Lately, I have noticed a trend: every website on Al Gore’s internet releasing a “100 Best YA Novels” list. And I got to thinking, who better to make a list of best YA novels than us, the people who have been reading and reviewing them non-stop for *counts on fingers* 14 years?

So, we got to work. We’ve spent months developing this list, literally…months. We’ve read a LOT of YA books and though 100 seems like a big number, it was very difficult to choose our favorites. Our only rules were that the book had to be published after 1999, and it had to be officially published as Young Adult. We aren’t animals, so we determined that a series counted as one entry. And there was no rule against an author appearing on the list twice, but we tried to limit it to a select few. We can assure you that every book on this list has been read, and likely reviewed by, a member (or multiple members) of the FYA team.

What we could not do, however, was rank them from 1 to 100. We are only human, guys. That’s just asking too much of us.

(Side note: If you feel so inclined to purchase any of these books while also helping us pay some of the bills around here, we’ve compiled all of these titles in our Bookshop and Amazon affiliate stores for easy TBR-building.)

So here they are, presented to you in alphabetical order:

The 100 Best YA Books of the 21st Century (So Far)

Cover Lirael: A girl reaches out over a table containing a pile of books, a pan flute, and a silver box

Series: Abhorsen
Author: Garth Nix
Published: 2000-2016

The Deal (from our review of Lirael):

Following the defeat of the evil-dead Kerrigor, Sabriel and Touchstone have become the Abhorsen-Queen and King Touchstone I, respectively, and they’ve spent much of their time ruling trying to get their land back to the way it was before the Great Charters were broken. Despite their vigilance, there is a strange, ominous wind stirring in a remote corner of the Kingdom, where even the Clayr (the Seers who live in a glacier far to the North) can’t See properly.

We first meet Lirael on the morning of her fourteenth birthday, in a terrible mood. As a child of the Clayr, Lirael should’ve received her Sight years ago, and every birthday that comes and goes just reminds her that she may never be a true member of the group she lives with. She decides that fourteen more than enough time to have experienced all of life, but before she can fling herself dramatically off the mountain’s edge, she stumbles into a secret meeting of the Clayr. Suddenly she’s offered a slightly more practical alternative to suicide: find a permanent work placement while waiting for her Sight to arrive. As a lady after our own hearts, Lirael immediately chooses a role as Third Assistant Librarian (get it, girl).

Cover of Akata Witch with an albino girl wielding a juju knife, the tip of which is spouting rainbow colors

Title: Akata Witch
Author: Nnedi Okorafor
Published: 2011

The Deal (from our review):

Though people try their damnedest, it’s tough to put a label on Sunny Nwazue. Her parents and brothers are from Nigeria, but she was born in New York City and lived there until her family moved back to Nigeria when she was nine. Also, she’s albino. That’s a whole bunch of reasons to feel like you don’t fit in, but Sunny is about to discover what makes her truly different: she’s a Leopard Person, which means she has the ability to perform magic.  

Ushered into juju by her new pals Chichi and Orlu, Sunny dives into a strange, incredible world full of secret cities, mighty spirits, and chittim, the currency earned by gaining knowledge. There’s a lot of the latter in her future, as she has much to learn about her special talents and the customs of juju, but the excitement of her journey is soon overshadowed by Black Hat Otokoto, a serial killer attacking children in the neighborhood. Someone has to stop him, and even though Sunny’s just a newbie, she and her friends band together to try to take him down.  

Cover of All American Boys, with a Black boy holding his hands up and facing the sirens of a cop car

Title: All American Boys
Author: Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
Published: 2015

The Deal (from our review):

It’s Friday afternoon, and like most of their fellow students at Springfield Central High School, Rashad Butler and Quinn Collins are ready to party. Rashad, who is black, can’t wait to get out of his JROTC uniform, while Quinn, who is white, is hoping to drink away the stress of the upcoming basketball season. Unfortunately, neither of them will enjoy the evening they pictured, because just a few hours later, Quinn watches, horrified, as Rashad is brutally beaten by police officer Paul Galluzzo for a crime he didn’t commit.

In the days that follow, both teens wrestle with what occurred that night. Rashad, confined to a hospital bed, initially just wants to forget that this nightmare ever happened, while Quinn hopes that Galluzzo, who has been like a father to him, was somehow in the right. As the neighborhood reels from the incident and people begin taking sides, these two similar-yet-oh-so-different boys must come to terms with the racism in their community and their role in fighting it. 

Cover of Almost Perfect, with a cropped (lips to neck) image of a girl with her lipstick smeared

Title: Almost Perfect
Author: Brian Katcher
Published: 2009

The Deal (from our review):

Logan Witherspoon’s girlfriend of three years, the one who kept telling him they should ‘wait’, so things will be more special, cheated on him. Since then he’s been depressed, and not a little bit obsessed with staring at his now ex, Brenda. He wonders how he can ever trust another girl again. And it’s not lost on him that he’s a senior in high school, and just like any other 18-year old boy, he pretty much has one thing on the brain.

But then the pretty new girl at school, Sage Hendricks, makes friends with him, and he finds himself drawn to her— with her crazy clothes, and devil-may-care attitude. As the two become closer, Logan realizes that Sage needs a real friend even more than he does. Her parents are super strict, and won’t even let her date, which is becoming increasingly frustrating for Logan, because even though he wants to be her friend, he’s also completely infatuated with her.

Series: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Published: 2010-2014

The Deal (from our review of Anna and the French Kiss):

On the Scale of Parental Suck, I would say that sending a teenager to boarding school in Paris ranks around, ooh, a big fat zero because WHO WOULD SAY NO TO BOARDING SCHOOL IN PARIS? C’EST MAGNIFIQUE. Well, apparently, Anna disagrees with me, because she is severely pissed that her douchebag author dad is sending her abroad for her senior year. Sure, she has to say good-bye to her best friend, Bridget, and her hottie movie theater co-worker, Toph, but she’s in PARIS FOR GOD’S SAKE. WITHOUT PARENTAL SUPERVISION. QUOI THE QUOI.

Fortunately for both of us, Anna quickly opens up to the city and everything it has to offer, including croissants, indie movie theaters (she’s a film geek), new friends and a gorgeous, charming boy named Etienne St. Clair. As Anna explores the streets of Paris with St. Clair, her problems with the French language are soon outweighed by her problems with love. Because, of course, she totally falls for St. Clair. And, of course, he has a girlfriend. And did I mention that one of Anna’s new friends, Meredith, is crushing on him too? Yeah. As the French would say, C’EST LA VIE.

Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Published: 2012

The Deal (from our review):

This is the story of two unlikely best friends – Dante is open, optimistic, confident, and talented. Aristotle – Ari – is not, or thinks as much. Ari’s older brother is in prison, he’s the youngest brother of several much-older siblings, and his father suffers from Vietnam-era PTSD. Dante’s parents are warm and demonstrative with both him and Ari. When Ari meets Dante, the two unusually-named boys see something in each other that the other lacks.

There’s nothing I can say to do this book justice, so… just read it, you guys.

Lines of a maze overlaid on a B&W image of a face with creepy eyes

Title: Ashes
Author: Ilsa J. Bick
Published: 2011

The Deal (from our review):

Alex has terminal brain cancer, and she’s had it with doctors and hospitals and waiting around to die, so she cuts school and heads to the wilderness, planning to take control of what’s left of her life. But what’s left of her life — and everyone else’s — changes when a series of electro-magnetic pulses knock out all electronic devices and set off a chain of cataclysms killing billions. Those who aren’t killed are either Spared … or Changed. Into cannibals. Alex, saddled with an 8-year-old girl she meets on the trail, meets Tom, a young soldier out hunting during his leave from war, and they band together to fight to survive. While the EMP (probably) hasn’t turned Alex into a cannibal zombie, she is changing into something. She just doesn’t know what.

Also, because I’m so excited but don’t want to spoil anything so won’t add more, I leave you with this: YOU GUYS THERE IS SO MUCH CRAZY SHIT GOING DOWN IN THIS BOOK OMGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG.

Title: The Astonishing Color of After
Author: Emily X.R. Pan
Published: 2018

The Deal (from our review):

After Leigh’s mother, Dory, dies by suicide, Leigh receives an early morning visit from a large, red bird. Somehow, Leigh knows this bird is her mother, and the box of things Leigh finds on the porch are both a gift and a message from Dory. Leigh is certain that if she can unlock the mysteries of a family she never knew, she’ll understand her mother’s last message to her.

Leigh’s father doesn’t believe her. But when unexplainable things begin to happen around their house, Leigh’s dad gives in and buys them two plane tickets to Taiwan to visit Dory’s parents. Leigh has never met any of her Taiwanese family, and with only a basic grasp of Mandarin, she knows that communicating with her Waipo and Waigong will be difficult. But she’s convinced that getting to know her grandparents and asking them questions about her mother is the only way to find the Bird. In Taiwan, Leigh uncovers family secrets, learns about her parents’ past, and gets to know her grandparents as she learns about Taiwanese culture and traditions.

Title: Before I Fall
Author: Lauren Oliver
Published: 2010

The Deal:

For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—”Cupid Day”—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.

However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.

Title: Between Shades of Gray
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Published: 2012

The Deal (from our review):

Lina is 15 when the Soviet secret police take her, her little brother Jonas and her mother away in the middle of the night, board them on a train with hundreds of thousands of other Lithuanians and ship them to a work camp in Siberia. The brutal journey takes six weeks, and not everyone survives the starvation, beatings and cold. And Siberia’s even worse. But before you think it’s just a story about dead babies and dysentery and being driven insane and people digging their own graves, you should know it’s also a story about survivors and surviving and the people who gave help and hope, despite the high price.

A finger pushes a line of black dominoes set in a pattern

Title: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Published: 2005

The Deal (from our review):

Death really hates his job, you guys. It’s no fun, collecting all those souls and winging them off to the great beyond. And in Germany in 1939, he’s starting to get stretched pretty thin.

But Liesel Meminger isn’t having it all that easy, either. Her baby brother dies, her Communist mother drops Liesel off to live with the Hubermanns in order to keep her from being taken to the death camps, her best friend wants to kiss her all the time, she’s hiding a Jew in the basement, and, even though she can’t really read, she seems to have an addiction to stealing books.

But Liesel is tough, and smart, and she’s surrounded by some amazing people, even during the height of Hitler’s reign over Germany, so maybe that’s why Death finds Liesel’s life so inspiring. And maybe that’s why Death, and I, grieve more than we should any time he has to claim the soul of someone Liesel loves.

