5 YA books recommended by teens

Posted on August 12, 2015 at 6:00 am

By Kelsey Hudson

It’s pretty common for librarians to be asked for reading recommendations. Members come in looking for their next read, families want to know what’s new, and we visit lots of schools to share the news about the best new reads. With all of that though, what I really enjoy is when someone comes in and has a recommendation for me.

While some suggestions are a little outside my taste, this summer our teens in particular have been spot on. Between members at programs, my teen volunteers, or visits to the library from one of our many voracious readers (who are passing their summer break by whittling down their stack of books), it seems every day I add another couple of amazing titles to my “must read” list.

While my list is far too long to share in its entirety, there are a few standout titles that I can’t help but pass along to everyone:

5 YA books recommended by teens By Kelsey Hudson| Spokane County Library District The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperialist Russia

By Candace Fleming

As someone who binge-listens to the Stuff You Missed in History Class podcasts and loved the animated film Anastasia so much that my family had to purchase a new copy after I wore out the first one, this title played right into my ever loving interest for what I call “history mysteries.”

While many are familiar with the murder of the Romanov family, Fleming does a phenomenal job detailing the intricate details of the last royal family of Imperial Russia. The combination of first person accounts of the tragic lives of commoners and the details of a sometimes startlingly opulent Romanov household was riveting. If you are even slightly interested in Russia, royalty, or history at all, you won’t be able to put this book down.

How to Save a Life

By Sara Zarr

Jill and Mandy are two teens who are complete strangers until Jill’s mother decides to adopt Mandy’s baby. In the wake of this decision and Jill’s father’s death, both girls have to face the past and the future. While a little more realistic than my usual type of read, I was persuaded to try this book based on one of our regular teen member’s recommendation that the story—told from both girls’ perspectives—would pull me in until I forgot anything about it being fiction. The story reminded me quite a lot of Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, which also successfully navigate dual narrators while having a kind of quietly impactful storyline that will leave you deeply satisfied at the end (while secretly wishing for an epilogue or two).


By Noelle Stevenson

Officially my best read this summer, Nimona was recommended to me for its irreverent humor, twisted plot, and impulsive main character. As a sidekick to the supervillain Lord Blackheart, young shapeshifter Nimona is out to take down the Institute of Law Enforcement and Heroics and their hero, Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin. Her chaotic magic combined with Lord Blackheart’s careful reliance on science and rules creates the best comedy duo. With a surprisingly detailed plot and a mysterious anti-hero, this graphic novel reminded me of Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog in all the best ways. I tore through this story and was ecstatic to get both an epilogue and a bonus backstory for the odd relationship between Sir Goldenloin and Lord Blackheart.

5 YA books recommended by teens By Kelsey Hudson| Spokane County Library District

And while I’ve enjoyed many titles this summer, the last few months have been busy—very, very busy. I’ve been prepping for lots of fun summer programs at the library, enjoying some of the fantastically warm weather, and making dozens of burlap table runners (it’s a long story). So while I’ve tackled many of the titles on my “must read” list, there are still many left to enjoy.

Here’s what I’m most looking forward to reading in the coming months:

5 YA books recommended by teens By Kelsey Hudson| Spokane County Library District The Wrath & the Dawn

By Renee Ahdieh

In this reimagined version of One Thousand and One Nights, Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid, the dangerous Caliph of Khorasan, who takes a new bride every night only to have her executed the next morning. Although her marriage begins as a means of revenge, Shahrzad soon finds herself falling for Khalid and struggling to discover the truth behind all of the murders.

Penryn & the End of Days series

By Susan Ee

When I mentioned having finally gotten to read City of Heavenly Fire, the final book in the Mortal Instruments series, one of my teen volunteers told me that I had to read this series. After the world as we know it has been destroyed, street gangs and warrior angels rule the streets. Penryn just wants to find her sister and survive, even if that means working with an enemy angel. While the two series are only slightly similar, I’ve been promised a unique story that is remarkably unlike anything else out there.


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