Best of 2016: Teen

Updated: June 30, 2022

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.

American Girls
Umminger, Alison
Call Number: YA

Anna runs away to Los Angeles for the summer to live with her struggling actress sister, and ends up researching the Manson girls for a film her sister's creepy ex-boyfriend is directing. A smart, dark book that gets LA exactly right. 


Spangler, Brie,
Call Number: YA

15-year-old Dylan’s appearance scares people off and earns him the nickname the Beast. Recovering from an injury in a hospital and group therapy, he meets Jamie, who is unlike any other girl he has known. Dylan’s feelings are shaken when he learns Jamie is transgender. A funny, bittersweet look at first love, loosely modeled after Beauty and the Beast




The call
O Guilin, Peadar,
Call Number: YA

The Irish people have dealt with horror for 25 years. 10-year-old children are trained in order to get them ready for the Call that comes without notice, and they are dropped naked into another world where they avoid being captured by the horrible Sídhe. Nessa, disabled from polio, may be the one to uncover the mysteries of the Sídhe.

Crooked kingdom : a sequel to six of crows.
Bardugo, Leigh.
Call Number: YA

In her follow-up to last year’s excellent Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo shifts from a heist to a con and shows just how messy things can be if you double-cross Kaz Brekker and his team. And how much you can lose. It’s difficult to imagine a more satisfying conclusion to this story. 




The female of the species
McGinnis, Mindy,
Call Number: YA

Since Alex Craft’s sister was murdered and the killer got away, she has not been able to relate to other teens. Star athlete Jack Fisher and preacher’s kid Peekay find a way to reach her. During their senior year, these three teens change each other's lives forever.

Giant days. created & written by John Allison ; illustrated by Lissa Treiman (chapters 5-6) and Max Sarin (chapters 7-8) ; colors by Whitney Cogar ; letters by Jim Campbell. Vol. 2
Allison, John, 1976-
Call Number: 741.5 G434Al v.2

This is the story of three college roommates doing college roommate things, like taking down sexist classmates, realizing they haven’t studied for tomorrow’s test, and visiting their hometown to take down their hometown nemesis. This is a funny story with great characters and wonderful dialogue. 


The Graces
Eve, Laure,
Call Number: YA

Siblings Summer, Fenrin, and Thalia Grace are high school celebrities, and may also be witches. River, the new girl in school, is drawn to them, hoping some of their cachet will rub off on her.But as the school year progresses, it becomes clear that it’s not just wanting to be the center of attention that they have in common


Grayson. Tom King, Tim Seeley, writers ; Mikel Janin, artist. Vol. 2
Seeley, Tim,
Call Number: 741.5 G7845Se v.2

Robin, from Batman & Robin, is a spy working for Spyral. He gets to do ridiculous acrobatics, wreck all sorts of vehicles, and wear a tuxedo sometimes. This story delves into all the things that make Grayson the man he is, from his kindness to his propensity for making horrible puns

Highly illogical behavior
Whaley, John Corey,
Call Number: YA

Agoraphobic 16-year-old Solomon has not left his house in three years. Lisa is determined to fix him and use the experience as a ticket to a psychology program at the college of her dreams. When she and her boyfriend Clark get close to Solomon, all her plans crumble.


And I darken
White, Kiersten,
Call Number: YA

Vlad the Impaler has gone down in history as the murderous prince who inspired Dracula, but what would have happened if Vlad had been born a girl? Lada Dracul fights to break the limitations put upon her by her father and the Ottoman Empire, but learns such dreams often come at a high price. And I Darken fulfills the title's prophecy by leading readers down a dark and winding path to what might become Lada's infamous destiny. 



If I Was Your Girl
Russo, Meredith
Call Number: YA

Amanda Hardy is a transgender young woman transferring to a new school. Determined to keep everyone at a distance until graduation, Amanda is surprised when she makes friends and falls in love for the first time. A thoughtful, moving look at love, and understanding who you really are. 



Labyrinth lost
Cordova, Zoraida,
Call Number: YA

Alex is a bruja who does not want to have her family’s magical powers.On Deathday, she will cast a spell to get rid of those powers.The spell goes awry and her family vanishes. Nova, a mysterious boy, helps her to save herself and her family. The predominantly Hispanic and various LGBTQ characters are all part of this coming-of-age novel about love, magic and fantasy.

Lady midnight
Clare, Cassandra.
Call Number: YA

Set in Los Angeles, five years after the war’s end, Emma Carstairs is determined to find the cause of her parents’ deaths and investigate a series of faerie murders. She is helped by her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, but matters get complicated when his kidnapped brother (long ago kidnapped by the faeries) returns to aid them.

Moon girl and devil dinosaur. by Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare ; art by Natacha Bustos. Vol. 1, BFF
Hadley, Amy Reeder, 1980-
Call Number: 741.5 M8183Ha v.1

Sometimes, when you are a bullied, misunderstood, preteen genius what you really need is a giant, red, fire breathing Tyrannosaurus rex. He’s the best friend a girl can have. 


Orange : the complete collection. story and art by Ichigo Takano; translation, Amber Tamosaitis; adaptation, Shannon Fay; lettering and layout, Lys Blakeslee. 1
Takano, Ichigo, .
Call Number: 740.9999 O635-2 v.1
In a two-volume bittersweet manga of high school friendship and love, Naho receives a letter from her future self,10 years in the future, with things to do. She ignores the advice at first, but when the letter begins to describe things before they happen, she begins to take heed, especially when the advice focuses on Kakeru, the cute new transfer student. This is volume 1.

