Get Them to the Shelves: Young Adult Books for Boys

by Iva-Marie Palmer

With their action-packed premises, abundant world-building, and quick pace, young adult novels really are for everyone. But, thanks to a heavy emphasis on love triangles and female protagonists, it’s fair to say that boys might tend to back away from some of the young adult shelves. While it would serve guys well to pick up the Divergent or Hunger Games series (and many have), here are a few more classically boy-centric YA novels they may enjoy.

  • Gone

    by Michael Grant

    A little Stephen King, a little Lord of the Rings, and a pure page-turner. In this dystopia, everyone disappears, except the young. With no technology, the threat of hunger, and absolutely no adults, well, it’s not pretty. The first in a series told from multiple points of view, it’s near impossible to not be sucked in to this saga.

  • The 5th Wave

    by Rick Yancey

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    Killer aliens who look human … eek! Rick Yancey’s post-apocalyptic saga about a world where truly tricky aliens – called The Others – have killed most of the humans but look and act like humans is genuinely scary. And though the protagonist is 16-year-old Cassie, I’d dare boys not to develop a crush on her – she maintains quite the sense of humor amid all the terror.

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  • Skink – No Surrender

    by Carl Hiaasen

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    Hiassen, known for his comedic adult novels set in Florida, takes one of his best recurring characters, Skink – the ex-governor, now off-the-grid resident of Florida – and pairs him with this book’s teenage protagonist, Richard, as the two go on a quest to find Richard’s missing cousin, Malley. Hiassen tones down Skink’s usual colorful language, but the laughs between the unlikely duo flow freely.

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  • An Abundance of Katherines

    by John Green

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    Hey, it doesn’t have to be all aliens and demons and end-of-the-world stuff for boys to like it. John Green, arguably the best-known YA author out there thanks to his Twitter presence (and books like The Fault in Our Stars), tackles the heartache of being a teen boy in this story of child prodigy Colin. Colin is fresh off a dumping by the 19th in a chain of girls named Katherine. To get over K-19, he and his best friend Hasan set out on a road trip. The humor is equal parts silly and smart, ideal for the teen boy set.

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  • Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

    by Lish McBride

    Sam thinks he’s just another guy with a bad job. But it turns out he can raise the dead and is the target of Douglas, an established necromancer who wants Sam out of the picture. This quick-witted horror comedy packs great characters and writing into a fast-paced plot set in everything’s-strange Seattle. Those who love it will be happy to note McBride released a sequel, Necromancing the Stone.

  • The Maze Runner

    by James Dashner

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    Teenager Thomas wakes up in a box overlooking The Glade with no memory of how he got there. A new boy arrives every 60 days, and surrounding The Glade is a monster-filled maze where boys have tried and failed to escape their situation. Fans agree that Dashner does a great job of giving just enough information to answer key questions while still keeping readers intrigued.

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  • Going Bovine

    by Libba Bray

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    Sixteen-year-old Cameron is going to die. Sounds fun, hmm? But hope appears in the form of Dulcie, a pink-haired angel who encourages him to go on a quixotic quest in the form of a great American road trip. The book is big and the plot veers but the balance of soul-searching and real teen boy voice keeps it immensely readable.

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