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Find more Best Fiction for Young Adults
The Best Fiction for Young Adults list is compiled annually by a committee of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) and comprises fiction appropriate for ages 12 to 18. All titles were published in 2018 unless otherwise noted. The committee’s top 10 choices are identified with a star (*).
Ace of Shades. By Amanda Foody. HarlequinTeen, $19.99 (9781335692290).
When Enne’s mother disappears, Enne heads to the City of Sin, New Reynes, determined to track her down. Enne’s only clue takes her to the gang leader Iron Lord. But the City of Sin is filled with games. To get back her mother, Enne must play, no matter the cost.
After the Fire. By Will Hill. Sourcebooks/Fire, $17.99 (9781492669791).
After a government raid on the Lord’s Legion, a secretive religious commune in the Texas desert, 17-year-old Moonbeam finds herself in the outside world for the first time and must confront the destructive lies that tore apart her family.
The Agony of Bun O’Keefe. By Heather T. Smith. 2017. Razorbill, $16.99 (9780143198659).
Fourteen-year-old Bun O’Keefe leaves home one day after her negligent, hoarder mother tells her to get out. She hitchhikes to the nearest city, where she’s taken in by a ragtag group of lovable housemates, living in “temporary accommodations,” who teach her the real value of family you make for yourself.
All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages. Ed. by Saundra Mitchell. HarlequinTeen, $18.99 (9781335470454).
Seventeen short stories, written by different authors, illustrate the experiences of queer teens throughout history.
American Road Trip. By Patrick Flores-Scott. Holt/Christy Ottaviano, $17.99 (9781627797412).
Teodoro’s family is sinking fast: his father lost his job, his brother returned from Iraq with PTSD, and his parents are struggling to cope. T’s sister spirits her siblings away on a road trip, taking them to reconnect with family, to heal, and to find a way forward.
The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza. By Shaun David Hutchinson. Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse, $17.99 (9781481498548).
Despite living as a social outcast due to her virgin birth, Elena believes the inanimate voices she hears foretell an extraordinary destiny. But even she could not have foreseen that healing a dying gunshot victim in a Starbucks parking lot would set her on a course to potentially save the world.
An Assassin’s Guide to Love and Treason. By Virginia Boecker. Little, Brown, $17.99 (9780316327343).
In Shakespearean England, Lady Katherine vows to complete her father’s failed plot to kill Queen Elizabeth I. To succeed, she dresses as a male actor and earns a part in Shakespeare’s new play—specifically rewritten by Toby Ellis, spy to the queen—to lure Katherine’s fellow conspirators into the open.
The Belles. By Dhonielle Clayton. Disney/Freeform, $17.99 (9781484728499).
In the opulent world of Orleans, Belles possess the power to restore beauty to its cursed citizens. Camille covets the honor of being named the queen’s favorite Belle, but she soon discovers that a darkness lurks beneath Orleans’ veneer of beauty and that her position comes at a steep price.
Between the Lines. By Nikki Grimes. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen, $17.99 (9780399246883).
Aspiring journalist Darrian Lopez signs up to participate in a poetry slam at his school. Using poetry, students piece together their stories, and Darrian learns that though they may be different, they’re all just trying to do their best with the life they have been given.
Blanca & Roja. By Anna-Marie McLemore. Feiwel and Friends, $17.99 (9781250162717).
Two sisters fight to escape the magic of a family curse dooming one of them, while two boys embrace the enchantment saving them from lives they can’t bear. Steeped in Latino folklore, their heartbreaking stories entwine in this contemporary retelling of Snow White and Rose Red and Swan Lake.
Blood Water Paint. By Joy McCullough. Dutton, $17.99 (9780735232112).
At 17, Artemisia Gentileschi is a brilliant painter who wants to become even better and escape her father’s control. A man who she hopes will save her instead becomes her worst nightmare. Artemisia must decide whether to remain silent or to speak the truth, just as her heroines did. A 2019 Top 10 Amelia Bloomer Project Book and a 2019 Morris Award finalist.
