If you’re headed to the beach wishing you could re-read The Hunger Games, Harry Potter or Percy Jackson and the Olympians again for the first time, you’re not alone. For some reason, the start of summer always puts me in the mood for young adult books. Some of these recommendations are written with even younger children in mind, but all can be enjoyed by adults of any mental (or physical) age. Note for those of you reading this list for suggestions for your own children, please investigate before buying to make sure it is right for yours as some deal with more adult situations and may be more suited for adults or older children.
(Summaries and age recommendations provided by the author/publisher.)
FOR THOSE WHO ENJOYED THE HUNGER GAMES BY SUZANNE COLLINS:
STARTERS by Lissa Price Sequels: ENDERS, the second in the series, will be released December 2012. Age: 12+ (there are adult themes)
In a future Los Angeles, becoming someone else is now possible. Sixteen-year-old Callie discovers the Body Bank where teens rent their bodies to seniors who want to be young again. But when her neurochip malfunctions, she wakes up in the mansion of her rich renter and finds she is going out with a senator’s grandson. It’s a fairy-tale new life, until she discovers her renter’s deadly plan.
Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth First Book: DIVERGENT Sequels: INSURGENT, available now. Age: 14+
In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves… or it might destroy her.
FOR THOSE WHO ENJOY RICK RIORDAN (PERCY JACKSON, KANE CHRONICLES, ETC.):
The Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley First Book: THE FAIRY TALE DETECTIVES Sequels: There are seven books available in this series. Age: 8+
Note: This series is also fun for fans of the TV series GRIMM or ONCE UPON A TIME.
In Book One of the series, we meet two sisters, Sabrina and Daphne, who have been sent to live with their mysterious grandmother, Relda Grimm. From their first day in Ferryport Landing, the sisters begin to unravel a mystery that reveals a family secret. Sabrina and Daphne learn they are descendants of the Brothers Grimm, whose famous book of fairy tales is actually a history book. Snow White, the Three Little Pigs, the Big Bad Wolf—they’re all alive and now neighbors of Granny Relda in this community of Everafters, as magical folks like to be called. But life is not a fairy tale in Ferryport Landing. Someone has set a giant loose on the town, and it’s up to the sisters Grimm to stop the giant and find the Everafter behind its murderous rampage. Is it Mayor Charming, formerly Prince Charming, who may have plans to get his kingdom back? Or Jack, the erstwhile giant killer, now working at the Big & Tall store?
OH. MY. GODS. by Tera Lynn Childs Sequels: GODDESS BOOT CAMP is the second in the series. Age: 12+
If Phoebe Castro can keep her grades up and have another stellar cross-country season, her dream of attending USC with her best friends is only a track scholarship away. She’s made all her plans, so it’s a complete shock when her mom announces she’s marrying a mysterious stranger and moving them half-way around the world—to Greece. Phoebe’s stuck on a secret island in the Aegean attending the super-exclusive Academy, where her new stepfather is the headmaster and the kids are anything but your average students—they are descendants of the Greek gods, super powers included. That’s right, Greek gods are no myth! If Phoebe thought high school was hard, she knows this is going to be mortal misery.
Securing that scholarship seems like Phoebe’s only ticket out of Greece, but training and maintaining her grades will be grueling, even without a sabotaging stepsister from Hades and a gorgeous guy—what a god!—who just might be her Achilles heel. One thing is for sure—summoning the will to win and find her place among the gods could be Phoebe’s toughest course yet.
The Greek gods get a makeover in this romantic odyssey of mythic proportion.
Mythos Academy series by Jennifer Estep First Book: TOUCH OF FROST Sequels: There are three books in the series so far, and several e-stories. Age: 13+ (there are adult themes)
The Mythos Academy books focus on Gwen Frost, a 17-year-old Gypsy girl who has the gift of psychometry, or the ability to know an object’s history just by touching it. Gwen’s magic lets her see everyone who has ever touched or used an object as well as feel their emotions — the good, the bad, and the ugly.
After a serious freak-out with her magic, Gwen finds herself shipped off to Mythos Academy, a school for the descendants of ancient warriors like Spartans, Valkyries, and more. The academy is located in the fictional suburb of Cypress Mountain, North Carolina, and the kids there are training how to use their magic and various skills to fight Reapers of Chaos. The Reapers are some seriously bad guys who want to free the evil god Loki from his mystical prison so Loki can take over the world and enslave everyone.
Gwen doesn’t think that she belongs at the academy or that she’s any kind of warrior, but she’s wrong — and she’s a lot stronger than she realizes.
FOR THOSE WHO ENJOY THE BEAUTIFUL CREATURES SERIES BY KAMI GARCIA & MARGARET STOHL:
Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins First Book: HEX HALL Sequels: There are three books in the series. Age: 18+
Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father—an elusive European warlock—only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.
By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.
As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.
FOR THOSE WHO ENJOYED MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN BY RANSOM RIGGS:
The 13th Reality series by James Dashner First Book: THE JOURNAL OF CURIOUS LETTERS Sequels: There are three books in the series so far. Age: 8+
Note: The series website is worth checking out!
