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Best of 2018: Teen

Updated: February 7, 2023

The best 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 Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Adaptation
Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Adaptation
Folman, Ari
Call Number: 92 F8275Fo

Paired with selections from Anne Frank's diary, David Polonsky’s strikingly playful, and at times, somber illustrations provide a fresh sense of energy and understanding to the words and emotions of Anne Frank. This version of the famous diary will introduce Anne, and the perilous times she lived in, to a new generation of young readers.


Book cover for The Belles
The Belles
Clayton, Dhonielle
Call Number: YA

In a world that places beauty as an item for purchase, the Belles can make a person look however they’d like on the outside, no matter how ugly they are on the inside. Camellia Beauregard wants to be the best, but once she starts down the path of giving other people beauty, the true darkness of people emerges.

Book cover for The boneless mercies
The boneless mercies
Tucholke, April Genevieve,
Call Number: YA

The mercies have a thankless job. Helping those whose time has come is a necessary but painful job and one not much appreciated by society at large. Frey and her fellow mercies are tired of this life and seize upon the chance to better their situation. When they hear of an unstoppable beast ravaging the north, they venture out to stop the beast and change their lives forever.


Book cover for Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World
Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World
Bagieu, Penelope
Call Number: 740.9999 B145-1

A graphic novel that is a compendium and retelling of stories about strong women throughout history. Some are famous, some infamous and some ought to be famous. Fabulous gift for those needing an uplifting book about women’s history.

Book cover for Check, Please!: #Hockey: Book One
Check, Please!: #Hockey: Book One
Ukazu, Ngozi
Call Number: 740.9999 U34 v.1

College freshman Eric Bittle is parlaying his junior figure skating championship into a spot on his school’s men’s hockey team. With his winning personality and an obsession with baking delicious pies for his ever-hungry teammates, he manages to make some very dear friends--including crush object Jack Zimmermann, who happens to be the team captain and an NHL prospect.

Book cover for Children of Blood and Bone
Children of Blood and Bone
Adeyemi, Tomi
Call Number: YA

Ever since the attack that killed her mother and banished magic from the kingdom of Orïsha, Zélie has resigned herself to a brutal life under King Saran’s murderous regime. But when she’s given an artifact that has the power to bring back magic—and make her a powerful necromancer in the process—Zélie decides to risk everything to free her people. Although this novel takes place in a fictional world based in West Africa, the story is inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement.

Book cover for The cruel prince
The cruel prince
Black, Holly,
Call Number: YA

Jude and her sisters have been taken to the world of Faerie, where they grow up conflicted about being mortals surrounded by the tricks and capricious natures of the faeries. Jude also contends with Cardan, the cruel prince, as she is pulled into a plot that involves both her family and her life. It’s a dark, brutal story of political intrigue and dark fantasy.

Book cover for Dead dead demon's dededede destruction. by Inio Asano. Vol. 1
Dead dead demon's dededede destruction. by Inio Asano. Vol. 1
Asano, Inio, 1980-
Call Number: 740.9999 D2785-2 v.1

This is a different kind of alien story. Aliens have invaded and Kadode Koyama is in high school. However, with the end of the world coming, why do your homework?


Book cover for Devils unto dust
Devils unto dust
Berquist, Emma.
Call Number: YA

After a disease spreads through the country, giving people the “shakes,” which causes them to attack and eat the healthy, Daisy must set out to find her father and settle the debts he owes for the safety of her family. This exciting western meets horror-travel story has compelling characters full of heart, a dash of romance, and enough horror to keep those who enjoy feeling squeamish interested.


Book cover for Fresh ink
Fresh ink
Call Number: YA

If you like short stories from diverse authors and mixed genres--such as graphic novels, plays-- that are full of memorable and diverse characters, this anthology is for you!  This slim volume has a tale for many readers--those that love realistic fiction, horror, fantasy, science fiction and more. These are the stories that need to be told, now more than ever.


