Teen

The Best YA Books of 2017,
According to Teens

by Kari Ness Riedel

As the mom of a teenager and the Mayor of Bookopolis.com, an online community for young readers, I’m always on the hunt to find the latest and greatest new books to share with adolescent readers. For most teens, a shiny award sticker doesn’t hold as much weight in their book selection process as a glowing recommendation from a peer.

Here are 13 YA books from 2017 that teens on Bookopolis are raving about to their friends.

  • Alex and Eliza: A Love Story

    by Melissa de la Cruz

    The perfect pick for fans of “Hamilton” and romantic stories. This fictional spin based on the real love story of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schulyer is set in New York during the American Revolutionary War. Eliza is from one of the most prominent families in New England while Alex is an orphan and George Washington’s “right-hand man.” Kayleena, 13, exudes, “I loved this book! The story was so great. It was very vivid and I could really feel the characters’ emotions.”

  • The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage

    by Philip Pullman

    Golden Compass fans around the world rejoiced this year to discover this prequel story about Lyra, one of the characters from the His Dark Materials trilogy. We get to know Malcolm, a young boy who becomes a spy as he discovers a secret message and learns of a mysterious baby named Lyra. He embarks on a heroic and dangerous journey to protect the baby. Magic, intrigue, and compelling characters make this “a seriously amazing read,” according to Curtis, 13.

  • Gem & Dixie

    by Sara Zarr

    A complex and gripping story centered around the relationship of two sisters from a broken home. Gem has always taken care of Dixie when their mother and father could not. The girls don’t spend as much time together as they used to, but when their dad tries to come back into their lives, the sisters find themselves on a road trip that is both a physical and emotional journey. Ava, 13, raves about the connection she felt with the characters and the story: “This book was so meaningful and realistic.”

  • The Hate U Give

    by Angie Thomas

    This is an important and necessary book that artfully tackles issues of race relations and discrimination. Sixteen-year-old Starr has always navigated two worlds since she lives in a poor urban neighborhood and goes to school at a fancy suburban prep school. When her childhood friend is shot by a police officer, she is forced to reckon with how this event is played out very differently among her two circles of friends. As Maialen, 13, says, “This book made my heart beat right out of my chest. This book could easily be nonfiction. The problems are so real.” If you like this book, a similar title that is beautifully written is Dear Martin by Nic Stone.

  • Renegades

    by Marissa Meyer

    Kate, 15, says, “I loved this book from the moment I opened it up.” The Renegades are humans with extraordinary abilities who are a symbol of hope, as many typical super heroes are, to everyone except the villains they defeat — and to Nova. Nova is out for vengeance and goes undercover as a double agent working for the Renegades when she meets Adrian. Drama and suspense abound as Nova and Adrian build a relationship based on both their regular personas and their super hero alter egos. This is a unique take on the typical super hero story that is full of creative world-building and highly engaging characters.

  • Rosemarked

    by Livia Blackburne

    Kyra, 12, highly recommends this book to “people who love fantasy books with engaging love stories.” Zivah, a healer who has contracted a deadly plague and Dineas, a solder seeking revenge, are thrown together in a top-secret mission to spy on the Amparan Empire’s capital. Politics, romance, fantasy, and clever plot twists come together to make this dark and intriguing tale that is hard to put down.

  • Solo

    by Kwame Alexander

    Blade, the privileged son of a washed-up rock star and drug addict, struggles with the universal issues of identity and belonging. A family secret, forbidden relationships, and a love of music combined with amazing storytelling make this a compelling read. Grace, 13, gives it five stars, “This book was a great, quick read! There was never a boring moment and I loved how it was written in verse.”

  • Spill Zone

    by Scott Westerfeld, illustrated by Alex Puvilland

    This dark and twisted graphic novel is set after The Spill Zone, a mystical and dangerous force that possessed the town of Poughkeepsie and claimed many of its residents, including Addison’s parents. Addison must now provide for herself and her little sister, Lexa, by taking bizarre photos from the Zone that she sells to art collectors. When she’s offered a million dollars for an extremely dangerous shot, she finds herself on a journey of terror. Landon, 13, says, “If you love horror stories full of mystery and intrigue, this is the book for you.”

  • Tell Me Three Things

    by Julie Buxbaum

    Jessie is miserable after being forced to move to LA at the beginning of her junior year when her father elopes with a woman he met online. Things get better after she starts an email/text relationship with an anonymous person named SN. As Jessie befriends three different boys, the mystery of who SN actually is starts to heat up. Romance, comedy, and tragedy combine to make a page-turner of a story. Danna, 14, says, “I loved this book so much because of how Jessie changes from being shy to one of the coolest kids in school. Read the book to find out who SN is!”

  • Turtles All the Way Down

    by John Green

    Sixteen-year-old Asa is a good student, a good friend, and a highly anxious germaphobe who is caught in the downward spiral of her own thoughts. She’s an unlikely candidate to become a detective on the hunt for a local billionaire who’s gone missing. But, with the encouragement of her outgoing best friend, Daisy, Asa reaches out to the missing man’s son, a childhood friend with whom she has a shared history. Relevant issues of anxiety, OCD, and post-grief depression are addressed in this book and can spark important conversations with young people. Chloe, 14, says, “I love all of John Green’s books and this one does not disappoint.”

  • The Upside of Unrequited

    by Becky Albertalli

    Readers feel the roller coaster emotions of 17-year-old twins Molly and Cassie as they experience the joys and insecurities of first love. Cynical Cassie falls head over heels for a new girl. Molly misses her twin sister but finds herself in her own love triangle with a hipster boy and a Tolkien-loving co-worker. Bridgette loved reading this and shares, “This book is absolutely adorable and has so much diversity! I fail to see how anyone cannot love this book and its characters.”

  • Warcross

    by Marie Lu

    Virtual reality and gamification are the new normal in this futuristic, sci-fi adventure tale where millions of people around the world are obsessed with the game of Warcross. Teenage hacker Emika gets caught doing the biggest hack of her life by the billionaire founder of the game, Hideo. Impressed with her skills, Hideo invites her to join an elite group of players and work for him to uncover even bigger security issues. Things get complicated as Emika gets caught up in a sinister plot at the highest levels of the game. “I highly recommend this to fans of Marie Lu books or fast-paced adventure stories,” says Gabe, 13.

  • When Dimple Met Rishi

    by Sandhya Menon

    This is a hilarious and charming rom-com about Dimple and Rishi, two American-Indian teenagers whose parents conspire behind their backs to arrange their marriage. Through a series of unexpected twists, the unlikely pair come together in a summer program for web developers. Abby, 13, raves that this is “a sweet and funny story that I read multiple times.”

What were your favorite YA books of 2017? Share in the comments below.

Looking for Picture Book or Middle Grade book ideas? Check out The Best Children’s Books of 2017, According to Kids.

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