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Blog – Posted on Wednesday, Jul 03

25 Amazing Books for Teens You Don't Want to Miss

25 Amazing Books for Teens You Don't Want to Miss

The young adult (YA) genre has exploded in popularity in recent years. With the success of blockbuster film adaptations like The Hunger Games and the rise of online communities where you can discuss your favorite books with like-minded fans, there has never been a better time to be a reading-obsessed teen. 

We’ve already shared a comprehensive list of the best YA books of all time in another post. For this one, we’ve hand-picked 25 books that we think will strike a chord with younger readers in particular. Whether you’re looking for your next read or a story to recommend to a budding bookworm, we’ve got you covered.

If you’d rather have a quick YA novel recommendation, take our 30-second quiz below. 

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The Color of Magic: A Discworld Novel (Wizards, 1)

1. The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett

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One of the most celebrated fantasy series of the past fifty years, Terry Pratchett’s iconic Discworld series began here with The Color of Magic. Rincewind is a wizard university dropout who, through an unfortunate series of events, finds himself the reluctant guide to Twoflower, a naive tourist. Twoflower’s happy-go-lucky attitude clashes with Rincewind’s unending cynicism to create a charmingly comedic dynamic that sets the tone for Discworld moving forward. If you’re looking to get lost in an immense, wonderfully imagined fantasy world, there’s no better place to start!

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

2. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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Sixteen-year-old Simon Spier just wants to keep his head down and avoid all the messy drama associated with teenage life. Unfortunately, his quiet high school existence is interrupted when classmate Martin uncovers Simon’s greatest secret — his sexuality. Not yet ready to come out, Simon is blackmailed into playing wingman for Martin to prevent his identity from being exposed to the rest of the school. Author Becky Albertalli uses her background as a psychologist to portray the complexities of adolescence in this wickedly funny and heart-warming tale of identity and self-acceptance. If you’ve finished reading and find yourself hungry for more, be sure to check out the film adaptation Love, Simon from 2018.

Children of Blood and Bone

3. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

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Inspired by the often underexplored mythology of West Africa, Children of Blood and Bone presents a refreshing take on what a fantasy world can look like. We follow Zélie Adebola, a young girl on a journey to restore magic to her people, who are now subject to brutal persecution under the vehemently anti-magic King Saran. Author Tomi Adeyemi draws on her experiences growing up as the daughter of Nigerian immigrants in the United States to explore the impact of systemic injustice in this beautifully poignant coming-of-age story. This book also landed on our list of 70 must-read books by Black authors, so take this as a sign to bump it up on your reading list.

Scythe (1) (Arc of a Scythe)

4. Scythe by Neal Shusterman

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People are born, they live, and then they die. That’s the way it’s always been. Until people stopped dying. In the far future, humanity has conquered its mortality — famine, disease, and aging are distant memories in the world of Scythe. Even national governments are a thing of the past, as a benevolent AI manages the world’s affairs instead. This may sound great, but there’s no such thing as a utopia. To keep the global population in check, ordained killers named “Scythes” are given license to end a life when they deem it appropriate. But as the saying goes, power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Will that old adage ring true for protagonists Citra and Rowan as they begin their apprenticeships in the Scythedom?

The Queen's Poisoner

5. The Queen's Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler

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Following the success of his Muirwood trilogy, self-published author Jeff Wheeler continues his foray into fantasy with The Queen’s Poisoner. Young Owen Kiskaddon is held hostage by King Severn following a failed rebellion led by the boy’s father. Desperate to survive, Owen befriends the enigmatic Ankarette, a trusted advisor to the Queen who offers him guidance and protection in this hostile and unfamiliar environment. To prove his value to the King, Owen must learn to navigate the dangers of the royal court through observation, critical thinking, and tactical political maneuvering.

