Best of 2014: Teen

Updated: January 26, 2019

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

Book cover for 100 sideways miles
100 sideways miles
Smith, Andrew (Andrew Anselmo), 1959-
Call Number: YA
Finn Easton sees the world in minutes instead of miles - like the dead horse that fell 100 sideways miles in a bizarre accident, killing Finn’s mother and narrowly sparing his own life. His father’s sci-fi novel, which features cannibalistic angel-aliens who reap terror upon the earth, has become a cult classic. And his best friend Cade Hernandez is possibly psychotic, but certainly excellent. When Finn’s first love, the beautiful Julia moves across the state, he sets out on a roadtrip to figure out the end - and maybe the beginning - of his own story.

Book cover for Blue lily, lily Blue
Blue lily, lily Blue
Stiefvater, Maggie, 1981-
Call Number: YA
The third book in the Raven Boys cycle shows how Blue, the brave and practical daughter of the local psychic, fights both ominous magical forces and the mundane and the immovable realities of her life (like impossibility of paying for college) with help of her friends and family.

Book cover for Cress.
Meyer, Marissa.
Call Number: YA

In the third book of The Lunar Chronicles series, the character of Rapunzel is added to the growing group of fairy tale-based heroes introduced in Cinder and Scarlet. While published as a YA series, it is really a 21st-century version of the grand space operas of classic science fiction, and a marvelous read for anyone who enjoys this sub-genre!

Book cover for Dorothy must die
Dorothy must die
Paige, D. M,
Call Number: YA
A journey over the rainbow to an Oz that we only think we know. Paige’s reimagining of the Land of Oz is funny, mesmerizing, and disturbing. The first book in a marvelous new series.

Book cover for Dreams of gods & monsters
Dreams of gods & monsters
Taylor, Laini.
Call Number: YA

In this epic conclusion to Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy you will find yourself caught up in the final battle between the Angels and the Monsters. Karou and Akiva’s dream of having a life together seems hopeless; both sides are intent on vengeance. (That’s right, the angels are the bad guys and the monsters are the good guys in this fantasy novel.) What happens when the battle spills over to Earth?

Book cover for Gabi, a girl in pieces
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces
Quintero, Isabel
Call Number: YA

This is Gabi Hernandez's diary from her senior year of high school in a Southern California town close to the border. Gabi is smart, loyal, opinionated, self-deprecating, witty and observant. She's also overweight, loves to snack, write poetry, and dreams of (hopefully) getting into Berkeley and then also that her mother will actually allow her to go. Over the course of the year, she learns about the person she is and the woman she hopes to be while living in a traditional Catholic, Mexican-American community.

Book cover for A girl called Fearless
A girl called Fearless
Linka, Catherine.
Call Number: YA
Ten years after a synthetic hormone in beef killed fifty million American women, only young girls, old women, men, and boys are left to pick up the pieces. The death threat is past, but fathers still fear for their daughters’ safety, and the Paternalist Movement, begun to "protect" young women, is taking over the choices they make.

Book cover for Girl defective
Girl defective
Howell, Simmone.
Call Number: YA
Fifteen-year-old Sky is trying to learn the truth about what happened to Mia Casey, a local party girl who drowned under mysterious circumstances. She’s also trying to look out for her little brother; figure out who vandalized her father’s failing record store, the Wishing Well; keep up with her wild, older friend, Nancy; and keep herself from falling for Luke, the intriguing new record shop clerk. This Australian YA novel has a little bit of mystery, heartbreaking character relationships, and a narrator you’ll want as your new best friend.

Book cover for Glory O'Brien's history of the future : a novel
Glory O'Brien's history of the future : a novel
King, A. S. (Amy Sarig), 1970-
Call Number: YA

As her high school graduation draws near, Glory O'Brien begins having powerful and terrifying visions of the future as she struggles with her long-buried grief over her mother's suicide.

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

Also available for download as an e-book
Also available for download as an e-audiobook

The world of Austin Szerba comes to an end when he unleashes an apocalyptic plague that turns humans into 6ft man-eating praying mantises. While catastrophe ensues, Austin has to keep his hormones in check directed at his best friend Robby and girlfriend Shann. 

Book cover for I'll Give You the Sun
I'll Give You the Sun
Nelson, Jandy
Call Number: YA

Jude and Noah are twins who are opposites in personality - beautiful Jude is popular and a daredevil; Noah is a quiet and sensitive artist. Yet, at the age of thirteen, the two are close, sharing even their own secret language. Three years later, the twins are no longer speaking to each other. The gap that has grown between them seems unbridgeable. Can they come to terms with the tragedy that has struck their family or will they be forever torn apart by their loss? If you love John Green and Rainbow Rowell, you’ll be sure to love this heart-wrenchingly beautiful novel by Jandy Nelson.

Book cover for Learning not to drown
Learning not to drown
Shinoda, Anna.
Call Number: YA

It doesn’t matter that Clare makes good grades and never gets into trouble. Most of the time she feels like the only thing people care about is her brother, Luke, a criminal who has been in and out of jail for most of Clare's life. This honest and powerful novel follows Clare’s journey as she struggles to remain loyal to her family, even when their actions threaten her future.

