Best of 2015: Teen

Updated: January 26, 2019

The best 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 All American Boys
All American Boys
Reynolds, Jason,
Call Number: YA

Told in alternating voices, this is the compelling and nuanced story of two Springfield High School students: Rashad, a black 16-year-old ROTC member and aspiring artist, and Quinn, a white senior and varsity basketball player, and what happens when an off-duty officer and family friend of Quinn viciously assaults Rashad at a corner store after wrongly assuming he was stealing a bag of chips. 


Book cover for Better than perfect
Better than perfect
Kantor, Melissa,
Call Number: YA

Although someone’s life may appear perfect on the outside, oftentimes the reality underneath is something much different. The story of high school senior Juliet, whose family life is destroyed when her father leaves, and her mother has a breakdown, illustrates this universal truth in a believable, relatable way.


Book cover for Bone Gap
Bone Gap
Ruby, Laura
Call Number: YA

Set in the rural farm town of Bone Gap, Illinois from where the mysterious Polish Roza disappears just as curiously as she arrived leaving 16-year-old Finn feeling responsible for letting her go with a strange man. While the people of Bone Gap, including his older brother Sean, don't believe him and feel certain she ran away, Finn must cope with his feelings of guilt over the knowledge that he allowed her to be kidnapped and becomes determined to find her.

Book cover for Book Scavenger
Book Scavenger
Chambliss Bertman, Jennifer,
Call Number: YA

Twelve-year-old Emily's family is relocating to San Francisco, home of her literary idol, Garrison Griswold, creator of the online game sensation, Book Scavenger, where books are hidden all over the country and clues are revealed through puzzles. But Griswold has been attacked and is in a coma, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch. Then Emily and her new friend, James, discover an odd book, which might be Griswold's and could lead to a valuable prize. However, there are others on the hunt for this book, and Emily and James must race to solve the puzzles Griswold left behind before the attackers target them. Fans of the 39 Steps series will find this even more intense.


Book cover for Carry on : the rise and fall of Simon Snow
Carry on : the rise and fall of Simon Snow
Rowell, Rainbow,
Call Number: YA

This meta novel is a fan fiction of a fictional series from one of the author’s previous novels. Confused yet? Don’t worry, the world of Simon and Baz is so encompassing you need no prior knowledge to lose yourself in this magical tale. Simon Snow is supposed to save the world, but he can’t even spell open the door to his dorm at Watford School of Magicks. On top of it he’s forced to room with his arch nemesis, Baz, who in addition to being a jerk is probably a bloodsucking vampire. And don’t forget the evil being attempting to cleanse magic from the world. On the bright side, Simon has his best friend Penny, his girlfriend Agatha, and his mentor the Mage to keep him alive and sane. But when Baz doesn’t show up for the first week of school, Simon begins to suspect that his final year at Watford may be the most hazardous yet. 

Book cover for Crimson bound
Crimson bound
Hodge, Rosamund.
Call Number: YA

As a young girl, Rachelle was apprenticed to her aunt to become a woodwife, to learn protective charms and lore to protect her village from the forest-born and woodspawn, inhuman creatures of the Great Forest. At fifteen, Rachelle strays off the protective path and meets with a dark creature, becoming the very evil she had been sworn to protect against.  In penance, she serves the king and is set to protect the King’s son, Armand, from deadly enemies. Not what you would normally expect in a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, but this rich, complex and dark tale will keep readers in suspense.


Book cover for Dead to me
Dead to me
McCoy, Mary, 1976-
Call Number: YA

Sixteen-year-old Alice is pulled into a world of dangerous movie stars, corrupt police officers, and tough-talking private eyes as she searches for the person who tried to kill her older sister in this mystery set in 1940s Hollywood. This is LAPL Librarian Mary McCoy's first novel.

Book cover for Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans
Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans
Brown, Don
Call Number: 976.32 N55Br

A graphic-novel take on the devastation, both from the hurricane and from government infrastructure, about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. The book is painterly in its drawings as it depicts the horrors of the victims’ lives, with a touch of hope at the end with the rebuilding of New Orleans. Recommended for those teenagers looking to see how communities and government can work or not.


Book cover for Everything, everything
Everything, everything
Yoon, Nicola.
Call Number: YA

What if you were allergic to literally everything? Maddy knows what it’s like firsthand. She’s been trapped inside her house since she was a little girl due to a rare disease. She’s never wondered too much about life outside until charming Olly and his sister move in next door. Now Maddy wants everything that she can’t have.


