It’s that time of year to start turning my attention to what new books are on the horizon, and what my most anticipated YA books of 2021 are. One of the best things about writing young adult books is being tapped into all the good and interesting work being done in the genre. Whether you like contemporary stories, historical ones, fantasy, sci-fi and even non-fic, YA writers give these genres fresh life and cool twists. There are dozens of fantastic books I want to read in 2021, but here are a few of the ones I’m most excited about. And read through to the end for links to some “most anticipated of 2021” book lists from professional reviewers.
Sing Me Forgotten by Jessica Olson
A reverse retelling of the Phantom of the Opera story, it tells the tale of Isda. Cast into a well at birth for being one of the magical few who can manipulate memories when people sing, she was saved by Cyril, the opera house’s owner. Since that day, he has given her sanctuary from the murderous world outside. All he asks in return is that she use her power to keep ticket sales high—and that she stay out of sight. For if anyone discovers she survived, Isda and Cyril would pay with their lives.
But Isda breaks Cyril’s cardinal rule when she meets Emeric Rodin, a charming boy who throws her quiet, solitary life out of balance. His voice is unlike any she’s ever heard, but the real shock comes when she finds in his memories hints of a way to finally break free of her gilded prison. Haunted by this possibility, Isda spends more and more time with Emeric, searching for answers in his music and his past. But the price of freedom is steeper than Isda could ever know. For even as she struggles with her growing feelings for Emeric, she learns that in order to take charge of her own destiny, she must become the monster the world tried to drown in the first place.
You had me at “Phantom of the Opera.” This gorgeously-titled debut is one I can’t wait to get my hands on. Click here to read more.
Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean
I feel the “not enough of anything” vibe of this book so very much. It’s being billed as Crazy Rich Asians meets The Princess Diaries (what? sold!). Izumi Tanaka has never really felt like she fit in―it isn’t easy being Japanese American in her small, mostly white, northern California town. Raised by a single mother, it’s always been Izumi―or Izzy, because “It’s easier this way”―and her mom against the world. But then Izumi discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity…and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent Izzy is literally a princess.
In a whirlwind, Izumi travels to Japan to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she always dreamed of. But being a princess isn’t all ball gowns and tiaras. There are conniving cousins, a hungry press, a scowling but handsome bodyguard who just might be her soulmate, and thousands of years of tradition and customs to learn practically overnight.
There are a thousand things about this book that make me want to read it right now. Conniving cousins? Smoldering bodyguard? Secret princess? My goodness, sign me up right this minute. Click here to read more and see why this is one of my most anticipated YA books of 2021.
Hot British Boyfriend by Kristy Boyce
Confession: I got my hot little hands on an advance review copy of this gem and I am so eager to dig in (pesky to-read pile standing in my way!). I love that the title gets to the heart of the matter. Hot! British! Boyfriend!
After a horrifying public rejection by her crush, Ellie Nichols does what any girl would do: she flees the country. To be more precise, she joins her high school’s study abroad trip to England. While most of her classmates are there to take honors courses and pad their college applications, Ellie is on a quest to rebuild her reputation and self-confidence. And nothing is more of a confidence booster than getting a hot British boyfriend.
When Ellie meets Will, a gorgeous and charming Brit, she vows to avoid making the same mistakes she did with the last guy she liked. Which is why she strikes up a bargain with Dev, an overachieving classmate who she’s never clicked with, but who does seem to know a lot about the things Will is interested in: If he helps her win over her crush, then she’ll help him win over his.
But even as Ellie embarks on a whirlwind romance, she still needs to figure out if this is actually the answer to all her problems . . . and whether the perfect boyfriend is actually the perfect boy for her.
Kisses and Croissants by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau
I’ve also got an advance review copy of this one (being an author with a book coming out has its privileges) and it’s going to have to duke it out with Hot British Boyfriend for “book I read next” title. (I wish I was one of those people who can read a book a day!).
Sixteen-year-old Mia, an American girl at an elite summer ballet program, has six weeks to achieve her dreams: to snag an audition with one of the world’s best ballet companies. But there’s more to Paris than ballet–especially when a charming French boy, Louis, wants to be her tour guide–and the pair discover the city has a few mysteries up its sleeve.
In the vein of romances like Love and Gelato, this is the perfect summer adventure for anyone looking to get swept away in the City of Love.
Yes, I’m sensing a theme in my most anticipated YA books of 2021. Maybe lockdown has made me want to see the world, even if just in books.
As promised, here are two great lists to swell your to-read pile as much as it has mine (and which honored me by including Love in English in their anticipated YA books of 2021).
“Are these 2021 YA Books Already on your Reading List?” by Epic Reads. Click here for this awesome, comprehensive list.
“20 Most Anticipated YA Books of 2021” by Frolic Media. Click here for even more books for your TBR.
Want to know more about Love in English? Click here