10 lesser-known young adult book recommendations

By: Bijou Kruszka

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Have you ever been looking for something to read, but you can only find recommendations for ‘The Hunger Games’ or ‘Divergent’? They’re fine books, but most have read them already. If you want something fresh to read, try these novels.

1. ‘Renegades

In this series, by Marissa Meyer, who you may recognize as the author of ‘The Lunar Chronicles’, Nova Artino infiltrates a superhero team to try and get revenge for her parents’ death. But when she bonds with Adrian Everhart, the son of the main superheroes, Nova doubts her beliefs. The series has a diverse cast of characters and interesting ideas about right versus wrong.

2. ‘We Are The Ants

‘We Are The Ants’ is a beautifully tragic novel about Henry Denton, a high-schooler with a terrible life, who gets abducted by aliens. In one particular abduction, the aliens allow him to save Earth by pressing a button. He’s determined to not press the button, but when he returns to Earth, he meets Diego, whose positivity and love make Henry wonder whether he should destroy the planet or not. Henry is cynical as a narrator, which is rather refreshing for a YA book. Also, for a book as sci-fi as it is, it is incredibly real, and most readers could probably connect with Henry in one way or another.

3. ‘Nevermoor: The Trials Of Morrigan Crow

If you’re looking for another fantastical world on the level of ‘Harry Potter’, without having to think about the problematic views of the author, I wholeheartedly recommend the ‘Morrigan Crow’ series. The first book follows Morrigan Crow, a young girl cursed to die on her 11th birthday. When she is rescued from death by Jupiter North, he takes her to the magical realm of Nevermoor, a world filled with magic and interesting characters. To stay in Nevermoor, Morrigan must participate in the trials to enter the Wundrous society. The world of Nevermoor is very immersive and creative, and the dynamic between Morrigan and any other characters she meets is great.

4. ‘Aru Shah and the End of Time’

If you miss ‘Percy Jackson’, with its modern takes on mythology, and its genuinely good comedy, then look no further than ‘Aru Shah’. This series recently ended in January, and it’s fantastic. Aru Shah, in an effort to impress some kids at school, accidentally incites the end of the world. To fix her mistake, she must team up with Mini, a timid girl with extensive and disturbing knowledge of medical things, and Boo, a sarcastic pigeon. Hijinks ensue. This book does it all — incorporates Indian mythology into modern situations, has pop culture references abound, and a cast of well-developed characters.

5. ‘The Line Tender

Words cannot describe how much I love ‘The Line Tender’. The book begins with Lucy and her best friend, Fred, creating a scientific journal about sharks for extra credit in their science class. When a beached shark suddenly disappears, it looks like the book will be turning into a light-hearted mystery, but then the story takes a hard turn away from that. When Lucy experiences a huge loss, the novel turns into a painting of grief and how to deal with it. The book is tragic, but also beautiful. Plus, the author lives in Minneapolis, so reading this, you’re supporting a local author.

6. ‘Welcome to Night Vale

Both fans, and non-fans, of the hit podcast of the same name can find something to like in this novel. Single mom Diane Crayton and antique shop owner Jackie Fierro work together to solve the mystery of the enigmatic man in the tan jacket, whose face no one can seem to remember. The magical and mysterious town of Night Vale is a cool setting, and you won’t see the end coming.

7. ‘Legendborn

‘Legendborn’ follows Bree, an African-American college student grieving the recent death of her mother, who discovers a secret society called the Legendborn, made up of descendants of members of the round table. When she joins their ranks, she sees the bigotry behind the Legendborn. With an epic battle on the horizon, Bree has to decide whether to fight with them or take them down. Though heavy with exposition, the representation in this novel is abundant, and the main character is more likable than most.

8. ‘Skulduggery Pleasant

‘Skulduggery Pleasant’ is about a teen girl named Stephanie as she teams up with a talking skeleton named Skulduggery Pleasant to solve her uncle’s murder. The magical setting of this world is original, and the character of Skulduggery Pleasant, though odd in concept, is a very likeable protagonist.

9. ‘The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel

Also based on a podcast, ‘The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel’ is creative and works really well in a novel form. Mars Patel’s friend is missing, and nobody seems to care. He is determined to find her, and finds out disturbing things about his idol along the way. The cast of protagonists are all very distinct and likable, and the end has a huge plot twist that you won’t see coming.

10. ‘Star-Crossed

‘Star-Crossed’ is about a girl named Mattie who auditions for a small part in her school’s production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’. In a turn of events, Mattie has to play Romeo. To top it all off, Gemma, the cute new girl is playing Juliet. This book has an adorable romance and it has discussions about bisexuality that I haven’t seen in other novels.

This concludes my list. Happy reading!