Book cover for The game of love and death
The game of love and death
Brockenbrough, Martha,
Call Number: YA

For centuries, Love and Death have played a game with human pawns: if the humans choose each other against all odds, Love wins; if they don't, Death wins and the players' lives are forfeit. Love has never won, but likes his chances with the players Henry, a white boy adopted by a wealthy family, and Flora, an African-American girl who can sing jazz and fix airplanes. With smart writing, a unique concept, and a dreamy 1930s Seattle setting, this ambitious story will stay with you long after the last page. 

Book cover for The Hired Girl
The Hired Girl
Schlitz, Laura Amy
Call Number: YA

Recounted in the form of a diary, lively and intelligent Joan escapes an abusive family and a life of drudgery on the farm for hard work and opportunity in the city. While working as a hired girl in a well-to-do Jewish household, she learns about faith, family, love, and life, all the while holding out hope for a proper education.    

Book cover for Illuminae
Kaufman, Amie.
Call Number: YA

Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff tell a story of loss, determination, investigation and love-- all lost and found through emails, IMs, various types of files and direct data dumps from an AI that may, or may not, be insane. It is a heart-pounding, heart-breaking, mind-blowing novel that will be unlike anything you have ever read.


Book cover for Infandous
Arnold, Elana K.
Call Number: YA

The word “infandous” means “too terrible to be spoken aloud,” and that’s the kind of secret Sephora Golding is carrying around with her. Set in the Venice Beach community, this book is about the treacherous landscape of teenage girlhood and the lies that fairy tales tell us. Both beautiful and harrowing, we recommend this book to fans of Janet Fitch’s White Oleander, as well as mature teen readers.

Book cover for Ink and Bone: The Great Library
Ink and Bone: The Great Library
Caine, Rachel.
Call Number: YA

Jess Brightwell lives in a world in which the Great Library of Alexander rules everything with an iron fist, where even owning a personal book is illegal.  In deference to his family, Jess undertakes training with the Great Library of Alexandria, where he soon realizes achieving an actual apprenticeship is not only highly competitive but very dangerous, even deadly.  Full of intrigue and plot twists, Ink and Bone is the beginning of a promising new series by Rachel Caine. 


Book cover for Inuyashiki. Hiroya Oku. Vol. 1
Inuyashiki. Hiroya Oku. Vol. 1
Oku, Hiroya,
Call Number: 740.9999 I6153 v.1

In this ongoing manga, Inuyashiki, an inept salariman, struggles with finding meaning in his life: his children don’t respect him, he is friendless and the world disrespects him. He finds out that he has cancer. However, in true manga form, Inuyashiki gets attacked by teenage hooligans, struck by lightning, and finds out he is now stronger than ever before. Great book where readers can root for an elderly person who does some superhero antics. This series is meant for older teens.

Book cover for Last of the sandwalkers
Last of the sandwalkers
Hosler, Jay (Jay S.), artist,
Call Number: 740.9999 H826

Lucy, a scientist beetle, is leading an expedition of fellow beetles to explore beyond their secluded beetle community of New Coleopolis. What will Lucy find outside of Coleopolis? What is it that the beetle elders are hiding from the citizens of New Coleopolis? This fast-paced graphic novel, with a well-developed world, is recommended for those who are fans of Gene Luen Yang.



Book cover for Lumberjanes Volume 1
Lumberjanes Volume 1
Stevenson, Noelle
Call Number: 740.9999 L9575 v.1

Five best friends spending the summer at Lumberjane scout camp...defeating yetis, three-eyed wolves, and giant falcons...what’s not to love?!


Book cover for A madness so discreet
A madness so discreet
McGinnis, Mindy.
Call Number: YA

“Grace Mae knows madness . . . ” Set in 1890, readers plunge head-first into darkness with Grace Mae, a teenager who became pregnant, and at the whim of her father, was imprisoned in an insane asylum. After a chain of events at the asylum causes her to lose her child, a visiting doctor rescues her with an odd proposal: fake her death and become his crime-scene-investigating assistant. This YA historical novel is a piercing look at the madness in ourselves, and in others, and how we all must eventually face that madness. Beautiful and powerful in its delivery. 


Book cover for Magonia
Headley, Maria Dahvana, 1977-
Call Number: YA

As she lies dying and unable to breathe, Aza Ray sees a ship floating in the sky. When she wakes up, she finds herself aboard the ship, far away from everything she had and was: her family, her friends, and even her body have all been left behind. However, Aza Ray has her will, her courage, and her strength of character, but even these attributes may not be enough to help her survive.