Book cover for Girls of Paper and Fire
Girls of Paper and Fire
Ngan, Natasha
Call Number: YA

The citizens of Ikhara comprise three castes: the oppressed fully human “Paper” class; “Steel” a human-animal mash-up; and the reigning “Moon” caste, made up of anthropomorphic animals called demons. Every year the Moon caste’s king claims eight “Paper Girls” as concubines. This year, Lei is taken from her home to be the ninth Paper Girl, due to rumors about her golden eyes.  A detail-rich, fast paced fantasy novel that touches on several issues including classism, homophobia, and commodification of women. The author handles those dark parts of the story with positive messages of hope, female strength, self empowerment, and the power of relationships/friendships.

Book cover for Grand Theft Horse
Grand Theft Horse
Neri, Greg
Call Number: 740.9999 N4452-1

This graphic novel tells the true story of Gail Ruffu, a horse trainer, who was arrested and tried for grand theft of a horse. Gail invested in a race horse, Urgent Envoy, with the plan that she would train the horse to be a star on the racetrack. When her partners wanted to race Urgent Envoy with an unhealed injury, Gail stole him, rather than see him suffer more injuries. Gail risked her life, her livelihood and her future, standing up for what she believed in. She is someone everyone should look up to.

Book cover for Illegal
Colfer, Eoin
Call Number: 740.9999 C695

When Ebo’s older brother leaves town to make his way out of Africa, Ebo follows close behind. Their journey to get across Africa and the Mediterranean Sea is dangerous and expensive, but it’s worth it to the brothers if it means they can escape to a better life in Europe. Their tragic tale is a realistic portrayal of the plight of refugees told with the beautiful illustrations of Giovanni Rigano. 

Book cover for Jazz Owls: A Novel of the Zoot Suit Riots
Jazz Owls: A Novel of the Zoot Suit Riots
Engle, Margarita
Call Number: YA

Don’t let this slim volume in verse fool you. This intriguing, multi-voiced look at a violent chapter of Los Angeles history will catapult you back to 1943. The reader follows the Mexican American voices of the girls who work for the war effort while managing to find happiness in jazz, along with their brothers overseas and at home, and also documents the sailors who took part in the brutality of the Zoot Suit Riots.


Book cover for Moonrise
Crossan, Sarah,
Call Number: YA

This heartbreaking novel-in-verse artfully tackles the subject of the death penalty. Joe hasn’t seen his brother in ten years, not since he was sent to death row. Now, his execution has been set and Joe needs to see his brother before it’s too late.


Book cover for Muse of nightmares
Muse of nightmares
Taylor, Laini,
Call Number: YA

In the sequel to Strange the Dreamer, Lazlo Strange and Sarai must rise above the hate and talk of war in order to create a better life for their themselves and their loved ones. But how do you change the world when the world does not want to be changed?


Book cover for My Brother's Husband Vol. 2
My Brother's Husband Vol. 2
Tagame, Gengoroh
Call Number: 740.9999 M9955-16 v.2

Yaichi has a special houseguest staying with him, his brother’s husband, Mike. Having Mike in his house, forces Yaichi to reevaluate his memories of his brother and his worries and assumptions about homosexuality. All three of the main characters: Yaichi, his daughter Kana, and Mike are kind to one another in a way that builds a tender and optimistic story

Book cover for Orphan monster spy
Orphan monster spy
Killeen, Matt.
Call Number: YA

Sarah, a blond and blue-eyed Jewish teen, finds herself alone after a Nazi kills her mother. When she meets a mysterious man, she makes it her mission to help him infiltrate the government by making friends with the children of Nazis at a school. A mix of historical fiction and spine-tingling action keeps the reader interested in Sarah, and her success as she uncovers secrets that both directly affect her and the world at large.


Book cover for The Prince and the Dressmaker
The Prince and the Dressmaker
Wang, Jen
Call Number: 740.9999 W246

Prince Sebastian likes to wear dresses. He hires a seamstress, Frances, to make them for him in secret, but no one else knows that he likes to go out at night as Lady Crystallia, fashion icon. But how long can they contain their secret before the world finds out and/or Frances leaves to pursue her own dreams?  


