It’s that time of year again! The time of year where we share our favorite book releases. We had a hard time choosing our favorites because there were so many amazing young adult books released in 2022. Keep on reading to discover our top ten picks and honorable mentions. What was your favorite book of 2022? Let us know in the comments.
1. I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys
It’s 1989 and Eastern Europe is changing. However, Nicolae Ceaușescu remains in power in Romania, meaning citizens don’t have much freedom. Cristian Florescu, a 17 year old student, just wants to be a writer and learn about the world outside of Bucharest, Romania, but it’s not that easy when everything in your life is decided for you. Cristian is being watched by the Securitate and when they have evidence of him committing a crime, they have the chance to blackmail him into being an informer.
Cristian’s mom works as a maid for an American diplomat and it’s Cristian’s job to spy on the man’s son. Quickly, Cristian learns more about the world, seeing how different things are for westerners. His grandfather was right all along about the outside world. He told Cristian about how Romania could be and what life was like before the Ceaușescus took over.
We’ll start by saying that I Must Betray You is insanely powerful. While the book is a work of fiction, the historical events that happened are true. Romania has been overlooked by most of the world, but it has a rich history worth studying. We chose this book as our favorite for 2022 because it captured our attention immediately and opened our eyes. Not only is the story great, but we also became invested in the lives of the characters. They were so complex and well written. Cristian lived a life where he couldn’t trust most people and in the epilogue, which is set years in the future, Cristian had to deal with harsh realizations regarding his past.
2. The Do-Over by Lynn Painter
Happy Valentine’s Day, Emilie Hornby. Emilie can’t wait to share the most romantic day of the year with her boyfriend Josh. She has every detail planned and nothing could mess with her schedule. Well, except for getting into a car accident, seeing Josh kiss his ex-girlfriend, losing her dream journalism summer program and finding out her dad is moving to Texas with his new family. After a horrible day, she seeks comfort from her grandmother, ready for her worst day ever to be over.
Except, she wakes up in her own room and it’s Valentine’s Day. Again. Emilie believes that being stuck in a time loop is the universe’s way of telling her to fix everything that went wrong in her life. Emilie tries to change her bad day…but nothing works. She keeps repeating the same disasters, even when she take a different route to school and tries to stop Josh from kissing his ex.
Last year we read Painter’s debut YA book Better Than the Movies and chose it as one of our top books of 2021. The Do-Over was one of our most anticipated books of 2022 and we’re excited to say it didn’t disappoint us. It’s adorable, swoonworthy and witty. Painter has a talent for writing dialogue, especially for romantic scenes. We also couldn’t help but ship Emilie and Nick throughout the story. Emilie hits Nick’s car at the beginning of the book and then he ends up playing a huge role in her journey. Josh was such a jerk and Nick pushed Emilie to be her true self.
3. These Deadly Games by Diana Urban
Crystal Donovan and her five best friends are all preparing for a tournament for MortalDusk, a videogame competition that could win them all a lot of money. But the Friday before the weekend tournament, Crystal gets a message from an anonymous person stating that they have her sister Caelyn and if Crystal doesn’t do exactly what they say, Caelyn’s life is at stake.
Anonymous has created a timed game, giving Crystal strange instructions to complete in the allotted time. At first, the tasks are strange and seemingly harmless: make a prank phone call, bake brownies and take a math test from her teacher’s desk. They seemed harmless, until one by one, Crystal’s five best friends: Zoey, Randall, Matty, Akira and Dylan start to face the consequences of these actions. That’s when Crystal knows this isn’t just a dumb game and every move she makes could have dire consequences for everyone in her life.
The beginning of These Deadly Games threw us for a loop because of the plot being focused around videogames. We admit we’re not video game people at all, so we were nervous about that being a big focus. However, it only took about 15 pages for Urban to completely hook us with the story. This YA thriller was literally nonstop and impossible to put down. Most of the events take place over a single day, so this book kept delivering plot twists. Urban impressed us so much that her latest book became our top mystery/thriller novel of 2022.