The Raven King
Stiefvater, Maggie.
Call Number: YA

This is the 4th and final book in the Raven Cycle and lots of things are happening at once. High School is drawing to a close. The hunt for Glendower, a mystical king, continues at a breakneck pace, with people of dubious intent joining the hunt. Magic exists in this world, if you can find it, but it’s fragile. There are things that even magic can’t change or fix. This entire series is well written, lyrical, and full of compelling characters that make me wish for a spin-off Raven Cycle: The College Years.



Wood, Brian, 1972- author, creator.
Call Number: 741.5 R2895Wo
A fictional retelling of the American Revolution told from the perspective of Seth and Mercy Abbot, colonists fighting the front line in the New England colonies against the Redcoats. The action-packed graphic novel is not told from the point of view of famous men, but from the misery of people in the trenches. 

Revenge and the wild
Modesto, Michelle.
Call Number: YA

Rogue City is like any other western town--lawless and dangerous. For Westie it's the perfect place to be raised by a local inventor after cannibals murdered her family, and took her arm. The search for the killers takes our heroic and strong protagonist through a land of violence, magic and monsters. 

Rocks fall, everyone dies
Ribar, Lindsay,
Call Number: YA

The saying “With great power comes great responsibility” comes into play in this strange yet compelling book. Aspen is from a family who can take a person’s innermost fears, thoughts, and emotions to use in a ritual to keep a nearby mountain from falling--or in Aspen’s case, for his own gain. This is a fascinating character study and a look at the line between morality and manipulation.


Salt to the sea : a novel
Sepetys, Ruta.
Call Number: YA

Joana, a Lithuanian nurse; Emilia, a young Polish girl; and Florian, a mysterious Prussian with secret papers, are all refugees fleeing the oncoming invasion of Soviet forces in East Prussia in the wake of the Nazi evacuation.  At first wary of each other, the three eventually come to rely on each other for survival on a journey converging on the Wilhelm Gustloff.  This historical novel brings to life this little known horrific maritime tragedy, the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff during WWII


Snow White : a graphic novel
Phelan, Matt.
Call Number: 740.9999 P538
In this beautiful Depression-era graphic retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Snow White is a poor penniless girl and the dwarves are seven orphans. The artwork is dramatic, with pencil and wash drawings of New York and the text delightfully sparse.  

The Sun is Also a Star
Yoon, Nicola
Call Number: YA

Told over several hours on an ordinary day in New York, teens Natasha and Daniel meet, and discover the universe, which in its own extraordinary way, has brought them into each other’s lives.

Symptoms of Being Human
Garvin, Jeff.
Call Number: YA

Riley Cavanaugh is a genderfluid teenager who becomes an accidental advice columnist while navigating friendship, love, family, mental health, and the frustrations and scariness of a world that insists, for no apparent reason, that identity has to be binary. Riley is a charming and hilarious narrator, and Garvin creates a story that is thoughtful, entertaining, and never didactic.


Threadbare : clothes, sex, & trafficking
Moore, Anne Elizabeth,
Call Number: 364.15 M821
A cultural studies tour-de-force graphic collection of comics that connects the clothing industry, global trade and gender politics. The book explores the clothing industry in Austria, connects with factories in Cambodia and explains the relationship between NGOs, sex workers and cheap labor. Perfect for politically minded older teens and adults who would like an explanation on global trade, fast fashion and unintended political consequences.

A tyranny of petticoats : 15 stories of belles, bank robbers & other badass girls
Call Number: YA

With stories written by various popular YA authors such as Marie Lu and Marissa Meyer, this collection follows fifteen extraordinary American women, from the 18th century colonial world of pirates and new discoveries to the tumultuous 1960s.

The unbeatable squirrel girl. Ryan North, Erica Henderson. Vol. 3
North, Ryan, 1980-
Call Number: 741.5 S7745 v.3

Squirrel girl has a cheerful, empathetic, and slightly off-kilter way of dealing with the problems typical of any superhero. She will not be found brooding about her problems on roof tops, but you might find her chatting with the planet-eating Galactus, or “borrowing” Ironman’s armor. She is bright, exhilarating, and hilarious.


Welcome to the ballroom. Tomo Takeuchi. 1
Takeuchi, Tomo,
Call Number: 740.9999 W4425-1 v.1
In this manga, socially awkward Tatara Fujita gets bullied every day for cash and gets saved by the smooth and confident Kaname Sengoku. How did Kaname Sengoku become so confident? Welcome to the world of competitive dance, where Tatara might get brave enough to dance with a girl?  

The winner's kiss.
Rutkoski, Marie.
Call Number: YA

In the final book of The Winner’s Trilogy, the dance continues between Lady Kestrel, daughter and only child of General Trajan of the Valorian army, and Arin, the Herrani slave she purchased impulsively at auction. Over the course of the trilogy there have been misunderstandings, lies, allegiances have shifted, decisions have been made that had dire consequences, and sacrifices have been made on both sides as these two navigate the treacherous relationship that started as slave and master and has developed into something so much more. The final chapters will leave readers breathless.

Yona of the dawn. story & art by Mizuho Kusanagi ; English adaptation, Ysabet Reinhardt MacFarlane ; translation, JN Productions ; touch-up art & lettering, Lys Blakeslee. 1
Kusanagi, Mizuho, 1979-
Call Number: 740.9999 Y5548 v.1
In this epic manga, Yona is the only princess in her kingdom. Doted on by her father, protected by Hak, her guard, she is love with Soo-Won. All things get turned around when Soo-Won usurps the throne, kills her entire family, and Yona escapes with the aid of Hak. This is an epic story page turner of a story.