Teen Book Reviews

Written by Teens (and Teen Librarian Kathleen Breitenbach)

Teen Summer Volunteer Program

Teens who write book reviews for the Library website can earn two hours of volunteer time per book review. Reviews may be edited for length, spelling, grammar, and content, and no guarantee is made that the review will be posted on the website. To sign up to volunteer writing book reviews, or to submit reviews, please email Teen Librarian Kathleen at kbreitenbach@hamiltonnjpl.org.

Criteria for Teen Book Reviews:

  • Please pick a book you haven’t read before, or, if you have read it, please reread to write your review.
  • Books must be in our YA collection or in the teen/YA area of eLibrary (Overdrive/Libby) or Hoopla.
  • Please include title, author, a short summary of important points (or enough information to grab a reader’s attention and interest), and any critical analysis or award/list information (i.e., is the book Own Voices, did it earn an award or an honor, did it make a short list for an award, did you notice any problematic issues in the story or writing?).
  • Not all reviews will be chosen for inclusion on the website.
  • Reviews may be edited for length, spelling, grammar, and content, and the Teen Librarian may send the review back if it does not meet criteria.
  • Posted reviews will be attributed to you with your initials. 
  • If the review does not meet criteria, it will not earn two hours of credit.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, a young Harry Potter discovers his wizarding heritage and is invited to enroll at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry develops close relationships with Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger as he adjusts to his new environment. Together, they set out on a perilous mission to discover the Sorcerer’s Stone’s mysteries—a potent item hidden within the school. With several language translations, the book’s universe has developed a fervent and committed fan base, securing its status as a significant global cultural phenomenon. It is a timeless and enthralling story that carries readers to a world rich in magic, wonder, and exciting adventures. – C.M. (ed. by K.B.)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

In the second book of the Harry Potter series, a house-elf named Dobby warns Harry of imminent peril at Hogwarts and asks him not to return, but he still does. As the school year progresses, odd and unpleasant events occur. Eerie voices come from the walls, Muggle-born students are attacked, and Harry discovers a hidden skill with potentially terrible consequences. Harry, Ron, and Hermione set off on a quest to uncover the elusive Chamber of Secrets, which puts their bravery and loyalty to the test. Harry has no idea that a formidable foe awaits him within the Chamber, setting up a compelling and dangerous showdown that will further test his strength of character and courage. It is a story full of mystery, camaraderie, and bravery, enticing readers with the beautiful world of wizardry and peril that exists within the hallowed halls of Hogwarts. – C.M. (ed. by K.B.)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

In J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third book of the beloved series, we find Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Returning to the magical world, he learns of a dangerous fugitive, Sirius Black, who has escaped from Azkaban, the notorious wizarding prison. Rumors abound that Black seeks revenge on Harry, putting the entire school on high alert. Amidst the turmoil, Harry grapples with the haunting memories of his parent’s tragic death. However, they lead him to his new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Remus Lupin, who was once a friend of Harry’s parents. Harry delves deeper into the past as the book progresses, uncovering mysteries and discovering embellished truths about Black’s connection to his parent’s demise. – C.M. (ed. by K.B.)

Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

In this fantasy book, Nimira, a girl from the land of Tiansher, moves to the country of Lorinar in hopes for a better life and to make her father proud after the death of her mother. However, she becomes a trouser girl, which, although respected in Tianser, is looked down upon in Lorina. When she is given an opportunity to move in with the wealthy Hollin Parry to sing with his automaton, she believes things may be looking better for her. Unfortunately, things are not what they seem to be, secrets are kept from her, and she uncovers a major discovery which could put them all in danger. Throughout the book, Nimira, with the help of others, overcomes the highs and lows of her adventures and discovers true love. – C.O. (ed. by K.B.)

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black follows Jude Duarte, a human girl who gets whisked away to the land of faeries. Jude must navigate deadly political conspiracies and disputes within the treacherous realm. In this perilous atmosphere, she becomes entangled with Prince Cardan, the enigmatic and malevolent heir to the faerie throne. The dynamic between Jude and Cardan adds mystery, depth, and engages readers with their captivating exchanges. The book has also received several accolades within the young adult fantasy genre. – C.M. (ed. by K.B.)

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

In Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief, we meet Percy Jackson, a troubled twelve-year-old boy who discovers he is a demigod. Percy is accused of stealing Zeus’ lightning bolt, which could lead to a devastating war between the gods. Percy embarks on a thrilling mission to clear his name with his friends, the satyr Grover and Annabeth, the daughter of Athena. They meet many magical creatures throughout their extraordinary journey and face tremendous trials that test their courage, wit, and camaraderie. This novel has received significant praise in children’s literature and young adult fiction. It won the Blue Peter Book Award and was named to the American Library Association’s prestigious Best Books for Young Adults list.  – C.M. (ed. by K.B.)

The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson discovers the looming peril facing Camp Half-Blood in Rick Riordan’s The Sea of Monsters. Percy embarks on a dangerous quest to find the mythical Golden Fleece to save his friend Grover and the camp. Percy faces enormous challenges and battles mythological creatures in his persistent quest with the help of his friends Annabeth and Tyson, a cyclops. Readers witness Percy’s growth and personal challenges throughout the novel, further developing him as a realistic and admirable protagonist. The novel crafts a fascinating tapestry of adventure and mythology, keeping lovers eagerly immersed in Percy Jackson’s epic world. – C.M. (ed. by K.B.)

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner by James Dashner immerses readers in a riveting and climactic dystopian thriller. The novel revolves around Thomas, a young boy who wakes up in the Glade, a walled territory, with no knowledge of his history other than his name—trapped with a group of boys, facing the deadly obstacles of an ever-changing maze guarded by nightmarish creatures called Grievers. Thomas must grasp the maze’s enigmas to escape, leading to a suspenseful struggle for survival and the truth. The novel was a New York Times Best Seller and has established itself as a notable work in the dystopian genre.  – C.M. (ed. by K.B.)

The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J Maas

The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas is a compelling collection of prequel novellas set in the bestselling Throne of Glass series. The story follows Celaena Sardothien, an infamous and cunning assassin, in her early exploits. The novellas provide a glimpse into Celaena’s dangerous missions, providing essential insights into her character, motivations, and the complexities of her world. Readers see Celaena’s astonishing transformation from a hardened killer to a renowned figure amid betrayal, politics, and heart-wrenching choices. The Assassin’s Blade lays the foundation for an intriguing voyage into Celaena’s past, enthralling fans and newcomers with its stories and world-building. – C.M. (ed. by K.B.)