Broken Things. By Lauren Oliver. Harper, $18.99 (9780062224132).
Five years ago, Mia and Brynn were blamed for the ritualistic killing of their best friend. Now, new evidence has come to light that could solve the murder and finally clear their names.
Buried beneath the Baobab Tree. By Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, $17.99 (9780062696724).
A Nigerian teen looks forward to the day when she will leave her village to pursue a university degree, but her life changes drastically when she and her schoolmates are kidnapped by Boko Haram.
The Cheerleaders. By Kara Thomas. Delacorte, $17.99 (9781524718329).
Five years after the deaths of five Sunnybrook cheerleaders, Monica, the sister of one of them, decides to look further into the tragedy. She uncovers information that leads her to believe there is a deeper, darker truth to the incident. What really transpired all those years ago?
Children of Blood and Bone. By Tomi Adeyemi. Holt, $18.99 (9781250170972).
Eleven years ago, magic was lost, and Maji, Diviners blessed by the gods, were killed by the king, including Zelie’s mother, a once-great Reaper. Now Zelie, with the help of her brother Tzain and the rogue princess Amari, must restore magic to Orïsha before it is lost forever. A 2019 Notable Children’s Book and a 2019 Morris Award finalist.
City of Ghosts. By Victoria Schwab. Scholastic, $17.99 (9781338111002).
After briefly dying, Cassidy acquires the ability to see ghosts, which explains her spectral friend Jacob. When her parents land jobs hosting a ghost-hunting television show, the family goes to Edinburgh, Scotland, where Cassidy meets Lara, another person who can see ghosts. While learning about her abilities, Cassidy encounters a ghost that eats souls.
A Conspiracy of Stars. By Olivia A. Cole. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, $17.99 (9780062644213).
Octavia dreams of the day she joins her parents as a whitecoat, an elite N’Terra scientist who studies the wondrous natural world of their adopted planet, Faloiv. However, her internship in the secret labs reveals some scientists’ experiments have sinister motives that threaten their tenuous peace with the Faloii.
*The Cruel Prince. By Holly Black. Little, Brown, $18.99 (9780316310277).
Violently taken from her human home, Jude has struggled to navigate the dark world of the Fae. Jaded from years of being viewed as inferior for being human, she publicly challenges the wicked Prince Cardan and his friends, unleashing the prince’s wrath upon her and her sisters. A 2019 Notable Children’s Book.
*Darius the Great Is Not Okay. By Adib Khorram. Dial, $17.99 (9780525552963).
Darius is not OK with his impossible-to-please father, his mother and sister’s shared Farsi sisterhood, and his “Fractional Persian” heritage. A family trip to his mother’s homeland means learning more about his family, himself, and the many forms love can take. The 2019 William C. Morris Award winner, the 2019 Asian/Pacific American Award for Young Adult Literature winner, and a 2019 Top 10 Rainbow List selection.
The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein. By Kiersten White. Delacorte, $18.99 (9780525577942).
Elizabeth has learned to survive by changing herself to please others. When she is offered, as a gift, to the boy Victor Frankenstein, she believes her life will change for the better. But when a monster appears that begins to kill, Elizabeth’s world begins to fall apart.
Dear Rachel Maddow. By Adrienne Kisner. Feiwel and Friends, $17.99 (9781250146021).
A class writing assignment turns into a journal-like collection of unsent emails that Brynn Harper writes to Rachel Maddow, helping Brynn to work through her feelings, the death of her brother, and a heated school election.
The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary. By NoNieqa Ramos. Carolrhoda/Lab, $17.99 (9781512439762).
Fierce in her perseverance and flawed in nature, Macy’s ability to survive in a toxic environment has secured her the label of the disturbed girl at school. She documents her experiences in her self-made dictionary that shows the toxic and tragic events that have shaped who she is today.
