Need one more gift for a young person in your life? Here is a hand-picked list of books that would make great gifts for mature middle school or high school readers. I included a mix of new releases and tried-and-true favorites. Click on the book cover to see a longer summary and reviews from other young readers on Bookopolis.
Looking for book ideas for younger readers? See our 2022 Book-Giving Guide for 3rd-8th Grade Readers and our picks for Chapter Book readers.
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12 BOOK PICKS FOR YA READERS
A Thousand Heartbeats by Kiera Cass
#1 New York Times bestselling author of The Selection series is back with her most epic novel yet–a sweeping enemies-to-lovers standalone romance. Princess Annika has lived a life of comfort–but no amount of luxuries can change the fact that her life isn’t her own to control. The king, once her loving father, has gone cold, and Annika will soon be forced into a loveless marriage for political gain. Perfect for fans of romance stories infused with social commentary.
The Diviners by Libba Bray
“Do you believe there are ghosts and demons and Diviners among us?” Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City–and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult. Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer. Perfect for fans of supernatural mysteries.
All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban
What do the queen bee, star athlete, valedictorian, stoner, loner, and music geek all have in common? They were all invited to a scholarship dinner, only to discover it’s a trap. Someone has locked them into a room with a bomb, a syringe filled with poison, and a note saying they have an hour to pick someone to kill…or else everyone dies. For fans of complex murder mysteries like One of Us Is Lying.
The Honeys by Ryan LaSala
When self-professed evil twin Mars Matthias loses his sister Caroline under horrific circumstances, it propels him to learn all he can about the once-inseparable sibling who’d grown tragically distant. Mars’s genderfluidity means he’s often excluded from the traditions — and expectations — of his politically-connected family, including attendance at the prestigious Aspen Conservancy Summer Academy where his sister poured so much of her time. With his grief still fresh, he insists on attending in her place. But the longer he stays at Aspen, the more the sweet mountain breezes give way to hints of decay. Perfect for fans of twisted mysteries with elements of magic.
Dress Coded by Carrie Firestone
Molly Frost is FED UP… Because Olivia was yelled at for wearing a tank top. Because Liza got dress coded and Molly didn’t, even though they were wearing the exact same outfit. Because when Jessica was pulled over by the principal and missed a math quiz, her teacher gave her an F. Because girls’ bodies are not a distraction. Because middle school is hard enough. And so Molly starts a podcast where girls can tell their stories, and before long, her small rebellion swells into a revolution. For fans of contemporary stories with strong girl power themes. Suitable for younger readers.
Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick
A taut frontier survivor story, set at the time of the Alaska gold rush.In an isolated cabin, fourteen-year-old Sig is alone with a corpse: his father, who has fallen through the ice and frozen to death only hours earlier. Then comes a stranger claiming that Sig’s father owes him a share of a horde of stolen gold. Sig’s only protection is a loaded Colt revolver hidden in the cabin’s storeroom. The question is, will Sig use the gun, and why? For fans of suspense-filled survival stories.
All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir
Growing up as outcasts in the small desert town of Juniper, California, Salahudin and Noor understand each other the way no one else does. Until The Fight, which destroys their bond with the swift fury of a star exploding. Now, Sal scrambles to run the family motel as his mother Misbah’s health fails and his grieving father loses himself to alcoholism. Noor, meanwhile, walks a harrowing tightrope: working at her wrathful uncle’s liquor store while hiding the fact that she’s applying to college so she can escape him–and Juniper–forever. Sal and Noor must ask themselves what friendship is worth–and what it takes to defeat the monsters in their pasts and the ones in their midst. Perfect for fans of heart-wrenching contemporary stories.
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the “Sliver of Infinity,” reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler’s most hellish prison. Kelsier “snapped” and found in himself the powers of a Mistborn. A brilliant thief and natural leader, he turned his talents to the ultimate caper, with the Lord Ruler himself as the mark. For fans of intricate world-building and magic-filled adventure sagas. Suitable for younger readers.
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
I have a curse. I have a gift. I’m a monster. I’m more than human. My touch is lethal.My touch is power.I am their weapon.I will fight back. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal, but The Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon. But Juliette has plans of her own. After a lifetime without freedom, she’s finally discovering a strength to fight back for the very first time and to find a future with the one boy she thought she’d lost forever. For fans of intense and thrilling dystopian tales.
I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys
Romania, 1989. Communist regimes are crumbling across Europe. Seventeen-year-old Cristian Florescu dreams of becoming a writer, but Romanians aren’t free to dream; they are bound by rules and force. Amidst the tyrannical dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu in a country governed by isolation and fear, Cristian is blackmailed by the secret police to become an informer. He’s left with only two choices: Betray everyone and everything he loves — or use his position to creatively undermine the most notoriously evil dictator in Eastern Europe. For fans of page-turning historical fiction.
Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals
In 1957, Melba Pattillo turned sixteen. That was also the year she became a warrior on the front lines of a civil rights firestorm. Following the landmark 1954 Supreme Court ruling, “Brown v. Board of Education,” Melba was one of nine teenagers chosen to integrate Little Rock’s Central High School. Throughout her harrowing ordeal, Melba was taunted by her schoolmates and their parents, threatened by a lynch mob’s rope, attacked with lighted sticks of dynamite, and injured by acid sprayed in her eyes. But through it all, she acted with dignity and courage, and refused to back down. This is her remarkable story. For fans of inspiring real-life heroes.
Braiding Sweetgrass (for Young Adults) by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Drawing from her experiences as an Indigenous scientist, botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer demonstrated how all living things–from strawberries and witch hazel to water lilies and lichen–provide us with gifts and lessons every day. With informative sidebars, reflection questions, and art from illustrator Nicole Neidhardt, Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults brings Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge, and the lessons of plant life to a new generation. For curious readers interested in ecology and the environment.
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