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent by Veronica Roth transports readers to a post-apocalyptic world divided into five factions, each devoted to a different virtue. Beatrice Prior, a 16-year-old girl, faces a life-changing decision on her birthday: which group to join? As the story progresses, Beatrice embraces her identity, uncovers society’s dark secrets, and embarks on an exhilarating adventure that tests the fabric of her existence. Divergent was a New York Times Best Seller and received honors in the Goodreads Choice Awards, creating a successful movie series. – C.M. (ed. by K.B.)

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a dystopian novel set in a post-apocalyptic world divided into twelve districts overseen by the repressive Capitol. The Capitol holds the Hunger Games each year, a grueling event in which a boy and a girl, known as “tributes,” are chosen from each district to compete in a lethal televised spectacle. The plot revolves around Katniss Everdeen, a sixteen-year-old girl who serves as a tribute to protect her younger sister, Prim. When thrust into the deadly arena, Katniss must navigate a treacherous environment of survival, betrayal, and moral decisions, each carrying the weight of life or death. – C.M. (ed. by K.B.)

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins’ sequel to The Hunger Games, immerses readers in the dystopian world of Panem with Katniss Everdeen. Katniss and Peeta Mellark, who endured the Hunger Games, have become inadvertent emblems of revolt against the authoritarian Capitol. As the Quarter Quell, the 75th Hunger Games, approaches, President Snow manipulates the deadly tournament to pit previous winners against each other. Katniss and Peeta become enmeshed in a complex web of allegiance and moral quandaries as they struggle to maintain a united front while dealing with inner conflicts. The novel continues to explore themes of positions of power, resistance, and survival, providing a fascinating tale that tugs the readers’ emotions. – C.M. (ed. by K.B.)

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

In Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, Katniss Everdeen learns that safety is still unfathomable after making a harrowing escape from her second Hunger Games. An approaching battle between the Capitol and the Districts threatens to engulf her, leaving her no place to call home and District Thirteen shrouded in secrecy. However, Katniss comes up with a courageous plan to overthrow the repressive Capitol while also dealing with psychological and emotional challenges. While battling for her survival and her people’s freedom, she must negotiate the perilous terrain of responsibility and an uprising. – C.M. (ed. by K.B.)

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

In All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, Violet and Finch find an unexpected connection through their shared struggle with suicidal depression. The two develop a strong friendship after Violet saves Finch from attempting suicide, paving the way for a tender romance. As luck would have it, they are paired up for a class assignment requiring touring well-known Indiana locations. The characters in this poignant story wrestle with issues of mental health, love, grief, and the transforming potential of human connection. It is a tragic but eye-opening tale. – C.M. (ed. by K.B.)

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

The fourth Harry Potter novel begins with Harry and his friends attending the thrilling International Quidditch Cup. Amid the excitement, unexpected intruders wreck the festivities, sparking terror in the spectators. However, when Harry returns to Hogwarts, the school is excited about a unique event called the Triwizard Tournament. The catch is that participants must be at least seventeen years old, but Harry, who is merely fourteen, gets picked against his will. Throughout the perilous journey, he faces enormous trials that put his bravery and resilience to the ultimate test. Harry confronts dark forces and unearths secrets with far-reaching consequences for the wizarding community’s future. – C.M. (ed. by K.B.)

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

In the fifth book of the Harry Potter series, the events take a darker, more harrowing turn. Harry’s problems begin with the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, who despises and ridicules him. While juggling many coursework and exams, he is continually monitored by a group dedicated to protecting him from Lord Voldemort’s threats. Harry’s antics lead him to unexpected circumstances and issues as the school year unfolds. A troubling vision leads him and his friends on a quest to save someone in peril, eventually revealing an unnerving truth. During the quest, they stumble across unexpected guests who attack them, threatening their life and the life of their loved ones. – C.M. (ed. by K.B.)

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer 

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, a mesmerizing young adult novel and New York Times Best Seller, takes readers on an enthralling journey with Bella Swan, a seventeen-year-old who finds herself uprooted in Forks, Washington. As the novel progresses, Bella is drawn to the mysterious and enticing vampire Edward Cullen. Despite the potential dangers, Bella is determined to immerse herself in Edward’s world after he introduces her to his lifestyle and fellow vampire family members. Their love story unfolds within a forbidden romance intertwined with the ever-present threat of other supernatural beings. Twilight effortlessly combines aspects of romance, suspense, and fantasy, making it an intriguing read for fans of all genres. With its iconic reputation, the book and its award-winning movie have undoubtedly captivated a generation of readers and made an indelible mark on popular culture. It’s a classic and a book everyone should experience. – C.M. (ed. by KB)

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway is a National Book Award Finalist which follows the journey of three biological siblings – Grace, Joaquin, and Maya – finding their ways back to each other. Although Grace was adopted at birth and raised as an only child, and Maya was adopted into a family with one other daughter only thirteen months younger than Maya, Joaquin was never adopted, leaving him with a more pessimistic view of family and love. Despite their backgrounds, each sibling has their own life-changing events – such as getting pregnant at sixteen, having an alcoholic mother, and going through breakups with their significant others – through which the siblings grow closer to one another. Through their trials in life and quests to find each other, Grace, Joaquin, and Maya learn that when all else fails, they can always come back to both their biological and adopted families. – C.O. (ed. by KB)

We Speak In Storms by Natalie Lund

We Speak In Storms by Natalie Lund is an intriguing book which takes place in Mercer, Illinois – a town most famous for a tornado which occurred fifty years prior at a drive-in movie and killed almost all the teens in the town. Exactly fifty years later, another tornado hits nearly the same spot causing speculation and rumors to arise in the town. However, Brenna Ortiz, Calllie Keller, and Joshua Calloway seem to be the most affected by this occurrence. Although none of the teens have anything in common besides going to the same school and struggling with issues in both their school and personal lives, they decide to work together to figure out what is happening. With the help of unexpected visitors, the teens work together to resolve both their issues and their new friends. Throughout the book, Brenna, Callie, and Joshua learn new lessons to help them cope with their own lives as well as teach lessons to help others struggling in the same way they are. – C.O. (ed. by KB)

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Twilight, written by Stephenie Meyer, is a novel that captures the forbidden romance of Edward Cullen and Bella Swan. This passionate, admirable, and twisted love story begins when Bella comes to live with her father in the small, rainy town of Forks, Washington. There she meets Edward, the 104 year old vampire who desperately craves her blood. Bella eventually uncovers the truth about Edward and his family, all while falling inevitably in love with him. Their complicated and controversial love creates many problems and puts them in dangerous situations. This book is the first of 7 books in the Twilight series and it won an award for Best Books for Young Adults. It was also made into a movie that won many awards. I loved this novel and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a thrilling, heartfelt romance. – E.M. (ed. by KB)