*Dread Nation. By Justina Ireland. HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray, $17.99 (9780062570604).
In post–Civil War America, where the dead have refused to stay buried, Jane has spent her life training in a special combat school for African American children, preparing to save the lives of the wealthy. When entire families go missing, she learns her combat skills are incredibly useful against both the dead and the living.
Dry. By Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman. Simon & Schuster, $18.99 (9781481481960).
When water taps run dry, Southern California is forced into a state of emergency. Neighbors turn on one another, and suburbia becomes a hot zone for “water-zombies.” When Alyssa’s parents go missing, she must do whatever it takes in order to survive the Tap-Out.
Everything Else in the Universe. By Tracy Holczer. Putnam, $16.99 (9780399163944).
When Lucy’s injured father returns home from Vietnam, the war, which had until then felt far away and abstract, becomes very real, and Lucy begins to comprehend its effect on everyone around her.
Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All. By M. T. Anderson and others. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $18.99 (9781524716196).
Six women would forever be changed by Henry the VIII’s ruthless ambition. Each of them must navigate Henry’s unpredictable nature, the political machinations of his court, and their own feelings concerning motherhood. Seven authors tell the story of each wife, interjecting Henry’s own interpretation of events.
*Foolish Hearts. By Emma Mills. 2017. Holt, $17.99 (9781627799379).
When Claudia finds herself ensnared in a school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, she must also navigate the elaborate politics of her private girls’ school, her budding friendship with prickly Iris, and a tentative romance, in addition to family drama, in this funny, feel-good contemporary novel.
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. By Julie C. Dao. 2017. Philomel, $18.99 (9781524738297).
Xifeng longs to fulfill her destiny to become empress, but the path leading to the throne may make her one of the most vicious villains in all of the stories ever told.
*Frankie. By Shivaun Plozza. 2017. Flatiron, $17.99 (9781250142993).
Frankie Vega’s half brother suddenly presents himself, and just as she begins to get to know him, he disappears. Frankie is the only one who seems worried about his whereabouts, so she sets out to find him.
Girl Made of Stars. By Ashley Herring Blake. HMH, $17.99 (9781328778239).
After her twin brother is accused of rape by one of her best friends, high-school junior Mara must grapple with her feelings about who to believe while reliving a similar incident of her own. A 2019 Top 10 Rainbow List selection.
Harbor Me. By Jacqueline Woodson. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen, $17.99 (9780399252525).
Six kids in a special school are sent to a room to talk to one another weekly. As the year goes on, they all open up about their deepest fears, hopes, and dreams. A 2019 Notable Children’s Book.
The Hazel Wood. By Melissa Albert. Flatiron, $18.99 (9781250147905).
Alice and her mom, Ella, receive news that Alice’s grandmother Althea, author of the gruesome Hinterland fairy tales, has died inside her estate, the Hazel Wood. When Ella is abducted from their home, Alice goes in search of the Hazel Wood and begins to wonder if Althea’s twisted stories are real.
*A Heart in a Body in the World. By Deb Caletti. Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse, $18.99 (9781481415200).
After a traumatic incident, Annabelle manages to finish her senior year with the support of her friends and family and the comfort of routine: school, work, and cross-country. One night, she reaches her breaking point and begins to run—across the U.S., becoming a reluctant activist along the way. A 2019 Printz Honor Book.
The House of One Thousand Eyes. By Michelle Barker. Annick, $19.95 (9781773210711).
When Lena’s subversive uncle disappears without a trace in Communist East Berlin, she risks everything to find out what happened to him in this immersive historical mystery. Rife with well-crafted suspense and chilling period detail, this thrilling story will appeal to fans of dystopias and historical fiction alike.
In Her Skin. By Kim Savage. Farrar, $17.99 (9780374308001).
Jo Chastain is attempting her biggest con yet—impersonating Vivi Weir, who vanished nine years ago. Jo is welcomed with open arms into the Lovecraft household, the family of Vivi’s best friend, Temple, the last person to see Vivi before she disappeared. But the Lovecrafts have secrets of their own.