Cover of Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf

Series: Bring Me Their Hearts
Author: Sara Wolf
Published: 2018-2020

The Deal (from our review of Bring Me Their Hearts):

Zera’s been stuck in a sixteen-year-old body for three years, thanks to her death and subsequent resurrection as a Heartless, a servant of the witch Nightsinger. Things could be worse: Zera can’t be killed, and she won’t age as long as she remains Heartless. But she also can’t travel far from her heart—which Nightsinger keeps in a jar on their hearth—and her greatest wish is to once again be free.

So when Nightsinger comes to Zera with an offer: pretend to be a noble and literally steal the crown prince’s heart to turn him into a Heartless, and regain her freedom in return, Zera jumps at the chance. After all, freedom is all she’s ever wanted.

Or so she thought.

Cover of The Knife of Never Letting Go, with two figures running with a dog under a red sky with two moons

Series: Chaos Walking
Author: Patrick Ness
Published: 2008-2010

The Deal (from our review of The Knife of Never Letting Go):

Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown. All of the other males have reached the age at which manhood is bestowed, and all of the women died when Todd was a baby. And as if that wasn’t cray cray enough, everyone’s thoughts are now… audible. Um hello NIGHTMARE MUCH? Not only does it suck to have everyone hear your secrets, it’s also a total mind f*ck because the sounds never stop. There is no such thing as silence, because even when people are asleep, their dreams are broadcast at full volume. I’m assuming the women died from MORTIFICATION?!! To escape this horrible cacophony known as The Noise, Todd spends much of his time in the nearby forest swampland, formerly the home of the Spackle, an alien race rendered extinct by territory wars with the humans. Even without other guys around, the Noise persists, because GUESS WHAT. You can hear animals too! What WHAT!!!!! I know Todd would disagree, but i think that is TOTALLY AWESOME, esp. if you’ve seen Up. SQUIRREL!

As the story begins, Todd is cursing his adolescence and killing time with his dog, Manchee, who will not shut up about having to poop (LUV U MANCHEE). Little does Todd know that things are about to get completely and utterly UNSANE!!!!!!

Cover of Children of Blood and Bone with a dark-skinned Black girl's face (eyes and up) and her flowing white hair

Title: Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha #1)
Author: Tomi Adeyemi
Published: 2018

The Deal (from our review):

Orïsha used to be filled with magic. But then the king decided that magic—and its wielders, the divîners—were too dangerous to live. The king ordered a massacre of all divîners and the end of magic.

Zélie Adebola watched the night her mother was tortured and killed, simply for being different. And since that terrible night, Zélie and other divîners like her have been treated as something less than human, taxed and beaten and forced into slavery. She despises the king and all that he’s done to her family and her people, but there’s little she can do other than keep her head down.

When a chance encounter gives Zélie the opportunity to change everything, she takes it, but much adversity stands in her way.

Cover of Code Name Verity, with two hands clasped and tied with a rope

Title: Code Name Verity
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Published: 2012

The Deal (from our review):

It’s 1943, and Agent Verity is wasting away in a Gestapo prison. In return for a brief extension of her life, she’s been given paper and a pencil to write the story of what she was doing in Nazi-occupied France. The German officials want military info like airfield locations and aircraft descriptions, but what Verity gives them instead is the stirring tale of her friendship with Maddie, the British female pilot who dropped her off on this last mission before her plane crashed to the ground. Written on recipe cards, sheet music and any paper Verity can find, she gives us a glimpse of life during wartime and the extraordinary measures that she and Maddie have taken to serve their country.

A girl's face, in black and white, covered by a bright blue feathered mask

Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Published: 2011-2014

The Deal (from our review of Daughter of Smoke and Bone):

Karou seems like your average blue haired, tattooed art student living in Prague. Except that her appearance is the least unusual thing about her. Karou often disappears, running mysterious errands all over the world and draws beautiful pictures of monsters she claims are real. These monsters are chimaera, otherworldly creatures whose appearance is half human-half animal and are the only family Karou has ever known. The chimaera Brimstone runs a store that trades in teeth and wishes and Karou works for him, never knowing what the teeth are used for and how she came to grow up in this unusual shop. But Karou’s life gets turned upside-down soon after the appearance of Akiva, a seraph soldier with a dark past who may know more about Karou’s past than she does.

Title: Daughter of the Forest
Author: Juliet Marillier
Published: 2002

The Deal (from our review):

Sorcha is the only daughter and seventh child of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters, a seventh son. Her mother died giving birth to her, and so her father spends most of his time away protecting his lands. Sorcha spends a happy childhood in the company of her six brothers running free in the wilds of the beautiful and magical forest surrounding Sevenwaters, a place where the Fair Folk are protected. As she reaches her thirteenth birthday, Sorcha’s father realizes that a lack of parental oversight has given some of his children the WILD idea they can pursue their own desires – Padriac has a knack with animals, Finbar has a true Seer’s sight and a passion for fairness, and Sorcha herself has little interest in being a fine lady one day.

When Lord Colum brings home a mysterious and entrancing new wife, Lady Oonagh, it’s clear to many that her influence over her husband and the household isn’t natural. The siblings’ plan to thwart her will culminates in a tragic curse: six brothers doomed to spend their lives as swans unless their sister can free them with shirts of nettles woven by her hands and her silence. Sorcha is determined to save her family, but fate may have other plans…

Title: Dear Martin
Author: Nic Stone
Published: 2017

The Deal:

Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack.

Cover of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks with a girl and boy sitting on a bench shown from the waist down

Title: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
Author: E. Lockhart
Published: 2008

The Deal (from our review):

Frankie Landau-Banks is beginning to figure out a few very important things about the world. First of all, one summer’s worth of new curves can do wonders for a girl’s social life. Second, boys love a good damsel in distress. And third, being a damsel in distress is totally lame.

When Frankie returns to Alabaster Prep for her sophomore year, she looks like a different person (read: my humps!), and she soon begins to feel like a different person. Sure, she’s just snagged her mega crush, Mathew Livingston, and consequently joined his rowdy, totally charming group of friends, but why does she only fit in as “the girlfriend” and never as “Frankie, the awesome and independent thinker”? And when will her family quit calling her “Bunny Rabbit” and acting like she needs constant care and protection? As the tension deepens between Frankie’s old and new identity, she stumbles across a boys-only secret society known as the Loyal Order of the Basset Hound, yet another reminder of her status as “just a girl.” (Y’all, I’m tempted to write this entire review with song lyrics but i will try to refrain. Although I may make a Frankie mixtape and post it later cos THE GIRL INSPIRES ME). Torn between wanting to be accepted by the Bassets and needing to prove her intellectual superiority, Frankie launches her own highly strategic (and crazy awesome!) campaign to prove her worth. But as the stakes grow higher, she must decide for herself what she hopes to gain and, more importantly, what she’s willing to lose.

Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Published: 2011

The Deal (from our review):

Beatrice Prior is growing up in Chicago, but not like we know it. Hers is a dystopic, decapitated city, where all of its inhabitants are split into five factions. Beatrice lives with her family in Abnegation, the selfless faction that runs the government. All 16 year olds must take an aptitude test, one which determines which faction they are best suited to. When Beatrice takes her test, she receives two options instead of one (something which is not supposed to happen.) She is informed that result makes her a ‘Divergent’ but is told nothing more than that it is a very dangerous thing she must hide. On the day all the 16 year olds choose their new faction, Beatrice chooses Dauntless, shocking everyone but most of all her family. The Dauntless are brave and dangerous and lead very different lives than those in Abnegation. Does Beatrice have what it takes to make it through the Dauntless initiation process or will she be kicked out, forced to live her life as faction-less? And will Beatrice find out what it means to be Divergent before it’s too late?

Cover, an eye in a geometric shape with the city skyline behind it

Series: The Diviners
Author: Libba Bray
Published: 2012-2017

The Deal (from our review of The Diviners):

It’s the Roaring 20s, the dawn of a new era, when Americans shook off the yoke of war and embraced life with as much joy as they could muster.  Prohibition reigns supreme, which means that men and women and girls and boys looking for a good time had to stick together and go undercover.  Jazz music, darling ex-pat authors, suffrage and the Harlem Renaissance –god, don’t you wish you were there?

Well, Evie’s there, and she’s determined to make the best of everything the 20s have to offer.  After her parents kick her out due to an incident with some ill-advised soothsaying, Evie strikes out for New York, home to her Uncle Will, who curates The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition and the Occult (aka The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies).  Even if “Unc” is a little tedious, Evie’s happy enough: she’s got her best friend Mabel living right upstairs, new pals Henry and Theta (a real-life Ziegfield Girl!), and an interesting, if annoying, distraction in pickpocket Sam.  But all of these people – plus Uncle Will’s assistant Jericho and a numbers-runner from Harlem named Memphis – are connected, somehow.  They each have a secret that they’re hiding, one that they’re sure would have them labeled as freaks or kicked out of the city, should it ever come out.

After all, Evie’s own secret – that she can “read” objects- got her kicked out of her own house.  But when the city is gripped with a wave of particularly grisly murders, Evie’s secret talent may be the only thing that can help put the bad guy away.  But will Will let her help?  And can Evie stay away from the hot new nightclubs long enough to make it to a crime scene?

Cover of The Downstairs Girl, with a Chinese girl wearing a fancy 1890s hat

Title: Downstairs Girl
Author: Stacey Lee
Published: 2019

The Deal (from our review):

It’s 1890 in Atlanta, and as one of its few Asian inhabitants, Jo Kuan does her best not to stand out. Mostly, she’s just trying to get along in a white-run world, but she also needs to keep a low profile so that she and Old Gin, her “stand-in father,” don’t get turned out of their secret home below the house of the Bells, who run a progressive paper called the Focus. Having grown up alongside underneath Nathan, the Bells’ son, Jo feels a special kinship with the family, especially since she’s been listening to them via the vents for years. So when she hears that the Focus circulation is down and the house is in danger of being sold, Jo does something desperate and possibly dangerous: she anonymously submits a proposal for an agony aunt column called Miss Sweetie. 

Suddenly Jo is living two different lives. By day, she’s a maid to Caroline Payne, one of the wealthiest debutantes in the city and certainly the most insufferable. And by night, she’s Miss Sweetie, dishing out no-nonsense and increasingly feminist and anti-racist advice to an audience who assumes she’s white. But neither identity truly belongs to Jo, partially because she has no idea who her parents were, and so with the thinnest of leads, she sets out to solve the mystery and maybe even find her true self in the process.  

Cover of Dread Nation: A Black girl in 1800s dress stands in front of an American flag, holding a scythe

Series: Dread Nation
Author: Justina Ireland
Published: 2018-2020

The Deal (from our review of Dread Nation):

Two days after Jane is born the dead begin to rise on the battlefields of the Civil War. The two sides come to an uneasy agreement because, well, duh, there are more pressing concerns, like their former war buddies wanting to snack on their thigh bones. Because the US government has always been comprised of the most balanced and well-adjusted people, they find an easy solution to the issue and THE END. Hahaha, just kidding. The brilliant ideas they come up with are massive walls around their cities (*cough*) and creating finishing schools for former young slaves and Native American children so they can learn to fight the Shamblers and be Attendants to defenseless, rich, white women.

