41 Young Adult Book Recommendations.

Young Adult Book Recommendations

I used to read so much YA. I miss escaping into trilogies and series like The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner… even The Selection! I remember (this was probably ten years ago!) how my girlfriends and I used to stalk Eva Chen’s instagram to see what YA pick she was reading… we lived and died by her recs. When I really think about it, reading YA as a twenty-something is how I found myself falling in love with reading all over again. It takes me back to the days of Judy Blume (I was such a fan). My favorite YA genre is definitely something dystopian/fantasy!) Over the years I have traded YA trilogies for domestic thrillers (there is nothing like a scorned ex-wife/younger new-wife drama) but I miss the days of books like The Hunger Games.

Some of the YA books I’ve read are true kids books. Those aren’t on this list. The best YA books may be written for teenagers but appeal to everyone. If you are looking to read more books, this post is for you. Tell me your favorite Young Adult reads (especially dystopian fantasy) in the comments section).

These are in no particular order! Click the titles to shop the books!

PS – Nine of my favorite book podcasts.

41 young adult book recommendations

The selection | Young Adult Book Recommendations

The selection, by kiera cass

I am at times embarrassed to recommend because it’s terrible (in the best way) but am also REALLY excited to recommend because if you are looking for a young adult series to tear through, this is it. Guilty pleasure reading at its best. It’s basically The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor – set way in the future in a dystopian caste system, where 35 women (one from each district – sound familiar?) compete for the attention of the prince and ultimately become queen. It is not great literature, but it sure is fun. Fun fact: this book was the impetus behind starting Bad on Paper (my old podcast). We needed to talk about it. It’s such a fun series of books to read. Perfect if you are sick or have a long flight. You will blow through them (buy all of the books at once!).

paper princess | Young Adult Book Recommendations

paper princess, by erin watt

These books are definitely something… but Ella Harper is poor and orphaned and supporting herself via stripping until rich Callum Royal shows up – he’s her (deceased) father’s best friend and has been looking for her. He moves her into his mansion, alongside his five sons. At first the 5 sons are terrible to her, but ultimately a romance develops. This book is weird as it’s definitely YA but there’s quite a bit of sex. It’s pure guilty pleasure… totally trashy but also totally addicting. Read this when you just want a little bit of smut.

the luxe, by anna godbersen

the luxe, by anna godbersen

The Luxe series is just so fun. It really sucks you in – if I had to describe it, it would be Gossip Girl, set in 1899. A strange concept, for sure but picture Blair and Serena in ballgowns and arranged marriages and you kinda have the jist. It starts with the first book, which introduces you to sisters Elizabeth and Diana Holland. The Holland sisters kind of rule Manhattan, alongside Penelope Hayes who is Elizabeth’s best frenemy. The Holland family has come under hard times so Elizabeth is forced to marry the dreamy Henry Schoonmaker who everyone adores except her. Meanwhile, he’s dating Penelope and secretly in love with Diana. So just imagine. The series follows them through marriages and deaths and a lot of drama. The best book is the last one – if you’re doing this, just go and order all four at once!

the seasonaires, by janna king

the seasonaires, by janna king

This is a fun, fast paced novel set on Nantucket. It opens up with a murder on the fourth of July and then flashes back to the start of summer. Fashion giant Lyndon Wyld hires six beautiful “seasonaires” every summer… three guys, three girls. Basically the seasonaires are influencers, hired to promote the clothing all summer on social media. All of their expenses (for a summer on Nantucket) are paid and they’re also paid $20k. It’s a dream job of sorts. Wide eyed Mia with a sick mother (from South Boston) applies and gets the job and lots of drama ensues. The pace reminded me a lot of Little White Lies and it’s definitely a fun read. Parts are very implausible and the writing jumps around a lot but it’s YA.

vicious | Young Adult Book Recommendations

vicious, by v. e. schwab

Vicious is, without being stereotypical, a YA novel for boys. (Which I very much enjoyed but I am saying this as most YA novels that I read are told from the girl’s perspective. This one is sci-fi meets comic book, and it’s very fun to read (there is a sequel out as well!) It’s the story of two boys at college who figure out that superheroes (aka ExtraOrdinaries aka EOs) are made, not born. Alternating between ten years ago (at school) and in modern day when when of them has just escaped prison and the other is hell bent on killing all EOs, it’s a fun and fast read. I really enjoyed this one as it felt a bit like stepping into a modern day comic book.

