I come bearing gifts of great reading! Here’s a comprehensive guide to young adult speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror) being published in February 2020. Up first is a short list of the books I highly recommend, followed by a long list of basically every book being published.
Get your library cards and indie bookstore pre-orders ready, y’all.
Belle Révolte by Linsey Miller (February 4)
YA Fantasy, Sourcebooks Fire
“Emilie des Marais is more at home holding scalpels than embroidery needles and is desperate to escape her noble roots to serve her country as a physician. But society dictates a noble lady cannot perform such gruesome work.
Annette Boucher, overlooked and overworked by her family, wants more from life than her humble beginnings and is desperate to be trained in magic. So when a strange noble girl offers Annette the chance of a lifetime, she accepts.
Emilie and Annette swap lives–Annette attends finishing school as a noble lady to be trained in the ways of divination, while Emilie enrolls to be a physician’s assistant, using her natural magical talent to save lives.
But when their nation instigates a terrible war, Emilie and Annette come together to help the rebellion unearth the truth before it’s too late.”
Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland (February 4)
Dread Nation #2 – YA Alternate History, Balzer + Bray
“After the fall of Summerland, Jane McKeene hoped her life would get simpler: Get out of town, stay alive, and head west to California to find her mother.
But nothing is easy when you’re a girl trained in putting down the restless dead, and a devastating loss on the road to a protected village called Nicodemus has Jane questioning everything she thought she knew about surviving in 1880s America.
What’s more, this safe haven is not what it appears—as Jane discovers when she sees familiar faces from Summerland amid this new society. Caught between mysteries and lies, the undead, and her own inner demons, Jane soon finds herself on a dark path of blood and violence that threatens to consume her.
But she won’t be in it alone.
Katherine Deveraux never expected to be allied with Jane McKeene. But after the hell she has endured, she knows friends are hard to come by—and that Jane needs her too, whether Jane wants to admit it or not.
Watching Jane’s back, however, is more than she bargained for, and when they both reach a breaking point, it’s up to Katherine to keep hope alive—even as she begins to fear that there is no happily-ever-after for girls like her.”
Malice by Pintip Dunn (February 4)
YA Fantasy, Entangled: Teen
“What I know: a boy in my school will one day wipe out two-thirds of the population with a virus.
What I don’t know: who he is.
In a race against the clock, I not only have to figure out his identity, but I’ll have to outwit a voice from the future telling me to kill him. Because I’m starting to realize no one is telling the truth. But how can I play chess with someone who already knows the outcome of my every move? Someone so filled with malice they’ve lost all hope in humanity? Well, I’ll just have to find a way—because now they’ve drawn a target on the only boy I’ve ever loved…”
The Queen’s Assassin by Melissa de la Cruz (February 4)
Queen’s Secret #1 – YA Fantasy, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
“Caledon Holt is the kingdom’s deadliest weapon. No one alive can best him in speed, strength, or brains, which is why he’s the Hearthstone Guild’s most dangerous member. Cal is also the Queen’s Assassin, bound to her by magic and unable to leave her service until the task she’s set for him is fulfilled.
Shadow of the Honey Glade has been training all her life to join the Guild, hoping that one day she’ll become an assassin as feared and revered as Cal. But Shadow’s mother and aunts expect her to serve the crown as a lady of the Renovian Court.
When a surprise attack brings Shadow and Cal together, they’re forced to team up as assassin and apprentice. Even though Shadow’s life belongs to the court and Cal’s belongs to the queen, they cannot deny their attraction to each other. But now, with war on the horizon and true love at risk, Shadow and Cal will uncover a shocking web of lies that will change their paths forever.”
Ink in the Blood by Kim Smejkal (February 11)
Ink in the Blood #1 – YA Fantasy, HMH Books for Young Readers
“Celia Sand and her best friend, Anya Burtoni, are inklings for the esteemed religion of Profeta. Using magic, they tattoo followers with beautiful images that represent the Divine’s will and guide the actions of the recipients. It’s considered a noble calling, but ten years into their servitude Celia and Anya know the truth: Profeta is built on lies, the tattooed orders strip away freedom, and the revered temple is actually a brutal, torturous prison.
Their opportunity to escape arrives with the Rabble Mob, a traveling theater troupe. Using their inkling abilities for performance instead of propaganda, Celia and Anya are content for the first time . . . until they realize who followed them. The Divine they never believed in is very real, very angry, and determined to use Celia, Anya, and the Rabble Mob’s now-infamous stage to spread her deceitful influence even further.