With the Fire on High

6. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

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Between her life as a high school student, duty as a teenage mother, and ambitions of pursuing the culinary arts, sixteen-year-old Emoni Santiago has a lot on her plate. Despite her talent and passion for cooking, Emoni is all but ready to give up on her dreams, as the weight of her responsibilities threatens to crush her beneath them. However, Emoni’s hope is renewed when her school starts to offer a culinary arts class with the chance to complete a prestigious internship in Spain. Determined to make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Emoni must learn to carefully balance her responsibilities in the present and her dreams for the future. Beware of reading this one when you’re hungry, as Acevedo’s mouthwatering descriptions of food will have you rummaging through your fridge in no time.

They Both Die at the End

7. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

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In a world where people are informed of their death 24 hours beforehand, there’s a market for an app that matches people looking to make one final connection before they depart for the afterlife. It’s through this app that our protagonists — the shy but compassionate Mateo and the outgoing, rebellious Rufus — meet. Determined to make the most of their remaining time on Earth, the two embark on an adventure across New York City to complete as much of their bucket list as possible before the day ends. It may be a bold choice to include the ending of a story in its title, but Silvera’s novel takes full advantage of its unconventional setup to tell a comedic yet heart-wrenching tale of two teenagers coming to terms with their mortality.

Monday's Not Coming

8. Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

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Who among us hasn’t agonized in bed on a Sunday night, wishing that Monday didn’t have to come? For Claudia, the only thing that gets her through the Sunday blues is knowing that she gets to see her best (and only) friend at school — an energetic girl appropriately named Monday. Unfortunately for Claudia, Monday is absent for their first day of high school. Claudia’s concern turns to panic as, even two weeks into their freshman year, Monday has yet to show up. When the adults in her life fail to help out, it’s up to Claudia to unravel the mystery behind her friend’s disappearance, as there is much more to this story that Monday’s shady family is trying to conceal.

The Serpent King

9. The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

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Even at the best of times, high school can feel like a nest of vipers. This shouldn’t be an issue for Dill, whose house is chock full of snakes kept by his father, a Pentecostal minister. Dealing with actual snakes is much more straightforward, as Dill would come to find out following his father’s very public fall from grace. Now a constant target of harassment from the local bullies, Dill’s only escapes are making music and spending time with his fellow outcasts, Lydia and Travis. Each of his friends has their own ideas for life after graduation, but Dill remains paralyzed by the weight of his past, unable to fathom what his future may hold.

Sadie

10. Sadie by Courtney Summers

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When a botched police investigation leaves her younger sister’s murder unresolved, Sadie takes it upon herself to bring the killer to justice. While she chases a trail of clues around the country, investigative journalist West McCray follows her journey on his podcast, “The Girls”, as he attempts to track down the scant threads that Sadie leaves behind. Perspective alternates between the two each chapter, with Sadie’s deeply personal investment in the case cutting through McCray’s more detached perspective as an outsider looking in. Sadie’s unique presentation extends outside the story itself, as it was released alongside a mock true-crime podcast titled The Girls: Find Sadie.

Dreamland Burning

11. Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

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Plenty of people have skeletons in their closet, but not many can say they have one buried on their property. When Rowan Chase, a biracial teenager living in present-day Tulsa, discovers the remains of William Tillman, a young white man who died a hundred years prior, she sets off a chain of events that unearths some long-buried secrets surrounding Tulsa’s violent history. The narrative switches perspectives between Rowan and William, offering a harrowing look at both the racial injustice of the 1920s, and how it continues to influence the world almost a century later.

Spin the Dawn

12. Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

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Elizabeth Lim gives her take on the classic Mulan story with Maia’s journey in Spin the Dawn. A talented seamstress, Maia dreams of one day becoming the greatest tailor in the land. When an opportunity to become the Emperor’s tailor comes knocking, Maia is determined to make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime chance. The problem? Only men are eligible to compete for the position. Unfazed, Maia disguises herself as a boy and sets out to join the competition, where she must overcome a series of arduous challenges to advance, all while maintaining her secret identity.

