2016 Best Fiction for Young Adults

Each year, YALSA presents the Best Fiction for Young Adults list after ALA's Midwinter Meeting. The books, recommended for ages 12-18, meet the criteria of both good quality literature and appealing reading for teens. The list comprises a wide range of genres and styles, including contemporary realistic fiction, fantasy, horror, historical fiction and novels in verse.

the wrath and the dawn

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
In this reimagining of The Arabian Nights, Shahrzad plans to avenge the death of her dearest friend by volunteering to marry the murderous boy-king of Khorasan but discovers not all is as it seems within the palace.

simon vs the homo sapiens agenda

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Sixteen-year-old, not-so-openly-gay Simon Spier is blackmailed into playing wingman for his classmate or else his sexual identity--and that of his pen pal--will be revealed.

a song for ella grey

A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond
Claire witnesses a love so dramatic it is as if Ella Grey has been captured and taken from her, but the loss of her best friend to the arms of Orpheus is nothing compared to the loss she feels when Ella is taken from the world in this modern take on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice set in Northern England.

six of crows

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction--if they don't kill each other first.

the darkest part of the forest

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
In the town of Fairfold, where humans and the Folk exist side by side, a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives awakes after generations of sleep in a glass coffin in the woods, causing Hazel to be swept up in new love, shift her loyalties, feel the fresh sting of betrayal, and to make a secret sacrifice to the faerie king.

the bunker diary

The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks
Sixteen-year-old Linus Weems, a street person since leaving his wealthy father's home, is kidnapped and taken to an underground bunker where he's soon joined by five others, ranging in age from nine to seventy, who are alternately cared for and tortured by their unseen captor.

rook

Rook by Sharon Cameron
In the Sunken City that was once Paris the guillotine rules again, while Sophia Bellamy from the Commonwealth across the Channel Sea tries to rescue as many of the revolution's victims as she can smuggle out, and some prisoners disappear from their cells, with a red-tipped rook feather left in their place--but who is the mysterious Red Rook and where does Sophia's wealthy fiancé,́ René Hasard, fit in?

walk on earth a stranger

Walk on Earth a Strange by Rae Carson
A young woman who possesses a supernatural ability to sense the presence of gold disguises herself as a boy and seeks safety and romance in California.

audacity

Audacity by Melanie Crowder
A historical fiction novel in verse detailing the life of Clara Lemlich and her struggle for women's labor rights in the early 20th century in New York.

death coming up the hill

Death Coming up the Hill by Chris Crowe
Douglas Ashe keeps a weekly record of historical and personal events in 1968, the year he turns seventeen, including the escalating war in Vietnam, assassinations, rampant racism, and rioting, his first girlfriend, his parents' separation, and a longed-for sister.

i'll meet you there

I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
Skylar Evans, seventeen, yearns to escape Creek View by attending art school, but after her mother's job loss puts her dream at risk, a rekindled friendship with Josh, who joined the Marines to get away then lost a leg in Afghanistan, and her job at the Paradise motel lead her to appreciate her home town.

saint anything

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Sydney's charismatic older brother Peyton has always been the center of attention in the family, but when he's sent to jail, Sydney struggles to find her place at home and the world until she meets the Chathams, including gentle, protective Mac, who makes her feel seen for the first time.

these shallow graves

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly
A young woman in nineteenth-century New York City must struggle against gender and class boundaries when her father is found dead of a supposed suicide, and she believes there is more than meets the eye, so in order to uncover the truth she will have to decide how much she is willing to risk and lose.

accident season

The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Every October Cara and her family become mysteriously and dangerously accident-prone, but this year, the year Cara, her ex-stepbrother, and her best friend are 17, is when Cara will begin to unravel the accident season's dark origins.

dime

Dime by E.R. Frank
Fourteen-year-old Dime, a foster child in Newark, New Jersey, finds love and family as a prostitute, but when her pimp rejects her for a new girl, will Dime have the strength to leave?

conviction

Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert
A small-town boy questions everything he holds to be true when his father is accused of murder.

wolf by wolf

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
The first book in a duology about an alternate version of 1956 where the Axis powers won WWII, and hold an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents to commemorate their victory.

the last time we say goodbye

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
After her younger brother, Tyler, commits suicide, Lex struggles to work through her grief in the face of a family that has fallen apart, the sudden distance between her and her friends, and memories of Tyler that still feel all too real.

eden west

Eden West by Pete Hautman
During an eventful year for the Christian cult where he has grown up, seventeen-year-old Jacob finds his faith and devotion tested when he meets new friends from the outside world and encounters temptations that threaten his contentment.

