5 Young Adult Fiction Books You Need To Be Reading

Because you know what, some of us like to sulk in the cabana and curse the bright glowing thing in the sky while we read.

Jun 7, 2013 at 10:00am | Leave a comment

What have I been reading lately? It's funny you should ask, because it's actually a lot of great stuff, mostly YA. (Some adult books, too, but I'm not talking about those today!) Some of these books came out last year, but that makes them no less awesome, and in fact, if you haven't read them yet, you definitely need to get on it. 

I earnestly tried to come up with a list of summer reads, but Hannah has that covered for you, so I went pretty moody instead. Because you know what, some of us like to sulk in the cabana and curse the bright glowing thing in the sky while we read. In fact, screw the cabana. I'll stay at home where neither a grain of sand nor a tourist can be seen. 

Let's go, friends. 

1. "The Summer Prince," Alaya Dawn Johnson

The futuristic city of Palmares Tres is a massive matriarchal testimony to the power of human ingenuity and engineering in the face of grave odds, and June Costa is enjoying the best of it. A vibrant young artist, she's making a splash in the city as it prepares for the selection of the Summer King, Enki. Enki will captivate the city until his time comes to an end and he's sacrificed in a long-established ritual used to choose the new Queen. 

WOAH. That got dark, right?

Well, it gets better. "The Summer Prince" is about art and collaboration and uprising, and it's one of the most outstanding pieces of speculative fiction I've read (that includes adult and YA). It's a delicious exploration of culture, race, identity, gender and sexuality, and it's exquisitely written. The only problem you will have with this book is keeping the greedy little paws of everyone else off it. 

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Check it out, I color-coordinate with the cover.

2. "Grave Mercy" and "Dark Triumph," Robin LaFevers

Um, assassin nuns. Do I really need to say more?

Fine, okay. This is a series about unwanted girls who find their way to a somewhat peculiar nunnery, one where poisons, weapons and seduction are taught instead of catechism. LaFevers plays a bit loose with history in this tale set in medieval France, but if you're willing to forgive her that, there is a whole lot of action and adventure here. And some seriously dark, twisted shit. I told you this list wasn't fluffy. 

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Just posing for this picture was dangerous. I ended up reading thirty pages before I even realized what was happening. 

3. "Code Name Verity," Elizabeth Wein

If you're one of those people who saw all the hype for this book and were all like, "Oh, please, anything that talked about can't possibly be worthy of my fancypants eyeballs," get over it like I did. Because holy shit, I waited way too long to read this book. "Code Name Verity" is a tale of an English spy shot down over France and her grueling experiences in captivity, and the story of the pilot who went down with her, and there are two things I want you to know about this book. 

One is that you will not be able to stop reading it.

Seriously. Once you start, you will be pinned to wherever you are until you are done because you will need to know what happens. You have been warned. I am not kidding here, people. Don't start this book if you're planning on doing something productive in the next few hours, because it is not getting done. 

Two. I can't tell you because spoilers. But believe me, it's gonna blow your mind. 

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I don't know what's going on in this picture either. I'm excited, I guess?

4. "The Madman's Daughter," Megan Shepherd

Did you ever think "The Island of Doctor Moreau" was lacking a little something?

So did Megan Shepherd, so she decided to write a new narrative, where the Doctor has a daughter and she sets out on an adventure to find him, against all social norms and warnings from the people around her. What she finds on the island where her father dwells is definitely not what she expected, and the people around her are hiding more secrets than she can even begin to imagine. 

This book creeped me the fuck out. I also spent a lot of time trying to figure out how all the actual science would work, because I am a total dork like that, but more importantly, I was thoroughly and completely creeped. I can't wait for more from Shepherd because she's got this great moody, atmospheric way of writing that's so compelling even as you're wanting to scream, "Damnit, woman, stop being so creepy!"

5. "Masque of the Red Death" and "Dance of the Red Death," Bethany Griffin

Speaking of retellings of Victorian horror, Bethany Griffin's "Red Death Saga" is a fantastic pair of books taking Poe's short story and expanding it into something truly breathtaking and also really freaky. We follow our heroine, Araby, through a post-plague society that is struggling to survive even as it seems to be eating itself. Along the way, she's making grim discoveries about herself, the people around her, and the world she lives in, and it's up to her to get vengeance, or fail fantastically and go down in history as a villain. 

No big or anything. The "Red Death Saga" has love, blood, and diseased people dropping dead in the streets. I guarantee you'll love it. 

What are you reading?