15 YA Books for Younger Teens

YA Books for Tweens and Young Teens

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M. T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin

Branwain Spurge

Elfin historian Brangwain Spurge has been catapulted into the goblin kingdom in order to deliver a recently uncovered artifact as a gesture of goodwill between the two nations. His host, goblin archivist Werfel, is excited about this unique opportunity to compare notes with a fellow lover of history. Brangwain, however, routinely dismisses the efforts of the goblins to impress him and to make him feel welcome. His real mission is to transmit messages back home about the mysterious kingdom and to collect intelligence. The hapless elf and his host, however, are about to find themselves in the middle of an international crisis when misunderstandings escalate into preparations for war.

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Ender’s Game by Orson Scott card

Outnumbered and with inferior technology, the human race has won two wars against the aliens they call the buggers. They fear the Third Invasion, however, and will not trust to luck to save them again. Instead, they scour the Earth for the child who can lead them to victory. Ender Wiggin possesses the qualities necessary to make him a formidable general. To that end, the government places him in Battle School to train him for the upcoming war. The race, however, is running out of time and Ender may not be ready to fight when the war comes.

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Matched by Ally Condie

Cassia Reyes lives in a Society where everything is decided for her—what clothes she wears, what food she eats, and even what man she marries. The Society informs Cassia that the computer system has chosen her childhood friend Xander as her future spouse, but when she views the digital card containing his personal information, another face flashes onto the screen: her mysterious neighbor Ky. Torn between her love for Xander and her newfound love for Ky, Cassia begins to question a life without choices and to dream of a future where she has the freedom to express herself.

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Vango: Between Sky and Earth by Timothée de Fombelle, Trans. by Sarah Ardizzone

Nineteen-year-old Vango is about to be ordained when gunshots ring out across the plaza. The police want Vango–but so do a shadowy group of men. Unsure of why he’s being attacked, Vango flees. He will travel across Europe, by airship, by train, and by boat, in search of his past, hoping it will unlock the secrets of his present.

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Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly

Imprisoned in the Beast’s castle, Belle finds a mysterious book in the library that, upon opening, allows her to enter its pages and take part in its story.  There she meets a handsome duke and an enchanting duchess who assure her that she can stay with them forever.  But are they truly who they seem?  And, when the story tries to claim her, will Belle be able to find her way back home?  Strong for a movie tie-in, but a book that will ultimately appeal most to fervent Disney fans.

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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 gripping story about a science-loving teenager trying to survive in a man’s world.

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A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge

A Skinful of Shadows

Makepeace has a ghost inside her–a ghost she never meant to let in.  But when her father’s family suddenly adopts her, her ability to contain ghosts might be the only thing that can save her.  A gripping fantasy set during the English Civil War.

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Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Darius Kellner is used to being a disappointment. His father, he knows, wishes he were tough enough to handle both the school bullies and his clinical depression. Then his family takes a trip to visit family in Iran. At first, Darius is skeptical he will fit in. But then he meets Sohrab, who makes him feel understood for the first time. And now he’s not sure how he will ever return to his old life in the United States.

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The Giver by Lois Lowry

In Jonas’s world, there is no choice. Each life follows a predetermined path marked by various ceremonies, culminating in the assignation of jobs to each girl and boy at the age of twelve. Jonas awaits his assignment with trepidation, only to learn that his life, for the first time, is about to diverge wildly from that of his peers. He has been selected as the next Receiver, the vessel who holds the memories of the past and who alone knows true pleasure and true pain. Jonas initially longs to discover the truth about his society, but he may find that some memories are too much bear alone.

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Miles Morales: Spider-Man by Jason Reynolds

Miles Morales is struggling. His Spider-Man powers have been acting up and he was just suspended from school for walking out of class to use the restroom. He’s just not sure he can do it anymore. What good is a hero who can’t even graduate?

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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.

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Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

The drought in California has seemingly lasted forever, but no one expected the taps to run dry–except, perhaps, for Alyssa’s weird prepper neighbors. But now Alyssa’s neighborhood is descending into chaos as one-time friends turn on each other for one life-saving sip of water. With her parents missing, Alyssa, her brother, and some unlikely allies set out on their own to find one drop to drink.

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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.

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Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Before Lina’s mother dies, she insists that Lina go to live with her old friend Howard in Italy. Somehow she forgot to tell Lina what her grandmother does–that Howard is really her father. Lina doesn’t want to live with a man she barely knows. And she certainly doesn’t want to stay in Italy, even if it is beautiful. But then she receives her mother’s old journal and she’s suddenly experiencing Florence for the first time along with her mom. As Lina continues to read, however, things don’t seem to be adding up. Why did her mom leave Italy? And who is Howard, anyway?  A sweet romance perfect for readers who love dessert.

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The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth

Five years ago, Evelyn Hapwell, her brother Jamie, and her sister Phillipa found themselves transported to the magical world of the Woodlands while hiding during an air raid. Then, after fighting a war there over the course of five years, they were sent back to London at the very moment they had departed. Evelyn would do anything to return to the tree spirits and the mighty elk Cervus. But Philippa, concerned with nylons and boys, is convinced they must make a life where they are. When Evelyn goes missing, however, Philippa must confront her past.

12 thoughts on “15 YA Books for Younger Teens

  1. Miri ♪ Book Dragoness ♪ says:

    Niiice! I think I might refer to this if I want to read younger YA. One thing I 100% agree with is Lost in a Book being younger YA – in fact, if there was, say, a teen category between MG and YA (because I believe that YA is starting to shift to encompass actual young adults over 16), Lost in a Book would be in that category.

    Scythe was so good!! I think younger teens can read it, but I also think older teens and adults can find plenty to appreciate about is as well!


    • Krysta says:

      Yeah, I think most of YA is for 16+ now, which makes it difficult for teens who want to start reading YA. If you don’t follow publishing, you probably just think, “Oh, it’s the teen section. Perfect! I’m 13/my child is 13,” but I think most young teens could still happily be in the upper MG section. But, of course, they want to be mature and move up to YA…

      I think a lot of YA is really adult fiction with teen characters. So we could solve this dilemma by giving YA back to teens. But maybe that’s not how publishers make money.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Miri ♪ Book Dragoness ♪ says:

        Ohhh yes! YA has definitely aged! Ok this is a ramble but I really hope for a category called teen which will fill the gap between 12 and 16! I remember when I first read YA I got a bit of a shock because of the content (I was definitely very sheltered) so I think my younger self would have appreciated a category in between.

        I think a reason YA is getting older is like you said, publishers realize that they can earn money from it. Adults are the ones who typically buy books, while teens tend to have to scrape together money or ask their parents to buy it for them…hence publishers target the customers and YA gets older!!


  2. Sammie @ The Writerly Way says:

    *skips through this post and adds everything to my TBR*

    I mean, a lot of it was there already. And Dry? I own it. Have I read it yet? No, because I am clearly wasting my life. But I’ve read Scythe and Steelheart and the Giver, and they’re all fabulous, so I have no doubt that the rest of these recommendations are well worth the read. I generally like both of your recommendations. 😉

    I do have to say, I just LOVE the way A Skinful of Shadows sounds, and I don’t think I’ve read too many books set during the Civil War? So I’ll definitely be checking that one out soon … ish.


    • Krysta says:

      Frances Hardinge is such a stellar writer! And just the other day I met a woman at the library who was stocking up on a bunch of her books because she loves Hardinge, too! It was very exciting,as I don’t know many people who have read Hardinge.

      Liked by 1 person

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