Book cover for March: Book Two
March: Book Two
Lewis, John
Call Number: 323.4092 L674-2 v.2

Congressman John Lewis powerfully recounts his journey in the 1960s' civil rights movement as the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The strength of March is the ability of Congressman John Lewis to teach a new generation about the events of the civil rights movement in a way that both entertains and educates.

Book cover for More happy than not
More happy than not
Silvera, Adam, 1990-
Call Number: YA

Aaron is just a regular teenager in the Bronx with a girlfriend, and a growing friendship with a new kid, Thomas. He’s confused about his feelings and what he wants, and thinks that the Leteo Institute’s memory altering surgery might be just what he needs to be happy--or not.



Book cover for Ms. Marvel. writer, G. Willow Wilson ; artist, Adrian Alphona ; color artist, Ian Herring ; letterer, VC's Joe Caramagna. Vol. 3, Crushed
Ms. Marvel. writer, G. Willow Wilson ; artist, Adrian Alphona ; color artist, Ian Herring ; letterer, VC's Joe Caramagna. Vol. 3, Crushed
Wilson, G. Willow, 1982-
Call Number: 741.5 C2547Wi v.3

Whether you are a young woman who has suddenly developed inhuman powers and decided to use them in a fight for justice or not, dating is hard. Learning who you can rely on and trust is always going to be a scary process. The interference of super villains and giant teleporting dogs doesn’t help. 

Book cover for Nimona
Stevenson, ND
Call Number: 740.9999 S848

Nimona is eager to become the sidekick of Ballister Blackheart, "the biggest name in supervillainy!" With her shapeshifting powers and penchant for violence, she’s good to have around. In their villainous spree, Nimona and Ballister are taking on everyone from the Institution running the kingdom to the obnoxiously heroic Sir Goldenloin. Hopefully, at least some of the kingdom will still be standing when they're done.

Book cover for Orbiting Jupiter
Orbiting Jupiter
Schmidt, Gary D.
Call Number: YA

When Jack’s parents decide to foster 8th grader, Joseph, they know he has had a rough past. Even though Jack’s friends all think he should stay away from Joseph, Jack befriends him anyway. Joseph is not a bad kid, he’s been through a lot in his brief 14 years, including fathering a child with a young girl he loved. Jack and his family promise to help Joseph find his baby daughter, Jupiter. You can’t help but fall in love with Joseph, Jack, Jack’s parents, and some of the teachers. Grab some tissues for this read.



Book cover for The Porcupine of Truth
The Porcupine of Truth
Konigsberg, Bill
Call Number: YA

New Yorker, Carson Speier is forced to spend the summer in Montana so his mother can tend to Carson’s estranged, sick father. Once there, he meets Aisha, who has been kicked out of her home after coming out as a lesbian to her conservative father. The two of them soon embark on a road trip after Carson discovers secret letters his grandfather sent to Carson’s dad, who was under the impression he’d been abandoned as a child long ago. 


Book cover for The sacred lies of Minnow Bly
The sacred lies of Minnow Bly
Oakes, Stephanie (Young adult author).
Call Number: YA

Minnow Bly grows up in a cult called “The Community” with a leader known as “The Prophet.”  When we meet her she has had her hands chopped off, and there is a bloodied body next to her.  The story alternates between her life in the community and juvenile prison.  Surprisingly uplifting, this page turner is for mature teens only.


Book cover for The shepherd's crown
The shepherd's crown
Pratchett, Terry,
Call Number: YA

The last book in the Discworld series, continues the adventures of Tiffany Aching. A death means that Tiffany inherits another job, which is immediately made more complicated by the machinations of the Faeries. With the help of the Feegles, her fellow witches, and a scrappy group of old men Tiffany must save the day.


Book cover for A silent voice. by Yoshitoki Oima. 1
A silent voice. by Yoshitoki Oima. 1
Oima, Yoshitoki.
Call Number: 740.9999 S5825 v.1

An ongoing manga series about high schooler Shoyo, a bully who has now been isolated and shunned, and Shoka, a deaf girl, as they possibly learn to be friends. In elementary school the bullying of Shoka by Shoyo and his friends went too far. This manga is not an easy read, but tells a beautiful story about the difficulty of growing up.