Jane is at one of the most prestigious finishing schools, Miss Preston’s, right outside Baltimore. She’s close to finishing her training and getting back to her mama and her plantation. Oh yeah—Jane’s mom is actually a white woman, who all the gossips say has a penchant for “the help”. She disagreed with Jane’s decision to go to Miss Preston’s and now it’s been more than a year since her last letter, leaving Jane to fear the worst. Then Jane and her most prim and proper, brown-nosing enemy, Katherine, catch the Mayor’s eye for their fighting skills during a science lecture gone wrong…and once again, the Shamblers have changed the entire course of her life as she knew it.

Cover of An Ember in the Ashes: A large gray wall with title text and a roman-looking town above

Series: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Published: 2015-2020

The Deal (from our review of An Ember in the Ashes):

Laia’s whole family has been killed by the Empire, except for her and her brother. But Darin has been arrested by the Empire, and she must find him. To do so, she agrees to pose as a spy on a doomed mission: to help rebels overtake the Empire.

Laia has no idea what she’s doing, only that she’s being sent to serve a ruthless and brilliant mistress who doesn’t hesitate to kill, maim, or otherwise dispose of displeasing servants. When she gets to Blackcliff, she meets Elias, the Commandant’s son, who is as much of a slave as she is, in his own way. He wants nothing more than to be free of his military training, and she just wants to live to save her brother. But the Empire takes no prisoners, and betrayal is tantamount to death. With jinn, ghuls, and mysterious psychic Augurs impacting their fates, Laia and Elias both struggle to survive their intertwined destinies.

X-ray skulls in rows on a black background

Series: The Enemy
Author: Charlie Higson
Published: 2009-2011

The Deal (from our review of The Enemy):

Everyone in London (and possibly the world) over the age of 16 has contracted a horrible disease that eats them up from the inside-out. They either die, or go marauding around eating the kids who were left behind. This book follows classic zombie story guidelines, with aplomb– a group of kids are holed up in the Waitrose on Holloway Road (a grocery store, of course), but they’re running out of food, and the ‘mothers and fathers’ keep picking them off one-by-one. A new kid shows up, promising that there are no grownups where he’s just come from (Buckingham Palace, naturally) and they’re growing vegetables and the streets are paved with gold… So the whole group heads out on what should be a 2 1/2 hour walk, but of course, problems arise.

Meanwhile, we follow Small Sam, who’s been taken by the grown-ups, but hasn’t been eaten yet. (That’s all I’ll say about that.)

Will the Waitrose kids, along with the others they pick up along the way, get to the palace, and if they do, will it really be the safe haven they’ve been promised, or will there be more sinister plots afoot?

Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Published: 2012

The Deal (from our review):

So, as I just mentioned, this book is about a girl with cancer. But before you stop reading this review, because you already saw A Walk To Remember and even though you love Mandy Moore you really don’t need more saccharine bullshizz in your life, I would like to point out that it’s a book about a girl with cancer… written by John Green.

In other words, this is not your typical cancer book. And by that I mean, it is amazing.

So, Hazel Grace Lancaster has cancer, and she’s been living with it for a while now. It’s terminal, but she’s on a wonder drug that has bought her some time. How much time… she doesn’t know. But she DOES know a lot about what it’s like to be a cancer victim. She knows the medical terminology and the support group spiel and the ideal qualities in a nurse and how strangers will give up their seat for you and how much it will hurt her parents when she finally dies. Yep, Hazel knows a lot about dying with cancer.

But then she meets Augustus Waters, cancer survivor and devastating charmer, and suddenly, for the first time in a long time, she wants to know more about living than dying.

Cover of the Female of the Species, with academic-style drawings of a fox, elephant, cat, dog, and a teenage girl

Title: The Female of the Species
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Published: 2016

The Deal (from our review):

Three years ago, Alex Craft became known in her Ohio small town as The Girl Whose Sister Got Raped and Murdered. Her public identity changed overnight, but internally, her original nature, her truest self, was unleashed, transforming her into the person she always was: a person who rights wrongs, a person who delivers justice, a person who kills.

She’s never been normal, and yet, when she’s unexpectedly befriended by Peekay*, the local pastor’s daughter, she finds herself drawn to the idea of a regular existence, one where girls cease to be strangers and boys, particularly one named Jack Fisher*, are intriguing rather than threatening. It’s a world bathed in the light of possibility, but darkness still hovers around the edges, and Alex is soon torn between her desire for rebirth and her need for retribution.

Title: Finnikin of the Rock
Author: Melina Marchetta
Published: 2008

The Deal (from our review):

Let’s just say that if I was a teen from Lumatere, I would’ve written a LOT of angsty emo poetry. A formerly prosperous nation, Lumatere was brutally invaded by outsiders and mysteriously sealed off by a dying woman’s curse, exiling most of the citizens to live as impoverished social outcasts in neighboring countries. In spite of their tragic circumstances, these nomads refuse to give up hope that one day, Balthazar, the son of the dead king, will return to lead them back to their homeland. Balthazar’s childhood bestie, Finnikin, clings to the same hope while helping his mentor, Sir Topher, keep track of the Lumaterean refugees, now spread throughout several countries. While visiting the equivalent of a nunnery, Finnikin and Sir Topher meet Evanjalin, an unnervingly silent but super tough girl (she has a shaved head!) who claims to communicate with the long lost son of the king. Led by Evanjalin’s visions, Finnikin and Sir Topher launch a quest to reassemble the king’s army, locate Balthazar and reclaim Lumatere for its people.

Series: Firebird
Author: Claudia Gray
Published: 2014-2016

The Deal (from our review of A Thousand Pieces of You):

A week ago, Marguerite Caine’s father was killed, supposedly by one of his most trusted students and one of her (maybe more than?) friends, Paul. Marguerite has vowed to avenge her father, but that might be a bit hard. You see, Paul has fled … to another dimension.

Marguerite’s parents are—were—two of the most brilliant minds of their time. They’ve created a device (the Firebird) that enables energy, in the form of a person’s consciousness, to travel into a different dimension. Paul stole a Firebirds when he fled, but, unbeknownst to him, two more exist. Marguerite and another of her father’s students, Theo, follow Paul in an attempt to bring him to justice.

As they travel into different versions of themselves in dimensions that are both familiar and strikingly different, Marguerite begins to discover that nothing is quite as clear as she assumed when she lept into the unknown.

Title: Firecracker
Author: David Iserson
Published: 2013

The Deal (from our review):

Astrid Krieger has a pretty sweet life and she knows it. Not in like an arrogant way; it’s just fact. Her parents are loaded, and she’s cultivated a lot of power at Bristol Academy. But when she gets kicked out of school, her parents resort to extreme measures: public education. Now Astrid’s on a mission to figure out who got her expelled from Bristol — if learning to navigate public school doesn’t sidetrack her, that is.

Cover for The Firekeepers Daughter: A colorful design surrounding flames and two identical faces staring at each other.

Title: Firekeeper’s Daughter
Author: Angeline Boulley
Published: 2021

The Deal (from our review):

Daunis Fontaine lives in one of those towns where everyone thinks they know her, her story, or her family. She’s got roots tying her to Sault Ste. Marie going back generations on both sides of her family tree, and enough scandal in that family past to continually fuel the flames of gossip. But Daunis herself is just trying to make it through what has become a very traumatic year. Her beloved uncle David died after a relapse, and her GrandMary recently suffered a debilitating stroke. She decides to go to a college closer to home so she can keep an eye out on her mom and try to keep the tattered remains of her life together.

Unfortunately, she didn’t heed her Firekeeper grandmother’s words that bad things come in threes. After a tragic murder compounded by a meth epidemic that is sweeping across her community, Daunis decides to protect her people the only way she knows how: by discovering the truth, even if it means risking her future in the process.

Cover The Cruel Prince: A gold crown caught on leafless branches on a white background

Title: The Cruel Prince
Author: Holly Black
Published: 2017

The Deal (from our review):

Jude is one of three sisters, along with Vivienne and Taryn. When they are young, a faerie warrior comes to their home and brutally murders their parents right in front of them, then whisks them away to the faerielands. It seems that Vivi is the daughter of Madoc, a high-ranking warrior in the Court. When he kills their parents, he takes all three girls and raises them as if they were all part of Faerie, instead of one half-human and two human girls.

Jude has never liked her inferior status as a human girl. The Faerie are stronger, more powerful, and infinitely more beautiful than humans, and they never let her forget it: especially a group of particularly horrible friends. Over the years, as her twin Taryn wants to marry into Faerie and bear children, and older sister Vivi wants to escape to be with her human girlfriend, Jude becomes more and more resentful. It is her one desire to become a knight and best the faerie folk at their own game…but it seems that her path has other forks. But no matter what, she will manage to best the faerie folk who have tormented her the most…

Cover of The Forest of Stolen Girls: Black and white intricate foliage with two girls peering out of it.

Title: The Forest of Stolen Girls
Author: June Hur
Published: 2021

The Deal (from our review):

Hwani hasn’t been back to the village she grew up in since her father left her younger sister with the shaman and took a promotion on the mainland. It’s been years since she thought about the moment where her life seemed to irrevocably change: when she and her sister, Maewol, woke up next to the body of a dead girl in the forest with no idea how they got there. But her father’s disappearance while he investigated the kidnapping of thirteen girls cannot go unsolved. Everyone else believes he is dead, but Hwani knows in her heart he’s still out there, and, if no one else is going to search for him, then it’s up to her to do it.

But the island of Jeju—and its people—aren’t willing to give up their secrets so easily. The more Hwani learns, the more she begins to question what is real and what is a lie…and finding the real truth can mean the difference between her own life and death.  

Series: The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Author: Rae Carson
Published: 2011-2020

The Deal (from our review of The Girl of Fire and Thorns):

Princess Elisa, the Girl of Fire and Thorns, gets to hang out in the palace and read all day and raid the kitchen whenever she wants, but she also has to marry a total stranger on her sixteenth birthday. And then there’s the business of her Godstone, a gem that miraculously appeared in her belly button during her dedication day as a baby. (Trust me, it’s just as weird for me to type that as it is for you to read it.) According to church history, the Godstone marks Elisa for a work of incredible service to her people, but she has no idea what that means or if she can actually handle it. Unlike her stately, beautiful older sister, Elisa fears the spotlight and hides behind her books and copious amounts of food until her marriage to the handsome King Alejandro de Vega forces her to leave the palace and move to Brisadulce. The minute the carriage sets off for her new home, Elisa begins to discover her potential, and it takes her to the very heart of a devastating war.