To protect their new family from the wrath of a malicious deity and the zealots who work in her name, Celia and Anya must unmask the biggest lie of all—Profeta itself.”
The Life Below by Alexandra Monir (February 18)
The Final Six #2 – YA Science Fiction, HarperTeen
“It was hard enough for Naomi to leave Leo, a fellow Final Six contestant, behind on a dying Earth. Now she doesn’t know who to trust.
The International Space Training Camp continues to dodge every question about its past failed mission, and Naomi is suspicious that not everything is as it seems on her own mission to Europa. With just one shot at Jupiter’s moon, Naomi is determined to find out if there is dangerous alien life on Europa before she and her crew get there.
Leo, back on Earth, has been working with renegade scientist Dr. Greta Wagner, who promises to fly him to space where he can dock with Naomi’s ship. And if Wagner’s hypothesis is right, it isn’t a possibility of coming in contact with extraterrestrial life on Europa—it’s a definite, and it’s up to Leo to find and warn Naomi and the crew.
With questions piling up, everything gets more dangerous the closer that the mission gets to Europa. A storm threatens to interfere with Leo’s takeoff, a deadly entity makes itself known to the Final Six, and all questions the ISTC has been avoiding about the previous mission get answered in a terrifying way.
If the dream was to establish a new world for humans on Europa…the Final Six are about to enter a nightmare.”
Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon (February 18)
St. Rosetta’s Academy #1 – YA Fantasy, Simon Pulse
“For Princess Jaya Rao, nothing is more important than family. When the loathsome Emerson clan steps up their centuries-old feud to target Jaya’s little sister, nothing will keep Jaya from exacting her revenge. Then Jaya finds out she’ll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, and it feels like the opportunity of a lifetime. She knows what she must do: Make Grey fall in love with her and break his heart. But much to Jaya’s annoyance, Grey’s brooding demeanor and lupine blue eyes have drawn her in. There’s simply no way she and her sworn enemy could find their fairy-tale ending…right?
His Lordship Grey Emerson is a misanthrope. Thanks to an ancient curse by a Rao matriarch, Grey knows he’s doomed once he turns eighteen. Sequestered away in the mountains at St. Rosetta’s International Academy, he’s lived an isolated existence—until Jaya Rao bursts into his life, but he can’t shake the feeling that she’s hiding something. Something that might just have to do with the rose-shaped ruby pendant around her neck…
As the stars conspire to keep them apart, Jaya and Grey grapple with questions of love, loyalty, and whether it’s possible to write your own happy ending.”
Rebelwing by Andrea Tang (February 25)
Rebelwing #1 – YA Science Fiction, Razorbill
“Things just got weird for Prudence Wu.
One minute, she’s cashing in on a routine smuggling deal. The next, she’s escaping enforcers on the wings of what very much appears to be a sentient cybernetic dragon.
Pru is used to life throwing her some unpleasant surprises–she goes to prep school, after all, and selling banned media across the border in a country with a ruthless corporate government obviously has its risks. But a cybernetic dragon? That’s new.
She tries to forget about the fact that the only reason she’s not in jail is because some sort of robot saved her, and that she’s going to have to get a new side job now that enforcers are on to her. So she’s not exactly thrilled when Rebelwing shows up again.
Even worse, it’s become increasingly clear that the rogue machine has imprinted on her permanently, which means she’d better figure out this whole piloting-a-dragon thing–fast. Because Rebelwing just happens to be the ridiculously expensive weapon her government needs in a brewing war with its neighbor, and Pru’s the only one who can fly it.
Set in a wonderfully inventive near-future Washington, D.C., this hilarious, defiant debut sparkles with wit and wisdom, deftly exploring media consumption, personal freedoms, and the weight of one life as Pru, rather reluctantly, takes to the skies.”
The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow (February 25)
YA Science Fiction, Inkyard Press
“Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population.
Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. With humans deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, emotional expression can be grounds for execution. Music, art and books are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her.
Born in a lab, M0Rr1S was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for the love of art–and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does.
Ellie’s–and humanity’s–fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution–thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while creating a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.”
We Unleash the Merciless Storm by Tehlor Kay Mejia (February 25)
We Set the Dark on Fire #2 – YA Dystopian, Katherine Tegen Books
“Being a part of the resistance group La Voz is an act of devotion and desperation. On the other side of Medio’s border wall, the oppressed class fights for freedom and liberty, sacrificing what little they have to become defenders of the cause.
Carmen Santos is one of La Voz’s best soldiers. She spent years undercover, but now, with her identity exposed and the island on the brink of a civil war, Carmen returns to the only real home she’s ever known: La Voz’s headquarters.