Isle of Blood and Stone. By Makiia Lucier. HMH, $17.99 (9780544968578).
Old wounds are reopened when a mysterious map is brought to the royal palace, sending Elias, Mercedes, and King Ulises on a quest to solve the mystery of the kidnapping and murder of Ulises’ two older brothers 18 years earlier.
Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World. By Ashley Herring Blake. Little, Brown, $16.99 (9780316515467).
After Ivy’s home is destroyed in a tornado, not only does she have to rebuild her home with her family but she is also grappling with romantic feelings for a girl and the missing notebook of drawings depicting those feelings. A 2019 Notable Children’s Book and a 2019 Stonewall Honor Book.
The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy. By Mackenzi Lee. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, $18.99 (9780062795328).
Felicity Montague wants nothing more than to enroll in medical school but is limited by her gender. Therefore, she obviously must traverse the European continent, trust a mysterious young lady and a former best friend, and command a pirate ship, all in the name of following her dreams.
Leah on the Offbeat. By Becky Albertalli. HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray, $17.99 (9780062643803).
When it comes to music, Leah has it all together; but in other areas of her life, it’s a different story. She’s insecure about her drawing and hasn’t been able to tell her best friends she’s bisexual. But things really get complicated when she falls for someone she didn’t expect.
Learning to Breathe. By Janice Lynn Mather. Simon & Schuster, $18.99 (9781534406018).
Indy is sent away from home to live with relatives in the city so that she doesn’t fall into the same lifestyle as her mother, but trouble finds Indy. She learns to carve out a future without letting her past and the choices of others dictate who she will be. A 2019 Top 10 Amelia Bloomer Project Book.
LIFEL1K3. By Jay Kristoff. Knopf, $18.99 (9781524713928).
After a public display of her robot-destroying abilities, Evie flees for her life. On the run, she stumbles upon a “Lifelike” android that holds the secrets of her past. As a human-versus-machine battle ensues, Evie fights to survive and to find the truth.
A Lite Too Bright. By Samuel Miller. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, $17.99 (9780062662002).
Arthur Louis Pullman the Third, the troubled grandson of a famously reclusive Beat-generation writer, sets out on a cross-country train journey to discover to truth behind the last week of his grandfather’s life. Puzzles and poetry lead to self-discovery in this dynamic incarnation of the great American road-trip novel.
Mirage. By Somaiya Daud. Flatiron, $18.99 (9781250126429).
Under a brutal regime, Amani reads poems and dreams of a normal life—that is, until she’s kidnapped and chosen as a body double for the ruling class’ princess.
*Monday’s Not Coming. By Tiffany D. Jackson. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, $17.99 (9780062422675).
When Claudia’s best friend, Monday, suddenly disappears without a trace, Claudia knows something is up and will not stop until she uncovers the potentially horrifying truth. A 2019 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award winner.
My Plain Jane. By Cynthia Hand and others. HarperTeen, $17.99 (9780062652775).
Jane Eyre’s ability to see ghosts garners her a job offer from a supernatural investigator. However, she accepts a governess position with the mysterious Mr. Rochester instead. This leads her best friend, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, to join a mission to solve a mystery and save Jane.
*Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe. By Preston Norton. Hyperion, $17.99 (9781484790625).
Aaron is the star of Happy Valley High School until he suffers a concussion during a boating accident, or receives a visit from God, depending on who you believe. God gives him a to-do list and tells him he will need the help of Cliff Hubbard, aka Neanderthal.
Odd One Out. By Nic Stone. Crown, $17.99 (9781101939536).
Courtney has been in love with his best friend, Jupiter, for years. When new girl Rae comes along, both friends find themselves interested in her and confused about their feelings for each other. A 2019 Top 10 Rainbow List selection.