An intricately drawn landscape featuring a woman whose skirt is turning into the sea and a man standing behind her in a dark blue robe with fish on it.

Title: The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea
Author: Axie Oh
Published: 2022

The Deal (from our review):

Every year, the most beautiful girl is chosen to become the Sea God’s bride in efforts to appease him, to stay the brutal storms or ease the burning drought that plague the human world because of a curse put upon the Sea God almost one hundred years ago. Mina is not the most beautiful or talented, but her brother went and fell in love with this year’s chosen, Shim Cheong, and Joon is her absolute favorite person in the world. So Mina barely hesitates when she jumps into the sea instead of Cheong, and finds herself following a great red ribbon tied to her hand that leads her to something very unexpected: the sleeping form of a young Sea God, and the three men who would steal her soul to keep him safe.

Cover of Graceling, featuring a large silver dagger

Series: Graceling Realm
Author: Kristin Cashore
Published: 2008-2021

The Deal (from our review of Graceling):

Katsa is a Graceling — a person born with a superhuman ability, or Grace — in a world that fears and rejects Gracelings. Everyone’s Grace is different, and even the same Grace (like mind-reading) works differently in different people. Gracelings — known by their two differently colored eyes — are sent to the king, who determines whether or not he can use them. Katsa happens to be the niece of King Randa of Middluns (there are seven kingdoms), and she happens to be graced with killing (I know, right?!!!). Randa uses her as his personal assassin and kneecapper, but she rebels by secretly forming a council and uses her grace to seek out and right injustices in the land.

On a mission to rescue the kidnapped father of the king of Leinid, Katsa encounters a mysterious Graceling with fighting powers, who turns out to be the Leinid prince Po. Po is on a mission to find out who kidnapped his harmless grandfather, and why, and he starts with the Middlun lady Katsa who rescued the old man. In Po, Katsa finally finds someone who can (almost) match her in a fight. In Katsa, Po finally finds someone he can trust with his greatest secret. They each find their first true friends as they set out on a grueling quest to uncover the truth behind the grandfather’s kidnapping, discover what happens when a Grace is in the hands of evil, and truths about themselves.

Yellow cover of Grown with an illustration of a Black teenage girl with a shaved head and a large gold earring

Title: Grown
Author: Tiffany D. Jackson
Published: 2020

The Deal (from our review):

At first, it seems like something out of a fairy tale. Seventeen-year-old Enchanted Jones auditions for Music LIVE, BET’s version of American Idol, and though she doesn’t make the final cut, she gets something seemingly better: interest from platinum artist Korey Fields. Sure, he’s eleven years older, but he believes in Enchanted, and so when he offers to let her record with him, she jumps at the chance to collaborate with her superstar crush. It’s a dream come true… until it’s a total nightmare fueled by Korey’s abusive, controlling behavior. 

Caught between her genuine love for Korey and fear for her life, Enchanted doesn’t see a way out until the morning she wakes up, with zero memory of the night before, and discovers Korey dead. She believes herself to be innocent, despite a very clear motive, and in the face of fans and police hungry to lock her up, she sets out to free herself from doubt–and from the weight of Korey’s abuse. 

Cover of THE HATE U GIVE: illustration of a Black girl holds up a large white sign with the title text, against a white background

Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Published: 2017

The Deal (from our review):

Starr Carter belongs to two worlds – her poor black neighborhood, and her mostly white prep school – with little overlap between the two halves of her life. That is, until Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend by a police officer, which becomes the biggest controversy on the national stage. With tensions rising and misinformation spreading, Starr’s the only person who can set the record straight about that night. Whether or not she does, though, could tear her community apart – and her life with it. 

Title: Highly Illogical Behavior
Author: John Corey Whaley
Published: 2016

The Deal (from our review):

Meet Solomon Reed, a sixteen-year-old who hasn’t left his house in three years due to debilitating anxiety. Now meet Lisa Praytor, a former schoolmate of Solomon’s who wants to treat his agoraphobia for her college application essay. What Lisa didn’t anticipate is that Solomon is… fun? And she and her boyfriend, Clark, enjoy hanging out with him? But those false pretenses threaten to dismantle true friendships — and any progress that Sol has made.

Cover of Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Series: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Published: 2008-2010

The Deal (from our review of The Hunger Games):

Basically, HG is set in a dystopian version of America, where the remaining part of the country (East Coast?) is divided up into twelve districts ruled by the Capitol, i.e. the super evil government. To remind the districts that the Capitol has all of the power, the annual Hunger Games takes two kids/teens known as tributes (one girl and one boy, chosen by lottery) from each district and places them in a vast outdoor wilderness arena where they must fight to the death until only one remains. Obvs THAT IS CRAZYTOWN. The novel focuses on Katniss (I know, I know, the names are terrible in this book, you just have to let it go), a 16-year-old who takes the place of her younger sister and fights in the Hunger Games as a tribute from District 12, which is basically like the most impoverished area of the country. As if trying to avoid getting killed by your peers isn’t hard enough, Katniss must also deal with her growing awareness of the Capitol’s cruelty AND the fact that the other tribute from District 12, Peeta, is totally IN LOVE WITH HER. WHAT WHAT!

Yeah, as you can see, this is a recipe straight out of the COOKBOOK OF AWESOME.

Title text surrounded by rainbow-coloured lines, radiating from the centre like sun rays

Title: I’ll Give You the Sun
Author: Jandy Nelson
Published: 2014

The Deal (from our review):

Together even before they were born, twins Noah and Jude share a bond that seems unbreakable. They’re different, to be sure– Jude is a badass surfer girl, pretty and popular, while Noah is a weirdo loner, desperate to hide his growing attraction to boys– but their connection keeps these diverging worlds tethered together. Until the day they betray each other, and the universe, in turn, betrays them.

Now Noah is the king of campus, and Jude is the outcast, with only the ghost of her grandmother to keep her company. Their lives, just like the ties that bind them, are broken, and the hope of healing lies not in putting the pieces back together, but in rearranging them completely.

white girl looking up at a gray sky

Series: If I Stay
Author: Gayle Forman
Published: 2009-2011

The Deal (from our review of If I Stay):

Mia, a cellist with a shot at Julliard (and the daughter of a punk rock drummer with Pac-NW-wide fame), gets in a car wreck that kills her parents instantly and critically injures her and her little brother (that’s all on the jacket flap, and happens in the first 25 pages or so). Now she’s not really a ghost, since she’s not dead, but she’s totally having an out-of-body experience — and it’s up to her to decide if she wants to live or die. so she can see and hear her friends and family coming to visit her in ICU, including her hot punk-rocker boyfriend, and she remembers stuff from her life, but she can’t talk to them. Y’all, this book is totally Jodi Picoult for teens (only not obnoxiously manipulative, so O liked it instead of wanting to throw it in a lake about halfway through) so be warned. It’s not the kind of book to read in public places, like public transit or at your in-laws’ house. Especially not your in-laws’ house (trust me here).

A white girl with auburn hair wearing a spaghetti strap top with her back towards the viewer,

Title: If I Was Your Girl
Author: Meredith Russo
Published: 2016

The Deal (from our review):

Newly arrived in Lambertville, GA, Amanda Hardy is looking for a fresh start when she goes to live with her dad. Being the new kid is never easy—esp. during your senior year—but Amanda’s determined not to get too close to anyone. Complicating that plan is her growing relationship with the sweet and kind-hearted Grant. As understanding as Grant may seem, Amanda is still apprehensive about telling him her biggest secret: she was assigned male at birth. Would Amanda’s new life and new romance survive if the truth comes out?

Cover of Illuminae, featuring the title and various other words and phrases "ripped out" of a red-orange cloud background

Series: The Illuminae Files
Author: Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Published: 2015

The Deal (from our review of Illuminae):

For close to 18 years, Kady lived a pretty normal life at the mining colony of Kerenza. Although the colony was illegal, it was in a part of the universe that no one really bothered with. Until the day Kady broke up with her boyfriend, Ezra, and all hell broke loose.*

That day, a rival mining corporation finally took notice of Kerenza, and mounted a vicious attack from space. Kady and many of her fellow colonists made it off the planet onto a trio of spaceships, but that didn’t mean that they made it out of danger. One of the attacking vessels is in hot pursuit, there’s a distinct possibility that the artificial intelligence running one of the ships might be going crazy, an unknown disease is causing people to go psychotic, and Kady has to reach out to Ezra to help her figure out what’s going on. She’s not quite sure which of the problems is the worst one.

*The breakup and the hell breaking loose are in no way connected; they just happened to occur on the same day.

Series: The Infernal Devices
Author: Cassandra Clare
Published: 2010-2013

The Deal:

In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them…

Cover Internment: A girl in a baseball cap hiding her face with her hair and turtleneck

Title: Internment
Author: Samira Ahmed
Published: 2019

The Deal (from our review):

Layla is a seventeen-year-old high school student living in the Worst Timeline. Picture the United States no more than six months in the future: Korematsu v. United States is once more considered good legal precedent. Muslims are being registered, rounded up, and sent to internment camps under the Exclusion Acts.

As the daughter of a now-fired university professor, she’s seen the writing on the wall—forced clapping at the President’s compulsorily-viewed speeches. A mandatory curfew. Neighbors spying on each other, ratting each other out to the authorities. A few months ago, life still seemed normal, and now she’s been branded a threat to American democracy, uprooted, and sent to a camp with a sadistic director.

Something has to be done: but what? And by whom? It will take far more than one strong-willed kid with a righteous sense of duty to stand up against this injustice, won’t it?

Red cover of Jellicoe Road with pink and red flowers

Title: Jellicoe Road
Author: Melina Marchetta
Published: 2006

The Deal (from our review):

Although it may look like your average scenic route, Jellicoe Road is a magical place that, like Gretchen Weiners’ hair, is full of secrets. And for Taylor Markham, those mysteries include the key to her past, present and future. See, when Taylor was a kid, she was abandoned on Jellicoe Road by her mother, and she’s been raised among other orphans at the Jellicoe School. Now that she’s finally a senior, Taylor has been chosen to serve as the head of her house and given the responsibility of looking after the younger students and, more importantly, waging the summer territory wars against the Cadets (boys in military training, kinda like the Australian version of ROTC) and the Townies (the kids who live in town). In spite of the weight of these duties, Taylor finds herself deeply disturbed by the sudden departure of her mentor, Hannah, and the manuscript she left behind, which tells the tragic tale of five people who met their destinies on Jellicoe Road. Haunted by this enigmatic story, Taylor begins a quest to find out what happened to the five (Fitz, Jude, Narnie, Webb and Tate) in the hopes of discovering the truth about her own identity. Complicating matters further (as if the girl didn’t have enough crap to deal with!) is the fact that the head of the cadets is none other than Jonah Griggs, a boy who shares a piece of Taylor’s dark past.

