Your Official YA Summer Reading List
Because who isn't young at heart?
1. The Lie Tree, by Frances Hardinge
Shortlisted for both The Bookseller's YA Prize and the 2016 Carnegie Medal, Francis Hardinge's Victorian mystery isn't one to miss. It's the story of Faith, who sets off to prove that the death of her father, a prominent natural scientist, was no accident. It's a unique and fascinating narrative, layered over with magical realism, science, history, and feminism.
2. Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo
Though it's set in the same world, you don't have to have read Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy to fully enjoy Six of Crows. It's the story of intense and scary AF teenage thief Kaz Brekker and his gang's attempt to break into the impenetrable Ice Fortress to kidnap a prisoner who alone knows the formula for a drug that makes powerful magical beings even more powerful. Dark, intricate, and action-packed, the fantasy heist novel is required reading for anyone who loves a cast of damaged and compelling characters or a seriously tight plot.
3. The Last Star, by Rick Yancey
The Last Star will mark the end of Rick Yancey's intense sci-fi trilogy, The 5th Wave. The world is in chaos following a violent invasion by an invisible enemy. What's left of the population – mostly orphaned children and teens – have been brainwashed into fighting as soldiers among themselves while the Earth becomes a plague-ridden, desolate wasteland. Following a film adaptation of the first book last year, this final instalment promises to be action-packed, existential, and *hopefully* full of answers.
4. Rebel of the Sands, by Alwyn Hamilton
In the first instalment of this riveting fantasy trilogy, Alwyn Hamilton introduces readers to the desert nation of Miraji, where magic runs deep and mysterious, but where people are more interested in the gun and steel trade. Amani, our hero, is a tough-as-nails desert girl and a killer shot, who's just trying to find a way out of the dead-end town where she lives with her cruel aunt and uncle. But trouble seems to follow her; before she knows it, she's falling for a mysterious outlaw involved in a major coup against the current government, and she's got to choose between following her childhood dreams of the city and the opportunity to be involved in something much bigger.
5. The Square Root of Summer, by Harriet Reuter Hapgood
Harriet Reuter Hapgood's incredible debut is the must-read of the summer. Steeped in nostalgia and a surprisingly healthy amount of physics, The Square Root of Summer explores grief and heartache through the eyes of Gottie, a brilliant but listless teen trying to get over the loss of her grandfather, her first love, and the old wounds left by a best friend who abandoned her. It's a new twist on coming-of-age, told with vibrance, intelligence, and beauty.
6. The Art of Being Normal, by Lisa Williamson
This groundbreaking peek into the lives of transgender teens offers a story equal parts heart-wrenching and heartwarming. Williamson, who used to work as an administrator at the Gender Identity Development Service in London, tells the story of David and Leo, two teens from different sides of the tracks at different stages in their transitions. The two form a shaky friendship as they try to navigate isolation at school, crushes, opening up to their families, and finding themselves. Shortlisted for the YA Prize, The Art of Being Normal is a compelling story with a ton of heart.
7. Wolf by Wolf, by Ryan Graudin
This thrilling alternative history narrative is an unmissable summer read. Ryan Graudin reimagines a 1950s Europe in which the Axis powers won WWII. The book follows Yael, who suffered miserably at a concentration camp during the war, but through Nazi experimentation, gained the ability to change her appearance at will, and is now out to kill Hitler.
8. The Rest of Us Just Live Here, by Patrick Ness
Patrick Ness subverts tropes and genre stereotypes in his newest and endlessly clever book about what happens to those of us who aren't the "Chosen One" that so often dominates YA literature (and literature in general, for that matter). This YA Prize-shortlisted title tells the story of Mikey, whose friends are out saving the world from supernatural threats while he's just trying to make it to prom and manage his struggle with OCD. It's a funny and poignant look at what it means to come of age under pressure, and a reminder that getting by is a superpower all its own.
9. Asking For It, by Louise O'Neill
In the follow-up to her YA Prize-winning debut, Only Ever Yours, Irish writer Louise O'Neill tackles the consequences of rape in the social media age. Asking for It is the story of Emma, a popular girl in a small Irish town, who finds herself the victim not just of gang rape, but of unending public humiliation when photos of the attack spread across Facebook and Snapchat like wildfire. The novel pulls from high-profile cases around the globe, and paints a frustrating and heartbreakingly realistic picture of the aftermath of rape both in private and the public eye.
10. The Sin Eater's Daughter, by Melinda Salisbury
This captivating first instalment in Melinda Salisbury's fantasy series is an unmissable adventure. Readers are introduced to Twylla, a young woman with the unnerving power (and duty) to expose traitors to the queen, whose son she just happens to be engaged to. Her role at the court isolates her from others, and is a stain on her future relationship with the prince, but everything is called into question when she meets a young guard who sees her differently, and they uncover the queen's twisted plan to destroy her enemies. Twylla is forced to revaluate her loyalties, to risk everything, and to choose between love and the kingdom she's bound to protect. The YA Prize-shortlisted title is the first in a series, with its sequel, The Sleeping Prince, already on shelves.
11. The Girl of Ink and Stars, by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
This gorgeous debut novel from Kiran Millwood Hargrave tells the story of Isabella, a cartographer's daughter who, despite her wandering spirit, is forbidden to leave the island where she lives. When her friend goes missing Isabella embarks on a search, following her father's maps, which lead her on a path to discover the darker parts of the island, where monsters roam free and an ancient legend becomes her guiding light.
