Best of 2013: Teen

Updated: January 26, 2019

The best young adult books of the year, as selected by LAPL staff. Perfect for holiday gift-giving! More books for young adults are at LAPL Teen Web.

Book cover for Altered
Albin, Gennifer.
Call Number: YA

Sequel to Crewel. Aldelice is a newly minted "spinster" of a dystopian reality. In Altered, we pick up where we left Adelice, Jost and Erik—on Earth, just after fleeing Arras. In Crewel, readers were completely swept up in the futuristic world of Arras. Altered unfolds on a rougher terrain—Earth is not in great shape, and we quickly find out it’s nothing like the place we call home.

Book cover for Battling Boy
Battling Boy
Pope, Paul.
Call Number: 740.9999 P826-1
Ultimately, any graphic novel reader will ask: how well does the artwork convey the story? With Pope’s dramatic illustrations and amazing sequences, this story is fantastic for its artwork and its compelling story about Acropolis, a place infested by monsters that roam the streets at night and its death its savior, Haggard West. However, Acropolis has a bit of hope - Battling Boy, a twelve-year-old demigod and Aurora West, daughter of Haggard West, both learning how to become heroes.

Book cover for The bitter kingdom
The bitter kingdom
Carson, Rae.
Call Number: YA
Elisa, teenaged Queen of Joya d’Arena and Godstone bearer, leads her small but fiercely loyal group of friends and protectors in pursuit of her enemies, who have taken Hector, the man she’s finally admitted she loves. The journey takes her into the heart of the Invierno lands, where she learns their terrible secrets. She also experiences loss, betrayal, the pain of making impossible decisions, and she learns to trust her instincts, intellect, and magic. An altogether satisfying conclusion to an entertaining trilogy.

Book cover for Boxers
Yang, Gene Luen, .
Call Number: 740.9999 Y22-7

The first of two companion graphic novels about the Boxer Rebellion in China. Boxers tells the story of Little Bao, a farmer's son who joins the rebellion, while Saints is told from the point of view of Four-Girl, a young Chinese girl who has visions of Joan of Arc and converts to Christianity. The difference in perspectives adds a greater depth to the story and makes for a very compelling read.

Book cover for Burning
Arnold, Elana K.
Call Number: YA
Once a year, thousands of people convene in a small desert town to live, to love, and to burn a giant effigy in a festival called Burning Man. Ben is a straight-laced teen from a dying mining town at the festival's outskirts, and Lala is a beautiful Romany girl whose family has arrived to earn money telling fortunes to travelers on their way to the festival. Ben and Lala's lives collide one sultry summer week, in a way that will change both of them forever.

Book cover for A corner of white
A corner of white
Moriarty, Jaclyn.
Call Number: YA

Prickly 14-year-old Madeleine is trying to get used to a new life with her mysteriously ill mom in Cambridge, England. The almost too excellent 15-year-old Elliott lives in the Kingdom of Cello, where the seasons come and go unpredictably and roving bands of colors can kill people. A crack between their two worlds allows the two to pass notes and become friends. Quirky, romantic and delightful.

Book cover for Counting by 7s
Counting by 7s
Sloan, Holly Goldberg, 1958-
Call Number: YA

Twelve-year-old Willow Chance is very smart, but a little socially awkward. When tragedy strikes her family, she is left to create a new life and family for herself. Although the circumstances are sad, Willow’s story is not. She is an incredible young woman, who manages to change and inspire everyone she meets. This is one of the most uplifiting and special stories of 2013, that readers of all ages will treasure.

Book cover for The dream thieves
The dream thieves
Stiefvater, Maggie, 1981-
Call Number: YA
Sequel to The Raven Boys (2012). A group of teenage friends decide to start a quest to find a missing Welsh King who grants a wish if you find him. Unfortunately, they find their quest complicated not only by enemies and obstacles, but by the dawning realizations that they are very different people who want different things.

Book cover for Eleanor & Park
Eleanor & Park
Rowell, Rainbow.
Call Number: YA

Eleanor is the awkward new girl in school and she finds herself sitting next to Park on the school bus. An uneasy friendship forms and eventually blossoms into first love. Their relationship, fueled by attraction, a mutual love of music and comic books becomes a safe haven for Eleanor in the midst of her unstable family life. A perfectly imperfect vignette of first love.

Book cover for The elite
The elite
Cass, Kiera.
Call Number: YA

Sequel to The Selection and has been described as The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor. In America Singer’s world, a bride is chosen for the prince through an elaborate televised competition. But is it Prince Maxon—and life as the queen—she wants? Or is it Aspen, her first love? Does she hear gunfire at the gate?

Book cover for Etiquette & espionage
Etiquette & espionage
Carriger, Gail.
Call Number: YA

"Finishing" School takes on a new meaning when Sophronia faces flying bandits and other perils on the journey from her home to board a floating school for young ladies. Fortunately, she is a resourceful teen and rises to the occasion, making friends in unlikely places along the way. This is a refreshing YA adventure prequel to the Parasol Protectorate series.