famous in love | Young Adult Book Recommendations

famous in love, by rebecca serle

Paige Townsen is an obscure high school student in living in Oregon when she decides to audition for the movie adaptation of a major blockbuster book series (think Harry Potter or Hunger Games!) Within weeks, she’s off in Hawaii starring opposite Rainer Devon (her gorgeous and dreamy co-star, also one of People‘s sexiest men alive). Soon though, she finds herself in a little love triangle – having to choose between Rainer + her other co-star, Jordan. These books are fun and silly, and who doesn’t love a good love triangle. There is also a TV show now… it is not very good but if you are sick or looking for something fun and dumb, give it a watch.

the summer of jordi perez

the summer of jordi perez, By AMy Spalding

Seventeen year old Abby Ives is fashion-obsessed, gay, running a plus-size fashion blog… and just landed her dream job as an intern at her favorite boutique. The book covers several relationships – with her friends (the friend drama is seriously relatable… even though I’m twice Abby’s age I could totally relate), with her mother (who runs a healthy living blog/food empire), her new friend Jax, and (most importantly) her co-intern Jordi Perez who she ends up falling in love with (while competing with for a part time job). What I loved most about this one was how complex + relatable each of the relationships were.

people like us, by dana mele

people like us, by dana mele

This is the story of a girl (Kay Donovan) attending Bates Academy (a super exclusive boarding school in New England). Kay comes from humble roots (unlike her peers) and has skeletons in her closet but has managed to become the captain of the soccer team and a part of the popular crowd. Then a dead body shows up in the lake and the dead girl sends her on a computer-coded scavenger hunt where Kay will ultimately isolate all of her friends and implicate herself in the murder. The plot is witty and brilliant; and besides the narrator being a bit annoying (as teenagers can be) I couldn’t put it down. I definitely didn’t guess the ending and there was a really heartbreaking twist at the end.

one of us is lying | Young Adult Book Recommendations

one of us is lying, by Karen M. McManus

This is a super fun read-in-one-day mystery. Five students get detention, during which, one of them dies. Each student is pretty much your stereotype (the brain, the beauty, the jock, the troublemaker) and of course it is the outcast that dies. As it turns out, the outcast in the group has a Gossip Girl style blog that was about to reveal juicy secrets about each of those four students. Immediately, the remaining four students are called into question. One of them is lying… or is someone else the killer! I finished it in a day. The whole series is great.

devil in ohio, Daria Polatin

devil in ohio, Daria Polatin

If you are looking for a fun YA thriller that will keep you up all night reading, pick up this one. What’s probably ultra crazy is that it’s all based on a true story! Jules is a fifteen year old growing up in a small Ohio town. One day, she arrives home to find that her psychiatrist mom has taken in a girl her own age (one of her patients). It is supposed to be for just a few days but she stays and stays… flirting with her crush, wearing her clothes, basically doing a little SWF. We come to learn that Mae ran away from a devil worshipping community – enduring unbelievable violence and abuse. A wild ride ensues. It’s also now a Netflix show!

genuine fraud

genuine fraud, by e. lockhart

This author writes twisty YA novels that make you think and always leave you a little bit devastated. (I absolutely LOVED We Were Liars, it gutted me!) Without revealing too much, I would compare it to The Talented Mister Ripley, told in reverse. (If you loved Social Creature I think you will really enjoy this.) It’s a quick read at only 288 pages, but it still won’t take you very long to read as you will just NEED to know what happens next!

