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  • Grace Charles 2:00 pm on 2020/01/08 Permalink
    Tags: reverie, ryan la sala, YA, ya book club   

    Our January YA Book Club Pick: Reverie by Ryan La Sala 

    Our YA book club brings readers together to discuss compelling stories and characters—and our January pick stands out for more reasons than one. Combining dreamscapes with real-life, Reverie by Ryan La Sala is both a suburban teen’s coming-of-age story and a fresh take on fantasy that leaves no voice unheard in a beautiful and blended world.

    Nothing is what it seems in Kane Montgomery’s life: his memories are a mess, he doesn’t know who to trust, and all the places he knows keep morphing into places he doesn’t. Reverie is more than a page-turning adventure story, it’s a novel that explores social constructs and stereotypes through unforgettable characters like Kane and mixed narrative genres. Featuring whimsical adventures grounded in authentic experiences, this story of personal discovery is a true testament to the process of understanding and accepting oneself. Tackling issues of queerness, identity, and relationships, Reverie offers a refreshing twist on queer voices—and through an unapologetic and honest narrative, Reverie delivers a powerful, relatable story that draws parallels to our society today.

    An empowering account of uncovering one’s identity, Reverie not only addresses what makes us different but celebrates it. Making space for queer voices in literature, La Sala has allowed for a unique protagonist to find out who he is, and more importantly, who he wants to be. With a constant pulse of wit and humor throughout, this fantasy novel speaks volumes to the power of trust, friendship, and individuality. Our Exclusive Edition of Reverie includes an annotated chapter with handwriting and drawings from the author in the margins, two pages of author notes, two pages of illustrations from the author, and a discussion guide.

    Our next YA Book Club night is January 10th at 7PM. Call your local B&N for details.

    The post Our January YA Book Club Pick: <i>Reverie</i> by Ryan La Sala appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Joel Cunningham 3:00 pm on 2019/11/25 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , YA   

    The Season’s Can’t-Miss New Releases in YA 

    Sci-fi and fantasy readers have much to be thankful for this holiday season, what with all the series continuations and conclusions headed their way, including Tomi Adeyemi’s eagerly awaited followup to Children of Blood and Bone, the final volumes of Neal Shusterman’s Arc of the Scythe series and Holly Black’s Folk of the Air, and more. Eslewhere on the list, you’ll find a fantasy debut loosely based on the tale of Anastasia; a murder mystery featuring a teen with cerebral palsy; and a Camelot-set fantasy starring a witchy Princess Guinevere.

    Children of Virtue and Vengeance, by Tomi Adeyemi
    Tomi Adeyemi stunned the world with Children of Blood and Bone, her hugely successful fantasy debut set in a world inspired by her West African heritage. At the close of that volume, its fearsome heroines Zélie and Amari succeeded in carrying out a powerful ritual that restored magic to the lands of Orïsha. But the spell had powerful consequences they never expected, returning magic not only to their people, the maji, but to all the power-hungry nobles with magic in their blood as well. Rather than lifting up those who were being subjugated, the ritual has only set the stage for a far deadlier conflict, as Zélie attempts to unite the maji and secure Amari’s place on the throne in the face of opposition from the military and the powers-that-be. The stakes or only higher, and the worldbuilding is only more imaginative, in this epic continuation of the Legacy of Orïsha trilogy. Available in a Barnes & Noble exclusive edition featuring an interview with the author and a double-sided poster.

    The Toll, by Neal Shusterman
    Fans of this bestselling series know that death isn’t always—or even often—final in the Arc of a Scythe universe, so here’s hoping Citra and Rowan survive long enough to weed out the corruption they discovered in books one and two. Set a few years after the events of Thunderhead, the conclusion of this sci-fi trilogy promises to keep readers riveted, as well as provide insight into Shusterman’s writing process: the B&N limited edition of The Toll includes exclusive chapter-by-chapter commentary from the author, providing background for characters and scenes and explanations of why he made specific decisions in writing this novel.

    The Queen of Nothing, by Holly Black
    The thrilling, final installment of Holly Black’s Folk of the Air trilogy finds Jude back in the mortal world, where she hasn’t lived since before her kidnapping at age seven. It’s a far cry from Jude’s life as Queen of Faerie, and Jude is not loving her exile. When her twin sister, Taryn, seeks her out in need of a favor, Jude finally gets the chance to confront Cardan and reclaim her power. Of course, there’s the small matter of a curse needing to be broken first.

    Girls of Storm and Shadow, by Natasha Ngan
    In the bestselling queer fantasy opener Girls of Paper and Fire, orphaned country girl Lei was chosen, along with seven other girls in the low-ranking Paper caste, to become a consort to the king. The most dangerous thing she could have done during her training was fall in love—especially with one of the other consorts, Wren. But once she slayed the Demon King and earned the nickname “the Moonchosen,” everything changed. Now, with a bounty on her head, Lei and Wren must convince the rebel clans scattered throughout the kingdom to join them in overthrowing the monarchy.

    Supernova, by Marissa Meyer
    In the first installment of the Renegades series, readers met Nova and Adrian, superheroes on opposite sides of the war between the publicly adored Renegades and the villainous Anarchists. While tackling questions of vengeance versus justice, and the responsibilities of those with special powers, fantasy expert Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles), added a complex love story to the mix. In Archenemies, Nova infiltrated the Renegades and stole Ace Anarchy’s helmet, while readers wondered if she and Adrian would ever uncover each other’s secret identities. As Nightmare and The Sentinel, they loathe each other, and Supernova begins with Nova’s reluctant return to her role as spy extraordinaire even as she wishes she could shout the truth about her alter ego.

    Blood Heir, by Amelie Wen Zhao
    Crown princess Anastacya Mikhailov spends her days behind the palace walls, keeping her blood magic a secret, because in the Cyrilian Empire, those with “unnatural” abilities are feared and reviled. When Ana’s emperor father is murdered, Ana is framed for the crime and becomes a hunted fugitive. The only person who may be able to clear her name is Ramson Quicktongue, a crime lord who is currently in prison—so step one is to break him out.

    I Have No Secrets, by Penny Joelson
    The Heart is a Lonely Hunter meets Pretty Little Liars in this original and compelling murder mystery featuring a teenage girl with cerebral palsy. 14-year-old Jemma is intelligent and insightful, but she cannot talk or move, so when a murderer confesses his crime to her, she has no way of alerting the authorities. However, with a new technology on the horizon, there’s a chance Jemma will be able to share the horrifying truth and prevent the killer from striking again.

    The Guinevere Deception, by Kiersten White
    If you love Arthurian legends, look no further than Kiersten White’s (And I Darken; The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein) latest reimagining for all your royal intrigue needs. Princess Guinevere is no ordinary young woman. In fact, she may not be a woman at all, but a changeling summoned by Merlin to wed King Arthur and keep him safe. Add some jousting, witchcraft, and the perfect amount of forbidden romance, and The Guinevere Deception is the start of a new series you don’t want to miss.