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This American classic of historical fiction is set in 1924, in the wealthy area of Long Island, New York. Told through the eyes of Nick Carraway, a wealthy young scholar from Minnesota who moved to the West Egg district in 1924, the book explores the story of his rich and luxurious neighbor, Jay Gatsby, whose nightly house parties are as bright as his backstory is dark. Through Gatsby’s highs and lows, though, he pursues an old love of his that he wants to connect with again, and the fact that the woman is married, and a friend of Nick’s, puts him in a difficult, and interesting, situation. – A.C. (ed. by KB)

We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal

We Free the Stars picks up where Zafira and the zumra (gang) leave off in We Hunt the Flame; they are finally off of Sharr – well most of them are. Their journey is nowhere near over because there are more threats against the fate of magic than ever before! With the vengeful lion’s intentions clear, the zumra have their work cut out for them. They must protect and restore the magic that runs through the hearts of the Six Sisters of the Old. Now that they are back on the mainland, Zafira and Nasir also have to confront the people and issues they left behind when they journeyed for Sharr. Will our beloved zumra restore magic, or will they let their troubles tear them apart? Find out in the second book in the Sands of Arawiya duology! – M.E. (ed. by KB)

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Emoni Santiago loves to cook; it’s her way of escaping all her responsibilities as both a mother and a senior in high school. Her mom died giving birth to her, her dad left her to be raised by her ‘Buela, and she gave birth to her daughter, Emma, when she was a freshman in high school, so she never really had the easiest life. With her grandma’s help, she has been able to go to school and raise her daughter, although she can barely afford it. During her senior year, Emoni has to make decisions such as whether or not she should join a culinary class, go to Spain, go to college, or apprentice at different restaurants. Throughout the book, she struggles to make the best decisions for herself and her family, learns to have faith, creates new relationships, and tries to fix old ones. – C.C. (ed by KB)

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

Marjane Satrapi narrates her childhood while living in Iran leading up to, during, and after the Islamic Revolution. She writes about being a young, rebellious Iranian girl, the deaths of people who she was close with, the constant bombings, the destruction of her city, and having to leave her parents in hopes of a better future for herself. The life-threatening and difficult rules, events, and changes that Marjane recounts gives you an idea of what life was like for the many children living in a warring country during those times. – C.C. (ed. by KB)

Soulless by Gail Carriger

In a Victorian London where werewolves and vampires coexist, Alexia Tarabotti seems to be dragged into all of their messes, especially those of Lord Conall Maccons, head of the werewolves. Although she appears to be human, Alexia is secretly not. However, as problems begin to increase, Alexia must fend for herself in a world full of danger, with the help of werewolves, vampires, parasols, and tea. Alexia tags along with Lord Maccon and his crew to find out who’s really behind it all. This novel is the first of the Parasol Protectorate series. If you’re looking for a novel with supernatural elements and mystery, this is the novel for you! – Anonymous (ed. by KB)

Sprout by Dale Peck

Sprout has a dilemma. His mother recently died from cancer, his father’s a mess, and now this city boy from New York is supposed to fit in at school in the middle of Kansas? He enters a statewide essay contest and copes with the fact that some people just won’t accept him after his past relationships and struggles with others. Sprout narrates his memories and decides whether he’ll keep his secret hidden or open up to the public. This is a coming of age novel and is a good example of how someone like Sprout struggles with others because of their background, actions, or orientation, but figure out what’s best for themselves through it all. Sprout is a funny and compelling novel for young adults, so try it out! – Anonymous (ed. by KB)

Mice by Gordon Reece

Shelley’s been through hard times. She’s been bullied, pushed around, and beaten ruthlessly by others at her school. Now, though, she’s living in the countryside away from everyone in a tiny cottage, with a new, fresh start to her life. She thinks she’s alone, but there’s another presence in her house. Shelley and her mother are forced to live like mice, in fear of their lives at all times. This horror novel is chilling yet keeps you interested as it progresses. The innocent Shelley turns out to become something else. – Anonymous (ed. by KB)

Every Single Second by Tricia Springstubb

Life is like a clock. At first, it’s awfully slow and takes forever, but you realize that you’re losing track of time. At 12 years old, Nella Sabatini thinks her life is going too fast. Change is coming from every corner and Nella is doing her best to adjust. This coming of age novel features small, but enthralling vignettes. This story is quick-paced and short, making it an easy read. Although it is short, some vignettes being only a few sentences long, the words are strong and impactful and sometimes include small illustrations. This novel is perfect if you’re looking for a light read. Before you read, however, be aware that this novel will keep you booked! – Anonymous (ed. by KB)

Sherlock Holmes, the Complete Series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Any mystery reader knows that the Sherlock Holmes stories are classics. As Dr. John Watson and the intelligent detective Sherlock Holmes, who has many strange ways to solve a mystery, travel through Europe to tackle crimes. Although there are individual novels, this novel takes all the smaller novels and combines them into one. This novel may be long, but it saves you from having to get each novel from the series. So if you’re not sure what to read next, this ought to solve the mystery! – Anonymous (ed. by KB)

The Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Christopher Boone’s life is going pretty well. Chris will be attending a university that no one else at his school got, and he’s literally a math whiz. So what’s the problem? After a few incidents revolving around his neighbor’s dog, Christopher is arrested for the wrong reasons. He then takes it upon himself to investigate what really happened, coming across some cold hard truths that he must face. This novel is captivating yet appealing at the same time. If you are looking for a novel with a big plot twist, add this to your reading list! – Anonymous (ed. by KB)

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

The first book in a fantasy duology, We Hunt the Flame follows Zafira bint Iskandar, who’s known throughout the kingdom of Arawiya as The Hunter. She travels through the Arz, a forest no one else has ever survived with their sanity. One day, she gets an invitation from the Silver Witch she cannot turn down. She is to travel to Sharr to help restore magic throughout the kingdom. Little does she know, Prince Nasir, son of the Sultan, has been given a similar mission, and their fates collide. As they set out on their journey, the future of Arawiya is left in the hands of the Hunter, a troubled prince, and the friends they made along the way. Throughout the book, the characters develop tremendously they fight through their insecurities, haunted pasts, and biggest fears. The amusing banter between the characters brings them to life as they connect and learn about one another. The twists throughout their journey make it hard to put the book down, so be ready for everything and anything! – M.E. (ed. by KB)

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

This classic novel, which won the author a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1983, is the story of a group of British schoolboys whose plane gets shot down over a deserted island during wartime. Without any adults to look after them, Ralph, the protagonist, and Piggy, his new friend, gather all of the boys on the island to one place to decide what to do. There, Ralph is elected their leader and put in charge of governing the island and keeping the peace. However, before any civilization can be built, the group put in charge of hunting for food, led by a boy named Jack, begins to exhibit savage behavior. Ralph quickly becomes wrapped up in a battle to keep civility on the island as opposed to Jack’s savagery, and the paranoia of what else might plague the island. As the line is drawn in the sand and the group becomes divided, chaos and even bloodshed ensue in an ever-escalating conflict that reflects a quite possible dystopian world. – A.C. (ed. by KB)