It opens with Jules, living at a hotel in Mexico. But she’s not going by Jules, she’s going by Imogen, who is supposed to be her best friend. Except where is Immie? And why is Jules on the run? Lena Dunham calls this “an addictive and shocking feminist thriller,” which is the perfect description. And I really loved the way that it was told, starting at the end and working it’s way back to the very beginning. It kept me on the edge of my seat and kept me guessing the whole time.

with malice, by eileen cook

with malice, by eileen cook

This is one of those fun YA thrillers that you can power through in a single day. There’s a good twist (one that I did not see coming). I am not sure why but the plot line of this one really disturbed me… more than with my usual thrillers. Probably because the characters were so young, and one of them did something really awful and then couldn’t remember it. You really hurt + feel for her. This is worth picking up, especially if you have a long flight. You’ll fly right through it and be entertained the entire time.

eleanor & park

eleanor & park, by rainbow rowell

I thought this book was really, really cute. It’s a refreshing look at young love and made me remember what it was like to be young. This one is supposedly written for teens, but I think it might be written for grownups just for the very reason that it takes us back. It chronicles a slow-budding romance between Eleanor and Park from the day they sit next to each other on the bus (ignoring each other, at first).

admission, by julie buxbaum

admission, by julie buxbaum

This book is a great exercise in empathy. This book is a fictional look at what it would be like to be the daughter of one of the parents during the whole campus admissions scandal. To feel like you were so stupid that your parents had to buy your way into college. To lose your friends and boyfriend and feel like the whole world hates you and you’re just totally screwed. Told from the daughter’s perspective, it definitely presents a more empathetic (though fictional) take on what happened. I felt like it was just a little young but duh, it is a young adult book! All of that said, it gave me a different perspective. I do think it would make a great book club book as you’d have such a great conversation about the book and the admission scandal in general.

we deserve monuments, by jas hammonds

we deserve monuments, by jas hammonds

This came so highly recommended (and was a part of Target’s book club). I also liked that it was a queer love story between two young Black women; a perspective that is very different from my own. Overall, I really enjoyed this — besides the love story there is also a wonderfully heartwarming family story.

Avery Anderson is seventeen years old when her life is uprooted: her mother moves their family back to her hometown of Bardell, Georgia to care for Avery’s terminally ill grandmother, Mama Letty. Mama Letty is hostile and doesn’t want them there. As Avery struggles to get to know her grandmother (and unravel some family secrets), she befriends her next door neighbor Simone and Simone’s best friend Jade. The girls become extremely close, fast… and Jade and Simone’s friendship blossoms into romance. The book is heartwarming at times and rife with drama (family secrets, homophobia, racism) at others.

anna k, by jenny lee

anna k, by jenny lee

This was recommended to me by Katharine McGee (author of The Thousandth Floor and American Royals) and I was incredibly excited to read it, especially upon hearing that HBO is already developing it into a TV show. It lived up to the hype! It’s Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina reimagined and it feels a lot like a mix between Gossip Girl and Crazy Rich Asians. 

Anna K is living any teenager’s dream life on the Upper East Side. She has the perfect boyfriend (perfect, even if he is kind of boring), a great group of friends, and has always been the good girl (keeping her Korean-American father happy and proud of her). When she meets Alexia Vronsky, her whole world is jilted. There are other wonderful characters: Anna’s party-boy brother Steven, his sweet but clueless girlfriend Lolly, Lolly’s sister Kimmie, and Steven’s best friend Dustin. There are love triangles galore, juicy dramas and even deaths… and I couldn’t put it down. It’s luxe and opulent, it’s engrossing but also heartbreaking, it’s just a really fun read.

i'll give you the sun

i’ll give you the sun, by jandy nelson

This is one of the most magically written, sweet and heartwarming YA books: the story of two twins, Noah and Jude, via alternating timelines. Noah tells the story of their younger years when they are 13, and Jude tells the later years when they are 16. In between the alternating timelines, we just know that something tragic has happened that impacted both twins in profound ways. When they’re 13, they are so close that they claim to share a soul. Just three years later, they’re distant…not nearly as close, not even friends.

