The Best YA Books To Gift Teens
by Iva-Marie Palmer
Whether the teen in your life has a to-be-read stack a mile high or enjoys reading but struggles to find the right book, a new novel or a boxed book set make terrific gifts for the holiday season. The titles included here span everything from romantic comedy and contemporary drama to high-stakes fantasy and sci-fi to gripping historical fiction and suspense. Who knows? You might find a few books in this round-up to add to your wish list, too.
So, This Is Christmas
Finley Brown has spent her time at boarding school talking up how perfect the holidays are in her hometown of Christmas, Oklahoma. But her sweet small town has turned sour in her absence. Her ex-boyfriend and bestie are dating, her parents are on the outs, and her least favorite person is working at her grandmother’s inn. When a boarding school classmate turns up in Christmas, expecting a picture-perfect vacation, it’s the one problem she thinks she can handle. She’ll do whatever it takes to give him the holiday he hoped for. Andreen, a writer of Hallmark Christmas movies, delivers a story for the page that’s as sweet as her work on-screen.
Family of Liars
Lockhart’s We Were Liars is a BookTok sensation, returning to the New York Times bestseller list years after it came out in 2014. This novel is a prequel, pulling back the curtain on the compelling and secretive Sinclair family. Pair it with the deluxe edition of the first novel to give the reader in your life the gift of twisty, gripping reads. (P.S. Lockhart’s Liars novels are in development as a TV series, meaning teens ahead of the curve will want to read them soon!)
Guided Tarot for Teens
Adapted from her bestseller Guided Tarot, Caponi’s guide directed at teens is generous with its insights. It’s more than a reference to understanding the meaning of each card in their tarot deck. Guided Tarot for Teens will help teens interpret their card spreads using their self-knowledge and intuition. After spending time with this book, would-be tarot readers will learn an array of card spreads and how to interpret them. This one is great for any teens who want to get in touch with their inner voice.
A wickedly fun bit of escapism, Starmer’s 2016 novel is perfect for the funniest teen you know. When a classmate spontaneously combusts at Mara Carlyle’s New Jersey high school, everyone is shocked — and then it happens to someone else. With the FBI investigating and the entire world watching, Mara suddenly has bigger things to think about than graduation. Though it sounds macabre, Starmer’s novel is also hilarious, fast-paced, and — despite its outlandish subject—as real as it gets. The book, which made Entertainment Weekly’s Must List, also inspired a 2020 film version.
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Eight Nights of Flirting
Shira Barbanel is a hopeless flirt — she doesn’t know how or where to start. She wants to secure a boyfriend this Hanukah, but she needs help. Enter Tyler Nelson, who she can’t stand, even if he is charming and popular. When she and Tyler get snowed in together at a restaurant, they make an arrangement. He’ll teach her to flirt so she can win over her crush Isaac, and she’ll hook him up with some career help. But spending time with Tyler has her second-guessing her plan to catch Isaac’s eye.
The Ruta Sepetys Collection
Give the avid reader in your life the opportunity to time travel. This boxed set contains Ruta Sepetys’s award-winning and gripping historical fiction novels — Between Shades of Gray, Out of the Easy, Salt to the Sea, and The Fountains of Silence. Sepetys writes accessibly but beautifully about the harsh costs of war beyond the battlefield. Though targeted at young adults, her work has amassed fans of all ages, making this set perfect for sharing among book lovers.
Nothing More to Tell
With the massive success of One of Us Is Lying and its follow-up titles, McManus is the reigning queen of YA thrillers. Her latest will delight her longtime fans and readers picking up her work for the first time. While working as an intern at a true-crime show, Brynn investigates a mystery that’s followed her for four years: the murder of one of her favorite teachers. She interviews three friends who found the body — two of whom might have been accused of the murder if not for the testimony of the third. But between the friends’ secrets and changing narratives, Brynn has more mysteries to solve than she realizes.
Vampire Academy Box Set 1-6
Vampire tales never go out of vogue with young adult readers, and Mead’s series has had exceptional staying power. The six-book boxed set has everything a paranormal romance reader could want — compelling friendship, feuding vampire factions with unique abilities, and forbidden romance.
The 99 Boyfriends of Micah Summers
Micah Summers has had a lot of boyfriends — 99, to be exact — but none are real. Instead, Micah (dubbed the Prince of Chicago, thanks to his sportscaster dad’s reigning title as the king of the city) shares drawings of his “dates” on Instagram and writes captions describing their hangouts. For his 100th entry, he wants to ask a real guy out. Too bad the hot guy he flirted with on the L train got away. Still, Micah has a clue in the form of a pumpkin-embroidered jacket — so he embarks on a quest to locate and ask out the guy who got away. Your giftee will be utterly charmed by this modern take on Prince Charming.
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder Series Boxed Set
Know a reader who can’t get enough of true-crime podcasts and documentaries? Jackson’s series puts readers into the shoes of Pip, an amateur detective investigating a murder-suicide in her town. The subsequent books find Pip being drawn into more cases. Soon to be adapted by BBC Three as a tv series, the Good Girl’s series of novels is a must-read for anyone who wants to be ahead of the zeitgeist.
Miss Peregrine’s Museum of Wonders
This volume is a must-have for teen readers obsessed with Miss Peregrine and her peculiar children. Beautifully presented and packed with oddities and amusements, Riggs’s detailed handbook is a tome readers will flip through again and again. The pages include everything from how-tos for temporal travel to lists of eminent historical figures who are, in fact, peculiar. And, as with all the books in the series, this one includes antique photographs throughout.
