Whether it’s a rebel, an artist or a romantic you’re buying for, we have suggestions for every kind of teen reader. Everything from festive romance to thought-provoking poetry, through to Shakespeare retellings set in space and quirky graphic novels.
The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo by Catherine Johnson
Inspired by a real woman in the early 19th century, this book has stories within stories, as it tells the tale of a young woman who claims to be a princess from a foreign land to the wealthy family who take her in. Johnson has packed in beautiful historical detail as well as questions of race and identity to make you think, not to mention a bit of romance.
Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle
If you’re buying for a bookworm who devours everything in sight, this collection gives you three of the biggest names in US YA in one with this gorgeously festive collection of Christmassy goodness. The stories cover everything from Christmas Eve snow storms, chance meetings, a lovesick barista and a race to a Waffle House. Perfect for curling up with on Christmas afternoon.
One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg
A wildly original, beautifully designed graphic novel version of One Thousand and One Nights that’s so much more than just a retelling of an old story. It’s quirky and enchanting but shot through with a dark humour and a sobering message. Ultimately it’s a celebration of stories and sisterhood centered around Cherry and her maid Hero, and the stories they tell of corrupt gods and wise old women, among many other things.
Bloom by Estée Lalonde
This is the first book from YouTuber Lalonde and it’s a gorgeous coffee-table book which tells readers they can do anything they put their mind to and celebrates happiness and authenticity. It covers several different topics including beauty, home, travel and food all written in Lalonde’s warm, readable style that teens will recognise from her videos.
Search Party by George the Poet
George the Poet is being heralded as a voice of the next generation thanks to this collection, which is hugely influenced by his own life. He brings a mix of experiences and ideas; an inner-city childhood mixed with a Cambridge education, a melting pot of spoken word, traditional poetry and rap, George the Poet wants to take poetry and social consciousness to a new audience. Inspiring stuff.
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
Award-winning Oliver Jeffers has illustrated this thought-provoking story with striking, powerful artwork to mark its tenth anniversary. A tale of friendship, innocence and ultimately tragedy about Bruno, a young boy who has had to move away from his home in Berlin due to his father’s new job. His loneliness is only lifted when he meets Shmuel, a boy on the other side of the fence…
Blame by Simon Mayo
Set in a world where you can be locked up for the crimes of your parents, Ant and Mattie and their foster-parents find themselves inside a new kind of family prison as ‘heritage criminals’. When a riot breaks out inside the prison, Ant has to decide whether to make a break for it and prove that they aren’t the ones who should be punished. Full of nail-biting tension and big questions, it’s a taut, timely read.
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
Recently re-released with a striking new cover as part of the Penguin Originals series, this 1967 novel is an iconic coming-of-age story about class, loyalty and finding your place in the world. Ponyboy Curtis is part of the ‘Greasers’, but when the upper-class rival gang, the Socs, attack them, a chain of violent events is set in motion that makes Ponyboy question who he is and what he stands for.
Nina Is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi
For readers looking for black humour about dark situations here is comedian Khorsandi’s debut YA novel about seventeen-year-old Nina who has a troubled family and a drinking problem, not to mention the fact that her long-distance boyfriend has just dumped her. Despite her self-destructive behaviour, Nina is a heroine to really root for and her story is full of dark humour, contemporary issues and, eventually, redemption.
Dan and Phil Go Outside by Phil Lester and Dan Howell
At the other end of the comedy spectrum is this charming, accessible and funny record of YouTube stars Dan and Phil’s journey around the world. Full of photos and anecdotes it’s a fun, colourful and hugely likeable behind-the-scenes look at their recent world tour, and a must for fans of their channels.
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
The second Penguin Originals title on the list is this classic story of Cassandra Mortmain and her eccentric family. Cassandra, a daydreamer and hopeless romantic, has to deal with a falling-down castle, a beautiful older sister, a stepmother called Topaz who likes to walk naked in the rain and a father with severe writer’s block. And that’s before two handsome American brothers move into the nearby stately home…
The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
A gorgeous new love story from the author of Everything, Everything; a bestseller in the US and part of the inaugural Zoella book club. Natasha is twelve hours away from being deported back to Jamaica with her family. Daniel is focused on living up to his parents’ high expectations. When they meet on a crowded New York street, falling in love is not part of the plan.
An adrenaline junkie...
Chasing the Stars by Malorie Blackman
An epic retelling of Shakespeare’s Othello – set on a spaceship – from former children’s laureate Malorie Blackman. Olivia and Aidan are twins, alone on a ship heading back to Earth after an illness wiped out the rest of the crew. But when they divert to rescue a small community under attack tensions rise, especially when Olivia falls in love with Nathan, one of the rescued people.
Lockwood & Co by Jonathan Stroud
The fourth book in this chilling series set in a ghost-ridden London has just been released but the whole series is a must-read. It follows Lucy Carlyle, a young psychic investigator, as she joins charismatic Anthony Lockwood’s agency to investigate some of the deadliest hauntings in the city. Full of ancient evils, murder and mystery and kick-ass characters.