There she must reckon with her beloved leader, who is under the influence of an aggressive new recruit, and with the devastating news that her true love might be the target of an assassination plot. Will Carmen break with her community and save the girl who stole her heart—or fully embrace the ruthless rebel she was always meant to be?”
All YA Spec Fic
Alice By Heart by Steven Sater (February 4)
YA Fantasy, Razorbill
“Soon, Alice must decide whether to stay in Wonderland forever, or embrace the pain of reality if that’s what it means to grow up.”
All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace (February 4)
All the Stars and Teeth #1 – YA Fantasy, Imprint
“When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.”
Below by Alexandria Warwick (February 4)
North #1 – YA Fantasy, Wolf Publishing
“With time slipping, Apaay is determined to escape the deadly labyrinth with her sister’s face in hand. But in Yuki’s harsh world, Apaay will need all her strength to survive.”
Ember Queen by Laura Sebastian (February 4)
Ash Princess #3 – YA Fantasy, Delacorte Press
“Theo must learn to embrace her own power if she has any hope of standing against the girl she once called her heart’s sister.”
Straight On Till Morning by Liz Braswell (February 4)
Twisted Tales #8 – YA Fantasy, Disney-Hyperion
“What if Wendy first traveled to Neverland . . . with Captain Hook?”
The King of Crows by Libba Bray (February 4)
The Diviners #4 – YA Fantasy, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
“But as rumors of towns becoming ghost towns and the dead developing unprecedented powers begin to surface, all hope seems to be lost.”
The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne (February 4)
YA Science Fiction, HMH Books for Young Readers
“But old habits die hard, and as Leo navigates the glittering balls of the Valg Season, she finds herself falling for her first love in a game of love, lies, and past regrets.”
Cloak of Night by Evelyn Skye (February 11)
Circle of Shadows #2 – YA Fantasy, Balzer + Bray
“The fate of a kingdom rests in their hands.”
Heart of Flames by Nicki Pau Preto (February 11)
Crown of Feathers #2 – YA Fantasy, Simon Pulse
“As tensions reach a boiling point, the characters all find themselves drawn together into a fight that will shape the course of the empire—and determine the future of the Phoenix Riders. Each must decide how far they’re willing to go—and what they’re willing to lose in the process.”
Honor Lost by Rachel Caine, Ann Aguirre (February 11)
Honors #3 – YA Science Fiction, Katherine Tegen Books
“With human enemies, alien creatures, and mechanical stalkers on her tail, it’s down to the wire for Zara to save the galaxy—and the people she calls home—before the godking consumes them all.”
In the Shadow of the Sun by EM Castellan (February 11)
In the Shadow of the Sun #1 – YA Fantasy, Feiwel & Friends
“When an accident forces Henriette to reveal her uniquely powerful gift for enchantments to Louis, he asks for her help: she alone can defeat the dark magician threatening his authority and aid his own plans to build the new, enchanted seat of his power–the Palace of Versailles.”
Night Spinner by Addie Thorley (February 11)
Night Spinner #1 – YA Fantasy, Page Street Kids
“Torn between duty and conscience, Enebish must decide whether to put her trust in the charismatic rebel or her beloved sister. No matter who she chooses, an even greater enemy is advancing, ready to bring the empire to its knees. ”
Sensational by Jodie Lynn Zdrok (February 11)
Spectacle #2 – YA Historical Fantasy, Tor Teen
“Haunted by the past and burdened with new secrets, Nathalie struggles to use her wits and her gift. Yet she and her friends must stop the killer before the macabre display features one of them…”
Storm from the East by Joanna Hathaway (February 11)
Glass Alliance #2 – YA Fantasy, Tor Teen
“War has begun, and the days of Athan’s and Aurelia’s secret, summer romance feel a world away.”
Glitch Kingdom by Sheena Boekweg (February 18)
YA Science Fiction, Feiwel & Friends
“A glitch in the software has locked the players inside the game, and they’ll need to escape before the fantasy world corrupts around them. The only way out is to win.”
Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold (February 25)
YA Fantasy, Balzer + Bray
“But then comes the night of homecoming, when she finds herself running for her life over roots and between trees, a fury of claws and teeth behind her.”
The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller (February 25)
YA Fantasy, Feiwel & Friends
“Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power: 1) Woo the Shadow King. 2) Marry him. 3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.”
Twisted Fates by Danielle Rollins (February 25)
Dark Stars #2 – YA Fantasy, HarperTeen
“One past. Two girls. Infinite futures.”