I will be honest, it took me a bit to get into the book because of the writing style – it’s very flowery and creatively written. Noah’s character, in particular has a different style of writing/expressing his thoughts. But once I got into it, I loved it! It’s a wonderful, breathtaking look at love, loss, what life as a twin looks like, and also a bit of ethics and right vs. wrong. Highly recommend reading this one, it’s a nice little escape from the world!

good girls lie | Young Adult Book Recommendations

good girls lie, by j.t. ellison

I obviously adore a thriller, but this one is even better as it features rich unsupervised teens at a boarding school and… a secret society! Ash Carlisle leaves England to attend the prestigious Goode School in Virginia. With her, she takes a very dark past and a huge secret… intending to start her life over again. She attempts to make a name for herself and move on from her dark past but has a hard time doing so at the school… darkness seems to follow her everywhere she goes! A terrible suicide takes place… or was it murder? I couldn’t put this one down and think you will feel the same. Becca and I both really enjoyed it which doesn’t usually happen with a thriller. Highly recommend!

an unkindness of magicians

an unkindness of magicians, by kat howard

This book did not disappoint. I wasn’t sure whether to classify it as YA or not, as it definitely felt more adult (kinda like the Discovery of Witches books.) This is set in modern day New York except there is this whole Harry Potter-like magical world that the “mundanes” cannot see. And every twenty years there is what they call The Turning, where a big tournament (a series of duals) between the magical houses. The Turning comes early this year. Our heroine Sylvia emerges from The Shadows (you will learn what that is), appointed champion by one of the smaller houses. She’ll face Ian Merlin and Grey Prospero (from two of the larger, more established houses). Secrets emerge, and Sylvia has a score to settle.

little white lies

little white lies, Jennifer Lynn Barnes

This YA read is totally my genre although it’s set in the South and not a dystopian society. Sawyer Taft grew up on the wrong side of the tracks when her estranged grandmother turns up out of nowhere offering her half a million dollars to participate in debutante season. I don’t want to give too much away but it is such a fun read. There’s a big mystery with a juicy set-up, there’s the friendship between four debutantes, and there’s Sawyer’s quest to find her father. I couldn’t put it down and couldn’t recommend it enough if you are looking for a fun YA read that you can’t stop reading.

children of blood and bone | Young Adult Book Recommendations

children of blood and bone, by tomi adeyemi

This takes place in a magical country that Becca and I both envisioned being a lot like Africa. It’s the story of Zelie and her family as well as the prince + princess of Orisha, which used to be a magical land. The king destroyed magic in their land (and killed all of the magi – including Zelie’s mother. Then an artifact (that could bring magic back) is discovered and it changes everything. It’s hard to put the entire plot of the book into words. (It’s so good, and 500+ pages of magic and adventure). And it’s going part of a trilogy by Tomi Adeyemi – I hope they make it a movie as I really, really loved it! I personally think that this could (or should!) be the next big YA fantasy trilogy.

the hunger games | Young Adult Book Recommendations

the hunger games, by suzannE collins

This is, if you ask me, the gateway drug into reading YA. I still remember the way I felt when I first picked it up (and then how I felt when I realized there was more! Set in the distant future where all that remains of North America is the nation of Panem. In the center, a beautiful, glimmering Capitol. Surrounding it? Twelve outlying districts, all ravaged by war, hunger, poverty. Long ago the districts had waged war against the Capitol. As a part of their surrender terms, each district agrees to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual, televised event: “The Hunger Games.” When 16 year old Katniss Everdeen finds herself representing her district, she must do what it takes to survive.

the maze runner | Young Adult Book Recommendations

the maze runner, by james dashner

Everybody raves and raves about Hunger Games and Divergent, but this series is just as good! The unsung hero of the YA adult world, if you will. A boy wakes up in a box and in an unknown land… unable to remember anything. Craziness obviously ensues. There are three books in the trilogy and I guarantee you’ll be hooked. I didn’t love the movie but the book is so good!

a million junes | Young Adult Book Recommendations

a million junes, by emily henry

I didn’t want this to end. It’s kind of like a magical Romeo & Juliet. It’s the story of June (short for Jack Junior) and Saul, who come from neighboring families that hate each other. On top of that there’s also a curse- whenever they get near one another it seems that something terrible happens. June runs straight into Saul at a carnival and the attraction is immediate. They resist at first but ultimately fall in love, over the course of some magical adventures (they discover that they can watch old family memories). This book is beautifully written. It’s YA but it’s a good, good book. I can’t say enough good things. Read it!!

