It’s been another interesting year, to say the least, with many challenges to overcome, but one thing that has remained constant is the availability of great books! So with much fanfare (yay!), here it is — CA Library’s Best YA Books of 2022! With so many outstanding books out there, it can be a daunting task to pick out the best of the best. After spending a few weeks compiling titles from various sources, I came up with the books that appear on the most lists (check out the spreadsheet here).
This year, I again tried to include as many reputable best books lists as I could find. I go to my usual sources of book reviews (School Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, etc.), then check out other media outlets that have year-end reviews as well. Here are my Top 30 Best Books List sources of 2022:
- School Library Journal – Best Young Adult Books 2022
- Booklist — Editors’ Choice: Books For Youth 2022
- Kirkus Reviews – Best Young Adult Books of 2022
- Horn Book – Horn Book Fanfare 2022
- Publishers Weekly – Best Books Young Adult Books of 2022
- Bulletin Of The Center For Children’s Book — Blue Ribbons 2022
- New York Public Library – Best Books for Teens 2022
- Chicago Public Library – CPL Best of the Best Books 2022
- Paste — The Best YA Books of 2022
- The Washington Post — The 15 Best Children’s and YA Books of 2022
- Cosmopolitan — The 13 Best YA Books of 2022
- The Guardian – Best Children’s and YA Books of 2022
- Amazon – Best Young Adult Books of 2022
- Barnes & Noble – Best YA Books of 2022
- Powell’s Books — Best Books of 2022: Kids’ and Young Adult
- NPR’s Books We Love – Young Adult 2022
- Goodreads – Choice Awards 2022 YA Fiction / YA Fantasy & Science Fiction
- She Reads — Best Young Adult Books of 2022
- The Mary Sue — The 10 Best YA Novels of 2022, Ranked
- Shelf Awareness — Best Children’s and YA of 2022
- Epic Reads — 2022 *Book Shimmy* Award Finalists!
- Buzzfeed — The Best Young Adult Books Of 2022
- Brightly — The Best YA Books of 2022
- Parents Magazine — Best Children’s Books 2022
- All Booked Up — The Top 10 YA Books of 2022
- Bookstacked — The Best YA Books of 2022
- Forever Young Adult – FYA Faves: Best Books of 2022
- Book Riot – Best Books of 2022
- Book Page – Best YA Books of 2022
- National Book Award — 2022 NBA Longlist: Young People’s Literature
Each list is a little different — some include just fiction or nonfiction, some include both, and some include books for all ages, from which I pick the ones written for teens and young adults (again, it’s a daunting task!)
Two books are on 11 best-of lists: the graphic nonfiction title Victory. Stand! Raising My Fist for Justice by Tommie Smith and Derrick Barnes, and the historical novel I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys.
Tiffany Jackson’s thriller The Weight Of Blood is on 9 best YA book lists this year.
Three books are on 8 best books lists: Ain’t Burned All The Bright by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin, Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert and The First to Die at the End by Adam Silvera.
Five books appear on 7 lists:
- As Long As The Lemon Tree Grows by Zoulfa Katouh
- I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston
- Man Made Monsters by Andrea L. Rogers
- The Sunbearer Trials by Aiden Thomas
- We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds
Seven books are on 6 best-of lists:
- Family of Liars by E. Lockhart
- The Girl Who Fell Beneath The Sea by Axie Oh
- Hell Followed With Us by Andrew Joseph White
- The Honeys by Ryan La Sala
- The Lesbiana’s Guide To Catholic School by Sonora Reyes
- Squire by Sara Alfageeh and Nadia Shammas
- The Summer of Bitter and Sweet by Jen Ferguson
…rounding out the 19 books that make up the CA Library Best YA Books of 2022 Superlist!
Check out the full list below. Click on the title to see a description in the CA Library catalog. Plus, if there’s an eBook and/or audiobook available in the Sora Digital Reading App, there’s a link to that, too — sign in using ClassLink!