 

Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen

poisoned apples

Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann
Christine Heppermann's powerful collection of free verse poems explore how girls are taught to think about themselves, their bodies, their friends--as consumers, as objects, as competitors. Based on classic fairy tale characters and fairy tale tropes, the poems range from contemporary retellings to first person accounts set within the original stories. From Snow White's cottage and Rapunzel's tower to health class and the prom, these poems are a moving depiction of young women, society, and our expectations. Poisoned Apples is a dark, clever, witty, beautiful, and important book for teenage girls, their sisters, their mothers, and their best friends.

13 days of midnight

13 Days of Midnight by Leo Hunt
When his estranged father dies, sixteen-year-old Luke inherits eight spirits who want revenge for their enslavement, and with Halloween fast approaching, he has only thirteen days to give them their eternal rest or he may join their ghostly ranks.

skyscraping

Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen
In 1993 in New York City, high school senior Mira uncovers many secrets, including that her father has a male lover.

the truth commission

The Truth Commission by Susan Juby
As a project for her "creative non-fiction module" at a school for the arts, Normandy Pale chronicles the work of the Truth Commission, through which she and her two best friends ask classmates and faculty about various open secrets, while Norm's famous sister reveals some very unsettling truths of her own.

illuminae

Illuminae: The Illuminae Files 1 by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
The planet Kerenza is attacked, and Kady and Ezra find themselves on a space fleet fleeing the enemy, while their ship's artificial intelligence system and a deadly plague may be the end of them all.

little peach

Little Peach by Peggy Kern
Hospitalized in Brooklyn, New York, fourteen-year-old Michelle recalls being raised in Philadelphia by a loving grandfather and drug-addicted mother before running away and getting lured into prostitution.

the porcupine of truth

The Porcupine of Truth by Bill Konigsberg
Seventeen-year-old Carson Speier is bored of Billings, Montana, and resentful that he has to help his mother take care of his father, a dying alcoholic whom he has not seen in fourteen years--but then he meets Aisha, a beautiful African American girl who has run away from her own difficult family, and together they embark on a journey of discovery that may help them both come to terms with their lives.

archivist wasp

Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace
A postapocalyptic ghosthunter escapes her dire fate by joining the ghost of a supersoldier on his quest to the underworld.

razorhurst

Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier
In 1932, in Sydney's deadly Razorhurst neighborhood, where crime and razor-wielding men rule, two girls with contrasting lives who share the ability to see ghosts meet over a dead body and find themselves on the run from mob bosses.

 

Calvin by Martine Leavitt

under a painted sky

Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
In 1845, Sammy, a Chinese American girl, and Annamae, an African American slave girl, disguise themselves as boys and travel on the Oregon Trail to California from Missouri.

court of thorns and roses

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from stories, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin, a High Lord of the faeries. As her feelings toward him transform from hostility to a fiery passion, the threats against the faerie lands grow. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse or she will lose Tamlin.

infinite in between

Infinite in Between by Carolyn Mackler
Five students who meet in freshman orientation agree to write notes to their future selves and promise to reunite in exactly four years when they are ready to graduate from high school.

the weight of feathers

The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore
Lace Paloma and Cluck Corbeau, from feuding families of traveling performers, fall in love.

dumplin

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
Sixteen-year-old Willowdean wants to prove to everyone in her small Texas town that she is more than just a fat girl, so, while grappling with her feelings for a co-worker who is clearly attracted to her, Will and some other misfits prepare to compete in the beauty pageant her mother runs.

the rest of us just live here

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
The best friend of a kid with superhuman qualities endeavors to have a life of his own that is both normal and extraordinary in the face of constant world-shaking challenges, threats against his school, and an elusive pretty girl.

all the bright places

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Told in alternating voices, when Theodore Finch and Violet Markey meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school--both teetering on the edge--it's the beginning of an unlikely relationship, a journey to discover the "natural wonders" of the state of Indiana, and two teens' desperate desire to heal and save one another.

sacred lies of minnow bly

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
A handless teen escapes from a cult, only to find herself in juvenile detention and suspected of knowing who murdered her cult leader.

shadowshaper

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
When the murals painted on the walls of her Brooklyn neighborhood start to change and fade in front of her, Sierra Santiago realizes that something strange is going on--then she discovers her Puerto Rican family are shadowshapers and finds herself in a battle with an evil anthropologist for the lives of her family and friends.

out of darkness

Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez
Loosely based on a school explosion that took place in New London, Texas in 1937, this is the story of two teenagers: Naomi, who is Mexican American, and Wash, who is African American, and their dealings with race, segregation, love, and the forces that destroy people.