4. Come Out and Play by Amber Lynn Natusch
Kylene Danners nearly escaped death for the second time since she returned to her hometown Jasperville, Ohio. Another person she trusted betrayed her, leading Kylene to question everything and everyone around her. She’s nowhere closer to discovering the identity of Advocatus Diaboli, also known as the AD. But what she is certain of: a lot of people in Jasperville are compromised, including some of her dad’s former FBI colleagues.
Kylene also faces the fact that she has no money to pay for college. So when her best friends Tabby and Garrett suggest Kylene enter the local pageant for the generous prize money, Kylene thinks they’re insane. Kylene is a tomboy…not a pageant girl. But when the pageant becomes linked to the AD mystery, Kylene is ready to join to figure out the AD’s next move. Besides, having a scholarship to college would change her life.
The third book of The Hometown Antihero series was our favorite so far. While we loved Dare You to Lie and Don’t Say a Word, we found Come Out and Play to have the most intriguing plot. Since we’re three books into the series now, we’ve had time to get to know Kylene, Garret, Tabby, AJ and Dawson. We feel personally invested in the outcome of the series, so we knew this book had to be in our top ten. Everything from the plot, to the characters, to the corrupt small town setting is done perfectly.
The only thing that annoyed us about this book is that when we finished, we didn’t have a release date for book four. And, we still don’t…
5. Wait for Me by Sara Shepard
Do you believe in reincarnation?
Sara Shepard asks readers to be open to the possibility.
Casey Rhodes already lives an unconventional life. At 17, she’s a sophomore at New York University (NYU) and dating Marcus Coleman, one of the most attractive (and wealthiest) college students in NYC. At an exclusive holiday party thrown by her boyfriend’s father, Casey hears a creepy voice inside her head. One that makes her blood go cold. She thought she just had too much champagne, but when she hears the voice again later, she knows she has to get out of the city for some answers.
Nothing makes sense anymore. Not running into a small town psychic, who explains that Casey’s past life might be talking to her. Not Jack, the cute guy she has an instant connection with. Not the entire beach town on Long Island and the voice in her head telling her something terrible happened years ago.
Wait for Me was an intense experience for us. Shepard knocked it out of the park. She gave us something new and thought provoking. The book provided mental health representation when talking about Casey hearing a voice. While the point was to show that people in her life weren’t openminded, the book also talked about how getting mental health care is nothing to be ashamed of. We knew that Wait for Me had to be in out top ten has soon as we finished it. It kept us intrigued and it was unlike anything we’d read before.
6. How to Survive Your Murder by Danielle Valentine
Alice Lawrence never forgave herself for letting her older sister Claire go into the corn maze alone on Halloween night. A year later, she’s the sole witness at her sister’s murder trial. Alice needs to go to the bathroom and calm down before the trail begins, but she’s followed by a girl dressed as Sidney Prescott. “Sidney” asks Alice is she’s sure about the guy who killed her sister. Alice thinks she knows everything about that night and would do anything to save Claire.
Be careful what you wish for, though. Alice is sent back in time and wakes up in the corn maze Halloween night one year ago. This is her moment to fix everything. But as Alice’s night goes on, she begins to understand that she had no idea what really happened and her wish might have dire consequences.
How to Survive Your Murder was much different than we expected it to be. We figured it would be a race against the clock for Alice and that Claire would be a damsel in distress type of character. We were completely wrong. This story is going to increase your heart rate. It’s insanely twisted and so much darker than we ever imagined. The book kept us thinking about the ending days after we finished it, leading us to picking it as one of our top reads of 2022.
7. London Prep 7: The Choice by Jillian Dodd
Mallory James finally makes her choice. After weeks of not committing to Noah Williams or Harry Brooks, Mallory knows who has her heart. Everything should be simple, right? Wrong. Mallory is juggling having a boyfriend, friendships and her parents moving to London.
Having her parents around only makes Mallory’s life much more complicated. And a disaster between her boyfriend and her dad threatens to derail everything Mallory hoped for. Living in London may be glamorous, but that comes with a lot of drama.
London Prep 7: The Choice gave us all the romance, drama and shopping that we’ve come to expect from Dodd. However, her cliffhangers are becoming more cruel with every new book. While we loved the latest installment of the London Prep series, we’re desperate for the next book. Don’t make us wait too long.