Cover of Jesse's Girl: photo of the bottom halves of a couple (white dress and cowboy boots; checkered shirt and jeans) holding hands and walking on a field

Title: Jesse’s Girl
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Published: 2015

The Deal (from our review):

Career shadowing day is a super dorky rite of passage at Hundred Oaks High. So imagine Maya Henry’s surprise when her musical aspirations pair her up with teen country phenom, Jesse Scott. 

It’d be a welcomed distraction from getting dumped by both her sorta-boyfriend and their band—if only Jesse wasn’t such a ginormous ass. (Can’t spell “superstar” without it!) But the talented jerk sure knows his music, and he thinks Maya should go solo. Will Maya step out from the shadows of her former bandmates to take the stage on her own?

Cover of Sloppy Firsts, with a girl shown sitting on the couch, from the legs down, reading a magazine

Series: Jessica Darling
Author: Megan McCafferty
Published: 2001

The Deal (from our review):

Growing up as a redheaded bookworm, there was no literary character who I idolized more than Anne Shirley. She and I were bosom buddies, kindred spirits, soul twins. She inspired me, she frustrated me (HELLO FALL IN LOVE WITH GILBERT ALREADY) and most of all, she comforted me. Because when she made mistakes, I realized that my flaws were okay. And when she soared, I knew that those great heights were possible for me, too.

I say all of this because, while Carrots will NEVER be replaced, I’ve found the Anne Shirley equivalent for my late teens and early 20s. Obvs those times have passed for me, but when I hang out with Jessica Darling, I feel like I’m right back in the middle of that big ole bundle of excitement and angst known as high school, as well as its older yet ultimately crazier sibling, college.

Like teenage me, Jessica is known as “the smart kid,” but unlike teenage me, she’s also a star runner on the track team and pretty much hates every second of high school, esp. since her best friend, Hope, left town. She can’t stand her supposed friends (known as the Clueless Crew), she hasn’t had a boyfriend since 8th grade, and she can’t wait to get the hell out of Pineville, NJ. Enter Marcus Flutie, a total stoner known as “Krispy Kreme,” who suddenly develops a cryptic interest in Jessica and begins challenging her, socially, intellectually and YES SEXUALLY OMG. This five book series follows Jessica from the middle of her sophomore year all the way to her post-college life in the “real world” and includes all of the angsty trials and mortifying (yet hilarious!) tribulations those defining years entail.


Cover of Kings of B'more, featuring two happy Black boys in front of a orange background with a train and a Ferris wheel.

Title: Kings of B’more
Author: R. Eric Thomas
Published: 2022

The Deal (from our review):

Best friends Harrison and Linus have spent the entire summer before their junior year together, working at the same job and visiting the Baltimore Cemetery in their off time. (They’re mostly just visiting for the quiet they find there and the history in the graves, they’re not normally the type to lurk in graveyards, and they’d like to make sure you know that.) But Linus has been keeping a secret: He’s moving to South Carolina. On Sunday, which is four days away.

When he learns the news, Harrison is sent reeling. But he regroups and comes up with a plan to have a Ferris Day—a day of adventure inspired by Ferris Bueller’s Day Off—so that Linus never forgets him and their friendship.

Series: The Lady Janies
Author: Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows
Published: 2016

The Deal (from our review of My Lady Jane):

As long as she has a stack of books nearby, Lady Jane Grey is content to live out her life unmarried and in private. But being the cousin of England’s King Edward VI means that she occasionally has to do things she might not want to do, and the latest situation she’s facing is a doozy: The king is dying, and has chosen Jane’s heirs as his successors. Thing is, Jane’s not married—meaning no male progeny—and Edward’s health is rapidly failing (possibly through no fault of his own or any illness, if you know what I mean).

It’s a good thing Jane and Gifford Dudley (son of Lord Dudley, the King’s most trusted advisor) have no plans for Saturday night.

Title: Last Night at the Telegraph Club
Author: Malinda Lo
Published: 2021

The Deal:

Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club.

America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father—despite his hard-won citizenship—Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.

Series: Legend
Author: Marie Lu
Published: 2011-2013

The Deal (from our review):

Sometime in the future, the Republic of America is at war with the Colonies. June Iparis has been raised in privilege — groomed to become a military leader. She is the fastest, smartest of her age. Except for a criminal who’s topped the Republic’s Most Wanted list: a boy known only as ‘Day’. No one even knows what he looks like, but June follows his exploits with an almost fan-like devotion. What if she could be the one to bring him in?

Then tragedy strikes June’s family, and she is selected for a mission that might make her dreams of catching Day come true. Driven by grief and the need for revenge, June soon sees a side of the Republic she never knew existed.

Title: Legendborn
Author: Tracy Deonn
Published: 2020

The Deal (from our review):

Three months ago, Bree Matthews’s mother died, and Bree separated into Before-Bree and After-Bree. After-Bree keeps things walled up inside herself, things that threaten to overwhelm or set fire to the world.

But when Bree sees magic—real magic—happen on her first night in the Early College program at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, she’s thrust into the secret world of the Order of the Round Table, the descendants of King Arthur and his knights who have sworn to protect humanity from demons. And when Bree realizes that someone from the Order might have had a hand in her mother’s death, After-Bree’s lust for vengeance threatens to break her meticulously constructed walls right down.

Cover of Letters to the Lost: A bouquet of flowers made out of paper

Title: Letters to the Lost
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Published: 2017

The Deal (from our review):

Delinquent. Dangerous. Deviant.

There’s not much you can say about him that Declan hasn’t heard before. He’s gotten pretty good at heaving an “eff you” back at a world that has already seemed to have written him off, so when he finds a letter left by a gravestone at the cemetery where he works off his court-mandated community service, he’s shocked to find himself empathizing with another human being. Before he can help himself, he writes back; just a simple two-word sentence tossed out into the void.

Except someone else does read it: Juliet, the letter writer. She’s shocked and furious that someone has had the nerve to read her private thoughts, left there for her photojournalist mother who died in a hit-and-run earlier that summer. How dare someone else pretend to understand the grief she is feeling? Before she can help herself, she writes a scathing letter back to the interloper.

And thus starts an exchange that may end up changing both of their lives permanently. 

Cover LITTLE & LION: Black background with line drawings of a palm tree, magazine, flower, beverage cup, book, underneath large colourful title text

Title: Little & Lion
Author: Brandy Colbert
Published: 2017

The Deal (from our review):

After a year away at boarding school in Massachusetts, Suzette has returned home to Los Angeles for the summer. A lot has changed in that time – herself included – but nothing has Suzette as nervous as being reunited with her stepbrother, Lionel. Even though they’ve been best friends from the day their two families became one, Suzette hasn’t been around much since Lionel was diagnosed with bipolar. Wanting to be supportive of her brother, Suzette soon finds herself facing the difficult choice of compromising his trust or his well-being – all while trying to reconcile different aspects of her own identity and sexuality.

Cover of Little Universes by Heather Demetrios

Title: Little Universes
Author: Heather Demetrios
Published: 2020

The Deal (from our review):

The Winters sisters are as different as can be: science-y and studious Mae, and directionless and distant Hannah. But when a family tragedy uproots them from Los Angeles to Boston, all they basically have is each other — and the growing secrecy and separation between them.

Cover of Long Way Down with a picture of elevator buttons and a Black teen boy's reflection

Title: Long Way Down
Author: Jason Reynolds
Published: 2017

The Deal (from our review):

Fifteen-year-old Will lives in a neighborhood where it’s not a matter of if someone you know will be shot, but when. And there are strict rules when it happens to someone you love. You don’t cry. You don’t snitch. You just get your revenge.

Will’s beloved older brother, Shawn, was killed last night. And Will is pretty sure he knows who did it. With his brother’s pistol, Will wakes up early and heads for the elevator, determined to even the score. But the car stops on each floor and a passenger gets on. Someone Will knows. Someone who was shot. And Will finds himself having to justify his plans for a shooting, to people who died from gun violence.

Six floors.

Title: Love Radio
Author: Ebony LaDelle
Published: 2022

The Deal (from our review):

Prince Jones seems like he’s got it all figured out. After all, how else could a 17-year-old have become THE preeminent relationship expert on the Detroit airwaves? But one thing that’s still out of reach is how to balance being the primary caretaker for his family while also pursuing his own dream of becoming a DJ.

Danielle Ford is a girl on a mission: conquer high school and college on her way to becoming a kickass writer. Except the writing part hasn’t been easy, not since that party that changed everything. That changed her.

When fate brings the two of them into each others’ orbits, Dani doesn’t think it’ll work out between them, but Prince thinks otherwise. And all he needs are three dates for her to fall in love with him.

Cover Cinder: a leg in a red shoe; inside the skin of the leg you can see robotic mechanisms

Series: The Lunar Chronicles
Author: Marissa Meyer
Published: 2012-2016

The Deal (from our review of Cinder):

Our story is set far, far in the future in what is called New Beijing — over a hundred years since WW4. Our cyborg heroine Cinder lives with her evil Stepmother Adri and (one evil, one nice) stepsisters. (Yes, this is a Cyborg Cinderella story.) With no memory of her life before her operation, Cinder was brought to New Beijing by her adoptive father. With her adoptive father dying shortly thereafter from the plague, Adri became her legal guardian (a worrisome situation considering cyborg rights are similar to that of property). Resentful of her inhuman ward, Adri forces Cinder to work as a mechanic. But one fateful day, the future emperor of New Beijing — Prince Kai — brings an android to Cinder’s shop for repair. And Cinder soon finds herself caught up in the international drama between the human governments and the Queen of the Lunar colony. War is brewing and the mind manipulating Lunars are intent on conquering Earth.

Series: The Lynburn Legacy
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Published: 2012-2014

The Deal (from our review of Unspoken):

Kami Glass has been talking to an imaginary friend her entire life. More than that, she’s in love with him, which makes it a little difficult to relate to flesh-and-blood people. Although she’s a bit of an outsider in her small English town, Sorry-in-the-Vale, she still manages to be an intrepid high school reporter, a snappy dresser, a good daughter and sister, and a friend to similarly witty Angela and Rusty.

Until the day that teenage Ash and Jared Lynburn move back to Aurimere, the mysterious house presiding above Sorry-in-the-Vale. The Lynburn family is back, and there are a slew of spooky happenings around the town and in the woods.

But nothing is as spooky as when Kami realizes that the imaginary, beloved boy in her head is real.

Cover of Miss Meteor, featuring framed images of a girl with short black hair and a girl with long brown hair on a vanity

Title: Miss Meteor
Author: Anna-Marie McLemore, Tehlor Kay Mejia
Published: 2020

The Deal (from our review):

Lita and Chicky used to be friends. Until the summer after 7th grade, when a truth about herself that Chicky didn’t want to share drove them apart, and a truth about Lita that no one can know kept her from fighting.