Book cover for Fangirl
Rowell, Rainbow.
Call Number: YA

Identical twin sisters, Cath and Wren, start their first year of college. While Wren can't wait for the college experience, Cath wants nothing more than to remain a hermit inside her dorm, immersing herself in writing Simon Snow fan fiction. Once inseparable, now Cath has to learn how to handle her freshman year at college by herself. Witty and funny, Fangirl is about forging friendships, experiencing first love, and making your own way in life.

Book cover for How to fake a moon landing : exposing the myths of science denial
How to fake a moon landing : exposing the myths of science denial
Cunningham, Darryl.
Call Number: 741.5 C973

A fun non-fiction graphic novel with primitive but functional panel cartoons that challenge the illogic behind belief based institutions or ideas such as homeopathy, certain conspiracy theories, and climate change denial. Each chapter introduces a new topic and the author succinctly presents the genesis and ways in which the ideas conflict with rational thought, scientific practice, and accredited research with surprising humor.

Book cover for Just one day
Just one day
Forman, Gayle.
Call Number: YA

Allyson is on the last days of a chaperoned European tour, a graduation gift from her controlling parents. When she finds herself meeting enigmatic backpacker Willem not once but three times over two days, she breaks away from the rigid rules she’s so accustomed to and impulsively agrees to travel with him to Paris for one day. That one day changes both their lives forever, over the course of two engaging, romantic and thoughtful books. This book is continued by Just One Year, which is also an LAPL Best Teen Book of 2013.

Book cover for Just one year
Just one year
Forman, Gayle.
Call Number: YA

This is the continuation of Just One Day from Willem's perspective, drifting through Europe and life, until he makes the decision to find the mysterisou stranger.  His search, it turns out, is just as much about himself as it is about the elusive American.  This is also an LAPL Best Teen Book of 2013.

Book cover for Kindness for weakness
Kindness for weakness
Goodman, Shawn, 1970-
Call Number: YA

Good kid James made a terrible mistake when he did a favor for his beloved older brother and ended up in a juvenile detention center. Now he must learn to survive in this new, strange and dangerous world, where kindness is often mistaken for weakness.

Book cover for The lord of Opium
The lord of Opium
Farmer, Nancy, 1941-
Call Number: YA

Sequel to the award-winning The House of the Scorpion. 14-year-old Matteo Alacrán returns home as the new Lord of Opium. His backdrop is a vividly imagined future world full of fascinating characters and moral themes.

Book cover for March: Book One
March: Book One
Lewis, John
Call Number: 323.4092 L674-2

March is popping up all over the place on best graphic novel lists for 2013, and rightfully so. This is the first book in a planned trilogy that tells of the struggle of Congressman John Lewis, his first hand experience of the Jim Crow South, and his experience living through segregation and choosing to fight against it through his participation in key Civil Rights moments, such as the March on Washington and the Selma-Montgomery March. Fantastic assignment book for teachers looking for an engaging document to bring the struggle for racial equality for African Americans to light.

Book cover for More than this.
More than this.
Ness, Patrick, 1971-
Call Number: YA

Seth wakes up in the English village of his childhood, but it’s been abandoned, and is covered in dust and weeds. How did he get here? (And since the book opens with his death by drowning, how did he get anywhere, for that matter?) Where is everyone, and what’s that black coffin doing in his bedroom? A terrifically twisty story about friendship, reality and fantasy, and the lies we tell to make the pain more bearable.

Book cover for Openly straight
Openly straight
Konigsberg, Bill.
Call Number: YA

Rafe Goldberg has been openly gay since middle school, but he’s tired of being known only as “the gay kid.” When he’s accepted at an all-male boarding school, he sees it as a chance to reinvent himself and decides to let his classmates assume he’s straight. Full of memorable characters, hilarious dialogue, and an incredibly romantic love story.

Book cover for Orleans
Smith, Sherri L.
Call Number: YA

In 2056, a hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast has been walled off from the rest of the country, a pandemic rages, and fearless 17-year-old Fen is determined to smuggle her best friend’s newborn baby over the wall before she becomes infected with Delta Fever. Fen is an unforgettable narrator, and the action never stops in this spectacular dystopian novel.

Book cover for Out of the Easy
Out of the Easy
Sepetys, Ruta.
Call Number: YA

Life’s not easy in the “Big Easy” for 17-year-old, Josie Moraine, who works two jobs and dreams of going to a prestigious college. She wants a better life for herself rather than to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Her plans to escape New Orleans, her mother, and everybody who looks down on her for being the daughter of a prostitute, is thwarted when her mom skips town following a mysterious murder of a stranger, leaving Josie in debt with the mob.