show and prove

Show and Prove by Sofia Quintero
Friends Smiles and Nike spend the summer of 1983 in the South Bronx working a job at a summer camp, chasing girls, and breakdancing.

kissing in america

Kissing in America by Margo Rabb
When she falls for a boy who moves to California without any warning, sixteen-year-old Eva and her best friend, Annie, set off on a road trip to the West Coast to see him again, confronting the complex truth about love along the way.

when everything feels like the movies

When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid
Teenage best friends Jude and Angela navigate high school while framing their experiences with movie terms.

the boy in the black suit

The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
Soon after his mother's death, Matt takes a job at a funeral home in his tough Brooklyn neighborhood and, while attending and assisting with funerals, begins to accept her death and his responsibilities as a man.

beastly bones

Beastly Bones: A Jackaby Novel by William Ritter
When dinosaur bones from a recent dig mysteriously go missing, and an unidentifiable beast starts attacking animals and people, leaving their mangled bodies behind, Abigail and her eccentric employer R. F. Jackaby, investigators of the supernatural in 1892 New England, find themselves hunting for a thief, a monster, and a murderer.

carry on

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
During his last year at Watford School of Magicks, Simon Snow, the Chosen One, faces a magic-eating monster wearing his face, a break-up, and a missing nemesis.

denton's little deathdate

Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin
In a world where everyone knows the day they will die, a teenage boy is determined to outlive his upcoming expiration date.

bone gap

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Eighteen-year-old Finn, an outsider in his quiet Midwestern town, is the only witness to the abduction of town favorite Roza, but his inability to distinguish between faces makes it difficult for him to help with the investigation, and subjects him to even more ridicule and bullying.

the hired girl

The Hired Girl by Laura Schlitz
Fourteen-year-old Joan Skraggs chronicles her life in a journal when she leaves her family's farm in Pennsylvania to work as a hired girl in Baltimore in the summer of 1911.

x a novel

X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz & Kekla Magoon
Follows the childhood of the civil rights leader to his imprisonment at age twenty, where he found the faith that would lead him to his path towards activism and justice.

challenger deep

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
A teenage boy struggles with schizophrenia.

more happy than not

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
After enduring his father's suicide, his own suicide attempt, broken friendships, and more in the Bronx projects, Aaron Soto, sixteen, is already considering the Leteo Institute's memory-alteration procedure when his new friendship with Thomas turns to unrequited love.

the alex crow

The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith
The story of Ariel, a Middle Eastern refugee who lives with an adoptive family in Sunday, West Virginia, is juxtaposed against those of a schizophrenic bomber, the diaries of a failed arctic expedition from the late nineteenth century, and a depressed, bionic reincarnated crow.

kissing ted callahan

Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) by Amy Spalding
Sixteen-year-olds Riley and Reid make a pact to pursue their respective crushes and document the experiences in a shared notebook they call "The Passenger Manifest."

goodbye stranger

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
As Bridge makes her way through seventh grade on Manhattan's Upper West Side with her best friends, curvacious Em, crusader Tab, and a curious new friend--or more than friend--Sherm, she finds the answer she has been seeking since she barely survived an accident at age eight: "What is my purpose?"

the walls around us

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
Orianna and Violet are ballet dancers and best friends, but when the ballerinas who have been harassing Violet are murdered, Orianna is accused of the crime and sent to a juvenile detention center where she meets Amber and they experience supernatural events linking the girls together.

all the rage

All the Rage by Courtney Summers
After being assaulted by the sheriff's son, Kellan Turner, Romy Grey was branded a liar and bullied by former friends, finding refuge only in the diner where she works outside of town, but when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing and news of him assaulting another girl gets out, Romy must decide whether to speak out again or risk having more girls hurt.

an ember in the ashes

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Laia is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire's greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

the unlikely hero of room 13b

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten
Adam not only is trying to understand his OCD, while trying to balance his relationship with his divorced parents, but he's also trying to navigate through the issues that teenagers normally face, namely the perils of young love.

 

The Great War: Stories Inspired by Objects from the First World War edited by Jim Kay

hold tight, don't let go

Hold Tight, Don’t Let Go: A Novel of Haiti by Laura Rose Wagner
In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Nadine goes to live with her father in Miami while her cousin Magdalie, raised as her sister, remains behind in a refugee camp, dreaming of joining Nadine but wondering if she must accept that her life and future are in Port-au-Prince.

 

Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott

the emperor of any place

The Emperor of Any Place by Tim Wynne-Jones
When Evan looks into the hand-bound book that his father was reading when he passed away, the diary of a Japanese soldier in World War II, questions about the book and how it relates to Evan begin to multiply.

everything everything

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
The story of a teenage girl who's literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she's ever known.