    Call Down the Hawk, by Maggie Stiefvater
    Although some characters—and love interests—were introduced in the Raven Cycle (Pynch! Pynch!) this fresh offering from Stiefvater can be read on its own. Ronan Lynch is a dreamer who can pull elements of dreams into his own version of reality. He wants nothing more than to visit his boyfriend, Adam, at college, but the lack of control he has over his abilities keep him sequestered on the family farm. Art thief Jordan can’t risk falling into REM sleep, and government operative Carmen is tasked with preventing a dreamer-instigated apocalypse. When the characters’ lives intersect, it makes for an addictive series opener.

    Winterwood, by Shea Ernshaw
    It’s common knowledge that the Walker women of Fir Haven are witches. Ostracized and living in a cabin in the Pacific Northwest, Nora Walker enjoys a special connection with the nearby forest, as explained via the family book of spells threaded throughout the narrative. When Oliver, a student from the local Wayward Boys’ school, goes missing it’s Nora who finds him two weeks later. How did he survive out there alone during a snowstorm? As she works to uncover Oliver’s secrets, Nora becomes convinced there is more to his story than meets the eye. Ernshaw’s sophomore effort will please newcomers as well as fans of his debut, The Wicked Deep.

    What new books are on your wishlist this holiday season?

    The post The Season’s Can’t-Miss New Releases in YA appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Tara Sonin 3:00 pm on 2017/10/25 Permalink
    Tags: a court of thorns and roses, , , adam silvera, alexandra bracken, , , and I darken, , , anna marie mclemore, april genevieve tucholke, are carson, , , charm and strange, , , ek johnston, , empress of a thousand skies, erin bow, erin bowman, , female of the species, finnikin of the rock, francis hardings, girl in pieces, , , handy nelson, history is all you left me, if I was your girl, jennifer lia longo, julie berry one, , karen m. mcmanus, kathleen glasgow, , kerry kletter, kiersten white, , , , mackenzi lee, , maria v. snyder, , marie rutkoski, marieke nijkamp, megan shepherd, , meredith russo, mindy mcginnis, my sister rosa, , nicola goon, one of us is lying, passenger, poison study, renee ahdieh, rhoda belleza, , , , roshani chokshi, , sandhya menon, sarah cross an, , , scythe, , , the bone witch, the first time she drowned, the flame in the mist, the gentleman’s guide to vice and virtue, , the lie tree, the madman’s daughter, the passion of dolssa, , the scorpion rules, the sky is everywhere, the star touched queen, the sun is also a star, the winner’s curse, the young elites, this is where it ends, , tiffany d. jackson, Up to this pointe, , , when dimple met rishi, when the moon was ours, when we collided, wink poppy midnight, YA, ya we love   

    50 YA Novels Adults Will Love, Too 

    Young Adult novels are written for teen readers, but there’s no reason why adults can’t love them, too! Some of the best contemporary, science fiction, historical, fantasy and romance novels are written by YA authors, and here are fifty you are certain to enjoy at any age.

    Up To This Pointe, by Jennifer Lia Longo
    Harper Scott’s ancestor died trying to get to the South Pole, so she has always tried to do the opposite: stick to a plan, to what she’s good at, and never take unnecessary risks. But when Harper’s plan goes up in flames, she finds herself headed exactly where she never thought she’d go—to Antarctica, to wait out a broken heart in their six-month winter. One of the most honest, beautiful, and crushing depictions of friendship you will ever read.

    Vengeance Road, by Erin Bowman
    Historical fiction fans will love this Gold Rush-era western in which a girl seeks vengeance for her father’s murder by trekking across the west dressed as a boy. She meets two brothers along the way and finds herself torn between the rage in her heart and the possible love which might take its place. (Look out for the companion novel, Retribution Rails, in November!)

    Allegedly, by Tiffany D. Jackson
    Mary killed a baby when she was only nine years old. Allegedly. The case seemed open and shut, especially since Mary confessed. But was her confession coerced? And now that she finds herself pregnant, will the state take custody of her own child? This psychological thriller seems as cut and dry as the situation it describes, until the plot thickens.

    The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater
    All her life, Blue has known that her true love would die. She’s also known that she belongs to a family of clairvoyants, and to heed their warnings, which come from the dead. But when she finds herself tempted by four boys, students at the local private school—and one of them in particular—she fears that she can’t avoid true love, or death, any longer.

    Grave Mercyby Robin LaFevers
    Magic, history, and Mortain—the God of Death—combine in this trilogy-starter about a group of assassin nuns who do death’s bidding. One of the most sensual and evocative novels you’ll come across in any genre, with heroines and prose worthy of acclaim.

    Six of Crowsby Leigh Bardugo
    The streets of Ketterdam are owned by Kaz Brekker, leader of the Dregs gang: a group of likeminded individuals, each with skills of their own, debts to repay…and some magic at their disposal. But Kaz’s quest for power has a dark underbelly—a secret he is trying to protect, and a rival he is desperate to unseat—and when one heist to steal something valuable could accomplish his darkest desires, he puts everyone at risk to achieve it.

    The Young Elites, by Marie Lu
    Every villain has an origin story, and this is Adelina’s: after suffering the effects of a fever which left her, and other survivors, scarred and feared by their community, she realizes that what she once thought was a curse may be the key to her freedom…and the ruin of those who cursed her.

    Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson
    A princess who believes herself to be completely unremarkable becomes embroiled in a secret marriage, a war to protect a kingdom, and a prophecy that says against all reason, she will be the one to save them all. Beautiful prose and a unique magic system for fantasy fans!

    An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir
    Two lives collide and the fate of a kingdom is at stake when a slave becomes a spy for the resistance and the soldier son of a fearsome ruler decides to help her. Tahir weaves action-packed fight scenes and secrecy with the nuanced thread of romance as, over the course of the novel, the two realize there is more at stake than their lives, and their freedom; their love. Add to the equation a third character who is desperately, but secretly, in love with the soldier, and complications ensue.

    The Winner’s Curse, by Marie Rutkoski
    Kestrel has always has two choices: join the army like her father, or marry. She desires neither—until she meets Arin, a slave she purchases on a whim in the marketplace. Suddenly she desires quite a bit: to fight, to love, and to put her trust in a man who confounds her at every turn. Arin is tempted by Kestrel, but the truth is he also wants to fight: specifically, her father, who is responsible for the colonization of his people. And he will use Kestrel to get what he needs.

    The Flame in the Mist, by Renee Ahdieh
    Mariko is a talented alchemist, but her skills matter less than her ability to marry and unite her family with that of the emperor’s. But on her way there, she is attacked—and when she escapes, she decides that finding those who tried to kill her and bringing them to justice is her true path in life.

    History is All You Left Me, by Adam Silvera
    In this moving novel about first love, regret, and grief, Griffin is confronted by his worst fear: his ex-boyfriend—the guy he believed he would one day be with again—is dead. Spiraling downward, Griffin finds himself drawn back into past memories of Theo as well as confronted by the reality of the present, when Theo’s boyfriend comes to town for the funeral.