Book cover for Sam and Ilsa's Last Hurrah
Sam and Ilsa's Last Hurrah
Cohn, Rachel.
Call Number: YA

Twins Sam and Ilsa are marking the end of their high school careers with one of their famous dinner parties at their grandmother’s tony Manhattan high-rise apartment. With the dinner guests including each twin’s ex-boyfriend, a mystery foreigner called Subway Boy, and a guy who speaks through a sock puppet named Caspian, this is not a dinner invitation you can possibly turn down. 

Book cover for Ship It
Ship It
Lundin, Britta,
Call Number: YA

Claire is a devoted fan of the supernatural television show Demon Heart, and has a secret life writing the most popular Demon Heart fan fiction online. She is thrilled when she hears the stars of the show will be at a local Comic-Con. But things go awry when Forrest, the lead of the show, angrily dismisses her belief that the two male characters of the show are in love. When their confrontation goes viral, Claire and Forrest find themselves at the center of the debate about who truly owns the show: the fans or the creators. A sweet, funny, and frank look at the world of fan fiction, slash fiction, tumblr and fan conventions that gives a nuanced take on this debate. 

Book cover for Social intercourse
Social intercourse
Howard, Greg,
Call Number: YA

Beckett Gaines and Jaxon Parker may live in the same small South Carolina town, but they are worlds apart. Beck is a “Golden Girls”-obsessed, ostentatiously gay theater kid. Jax is the varsity quarterback and student body president who is absolutely, positively not gay. But when Beck’s father begins dating one of Jax’s erstwhile lesbian mothers, the pair have to work together to break them up.


Book cover for Sometime after midnight
Sometime after midnight
Philips, L,
Call Number: YA

Nate is conflicted. When he meets Cam at a concert, he seems like the perfect guy. But when he finds out that Cam is the scion of the family-run music label that drove his musician father to suicide, Nate bolts, leaving Cam with nothing but an accidental cell phone photo of Nate’s customized shoes and the beginning of a quest to track him down.

Book cover for Speak: The Graphic Novel
Speak: The Graphic Novel
Anderson, Laurie Halse
Call Number: 740.9999 A547

Melinda enters her freshman year of high school as an outcast after events that took place at a party during the summer. As she is grappling with what happened that night, she attempts to find solace in her art class. Released on the 20th anniversary of the original publication of Speak, Emily Carroll’s illustrations give a haunting and powerful new visual perspective to this classic novel.

Book cover for Tess of the road
Tess of the road
Hartman, Rachel, 1972-
Call Number: YA

Tess is impulsive, fiery, and vocal--all the things that have caused her parents to believe that her place is in a nunnery.  The night before she is to go, she rebels and runs away, disguised as a boy. As she wanders the medieval land of Goredd, she slowly comes to terms with the past she is running from and gains confidence in the future. This heartwarming and heart-wrenching tale of exploration, self-discovery and more importantly self-forgiveness is set in the same world as Rachel Hartman’s previous two books, Seraphina and Shadow Scale.


Book cover for The unbeatable squirrel girl. by Ryan North and Erica Henderson. Vol. 8. My best friend's squirrel
The unbeatable squirrel girl. by Ryan North and Erica Henderson. Vol. 8. My best friend's squirrel
North, Ryan, 1980-
Call Number: 741.5 S7745 v.8

Squirrel Girl is surrounded by friends, everyone from Koi Boy to Iron Man. But her best friend is Nancy, college student and generally awesome person. When Nancy and Squirrel Girl find themselves trapped out of sync with time, they make the best of it by trying to protect all of New York.


Book cover for X-Men red. written by Tom Taylor ; pencilled by Mahmud Asrar and Pascal Alixe. Vol. 1, The hate machine
X-Men red. written by Tom Taylor ; pencilled by Mahmud Asrar and Pascal Alixe. Vol. 1, The hate machine
Taylor, Tom, 1978-
Call Number: 741.5 X15Ta v.1

The X-men protect a world that hates and fears them. They are a poignant metaphor for the struggle against discrimination, racism, homophobia, sexism, and other movements based in fear. Sometimes this metaphor gets lost in the struggle with giant killer robots, but The Hate Machine brings it back, front and center. It turns out that discrimination is harder to fight than giant robots, but at least there are heroes willing to try.