself represented. I think Simon had a legitimate question and I've actually asked that question myself as a girl.


message 31: by Jacky (last edited Jan 30, 2019 07:20AM) (new)

Jacky Charley wrote: "If women can spend lifetimes putting themselves in male shoes in order to appreciate works of fiction for decades now I think boys can start reading from the view of women. Teach your sons that the..."

Girl. He wants to see himself represented and that's okay. Would you say that same thing to the young black girl or the young filipino girl who wants to see a book where the main character and the author look like her? Or would you see stop making it about race?
Representation is something that everyone needs to have regardless of race, gender, or sexual identity. That means that having female (poc or lgbtq+) representation should not be about wiping out male (white or straight) protagonists, but rather adding other stories to the mix so that everyone can read a book where they see themselves in the story,


message 32: by Ava05 (new)

Ava05 Melissa wrote: "We need more boys to start writing."

They do (not so much as women, but they still do), but a lot of times they will write books with female leads as well.


message 33: by Ashley (new)

Ashley YES Charley! 100% agree


message 34: by Megan (new)

Megan Koopman Karen wrote: "And why are they all so bleak sounding?"

Ah, good point. I recommended those because those were my reading preferences in middle/high school. I definitely skew sci fi/fantasy so those are the genres most of my recs will come from.

Other commendations that aren't quite as with male protagonists with strong female characters (for the most part) would be Eragon (fantasy), The Merchant of Death (fantasy), any John Green.


message 35: by Rebeca (new)

Rebeca Simon wrote: "Why do all these recommended books have only female protagonists and/or female-centric story lines? Do young men no longer read? My 13-year old son turned his nose up when he read the 'blurbs' on t..."

Can't your boy read these? They're still YA books.


message 36: by Aenea (new)

Aenea Jones Melissa wrote: "We need more boys to start writing."

No, we don't.
Men always had the advantage when it came to writing and publishing. Not only had they the education to actually learn good writing, they also had the necessary life experiences to be able to write interesting characters.
The reason there seem to be more female writers now is because more women have higher education and get more varied life experiences than 200 or more years ago.

While I have no numbers to back this up, I still think there are more male writers.
And even if they don't have the ups in numbers, male writers and male protagonists are still considered more relevant: https://theconversation.com/books-by-...


Solace_In_Reading One recent book published in January by a man is The Field Guide to the North American Teenager, so try it! I do agree that boys should read books with girl protagonists because most “famous” books I’ve read in school focus on a man.


message 38: by Stefanie (new)

Stefanie Charley wrote: "If women can spend lifetimes putting themselves in male shoes in order to appreciate works of fiction for decades now I think boys can start reading from the view of women. Teach your sons that the..."

Thank you.


message 39: by Lace (new)

Lace Simon wrote: "Why do all these recommended books have only female protagonists and/or female-centric story lines? Do young men no longer read? My 13-year old son turned his nose up when he read the 'blurbs' on t..."


If your son won't read books with female characters as leads, that says more about him and his ability to empathize with women, as well as your parenting, than it does about the YA industry.


message 40: by Sophia (new)

Sophia Gonzalez My favorite series such as Harry Potter and Percy Jackson are male based and I never in my mind thought about their gender I was more focused on the story. Magic and mythology! Everything is accessible for everyone !


message 41: by Stephanie (last edited Jan 30, 2019 09:30AM) (new)

Stephanie Fitzgerald Hey, if it looks like a good book, just read it and enjoy it! Here are some suggestions for books with male protagonists, however.
Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie- Jordan Sonnenblick
Notes From a Midnight Driver- Jordan Sonnenblick
If You’re Reading This-Trent Reedy
Yard Wars- Taylor Kitchings ( historical fiction)
And that’s just a few; I’ll update as I remember more!🙂📚📚📚


message 42: by Satrina (new)

Satrina T Charley wrote: "Give your sons books about girls, stop making it 'girls books' or 'boys books'. They are books, they are stories about dragons, politics, love and war."

This! This right here! I agree completely with Charley.


message 43: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Fitzgerald Oh, here’s one: Death By Toilet Paper- Donna Gephart ( the title alone is guaranteed to capture anyone’s attention!🤣)


message 44: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Fitzgerald Ok, this is addictive; I love recommending good books!💕
The Outsiders by Susie Hinton and Twerp by Mark Goldblatt


Chansoriya ច័ន្ទសុរិយា You people are weird. Books are books and if a boy thinks he’s too good for “girl books” are you raising him right. He can’t even see beyond his perspective in a media that was dominated by men since the beginning of literature??


message 46: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Czarniak I've always loved reading. Gender never really mattered to me, protagonist or author. I grew up on Ramona, and Beezus, and Cam Jansen, but also Peter and Fudge. Then so many more, all through the years. That said, I wrote my book, Loser Fooser, with a high school boy as the lead. I had been warned not to do this, but I thought it was important to have all sorts of options.


message 47: by Zachary (new)

Zachary These comments are hilarious.


message 48: by Angelina (new)

Angelina Johnson Simon wrote: "Why do all these recommended books have only female protagonists and/or female-centric story lines? Do young men no longer read? My 13-year old son turned his nose up when he read the 'blurbs' on t..."

ong i know


message 49: by Elyse (last edited Jan 30, 2019 10:27AM) (new)

Elyse Simon wrote: "Why do all these recommended books have only female protagonists and/or female-centric story lines? Do young men no longer read? My 13-year old son turned his nose up when he read the 'blurbs' on t..."

Has he read all of the Ranger's Apprentice books and spin-offs by John Flanagan? They're great! Women are writing YA thus they are writing female leads. Look for Pierce Brown, Jonathan Maberry, Neal Shusterman, Ransom Riggs, Rick Riordan, and as your son gets older; Shaun David Hutchinson, Jason Reynolds, Adam Silvera, David Levithan. I can see why he would want to read relatable books at that age.


message 50: by Amy (last edited Jan 30, 2019 11:48AM) (new)

Amy Matthews Simon wrote: "Why do all these recommended books have only female protagonists and/or female-centric story lines? Do young men no longer read? My 13-year old son turned his nose up when he read the 'blurbs' on t..."

If you watch the show "Friends from College" on Netflix they kind of joke about this. They actually say word-for-word "boys don't read" in regards to YA.

I do agree with you that there needs to be a balance. I personally love all the strong female protagonists, but I see the problem when it can lead to a situation such as the one with your son, where they are turning their nose to books because they can't find a protagonist that they relate to (although I do have to say that he should at least be willing to give them a shot because he may be surprised in how much he loves the stories--there are some really awesome female-led stories out there [and some really awesome male-led stories as well]).

That being said, there are a lot of female-leading books that have bad-ass male characters as well. They may not have the male as the "voice" of the story, but they are just as important.


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