    The Madman’s Daughter, by Megan Shepherd
    Gothic novel fans will love this historical science-fiction novel in the vein of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the Isle of Dr. Moreau. Juliet has lost everything after her father’s career was ruined due to accusations she was always sure were false. She journeys to find the truth and finds herself torn between reality and insanity, and wonders if she will inherit her father’s legacy.

    Charm and Strange, by Stephanie Kuehn
    A boy is convinced he is turning into a monster—and not the metaphorical kind. But even monsters can’t outrun the secrets and shames of their pasts, and he is no exception. One of the most unique books I’ve ever read: part psychological thriller, part paranormal, part mystery, with prose that is exactly what the title suggests.

    The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, by Mackenzi Lee
    Summer may be over, but you can live vicariously through this European tour during the 1700’s featuring a pair of best friends—and one of them is in love with the other. Monty, a son of the aristocracy, and Percy, a black man raised with his rich, white relatives, somewhat to their dismay—have been friends their whole lives. Monty is a rake and a rogue, falling into bed and into bars with anyone willing, but his heart is set on Percy. They have one final gallivant through Europe, joined by Monty’s precocious sister, before they both must take on the responsibilities and obligations of men in their time. Regency romance fans will rejoice at this one!

    And I Darken, by Kiersten White
    This gender-flipped backstory to Vlad Dracul (now Lada Dragwyla) is as ruthless as its main character, who yearns for the day when she and her brother, Radu, can escape the clutches of the Ottomans and seek vengeance by waging a war she believes is her birthright. But when she and Radu both find themselves falling for the royal enemy, their story is destined to end in blood.

    Three Dark Crowns, by Kendare Blake
    Three sisters, all heirs to a powerful throne…but destined to die for it. If you love Game of Thrones’ magic and mind-games, this powerful and shocking fantasy series will make the wait for the next season fly by.

    The Star Touched Queen, by Roshani Chokshi
    A gorgeous fantasy about a reluctant queen caught between a prophecy that dooms any man who marries her—and her growing love for the man who does. Vivid, moving prose inspired by Indian folklore!

    A Study in Charlotte, by Brittany Cavallaro
    While you’re waiting for the next series of Sherlock, check out this YA genderflipped version! Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson are descended from the famed detectives bearing their last names. But unlike their counterparts, they are not friends. That is, until someone dies, and Jamie decides he and Charlotte are the only ones who can solve the case.

    This is Where it Ends, by Marieke Nijkamp
    A shooter causes havoc in a school over 54 minutes in this bestseller, a harrowing, emotional psychological thriller. Told through four perspectives, all with their own fears and secrets, this novel’s diverse cast shines light on the importance of inclusivity and mental health care.

    Wink Poppy Midnight, by April Genevieve Tucholke
    Part contemporary romance, part magical realism, and part thriller, this is one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. A twisted love triangle turns violent and those involved are left to decide whether their actions played any part.

    As I Descended, by Robin Talley
    If you’re a Shakespeare fan, don’t miss this horror-tinged retelling of Macbeth. This time the ill-fated couple is Maria and Lily; who are in love, and determined to stay that way despite the class differences that could spell the end of their time together, as college approaches. When Lily coaxes Maria into committing a terrible act in order to win their school’s most coveted award, they are both haunted by the choice—literally.

    The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
    Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are aware that THUG is the book of the year to read. A direct response to the Black Lives Matter movement, this novel tells the story of Starr, who watches her childhood best friend get gunned down by a white cop. Caught between her family, her white friends and boyfriend, and the pressure of being the sole witness to this murder as protests rage and the fate of the cop is determined—Starr must decide how to use her voice, and her power, to get justice.

    The First Time She Drowned, by Kerry Kletter
    After spending two years in an institution, Cassie is finally getting her freedom—but when her mother comes back into her life, Cassie finds herself once again being drawn into a toxic relationship. After all: her mother’s the one who had her committed, simply to get her out of the way. A moving story of mothers and daughters, mental illness, and fresh starts.

    Scythe, by Neal Shusterman
    Imagine a world where there is no death no poverty, no war…but to keep the population from growing out of control and to preserve the peace, some lives must be taken. That’s where Scythes come in, and this dystopian sci-fi follows the journey of two reapers-in-training as they learn the art of killing, and the value of human life.

    Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here, by Anna Breslaw
    A fun contemporary novel for fans of fan-fiction—when Scarlett’s favorite TV show is cancelled, her anonymous fanfiction series goes viral…but it’s actually based on real people who would be hurt by her depiction of them. Scarlett is one of the most endearing characters you’ll ever meet; even as she makes mistakes, you root for her.

    The Scorpion Rules, by Erin Bow
    A future world in which the children of political leaders are held as hostages—to keep their parents under control, for any act of war would result in their deaths. A maniacal AI dictator, a burgeoning romance (or two), and two children at the mercy of their parents’ ill-fated decisions makes for a compelling read.

    Girl in Pieces, by Kathleen Glasgow
    Charlie is determined not to think of the things she’s lost, or fall back into old patterns, but the past always comes home to roost. An incredibly authentic portrayal of depression, self-harm, and the depths of the human soul.

    Empress of a Thousand Skies, by Rhoda Belleza
    Two parallel narratives collide when a princess who was thought to be murdered and the refugee accused of killing her both seek justice for their circumstances. Rhee has always known she would inherit the throne her parents left vacant when they died. But after a failed assassination attempt, she realizes that destiny has other plans. Aly, a refugee who has gained fame as the star of a futuristic reality show, is determined to seek out the real villain—before an entire country declares war on him. A diverse epic that, while not set in this galaxy, reflects many of the issues we currently face.

    When the Moon Was Ours, by Anna Marie McLemore
    Magical realism at its finest meets a love story between two innocent teens caught in a web of secrecy. When a group of rumored witches decide to capture Miel and use the roses that grow from her wrists to make an infallible love spell, her relationship with Sam is put in jeopardy—as is the one secret she has kept from him.

    Female of the Species, by Mindy McGinnis
    A brutal, dark tale of the thin line between revenge and justice. Alex has killed her sister’s rapist and murderer—and it’s awakened something within her that can’t be controlled. As she tries to go about living a normal life in the wake of her undiscovered crime, she starts to have another uncontrollable urge: first love. Gritty, difficult, and powerful, this novel sends a strong message about rape culture.

    My Sister Rosa, by Justine Larbalestier
    Che thinks his sister is a sociopath. The problem? He’s the only person she trusts, and his parents don’t believe him. A psychological thriller as gripping as it is disturbing.

    We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart
    If you love unreliable narrators, toxic friendships, and crushing tragedy (and who doesn’t honestly?) you will love this book. One summer changes everything for a group of friends, and only by going backwards can one girl pick up the pieces.