Orphan Monster Spy. By Matt Killeen. Viking, $18.99 (9780451478733).
After her mother’s death, Jewish teen Sarah avoids capture by the SS, thanks to a British spy named Captain Jeremy Floyd. Jeremy obtains a false identity for Sarah and convinces her to help him infiltrate the home of one of Hitler’s nuclear scientists, Hans Schäfer, by befriending Schäfer’s daughter.
Picture Us in the Light. By Kelly Loy Gilbert. Hyperion, $17.99 (9781484726020).
Danny knows his future holds a scholarship and a career as an artist. However, he doesn’t know how his best friend will fit into it, or why his father lost his job. When he starts digging into his parents’ past, Danny discovers secrets that threaten his family and future. A 2019 Stonewall Honor Book.
*The Poet X. By Elizabeth Acevedo. HarperTeen, $17.99 (9780062662804).
Xiomara Batista struggles with, well, most things in her life—her mother, her twin, and her place in the Catholic Church. In the past, she’s used her fists to solve problems, as well as secretly writing poetry, but now it may be time to use those poems to fight back. The 2019 Michael L. Printz Award winner, the 2019 Pura Belpré Author Award winner, a 2019 Notable Children’s Book, a 2019 Top 10 Amelia Bloomer Project Book, and a 2019 Top 10 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers.
Pride. By Ibi Zoboi. HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray, $17.99 (9780062564047).
In this retelling of Pride and Prejudice, Zuri Benitez meets handsome Darius Darcy, the rich boy who moves in across the street. Despite the family’s good looks, Zuri sees the Darcys as a threat to her way of life and her beloved Bushwick neighborhood.
Sadie. By Courtney Summers. St. Martin’s/Wednesday, $17.99 (9781250105714).
Two sisters: one dead, one missing. This gripping thriller for mature readers unfolds in alternating chapters: one thread follows 19-year-old Sadie as she hunts down her sister’s murderer, while the other follows her trail via a true-crime podcast that attempts to uncover what happened before she herself disappeared. A 2019 Top 10 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers.
Sawkill Girls. By Claire Legrand. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, $17.99 (9780062696601).
Local legend warns that evil lurks on Sawkill Rock, where girls vanish without a trace. As the disappearances escalate, three girls stumble into an ancient crusade. Having lost loved ones, newcomer Marion and outsider Zoey search for answers, leading them to beautiful Val and her secrets.
A Skinful of Shadows. By Frances Hardinge. 2017. Abrams, $19.99 (9781419725722).
This dark historical fantasy pits a girl named Makepeace against her birth father’s ominous family and their strange birthright. The Felmottes harbor dark secrets, but Makepeace possesses a secret of her own: a ghost that suffuses her with the ferocity of spirit to flee them and fight for her life.
Sky in the Deep. By Adrienne Young. St. Martin’s/Wednesday, $17.99 (9781250168450).
As a fierce Aska warrior, Eelyn fights an ancient blood feud against the enemy Rikki clan to honor her god and avenge her brother Iri’s death at their hands. However, when Eelyn becomes a prisoner after spotting the presumed-dead Iri fighting beside the Rikki, her world forever changes.
The Stars beneath Our Feet. By David Barclay Moore. 2017. Knopf, $16.99 (9781524701246).
Reeling from the shooting death of his older brother, 12-year-old Lolly finds solace in building fantastical, epic cityscapes out of LEGO blocks. His LEGO building attracts the attention of the kids in his Harlem after-school program and beyond, while the violence of the streets threatens to pull him in another direction.
The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik. By David Arnold. Viking, $18.99 (9780425288863).
After being hypnotized after a party, Noah Oakman wakes up to his world turned subtly upside down. From his best friend Alan’s switch from DC to Marvel fan, to an unexplained scar on his mother’s face, Noah must navigate his new life while still dealing with problems from his old one.
Summer of Salt. By Katrina Leno. HarperTeen, $17.99 (9780062493620).