Now sophomores in high school, Lita and Chicky have been circling around each other for years, but the 50th Annual Meteor Regional Pageant and Talent Competition Showcase (colloquially referred to as the Miss Meteor Pageant) might be just the thing to bring the two girls back together and give them the strength they need to see that secrets don’t have to come between friends.

Cover of Not That Kind of Girl, with a close-up of a boy and girl about to kiss

Title: Not That Kind of Girl
Author: Siobhan Vivian
Published: 2010

The Deal (from our review):

Let’s begin with a short and stereotypical quiz about your high school identity:

Were you:

A.  unpopular
B.  popular

A.  a goody goody
B.  a cool kid

A.  a virgin
B.  a slut (more context about why I chose to use this word below)

A.  focused on studying
B.  focused on partying

If you answered mostly A’s, you’re a Natalie Sterling. And if you answered mostly B’s, you’re a Spencer Biddle. And in the black and white world of high school, the Natalies look down on the Spencers, and the Spencers, in turn, loathe the Natalies. That’s how teenage social systems work, and if you mess with the system, the system will most definitely mess with you. So when Natalie Sterling, president of the Ross Academy student council and straight-A senior, takes Spencer Biddle, freshman flirt and self-proclaimed “Rosstitute,” under her wing for some lessons on self-respect, it’s no surprise that shizz immediately goes B-A-N-A-N-A-S. As Spencer electrifies the school with her in-your-face, body flaunting ways, Natalie’s desperate need for control pushes away her best friend, Autumn, and inexplicably draws her closer to Connor Hughes, the hottie king of the jocks. With her carefully composed self-image falling apart, Natalie struggles to define her identity with absolutes, only to discover herself in the overlap between black and white.

Cover of The Ones We're Meant to Find, featuring two Asian girls' faces surrounded by ocean waves

Title: The Ones We’re Meant to Find
Author: Joan He
Published: 2021

The Deal (from our review):

For three years, Cee’s been trying to get home to her sister, Kay. The island she’s been living on, alone, since being lost at sea provides enough of what she needs to survive, but the urge to leave and find Kay grows stronger with the day. 

On another sort of island—a city in the sky meant to serve as humanity’s new home after they’ve basically destroyed the planet—Kacey misses her sister Celia, who went missing at sea three months prior. Although most have given up on finding Celia, Kacey decides to try and retrace Celia’s last moments to figure out what happened.

A white girl blends into the beige background, her dark brown braid stretching down her back

Title: Out of Darkness
Author: Ashley Hope Pérez
Published: 2015

The Deal (from our review):

Naomi “Smith” is a Mexican girl living in 1937 New London, Texas, with her white stepfather and half-white-siblings, Beto (now Robbie) and Cari (Carrie). Her mother died shortly after giving birth to the twins, and her real father died years ago in an accident. When her stepfather takes them to New London, where he works in the oil fields, he exposes Naomi and her siblings (who can pass for white, but she cannot) to education, steady heat, and income, but also an expectedly awful amount of racism.

Naomi is easily the prettiest girl in the high school, which enrages many of the white girls and intrigues a variety of the boys (most of whom attempt to, or lie about getting into her drawers). But when she meets Wash, a black boy from Egypt Town, she senses a kindred spirit. The twins see Wash as the big brother/doting father they never had, and slowly Naomi and Wash fall for each other.

Set against the New London school explosion, still billed as the worst school disaster in U.S. history, it’s a breathtaking Romeo & Juliet-style story where racism stands in for the houses of Montague and Capulet. Pérez writes gorgeously rendered, realistic characters while painting a portrait of bigotry, poverty, and pain.

Cover of Outrun the Moon, with glass exploding from a lantern with red paper lanterns hanging behind it

Title: Outrun the Moon
Author: Stacey Lee
Published: 2016

The Deal (from our review):

Mercy Wong was born with “bossy cheeks”—high cheekbones that, according to her mother and Chinese lore, indicate her tendency to take charge without taking any crap. All Mercy wants, however, is to avoid a life of menial labor so that she can better take care of her family.

Mercy knows the key to a better life is a good education, so she cons her way into being admitted to an upper-class boarding school full of white girls. To fit in, she claims she’s a Chinese heiress—but the other girls have their doubts. Before anyone has time to truly out her, though, the devastating 1906 earthquake hits, leveling the city. In a time of such massive chaos and destruction, what can one girl do to heal the wounds of a shattered city?

Back of a boy standing in a body of water, holding a horn and a sword in each hand, facing the New York skyline while a thunderbolt strikes

Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Author: Rick Riordan
Published: 2005-2009

The Deal (from our review of The Lightning Thief):

Percy Jackson is a troubled kid about to be kicked out of his, like, sixth school in as many years. Now on top of that, mythical creatures are trying to kill him, because as it turns out, his dead beat dad is actually a god. Like one of the gods who lives on Mount Olympus. As if that wasn’t enough to blow a twelve-year-old’s mind, Zeus’s master bolt- as in lightning- has been stolen, and for some reason, the gods think Percy did it. So Percy has to figure out who, exactly, did steal the master bolt, get it back, and return it to Mount Olympus before a war between the gods breaks out. And he has ten days to do it.

Title: Persepolis
Author: Marjane Satrapi
Published: 2003

The Deal (from our review):

Marjane Satrapi is growing up in the middle of the Iranian Revolution. She comes from a family of well-educated activists, so Marjane has very passionate opinions from a young age. Unfortunately, as the revolution turns on her family and so many other activists that helped bring it about, Marjane’s previously adorable declarations on politics and religion become less cute and more dangerous. What’s a parent of a precocious and intelligent child in the midst of the Islamic Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War to do? Ship your 14 year old off to Austria, of course!

Persepolis and Persepolis 2 recount Marjane’s childhood in Iran, very lonely adolescence in Austria, and eventual return to Iran in her late teens. This is a book about revolution, isolation, and history, and even though most of us won’t have to deal with half the shit Marjane goes through before her 13th birthday in our entire lives, the story is both poignant and relatable.

Cover of Pet: Black girl with hair tied up and in pajamas standing in a miniaturized version of city blocks

Title: Pet
Author: Akwaeke Emezi
Published: 2019

The Deal (from our review):

Jam lives in a world in which there are no monsters. Many years prior, angels did the hard and dirty work of removing them from all aspects of life in her city of Lucille. Jam barely knows what monsters are, other than what’s taught in her history classes.

But then a creature—who is adamant it’s not a monster, regardless of its monstrous visage—exits one of Jam’s mother’s paintings, and tells Jam it’s there to hunt a monster. And Jam will help.

Cover of Places No One Knows, with a girl and a boy falling through the air while holding hands

Title: Places No One Knows
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Published: 2016

The Deal (from our review):

Waverly Camdenmar is perfect. Waverly Camdenmar is an architect of popularity, a five star general of social warfare. Waverly Camdenmar has no feelings (that she will admit). Waverly Camdenmar runs until her feet blister, and then she runs harder. Waverly Camdenmar can’t sleep.

Out of all of those qualities, it’s the last one that will lead to her unraveling.

She’s tried a variety of insomnia cures, but one night, after she lights a candle and begins a meditative countdown, she finds herself drifting–not towards slumber, but into a house party where Marshall Holt, resident high school stoner, is on a very bad acid trip. It seems like a dream, yet Waverly wakes up with leaves on her feet and a distinct feeling of connection with Marshall. And then it happens again. And again. And again.

In the shadows of the night, Waverly and Marshall draw closer, but in the harshness of daylight, they stand miles apart. Is there a place in between, where their relationship is real? And, more importantly, can they reach it?

An open lighter with the title floating above it like smoke, against a bright green background

Title: Please Ignore Vera Dietz
Author: A.S. (Amy Sarig) King
Published: 2010

The Deal (from our review):

Vera Dietz is a senior in high school and works 40 hours a week as a pizza delivery technician. The first part is unavoidable, and the second is because her dad believes in having a strong work ethic. She is going to pay her way through college and leave the small town where she grew up far behind. Because she is not going to end up like her mom, who left her and her dad when Vera was 12. She is not going to be a pregnant teenager. She did not act on the fact that she was in love with her best friend Charlie. But it still broke her heart when Charlie betrayed her. And now he’s dead. And he was blamed for something horrible. And Vera knows she can clear his name. But why would she? She hates him. She loves him. She’s numb.

Cover of The Poet X with a Black girl's face surrounded by words and ink blots

Title: The Poet X
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Published: 2018

The Deal (from our review):

As she heads into the tenth grade, Xiomara Batista finds herself suddenly questioning everything. Why is it so much harder to be a girl than a boy in a Dominican family? Why do the guys at school feel like they can ogle her body and make lewd comments? Why does her mother never seem to understand her? Why should she pray to a God that only makes her feel bad about herself? As she struggles to navigate this maelstrom of feelings, she takes comfort in her notebook, a space where she can let her thoughts run free. But all too quickly, her emotions refuse to be contained by the pages, and Xio begins to defy her mother by dating a boy, by skipping confirmation class, by joining a Spoken Word Poetry Club. She’s discovering her self and finding her voice–but how can she get her parents to hear it? 

Cover of The Princess Diaries: pink with a lock, resembling a diary

Series: The Princess Diaries
Author: Meg Cabot
Published: 2000-2009

The Deal (from our review):

Mia Thermopolis (Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldi), besides being my very bestest friend, is a teenager living in NYC, with a feminist artist mother and a mostly-absentee, European politician father. Despite being a too-tall, too-skinny, flat-chested freak with triangle-shaped hair who is largely ignored at her posh private school, Mia’s life is pretty normal. Her best friend is the brilliant and kind of mean Lilly Moscovitz, and she has a tiny crush on Lilly’s brother Michael, who’s the second-cutest guy at Albert Einstein High (Josh Richter being number one).

That all changes when Mia’s father and grandmother (Grandmere) drop by NYC to announce that, uh, actually? They’re royalty. Which makes Mia the crown princess of Genovia, a tiny European principality near Monoco.

Over four years, we follow Mia through: insults, embarrassments, her mother shacking up with her Algebra teacher, getting the guy, losing the guy, dating The Guy Who Hates It When They Put Corn in the Chili, getting the guy again, and creating democracies and tearing down cliques. And doing it all with copious references to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which is why she is my BEST FRIEND EVS.

Cover of First Test: Kel standing by a river holding a kitten with sparrows on her shoulder

Series: Protector of the Small
Author: Tamora Pierce
Published: 1999-2002

The Deal (from our review of First Test):

It’s been more than a decade since Lady Alanna of Pirate’s Swoop snuck her way to a knighthood by passing herself as her male sibling during her training, and years since King Jonathan decreed that any Tortallan female has the right to do so without subterfuge. Yet no female has ever taken him up on that offer…until Keladry of Mindelan. Raised by her ambassador parents on an island nation far from Tortall, Kel received training unique to the Yamani people, who expect women to know how to defend themselves.