Book cover for Like no other
Like no other
LaMarche, Una,
Call Number: YA

Devorah and Jax have grown up in the same New York neighborhood but come from families that couldn’t be more different – hers, Hasidic Jewish and fiercely close-knit; his, West Indian and urban. When a storm rages across New York, cutting power and trapping them alone in a hospital elevator, they’re thrown together in a way that will change both of their lives forever. This modern-day Romeo and Juliet tale in Brooklyn will grab your heart and not let it go.

Book cover for Locke & key. written by Joe Hill ; art by Gabriel Rodriguez. Volume 6, Alpha and Omega
Locke & key. written by Joe Hill ; art by Gabriel Rodriguez. Volume 6, Alpha and Omega
Hill, Joe,
Call Number: 740.9999 L814 v. 6

Locke and Key has some of the most original and inventive magic we’ve ever seen in a graphic novel. In this, the final volume, the villain (Dodge) is hidden from the Lockes in their family home and willing to do anything to get what he wants.

Book cover for Noggin
Whaley, John Corey.
Call Number: YA

A teenager with a terminal illness decides to cryo-freeze his head in hopes that in the future he can be brought back in a healthier body. To his surprise, he wakes up five years later with his head attached to a new body and has to deal with just enough time having passed to screw up his whole life: his best friend is back in the closet, and his girlfriend is now with someone else. A great tale of identity, self-acceptance, and teen angst.

Book cover for Panic
Oliver, Lauren, 1982-
Call Number: YA

There’s not much to do in Carp, a small dead-end town in New York state. To deal with their boredom, the local high schoolers start a game called Panic, played only by graduating seniors. A combination of Survivor and Fear Factor, the large monetary payoff makes this game compelling for young people, despite its danger. This book tells the story of Heather and Dodge, two players with very different motives for braving Panic.

Book cover for Pointe
Colbert, Brandy.
Call Number: YA
Theo is an aspiring ballerina with the talent and dedication to go all the way to the top. She’s headed for great things, but Theo also has some demons in her past, and she’ll have to figure out how to face them before she can move forward with her life. Readers who love complex stories with imperfect and achingly real characters should be sure to check this one out.

Book cover for Positive : surviving my bullies, finding hope, and living to change the world --a memoir
Positive : surviving my bullies, finding hope, and living to change the world --a memoir
Rawl, Paige.
Call Number: 616.97 R258
This is a memoir told by a teen who has been HIV positive since birth. Her parents raised her to think of HIV as just another illness and emphasis was not put on it. In middle school, after hearing a catastrophic story from her best friend, she confided to her about being HIV positive. By the following day, everyone in school knew about her and started bullying her about it. This is a story of her struggles and how she got through them and turned years of bad experiences into a positive message.

Book cover for Prisoner of night and fog
Prisoner of night and fog
Blankman, Anne.
Call Number: YA

Set in 1930s Munich, 17-year-old Gretchen is her Uncle Dolf’s favorite. But with the help of a young Jewish reporter who’s asking questions about her father’s death years ago (while he was protecting his comrade Adolf Hitler), Gretchen begins to see her family, her party, and her Uncle Dolf in a new light.

Book cover for Ruin and rising
Ruin and rising
Bardugo, Leigh.
Call Number: YA
The final book of the Grisha trilogy follows Alina Starkov, the Sun Summoner, on her search for the third amplifier, which will give her the power to overthrow The Darkling. What Alina doesn’t know is what finding, and using, the third amplifier will cost her.

Book cover for Sisters
Telgemeier, Raina.
Call Number: 740.9999 T271-2

Continuing the poignantly funny point of view that she began in Smile, Telgemeier tells the story of her tumultuous relationship with her sister and how it affects their family dynamic.

Book cover for Strange and beautiful sorrows of Ava Lavender
Strange and beautiful sorrows of Ava Lavender
Walton, Leslye J. (Leslye Jo Anne).
Call Number: YA

Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava - in all other ways a normal girl - is born with the wings of a bird. In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naive to the twisted motives of others. This generation-spanning magical realism tale of love and loss is so beautifully written you will want to re-read it immediately.

Book cover for Upside down in the middle of nowhere
Upside down in the middle of nowhere
Lamana, Julie T.,
Call Number: YA
A gripping and tragic account of one family’s struggle during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, as told by 10-year-old Armani.

Book cover for The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy
The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy
Hattemer, Kate.
Call Number: YA

When a sleazy reality tv show called For Art's Sake starts filming at their high school, four teens write a subversive epic poem inspired by Ezra Pound's Cantos as a protest against it. But when one of their own winds up being cast in the show, the others are left feeling betrayed. Fans of John Green will love this funny book filled with eccentric characters, brave gerbils, art, and big ideas.

Book cover for When I Was the Greatest
When I Was the Greatest
Reynolds, Jason.
Call Number: YA

Set in Brooklyn, fifteen-year-old Ali and his two best friends, brothers Needles and Noodles, learn about themselves and each other after they get caught up in a dangerous situation that tests their friendship.