all these beautiful strangers

all these beautiful strangers, by Elizabeth Klehfoth

This is a Gossip Girl meets Gone Girl style thriller, set at a prestigious boarding school in New England. Of course, I couldn’t put it down. Charlie Calloway is 17 years old but her mother disappeared when she was only 7. The book explores the mystery behind her mother’s disappearance (everyone suspects her father), and her boarding school experience as she is tapped by “The A’s,” an exclusive secret society at her school. It’s a fun, fast read (told from the perspectives of Charlie, her mother Grace, and her father Alistair) with lots of twists.

the thousandth floor

the thousandth floor, by katharine mcgee

This was recommended to me by so many of you in the comments of previous reading lists…. THANK YOU! It is a part of a trilogy, and many of you described it to me as a futuristic Gossip Girl. So obviously, I had to check it out! I TORE through it. It’s the story of five teens in a futuristic world (Manhattan, 2118) where there is now a giant tower spanning nearly the entirety of the city (42nd street upward through Harlem). The thousand floor tower spans 2.5 miles, with the most expensive, exclusive apartments being on the higher floors.

half bad, by sally green

half bad, by sally green

I bought this book because Eva Chen had it on her instagram, and I could not put it down! It’s set in modern day England where there are two warring factions of witches (one good, one bad) and the main character Nathan is the son of the world’s worst witch, Marcus. He has to track down his father to find out his three gifts and get his own magical powers, before it’s too late. Easier said than done.

you'll be the death of me

you’ll be the death of me, by Karen M. McManus

I am such a fan of Karen McManus’s books. They’re always about a group of high school students and tend to give me those nostalgic Breakfast Club (or in this case, oddly – Dawson’s Creek) vibes but with a side of murder and mystery. The best YA thrillers (and an author Becca and I tend to bond over – the books are twisty enough for me but not so scary that she won’t want to read them). This is her latest and it is such a fun read.

Three students (who were once thick as thieves but are now a lot less close) skip school for the day. While out and about, they spot a fellow student, also skipping. They follow him… to the scene of his murder! The rest of the book is spent figuring out who did it and working to clear their own names as now they were the only four seniors out of school that day. This was fast-paced and fun with a few good twists along the way. I really enjoyed it and read it in just two sittings.

everything we didn't say

everything we didn’t say, by Nicole Baart

I will be honest, when I started this book, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it as it felt a little bit young. But about 100 pages in, I was hooked. Couldn’t put it down, and stayed up until 2am reading (on a week night!). The best kind of thrillers are the ones where you feel as though you truly just cannot stop reading, even if it means you’re going to be extremely tired the next day. That was the case with this one.

When Juniper, aka June, was 19 years old, a horrible crime occurred: her beloved neighbors were murdered. The worst part: her brother was the main suspect. After college, she moved away from her quiet mid-Western town but now, nearly 15 years later she is back. The premise of her return is to take care of a friend who is battling cancer. But she’s secretly determined to clear her brother’s name. Alternating between past and present, this book is fast-paced and twisty… I didn’t guess the ending. At times, it reads YA (nothing wrong with that – I love YA but it’s a different reading craving) but I found it very smart and fun to read. 

castles in their bones | Young Adult Book Recommendations

castles in their bones, by laura sebastian

This book is such a treat (and it’s a trilogy!), perfect for fans of American Royals or The Selection. The kind of YA that everyone will enjoy. Beatriz, Sophie, and Daphne (the names are even similar to American Royals, ha!) are three princesses, raised in the arts of deception, violence, and seduction… trained from birth to be assassins. Their mother, Empress Margaraux has a plan: to marry off each of the sisters to princes in the neighboring kingdoms, create chaos in each kingdom, and ultimately seize the three kingdoms for herself… using the princesses to do it. It took me a little while to get into it (so many names, kingdoms, characters, etc) but once I did, I could not put it down and found myself staying up late to tear through it. The final 50 pages are especially good. This is such a fun book, I really enjoyed it!! 

the counselors

the counselors, by jessica goodman

Oh my gosh, I loved this! It might just be my favorite of all of Jessica’s books, I can’t decide. It deals with a group of three best friends, all counselors at an idyllic summer camp in upstate New York that caters to wealthy, exceptionally gifted students. Except, as the “townie” of the group whose parents work at the camp, Goldie never feels quite like she fits in – her two best friends Ava and Imo both come from wealth. She constantly feels the divide between the locals in her town (who hate the camp) and the kids at camp (who mock the town and everyone who lives there).