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo 

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo is an intriguing book which has won the National Book Award. Xiomara Batista is a 15 year old girl who loves to write poetry. Her twin brother, Xavier, has always been smaller and weaker than her so, she has always fought and stood up for him towards bullies. Because of this, Xavier is seen as the good child while Xiomara is seen as the difficult, rebellious child. Her mom is very religious and wants Xiomara to take the Catholic Confirmation, but Xiomara doesn’t want to take the sacrament; in fact, she doesn’t really believe in God, but she is scared of her mother so continues to go to the confirmation classes. At school, she meets a boy whom she is partnered with for a lab project. They have a mutual interest in music and slowly begin to fall in love, but Xiomara knows her mother will react badly if she sees her with a boy, so she writes down all her feelings in the form of poetry. Her poems express her feelings toward her mom, her crush, her brother, her absent-minded dad, and her true thoughts on religion. Throughout the book, she decides to take some chances, faces many consequences, learns a secret about her brother, and fights with her mother over her passion for poetry. – C.O. (ed. by KB)

The Approaching Storm by Alan Dean Foster

This Star Wars novel is set just before the events of Attack of the Clones, on the troubled world of Ansion. With the risk of Ansion seceding from the Republic, four Jedi are sent to make a last effort to change the mind of the government. Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Luminara Unduli, and Barriss Offee face many challenges in their quest from bounty hunters, crime lords, and even the planet’s wildlife. In addition, the four of them don’t have much time until voting day, when the final decision will be made. It’s a race against the clock for the Jedi to achieve their goal, and survive their mission in this great novel filled with excitement. – AC (ed. by KB)

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

In the fourth book of the Harry Potter series, Harry, Hermione, and the Weasley family attend the International Quidditch Cup. Everything seems to be going well until a group of uninvited guests appear and cause panic in the crowds. When Harry goes back to Hogwarts, the whole school is informed of a new event that has not been held for a hundred years. The only problem is participants have to be at least seventeen years old, but Harry is only fourteen. Somehow, Harry’s name is drawn and he becomes a participant, and during this tournament, he uncovers a terrible truth that the wizard world is not ready to accept. – Caitlyn O. (ed. by KB)

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

In the fifth book of the Harry Potter series, Harry experiences his worst year yet at Hogwarts. Besides nearly getting expelled, having to put up with a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher who clearly dislikes him, and having a large amount of homework and exams, Harry learns he is constantly being watched and followed by a group of people who are trying to protect him from Lord Voldemort. As the year goes on, Harry lands himself into more trouble and has to put up with even more problems. When Harry has a vision that someone he knows is in trouble, Harry and his friends set out to find him. They soon realize the truth about what happened and are attacked by unexpected visitors. In the end, Dumbledore finally tells Harry something he has been longing to tell him for five years. – Caitlyn O. (ed. by KB)

Plague by Michael Grant

This is the fourth book in the Gone series. The horror continues to grow as a deadly illness spreads rapidly through the town. As if that isn’t bad enough, huge monstrous insects terrorize the kids as well. The town is overrun, and some kids attempt to find a new place to rebuild, but hope is diminished as they face more and more supernatural challenges. – Julia C. (ed. by KB)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is the first book in the Harry Potter series. Eleven year old Harry Potter learns a shocking secret his aunt and uncle have been hiding from him: he is a wizard. He also hears about how he got his scar on his forehead and what it means. Shortly after he learns this, Harry starts his education at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, a school for young wizards. During his first year, Harry and his new friends, Ron and Hermione, set out to find the Sorcerer’s Stone. In the end, Harry meets an unexpected but unpleasant surprise. – Caitlyn O. (ed. by KB)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

In the second book of the Harry Potter series, Harry is warned by a house-elf named Dobby that there is danger at Hogwarts, and he should not return. Despite Dobby’s attempts to keep Harry safe at home, Harry goes back to school. Throughout the year, a series of unexpected things happen. Harry hears voices coming from what seems to be inside the walls, Muggle-born students are constantly being attacked, and Harry discovers a hidden talent of his that could possibly mean terrible news. After the whole school comes across a horrifying message written in blood, Harry, Ron, and Hermione search for the Chamber of Secrets. What Harry doesn’t know is that someone very dangerous is waiting for him inside the Chamber. – Caitlyn O. (ed. by KB)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

In the third book of the Harry Potter series, the whole wizarding world is on the lookout for an escaped prisoner who is said to have worked with Lord Voldemort, helped kill Harry’s parents, and is now searching for Harry. Because of this, Hogwarts is being patrolled by dementors, creatures that suck the happiness out of people. Harry and his friends hunt for the runaway murderer and learn that some people are not who they seem to be. – Caitlyn O. (ed. by KB)

Shatterpoint by Matthew Stover

This Star Wars novel set before Revenge of the Sith tells of one of the most skilled and famed Jedi in the Order: Mace Windu. In this story, Mace returns to his childhood home of Haruun Kal on a dangerous mission. Not only must he expel the enemy forces from the planet, but he must find his missing padawan, Depa Billaba, and most terrifying of all, the only evidence Mace has to go on is an audio recording of a brutal killing featuring Depa’s own voice. Windu faces haunting memories of his childhood and frightening adversaries all on his own in this excellent novel unlike anything seen in the movies. – AC (ed. by KB)

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins 

After winning the Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta return home safely. Everything in district 12 has changed, including Katniss’s relationship with Gale. Although her feelings for him were unresolved, Katniss and Peeta must pretend to be an item. While continuing their victory tour, President Snow threatens her to convince Panem that her stunt of pulling out the poisonous berries was an act of love and not defiance as it has caused a rebellion throughout the area. He then decides to change up the rules for the 75th hunger games to show that he is still very much in control. – AS (ed. by KB)

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon 

After receiving news that her family is going to be deported from the United States for being undocumented immigrants, 17 year old Natasha searches for help for her family’s situation. At the same time, another teen named Daniel gets a haircut before his college admissions interview for Yale, which isn’t his choice for schools, but his parents’. Natasha and Daniel meet and spend the rest of the day together, learning many things about each other like their likes and dislikes. Ultimately Daniel decides not to listen to his family about school, while Natasha decides to look for something bigger in life. Having to leave the US, Natasha and Daniel lose contact, but ten years later, while on a plane back to America, she notices Daniel and they immediately recognize each other. – AS (ed. by KB)