    The Sun is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon
    A feel-good romance and an emotional story about how the stories of our lives are formed by our interactions with others combine for this award-winning novel. When an immigrant girl about to be deported and a boy who feels trapped by his parents’ expectations fall in love over a day, their story impacts everyone around them.

    When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon
    An arranged marriage turns into a delightful comedic romance when Dimple meets Rishi, the guy her parents want her to be with. Of course it does not go the way their parents expect it to: Dimple is more focused on her education, while Rishi actually does want to be matched…laughs and swoons definitely ensue.

    Exit, Pursued by a Bearby EK Johnston
    When Hermione is raped, she is determined not to let it interfere with her plans and her path. The aftermath of a rape is emotional, and often depicted as tragic. But in this narrative, heroine Hermione finds herself supported by everyone she knows—her parents, her best friend, her school, and local law enforcement. Still, she faces tough decisions in her journey to reclaim that which has been taken from her.

    Passenger, by Alexandra Bracken
    A sweeping time-travel fantasy romance for fans of Outlander! Etta is sent back in time to learn that not only are time travelers real, but she is from a family of them—and it is her obligation to continue their work. But when she meets Nicholas, sparks fly between them, and she is torn between fulfilling the destiny which she seems born to find, and returning to the life she had before. Impeccably researched and full of twists and turns, with diverse characters.

    One of Us is Lyingby Karen M. McManus
    The Breakfast Club turns deadly in this mystery where one student ends up dead during detention…just before he planned to shed light on all the dirty secrets of his fellow classmates. Suddenly everyone’s secrets and motives are brought into the light…and the killer will do anything to protect theirs.

    When We Collided, by Emery Lord
    Lord’s newest novel features a sensitive and nuanced depiction of mental illness. Jonah already sees it at home, in his mother, who has been battling depression since the death of his father, but when Vivi moves to town, she seems exactly like the injection of fun and life his family needs. What he doesn’t realize at first is she has mental health issues of her own, and they just may push them both over the edge.

    If I Was Your Girlby Meredith Russo
    An important story of a trans girl finding love, written by a trans women. Amanda falls hard for Grant—but as this is her first real relationship, and first relationship after transitioning from the gender she was assigned at birth to the one she identifies as—she’s scared it could blow up in her face if he found out about her past. How long can she keep her secret, and will she be accepted for who she really is? (Forgive the spoiler, but I believe it’s important: this one has a happy ending.)

    A Court of Thorns and Rosesby Sarah J. Maas
    A fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast in which Feyre is forced to live with Tamlin, a High Fae, as punishment for attacking a fae she believed was a wolf. If you love gilded castles and beautiful gowns, villains and cold-hearted rakes, magic and mayhem and of course a whole lot of romance, this series is for you.

    The Bone Witch, by Rin Chupeco
    When a girl raises her dead brother from the grave, she begins to undergo training to become a Bone Witch, tasked with fighting daeva and keeping The Dark at bay. But her gift means she will be feared by her community…and perhaps with good reason.

    Finnikin of the Rock, by Melina Marchetta
    After the royal family and many others were murdered years ago, Finnikin has always believed the true heir to the throne is dead—until his dreams tell him differently. But in order to find the true heir, Finnikin must align himself with the mysterious Evanjalin—who doesn’t speak, but claims to know where the answers lie.

    Poison Study, by Maria V. Snyder
    To save her skin, Yelena agrees to become a food taster for the Commander: meaning that if anyone tries to poison him, she’ll be the one to die. The catch (if that wasn’t enough) is that she drinks a fatal poison to ensure her loyalty…and must take a daily antidote to survive. But her kingdom is in turmoil, and the last thing she needs is secret magical powers…

    A Great and Terrible Beauty, by Libba Bray
    The tale of Gemma Doyle, a boarding school student with a rough past and a talent for seeing the future. Like all of Bray’s novels, A Great and Terrible Beauty is filled with strong female friendships, luscious and heartbreaking romance, and a plot that keeps you on your toes.

    Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor
    This story about a human girl who can cross through the barrier between our world and the world of the chimera, is riveting and romantic. Except Karou is beginning to doubt the story of her life that has been told to her: why is her hair naturally blue, why is she entrusted to gather human teeth and bring them to the other world…and who is Akiva, a stranger who shows up with tragic answers to a past Karou is desperate to find.

    The Passion of Dolssa, by Julie Berry
    In medieval France, one girl believes with all her heart that she can communicate with God—while others, those with power, seek to have her executed as a heretic. She meets Botille, a young matchmaker who agrees to hide her from the people pursuing her—and when their two paths collide, Botille puts her family at risk to protect Dolssa’s secret. A fascinating exploration of history.

    Oneby Sarah Crossan
    Two twins have been together as long as they can remember—because they are conjoined twins, and share the same body. But when one of them starts to get sick, separation is put on the table in a way it never was before…because it could save their life. The one life they were determined to live together. A stunning story told in verse.

    The Lie Tree, by Francis Hardinge
    Faith wants to be a good, obedient daughter—but the curiosity she feels about the world, especially science—is unnatural according to her family. So she keeps her true self a secret…until her father is murdered, and only Faith holds the key to why: and it all comes down to a simple tree that her father believed held all the answers to the world’s questions. Will Faith find her father’s murderer, or will the tree damn her as it may have damned him?

    The Sky is Everywhere, by Jandy Nelson
    Mourning the death of her sister Bailey causes Lennie to navigate the winding, complicated roads of grief. Especially when they involve Bailey’s boyfriend, and feelings for him that she can’t ignore—and a new boy in town who makes her feel alive again. Heartbreaking and hopeful, one girl must come to terms with a future beyond her sister’s ever-lingering shadow.

    The post 50 YA Novels Adults Will Love, Too appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Brian Boone 8:30 pm on 2017/08/28 Permalink
    Tags: teen books, , YA,   

    50 of the Most Essential High School Stories 

    High school is a near-universal experience to which we can all relate. It’s also a complicated, messy time in life in which one grows from the end of childhood to the cusp of adulthood, so there’s a lot of feelings to unpack. The result is that hundreds of books have been written about high school…but these are the 50 most essential, the ones who really get it right and have something to say.

    Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell
    Rainbow Rowell’s first YA novel is set in Omaha, Nebraska, in the mid-1980s, where neither really fit in: Eleanor is a misfit redhead, and Park is half-Korean. Their romance blossoms over the pop culture they love, specifically comic books and mix tapes. Rowell adroitly addresses the deep psychological baggage both have, never dismissing it as mere “teenage” drama.

    The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
    So much of high school is about hanging out with friends: there’s a lot of time to kill, and maybe you don’t want to go home, so you just sort of drive around and do stuff. This is where Chbosky’s book shines—those quiet moments of sitting around and making profound connections with your friends. It’s about putting yourself out there, not to be popular, but to make just one or two friendships that will matter and last.

    Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Lewis
    This is a book about the deep love between a boy and a girl…and it’s not a romance. Greg wants only to stay completely neutral in high school, and avoid anyone getting mad at him; he just wants to make films with his best friend, Earl. He’s forced to address reality, emotions, and his own hidden humanity when a childhood friend develops cancer, and he becomes her official companion in her haunting final days.

    Drama, by Raina Telgemeier
    It’s not the class discussions and classes about high school that socialize us, it’s the activities. Those clubs where kids are free to find their tribe, or tribes, and bounce around with little to no consequence or commitment? They’re where we find people like us at a time when we might feel awkward and alone. This is particularly true with drama club, a beacon to so many teens outside the mainstream who want to make art. Telgemeier’s graphic novel encapsulates all that, plus the nostalgic backstage feelings that bond kids and actors for life.

    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by J.K. Rowling
    There are seven Harry Potter novels, of course, but this is the one packed with the most excruciatingly relatable teenage problems and growing pains. Harry, Ron, and Hermione start acting like moody adolescents and as they wade into the dating pool, and Harry and Ron realize for the first time that Hermione is a girl. And then there’s the Yule Ball. While Hermione goes with a Quidditch star, Harry and Ron can’t get the dates they want and end up sulking on the sidelines. It’s a whole new take on our favorite magical trio.

    The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton
    Who knows teens better than a teen knows teens? Amazingly, S.E. Hinton was just 19 years old when she wrote this sad, violent, humanity-steeped story about the roughneck gang-like Greasers and the preppy, jerky Socs they have to deal with at school. It feels intense and realistic, like a more richly imaginedWest Side Story set against the rural backdrop of small-town Oklaoma.

    Will Grayson, Will Grayson, by John Green and David Levithan
    John Green and David Levithan joined forces on this, the alternating stories of two boys named Will Grayson. Eventually their stories merge, following a wild night starring the two Wills and one’s best friend, Tiny, who stages a musical about his own life and is dating the other Will Grayson, a shy kid struggling with his sexuality.

    Carrie, by Stephen King
    Stephen King brilliantly takes those feelings of being unsure about the insane, random, rapid changes our bodies go through in adolescence, and renders them terrifying. Carrie is about a young woman discovering her own self, trying to put parental control aside, and dealing with weird body stuff. She’s doused with blood by the end, of course, and a body count ensues, but hey, that’s just a metaphor for adolescence.

    Ghost World, by Daniel Clowes
    Plenty of artistic projects have given us a view of high school from the outsider’s perspective—perhaps because writers are often outsiders, and you write what you know. But Daniel Clowes’ sad, quiet, darkly hilarious Ghost World, and its main character Enid Coleslaw, offer a special kind of otherness: a sophisticated alienation. Enid is far wiser, funnier, and brutally critical of the world around her than her peers, and the reader can tell she’s been withering on the vine trapped in high school. Then she graduates into a world in which she’s still alienated, but even more anonymous.

    Blankets, by Craig Thompson
    A lot of high school kids have a super-religious phase, as spirituality offers a lot of answers—or at least comfort—in a very tumultuous time. Craig Thompson’s beautiful, heartbreaking graphic novel is about a devoutly religious teen’s difficulties in balancing his spiritual life with a budding long-distance romance, and his ever-increasing spiritual doubts.

    DC Trip, by Sara Benincasa
    The big “educational” overnight trip to Philadelphia, Colonial Williamsburg, or Washington, D.C., is a watershed moment on the level of prom to millions of high school kids each year. It gives them a chance to cut loose and feel free and independent for the first time without parental supervision; because, let’s be honest, the chaperones are merely ceremonial. Or, as is demonstrated in Benincasa’s hilarious look at a class trip to D.C., the teachers along for the ride are too busy sowing their wild oats, too.

    Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver
    A teenage girl keeps living the same day over and over—a seemingly typical day of high school drama and boredom, except that she dies at the end, and has to keep living the day over and over until she gets it “right,” from repairing familial relationships to making amends for the girl whose life she and her clique make miserable. It’s Groundhog Day with higher stakes, and, you know, terrifying.

    The Rest of Us Just Live Here, by Patrick Ness
    While some kids in his seemingly normal high school are after a very important object of great power called the “Immortal Crux,” Mikey just wants to graduate, get with the girl he likes, and deal with his family’s problems. This book explores how a supernatural YA book might read if retold from the perspective of some random Hufflepuff.

    The Pigman, by Paul Zindel
    The Pigman is among the first ever “young adult” novels, in that it’s literature both about and for those in between people called teenagers. Themes that would come to define YA are present in The Pigman, too: teens questioning the grownup world, their values and struggle to create their own identity without killing their hearts. The action of the book concerns two high schoolers, John and Lorraine, who take turns reporting their experiences with a misunderstood old man named Mr. Pignati.

    The Virgin Suicides, by Jeffrey Eugenides
    Even more dreamy and sad than Sofia Coppola’s 2000 film adaptation, Eugenides’ first novel is brainy, beguiling, and mysterious. Set in tony Grosse Pointe, Michigan, in the 1970s, it’s the rare period piece that isn’t really about the period or at all nostalgic. It’s told from the point of view of several teenage boys trying to understand why their classmates, the five Lisbon sisters, all took their own lives.

    All the Bright Places, by Jennifer Niven
    So many YA novels are about escape, because being a teenager is about escaping: escaping high school, escaping the hometown, escaping family, escaping problems. In All the Bright Places, even Violent and Theodore’s not-so-cute meet-cute involves escape: It happens in the school bell tower, where both are poised to commit suicide. Instead, an unlikely and profound friendship/romance develops out of a need for human connection, both with each other and the world at large.

    Boy Proof, by Cecil Castelluci
    Victoria loves science fiction, particularly a movie called Terminal Earth. She models her life after the film’s protagonist, Egg, to the degree that she adopts the name. She’s also the kind of girl who wears a homemade cloak to school and doesn’t care that she’s going to get teased for it. She’s doing her own thing, and she doesn’t want to do it any other way. So much so that when a new boy moves to town who actually likes and understands Egg and where she’s coming from…she just might crack.

    Lies We Tell Ourselves, by Robin Talley
    Lies We Tell Ourselves is set in a just-segregated high school in 1959 Virginia, in the midst of the Civil Rights movement. This remarkable, character-driven drama (and love story), set against a volatile historical backdrop, follows an African American honors student attending a previously all-white school, who’s assigned to work on a school project with the daughter of the town’s leading segregationist.

    Avalon High, by Meg Cabot
    Harry Potter inspired a whole mini-genre of books set in a high school for “special” kids: demigods, vampires, monsters. So whatever happened to good old-fashioned allegory? It’s alive and well in books like the Avalon High series. It’s set in a Maryland high school full of teen archetypes and stereotypes, except each character correlates to someone from the English legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

    The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen, by Susin Nielsen
    The diary format works so well for high school stories because it feels immediate, intimate, and authentic. That approach is needed for the gut-punch of Henry K. Larsen. It’s so many different books: a kid-at-a-new-school book, a survivor book, an issues book. Henry is forced to move and go to a new school after his brother is so mercilessly teased that he unleashes his anger and pain with a school shooting.

