In addition to the Best Books for Young Adults lists we follow here on the CA Library blog, we also track lists of adult books that have teen appeal, notably from School Library Journal and Booklist. Here are some of the best adult books recommended for teens from 2017 (all are in the CA Library collection):
The Power by Naomi Alderman — A rich Nigerian boy; a foster kid whose religious parents hide their true nature; an ambitious American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. When a vital new force takes root and flourishes, their lives converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls and women now have immense physical power– they can cause agonizing pain and even death. “[A] novel that is both wildly entertaining and utterly absorbing…makes for an instant classic, bound to elicit discussion and admiration in equal measure” (Booklist starred review).
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden — Winter lasts most of the year at the edge of the Russian wilderness, and in the long nights, Vasilisa and her siblings love to gather by the fire to listen to their nurse’s fairy tales. When Vasya’s widowed father brings home a new wife from Moscow, the new stepmother forbids her family from honoring their household spirits, but Vasya fears what this may bring. “Arden’s lyrical writing will draw teens in and refuse to let them go. A spellbinding story that will linger with most readers far beyond the final page” (School Library Journal).
Setting Free The Kites by Alex George — For Robert Carter, life in his coastal Maine hometown is comfortably predictable. But in 1976, on his first day of eighth grade, he meets Nathan Tilly — confident, fearless, impetuous — who changes everything. Their budding friendship is forged in the crucible of two family tragedies as the boys struggle to come to terms with loss. “An eloquent meditation on loss and the necessary action of letting go” (Booklist).
Bookburners by Max Gladstone et al — Magic is real, and hungry. It’s trapped in ancient texts and artifacts, and only a few who discover it survive to fight back. When Detective Sal Brooks joins a Vatican-backed black-ops anti-magic squad, together they stand between humanity and the magical apocalypse. “This collection (and the series as a whole) is recommended for those looking for a breezy, entertaining, and exciting fantasy read” (Booklist).
Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig — Ginny, and autistic teen, has finally found her ‘forever home’– a safe place with parents who will love and nurture her. But Ginny has other plans. She’ll steal and lie and exploit the good intentions of those who love her — anything it takes to get back what’s missing in her life. “Ludwig’s triumphant achievement is borne from his own experience as the adoptive parent of a teen with autism, and his gorgeous, wrenching portrayal of Ginny’s ability to communicate what she needs is perfection” (Library Journal).
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng — In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned — and no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules. Enter Mia Warren — an enigmatic artist and single mother — who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community. “Ng explores the complexities of adoption, surrogacy, abortion, privacy, and class, questioning all the while who earns, who claims, and who loses the right to be called a mother” (Publishers Weekly).
The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak — Until May 1987, fourteen-year-old Billy Marvin of Wetbridge, New Jersey, is a nerd, but a decidedly happy nerd. Then Playboy magazine publishes photos of Wheel of Fortune hostess Vanna White, Billy meets expert programmer Mary Zelinsky, and everything changes. This is a love letter to the 1980s, to the dawn of the computer age, and to adolescence — a time when anything feels possible. “Strongly recommended for fans of nerd culture and 1980s throwbacks such as Stranger Things, though Billy’s wry narration and the novel’s crazy shenanigans may draw in a broader audience of readers looking for irreverent humor” (School Library Journal).
The Emerald Circus by Jane Yolen — In Yolen’s first story collection in more than ten years, readers will discover new and uncollected tales of beloved characters, literary legends, and much more. “These highly entertaining retellings are perfect for teen fans of fairy tales and classic literature, though they are easily enjoyed without any background knowledge” (School Library Journal).
Girl Up: Kick Ass, Claim Your Woman Card, and Crush Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates — This empowering survival guide provides no-nonsense advice on sex, social media, mental health, and sexism that young women face in their everyday life — from one of the emerging leaders in the feminist movement. “Girl Up is an intimate, laugh-out-loud funny, and adorably illustrated call to arms for the next generation of warrior women” (Booklist starred review).
Making My Pitch: A Woman’s Baseball Odyssey by Ila Jane Borders and Jean Hastings Ardell — The autobiography of Ila Jane Borders, who despite formidable obstacles became a Little League prodigy, MVP of her otherwise all-male middle school and high school teams, the first woman awarded a baseball scholarship, and the first to pitch and win a complete men’s collegiate game, and the first woman in the modern era to win a professional ball game. “Thoroughly readable and engaging, this inspiring autobiography deserves a spot on all sports shelves and, with Title IX in the news lately, serves as a timely memoir about gender equity in sports” (School Library Journal).
We Have No Idea: A Guide To The Unknown Universe by Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson — PHD Comics creator Jorge Cham and particle physicist Daniel Whiteson have teamed up to explore everything we don’t know about the universe: the enormous holes in our knowledge of the cosmos. Armed with their popular infographics, cartoons, and unusually entertaining and lucid explanations of science, they give us the best answers currently available for a lot of questions that are still perplexing scientists. “[The] irreverent sensibility, clearheaded writing, and optimistic outlook make this a great read for reluctant science readers and even for young adults interested in the big ideas on the scientific horizon” (Booklist).
Rest In Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin — This portrait of Trayvon Martin shares previously untold insights into the movement he inspired from the perspectives of his parents, who also describe their efforts to bring meaning to his short life through the movement’s pursuit of redemption and justice. “A well-told and gripping portrayal of the killing of a son and the subsequent legal process, with all its twists and turns” (School Library Journal).
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman — Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki, son of a giant, blood brother to Odin, and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator. “A spectacularly entertaining and elucidating collection of stories with wide crossover appeal” (Library Journal).
Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That’ll Improve and/or Ruin Everything by Kelly and Zach Weinersmith — From a top scientist and the creator of the hugely popular web comic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, a hilariously illustrated investigation into future technologies — from how to fling a ship into deep space on the cheap to 3D organ printing. “With infectious enthusiasm, the Weinersmiths serve up the perfect combination for curious, critical minds. Popular-science writing has rarely been so whip-smart, captivating, or hilarious” (Booklist starred review).