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Waking up inside a metal box with no memory of who he is, Thomas is surrounded by young boys and very high walls in a place called the Glade. After becoming a part of the group, Thomas breaks a rule by running into the Maze to help save another boy named Alby who was stung by a monster, and Minho who was attempting to get him back into the glades. They all find themselves trapped outside the maze at night. Surviving the night, Thomas is sentenced to one day in the Glade jail, after which he is put as a runner trainee and starts training with Minho. With the help of a friend named Teresa who shares a telepathic link with him, Thomas tries to convince his cohorts that he found a way out. – AS (ed. by KB)

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Through his journey through prep school, meeting new people, and changing phases, Holden Caufield realizes what he really lost, his innocence, that was taken away from him as he is suddenly thrown into the world of adults. This classic novel is worth one’s time to be read to its fullest. -Anonymous (ed. by KB)

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan 

Zeus will declare war on Poseidon if his master lightning bolt is not returned to Mount Olympus by the Summer Solstice, so a 12-year-old boy named Percy Jackson sets out on a dangerous quest to retrieve it. With the help of a satyr and a daughter of Athena, they take a ride from New York to Los Angeles where the gates to the Underworld are located. They encounter and battle several monsters like Medusa who try to stop him. After nearly fighting to his death, Percy soon finds out that his friend was the original thief of the master bolt and had left him to die after leaving a deadly scorpion to sting him. – AS (ed. by KB)

The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

After finding out Thalia’s tree had been poisoned, the protective borders of Camp Half-Blood begin to fail. Percy Jackson and his friends once again set off on a quest to find a magical item that is powerful enough to save his camp from monsters. Sailing into the Sea of Monsters, Percy’s old friend Grover gets into danger, which leads Percy into a risky rescue operation. Being the son of Poseidon must’ve been an honor, but after unveiling a secret about his own family, Percy questions if being a part of this family is a curse. – AS (ed. by KB)

Insurgent by Veronica Roth 

While on the run from Jeanine and the Erudites, Four and Tris face multiple challenges while searching for answers to what happened in Chicago. She questions why her family risked their lives and why Erudites chose their own course. Eventually, Four and Tris unravel the secrets of the past and find out the future of the world. – AS (ed. by KB)

Castle of Lies by Kiersi Burkhart

Thelia has spent her whole life scheming to get on the throne, but when the Elven army invades the kingdom and captures the castle, Thelia, Bayled, and Parsifal risk their lives to fight them. One of the elven warriors, Sapphire, decides to risk everything to help the humans when they realize that humans are not the animals they expected. The danger continues to escalate as an unstable well of magic is discovered under the castle. -Jessica (ed. by KB)

Lies by Michael Grant

In this third book in the Gone series, the world of Perdido Beach continues to get even stranger. There are rumors of communication with the outside world, but no one knows who to trust, especially when some dead kids start coming back among the living. The town goes up in flames as battles rage and kids start to consider death as a much needed escape. – Julia C (ed. by KB)

Star Wars: Tatooine Ghost by Troy Denning

This novel, set after Return of the Jedi, follows Han Solo and Leia Organa as they venture back to the infamous desert planet. There, they hope to find a long-lost painting that contains a hidden secret crucial to the integrity of the New Republic. As allies and foes alike bid for it at auction, a battle breaks out, and the painting is captured by what is left of the Empire. Desperate to get it back before the hidden secret within is found, the franchise’s most famous characters undertake a daring mission to get it back. The novel is packed with perfectly-spaced twists and action all throughout, and its moving pace perfectly suits a unique and interesting plot. – AC (ed. by KB)

Warcross by Marie Lu

Warcross is more than just a game to most people, it’s an experience, a lifestyle,  a world-wide phenomenon with fully immersive technology and infinite possibilities, and it was all started ten years prior by now-billionaire, Hideo Tanaka. Emika Chen is a prodigious hacker struggling to stay afloat as a bounty hunter in this dystopian society. While watching the biggest event of the year, the international Warcross Championships, Emika accidentally glitches herself into the game, for the entire world to see. Her life is turned upside down when Tanaka himself calls her with an unrefusable offer that brings her to Tokyo, right in the middle of a sinister plot with consequences that stretch outside of the game into the real world. Caught in the middle of her new life of fame and fortune, Emika forges friendships, falls in love, and fights to keep her life and relationships intact in this thrilling page turner that will keep you guessing until the very end. -bella k (ed. by KB)

The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J Maas

This collection of five novellas serve as a prequel to Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series, and allow for a peek into Celaena’s life as she became the kingdom’s most infamous assassin. While the novel follows Celaena as she maneuvers around pirates, frees slaves, enters a scorching desert, and tiptoes carefully in the Assassin’s Guild, all while meeting characters and building relationships with the characters we know and love in the original series, the novellas explain how Celaena became who she is, and showcases her relationship with fellow assassin Sam. The race to escape her master’s clutches and her own evolution is shown in Celaena’s history as she delves into her deadly world headfirst. This collection features five specific journeys which have compounding implications in the later books, and are the perfect introduction into the world of Celaena Sardothien. -bella k (ed. by KB)

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Part of the bestselling Mortal Instruments series, Clockwork Angel follows the paths of Shadowhunters and Downworlders in the year 1878 as they discover the true reach of London’s supernatural mysteries. Per her brother’s request,Tessa Gray travels to London where she is promptly kidnapped by two terrifying women who force her to unveil a power she never knew she had. Rescued by Shadowhunters, she meets the charming but moody Will Herondale, his partner and friend Jem Carstairs, and their acquaintances as she attempts to rescue her brother and accept the truth of her own existence. Tessa gets caught between the two boys she loves as she and her new allies are pitted against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of demons, vampires, werewolves, warlocks, and humans, their mechanical creatures, and their sinister vendetta. She must trek through secrets, betrayals, and lies in order to stop the Pandemonium Club from overtaking London with strange clockwork creatures. The struggles of the time period are reflected in the plot in a way that seamlessly overlaps 19th century London with the mysterious supernatural underworld, leaving readers fully immersed in the story. -bella k (ed. by KB)

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

The second book of the #1 New York Times bestselling Infernal Devices trilogy, Clockwork Prince follows the aftermath of betrayal as Tessa and her allies attempt to locate the elusive Magister, leader of the Pandemonium Club, before his plans come to fruition and his clockwork monsters overcome London. The book highlights the struggles of women in the 1800s as Charlotte attempts to hold her position as leader of the London Institute, and the darkest sides of love as Will’s heart is revealed, and Jem and Tessa grow closer. Secrets are uncovered  and Tessa struggles to discover her true identity as the Magister’s deadly threat looms above London. Characters delve even deeper into the supernatural underworld and attempt to rise again unscathed, in the face of corruption, lies, and love. It’s an incredibly well- written follow-up to Clockwork Angel that leaves readers on the edge of their seats, rolling from shock when all is revealed.  -bella k (ed. by KB)