It is the summer after graduation and all three girls show up to camp with more than their fair share of secrets. We know that Goldie has become the town pariah after a horrible accident that past winter, and that Ava is hiding something too. When a local boy winds up dead in the lake (on camp grounds), the town swirls with questions… and secrets come out. I couldn’t put this down. It’s YA but the kind of YA adults will enjoy too. It is fast paced (and a little scary at times) and it surprised me a few times.

Clap When YOu Land

Clap When YOu Land, by elizabeth acevedo

Elizabeth Acevedo is one of my absolute favorite authors as her writing is always so beautiful and powerful with powerful storytelling and strong, diverse female characters. This one is a deceptively fast read – at 417 pages I expected it to be longer but the way the pages are laid out make this one fly.

Camino and Yahaira share a father – they just don’t know it. Camino lives with her aunt in the Dominican Republic, where they lead a simple lifestyle. Her mother died when she was young. She wants to be a doctor and dreams of moving to New York and studying at Columbia. Meanwhile, her half sister Yahaira lives in New York with her mother. When their father dies in a plane crash secrets start to unravel and the girls eventually learn about each other. It’s heartbreaking but also heartwarming and I loved the diversity across the characters – both girls are Dominican, Yahaira is a lesbian and her girlfriend is black, Camino’s best friend is Haitian. It was the perfect quarantine read in that it’s light and fun enough to hold your attention but also very moving. I loved this one.

they wish they were us

they wish they were us, by jessica goodman

Oh boy this is a good one. It’s a twisty, YA thriller… the perfect summer thriller, in my opinion! I stayed up all night reading it. It’s been compared to Gossip Girl meets One of Us is Lying, which is a pretty perfect description! Jill Newman is a high school senior at Gold Coast Prep. She has it all: a full scholarship to one of the best prep schools in the country and is on track to head to likely Brown in the fall, a loving family, a handsome and smart boyfriend… and she’s a member of The Players: an elite (not so secret) society.

Everything’s perfect except for the fact that her best friend Shaila Arnold was murdered three years ago. Her boyfriend at the time confessed to it and the case was closed. But three years later, Graham and his sister Rachel are insisting he’s innocent. Jill is torn: open up old wounds, or move forward with that “perfect” senior year? The book alternates between past and present day as we get to know Shaila and some of the secrets she was hiding, and come to find out what really went down on the night of Shaila’s murder. I highly recommend this one – you won’t be able to put it down!

with the fire on high | Young Adult Book Recommendations

with the fire on high, by Elizabeth Acevedo

This is about a teen mom Emoni growing up in Philly, living with her grandmother and daughter Emma. The book opened up talking about why she gave her daughter a “white” name. And how she hoped it would open up more chances for her. The book is so sweet but all I could think about for so much of it was how privileged and lucky my own high school days were. Emoni is working multiple jobs, dealing with racial bias (and bias + stares for having had a child so young) all while trying to juggle  the usual high school stuff (friend drama! boys! school work! applying to college!) She’s always loved to cook and gets into a culinary arts class (with a trip to Spain). I could honestly go on and on about this book and how sweet + moving it is!

a sky painted gold | Young Adult Book Recommendations

a sky painted gold, by laura wood

It’s 1929 and seventeen year old Lou is growing up in the English countryside of Cornwall… used to a simple life. She sneaks into a nearby mansion to read and write, only to have its occupants (the wealthy and fascinating brother + sister duo Robert and Caitlin) nearly catch her. An unlikely friendship transpires between the three of them. And Lou is suddenly immersed in a glamorous world of parties, trips to London, beautiful clothes, and shiny new wealthy friends. But can she ever really fit in? It made me nostalgic for The Great Gatsby, had the MOST satisfying ending, and was just a very fun read. Please read this book, you’re going to love it!