Descendants of a magical family, twins Georgina and Mary help their mother keep up their inn. Business booms during the summer when the “Birdheads” come to watch the rare bird, Annabella, in her natural environment. When the bird doesn’t appear, the island erupts into chaos.
A Thousand Beginnings and Endings. Ed. by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman. Greenwillow, $17.99 (9780062671158).
Fifteen young adult authors of Asian descent weave magical stories inspired by their favorite childhood Asian myths and legends. Ranging from traditional stories to contemporary to science fiction and populated with everything from goddesses to androids and vampires, this collection contains something for everyone.
Troublemakers. By Catherine Barter. Carolrhoda/Lab, $17.99 (9781512475494).
Amid an ongoing bomb threat in East London, Alena starts asking questions about her mother, who died when she was a baby. When her questions are met with frustrating silence and dead ends, she becomes determined to uncover the truth behind her mother’s activist past.
Truly Devious. By Maureen Johnson. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, $17.99 (9780062338051).
Murder-mystery-obsessed Stevie transfers to Ellingham Academy, a remote boarding school with its own unsolved crime, which she intends to solve. But a tragic death on campus forces her to put all of her deductive powers to work to discover if one of her classmates could be a murderer.
The War Outside. By Monica Hesse. Little, Brown, $17.99 (9780316316699).
Held prisoners of war by the country they love, two teenage girls, one Japanese American and the other German American, forge an unlikely and dangerous friendship. While WWII wages a world away, Haruko and Margot fight their own battles for survival inside a Texas family internment camp.
We Regret to Inform You: An Overachiever’s Guide to College Rejection. By Ariel Kaplan. Knopf, $17.99 (9781524773700).
Rejected by every college she applied to, top student Mischa Abramavicius and her best friend, Nate, join forces with an eccentric trio of hacker girls to uncover what went wrong. A smart, entertaining, and hilarious romp through the politics of the college-admissions process at an elite school.
We’ll Fly Away. By Bryan Bliss. Greenwillow, $17.99 (9780062494276).
As kids, Luke and Toby dreamed of using the rusty crop-dusting plane they discovered and spent a summer mending to escape their lives of poverty and abuse. Now Luke writes hopeless letters to Toby from death row, where he awaits a fate from which there is no escape.
*What If It’s Us. By Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera. Balzer+Bray/HarperTeen, $18.99 (9780062795250).
After the universe brings Arthur and Ben together outside the post office, neither makes a move and both leave wondering if they missed a chance at love. What if they were meant to be?
What the Night Sings. By Vesper Stamper. Illus. by the author. Knopf, $19.99 (9781524700386).
Saved by music, surviving Auschwitz as a member of the Women’s Orchestra, liberated Gerta Rausch works to reclaim her voice and find a new life for herself, but she’s still haunted by what happened in the concentration camp. A 2019 Morris Award finalist and a 2019 Sydney Taylor Gold Medalist.
When Light Left Us. By Leah Thomas. Bloomsbury, $17.99 (9781681191812).
Something infected the Vasquez kids that night in the canyon, forming a bond between them that filled the void their father’s abandonment created and left their mother an outsider. However, when It suddenly leaves, taking the best pieces of them, can they become whole and a family again?
When My Heart Joins the Thousand. By A. J. Steiger. HarperTeen, $17.99 (9780062656476).
Seventeen-year-old Alvie lives by herself, works a full-time job at the zoo, and is waiting to turn 18 so she can be legally emancipated. Living with Asperger’s, Alvie prefers to spend time with animals until she meets Stanley, with whom she starts to fall in love.
Wild Bird. By Wendelin Van Draanen. 2017. Knopf, $17.99 (9781101940440).
Out-of-control Wren is shipped off to a wilderness survival camp for troubled teens after driving her parents to their wits’ end. Despite her best efforts to remain uncooperative, the stark reality of survival in the desert gradually forces her to face her inner demons.
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