The Giver by Louis Lowry

A young boy named Jonas lives in a futuristic society where there is no such thing as fear, hatred, war, or pain. Everyone acts the same, and there’s no competition over anything. At the age of twelve, every member of the community is assigned a job based on their abilities and interests, and Jonas is given the highly respected assignment as the Receiver of Memory. As the Receiver, he must be given the memories of the past, good or bad to ensure the community doesn’t make mistakes like those ever again. The Giver and Jonas want to change the community and bring joy back. When Gabriel, a newborn child who has trouble sleeping and will soon be released (which is another word for death), Jonas steals his father’s bike and sets off with Gabriel into a landscape of color where he will soon be safe again. -A.S. (ed. by KB)

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Hazel Grace Lancaster has a meet-cute with Augustus Waters in a cancer patient support group. Hazel has been actively battling cancer for the past 3 years, while Augustus is going through remission from a tumor in his leg. After bonding, they both go to Amsterdam to find the author of their favorite book, ‘An Imperial Affliction,’ where they learn that life, with or without cancer, is hard in general. This book makes you think about how valuable love is, how short life can be, and how one person can change your life in the simplest way possible. -A.S. (ed. by KB)

Hunger by Michael Grant

This sequel to Gone takes place three months after the events of the first book. With no sign of escape from their mysterious new world, the kids of Perdido Beach are increasingly desperate. They are running out of food, and ideas of right and wrong are dissolving quickly. Kids grow resentful and even murderous. Even scarier, a sinister creature is reaching out to some kids and manipulating them. In order to survive against the odds, they must summon all of their courage and make impossible decisions. – Julia C. (ed. by KB)

The Boy who Harnessed the Wind by Bryan Mealer and William Kamkwamba

After being thrown out of school in Malawi for inability to pay tuition, William Kamkwamba tries to prove to his community that science is the way to save the world. During his free time, he works on trying to build a windmill to produce electricity. No one in his community had ever heard of such a thing. The one thing William needed to finish his project was his father’s bike, but since he still needed it to get from place to place, his dad was hesitant. Eventually, his dad gave William permission to use the bike, and he was able to get the windmill working. -A.S. (ed. by KB)

Kamisama Kiss (Volume One) by Julietta Suzuki:

Ditched by her gambling-addict father and evicted from their shared apartment, 16 year old Nanami Momozono is forced out onto the streets until the fateful day she saves a man from a dog and the man offers her his own house in gratitude. Nanami is thrown into the world of the supernatural when the man’s house turns out to be a rundown shrine, and Nanami has been appointed the new land god. Nanami is left to traverse her new status as god with the help of the shrine’s other inhabitants: two spirits and a fox familiar. – Anonymous (ed. by KB)

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven 

Popular girl Violet and “school freak” Finch bond over shared suicidal depression. After Violet talks Finch down on his suicide attempt, they begin to develop a romance. They are then paired up during a class project to visit famous sites around Indiana. Eventually, Finch succumbs to his mental illness. Violet feels guilty about Finch’s death, but her feelings abate after solving clues from text messages and finding a song that Finch had written for her. -A.S. (ed. by KB)

People Like Us by Dana Mele

Kay Donovan has left her dark past behind her and reinvented herself as a popular soccer star at her elite boarding school, but that life starts to collapse when the body of one of her classmates is found in a lake. The victim left Kay a scavenger hunt that begins revealing secrets and implicating multiple murder suspects, including Kay herself. Friends turn against each other and the police are increasingly suspicious, but Kay will do whatever it takes to survive. -Jessica (ed. by KB)

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 

Starr Carter is 16 years old and lives with her family in a predominantly black neighborhood, but she attends a private school with mostly white students. When she attends a party with her friend Kenya, a gunfight breaks out on the dancefloor, and Starr flees the scene with her childhood best friend, Khalil. Driving home, Khalil is pulled over due to a broken taillight and is shot and killed by police for opening his door. Angry over Khalil’s death, Starr speaks out, searching for justice for her friend’s murder. After several protests yield no arrest for the officer, riots break out around town. Starr continues to fight for however long it takes to bring justice for Khalil, and she makes a promise to him to never stay silent. -A.S. (ed. by KB)

First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung

Loung Ung was just five years old when the Khmer Rouge took power in Cambodia and she was forced to work. The Cambodian Genocide of 1975-1979 was an attempt by te Khmer Rouge to create a classless agrarian society, which ultimately collapsed when Vietnam invaded. Loung Ung and her family began a four year journey, forced to move from one campsite to another, pretending to be peasants, until her father was recognized and the family was separated. -A.S. (ed. by KB)

The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson

The life of Princess Anthia of Rhodaire drastically changes the night the Illucian empire invades, killing her mother and destroying everything. She and her sister, Caliza, begin planning a dangerous rebellion after Anthia is forced to marry an Illucian prince. When she stumbles upon a crow egg, she believes she can bring back the magical elemental crows that were taken from her people, but she must be careful, because if her plan is discovered it will all fall apart, and it’s hard enough to keep hope alive. – Jessica (ed. by KB)

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Madeline Whittier, an 18-year-old girl who suffers from severe combined immunodeficiency, is practically confined in her own home. Being allergic to almost everything in the outside world and with only the four walls that protect her, Madeline begins to take notice of the teenage boy who moved in next door. Olly’s bedroom window is directly across from hers, and they develop a bond through signs and online messaging. When love between them grows, they risk everything to be with each other. – A.S. (ed. by KB)

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

After Katniss Everdeen is rescued from her second Hunger Games, she learns that she still isn’t safe. Her home has been destroyed, District Thirteen exists in secret, and a war is brewing between the Capitol and the Districts with her unknowingly at the center, but now Katniss is expected to be a willing pawn in the war and accept responsibility for many lives. She plots to take down the Capitol, while managing her own mental and emotional issues. – Jessica (ed. by KB)

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Jude is a human trying to find a place for herself in the High Court of Faerie, a magical but dangerous place that looks down on humans. To fit in, she will have to defy royalty and even her own family. When Jude begins to uncover a massive coup that could change the history of Faerie, she sees her chance to finally rise to the top. But first she has to survive the world of spies and poison, where one wrong move could bring it all crashing down on her. – Julia C (ed. by KB)

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

The basis for the movie Love, Simon, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda follows Simon Spier, a high school junior in an Atlanta suburb, as he anonymously posts to high school gossip blog Creek Secrets that he is gay. Quickly, he gets a response from another closeted gay kid at his school, but even as they fall for each other, they’re unaware of the other’s identity. Suddenly Simon’s looking at all of the guys around him to figure out who the pseudonymous Blue really is. Amid high school hijinx, blackmail from a classmate, and one epic ride on a Ferris Wheel, Simon realizes that maybe Blue was closer than he thought. This novel also won the Morris Award for Best YA Debut Book. – KB