8. Love from Scratch by Kaitlyn Hill
Reese Camden can’t wait to start her dream marketing internship at a cooking channel located in Seattle, Washington. She loved watching the channel Friends of Flavor back home in Kentucky and now she gets to spend her summer before college doing the behind the scenes work.
When an emergency happens at the network and they need someone to be on a cooking show for amateurs, Reese and the only other intern are forced to be filmed with little notice. Benny Beneventi, the annoyingly charming culinary intern and her main competition for staying on for the fall internship program, annoys Reese from the start. Benny is much for popular with the audience than Reese and he won’t stop trying to be her new best friend. Reese has one summer to secure her dream future, Benny cannot get in the way, even if he is really attractive.
We scrolled through YA books on NetGalley and found Love from Scratch. Since we’re obsessed with cooking shows like Top Chef and Chopped, Hill’s debut novel looked like the perfect romcom set in the culinary world. We loved the adorable romance, the setting and the plot. How cute would it be meeting someone on the set on your favorite network?
9. Five Survive by Holly Jackson
Eight hours. Six friends. Five survive. Red Kenny and her friends go on a road trip during the spring and expect the perfect friend adventure. But when they get stuck in the middle of nowhere South Carolina, something crazy starts happening. Someone is out there and this isn’t random. The mysterious man says tell the truth and everyone can leave the RV, but which person is keeping secrets?
Taking place over the course of a single night, the book highlights that every character is hiding a dark secret. However, the reader has to figure out which secret could get someone killed.
We were intrigued by all the characters and their back stories from the start. Our favorite part was trying to piece together the mystery. Everyone in the RV had something to hide. The big question was which secret was relevant to the strange man in the woods? Overall, Five Survive was a wild ride (pun not intended). It gave us the thrilling experience we’ve come to expect from Jackson.
10. The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Over a year after reading The Inheritance Games and The Hawthorne Legacy, we finally finished this amazing trilogy. The Final Gambit was one of our most anticipated books of 2022 and we’re happy to say it lived up to our high expectations.
Avery Kylie Grams is only weeks away from being the richest teenager in the world when she gets control of $46.2 billion after spending a year in the Hawthorne Manor. However, the game Tobias Hawthorne left isn’t over year. When Jameson and Grayson return for Avery’s 18th birthday celebration, she expects they’ll be leaving shortly after. But an unexpected arrival changes everything for Avery and the Hawthorne brothers. The group has one more mystery to solve and they can’t do it without each other.
The mystery was easily the best part of The Final Gambit. The peculiar new character opened up a whole new can of worms. The mystery had two parts: the part Tobias Hawthorne left and the part a new player sent to Avery. It made for a twisted, complex challenge that took multiple brilliant minds to solve.
We didn’t know what to expect when we started reading about Avery’s latest mystery. However, right before we started The Final Gambit, we found out about Barnes’s next book: The Brothers Hawthorne. So we know that the story wouldn’t be over with this book. While we did love the book overall, the ending left us wanting more, hence the next book releasing in 2023.
1. Places We’ve Never Been by Kasie West
Norah Simons and Skyler Hutton were best friends. But when Skyler and his family moved from California to Ohio, Noah and Skyler lost touch. Four years later, their moms sprung an RV road trip on them. The Simons and Huttons are spending a few weeks in two RVs going around the western United States.
Norah couldn’t be happier to reconnect with her former best friend. She has images of playing video games and goofing around together, just like when they were kids. But when she sees Skyler in her front yard, he makes it clear he’d rather be anywhere else.
Places We’ve Never Been being set during a road trip had us ready for a big summer adventure. While we’re not RV people, we really love seeing the different places the characters visited, including Yosemite National Park and Seattle, Washington. We’re always up for YA books with travel as a key plot point. The trip also became the perfect way for Norah and Skyler to reconnect through different adventures. Even when the two were fighting, we could tell they had a romantic spark.
While this wasn’t our favorite book from West, we really enjoyed it, leading us to choosing it as an honorable mention. Like West’s other books, the romance is super sweet and had us cheering for the main couple throughout the story.
