Great Graphic Novels for Teens is a list of recommended graphic novels and illustrated nonfiction for those ages 12-18, prepared yearly by Young Adult Library Services Association. Here are some of the titles that are already in the CA Library collection:
Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir by Robin Ha — The author recounts how she and her mother moved from South Korea to the United States. “Touching and subtly humorous, this emotive memoir is as much about the steadfast bond between a mother and daughter as it is about the challenges of being an immigrant in America” (Publishers Weekly).
Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic History of Women’s Fight for Their Rights by Mikki Kendall, art by A. D’Amico — A graphic overview of the key figures and events that have advanced women’s rights from antiquity to the modern era. “A stunning introduction that will be deeply illuminating to teen and adult readers about the long, vast, and ongoing history of women in power, and calls back to the opening question (“everyone had to work for women’s rights”) makes it a stirring call to action” (Booklist).
Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook and Ryan Estrada, art by Ko Hyung-Ju — When Kim Hyun Sook started college in 1983, she was ready for her world to open up. This was during South Korea’s Fifth Republic, a military regime that entrenched its power through censorship, torture, and the murder of protestors. In this charged political climate, with Molotov cocktails flying and fellow students disappearing for hours and returning with bruises, Hyun Sook sought refuge in the comfort of books. “Highly recommended for readers passionate about activism or political history, or for those who are simply looking for an excellent comic book” (School Library Journal).
Batman: Nightwalker by Stuart Moore and Marie Lu, art by Chris Wildgoose — A ruthless new gang of criminals known only as Nightwalkers is terrorizing Gotham, and the city’s elite are being taken out one by one. On the way home from his 18th birthday party, newly minted billionaire Bruce Wayne makes an impulsive choice that puts him in their crosshairs and lands him in Arkham Asylym, the once-infamous mental hospital. “Focusing upon Wayne before he fully adopted his Batman persona, this makes for a fine jumping in point for both seasoned fans and newcomers alike” (Kirkus Reviews).
Displacement by Kiku Hughes — Kiku is on vacation in San Francisco when suddenly she finds herself displaced to the 1940s Japanese-American internment camp that her late grandmother, Ernestina, was forcibly relocated to during World War II. “Hughes powerfully places this story amid the onset of Trump’s Muslim Ban and incarceration of refugees at the Mexican border, potently reminding readers that racism still permeates the fabric of our society” (Booklist).
Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang — In his latest graphic novel, Gene Luen Yang turns the spotlight on his life, his family, and the high school where he teaches. The men’s varsity basketball team, the Dragons, is having a phenomenal season — each victory brings them closer to their ultimate goal: the California State Championships. “As Yang taps into subjects as varied as assimilation and discrimination in America, violence in India, and China’s century-long quest for athletic recognition, readers learn how this low-cost, indoor game leveled racial, gender, and international boundaries to attain global prominence” (School Library Journal).
Go With the Flow by Karen Schneemann, art by Lily Williams — Sophomores Abby, Brit, Christine, and Sasha are fed up. Sick of an administration that puts football before female health, the girls confront a world that shrugs — or worse, squirms — at the thought of a menstruation revolution, and band together to make a change. “This story is firmly grounded in the realities faced by girls and women, and the timely messages of empowerment and political dialogue will resonate with socially minded youth” (Booklist).
Heartstopper by Alice Oseman — Shy and softhearted Charlie Spring sits next to rugby player Nick Nelson in class one morning. A warm and intimate friendship follows, and that soon develops into something more for Charlie, who doesn’t think he has a chance. “Realistic yet uplifting, this tale of self-discovery will make readers’ hearts skip a beat as they root for Charlie and Nick” (School Library Journal).
The Last Halloween: Children by Abby Howard — It’s Halloween night and Mona is stuck inside without so much as a scary movie to watch. She figures this Halloween couldn’t get any worse — until a giant monster appears in her living room to prove her very, very wrong. She is chased out into the night where she encounters some odd new friends and finds herself on a quest to save humanity from billions of monsters. “There are some unexpected turns here, and for all the Clive-Barker-meets-Adventure-Time playfulness, she ends on a disarmingly sober cliff-hanger. Tailor-made for fans of postmodern horror comedy” (Booklist).
Life Is Strange by Emma Vieceli, art by Claudia Leonardi — Following on from one possible ending of the Life Is Strange video game, this story finds aspiring photographer Max Caulfield and best friend Chloe Price struggling to build a new life, one year after the shocking events of the storm that swept through Arcadia Bay. “The sequel that we’ve waited years to see … a great beginning to a new story” (Graphic Policy).
Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel by Jason Reynolds, art by Danica Novgorodoff — As Will, fifteen, sets out to avenge his brother Shawn’s fatal shooting, seven ghosts who knew Shawn board the elevator and reveal truths Will needs to know. “Reynolds’s words paint pictures of their own in this tragic yet poignant illustrated tale that offers no answers to the seemingly impossible choices some communities face” (School Library Journal).
Love Me, Love Me Not by Io Sakisaka — Fast friends Yuna and Akari are complete opposites–Yuna is an idealist, while Akari is a realist. When lady-killer Rio and the oblivious Kazuomi join their ranks, love and friendship become quite complicated. “I thought I knew how the relationships and the story would go, but I was wrong. I can’t really go into detail because it would be a spoiler, but OMG!” (Kayla Brunson, Goodreads Review).