13 YA Novels for Older Readers
1. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
Why I like it: I know what you’re thinking- ugh another werewolf novel. This is not the typical werewolf book, though. It’s one of my favorites, hard to put down, and if you love it there are more books in the series.
2. Birth Marked by Caragh M. O’Brien
Summary: “In the future, in a world baked dry by the harsh sun, there are those who live inside the wall and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife, Gaia Stone, who live outside. Gaia has always believed it is her duty, with her mother, to hand over a small quota of babies to the Enclave. But when Gaia’s mother and father are arrested by the very people they so dutifully serve, Gaia is forced to question everything she has been taught to believe. Gaia’s choice is now simple: enter the world of the Enclave to rescue her parents, or die trying.” -Amazon
Why I liked it: I read this book a while ago, but I remember it had a great plot and was based on a really intriguing idea. (It’s related to the title, Birth Marked, but I won’t tell you anything else.)
3. Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Note: This novel is not categorized as YA, but was read as part of my high school AP Language class. It is not for young children.
Why I liked it: It’s a cautionary, dystopian novel about a government that oppresses women and is one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read. It was also the best book I’ve ever read in school.
4. The Selection by Kiera Cass
Summary: “For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to… live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon. But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.” -Amazon
Why I liked it: I absolutely loved the first three books in this Bachelor-meets-royalty series. The protagonist, America Singer, is easy to relate to, and is wonderfully rebellious.
Also see my review of the last book in the series (no spoilers) here.
5. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Summary: “In Delirium, the government requires that all teenagers be cured of love, a.k.a. deliria, to keep society safe. But 95 days before her treatment, Lena Haloway falls for a boy–and must face the truth about her own feelings and the world in which she lives.” -Amazon
Why I like it: I loved the idea of a “vaccine” for love as well as the conflict Lena has about if she should get it or not. Don’t we all sometimes wish there was a “love vaccine”?
6. The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Summary: “They were never meant to be together. As a general’s daughter, seventeen-year-old Kestrel enjoys an extravagant and privileged life. Arin has nothing but the clothes on his back. Then Kestrel makes an impulsive decision that binds Arin to her. Though they try to fight it, they can’t help but fall in love. In order to be together, they must betray their people . . . but to be loyal to their country, they must betray each other.
Set in a new world, The Winner’s Curse is a story of rebellion, duels, ballroom dances, wicked rumors, dirty secrets, and games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.” -Amazon
Why I like it: This was one of the best written books and the descriptions were great. Also, I had never read a book about the daughter of a general (even in another world) nor about one where winning something results in loss.(Hence the title, The Winner’s Curse.)
7. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Summary: “For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. At least, not until Patch came along. With his easy smile and probing eyes, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment. But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora’s not sure who to trust—she can’t decide whether she should fall into Patch’s arms or run and hide from him. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth more unsettling than any feeling Patch evokes. For Nora stands amid an ancient battle between the immortal and those who have fallen—and choosing the wrong side will cost her life.” -Amazon
Why I liked it: I loved that this book wasn’t hard to read and was definitely a page-turner. Hush, Hush also has compelling characters and an interesting premise.
1. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
Summary: “Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life – which means getting into the right high school to get into the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and sleeping until, one night, he nearly kills himself.
Craig’s suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital… There, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.” -Goodreads
Why I liked it: It was completely honest and was one of the first (and only) books I’ve read that show what it’s like to have mental illnesses and what it takes to overcome them. As a bonus, it doesn’t leave the reader feeling depressed. Double bonus, Ned Vizzini published his first novel as a teenager.
Speaking of teen authors, check out my post, 10 Tips for Teen Writers, here.
2. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Summary: “Anna can’t wait for her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a good job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she’s not too thrilled when her father unexpectedly ships her off to boarding school in Paris – until she meets Etienne St. Clair, the perfect boy. The only problem? He’s taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her crush back home. Will a year of romantic near-misses end in the French kiss Anna awaits?” -Amazon
Why I liked it: This was a sweet story and I loved that it was set in a foreign boarding school. It’s hard to not like Anna and even harder to not like the novel.
3. Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Summary: “It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.
Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.” -Amazon
Why I liked it: This was another book I read for school that I absolutely loved. There’s a lot of symbolism and imagery. It’s a great story about courage and empowerment and so much more. (Also, yes, there is a movie. And, yes, you should read the book first.)
4. Airhead by Meg Cabot
Summary: “Emerson Watts didn’t even want to go to the new SoHo Stark Megastore grand opening. But someone needed to look out for her sister, Frida, whose crush, British heartthrob Gabriel Luna, would be singing and signing autographs therealong with the newly appointed Face of Stark, teen supermodel sensation Nikki Howard.
How was Em to know that disaster would strike, changing her,and life as she’d known it, forever?” -Amazon
Why I liked it: This was another easy read that was captivating. (It’s one of the few that I have liked enough to reread.) It was really well written and gave an interesting, but unique look, into modeling and brain transplants. (Yes, that’s a thing in this book. Transplanting brains into other bodies, or bodies around other brains, however you want to look at it.)
5. Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks
Summary: “Cadel Piggott has a genius IQ and a fascination with systems of all kinds. At seven, he was illegally hacking into computers. Now he’s fourteen and studying for his World Domination degree, taking classes like embezzlement, forgery, and infiltration at the institute founded by criminal mastermind Dr. Phineas Darkkon. Although Cadel may be advanced beyond his years, at heart he’s a lonely kid. When he falls for the mysterious and brilliant Kay-Lee, he begins to question the moral implications of his studies. But is it too late to stop Dr. Darkkon from carrying out his evil plot?” -Amazon
Why I liked it: Be warned, this is a thick book. That being said, I loved reading a story about a young computer hacker, especially when its hard to tell who’s the enemy and who’s doing the right thing since everyone is typically a mastermind. Also, you have to love the name Dr. Darkkon, am I right?
6. Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
Summary: “Ruby is used to taking care of herself. But now that she’s living with her sister, she’s got her own room, she’s going to a good school, and her future looks bright.
Plus there’s the adorable boy next door. Can Ruby learn to open her heart and let him in?” -Amazon
Why I liked it: Lock and Key is a great chick-flick or summer read (or winter read or anytime read, actually). It’s also my favorite of all of Sarah Dessen’s books.
What are your favorite books? Comment below.
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