This is Part Two in a three part series of book recommendations for young readers – check out the first post here: Girl’s Tween to Teen Recommendations. I also have a Goodreads shelf which has all the books featured on this list plus more! You can check that out HERE. I would like to state that I haven’t read all of these, but these are my recommendations based on reviews, opinions and my own knowledge of the books.
by Rick Riordan
Middle Grade, Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Mythology, Romance
Synopsis: Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse—Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends—one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena—Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.
Additional: This is actually 21 recommendations in one. That’s right, 21 (not including short stories or graphic novels). Though the first book, the starting book for all the series’, is The Lightning Thief. Almost all of Riordan’s books are interconnected and all are appropriate for this audience age. I recommend reading the books in order of their release, especially the books currently being released as there are two series’ and their timelines crossover – I use Goodreads as a guide.
Why I Recommend It: This entire series changed my entire view of novels. Before I had encountered Riordan’s work I didn’t think it was possible to entertain and educate in fiction, especially in YA. But through his work I learnt so much about Greek (and Roman, Egyptian and Norse) mythology – while the characters are fictional there are references and reminders of the original myths. In addition to the educational side of things, these characters and stories were originally made for Riordan’s son who has ADHD. Riordan incorporated characters that have ADHD and Dyslexia (or a sort) in the stories and as a child with ADHD seeing that representation, even if it’s more of a side-effect of being a Demi-God, was really nice. It showed me that my faults can be my strengths depending on the circumstance. So this entire series’ of novels is so important to me. It features a male narrator (later books are in multiple POVs) and while there is a significant amount of danger and gore it’s intermingled with a heap of humor it’s almost unrecognisable. And there are no overly sexual things in these books – a fair bit of romance in the later series’ since the characters are older but no sexual stuff.
by John Flanagan
Middle Grade, Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure
Synopsis: They have always scared him in the past — the Rangers, with their dark cloaks and shadowy ways. The villagers believe the Rangers practice magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people. And now 15-year-old Will, always small for his age, has been chosen as a Ranger’s apprentice. What he doesn’t yet realize is that the Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom. Highly trained in the skills of battle and surveillance, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people. And as Will is about to learn, there is a large battle brewing. The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom. This time, he will not be denied….
Additional: Similarly to Riordan, this series is more than one recommendation in one. There is a prequel series featuring 3 books, the main series which consists of 12 books, then the spin-off/sequel series featuring 7 books. So a total of 22 books. The author is also Australian, so that’s pretty cool and he’s one of the few Australian authors I like.
Why I Recommend It: I’ve actually only read the first book in this series, I’m planning on re-reading it and continuing with the series after writing this. But it was definitely a book I’d recommend for young boys, my friends have read the entire series, and made both their younger brothers read the series and all of them have loved it. It’s just a fun fantasy adventure series – apparently it can be heartbreaking at time (later on) but overall it’s an excellent read for tween/teen boys.
by Jeramey Kraatz
Middle Grade, YA, Fantasy, Super Heroes, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Synopsis: The Cloak Society: An elite organization of supervillains graced with extraordinary powers. Ten years ago the Cloak Society was defeated by Sterling City’s superheroes, the Rangers of Justice, and vanished without a trace. But the villains have been waiting for the perfect moment to resurface. . . .
Twelve-year-old Alex Knight is a dedicated junior member of Cloak who has spent years mastering his telekinetic superpowers and preparing for the day when Cloak will rise to power again. Cloak is everything he believes in.
But during his debut mission, Alex does the unthinkable: He saves the life of a Junior Ranger of Justice. Even worse . . . she becomes his friend. And the more time he spends with her, the more Alex wonders what, exactly, he’s been fighting for.
Why I Recommend It: While the protagonist is 12 years old this seems like a cool superhero series that’s been developed well – so it won’t read like a juvenile book. It’s in the perspective of a ‘villain’ which is something you don’t see a lot in middle grade and YA so it’s a new perspective to be exposed too. I haven’t actually read this book, but the reviews are good. It seems to deal with right and wrong and in the words of one reviewer “themes of brainwashing and manipulation and the morality of killing your opponent”.
by Chris Bradford
Young Adult, Thriller, Adventure, Action
Synopsis: ASSESS THE THREAT.
COUNTER THE DANGER.
ESCAPE THE KILLZONE.
In a dangerous world, everyone needs protection.
No one suspects that a teenager could protect someone – but Connor Reeves is no ordinary 14 year old. He’s a professional bodyguard trained in surveillance, anti-ambush techniques, hostage survival and unarmed combat. When he’s summoned to protect the President’s daughter, his protection skills face the ultimate test.
Alicia doesn’t want to be guarded. She just wants to have fun. With no clue that Connor is her bodyguard, she tries to escape the Secret Service and lead him astray. But unknown to her and Connor, a terrorist sleeper cell has been activated.
Its mission: to take the President’s daughter HOSTAGE.
Why I Recommend It: This falls under a sub-genre that I have a few recs for. It’s another series I haven’t read but the reviews are good and it features teen bodyguards and actually sounds really interesting. If you think your youth is the sort of person who will grow up to read books like the Mitch Rapp series, and other high action thriller/espionage series’ I think this book (and the following recommendation) would be a good starting point for this genre type.
by Anthony Horowitz
Young Adult, Adventure, Mystery, Spies
Synopsis: They told him his uncle died in an accident. He wasn’t wearing his seatbelt, they said. But when fourteen-year-old Alex finds his uncle’s windshield riddled with bullet holes, he knows it was no accident. What he doesn’t know yet is that his uncle was killed while on a top-secret mission. But he is about to, and once he does, there is no turning back. Finding himself in the middle of terrorists, Alex must outsmart the people who want him dead. The government has given him the technology, but only he can provide the courage. Should he fail, every child in England will be murdered in cold blood.
Additional: This is a larger series, featuring (currently) 11 books. It falls into the sub-genre I mentioned above and there are a few other books I’d recommend if your young adult has already read this series; Rich and Jade, Agent 21, Cherub, Jason Steed, Steel Trapp and Jimmy Coates.
Why I Recommend It: Well for starters the Alex Rider series is like part of the O.G YA books from when I was this age (along with Artemis Fowl, The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, Septimus Heap, Lorien Legacies and the first two books of this post the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and Ranger’s Apprentice – all of which I recommend as well) so to me it’s important to share our awesome books with the new gen, but beyond that this is a long running, much loved SPY series. What more does a teen boy need? Just throw in some spies, some mystery and a bunch of action and they’re happy. Right? I mean I was set with that combo at that age (though I am a girl..).
by Kim Curran
Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Time Travel, Fantasy
Synopsis: When your average, 16-year old loser, Scott Tyler, meets the beautiful and mysterious Aubrey Jones, he learns he’s not so average after all. He’s a ‘Shifter’. And that means he has the power to undo any decision he’s ever made. At first, he thinks the power to shift is pretty cool. But as his world starts to unravel around him he realises that each time he uses his power, it has consequences; terrible unforeseen consequences. Shifting is going to get him killed. In a world where everything can change with a thought, Scott has to decide where he stands.
Why I Recommend It: I haven’t read this, but it seems like a fun science fiction driven story. There appears to be a focus throughout the trilogy of the consequences of our actions and how bad (or even good) decisions can impact the lives of not only ourselves but those around us – which I think is an important lesson for a young person.
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Disclaimer: These books can be enjoyed by both female and male readers.