    The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
    Being in high school is an almost constant conflict between seeking out the comfort of fitting in, and the difficulty of finding and being one’s true self. Robert Cormier’s classic novel is about that, but within the strict confines of a Catholic school. Jerry is a new student who refuses to fall in line with the school’s methods for keeping order, in which the entire student body is complicit. Jerry must exhibit bravery beyond his years to stand up to the mob.

    Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli
    Sixteen-year-old Simon is a closeted gay teenager happily disappearing into the theater department…until he leaves his email account open on a school computer, and wisecracking classmate Martin discovers a romantic thread of emails between Simon and a boy known only as “Blue.” Martin blackmails Simon into helping him get closer to a girl he likes, and Simon contemplates what coming out might mean.

    Forever, by Judy Blume
    Queen Judy, mistress of the middle-grade novel, was not a one-trick pony. She wrote respectful, realistic literature for kids of almost every age. Forever is one of her classics, dealing with the sensitive, agonizing subjects of young love…and sex. Katherine meets Michael, falls in love, and embarks on a sexual relationship with him, in a story that evokes all the excitement and tenderness of a budding relationship.

    Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Green has a gift for writing about the teenage experience in incredibly relatable ways. Throughout his work, Green is most adept at describing the sparkling, tingly feelings of teenage crushes bordering on love. In this semi-autobiographical novel, a guy trades his regular life for one at boarding school. He finds the crackling existence he wanted, due in no small part to the enchanting but deeply troubled Alaska Young.

    Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins
    There are so many great romantic comedy movie tropes here, scaled down into high-school life. A high school senior named Anna is about to make things official with a nice guy, until she’s sent to boarding school in Paris. Things in Paris are, of course, marvelous, and she meets a delightful French boy named Etienne—only he’s taken. That’s just one of the many romantic entanglements in this fun and frothy take on high school heart-stuff.

    Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
    High school life isn’t that much different for British kids, unless you count the grade names. Georgia leads a proudly messy life, as she and her best friend Jas spy on boys they like and try to compete with older, more provocative girls for attention and affection. A charming novel that captures the intensity of high school–era relationships, from those indelible best friend connections to “true love.”

    Boy Meets Boy, by David Levithan
    Levithan’s novel is about a time much like our own, only more progressive in terms of issues of sexual identity. It’s set in a small New Jersey town where homosexual, bisexual, and transgender teens have been completely normalized.  This is the setup for a sweet, romantic connection between Paul, a high-school sophomore, and Noah, the handsome, green-eyed new kid in town who’s a little reluctant to fall in love since he last got burned.

    Hey Nostradamus!, by Douglas Coupland
    With modern classics like Generation X and Girlfriend in a Coma, Coupland has given voice to the disaffected and those going through the motions of a hollow modern existence. In Hey, Nostradamus, he writes about high school students who feel the same way, and the desperate measures they take to change things. The story is told in tandem by four disparate characters, including a secretly pregnant and married girl, on what will ultimately be the most tragic day of all of their lives.

    Carry the Sky, by Kate Gray
    A book about high school doesn’t have to be about the kids, you know. There are lots of teachers working in those classrooms, and to hear stories from their points of view is fascinating. Carry the Sky is about a fancy boarding school in 1983 Delaware, where physics teacher Jack and rowing coach Taylor work. The teachers are linked by personal tragedies, but must overcome or put their overwhelming grief to the side in order to help their ill-equipped students deal with the terrible things happening in their lives.

    Prep, by Curtis Sittenfeld
    What is it about boarding schools that make them so interesting to those of us who didn’t attend them? Is it simply that they seem an exotic walled world, or are they a merely an esteemed-if-classist relic of the past somehow surviving into today? Set at an elite East Coast prep school, Prep follows Lee, a Midwestern scholarship student and audience surrogate who must navigate the intricate politics and social system of the old school and its old money, all the while pulling further and further away from her parents.

    Special Topics in Calamity Physics, by Marisha Pessl
    Pessl’s debut is presented like a syllabus, each chapter title alluding to a classic work. The plot: deadpan genius Blue van Meer, the perennial new kid in town owing to her father’s peripatetic ways, has all the advanced knowledge and study skills necessary to succeed at a prestigious private school, but lacks the pro-level social skills necessary to launch herself socially. But when she catches the eye of a charismatic, beautiful teacher—one we learn, in the book’s earliest pages, will not survive—her life radically changes.

    Moonhead and the Music Machine, by Andrew Rae
    In this graphic novel‚ Joey Moonhead has an actual moon for a head; when he loses interest or attention, it floats away. As can be expected, Joey Moonhead is heavily teased, but he at least wins a friend in Ghost Boy, so named because he’s “invisible” at school, concealed under a white, ghostlike sheet. And if all goes well, Joey just might rock the talent show and win the school over by playing an awesome instrument of his own invention.

    Acceptance, by Susan Coll
    High school isn’t all cliques, romantic drama, and finding one’s true identity—it’s also about the stress and anticipation of what comes next. Acceptance is an amusing look at those high school kids who are already overachieving and burning out before they’ve even left home. Focusing on three juniors and their college admissions counselor, the book follows their trudge through SAT prep courses, AP classes, AP exams, college essay writing…

    What Happened to Goodbye, by Sarah Dessen
    Mclean Sweet is a teenager who wants to be somebody new, so she creates a new identity every time she has to move to a new town for her father’s work. As many do in high school, she has tried on a few different personas and goes all in each time, be her new style goth, peppy preppy, or student government go-getter. What Happened to Goodbye finds her moving to yet another new place and testing out her most risky personality choice yet: her real one.

    Firecracker, by David Iserson
    In this very funny novel by Iserson, a writer for New Girl and Saturday Night Live, entitled rich girl Astrid is a little too smart and conniving for her own good. She gets kicked out of school after being betrayed by somebody, and she’s determined to find out who did it, even with the newfound distractions of public school and a potential love interest.

    A Separate Peace, by John Knowles
    Knowles semi-fictionalized his experiences attending Exeter to create this classic, tragic coming-of-age tale about boys in a Northeastern boarding school during World War II. Narrator Gene is roommates with his good-hearted but ill-fated friend, Finny, of whom he is also supremely jealous. They take part in a tree-jumping club, which leads to Finny breaking his leg. Bad things continue to happen to Finny, for which Gene feels both guilt and, for the first time in his life, the emptiness of loss. Readers will grow up a little alongside Gene.

    Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
    As a direct challenge to and comment on his school’s elite sports program, varsity jacket–coveting T.J. Jones puts together his own ragtag, super-inclusive swim team. Never mind that only one of them can even swim very well, and that they don’t actually have a swimming pool at their school. Like the characters themselves, Whale Talk has a lot of heart.