Book cover for Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda
Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda
Albertalli, Becky
Call Number: YA

16-year-old Simon finds himself the target of blackmail when a schoolmate finds Simon's email sent to a boy anonymously met online. and who also goes to their school. As his email correspondence with “Blue” progresses, Simon must deal with not only his blackmailer, who wants to be set up with Simon’s friend, but his own circle of friends and family as he decides how and when to come out, and on his own terms.

Book cover for Six of Crows
Six of Crows
Bardugo, Leigh
Call Number: YA

Six dangerous outcasts, one impossible heist equals one amazing book. Leigh Bardugo, the author of The Grisha Trilogy, returns to Ravka with a tale about six nobodies attempting to do the impossible. It is compelling, fascinating, nerve-racking, laugh-out-loud funny and so much more!

Book cover for Skyscraping
Jensen, Cordelia.
Call Number: YA

Also available for download as an e-book

Set in 1993, Mira enters her senior year and has to cope with discovering that her father is not only having an affair with another man, and that he's contracted HIV, but that her parents have an open relationship. Throughout the year she'll learn about what it means to love and forgive, and to learn and grow. 


Book cover for Symphony for the city of the dead : Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad
Symphony for the city of the dead : Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad
Anderson, M. T,
Call Number: 789.74 S559An

M.T. Anderson’s first foray into young adult non-fiction is a love letter to the city of Leningrad, just like the Shostakovich symphony that he writes about. World famous composer, Dmitri Shostakovich was born in Russia at a time of great turmoil. While the book covers Shostakovich’s entire life, the focus is during World War II, when the city of Leningrad was under siege for 872 days. During the siege, Shostakovich wrote his Seventh Symphony, and miraculously it was performed in Leningrad even though the musicians were literally starving to death. The performance of the sympathy was a turning point for the Russians because it was symbolic of their patriotism and spirit of survival. A fascinating read for history buffs and/or music lovers.



Book cover for The thrilling adventures of Lovelace and Babbage
The thrilling adventures of Lovelace and Babbage
Padua, Sydney.
Call Number: 740.9999 P125

Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage worked together to develop the first proto-computer until Lovelace died prematurely. But what if she hadn’t? Learn more about Ada, Charles, their Analytical Engine, and their world in an alternate, steampunk history about their continuing adventures.



Book cover for Tiny pretty things
Tiny pretty things
Charaipotra, Sona,
Call Number: YA

A fascinating fictional glimpse into the unexpectedly cut-throat world of ballet, exposing rivalries within the company as the ballerinas compete to be the “chosen one” for prime roles. Great for ballet enthusiasts and anyone who loved the film The Black Swan.

Book cover for The unbeatable squirrel girl. Ryan North, Erica Henderson. Vol. 1, Squirrel power
The unbeatable squirrel girl. Ryan North, Erica Henderson. Vol. 1, Squirrel power
North, Ryan, 1980-
Call Number: 741.5 S7745 v.1

Some superheroes brood--not Squirrel Girl! With an upbeat attitude and fearless optimism Squirrel Girl heads off to college. With the power to talk to squirrels, and enhanced speed and strength (like a squirrel’s), is there any challenge she can’t face?  


Book cover for Walk on Earth a stranger
Walk on Earth a stranger
Carson, Rae,
Call Number: YA

16-year-old Leigh’s secret ability to sense gold puts her in grave danger. Seeking safety and fortune, she disguises herself as a boy and sets off for California’s new gold rush from her native Georgia, encountering hardship and adventure all the way.

Book cover for What we saw
What we saw
Hartzler, Aaron.
Call Number: YA

What happens when your small town classmates put together a drunken party, some football players, and the presence of social media?  Oh, yes, and one vulnerable girl who is labelled “white trash”. And you – the "other girl" that gets safely home.  Told from the point of view of the "other girl", Kate Weston, who has to know the truth.  Based on the recent Steubenville, Ohio case.   By the author of Rapture Practice.


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

With a stage set over the four previous books in The Lunar Chronicles series (Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Fairest), Marissa Meyer has taken on the formidable challenge of not only retelling one more classic fairytale, Snow White, in the far flung future, but of also wrapping up the myriad storylines and character arcs established in the previous novels. Winter is a marvelous addition to the series and a very satisfying conclusion.  


Book cover for Wonders of the invisible world
Wonders of the invisible world
Barzak, Christopher,
Call Number: e-Book

When Aiden's childhood best friend, Jarrod, returns to town, his reappearance triggers memories that reveal a world of magic and insight Aiden didn't know he had, pulling him into the shadow world in order to save his family.