Book cover for Quintana of Charyn
Quintana of Charyn
Marchetta, Melina, 1965-
Call Number: YA

Recovering from his wounds, Froi sets out to find Quintana and to secure her safety and that of her unborn son, the future king of Charyn. A strong finale to Marchetta’s epic fantasy, The Lumatere Chronicles, that began with Finnikin of the Rock (2010) and followed by Froi of the Exiles (2012).

Book cover for Rose Under Fire
Rose Under Fire
Wein, Elizabeth
Call Number: YA

In this companion book to Code Name Verity, we follow the story of Rose, an 18-year-old American poet and pilot, who decides to join the war effort by joining the British ATA. Things take a turn for the worse when she is captured by the Germans and imprisoned at Ravensbruck concentration camp. Once again, Wein manages to beautifully tell a World War II story from an unusual perspective. This book is highly recommended to young adults and adults alike.

Book cover for Saints
Yang, Gene Luen, .
Call Number: 740.9999 Y22-8
The second of two companion graphic novels about the Boxer Rebellion in China. While Boxers tells the story of Little Bao, a farmer's son who joins the rebellion, while Saints is told from the point of view of Four-Girl, a young Chinese girl who has visions of Joan of Arc and converts to Christianity. The difference in perspectives adds a greater depth to the story and makes for a very compelling read.

Book cover for Scarlet
Meyer, Marissa.
Call Number: YA SF

Part II of The Lunar Chronicles. Cinder, the beautiful lunar cyborg mechanic (based on the Cinderella fairy tale), is back, this time with a story line which includes the Little Red Riding Hood character Scarlet. Combination of SF, romance and action.

Book cover for Siege and storm
Siege and storm
Bardugo, Leigh.
Call Number: YA

In the sequel to last year's Shadow & Bone, Alina is still hunted by the Darkling, but finds a way to use her powers as a Grisha (mage) to fight back. However, as her influence in the Ravkan empire grows, will she lose the thing she holds most dear? With a rich fantasy world reminiscent of imperial Russia and a marvelous heroine, driven by ambition and love, this series is well worth checking out. And the genre? Fans of the series call it Tsarpunk.

Book cover for Since You Asked...
Since You Asked...
Goo, Maurene
Call Number: YA

When fifteen-year-old Holly Kim’s snarky article is accidentally published in the school newspaper, she lands a weekly column and rants her way through the school year. But can she manage mean girls, jocks, being a normal teenager, and her parents’ old-school Korean values without going completely insane? This smart, insightful debut will have you laughing so hard you cry.

Book cover for The song of the Quarkbeast
The song of the Quarkbeast
Fforde, Jasper.
Call Number: YA
16-year-old Jennifer Strange, having fulfilled her duties as The Last Dragonslayer, would be the first to tell you that these days, far from being glamorous, magic is barely useful. But now magical power is on the rise, and as manager of Kazam Mystical Arts Management, Jennifer attempts to find jobs for her rapidly dwindling collection of eccentric sorcerers, while dealing with the Ununited Kingdom’s over-the-top bureaucracy; corrupt kings and deadly rivals with nefarious schemes; magical power storage coils that turn sorcerers into stone statues; the missing (well, mostly missing) owner of Kazam; a potential boyfriend; and quite possibly another Quarkbeast or two… which could be very, very bad.

Book cover for Thrice told tales
Thrice told tales
Lewis, Catherine.
Call Number: 803 L673

This is a fantastically brief and humorous book about writing techniques and methods using the trope of the three blind mice and variations of the theme to explain the concepts. The book covers upper level concepts such as leitmotif and picaro, and the drawings are charming and snarky. If books like this were recommended in AP English classes, teachers might wind up with classes full of aspiring writers.

Book cover for Two Boys Kissing
Two Boys Kissing
Levithan, David
Call Number: YA

One weekend in the lives of several gay teenagers, narrated by a ghostly Greek chorus, the generation of young men lost to AIDS. Those narrators, who understand so well how far the current generation has come, and how quickly it can all be gone, make the book a celebration of life, and they demand that we live that life to the fullest while we still have the chance. Deeply profound and moving.

Book cover for United we spy
United we spy
Carter, Ally.
Call Number: YA

In this final book of the Gallagher Girl series, Cammie Morgan faces her most dangerous mission yet. She must stop the Circle of Cavan, an international terrorist group, from succeeding in their deadly master plan. United We Spy is filled with jam-packed action as Cammie, her friends, and her boyfriend, Zach, all race against the clock to save the world.

Book cover for Winger
Smith, Andrew (Andrew Anselmo), 1959-
Call Number: YA

Join Ryan Dean West, one of teen literatures most memorable characters, in his humorous yet painful junior year in private school. He dares to love one of the most popular girls in school and stands up to the biggest bully. A roller coaster ride you will be glad you took.