Last month, I listed twenty-five YA books that are lesser-known (with fewer than 2000 ratings on Goodreads) but that I recommend. I wasn't able to share all of the lesser-known books I'd like to, so today I'm continuing that post! I'll start with a couple of books that I've read since I published that post, and then I'll pick up where I left off, with books published in mid-2015. Remember, these books are in reverse order by publication, so the most recently published are first!
1) The Birds, The Bees, and You and Me by Olivia Hinebaugh. This YA contemporary follows a girl whose feminist upbringing allows her to become a source of knowledge for her fellow students when their abstinence-only sex education program fails them. The book takes on an important issue and is full of fantastic characters. It does, of course, have a fair amount of sexual content, but that content is primarily educational in nature.
2) The Secret History of Us by Jessi Kirby. This quiet YA contemporary is about a girl who loses her memory in the wake of a car crash. The story follows her as she struggles to piece together her old life and regain her past self. It's a soft, sad story, but a lovely one, too, with a lot of resonance.
3) Vanguard by Ann Aguirre. This YA sci-fi is a standalone addition to Aguirre's Razorland trilogy. It follows a side character from the original series on a romance-filled exploration as the world adjusts to the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse/war. The romance in this story is just my style, and I really enjoyed it!
4) Lola Carlyle's 12-Step Romance by Danielle Younge-Ullman. Picking up now in May 2015, this heartfelt YA contemporary is about a girl who decides to follow her crush to rehab, even though she doesn't have any addictions. There, all the complexities of her mental health and her difficult family situation are unraveled. The book features a vibrant main character and a hot romance.
5) The Truth Commission by Susan Juby. This YA contemporary is an unexpected favorite of mine, about a girl attending an arts school who gets more than she bargained for when she and her friends decide to encourage others to confess their truths. It's clever, sweet, dynamic, and real all at once.
6) Lies I Told by Michelle Zink. This heartfelt and engaging YA thriller follows a girl adopted into a family of thieves who falls in love with her latest mark--throwing off their entire heist. It has a stunning ending that left me eager for the next book.
7) Dreamfire by Kit Alloway. This YA fantasy introduces a secret society where dreamwalkers resolve people's nightmares, and it follows a dreamwalker who reluctantly takes on an unexpected apprentice. It's an enjoyable read with a lovely, complex plot and plenty of power.
8) Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little. This YA historical novel takes place in ancient Mesopotamia. I love the way the world is written. It follows a girl who must escape from her violent fiance in order to save her tribe--and in order to be with the man she truly loves.
9) Loop by Karen Akins. This YA sci-fi is the quirky, dystopian little sister of The Time Traveler's Wife. It follows a time-travelling girl from the future who accidentally gets mixed up in a romance with a modern-day boy. Together, they have to use clues left by her future self to figure out why time travelers are being attacked.
10) Love Is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson. This YA sci-fi follows a high-performing student who gets pulled into a government conspiracy when a deadly flu virus breaks out across the nation. The author has a beautiful writing style, and the main character is a powerful black girl who perfectly encapsulates the teenage experience.
11) Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick. This short YA contemporary is one of the rare novels-in-verse that I've enjoyed. It follows a girl who's sent to the psych ward for cutting herself, and from my experience, it's a near-perfect depiction of how those self-injurious compulsions feel.
12) The Islands at the End of the World by Austin Aslan. This epic YA sci-fi features a half-native Hawaiian girl with epilepsy who struggles to safely navigate an apocalyptic scenario--one that takes an otherworldly turn.
13) The End or Something Like That by Ann Dee Ellis. This odd YA fantasy dances beautifully on the line between the paranormal and the realistic as it tells the story of a girl waiting for her best friend to contact her from the afterlife.
14) Talker 25 by Joshua McCune. Though hard to follow at times, this YA fantasy tells an intriguing story about a girl in a dystopian world who gets caught up in a war between dragons and humans. It includes some wonderfully subtle commentary and features a main character who is very relatable.
15) Don't Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley. This light YA contemporary follows a girl whose entire life has been broadcasted on her mother's popular "mommy blog." When the girl gets a school assignment to write her own blog, she begins to fight back. I'm not a very private person, and I'm quite pro-Internet/blogging, but this story made me think more about the negative side of all that.
16) Promise of Shadows by Justina Ireland. This YA fantasy tells the story of a modern-day harpy who goes on the run after using a forbidden power to save her own life. It's a fresh and engaging take on those familiar Greek myths.
17) Pieces of Me by Amber Kizer. This YA fantasy follows a dead girl who stays to observe the lives of the teens who received her organs after her death. It's a fascinatingly written narrative with engaging characters.
18) Divided We Fall by Trent Reedy. This near-future YA sci-fi tells the story of a boy who becomes the trigger for a second U.S. Civil War. It has really intelligent world-building and manages to address important political and cultural issues without becoming too preachy or self-important.
19) The Shadow Soul by Kaitlyn Davis. This YA fantasy follows a prince with fire powers and a tragedy-stricken princess with a gift for illusions who team up to take down a shadowy evil after the girl's tribe is completely destroyed. But the girl has stepped into the guise of her dead brother, and the prince doesn't know that she's a girl. This story is populated with fierce yet vulnerable characters navigating an excellently built fantasy world.
20) Jumped In by Patrick Flores-Scott. This heartfelt YA contemporary in both verse and prose is about a slacker who gets paired up with a gang member for a slam poetry unit and who finds his voice through that experience. Though I found the ending a little abrupt, I really felt for these characters.
21) Viral Nation by Shaunta Grimes. This relatively original YA sci-fi follows an autistic girl living in a future dystopia who is drafted into a time-travelling corps and discovers that her brother is in danger. It's well-plotted and has an interesting main character.
22) A Trick of the Light by Lois Metzger. This YA contemporary can be rough and awkward at times, but it does a really interesting job at taking on the same idea that inspired my #OCDStory: writing about a mental illness from the perspective of the mental illness. In this case, the story's about a boy with anorexia, which is an important topic.
23) After Eli by Rebecca Rupp. This YA contemporary follows a boy who creates a book marking the deaths of all kinds of different people after his brother's death in Iraq. It's enjoyable, real, and full of personality.
24) The Knife and the Butterfly by Ashley Hope Perez. This fantastical YA mystery is about a gangster who, after a brawl, wakes up in a cell where he's stuck watching a girl who's been called to testify. It's a surprisingly original story with a great infusion of street culture.
25) The Glass Swallow by Julia Golding. This romantic YA fantasy follows a girl who secretly and illegally does her father's glassmaker work and who has to leave her home in order to protect that secret. She gets thrown into the path of an outcast falconer, and a lot of loveliness ensues. It's a clever, fun, and sweet story.
And that's a wrap! Thank you for reading, I hope you get a chance to check all these out, and I'll be back next week with some standalones that I'd like a sequel for.
Images via Goodreads.
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