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Maddy is a teenager stuck inside, unable to leave her house because of the severity and exhausting number of her allergies. The only people she sees are her mom (who is also her doctor), and her nurse. She goes to school online, and the only clothes her mom buys for her are all white. Every day feels the same, until Olly moves in next door. He doesn’t know her history, and at first they communicate with signs and notes, but gradually they fall for each other. Maddy starts buying clothes with color, rebelling in bigger and bigger ways until she uses her mom’s credit card to buy plane tickets to Hawaii for herself and Olly. She knows stepping outside the door could be deadly, but she’s ready to take a step. Neither of them could imagine what happens when Maddy finally leaves the house. This novel was made into a movie by the same name. – KB

Divergent by Veronica Roth 

In a society that divides everyone into one of five factions, 16 year old Beatrice Prior tests for something outside of those categories and is, in fact, Divergent, and to be Divergent is dangerous. Tris uncovers a secret about a looming war between two of the factions, and as her world shifts, she must figure out how to save the people she loves. -A.S. (ed. by KB)

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

In a world of prodigies, normal humans each with their own unique superpower, the Renegades emerged from the wreckage of the Age of Anarchy when Ace Anarchy started a revolution of chaos and bloodshed before he was defeated by the heroes, the Renegades, and order was restored. However to Nova, Ace’s niece, not all things are as simple as they may seem. She plans with the remaining Anarchists to take down the Renegades once and for all, but in order to do that she must get closer to them and gain their trust without revealing her identity as the villain Nightmare. This book is from a unique perspective and allows itself to blur the lines between hero and villain. -bella k (ed. by KB)

Archenemies by Marissa Meyer

In the second book of the Renegades trilogy, Nova delves deeper into the heart of the Renegades in order to fulfill one of her most daring escapades yet. The Anarchists are out for vengeance and the city’s trust in their esteemed Renegades begins to waver as Nova and Adrian grapple to retain what they know about right and wrong. Focusing more on the morals rooted behind the development of a very controversial Agent N, secrets are revealed, betrayals take place, and trust is shattered as the vendettas of both the heroes and the villains start to take shape. -bella k (ed. by KB)

Supernova by Marissa Meyer

In this final installment of the Renegades trilogy, every lie, half-truth, and betrayal is revealed as the city rests on the edge of destruction and war between villains and heroes. Adrian and Nova must get past their differences in order to unite their teams for the greater good or risk a second Age of Anarchy. Nova is caught between her family and the narrative she’s been familiar with for a decade, and her new family and the trust they’ve unknowingly put in her. As the story unravels, readers will find out the shocking truth. It is a satisfying ending to an action-packed trilogy with the classic enemies to lovers trope with a twist, a unique perspective on the classic heroes versus villains idea, and exceptional character development, while also making readers question the societal norms and social constructs surrounding them as they reform their morals and decide for themselves: is the definition of strictly villain and hero, good and evil,  a truly tangible idea?  -bella k (ed. by KB)

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Katniss Everdeen volunteered to take the place of her younger sister as a contestant on her country’s mandatory fight to the death, a yearly ordeal known as the Hunger Games. She has nothing but her skills in hunting and her instincts, and the only objective is to survive and either kill or be killed. There can only be one victor. -A.S. (ed. by KB)

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Katniss and Peeta have returned home alive against all the odds, but she struggles to maintain relationships with both Gale and Peeta, and, even worse, there are rumors of a rebellion against the Capitol that Katniss unknowingly helped create. Now she fears she cannot stop the unrest, and isn’t even sure she should try. The stakes are higher than ever, and every choice could be the difference between life and death. -Jessica (ed. by KB)

Thrawn by Timothy Zahn

This Star Wars novel, set before the events of A New Hope, explores the origins of one of the franchise’s greatest villains to date. After being rescued from exile by the Empire and enlisting in their ranks, Thrawn proves to be an extraordinary warrior and strategist, catching the eye of the Emperor himself, and proving himself to be as great an ally as Darth Vader. As he demonstrates his combat proficiency and rises through the Empire’s ranks, however, Thrawn finds out that there are greater challenges than he’s faced yet, in both new allies and dangerous enemies. – AC (ed. by KB)

Gone by Michael Grant

When all the adults in the small town of Perdido Beach suddenly disappear, the lives of the children are thrown into chaos. Trapped in a world of horrors, they begin to fight amongst themselves for power and resources, with some of the kids realizing that they’ve developed supernatural abilities. Matters get worse as some kids realize they have new supernatural powers. As sides are chosen and war seems imminent, a mysterious force of unspeakable evil begins to emerge. – Julia C. (ed. by KB)

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

As a prequel to the original Hunger Games trilogy, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes follows future president of Panem, Coriolanus Snow, through the now-forgotten events of the 10th Hunger Games. He finds himself sitting perilously on the edge of poverty, the fault lines in his fragile facade about to give way, when fate throws him in the path of the hypnotizing District 12 tribute, Lucy Gray. The novel follows the intermingling paths and inevitable fates of Lucy and Coriolanus as together they reveal the true meaning behind the games themselves. The carefully chosen words and unique perspective of the novel achieves its goal in giving the readers a glimpse into the mind of a cleverly crafted antagonist. Small details show how the original trilogy’s Panem came to be. This book is compelling because it begins with Snow’s charismatic facade intact and readers are drawn in to this illusion just as the other characters in the book are, but as the novel continues, his facade continues to crack, his true self shines through, and all that is left is the monstrous image of a cowardly boy grasping at control at the price of his own morality. – Bella K (ed. by KB)

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

When Corey returns to her hometown of Lost Creek, Alaska, she has to unravel the mystery behind her best friend Kyra’s sudden death while attempting to get out of the town unscathed herself. This emotional novel deals with the frustration of being misunderstood in an unaccepting society, while also covering the topics of suicide, bipolar disorder, and grief. The foreshadowing and small metaphors hidden inside the novel all correlate to a larger meaning, and it’s so carefully constructed that you won’t be able to put this novel down until you finish it. The novel itself only spans the course of a few days, but it manages to encompass a powerful metaphor about the stigmas behind mental illnesses and the danger that comes from the misinformation surrounding them in our modern world. It’s a perfectly constructed novel about important societal issues hidden under the guise of a story about an unbreakable bond in a fraying friendship between two young girls figuring out who they want to be in life. – Bella K (ed. by KB)

Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

Mara is a girl with a secret that refuses to stay buried. The memories that plague her worsen as her twin brother Owen is accused of rape by his girlfriend Hannah. Emotions swirl as Mara unravels who she should believe, her brother who needs her, or her best friend who would never lie like this. Mara’s trust is shattered so suddenly and completely that she struggles to pick up the pieces alone without falling apart herself. Powerful themes of sexuality, sexual assault, and victim-blaming are prevalent in this novel as each character decides who they want to be in life while simultaneously discovering the consequence of rape culture on the lives of victims in modern society. Readers will find themselves witnessing the effects of sexual assault on an entire community, while also learning about misogyny, sexual identity, and rape culture. This novel is so compellingly beautiful that it encourages teenagers to begin using their own platforms to fight back against these harmful societal norms. – Bella K (ed. by KB)

