I work at my local high school library. So I make a conscious effort to read as much YA lit as I can. I’ve read some bad books, and I’ve read some great books. Here is my list of recommended reads for any age reader.
Note: Many popular YA staples such as Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and The Fault In Our Stars are not on this list because they are so well known, you already know if you want to read them.
by Scott Westerfield
What happens when everyone is pretty? Without ugliness can there really be beauty? In a world where everyone is pretty, maybe that’s the part that’s ugly.
Full confession: One of the reasons I like this book is because it reminded me of my favorite Twilight Zone episode. The episode is . . . no not “Eye of The Beholder”. That is a classic, but no. My favorite is a little-known story called “Number 12 Looks Just Like You.”
It takes place in a futuristic society where everyone is required to get plastic surgery to look like one of a handful of body types or “patterns.” People even have to wear name tags just to tell each other apart! It’s an interesting look at beauty standards and the whole mindset of the beauty industry. and if Scott Westerfield ever comes out and said he never saw this episode I would be tempted to call him a liar! Uglies is the squeal to “Number 12 Looks Just Like You” that I always wanted.
2. The Program
by Suzanne Young
Set in a world where teenage suicide is classified as an epidemic, everyone wants to make sure that the disease doesn’t spread. Teens are under constant surveillance for signs of depression and ANY sign gets you landed in The Program. The only proven treatment.
Sloane has seen the kids who “come back” from The Program and something is wrong with them. Their minds don’t really come back at all. They say The Program helps, that it takes away your pain, but without the painful memories that help shape you, are you really you? and in such a stressful situation, how long can Sloane last?
by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
When a mining colony is attacked as the opening move of a corporate war, 17-year-old evacuees, and recently broken up, Kady and Ezra are just grateful to be alive. But they have no idea that the fight for their lives has just begun.
The rescue ship Alexander has no hyperdrive, the nearest spaceport is months away, there’s a mysterious plague, the crew is keeping secrets, and a faulty AI navigation system are just the beginning of their problems.
by Marissa Meyer
Sixteen-year-old Lin Cinder is the best mechanic in New Beijing, but she’s also a cyborg, and thus a second-class citizen. Cinder finds herself sucked her into an intergalactic incident involving a political marriage, and the deadly plague that is sweeping across New Beijing. This is unlike any Cinderella story you have ever seen before!
Iko, Cinder’s fashion obsessed robot pal, could have easily come off as really annoying, but I actually loved her. I normally hate side characters like Iko, but she reminded me of Kaylee from Firefly.
5. Lock In
by John Scalzi
Set in the not-too-distant future where a strange disease has broken out. Most of the infected eventually recover, but for 1% of sufferers the disease causes “Lock In”. They are awake and aware, but unable to move or respond. Massive amounts of money have gone to researching this disease, but no cure has ever been found. Instead, the victims use robotic bodies to connect with the outside world, and recovered victims make a handsome living as “integrators”, literally renting their bodies to the “Locked in.”
Well that all makes Chris and Leslie’s job investigating a murder much harder. How do you find a killer when you don’t know who if the killer was in their own body at the time?
6. Batman: The Long Halloween
Batman and Jeff Lobb, can you really go wrong? I don’t think so!
Taking place when Batman himself is practically a rookie, Batman must find a killer known as “Holiday” who kills a new victim each holiday.
It’s a race against time to find the killer, with many Batman villains in play and public servants at risk.
This is a great story and features the origins of Batman’s Key villains!
by Brian K. Vaughan
Being a teenager in the Marvel universe sucks!
You think your life is totally normal and then crazy stuff keeps happening: you develop superpowers, you got to figure out where to keep a pet dinosaur, and people want to ship you off to a boarding school run by Emma Frost! Worst of all has to be learning that your parents are secretly super villains!
That’s when it’s time to run away from home.
by Rumiko Takahashi
“Bye Mom, I’m going through the magical time portal again, so I’ll be back in the Middle ages with my half-demon boyfriend. We’re off to hunt down the demon that killed me in a past life. We’ll be supervised only by a lecherous monk with a death wish, and his emotionally traumatized girlfriend who watched her possessed little brother slaughter their whole family. I’ll try to be back Thursday unless the wolf demon leader kidnaps me again to try and make me marry him. So could you make up an excuse for school?”
“Okay sweetheart bring a sweater”
Your Mom will never be as cool as Kagome’s mom!
9. The Ice Dragon
by George R. R. Martin
In this book (which may or may not take place in the same universe as Martin’s smash hit A Game of Thrones) A little girl, Adara, has always been cold-hearted, they say that’s what killed her mother when she was born. Adara meets and befriends an ice dragon. Will she runway and live in the icy north with the dragons, or will she stay with her family?
There is no explanation for Adara’s connection to the cold. This may sound strange, but it doesn’t really matter. It makes thematic sense.
10. Ouran High School Host Club
by Bisco Hatori
Haruhi is a scholarship student at exclusive Ouran High School. Ever the klutz, Haruhi brakes an $80,000 vase. Members of the ‘Host Club’, a group that entertains the other students, pays for the vase in exchange for Haruhi working off the debt.
The series is big on humor. I don’t think we ever see a class at this school. it all talks place in the Host Club.
11. Grimms Fairy Tales
by the Brother’s Grimm
Yes, I know. Fairy Tales, but have you ever sat down and read these tales? Murder, maiming, rape, insist. and that’s just the variants of Cinderella!
Do not pick this up if you expect to find a happy Disney fairy tale. These are dark tales that will make you afraid to wander into the woods.
12. Artemis Fowl
by Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl is a twelve-year-old boy genius whose family is on the brink of losing it all, he needs money to keep his family together. Lots of money, and fast.
Holly Short is a Lower Elements Police Reconnaissance officer – that’s right she’s a LEPrecon – and we all know what happens when you catch a leprechaun. . .
It’s technology and human ingenuity vs ancient fairy wisdom. Let the battle of wits begin!