Exciting YA books to look out for in 2019

Late last year we attended the Centre for Youth Literature’s YA Showcase for 2019. At this annual event, a host of different publishers share the most exciting new releases for teen readers coming out in 2019.

Here are some of the biggest and buzziest books from the night.


Homegrown rom-coms & coming-of-age tales


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  • Making Friends with Alice Dyson by Poppy Nwosu – Studious Alice and ‘bad boy’ Teddy are thrown together by unlikely circumstances in this sweet and witty rom-com that touches on bullying, self acceptance and looking beyond stereotypes. (February)

  • What I Like About Me by Jenna Guillaume – Maisie Martin keeps a very funny journal during the kind of summer where everything is changing – friendships, crushes and family – and finds herself facing challenges she never dreamed possible. (March)

  • Promise Me Happy by Robert Newton – Nate has had a troubled past, but when he meets captivating Gem he dares to think that he might find happiness. (May)

  • Sick Bay by Nova Weetman – An authentic story about two girls who meet in the school’s sick bay, and the complicated friendship that develops between them. Written for tweens. (June)

  • It Sounded Better In My Head by Nina Kenwood – This Text Prize-winning novel is a tender, funny and joyful story about desire, confusion, feeling left out and finding out what really matters. (August)

Fantasy, other worlds, zombies & more


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  • Highway Bodies by Alison Evans – A unique zombie apocalypse story featuring a range of queer and gender non-conforming teens who have lost their families and friends and can only rely upon each other. (February)

  • Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte – Seventeen-year-old Keralie is entangled in a conspiracy involving all four of Quadara’s Queens being murdered in this fast-paced and thrilling fantasy debut. (February)

  • Slayer by Kiersten White – Nina’s father died protecting Buffy (yes, that Buffy, the Vampire Slayer) and now Nina has discovered that she’s the last Slayer ever. (February)

  • The Dysasters by PC & Kristin Cast – Two genetically manipulated teens struggle to control their powers over the elements in this action thriller from a bestselling mother-daughter team. (March)

  • Ursa by Tina Shaw – Leho lives in the dystopic city of Ursa as part of the oppressed Cerel group. When revolution comes to the city, will he be able to save his family? (April)

  • We Are Blood And Thunder by Kesia Lupo – Lena is determined to escape a sealed city, while Constance is desperate to get back inside, but neither know that the city is about to be hit by a magical storm that is set to unite them. (May)

  • Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Krisoff – This is the much anticipated first book in a thrilling new series from the duo behind The Illuminae Files. (May)

  • The Last Hours: Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare – The start of a new Shadowhunters series, this time set in Edwardian London and featuring the children of the Infernal Devices protagonists. (November)

2019 looks like it’s going to be a particularly big year for fantasy and sci-fi, and fans can also expect continuations of a stack of already beloved series…

This includes (BIG BREATH):

  • The second book in Laura Sebastian’s Ash Princess trilogy (Lady Smoke, February)
  • The third book Jodi McAlister’s Valentine series (Misrule, February)
  • The final books in both of Lynette Noni’s blockbusters series: The Medoran Chronicles (Vardaesia, February) and Whisper (late 2019).
  • The final book in Mark Smith’s Winter trilogy (Land of Fences, June)
  • The second book in A.J. Betts’s Hive (Rogue, July)
  • The second book in Christelle Dabos’s The Mirror Visitor series (The Missing of Clairdelune, November)

And a special bonus for Shadowhunters fans – Cassandra Clare is writing a spin-off series with Wesley Chu and book one, The Red Scrolls of Magic, is due for release in April.


Own voices


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  • Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson – Anderson is known for writing about difficult topics, and in this memoir – told in free verse – she explores honestly the life events that have shaped her writing. (March)

  • Shauna’s Great Expectations by Kathleen Loughnan – Everything seems on track for Shauna to be the first person in her family to attend university, but when she falls pregnant her plans are thrown off kilter. (May)

  • Sensitive by Allayne L Webster – A young girl navigates growing up with all its usual roadbumps, as well as managing a skin condition and life-threatening allergies. Written for tweens. (June)

  • Please Don’t Hug Me by Kay Kerr – Erin is a neuro-diverse Year 12 student who deals with tragedy by writing letters, ditching her sham friends, and discovering true companionship in the most unlikely of places – a mature-age women’s clothing shop. (September)