ready player one | Young Adult Book Recommendations

ready player one, by ernest cline

This took me a little while to get into but once I did, I was hooked. It takes place in 2045 and Earth is an awful place. We’ve diminished most of our natural resources and the only escape is a virtual reality system called OASIS. The founder of OASIS passes away and puts together a challenge… the winner of which will receive his (billionaire!) fortune. It becomes something that people will kill for. Our hero Wade Watts (who we know from the start won the challenge) is a lonely teenager living in the stacks (stacks of trailers) of Oklahoma City.

the hate u give

the hate u give, by angie thomas

So many of you suggested this one by Angie Thomas and I am so grateful for that as it’s probably the most important book I’ve read all year. Starr Carter is a black teen straddling two worlds: the poor neighborhood she grew up in, and the fancy (mostly white) prep school she attends. When her best friend is shot by a police officer, her entire world explodes. The story chronicles the thirteen weeks that follow his death – from all sides… how her friends react, how she has to hide the fact that she was the witness, to the grand jury’s decision.

we were liars

we were liars, by e. lockhart

Oof. This one really threw me. It’s a shorter book (and from the Young Adult section), and I only picked it up because one of you recommended it in July (THANK YOU, Marisa!) It started out so innocently, detailing a wealthy family’s charming existence on a family island off of Martha’s Vineyard. And then everything sort of just goes to hell, and there is this massive twist. I had the misfortune of reading it right before a party and was so distraught over the ending + twist and had no one to talk to about it!!!

monday's not coming

monday’s not coming, by Tiffany D. Jackson

Tiffany D. Jackson is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors! I had previously read Allegedly, and let me tell you…it haunted me. The ending!!! GAH!!!! This one is just so good! Claudia is a 14 year old Black girl, growing up in DC. She spends every summer at her aunt’s house in Georgia. But this summer when she gets home, her best friend Monday (who is more like a sister than a friend) is absolutely nowhere to be found. She doesn’t turn up for school, no one knows. She goes to Monday’s house in the projects and is told to GO HOME and stay out of it. No one knows where she is, and no one seems to care… until Monday is found nearly a year later.

This one is chilling and upsetting and while it’s an excellent thriller (the twist at the end got me!) it could also be a social justice book in its own right, looking at how the town failed to protect this little girl. I loved it and couldn’t put it down and can’t recommend it enough. I read it very quickly, in a few days… staying up late to finish it.

american royals | Young Adult Book Recommendations

american royals, by Katharine McGee

Imagine if after the Revolutionary War, George Washington became the king and not the president. And then, fast forward to modern day and write a book about the teenagers set to rule the palace. There’s Princess Beatrice (the heir), and her twin brother + sister Jefferson and Samantha. It’s deliciously good (reminiscent of the cast of The Thousandth Floor in the best way possible. Samantha is the wild child, Jefferson is the dreamy prince that every girl wants. We also get to know the two girls vying for Jefferson’s heart: manipulative Daphne, and down to earth Nina. This book is SO MUCH FUN! I read it in a day and now am deeply depressed that I have to wait for the second book!

ACE OF SPADES | Young Adult Book Recommendations

ace of spades, by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Oh my gosh, I don’t want to say much more than READ THIS BOOK if you want a twisty, fast-paced YA thriller because it is one of those books where the less you know, the better. I read this in just a couple days. And I couldn’t put it down. I have to say it may be one of my favorite YA books of all time.

Devon and Chiamaka are the only two Black kids at Niveus Private Academy. They couldn’t be more different: Devon is secretly gay, a bit of an outcast, but a musical prodigy. Meanwhile, Chiamaka is popular, pretty, and on track to attend Yale. When they are both selected to be senior class prefects, the year is off to a great start. But then, someone going by Aces begins to target them, sending anonymous text messages and revealing their deepest, darkest secrets. Things get scary. I cannot recommend this book enough. It is simultaneously a suspenseful and fun book to read while also an important social commentary tackling race and class issues.

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  1. Heidi:

    About to have two long flights and have been craving something similar to Hunger Games so I am extra grateful for this fun roundup. Just downloaded The Selection series, The Thousandth Floor, and Little White Lies to my kindle. P.S. enjoy your time in Italy!

