When the Stars Come Out: YA Books About What Happens at Night

Cassie Gutman

Staff Writer

Cassie Gutman is happiest when surrounded by books and dogs. Originally from a small, funny-named town near Louisville, Kentucky, she now edits words for a living near Chicago and would like to be paid in ice cream. You can find her on Instagram @happybooklovers or on Twitter @cassiepgutman.

Flatiron Books, publisher of The Insomniacs by Marit Weisenberg.

A competitive diver, seventeen-year-old Ingrid is haunted by what she saw at the pool at a routine meet, before falling off the high dive and waking up concussed. The only thing she remembers about the moment before her dive is locking eyes with Van—her neighbor, former best friend, and forever crush—kissing his girlfriend on the sidelines. But that can’t be all. Then one sleepless night, she sees Van out her window…looking right back at her.

There’s something both magical and mysterious about things that take place under the cloak of darkness. When the world is sleeping, you can be wide awake experiencing the best (or the worst) night of your life.

So whether it’s spooky things that go bump in the night or lying underneath the stars with your cute crush, these YA books show that anything can happen in the night.

We Are the Wildcats

We Are the Wildcats by Siobhan Vivian

The varsity field hockey squad is ready for their new season, and to commemorate the night before their first game, they’re ready to bond at a team sleepover. Everyone knows their fate relies on the traditional midnight initiation ceremony, but when their coach upends their plans, the girls must stick together to figure out how far they’re willing to go and what they will do to make things right.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? book cover by Seth. C. Adams

Are You Afraid of the Dark? by Seth C. Adams

Reggie is still reeling from the death of his father, and he’s recently found the woods near his house comforting. That is, until one day, a bleeding man stumbles from the shadows. Reggie leads the man to his tree house, helping the stranger recover. But as he heals, Reggie learns there’s more to this man than he initially thought, and soon lives may be in danger. 

Sometime After Midnight book cover

Sometime After Midnight by L. Philips

Cameron and Nate meet in a Los Angeles club late one night, bonding over their love of a super obscure indie band. But soon Nate learns that Cameron is the heir to a record label—the record label that destroyed Nate’s father’s life. Nate runs as fast as he can, but Cameron can’t understand and tries desperately to find Nate, relying on the only photo he has of him from that night: a blurry photo of Nate’s Chucks. This is a fun fairytale retelling in the LA music scene.

Slay book cover

Slay by Brittney Morris

By day, Kiera Johnson is a normal high schooler, trying to keep up her honors grades and her tutoring schedule organized. But by night, Kiera is a programmer, the master behind SLAY, an online role-playing game for Black gamers. No one knows she’s the creator of this game, and her plan is going perfectly until a teen is murdered over a dispute in the game and suddenly Kiera is on the front lines of trying to diffuse gamers, the media, and her own friends and family.

White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig cover image

White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig

Rufus is having the actual worst night ever—his ex-boyfriend shows up out of the blue demanding they “talk,” which seems bad enough by itself. But then Rufus’s sister April calls, begging for help. When he finds her, she’s covered in blood and holding a knife next to the dead body of her boyfriend. Everything spins rapidly out of control as Rufus tries to manage who is telling the truth and what he is going to do next to protect the ones he loves. 

The Weight of the Stars book cover

The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum

Ryann wants to explore space, but as a girl from a trailer park, she isn’t expected to make it very far, so why should she show up to school and make an effort when no one expects her to? But when she meets Alexandria, another recluse looking for a friend, the two become closer than ever. And Alexandria has a connection to space, everything Ryann dreams of. Every night, Alexandria waits up to listen for radio signals, and Ryann is pulled into her routine as the two dream of something more.

Be Not Far from Me book cover

Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis

Ashley would rather be in the wilds than in the comfort of a home. She can’t get enough of the outdoors. So when her friends head out hiking into the Smokies for a fun night of camping and partying, she’s in her element. But when Ashley catches her boyfriend with another girl, she angrily races off on her own, quickly falling into a ravine and off the path. Now she’s alone in the woods with only herself to rely on to survive.

And the Trees Crept In book cover

And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich

Silla and Nori have recently arrived at their aunt’s manor house, and they know immediately something isn’t right. At night, the house makes noises and the woods are quiet, the opposite of what they should be. And when Nori begins seeing and playing with a man no one else can see who only comes out at night, things go from bad to worse.