Everything, Everything

13. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

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There’s a big difference between “living” and “being alive”. Bed-bound by a debilitating immunodeficiency disease, Maddy Whittier longs for a life free from the confines of her lonely bedroom. When a new family moves in next door, Maddy is offered a glimpse into life on the outside courtesy of her interactions with her charming new neighbor, Olly. Little by little, Maddy’s world opens up as her relationship with Olly develops, before it’s turned completely upside down. As the title suggests, Everything, Everything has everything you could want in a YA romance novel, so if that's what you’re looking for then pick this one up — you won’t be disappointed.

The Enemy

14. The Enemy by Charlie Higson

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Violence, blood, and gore are par for the course in zombie media, and The Enemy is no exception. A deadly virus has transformed everyone over the age of thirteen into a mindless “sicko”, leaving the remaining children to fend for themselves in a world without adults. The narrative jumps between different groups of kids around London, all of which have developed their own systems and hierarchies to keep themselves alive. Charlie Higson is not afraid to impose real, lasting consequences on his characters which, along with his knack for gory description, makes every encounter with the “grown-ups” feel dangerous and unpredictable. For fans of post-apocalypse stories, this series is a must-read.

The Sword of Kaigen

15. The Sword of Kaigen by M.L. Wang

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If you’re looking to scratch that fantasy itch but aren’t interested in picking up a long series, The Sword of Kaigen could be just the book you’ve been searching for. Born into the legendary Matsuda clan, young Mamoru has been training all his life to master his family’s fighting techniques. The time to put them to use has come much sooner than anyone expected, as the Kaigen Empire is caught off guard by a sudden invasion. Mamoru’s mother, Misaki, was once a feared warrior, but she has long since retired from combat in favor of a quiet life with her family. The outbreak of war forces Misaki to reckon with her past as a fighter to protect her future as a mother, as she can no longer shield her family from the harsh realities of warfare in their remote village.

One of Us Is Lying (Bayview High, 1)

16. One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

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The Breakfast Club meets Agatha Christie in this modern take on the classic whodunit mystery. Five students walk into detention on Monday afternoon, but only four walk out. Simon knew that he wasn’t particularly well-liked at his high school after the creation of his notorious gossip app, “About That”, but he could never have expected that it would get him killed. Simon’s death might have stopped him from dishing the dirt on his fellow detention goers, but now, each of them are suspects in his murder. If you fancy yourself an eagle-eyed reader, give One of Us Is Lying a try and see if you can solve the mystery before the big reveal.

Awaken

17. Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

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For many of us, remote work has become a welcome staple of everyday life. But how much is too much? Awaken explores a world where everything is online — school, work, and even dating are all done from the “comfort” of your own home. This is the world that Maddie grew up in, and she never really questioned it until she met Justin, a fellow teenager who teaches her the joys of offline interaction. Written in 2011, Awaken has aged exceptionally well; it serves as an excellent cautionary tale on the potential dangers of technology, and what we stand to lose as we venture further into the digital age.

Wool

18. Wool by Hugh Howey

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Short and not-so-sweet, the original Wool clocked in at just 60 pages before being published alongside its sequels as a full-length novel under the same name. When Earth’s environment became lethally toxic, humanity was forced to retreat into a massive underground silo. Strict rules are enforced to maintain order, but it’s been so long since they were established that some people are starting to question them. Questions aren’t taken too kindly in the Silo — ask too many of them and you’ll find out why.

The Night Circus

19. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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One day, a circus appears. No one is sure how it got there, but that isn’t important. All that matters is the experience, as visitors are left in awe and wonder by the breathtaking spectacles presented before them. Morgenstern’s writing may seem erratic at first, as she jumps — seemingly at random — between different plot points, perspectives, and periods, but the method behind her madness becomes clear as the story enters its dramatic final phase. The amount of detail crammed into this one makes it even better on re-read, so if that’s something you’re into, make sure to carve out two spots for The Night Circus on your reading list.