  • Invisible Boys by Holden Sheppard – The winner of the 2018 City of Fremantle T.A.G. Hungerford Award, this debut novel draws from the author’s own experiences of growing up gay in a rural Australian town. (October)

Stories of resilience & courage


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  • On the Come Up by Angie Thomas – In this much-awaited second novel from the author of The Hate U Give, teenager Bri is on a mission to become the greatest rapper of all time. (February)

  • Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson & Ellen Hagan – Jasmine and Chelsea start a Women’s Rights Club at school and gain internet notoriety when they post their poems, essays and videos online in this novel about race, privilege and community. (February)

  • The Honeyman and the Hunter by Neil Grant – Sixteen-year-old Indian-Australian Rudra travels to Bengal on a journey that stirs up family history and his dual cultural identity. (April)

  • How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox – A heartbreaking and hopeful YA novel that honestly portrays loss and living with mental illness. (May)

  • Devil’s Ballast by Meg Caddy – This action-packed pirate adventure brings Anne Bonny, one of history’s most fascinating anti-heroines, to life. (May)

  • Saga by Nikki McWatters – This powerful work about three young women caught in the stories of their own times can be read as a companion to McWatters’s earlier historical feminist novels. (Mid-2019)

  • Impossible Music by Sean Williams – When a teen guitarist goes deaf, his quest to create an entirely new form of music brings him to a deeper understanding of his relationship to the hearing world, as well as of himself and of the girl he meets along the way. (July)

  • I Am Change by Suzy Zail – Inspired by the true story of 30 Ugandan girls, this is a novel about a young girl fighting to find her voice and bring about change. (August)

  • Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott with Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis – Stella and Will, both teens with cystic fibrosis, must literally keep their distance despite being irresistibly drawn to each other. (November)

Thrillers & mysteries


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  • This Lie Will Kill You by Chelsea Pitcher – Five teens are lured to an isolated mansion by someone desperate to uncover the truth about a deathly party. (January)

  • Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) by L.C. Rosen – Pretty Little Liars meets Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this slick high school mystery. (February)

  • Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen McManus – Ellery moves to small town Echo Ridge where she must confronts buried secrets – about both the town’s missing girls and her own family. (February)

  • Love Lie Repeat by Catherine Greer – A lush, sophisticated psychological thriller about guilt and power that early readers are comparing to We Were Liars. (March)

  • Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young – A thrilling and subversive near-future series about a girls-only private high school that is far more than it initially appears. (April)

  • Mindcull by K.H. Canobi – A scarily plausible futuristic thriller by a debut Australian author. (June)

  • Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett – Two teens who work at the graveyard shift at a Seattle motel stumble across a mystery involving a famous and famously reclusive writer. (June)

For something a bit different


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  • A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer – An addictive and rich reimagining of the Beauty and the Beast tale. (February)

  • To Night Owl From Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan & Meg Wolitzer – A laugh-out-loud novel by two well-known authors, told entirely in letters and emails. (March)

  • Dig by A.S. King – A surreal dive into the tangled secrets of a newly moneyed family in suburban Pennsylvania and the terrible cost the family’s children pay to maintain the family name. (May)

  • Kindred edited by Michael Earp – A jam-packed new anthology for lovers of this year’s Meet Me at the Intersection and Begin, End, Begin. This is another great #OwnVoices pick. (June)

  • Toffee by Sarah Crossan – For poetry lovers – acclaimed verse novelist Crossan’s new book is about a young runaway who forms an unusual bond with an elderly woman with dementia. (June)

  • Untitled by Brian Conaghan – Also for poetry readers, Conaghan’s forthcoming novel is about grief and healing, told with humour and warmth. (August)

  • I Quit Plastic by Kate Nelson – This practical book about reducing your waste and removing plastic from your life is suitable for ages 14+ and comes from Australian blogger Kate Nelson, AKA Plastic Free Mermaid. (Late 2019)

A final note


Two US books that received enormous praise overseas will both soon be available in Australia: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi (January) and We Are Okay by Nina LeCour (March). We can also expect a second novel from Kate O'Donnell who wrote staff favourite, Untidy Towns, and a hotly anticipated debut from Lisa Fuller, the 2017 winner of the David Unaipon Award.

Four Dead Queens

Four Dead Queens

Astrid Scholte

$19.99Buy now

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