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In the nation of Panem, the cruel Capitol keeps twelve districts in line by requiring each to send two teenagers every year to a fight to the death called The Hunger Games that is then broadcast live across the country. When her younger sister is chosen, sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her place. She knows how to survive, but winning will not be easy, and Katniss will have to make choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love. The winner of multiple awards, The Hunger Games has a truly brilliant plot that keeps readers in constant suspense. Perfectly paced to hold interest, and with no shortage of action, the book has an ideal balance of violence and human emotion, and is hard to put down. I was obsessed with the story, and recommend it to everybody looking for an exciting novel. – Jessica (ed. by KB)

Podkayne of Mars by Robert Heinlein

Podkayne Fries wants to be a starship pilot, but she lives in a society where nice girls just don’t do that sort of thing, so when her diplomat uncle offers to take her and her younger brother Clark from Mars to Earth via a quick stop on Venus, she jumps on the chance. Unfortunately, her uncle is spotted by someone who wants to stop the negotiations by any means necessary. Told in diary entries, this classic Heinlein juvenile delves into issues of gender roles, sibling conflict, and exploration. Nuanced readers may note a disconnect between the main story and the ending; Heinlein’s editors made him change the original conclusion. – KB

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Arthur Dent never could get the hang of Thursdays, so when his friend Ford Prefect rescues him at the last second from Vogons destroying the Earth to make way for a new interstellar roadway, and said friend turns out to be an alien researcher for a reference book called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Arthur just rolls with it, because honestly nothing in his life really makes sense anyway. On their travels, they meet Zappos Beeblebrox, President of the Galaxy, his girlfriend Trillian, a clinically depressed robot named Marvin, and other colorful characters, and attempt to find out why the number 42 is the answer to the great question of the meaning behind life, the universe, and everything. – KB

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

A stray asteroid hitting the moon and knocking it out of its orbit is enough to cause massive disasters on Earth, with earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis leading to global collapse. Miranda and her family retreat to their family sunroom and what food they have stockpiled in a cold, dark August and Miranda documents her own personal apocalypse in a year’s worth of journal entries. – KB

Sadie by Courtney Summers

Sadie is the story, told through alternating narrative of the main character and after-the-fact true crime podcast, of a young murder victim named Mattie and her missing older sister. Piecing together the scant clues of what happened and why may not be easy, but Sadie, and later podcast host West McCray, are determined to find what answers they can in this riveting mystery. – KB

Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

In Carry On, Simon was the Chosen One, picked to stop the Evil Villain, while also trying to figure out if his classmate Baz was, in fact, a vampire (and maybe also if they both liked each other). Fast-forward a year, and Simon’s moping on a friend’s couch, magicless but winged, and his now-boyfriend Baz has had enough. When their friend decides to take a trip out to America to visit her maybe-boyfriend, Baz convinces Simon that they should both tag along on a wild road trip adventure. This is the kind of story that we could have gotten after the Battle of Hogwarts if Harry Potter had ended up with Draco Malfoy. – KB

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater

Based on a real crime and interviews with everyone involved, Dashka Slater’s long-form news article expanded into this Stonewall Award-winning non-fiction book about an agender teen and a teen who, goaded on by peers, lit a skirt on fire on a bus in Oakland, California. Dealing with issues of gender, racism, class differences, the juvenile justice system, and restorative justice, The 57 Bus offers an unbiased look at the causes and repercussions of the action of one single moment. – KB

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell

It’s the last day of the pumpkin season for seniors Josiah and Deja, but the best friends have far different ideas about how to end things. Josiah wants to just spend the evening the way he always does, but Deja wants to do All The Things while pushing Josiah to talk to the girl he’s been crushing on forever. Unfortunately for Josiah, the pair always seems to be one step behind the girl, but at the end of the night, Josiah and Deja find themselves not where they wanted to be, but maybe where they needed to be in this cute, one-volume graphic novel by the author of Eleanor and Park. – KB

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzie Lee

After accompanying her brother and his best friend on their adventures through Europe (in The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue), Felicity is more determined than ever to get away from all that romantic nonsense and become a doctor. After her boss at the bakery in Edinburgh proposes to her, she runs as fast as she can to London, trying every medical school she can possibly petition to be let in. And while this wouldn’t be an issue today, Felicity’s living in the 1700s. When the last medical school still won’t admit her, she sets out on a wild journey that takes her to Germany and beyond, with old friends, new friends, enemies, and maybe even dragons. – KB

After by Amy Efaw

For Devon, there is Before and After. Before, Devon played soccer and was a straight-A student, responsible and mature, and would never do anything to jeopardize her bright future. After, police are asking her questions because she stayed home sick from school on the same day a newborn baby was left in the trash to die. What, if anything, did Devon have to do with the abandoned baby? – KB

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

Corey and Kyra were best friends in their remote Alaskan town until Corey left to go to boarding school. Kyra promised she’d take care of herself, but mounting mental health issues take their toll, and Corey gets a call she wasn’t expecting just days before she was set to visit Kyra in Alaska again: Kyra’s dead. Corey goes back to their small town to figure out just what happened, because no one in the community is giving her a straight answer, and Kyra might not have been the only one in danger. – KB

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

In an alternate history where the US Civil War was interrupted by the rising of the dead, Jane has been sent from her home in Kentucky to Miss Preston’s School for Combat in Baltimore, a combat school for Negro girls to learn how to become a combination of bodyguard and servant for the well-to-do. When people start going missing, though, Jane sets off on a desperate journey to save herself, her friends, and find out the truth of what’s really going on. An author’s note provides context for the boarding schools set up to “civilize” non-white children. – KB

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

Cal’s life changes when his dad gets picked to join the upcoming Orpheus astronaut crew for a mission to Mars, and the family moves from hipster Brooklyn to 1960s throwback suburban Clear Lake, Texas. Cal has to leave his best friend Deb and a promising internship as a video journalist for BuzzFeed, and he doesn’t even know if he’ll be allowed to continue his livestream journalism that has gotten him thousands of followers. Fortunately, when the family arrives in Texas they meet the other astronaut families, one of whom has two other teen kids, and suddenly Cal doesn’t feel so alone. While The Gravity of Us is contemporary realistic fiction, it feels really strange to have a book set solidly in the summer of 2020 with no plague references (because obviously no one knew this was going to happen while it was being written, edited, or first published). – KB