But although people like Alanna are over the moon that Kel wishes to join the ranks of the pages, Lord Wyldon, the stodgy training master, has his doubts. He imposes a one-year probationary period on Kel with the implication at that she will leave if she cannot keep up. Kel is annoyed that such a restriction has been placed on her and no one else, but she’s determined to prove everyone wrong. Of course, the path to knighthood is everything and nothing like Kel thought it would be, complete with bullies, stubborn horses, demanding papers, and exhausting workouts. But if she can just make it through the next seven years, she can become more than she could have ever dreamed.

Cover of The Raven Boys with a large dark blue raven painting

Series: The Raven Cycle
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Published: 2013-2016

The Deal (from our review of The Raven Boys):

Blue Sargent has grown up in a house full of psychics in Henrietta, Virginia, who have all warned her, at one time or another, that if she ever kisses her true love, he will die. This is all of no consequence, however, because Blue doesn’t believe in such things–true love, not psychics. She definitely believes in psychics, even though she’s the only one in the house without a psychic ability.

So when Blue accompanies her aunt on her family’s annual visit to the old abandoned church on St. Mark’s Eve, she doesn’t expect to see the dead walking along the old road, because she never has before. But something changes this time. This time, she sees a boy, and he speaks to her. He tells her his name is Gansey, and she can tell by the Raven on his sweater that he’s from Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has always had a strict policy of staying away from Raven Boys, but she can’t help but be drawn to Gansey and his friends. Soon, she finds herself caught up in an ages old mystery that is both sinister and righteous, and Blue only knows this: that she must see things through to the end.

Series: Red Rising Saga
Author: Pierce Brown
Published: 2014

The Deal (from our review of Red Rising):

In the future, Reds are pioneers. It’s their life’s work—mining under the surface of Mars for helium-3, which is essential for terraforming—that benefits the rest of mankind. It’s Reds who are preparing the planet for the arrival of rest of humanity: the Golds, Silvers, Greens, Blues, Yellows, Purples, Pinks and other colors that humans have been divided into.

Darrow was born a Red. His whole family works in the Martian mines or supports those who do. He’s a Helldiver, one of the few elite miners who dive deep and risk their lives to pull the precious helium-3 from the rocks. He believes what he’s been told: that the surface of Mars is uninhabitable, that it’s up to him and his fellow Reds to turn it into a place people can survive. Until, that is, the day he finds out that he’s been living a lie. The surface of Mars has been habitable for years, and the Reds are merely slave labor.

After his whole world view is turned upside down, Darrow is thrust into a new life far removed from the mines. He infiltrates the elite Institute, a “school” at which he must learn and live the ways of the ruling class, the Golds. His is a rebellion from within, but he quickly learns that rebellion comes with a high price.

White hands holding a worn-down book

Title: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly
Author: Stephanie Oakes
Published: 2015

The Deal (from our review):

Settle in and crank up the Cypress Hill, y’all — it’s about to get INSANE IN THE MEMBRANE. 

After spending most of her life in a sequestered cult, 17-year-old Minnow Bly’s freedom is short-lived when she ends up in a juvenile detention center. With the cult’s prophet murdered and its camp destroyed, it’s obvi that Minnow knows more than she lets on.

Oh, and did I mention the part about Minnow having no hands because the cult CHOPPED THEM OFF? You can commence forever screaming now. 

drawing of a girl in a red hoodie with hair blowing across her face

Title: Sadie
Author: Courtney Summers
Published: 2018

The Deal (from our review):

When radio journalist West McCray showed up in Cold Creek, Colorado, he had no idea that the trip would alter his life completely. It was a chance encounter that he happened to overhear some people at the gas station talking about a13-year-old girl named Mattie whose body had been found just outside of town. At his boss’ suggestion, West returns to Cold Creek a year later to record a podcast about the murdered girl and her 19-year-old sister, Sadie, who disappeared not long after Mattie’s death. What happened to these girls? Who murdered Mattie? Why was the police investigation so botched? And where is Sadie? West’s interest turns into obsession as he pieces together each tiny bit of information he can find in the hopes of finding Sadie before it’s too late.

Sadie’s life was never easy. Her mother disappeared when she was still a kid, and Sadie was left alone to raise Mattie with only the help of a woman named May Beth, who managed the trailer park where the girls lived. Sadie dedicated her life to making sure that Mattie never had to suffer any more than necessary, so when Mattie turns up dead, Sadie’s world collapses around her. She knows who murdered Mattie, and she knows exactly what horrors he is capable of. With nothing but a photograph to lead the way, Sadie sets out on a journey to find Mattie’s murderer and kill him herself.

A black outline of a horse and its rider on a dark red background.

Title: The Scorpio Races
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Published: 2011

The Deal (from our review):

Every November, the people on the island of Thisby await the arrival of the capall uisce –the mysterious water horses that are as much a part of the island as the people themselves — as they prepare for the Scorpio Races.

Kate “Puck” Connolly has just found out that she and her brothers are about to lose everything: their house, her beloved horse Dove, and each other. The only solution she can see is to enter the races.

Sean Kendrick has won the Scorpio Races 4 times, on the water horse Corr, who he sometimes thinks he understands better than most people. All he really wants is to buy Corr from his boss and go back to his father’s farm, but up until this year, Mr. Malvern has refused to sell Corr to Sean.

As Kate, Sean and the other jockeys make preparations for race day, they face down danger every day — not just from the island horses, but from some of the people of Thisby, as well.

Title: The Serpent King
Author: Jeff Zentner
Published: 2016

The Deal (from our review):

Dill Early is the son of a disgraced preacher—one whose whole life is based around the Bible verse Mark 16:18 (“They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”) Dill struggles with his faith, but finds solace in music.

Lydia Blankenship is the daughter of a successful dentist and realtor who’ve raised her to be a smart, successful, open-minded woman. She wants nothing more than to escape the tiny town she grew up in, and has already started down that path with her popular fashion blog Dollywould.

Travis Bohannan is the son of a man who peaked in high school and likes to take his frustration with adult life out on his family; thankfully, Travis has learned from his father’s mistakes. He would much rather get lost in a Game of Thrones-like fantasy world than spend time with real people (other than Dill and Lydia).

The three have been best friends since the start of high school, and the bubble they’ve created for themselves is impenetrable to even the worst of their classmates. But now that senior year has begun, the future—and the changes it brings—is looming, and it’s got a very sharp point.

Series: Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Published: 2011

The Deal (from our review of Shatter Me):

Juliette hasn’t touched a person in 262 263 264 days. Locked in a prison for a crime she didn’t mean to commit, Juliette spends her days trapped in the ramblings of her own mind, gazing out at a sky which has been polluted to the color of disease. But when she gets a new cellmate – a boy who seems strangely familiar – she’s torn between being overjoyed at the idea of talking to another person and terrified that he might find out her secret.

But Juliette’s prison is soon traded for another one, as The Reestablishment – a group of totalitarian paramilitary bad guys who have established order in an increasingly dystopic world – decides to use her special gifts in order to extract information from members ofthe resistance. Trapped, Juliette can only trust her gut instincts . . . and a super hot guy.

Cover of Carry On, with two profiles (one yellow, one blue) facing off

Title: Carry On (Simon Snow #1)
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published: 2015

The Deal (from our review):

If you’ve read Fangirl, then you’ve already gotten a taste of Simon Snow’s story, and I probably don’t need to convince you to read this novel. (So go do that, because I need to convo about it!)

If you haven’t, no worries, this book totally stands alone. But to give you a little history, Rainbow Rowell created the concept of Simon Snow as a book within a book (Fangirl). He’s basically a Harry Potter, an orphan who grew up unwanted until the day he learned that magic lives in his blood. And not just any kind of magic–the most powerful magic the world has ever seen. He’s the Chosen One, so he’s sent off to Watford, a boarding school for wizards, where he befriends Penelope (Hermione), courts Agatha (Cho Chang), squares off with his vampire roommate Baz (Draco) and battles against the Insidious Humdrum (Voldemort), all while seeking the approval of the Mage (Dumbedore), the closest thing he has to a father figure. Carry On begins with his last year at Watford, when the wizarding world is falling apart in the face of the Humdrum’s threats.

Cover of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda: red background, illustration of black and white headless figure with hands in jean front pockets

Title: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Author: Becky Albertalli
Published: 2015

The Deal (from our review):

Simon Spier has a problem. It’s not that he’s gay or that he hasn’t told anyone about it. It’s not that he’s been baring his soul via emails to Blue, the pen name of a classmate that’s also in the closet. No — Simon’s problem is that all these secrets have been discovered by class clown Martin Addison, who’s blackmailing Simon for help with his own love life. To protect his own privacy and that of the guy he’s totally crushing on (whomever he might be), what choice does Simon have but to play along? 

Series: The Sisterhood
Author: Ann Brashares
Published: 2001-2011

The Deal:

Carmen got the jeans at a thrift shop. They didn’t look all that great: they were worn, dirty, and speckled with bleach. On the night before she and her friends part for the summer, Carmen decides to toss them.

But Tibby says they’re great. She’d love to have them. Lena and Bridget also think they’re fabulous. Lena decides that they should all try them on. Whoever they fit best will get them.

Nobody knows why, but the pants fit everyone perfectly. Even Carmen (who never thinks she looks good in anything) thinks she looks good in the pants. Over a few bags of cheese puffs, they decide to form a sisterhood and take the vow of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants . . . the next morning, they say good-bye.

And then the journey of the pants — and the most memorable summer of their lives — begins.

Series: Six of Crows
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Published: 2015

The Deal (from our review of Six of Crows):

Kaz Brekker has made a name for himself and his gang, the Dregs, on the streets of Ketterdam through his smarts, his creativity, and his ruthlessness. Because of this, Kaz isn’t surprised when a man with a mission comes calling, looking to Kaz to do the impossible.

Kaz can’t resist the allure of the heist, nor the money that’s promised when he succeeds. But he’ll need his friends to pull it off, and even then, the outcome is hazy.

Cover of The Start of Me and You with a boy and a girl sitting together on a rock overlooking the water

Title: The Start of Me and You
Author: Emery Lord
Published: 2015

The Deal (from our review):

Paige Hancock used to be known as Grammar Girl, a nickname she earned (and despised) for correcting people’s sentences. But now that she’s known as The Girl Whose Boyfriend Died, her former title doesn’t seem so bad.