    The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Fourteen-year-old Arnold Spirit, Jr., lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington state. He’s witty and a gifted artist, but suffers from a stutter, a lisp, and, subsequently, a good deal of bullying, both physical and verbal. He decides to break out of his life as a target by using his smarts to gain entrance to a predominantly wealthy, white school off the reservation, which changes his life in more ways than anticipated.

    Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
    At a high school party the summer before her freshman year, Melinda is raped, calls the police, but runs away before telling them—or the other kids—why she made the call. From that point forth, Melinda is an outcast, a victim of the shocking cruelty her classmates are capable of. This book is a demonstration of how even high school politics can override decency and justice.

    Every Day, by David Levithan
    Each morning, a conscious being known only as A wakes up in a new body, and must live the life of whoever’s body it is. A abides by a policy of doing no harm, until they wake up in the body of a teenager named Justin, and instantly fall in love with Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. A keeps switching bodies, of course, and plotting how they can somehow find themselves together with Rhiannon again. It’s a wildly imaginative, experimental novel about the transcendent power of love.

    Election, by Tom Perrotta
    This cutting satire of high-school archetypes, stereotypes, and politics centers on a student-body election. Running for office are Tracy Flick, driven overachiever, and Paul Warren, popular football hero persuaded by a teacher to run simply to stop Tracy Flick. Messing things up for everybody is Tammy, Paul’s rebellious, outspoken sister, who decides to run, too. Perrotta clearly cribbed from the zaniness of the 1992 Clinton-Bush-Perot presidential election.

    To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, by Jenny Han
    This book has been presented and marketed as a romantic coming-of-age comic novel, but it’s actually a horror novel. It’s about a girl overcome by undying, all-encompassing crushes that feel like love. Lara Jean Song processes these feelings by writing long, intricate, intimate love letters to the objects of her affection, keeping them in a hatbox instead of sending them. So what’s so bad about that? Somebody takes the letters and mails them, leaving her to deal with the fallout.

    Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli
    Everyone remembers the “weird kid” in high school (or maybe they were the weird kid), the one who didn’t care about fitting in, like everyone else seemed to. What makes them so special, anyway? Are they faking it? Not Stargirl, as she chooses to call herself, at least for awhile. She’s a charming eccentric who’s already got it all figured out, and she likes the quirky clothes she wears, playing the ukulele for strangers, and carting around a pet rat. It’s when she starts worrying about what other people think that the trouble begins.

    Literally, by Lucy Keating
    Literally is a meta, mind-bending book about a practically-perfect-in-every-way girl named Annabelle whose life gets a little confusing when she finds out acclaimed YA author Lucy Keating—as in the author of Literally, the book we’re talking about right now—is writing a book centered on Annabelle. It would seem everything Annabelle knows about her life is wrong, as she’s merely the creation of an author, and may not quite have the free will she thinks she does in this novel that’s stranger than fiction.

    The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
    The Hate U Give is both a literal look at the tough issues some teens face at an age when they should be sheltered from life and death concerns, and an exploration of being torn between powerful and opposite forces. Starr is 16 and lives in a rough neighborhood, but attends a private, predominantly white school far, far away in the suburbs. Her standing in both worlds is threatened after she witnesses a police officer shoot her childhood friend.

    Lock & Key, by Sarah Dessen
    Ruby feels awkward and out of place, but she has a right: she’s a fish-out-of-water several times over. After being abandoned by her mother, she’s sent to live with the rich sister she barely knows, and to navigate a new world. She must learn the fine art of self-reliance while also accepting help when it’s needed.

    Dare Me, by Megan Abbott
    Here’s a book that’s sympathetic to the cheerleaders and mean girls. Dare Me both humanizes and subverts the typical way cheerleaders are written in teen stories, in which they’re almost always the villains, ruling the school with fear and bullying. That seems to have worked just fine for varsity cheerleaders Addy and Beth in the past, until a new coach divides, conquers, and unites them again, even as the police get involved in some very bad, bad things.

    Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
    A high school boy named Clay comes home one day to find a package on his porch filled his cassettes made by a girl named Hannah—an acquaintance and former crush object who recently took her own life. The tapes detail exactly how Hannah arrived at the decision to commit suicide. Clay comes to understand a girl he knew only on a superficial level much more deeply, albeit far too late.

    Twisted, by Laurie Halse Anderson
    Tyler was average in every way, and he was fine with it. Until he does something not-so-average: graffitis the school, gets busted, and has to spend the summer doing physical labor to pay his debt. By the fall, he’s buff and earning attention from girls for the first time. But, while Tyler seems to be becoming a man, he may not be quite ready.

    Slave Day, by Rob Thomas
    Before bringing series like Veronica Mars and iZombie to television, Thomas was a YA author. Slave Day is set in Texas’s Robert E. Lee High school, and centers on a very loaded school activity in which students and faculty auction themselves off as “slaves” to raise money for a dance. Things threaten to come to a head between those who are angered by the practice and those who insist it’s good clean fun.

    The post 50 of the Most Essential High School Stories appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Saskia Lacey 9:00 pm on 2017/06/28 Permalink
    Tags: , YA   

    20 Necessary Reads for Geek-Proud Teens 

    Every nerd worth their salt has a library filled with stories of geeky heroes and heroines. To a true nerd, a well-stocked library is like Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, a place of refuge and renewal. Gain strength from the following books—and give it to the teen reader in your life. They’ll thank you for the hours of bookworm joy.

    An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green
    Colin Singleton is a prodigy with a perennially broken heart. While he can anagram just about any word forty different ways, he’s a dunce when it comes to girls named Katherine. When dumped by his latest love, Katherine XXIX, Colin ditches town with his best friend, hoping to heal his heart by logging major miles on the open road. Along the way, the two friends land in a town named Gutshot, start working for a business that makes tampon strings, and befriend a former girl nerd who has found the secret to popularity—and whose name, fortuitously, is not Katherine.

    The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Arnold Spirit is a teenage cartoonist trying to survive life on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Bullied by his peers and jaded by his lack of options, the brilliant Arnold transfers to a better school off the res. But navigating his new surroundings while trying to maintain old loyalties isn’t easy. Arnold’s razor-sharp wit and basketball skills help him cope, but it’s his courage and scrappy strength that keep him afloat. Alexie’s book is a National Book Award winner that has received infinite praise since its 2007 debut. If you haven’t yet read it, put this book at the tippy-top of your reading list.

    Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell
    From the outside, Eleanor and Park are an odd pair.: she’s the redheaded new girl who’s too busy surviving poverty and a horrible home life to even try to fit in. He’s the son of a happy home but, as one of his school’s few biracial teens, a master of staying under the radar. They should have nothing to do with each other, but find unexpected common ground on the school bus. First they share a seat, then a comic book, then cassette tapes of Joy Division and the Smiths. This instant classic is a Romeo and Juliet set in 1980s Omaha.

    Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
    In Ready Player One, life happens inside the gaming platform OASIS, where people work, play, and go to school. Virtual reality is a relief from the real world, which suffers from massive unemployment, environmental damage, and next-level overpopulation issues. And when the billionaire creator of OASIS, James Halliday, kicks the bucket, people become even more obsessed with the virtual world. Before he died, Halliday built a final, wildly immersive game, and the person who finishes it first will inherit his fortune. Wade Watts, avatar name Parzival, may be a nobody, but he’s determined to win. How, you might ask? With his encyclopedic knowledge of 80s trivia, of course!

    Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson
    Superheroes may save the day, but villains have more fun. Nimona is a crime-loving shapeshifter, a force of chaos. She delights in spreading mischief and mayhem. Her life is missing just one thing: a partner in crime. Enter Lord Ballister Blackheart, a vengeful supervillain. Blackheart and Nimona would be an unbeatable duo, if Nimona could play along. After all, even villains have rules. But aimless destruction, Nimona’s forte, isn’t really a team sport. A graphic novel by Noelle Stevenson, Nimona is a comic powerhouse with a bittersweet backstory and stellar artwork. 

    Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
    Forget what you thought you knew about Frankenstein. The original, penned by Mary Shelley and published in 1818, is darker, stranger, and much, much cooler than any of its successors. Widely considered to be literature’s first science fiction novel, its author was just 21 when the novel was published. If you like your gothic sci-fi with a dash of philosophy, this book might just be your new favorite read.

    The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
    Holden Caulfield has been a friend to generations of adolescents. There’s just something about his voice: its immediacy hooks you right in. The moment you open the book, there he is, complaining about the world and its phonies. Caulfield is real from page one. His story is one of isolation, grief, and longing for connection, making The Catcher in the Rye a must-read for all teens, and a must-reread for adults.

    Youth in Revolt: The Journals of Nick Twisp, by C.D. Payne
    Nick Twisp is a cynical 15-year-old in love with Frank Sinatra, French New Wave cinema, and a girl named Sheeni. Twisp is willing to do pretty much anything to win Sheeni’s affections: Change identities. Get in trouble with the law. Yep, anything. C.D. Payne’s hilarious novel is the first in a seven-part series.

    The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman
    Budding fantasy novel nerds, start here. Pullman’s multiverse is one of the best. In this world, everyone has a daemon, an animal that is the living embodiment of that person’s soul. During childhood, daemons have shapeshifting abilities, but as puberty approaches, they assume a single form, one that represents their human’s true self.  The importance of daemons are at the heart of this gorgeous fantasy adventure series, following intrepid young Lyra Bellacqua, who’s more important than she realizes.

    A Ring of Endless Light, by Madeleine L’Engle
    Madeleine L’Engle is probably most famous for the Time Quintet, which includes A Wrinkle in Time and A Swiftly Tilting Planet. However, she penned another collection that is equally compelling. A Ring of Endless Light is the fourth in the Austin Family series, but can be read as a standalone novel. The greatest selling point of this coming-of-age tale might be its inclusion of human-dolphin telepathy.

    Hamlet, by William Shakespeare
    Ah, Hamlet, the James Dean of the Elizabethan Age. Every tortured soul borrows something from the Prince of Denmark. He is the poster boy of pouting, the man of endless woe. Shakespeare’s play is one of political intrigue, murder, doomed love, and ghosts. Basically, it’s awesome. If that doesn’t convince you, then read it to become well-versed in 16th-century insults, ye pigeon-liver’d fool!

    Franny and Zooey, by J.D. Salinger
    If after reading The Catcher in the Rye, you find yourself craving more Salinger, try Franny and Zooey. The book’s titular characters are former prodigies and siblings, who discuss the meaning of life with an earnest charm that avoids preachiness. Highly recommended for searching young people!

    Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh
    This is technically a kid’s book, but it’s also a primer on how to be a nerd. In other words, Harriet the Spy is mandatory reading no matter your age. The OG of spy kids, Harriet is endlessly interested in the peculiar habits of other people. She muses on the socks of her classmates, the rich neighbor who never gets out of bed, and everything in between. Wherever she goes, Harriet carries her trusty journal, jotting down her observations, some of them not so nice. When her secret spy journal is discovered by her classmates, Harriet becomes a pariah and has to work her way back into everyone’s good graces, without compromising her powerful sense of self.

    The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
    Charlie is used to taking in life from the sidelines. But when he starts high school at a new school, things change, as he becomes friends with people who actually celebrate his strangeness. He’s a rare sort of YA protagonist, one who is deeply curious about the lives of others. So often the coming-of-age genre reflects our self-obsessed natures, championing the desires of the individual above all else. But Chbosky’s hero is different, in the very best way.

    The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath
    Warning: if you haven’t already heard, The Bell Jar is a dark read. Esther Greenwood is a girl who seems to have it all, but during a magazine internship, she begins to fall apart. Greenwood’s telling of her descent varies between comically blunt and hauntingly poetic. No matter the tone, her struggles remain relatable. She is a young woman who hungers for everything and nothing at the same time.

    Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
    A science fiction classic, Card’s novel is about a boy taken from his family and groomed into a master tactician. Andrew Wiggin, “Ender,” is just 6 years old when he enters battle school. But in a few short years, he rises through the ranks to lead the world in the war against the “buggers,” a destructive alien race. When training games start having real-life consequences, Ender is torn. He must choose his own path forward, for better or worse.

    Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer
    Foer’s second novel is about grief and what we do when trying to cope. The book’s protagonist, Oskar Schell, is 9 years old, super smart, and recovering from the loss of his father, who died during the attacks on the World Trade Center. When Oskar finds a strange key, he believes it is a message from his father. The boy begins his hunt, searching all of New York for answers.

    I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
    Another book written long ago and set in what is now the not-so-distant future, Asimov’s work is a series of short stories chronicling the evolution of robots. The book centers around Susan Calvin, a robopsychologist, as she details her history with bots. These chronicles may be different from what you’re used to. They are not stories of violent robo-rebellion. In Asimov’s world, robots are governed by three basic rules: they must not harm humans, they must follow human orders unless the orders cause harm to other humans, and they must protect themselves from harm. But, as Calvin explains, loopholes develop, and that’s when things get interesting.

    That Summer, by Sarah Dessen
    Slouchers unite! Sarah Dessen’s debut novel is a must read for tall girls everywhere. Haven, 15 years old and closing in on six feet, can’t help but wax nostalgic about life before her growth spurt. Especially that one summer when everything was better. The summer when her parents were in love and her moody sister Ashley was actually being nice. Because now Haven’s parents are getting divorced, and her sister has become a bridezilla. If Haven could just find her way back to that summer, all would be well. Or, at least, that’s what she thinks until secrets from that summer come to light.

    The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
    The world is ending. For real. Arthur Dent and his alien best friend need to get off the blue planet ASAP. During his intergalactic travels, Arthur becomes part of a strange crew that includes a sad sack robot and a two-headed former hippie. Filled with looney mischief, Douglas Adams’ novel is unlike anything you’ve read before.

    The post 20 Necessary Reads for Geek-Proud Teens appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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