The Best of the Best…
All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir — A family extending from Pakistan to California, deals with generations of young love, old regrets, and forgiveness. “An unyieldingly earnest generational story for contemporary audiences, Rage is a knife-sharp narrative with an obliterating impact that will leave readers thinking of it long after turning the last page” (Booklist). Get the eBook | Get the Audiobook
Victory. Stand! Raising My Fist for Justice by Tommie Smith and Derrick Barnes — A groundbreaking and timely graphic memoir from one of the most iconic figures in American sports — and a tribute to his fight for civil rights. On October 16, 1968, during the medal ceremony at the Mexico City Olympics, Tommie Smith, the gold medal winner in the 200-meter sprint, and John Carlos, the bronze medal winner, stood on the podium in black socks and raised their black-gloved fists to protest racial injustice inflicted upon African Americans. “This evocative undertaking extends histories of 20th-century Black struggles for new generations, reminding us to continue to be brave, courageous, and organize for change” (Kirkus Reviews). Get the eBook
I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys — In a country governed by isolation, fear, and a tyrannical dictator, seventeen-year-old Cristian Florescu is blackmailed by the secret police to become an informer, but he decides to use his position to try to outwit his handler, undermine the regime, give voice to fellow Romanians, and expose to the world what is happening in his country. “Sepetys is a formidable writer, and her stories declare the need to write about global issues of social injustice. For that reason and her attention to detail, this is a must-read” (School Library Journal). Get the eBook | Get the Audiobook
The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson — Bestselling author Tiffany D. Jackson ramps up the horror and tackles America’s history and legacy of racism in this suspenseful YA novel following a biracial teenager as her Georgia high school hosts its first integrated prom. “This reimagining of Stephen King’s Carrie is a thrilling, unflinching horror narrative that takes on colorism, racism, classism, microaggressions, white saviorism, and respectability politics” (Horn Book). Get the eBook | Get the Audiobook
…and The Rest of the Best!
Ain’t Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin — Prepare yourself for something unlike anything: A smash-up of art and text that viscerally captures what it is to be Black. In America. Right Now. “There’s nothing Reynolds can’t do, and his readers know it. This creative, timely reflection will be particularly admired by teens seeking change” (Booklist). Get the eBook | Get the Audiobook
As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow by Zoulfa Katouh — Eighteen-year-old Salama Kassab, a pharmacy student volunteering at a hospital in Homs, Syria, is desperate to find passage on a refugee boat for herself and her pregnant best friend, but first she must learn to see the events around her for what they are — not a war, but a revolution. “Harrowing moments are juxtaposed against painfully beautiful memories of peaceful times, and readers will linger over the many exquisite sentences in this memorable novel that honors the stories of countless Syrians” (Kirkus Reviews).
Family of Liars by E. Lockhart — In this prequel to We Were Liars, Carrie Sinclair tells the ghost of her son Johnny about the summer of 1987, when “the boys” arrive on Beechwood Island, setting off events that will haunt her for years to come. “Lush language and a setting full of breezy glamor provide an easy entry point into this layered, atmospherically tense exploration of jealousy, love, and family loyalty” (Publishers Weekly). Get the eBook | Get the Audiobook
The First to Die at the End by Adam Silvera — It’s the night before Death-Cast goes live, and there’s one question on everyone’s mind: Can Death-Cast actually predict when someone will die, or is it just an elaborate hoax? “This prequel to Silvera’s They Both Die at the End (2017) is an extraordinary — no, make that a brilliant — book with a riveting plot” (Booklist). Get the eBook | Get the Audiobook
The Girl Who Fell Beneath The Sea by Axie Oh — In this retelling of the Korean legend “The Tale of Shim Cheong”, sixteen-year-old Mina is swept away to the Spirit Realm, where, assisted by a motley crew of demons, gods, and lesser spirits, she sets out to awaken the sleeping Sea God and save her homeland and family from deadly storms. “A perfect fit for readers who love Spirited Away” (Booklist). Get the eBook | Get the Audiobook