Warcross

20. Warcross by Marie Lu

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Your average sports fan will generally cross their arms and roll their eyes at a pitch invasion, then swiftly move on when the game starts back up. But Emika Chen isn’t your run-of-the-mill pitch invader, and Warcross isn’t your standard sport — it's a fully immersive virtual reality experience that’s taken the gaming world by storm. When Emika inadvertently glitches herself into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships, her sudden appearance and impressive skills turn her into an overnight sensation. You’d normally get arrested for pulling a stunt like this, so receiving an invitation from the game’s elusive creator, Hideo Tanaka, to stay in the competition as a spy is the last thing Emika expected. Her investigation uncovers an ominous plot that could have dire consequences for both the physical and digital worlds if left unchecked.

Illuminae

21. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman

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Kady has had quite the day. This morning she broke up with her boyfriend Ezra, and this afternoon her planet was invaded. Once on board an evacuation vessel, Kady begins digging around the fleet’s data to get to the bottom of her planet’s destruction, opening up a whole other can of worms in the process. Between a dangerous AI going haywire, the outbreak of a deadly plague, and the constant threat of a follow-up attack, Kady needs an ally to help her navigate the chaos she’s found herself wrapped up in, and unfortunately for her, Ezra is the only qualified candidate. Illuminae tells a gripping sci-fi thriller story through a series of documents, emails, and instant messages, utilizing unique typographies, graphics, and layouts, to create an immersive experience unlike anything else you’ll find in YA sci-fi.

Every Day

22. Every Day by David Levithan

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Waking up can be disorienting enough as it is, let alone when you don’t know where you’ll be waking up, or even who you’ll be waking up as. Every day, “A” wakes up in a new body. They might be old or young, male or female, rich or poor — A has no way of knowing. They’ve resigned themselves to their fate, vowing not to interfere with the lives of their daily hosts as much as possible. Everything is going about as well as it can be, until A wakes up as Justin and meets his girlfriend for the day, Rhiannon. Throughout all the lives they’ve lived, A has never connected with someone like they have with Rhiannon. Can their love transcend A’s condition, or are some mountains too high to climb? You’ll have to read Every Day to find out.

Shadow and Bone (The Shadow and Bone Trilogy, 1)

23. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

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In the Tsarist-inspired nation of Ravka, Alina Starkov is a seemingly ordinary military cartographer. That is, until she taps into an extraordinary power that could prove essential to turn the tides of war. As she learns to harness her newfound powers, Alina must grapple with both her role in her nation’s future and her feelings towards the duplicitous Ravkan elite. Whether you’re eager to see how the Netflix adaptation stacks up to the source material, or simply looking for a gritty fantasy series to sink your teeth into, Shadow and Bone has you covered.

American Street

24. American Street by Ibi Zoboi

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American Street tells the story of Fabiola, a Haitian teenager who has recently immigrated to Detroit alongside her mother. It turns out that the good life the pair dreamed of isn’t quite all it’s cracked up to be, as Fabiola’s Manman is detained by immigration authorities upon their entry to America. Desperate for them to reunite, Fabiola is willing to do whatever it takes to get her Manman released. But when the opportunity comes along, it puts her at odds with her newfound community, and Fabiola is left in an impossible situation. Author Ibi Zoboi pours her experiences as a Haitian immigrant into Fabiola’s journey, making for a wonderfully authentic tale about the value of resilience, culture, and family.

Tweet Cute: A Novel

25. Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

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While the title for this one may have aged poorly, the contents certainly haven’t. Jack and Pepper are high school seniors who find themselves caught up in a social media feud that ends up spilling over into their personal lives. Each one runs the Twitter (X) account for their family’s respective food business; Jack’s family owns a small local deli, while Pepper is the heir to a fast food dynasty. Unaware of each other’s social media activity, the two develop an unexpected offline friendship as their online flame war continues to fire up. Clever, witty, and heartwarming, Tweet Cute is a great choice if you’re looking for a chilled-out romance to read by the pool this summer.

We hope you find some great picks in this list! And if your curiosity for young adult books is truly insatiable, check out the newest indie YA novels hitting the shelves here!

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