What if every time you made a choice that had a significant consequence, a new, alternate reality was created the life that would’ve been? What if those new Realities were in danger? What if it fell to you to save all the realities?
Atticus Higginbottom, a.k.a. Tick, is a regular thirteen-year-old boy living a regular life until the day a strange letter arrives in his mailbox. Postmarked from Alaska and cryptically signed with the initials “M.G.,” the letter informs Tick that dangerous perhaps even deadly events have been set in motion that could result in the destruction of reality itself. M.G. promises to send Tick twelve riddles that will reveal that on a certain day, at a certain time, at a certain place, something extraordinary will happen.
Will Tick have the courage to follow the twelve clues M.G. sends to him? Will he be able to solve the riddles in time? As M.G. warns Tick, very frightening things are coming your way. Will you join Tick and his friends on an amazing journey through the Realities? What will your choice be?
Dreamhouse Kings series by Robert Liparulo First Book: HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS Sequels: There are six books in the series. Age: 13+
Note: This is Stephen King for kids. Another great author website.
When the Kings move to a small town in northern California, they have no idea of the adventures—and terrors—waiting for them. Fifteen-year old Xander and his twelve-year-old brother David make a game of exploring the old Victorian home they move into. One night, they discover an intruder and follow him to a hidden hallway of doors. Each door transports them to far off places in long-ago times. But not only can they go from the house to the past, people from the past can come through into their house. Someone does—and kidnaps Mom, taking her into some unknown place in the past. The family begins a quest for Mom, which takes them to the most dangerous and fascinating places throughout time. Then the Kings learn a terrible secret: Their being in the house is no accident, and they must do much more than “simply” find their mother.
THE AVIARY by Kathleen O’Dell Sequels: None, but the author has other series. Age: 8+
Twelve-year-old Clara Dooley has spent her whole life in the Glendoveer mansion, where her mother is a servant to the kind and elderly matron of the house. Clara has never known another home. In fact, she’s confined to the grand estate due to a mysterious heart condition. But it’s a comfortable life, and if it weren’t for the creepy squawking birds in the aviary out back, a completely peaceful one too.
But once old Mrs. Glendoveer passes away, Clara comes to learn many dark secrets about the family. The Glendoveers suffered a horrific tragedy: their children were kidnapped, then drowned. And their father George Glendoveer, a famous magician and illusionist, stood accused until his death. As Clara digs deeper and deeper into the terrifying events, the five birds in the aviary seem to be trying to tell her something. And Clara comes to wonder: what is their true identity? Clara sets out to solve a decades-old murder mystery—and in doing so, unlocks a secret in her own life, too. Kathleen O’Dell deftly weaves magic, secret identities, evil villains, unlikely heroes, and the wonder of friendship into a mystery adventure with all the charm of an old fashioned classic.
IF YOU CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF SMART KIDS IN BOARDING SCHOOLS:
HEIST SOCIETY by Ally Carter Sequels: UNCOMMON CRIMINALS is the second book. The author has other series. Age: 11+
When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.
Soon, Kat’s friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat’s father isn’t just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.
For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it’s a spectacularly impossible job? She’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family’s history–and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.
School of Fear series by Gitty Daneshvari First Book: SCHOOL OF FEAR Sequels: There are three books in the series. Age: 8+
Note: Very funny series, and fabulous website.
With very few options left, the parents of these four twelve year-olds send them to the highly elusive and exclusive School of Fear to help them overcome their phobias. But when their peculiar teacher, Mrs. Wellington, and her unconventional teaching methods turn out to be more frightening than even their fears, the foursome realize that this just may be the scariest summer of their lives.
The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart First Book: THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY Sequels: There are five books so far, including one prequel and a puzzle book. Age: 8+
“Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?”
When this peculiar ad appears in the newspaper, dozens of children enroll to take a series of mysterious, mind-bending tests. (And you, dear reader, can test your wits right alongside them.) But in the end just four very special children will succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and resourceful children could complete. To accomplish it they will have to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules.
As our heroes face physical and mental trials beyond their wildest imaginations, they have no choice but to turn to each other for support. But with their newfound friendship at stake, will they be able to pass the most important test of all?
Welcome to the Mysterious Benedict Society.
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series by Maryrose Wood First Book: THE MYSTERIOUS HOWLING Sequels: There are three books in the series so far. Age: 8+
Note: Readers of classic British governess stories will find these laugh-out-loud funny.
Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander, age ten or thereabouts, keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia, perhaps four or five, has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf, age somewhere-in-the-middle, is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels. Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. Only fifteen years old and a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Penelope embraces the challenge of her new position. Though she is eager to instruct the children in Latin verbs and the proper use of globes, first she must help them overcome their canine tendencies. But mysteries abound at Ashton Place: Who are these three wild creatures, and how did they come to live in the vast forests of the estate? Why does Old Timothy, the coachman, lurk around every corner? Will Penelope be able to teach the Incorrigibles table manners and socially useful phrases in time for Lady Constance’s holiday ball? And what on earth is a schottische?
HAVE ANY RECOMMENDATIONS TO ADD? Comment and share!
This review originally posted on The Poisoned Pen blog, read it and comment here:
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