Hell Followed With Us by Andrew Joseph White — Sixteen-year-old trans boy Benji is on the run from the cult that raised him — the fundamentalist sect that unleashed Armageddon and decimated the world’s population. Desperately, he searches for a place where the cult can’t get their hands on him, or more importantly, on the bioweapon they infected him with. “A gloriously ferocious and scorching blaze” (Kirkus Reviews). Get the eBook | Get the Audiobook
The Honeys by Ryan La Sala — Mars has always been the lesser twin, the shadow to his sister Caroline’s radiance. But when Caroline dies under horrific circumstances, Mars is propelled to learn all he can about his once-inseparable sister who’d grown tragically distant. “A sparkling and powerful exploration of grief, gender roles, and escaping the strong grip of expectations” (School Library Journal). Get the eBook
I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston — After seventeen-year-olds Chloe and Shara, Chloe’s rival for valedictorian, kiss, Shara vanishes leaving Chloe and two boys, who are also enamored with Shara, to follow the trail of clues she left behind. “A must-read for fans of dark academia with a hopeful spin on the premise that students can create real change in their environment” (Booklist). Get the eBook | Get the Audiobook
The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes — Sixteen-year-old Mexican American Yami Flores starts Catholic school, determined to keep her brother out of trouble and keep herself closeted, but her priorities shift when Yami discovers that her openly gay classmate Bo is also annoyingly cute. “Filled with humor and love, this fast-paced novel will have readers immersed in Yamilet’s world, rooting for her and her loved ones all the way” (School Library Journal).
Man Made Monsters by Andrea L. Rogers — Haunting illustrations are woven throughout these horror stories that follow one extended Cherokee family across the centuries and well into the future as they encounter predators of all kinds in each time period. “Fresh, crisply written text, which alternates between first-, second-, and third-person tellings, artfully tackles themes of colonialism and its effects on entire generations, for a simultaneously frightening and enthralling read” (Publishers Weekly).
Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert — Told in alternating voices, years after it began, seventeen-year-old Ivy and her mom Dana’s shared story comes down to a reckoning among a daughter, a mother, and the dark forces they never should have messed with. “Riveting, creepy, and utterly bewitching; do not miss this one” (Kirkus Reviews). Get the eBook | Get the Audiobook
Squire by Sara Alfageeh and Nadia Shammas — Aiza has always dreamt of becoming a Knight, the highest military honor in the once-great Bayt-Sajji Empire, and as a member of the subjugated Ornu people, Knighthood is her only path to full citizenship. It’s not how she imagined it, though, as Aiza realizes that the “greater good” that Bayt-Sajji’s military promises might not include her, and that the recruits might be in greater danger than she ever imagined. “This alternative history of the Middle East and North Africa deftly tackles complex subjects such as war, loyalty, and imperialism, all made humane and relatable through a young, compelling protagonist” (Booklist). Get the eBook
The Summer of Bitter and Sweet by Jen Ferguson — In this complex and emotionally resonant novel about a Metis girl living on the Canadian prairies, debut author Jen Ferguson serves up a powerful story about rage, secrets, and all the spectrums that make up a person — and the sweetness that can still live alongside the bitterest truth. “The honesty and complexity of this book make it a gripping read” (School Library Journal).
The Sunbearer Trials by Aiden Thomas — Transgender demigod Teo is unexpectedly selected for the Sunbearer Trials, a fierce competition among demigod heroes where the winner sacrifices the loser to Sol, their blood fueling the Sun Stones that protect Reino del Sol. “Fans of The Hunger Games and mythology will revel in this energetic, well-wrought adventure” (Booklist). Get the eBook | Get the Audiobook
We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds — When seventeen-year-old Avery moves to rural Georgia to live with her ailing grandmother, she encounters decade-old family secrets and a mystery surrounding the town’s racist past. “Hammonds seamlessly weaves together mystery, romance, and a town’s racist history, crafting a gripping and emotional story. A love story — romantic and familial — that is a must-read” (Kirkus Reviews).