2. Finding Her Edge by Jennifer Iacopelli
Adriana Russo’s family is royalty in the figure skating world. Both her parents were Olympic Gold Medalists and now her family owns the prestigious Kellynch rink outside of Boston, Massachusetts. But life has been tough lately. Adriana’s dad is spending way more than he brings in, Junior World Championships is almost here and the fabulous Elisa Russo, Adriana’s obnoxious older sister, is heading to the 2022 Olympics.
To make things more stressful, the entire Team USA will be training at Kellynch before they leave for the Junior World Championship in Paris. Normally, that wouldn’t be a big deal. But Adriana doesn’t want to spend so much time with Freddie O’Connell, her ex-best friend and ex-skating partner. For two weeks, Adriana has to perfect her routines with her skating partner Brayden Elliot, avoid Freddie and somehow fix the financial chaos caused by dad and older sister.
When we learned about Finding Her Edge, we knew we had to read a book set in the competitive figure skating world. We’re happy to say that it was so good that we wish we read it earlier. There’s something funny about reading an ice skating book while lounging by the pool in the August heat. The book took place in two of our favorite cities: Paris and Boston. This book is a lot of fun and perfect to read during the winter.
3. Nothing More to Tell by Karen McManus
Brynn Gallagher never thought she’d have to return to Sturgis, Massachusetts, her terrible hometown. But when her dad tells her they’re moving back, Brynn and her sister Ellie realize they have to attend to Saint Ambrose School, a local private school where Brynn’s favorite teacher was murdered four years ago.
To help her journalist career, Brynn applied for an internship at Motive, a true crime network. When she pitched the idea that the show covers her former teacher, William Larkin, she never suspected for her superiors to go for it. But now that Brynn is back, she’s determined to learn the truth. Three students found Mr. Larkin, including Brynn’s former best friend Tripp Talbot, and at least one of them is hiding something.
First of all, we really liked Brynn as a main character. She tends to get tunnel vision when she’s passionate about something, but it feels relatable for type A readers. Then we have Tripp, who we knew hid something from the start. We weren’t sure what to think about Tripp at first, though we eventually grew to like him, especially when we learned about his secrets. As for the mystery, in true McManus fashion, there were many layers to Nothing More to Tell. While it wasn’t our favorite book from McManus, it was a solid read and a creative mystery.
4. Rivals (American Royals 3) by Katharine McGee
The long awaited third book in the American Royals series released in 2022, almost two years after the last book. A lot is changing for Queen Beatrice, Princess Samantha, Nina and Daphne and the four of them are facing new challenges. Can these women figure out how to navigate their lives, or will they end things with more drama than ever before?
We’re happy to say that Rivals did not disappoint and was worth the long wait. It did takes us a little while to get back into the story since we forgot some of what happened in Majesty. Once we did get going, we found the book hard to put down.
One aspect we always loved was the world building. Alternate history is such a fun genre and it’s cool to see how the United States would have looked if George Washington accepted a crown. TBH, we wouldn’t want to live in this world…but it’s fun to read about. The end of Rivals had us anticipating the next book in the series, which hopefully releases in 2023.
5. The Counselors by Jessica Goodman
Goldie Easton can’t wait to spend her summer as a counselor at Camp Alpine Lake in Vermont. Every year since she was eight, Goldie and her two best friends Ava and Imogen spend two months together at the elite summer destination. While Ava and Imogen are part of the wealthy clientele of Stu and Mellie, owners of Camp Alpine Lake, Goldie gets to attend camp/work there because her parents are camp employees. Goldie is a townie, living in Roxwood, Vermont, the working class town a few miles away.
It’s been a tough year for Goldie without her friends. Goldie had legal trouble and won’t be going to college in the fall like her peers. She just wants to forget and enjoy her last summer at camp. But when her ex-boyfriend Heller McConnell winds up dead in the camp’s lake, she knows relaxation is out of the picture.
The themes of Goodman’s books are murder, privileged characters and terrible ex-boyfriends. That was true for The Counselors as well. First of all, we loved the dark summer camp setting. Second, we liked Goldie’s social commentary on the super rich Ava vs the struggling Roxwood residents. As for the plot, we had some predictions early on about what happened. While the details were more complicated than we expected, we did sort of guess the outcome. The Counselors wasn’t our top book of the year, but Goodman’s book still deserves an honorable mention.