The Warcross Box Set
This taut and thrilling duology is a must-read for teen fans of The Matrix and its ilk. Emika Chen lives in a future world where millions of people are hooked on a game called Warcross — some like to play, and some like to bet on its outcomes. Emika is a hacker and bounty hunter who tracks those gamblers. But when she unintentionally hacks her way into a massive tournament, she attracts worldwide attention, and her ascent into the world of Warcross uncovers a more sinister plot.
Harley Quinn: Reckoning
The first book in a new trilogy within the DC Icons universe, this origin story of Harley Quinn is fiercely feminist and sets the new series off at a rollicking pace. Harleen Quinzel is a science whiz desperate to make a significant discovery at Gotham University. Such an achievement will get her the scholarship she needs to escape her abusive father. But the psych lab is no friend to women, and Harleen soon finds herself bonded with a group called the Reckoning, a gang of girls trying to create chaos to enact justice. This one will win over fans of the comic book queen.
Luck of the Titanic
Bestselling author Lee returns with a page-turning historical drama. The Luck twins are British-Chinese acrobats who’ve been apart for two years. Valora sneaks onto the maiden voyage of the world’s biggest ocean liner, the Titanic so that she can find her brother. She also hopes to audition for an influential circus owner who could be her ticket to success and fame. But the doomed ship has other plans, and Valora’s quests pale compared to her fight for survival. Lee’s rich characterizations and excellent pacing make this a great read for teens who love historical novels or are trying them for the first time.
Six Crimson Cranes
Does your teen reader love fairy tale retellings? Lim’s series beginner blends elements of several stories from Eastern and Western cultures: The Wild Swans, Cinderella, the legend of Chang’e, and The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. Shiori is a princess who keeps her magic hidden. But her powers break loose on the day of her betrothal to someone she doesn’t want to marry. This draws the attention of her stepmother, who also possesses magic. She banishes Shiori and transforms her brothers into cranes. Shiori must embrace her hidden powers to protect her family and save herself.
Nubia: The Awakening
Actor/producer Epps teams up with Haynes to bring teens who love epic fantasy one of the year’s hottest new releases. Three teen refugees of Nubia — a once-idyllic African wonderland — never learned much of their homeland as they grew up in a climate-ravaged New York City. The trio, Zuberi, Uzochi, and Lencho, struggle to make gains in a city where the wealthy have high-tech amenities and the poor refugees of Nubia wade through a flooded landscape. But, misfits or not, the group discovers that their ancestry has imbued them with powers — and they must learn to harness them now more than ever. This series starter will easily captivate fans of Black Panther.
Jackson’s A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder was a worldwide hit, and this new release will keep her at the top of every teen mystery reader’s list. When Red Kenny and five of her friends set off on a road trip in an RV, she only expects the best spring break ever. But things turn fatal when they break down in a desolate spot with no cell service. Someone planned to stall them in the middle of nowhere, and someone in their group might be out to kill.
BookTok Bestsellers Boxed Set
If there’s a teen in your life who hasn’t looked up from TikTok in a while, this boxed set might be just what they need. Collecting several books that have taken the social media app (and its popular tag, #BookTok) by storm, there’s a read here to capture every personality. The set includes We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna, House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig, and A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson.
The Woods Are Always Watching
Perkins’ first foray into teen suspense, There’s Someone Inside Your House, was a breakaway hit that became a Netflix film. In her latest novel, best friends and co-misfits Neena and Josie are about to depart for colleges far from each other — and the comfort zone their friendship provides. As a last hurrah, they take a three-day hiking trip together. A rift between them leads to a detour and the terrifying realization that someone — or something — has a horrible fate in store for them. Yet again, Perkins excels at embedding authentic teen emotional stories into page-turning plots.
Claire and her friends want to enjoy the perfect prom weekend getaway they planned. But when Claire wakes up alone and covered in blood on a hiking trail, that plan goes out the window, along with Claire’s memory of the last two days. Claire wants answers, but her best friends, Kat and Jesse, are missing. Claire works to piece together what happened and learns that her friends kept something important from her.
John Green Box Set
Multi-award-winning and bestselling author John Green reigns as the king of young adult contemporary novels. This boxed set gives readers new to his work a chance to learn why. The collection includes Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, and The Fault in Our Stars. First-time Green readers and longtime fans will adore this gorgeously packaged set — and Green’s gift for writing deeply moving, humor-brushed love stories.
Let It Snow! (Movie Tie-In)
Three outstanding young adult writers teamed up to pen the perfect holiday book. When a Christmas Eve storm buries Gracetown, the ensuing mess is ripe for mishaps and hilarity. In interlinked stories, each author follows a character or set of characters as they navigate the stormy landscape and their own hearts. Equally sweet and laugh-out-loud funny, this one is perfect for the reader on your list who wants a cozy read for winter break.
Thomas’s YA debut is both twisty and timely. Set at a football-obsessed prep school, the story follows two pivotal seasons, revealing the dark underbelly of the school’s winning streak. Everyone credits Seton’s girls with being essential to the football team’s success, but no one wants to say why. Early reviews cite Thomas’s talent for writing female friendships and a twisty plot that leads to major revelations.
More Giftable Books:
Beasts of Prey
House of Hollow
The Taking of Jake LivingstonPreorder from:
Worlds of Wonder
Call Us What We Carry
The Desolation of Devil’s Acre
We Are Inevitable
They’ll Never Catch Us
Skin of the Sea
The Gilded Ones
Instructions for Dancing
The Downstairs Girl