12. The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo, by Catherine Johnson
This YA Prize-shortlisted book from Catherine Johnson is a captivating Cinderella story turned mystery. ''Princess" Caraboo is taken in by a wealthy family and tossed into suspicion by her new peers, who take her for nothing but a con artist, and maybe they're right. This stunning adventure story is steeped in history and romance – the perfect engrossing summer read.
13. Unbecoming, by Jenny Downham
This stunning YA Prize title from Jenny Downham, a former actress, explores the relationships and secrets between three generations of women within the same family. When 17-year-old Katie's grandmother Mary, who has Alzheimer's, moves in with Katie and her mum, life suddenly gets more complicated and chaotic. All three women are forced to confront their past secrets and their future fears as they negotiate their independence and their ties to each other.
14. And I Darken, Kiersten White
Don't mistake this thrilling new vampire saga for the next Twilight. Sinister, suspenseful, and unapologetically feminist, Kiersten White's Dracula-inspired novel tells the story of "anti-princess" Lada Dragwyla. It's a gritty, historically based fantasy, and it's not for the faint of heart.
15. Under Rose-Tainted Skies, by Louise Gornall
This lovely debut is influenced by author Louise Gornall's own battle with agoraphobia. In Under Rose-Tainted Skies, Gornall tells the story of Norah, who begins to test her limited world with the help of her new next-door neighbor, Luke, but learns that there's more to the outside world than the promise of new love.
16. Knights of the Borrowed Dark, by Dave Rudden
This delightful adventure story takes nods from Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia, but adds an infusion of darkness from the outset. It's the first in a captivating series that follows Denizen Hardwick, reluctant hero extraordinaire, who finds himself drawn into a century-old group of warriors tasked with keeping humanity safe from a nightmarish world just a breath apart from our own. It's a fun and enthralling romp through fantasy tropes, perfect for holiday reading.
17. Lies We Tell Ourselves, by Robin Talley
Robin Talley's stunning Carnegie Medal-shortlisted book tackles racial and sexual taboos amid the civil rights movement of 1960s America. Sarah finds herself part of the early integration of Jefferson High, where she meets Linda, whose father is one of the community's staunchest supporters of segregation. Despite the girls' differences, they find themselves drawn to each other, and they're forced to confront what it means to step beyond uncrossable lines and be true to your own heart.
18. One, by Sarah Crossan
Shortlisted for both the Carnegie Medal and the YA Prize, Sarah Crossan's One is one you won't want to miss. It's the story of conjoined twins Tippi and Grace, who must navigate the cruel world of secondary school when their family can no longer afford homeschooling. Their unique situation paints bullying, teenage romance, and the neverending search to find our place in a unique light, offering beautiful writing and a story that's ultimately about fitting in and standing out.
19. Am I Normal Yet?, by Holly Bourne
The fallout of secrets and lies come to a head in this delightful YA Prize-shortlisted book from Holly Bourne. Am I Normal Yet? takes a hard look at young people's experiences with mental health through the eyes of Evie, who's trying to leave her struggles with OCD behind as she starts at a new college. But it's not that simple, and she quickly learns that she must learn to navigate her mental illness alongside her fresh start.
20. A Thousand Nights, by E.K. Johnston
This stunning retelling of the Scheherazade legend is an unmissable adventure from Canadian YA writer E.K. Johnston. In Johnston's reimagining of the classic tale, the unnamed heroine volunteers herself to marry a fearsome king in order to save her sister from the same fate, only to discover that her power of storytelling gives her a mysterious and magical protection from the king's murderous tendencies. As their relationship goes on, it deepens, and the storyteller begins to dream of a way to bring the king redemption.
21. Concentr8, by William Sutcliffe
In this YA Prize-shortlisted sci-fi, William Sutcliffe explores mental health and the influx of quick-fix ADD medication for teens. In a world where every troubled teen is prescribed the miracle drug Concentr8, a gang of teens fight back and find themselves in a messy and public hostage situation that might just change everything.
22. Unboxed, by Non Pratt
In this new novella from Non Pratt, four childhood friends gather to open a time capsule after the death of their friend, Millie. What follows is a delve into the group's darkest secrets, and a journey to reconcile their feelings about Millie, each other, and themselves.
23. There Will Be Lies, by Nick Lake
This mysterious and thrilling Carnegie Medal nominee follows 17-year-old Shelby, whose mother rarely lets her out of the house – until she's hit by a car and the mother and daughter's lives take a sudden turn. Suddenly Shelby finds herself on the run with her mother, but the more questions she has, the fewer answers she gets.
24. Fire Colour One, by Jenny Valentine
Jenny Valentine explores family secrets in this Carnegie Medal nominee. Iris doesn't meet her artist father, Ernest, until the end of his life, and in the midst of her mother's angling to get her hands on Ernest's paintings before he dies, Iris navigates their fledgling relationship. As her father begins to confide in her, Iris finds her life changing forever.
25. The Ghosts of Heaven, by Marcus Sedgwick
Shortlisted for this year's Carnegie Medal, The Ghosts of Heaven is an ambitious, high-concept work from Marcus Sedgwick. Written in four connected parts, the book can be read in 24 different ways, and tells the story of centuries-old beings on their path to discover the meaning of life.
26. Five Children on the Western Front, by Kate Saunders
In this gorgeous Carnegie Medal-shortlisted book, Kate Saunders picks up where E. Nesbit's classic Five Children and It left off. In an impeccable ode to Nesbit's beloved voice and characters, Saunders ages the children and sets her sequel on the eve of WWI, imagining Cyril, Anthea, Robert, Jane, and the Lamb as soldiers and students by the time the sand fairy, the Psammead, reappears to them. It's a beautiful meditation on growing up, on leaving childhood things behind... but never quite feeling like you really have.