After Aaron drowned while on a camping trip, Paige’s world was consumed by grief and, perhaps worse, guilt for only knowing him a few months. Thanks to the support of her tight-knit group of friends, she eventually crawled out of the darkness, but its shadow still follows her through constant looks of pity from the residents of her small town. Paige, determined to shake it off, concocts a plan for the upcoming school year, a strategy for a better life that includes joining a new club and dating Ryan Chase, high school god.

But, as is often the way with plans, things go awry. But maybe awry is just what Paige needs.

Cover of The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Title: The Sun is Also a Star
Author: Nicola Yoon
Published: 2016

The Deal (from our review):

Today feels like the worst of Natasha’s life: it’s her last day in the United States. Her family is being deported back to Jamaica because they’ve been living in the country as undocumented immigrants for years, and now her father has gone and ruined all of her perfectly laid plans. She leaves her house that morning on a mission to make one last-ditch effort to block the deportation.

Daniel has his Yale admission interview today, even though he doesn’t really care about being a doctor or getting into a Second Best school. Desperate to avoid his mom’s never-ending advice and his asshole brother’s taunting, he heads out hours early to get a haircut and write his poems on the subway in peace.

Neither of them expect this day to be what it becomes: magical, heart-breaking, surreal, life-altering.

Cover of Sweethearts, with a pink iced heart-shaped cookie that has a bite taken out of it

Title: Sweethearts
Author: Sara Zarr
Published: 2008

The Deal (from our review):

In grade school Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick (cue massive sighs) were the outcasts to beat all outcasts. But they had each other, and their childhood love was so deep and pure, the adults in their lives couldn’t really fathom it. So when Cameron Quick (I can’t really say his first name without saying his last name, you know?) disappeared suddenly, Jennifer felt that the one bright shining star in her world had been snuffed out, taking her with it.

Now in high school, she’s known as Jenna. Jenna has lost a lot of weight, has multiple friends, and for the very first time, a boyfriend. She’s learned how to be funny, easy-to-get-along-with and popular. But every time she looks in the mirror, Jenna sees Jennifer, and she can’t shake the desolate feelings of being an outcast, or the ones that Cameron Quick left behind.

So when Cameron Quick reappears, Jenna’s heart is turned upside-down as she faces their shared memories of the past, and who they have become in the present.

Cover of They Both Die at the End. Two boys walk across an urban bridge under moonlight. Their shadow is the Grim Reaper.

Title: They Both Die at the End
Author: Adam Silvera
Published: 2017

The Deal (from our review):

In an alternate contemporary timeline, everyone gets advance warning of their death. Just after midnight, you receive a phone call from Death-Cast, informing you that you are going to die today. No details, no specific time. Have a nice day.

Two older teens, Rufus and Mateo, are hit with this bad news. Using a social media app, they connect and decide to spend their last 24 or so hours getting the most out of what little time is left to them.

Cover of This Poison Heart, featuring a young black woman surrounded by and wearing plants and flowers

Title: This Poison Heart
Author: Kalynn Bayron
Published: 2021

The Deal (from our review):

Briseis knows that she’s adopted; her moms have never kept that information from her. She also knows that she’s special: she has a very green thumb, to the point where plants respond to her as though they’re alive, she can grow them at a highly sped-up rate, bring them back from the brink of death, etc. She doesn’t know where she got this gift, but it comes in handy for her family business, a florist shop. She’s never pushed to find out more about her birth family, to see if the gift might come from them until she receives notice that her aunt has died and left her an estate in upstate New York.

When she and her moms move into the house and start exploring the grounds, Bri quickly realizes that her gift is definitely a familial one. She’s excited to delve into her history and how she can use her abilities for good, but not everyone is glad to see that her family line has continued—or they want to use her for not-so-innocent reasons.

Cover of Throne of Glass, featuring a woman with long white hair holding weapons

Series: Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Published: 2012-2017

The Deal (from our review of Throne of Glass):

Celaena Sardothian used to be the greatest assassin her country had ever seen. But then she was betrayed, arrested, and sent to the salt mines of Endovier to serve a life sentence in penance for her crimes.

A year into her sentence—months and months more than the typical prisoner lasts—Celaena is offered a way out: fight to become the King of Ardarlan’s Champion and earn her eventual freedom.

Cover of To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han: in a bedroom with mementos decorating the wall, an Asian girl lying on a bed as she's writing in a book and looking off to the side

Series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Published: 2014

The Deal (from our review of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before):

When Lara Jean’s getting over a crush, she writes down everything she’s been holding back about him. And she does so without fear of her thoughts ever being read, because these cathartic letters go directly to a hiding spot only she knows about… or so she thinks. Because her letters have def. found their way to all the boys she’s loved before. (See what I did there?)

Cover of The Truth About Forever with a gray blue tree trunk background and a red leaf paper heart

Title: The Truth About Forever
Author: Sarah Dessen
Published: 2004

The Deal (from our review):

Ladies and gentlemen (er, Brian), the time has finally come for FYA to review a book from the canon of one of YA’s most beloved and talented writers–the one, the only, THE AMAZING SARAH DESSEN. I’m not even kidding when I say that I am truly honored to fangirl with you about this book, because it is seriously my favorite one in her entire collection and considering that I want to marry all of her books this is like, THE HOLIEST OF THE HOLIES. I will try my damnedest to give The Truth About Forever the review it deserves, because every single girl in the world will not be living a complete life until THEY PICK UP THIS MASTERPIECE OF LITERATURE AND EXPERIENCE ITS AWESOME POWER.


Ever since her father died of a heart attack right in front of her, Macy Queen has been trying her hardest to be fine. Not just fine, actually, but perfect, because perfect means being in control, and being in control means nothing like that will ever happen again. She volunteers on a regular basis, dates the high school valedictorian and combs the part in her hair until it’s straight as an arrow, just like her life. Everything is going according to plan until the day her boyfriend, Jason, emails from Brain Camp to say that it’s obvs in their best interest as a couple to take a break. [Spoiler alert: JASON IS A TOOL.] With her ice queen composure suddenly shaken, Macy finds herself drawn to the chaos of Wish Catering, a company that recently worked at one of her mother’s realty events. In spite of her safety pants nature, she begins working at Wish and spending time with its menagerie of employees, all of whom encourage her to LIVE A LITTLE SHEESH. Soon, Macy finds herself opening up to the world– to life, to grief and, most fearfully, to Wes, the (SUPER SEXY) artist with a tragic past of his own.

Twilight Cover: 2 hands hold a red apple on a black background

Series: The Twilight Saga
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Published: 2005-2020

The Deal:

About three things I was absolutely positive.

First, Edward was a vampire.

Second, there was a part of him—and I didn’t know how dominant that part might be—that thirsted for my blood.

And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.

Deeply seductive and extraordinarily suspenseful, Twilight is a love story with bite.

Title: The Weight of the Stars
Author: K. Ancrum
Published: 2019

The Deal (from our review):

Ryann Bird is an outsider with a secret: She truly cares about people, particularly those who are outsiders like herself. When her history teacher gives her an “assignment” to befriend the new girl, Alexandria, Ryann thinks it’ll be easy. But then Alexandria has an accident—one that might be partly Ryann’s fault—and Ryann’s forced to rethink her whole plan, and help while Alexandria’s out of commission. Including sitting on Alexandria’s roof and listening for transmissions from a one-way deep space mission Alexandria’s mother went on right after Alexandria was born.

Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
Published: 2017

The Deal:

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family—and from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitating toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

the outline of a water tower with 2 people reaching from opposite ends, and little crescent moons hanging above from strings

Title: When the Moon Was Ours
Author: Anna-Marie McLemore
Published: 2016

The Deal (from our review):

Miel and Sam have never been “normal.” Miel is the girl who spilled out of a rusty water tower when she was five and grows roses out of her wrist. Sam is a boy who paints moons and hangs them all over town and Miel’s best friend. Neither of them is white, and that’s unusual in their sleepy farm town. But no one’s ever really bothered them.

Until, that is, the Bonner girls, four sisters who are used to getting their way and who might have witchy tendencies, come to the conclusion that Miel’s roses will bring them even more power. They’ll do anything, including threatening Miel and Sam—who have secrets they aren’t ready to face, much less have others know—to get what they want.

Overhead shot of white blonde girl in a pink ballgown, with her right hand raised to her forehead in anguish

Series: The Winner’s Trilogy
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Published: 2014

The Deal (from our review of The Winner’s Curse):

The Valorian Empire’s powers are far-reaching — and oppressive, to the enslaved Herrani. Kestrel is the daughter of the highest-ranking general in the army, but even she can’t avoid the fate of all Valorian women of age: join the military or get married. (What a plethora of choice! How does one ever choose?)

Gifted as she is in military strategy, Kestrel’s true passion actually lies in music. It’s what compels her to impulsively buy a slave sold as a singer at an auction. But the price Kestrel pays for him is far steeper than she could have imagined. 

Cover for You Bring the Distant Near: A colorful woman with her hands raised above her head, superimposed with the image of a city in her.

Title: You Bring the Distant Near
Author: Mitali Perkins
Published: 2017

The Deal (from our review):

Sisters Sonia and Tara are used to moving around, but they’re hoping that their recent passage to America will be the salve that heals their fractured family and gives them all that they’re looking for. Their mother, Ranee, has always been a force to be reckoned with, while Baba is the gentle and kind one, and theirs has never quite been a peaceful home life. When an accident splits their family apart, each girl finds their comfort and strength in things their mother doesn’t approve of, and after that home is never quite the same.

Years later, Ranee is determined to use her second chance with her granddaughters to make them into good Indian women, but they may end up teaching her more than she realizes. Author Mitali Perkins uses the lives of these five woman to ask tough questions, like do we ever really know what to leave or pass on from one generation to the next? Is it possible to lose too much of your heritage when you leave your home country behind? And can you ever feel at home in a world so different from your own?

Title text with a dagger in place of the T in Elites, against a stormy gray sky backdrop

Series: The Young Elites
Author: Marie Lu
Published: 2014-2016

The Deal (from our review of The Young Elites):

In the wake of a devastating blood fever, survivors who will forever bear its mark are malfettos: outcasts rejected and feared by society. Some malfettos, known as the Young Elites, possess strange and powerful gifts. Gifts that make them fugitives to the king’s Inquisition Axis that wants to destroy them, but also assets to the clandestine Dagger Society that wants to protect them.

For Adelina Amouteru and her newfound abilities, this allegiance to the Young Elites is not quite as clear. Friend and foe alike, anyone who dares to cross Adelina will surely regret it.

OMG CONGRATS, you made it to the end of our list! So….we KNOW you have opinions. Tell us what you think in the comments!

Rosemary lives in Little Rock, AR with her husband and cocker spaniel. At 16, she plucked a copy of Sloppy Firsts off the "New Releases" shelf and hasn't stopped reading YA since. She is a brand designer who loves tiki drinks, her mid-century modern house, and obsessive Google mapping.