10 Books for Readers New to YA

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

High school senior Emoni Santiago is magic in the kitchen.  She can make food that brings back memories.  Food that can make you cry.  She dreams of opening up her own restaurant, but, with a two-year-old to care for, she knows dreams are luxuries she can’t afford.  But her school has new culinary arts class, complete with an opportunity to cook in Spain.  And, suddenly, Emoni can’t help but think of what could be.  Told in effortlessly beautiful prose, this book captures the continuing diversity of experiences being presented in YA

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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Criminal mastermind Kaz Brekker is given an impossible heist–but one that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams.  So he assembles a team including a gambling sharpshooter, a tight-rope walking spy, and a woman who could stop your heart.  Literally.  But the heist is more than it appears and Kaz and his team may not make it out alive.  This bestselling book has high stakes and plenty of action, but it’s the character who will ultimately steal your heart.

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Lovely War by Julie Berry

Caught with Ares in a net, Aphrodite begins spinning a tale for her husband, a tale of two romances during WWI. Hazel is a shy pianist. James is an aspiring architect heading off to the front. A chance encounter brings them together, but war may drive them apart. Meanwhile. Aubrey is a ragtime musician heading off to fight in France. And he has fallen for Colette, a Belgian girl with a tragic past. Both couples long to be reunited when the war ends, but all of them know that hope fades fast in the trenches.  An evocative historical romance sure to haunt fans long after they close the pages.

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Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

Isabelle has never been able to please her mother.  She’s too wild.  Too ugly.  Too opinionated.  That hasn’t kept her from trying, though.  She’ll cut off her own toes to try to make her mother happy.  But the prince isn’t fooled.  As blood pools in Cindererlla’s glass slipper, Isabelle is sent away in disgrace.  And now everyone knows just how terrible she really is.  Then chance gives her the opportunity to change her fate, to reclaim the pieces of her heart she’s lost.  Isabelle yearns to try.  But maybe she’s too bitter and broken to get her own happily-ever-after.  A fierce feminist fantasy sure to please fans of fairy tale retellings.

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The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

Faith Sunderly and her family move to a small island in the wake of scandal; her father has been accused of forging fossils. When he dies, Faith believes it is murder and set out to find the killer by using the legendary Lie Tree–a tree that feeds on falsehoods and provides secrets in return.  A deliciously creepy tale that avoids the tropes of many U.S. YA titles.

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Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer

Scarred by a wolf when she is seven years old, Echo Alkaev leads a lonely existence, shunned by the villagers who think she is cursed. Years later, she meets the wolf again and he strikes a bargain: he will save her father’s life is she agrees to live with him for one year. In his house under the mountain, Echo finds an enchanted library and begins to fall in love with Hal, who seems trapped in the books. But an evil force is growing and the wolf, Echo, and Hal will all be lost at the end of the year, unless Echo can find a way to break the curse.  A beautiful, evocative retelling.

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Will just watched his older brother die. And he’s pretty sure he knows the guy who shot him. So it’s time to follow the Rules. The most important Rule? Get revenge. But as Will takes the elevator down to find his target, he is joined by a series of spirits who tell him their stories. It seems that the Rules solve nothing and only continue the cycle of violence. And suddenly Will has a choice: follow the Rules and end up like Shawn, or ignore the Rules his family has passed down for generations. A novel told in verse about the futility of gun violence.

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Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Ten years ago Calamity appeared in the sky and gave men superpowers. Called Epics, they quickly used their powers to claim dominion over the Earth. Dave watched an Epic named Steelheart kill his father. And now he will do anything to end Steelheart’s rule. His plan: to join the Reckoners, a group of ordinary men and women who dare to fight back. Because he thinks he can give them the one thing they need. A clue to Steelheart’s weakness.  A thrilling superhero novel with a unique twist.

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Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Humanity now lives in a utopia where hunger, disease, and death can no longer touch them. To keep the population under control, they created the Scythes, individuals who “glean” a certain number of individuals each year. The Scythes must adhere to the highest code of morality, gleaning only when necessary and avoiding bias. But when Citra and Rowan are taken on as apprentice Scythes, they begin to see that corruption is eating the Scythes from within.  A powerful book that raises questions about the nature of death, the possibilities of AI and the limitations of humans.

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter witnesses the death of her unarmed friend at the hands of a police officer and, suddenly, her world is upended.  The world wants to know what happened, but Starr fears what could happen if she puts herself out there.  This bestselling book has become one of the most recognizable contemporary YA books, but because it has a compelling story, and because it helps define the new, expanded diversity that the YA market is striving to embrace.

22 thoughts on “10 Books for Readers New to YA

    • Krysta says:

      I loved Stepsister! It had strong characterization and a fast-paced plot and just felt really original for a YA fantasy. Now I want to read more of Donnelly’s work.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Margaret @ Weird Zeal says:

    Great choices! I think The Hate U Give and Six of Crows are almost staples of the genre at this point, so it makes sense to include them. And Long Way Down is a perfect choice as well! I’m really eager to read Lovely War and Scythe too 🙂

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    • Krysta says:

      Yes! It’s so great to see a book like The Hate U Give become not only popular, but also representative of YA! And I think her second book was also fabulous, so I hope we have a lot more of her work to look forward to!

      Like

  2. kozbisa says:

    Acevedo writes amazing books. I will eagerly await her next release. Reynolds’ books are so powerful and thought provoking. SoC was a winner for me and I don’t really like SFF books. Same with Berry’s books. I rarely read historical fiction, but she won me over with her books.

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  3. Winged Cynic says:

    Excellent choices! Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge is on my TBR, and I obviously love Six of Crows. I have yet to read Scythe (the hype is somewhat daunting as I’ve heard some pretty negative things about it lol), but I’m hoping that it lives up!

    Stepsister btw I’d never given much consideration, but I’m kind of intrigued now; I’m going to go snoop on Goodreads for it. 😛

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    • Krysta says:

      I loved The Lie Tree and now I’m reading A Skinful of Shadows, which is also amazing so far! (Of course.)

      I like Scythe a lot. It has some tropey YA aspects, but the sequel largely moves away from those (and is, I think, better than Scythe).

      I really loved Stepsister, so I’m hoping to read more of Donnelly’s work soon!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. CHARIS RAE @ charisrae.com says:

    Scythe is one of my favorite books ever! I read it last summer and was blown away. I really should get into Six of Crows… I tried reading it last year but DNFed it, so I’m planning on trying it again sometime this year. 🙂

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  5. Marie says:

    Wonderful recommendations! I loved The Hate U Give. I really want to read With The Fire on High and Scythe, I’ve heard so many great things about both of these books 🙂
    thank you for sharing! 😀

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  6. Kelly | Another Book in the Wall says:

    This is such a great list! I love how you include YA’s from so many different genres here. Scythe and Six of Crows are two of my favorite books, and I enjoyed Steelheart as well. I especially think that any of Neal Shusterman’s books would be perfect for new readers to YA. His stories are so thought-provoking, and have wonderfully complex characters in immersive worlds.

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