    5.15.23 Reply
    • grace at the stripe:

      Oh my gosh you are going to have such fun reading time, I am a little jealous!

      5.15.23 Reply
  2. Andi S.:

    Melina Marchetta’s Lumatere Chronicles and Mary Pearson’s Remnant Chronicles are great fantasy trilogies. Mary Pearson also has a fantastic duology that is a companion to the trilogy. Also highly recommend All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill, The Winner’s trilogy by Marie Rutkoski, The Orphan Queen duology by Jodi Meadows, and I could go on and on. As a 10 year book blogger I’ve read a lot.

    5.15.23 Reply
    • grace at the stripe:

      THANK YOU! I have never heard of any of these so am THRILLED!

      5.15.23 Reply
  3. Abby:

    Thank you for putting this list together! I would also add that the “Throne of Glass” series and “A Court of Thornes and Roses” are all excellent YA Fantasy books too!

    5.15.23 Reply
    • grace at the stripe:

      Everyone says! I have heard good things but they just seem like such a huge time commitment.

      5.15.23 Reply
      • Katie:

        Totally echo ACOTAR!! Throne of Glass is more of a time commitment (but still just as good!). A Court of Thorns in Roses goes super fast. It’s great. Crescent City only has two books in the series so far and that is also excellent!

        5.22.23 Reply
  4. M:

    “This sounds terrible, so cheesy” she whispered to herself as she downloaded The Selection onto her kindle.

    I’m going to read alllll of these. Nothing like some YA brain candy between more serious books, or serious YA fiction to feel connected to my younger self.

    5.15.23 Reply
    • grace at the stripe:

      You are truly in for SUCH a treat!!!!!

      5.15.23 Reply
  5. Becca:

    Anything by Leigh Bardugo is the best. Highly recommend Six of Crows.

    5.15.23 Reply
  6. Katie:

    One correction: Ready Player One is by Ernest Cline, not Elizabeth Acevedo (I was so surprised to learn that I had to Google haha).

    I just added A Sky Painted Gold and Devil in Ohio to my list!

    5.15.23 Reply
    • grace at the stripe:

      oh my god that is absolutely a (terrible!) typo — thank you!!!

      5.16.23 Reply
  7. Cara:

    These are great recommendations. There is much to love in YA for adults, I wish we had such a wealth of choices when I was a teen. Seems like we went from Judy Blume to Lois Duncan and The Outsiders…from there it was Flowers in the Attic (wtf?) and Stephen King. Anyhow, if you like historical fiction read Ruta Sepetys books, they’re incredibly well written YA.

    5.15.23 Reply
    • m:

      Yes, Lois Duncan! Even as an almost 50-something, I am still searching for books that give me the same chills that hers did back when I was teen. So good.

      5.16.23 Reply
  8. Kay:

    Now this is the summer reading list I needed! Thank you!

    5.15.23 Reply
  9. Jennie:

    So this is not a YA book but it vibes along the the dystopian fantasy track. Have you read The Broken Earth trilogy (first book is The Fifth Season) by N.K. Jamison? It is extraordinary. A thoughtful look a class, social power dynamics, and race set within an extremely well-constructed fantasy landscape. Everything N.K. Jamison writes is gold!

    5.16.23 Reply
  10. Steph:

    There are so many great books on this list and a few I haven’t read before. I am adding them to my TBR.

    5.16.23 Reply
  11. Loren:

    Love all these! I highly recommend the Tokyo Ever After series and the Inheritance Games series as well! I also loved listening to the Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series on audio

    5.18.23 Reply
    • grace at the stripe:

      thank you!!

      5.19.23 Reply
  12. Leigh:

    It’s a time commitment, but Cassandra Clare. It started as a trilogy… 19 books later.. we are still going lol. Infernal Devices is the best and can be read as a standalone. But then you have to read The Last Hours after that. Idk. I would say TMI 1-3. Then TID 1-3. TEC 1. Then TMI 4-6. TBC. TFTSA. TDA 1-3. TEC 2. GOSM. TLH 1-3 and then Blackthorn Manor on tublr.

    5.25.23 Reply