Throughout the holiday season, we’re gathering books that make the perfect gifts for everyone on your list—from your mother and the teen in your life to your foodie friend and the coworker who loves Harry Potter. Need more ideas? Check out all of our guides.
Teenagers can be among the trickiest species on Earth to understand, but thanks to a boom of fantastic Young Adult literature in recent years, they definitely don’t have to be the trickiest to shop for. These books are so good, you’ll want to pick up an extra copy for yourself.
The Divergent Series, by Veronica Roth
Do you know a reluctant or picky teen reader who tore through the Hunger Games trilogy? Wondering where to turn next to keep that enthusiasm going? This series, which ended this year with the release of Allegiant, is the perfect answer. Fast-paced and fearless, these are definitely not the type of books you put down in favor of fruitcake (or even an Xbox controller).
The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey
If your teen prefers to get in on the ground floor of a series—or just likes his or her heart-pumping action heavy on witty writing, aliens, and postapocalyptic world building—make sure to pick this one up. Highly recommended for fans of Ender’s Game.
Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell
Rowell became a household name this year with the release of Eleanor & Park, but her story of a fan-fiction writer trying to navigate her freshman year of college without the comfort of her single dad or twin sister is a gem that’s not to be missed. Her fan-fiction, loosely based on the Harry Potter series, runs throughout the book, and serves to keep her both afloat and afraid to move on, even if doing so would open her up to the love of an adorable friend looking to be more. Perfect for a teen on the verge of a transition, anyone who’s grown up with fandom, or, really, anyone who loves beautiful, heartwarming writing.
Openly Straight, by Bill Konigsburg
The love and support of family is wonderful, but all that out teen Rafe wants is not to be “The Gay Kid” for a while. This laugh-out-loud (literally, in my awkward personal experience) book about trying to outrun your identity is great for both teens looking to find themselves and those who are sick of looking.
Cinder (and Scarlet), by Marissa Meyer
The first two books in the Lunar Chronicles series (the third, Cress, comes out in 2014) combine the creativity of fairy-tale retelling with beautiful, comprehensive world-building, humor, and science fiction containing actual science. Meyer’s world is sure to become a fast favorite of uninitiated teen readers who love sci-fi, are looking for something different, and thirst for unique and fully fleshed-out characters.
The Queen of Kentucky, by Alecia Whitaker
This sweet, funny, contemporary novel about a 14-year-old farmer’s daughter trying to reinvent herself for high school is the perfect buy for new teens on the cusp of the scary transition into full-on adolescence.
The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
It’s hard to make cancer funny. It’s hard to make suffering beautiful. John Green does both in this lovely, heartbreaking novel about two teens determined to define their days with love, humor, and adventure, rather than their terminal illnesses.
Just One Day, by Gayle Forman
The acclaimed author of If I Stay delivers the perfect budget-friendly cure for adolescent wanderlust in this exploration of transformative experiences—and people—and the way they affect who we are versus who we want to be. Follow it up with book two in the duology, Just One Year, told from the perspective of the love interest.
The Sky is Everywhere, by Jandy Nelson
A true testament to how beautiful YA writing can be, this book is perfect for the romantic, poetic teen in your life. It’s also a gorgeous, honest look at grief, and living life after the person closest to you has ceased to be able to do the same.
Finnikin of the Rock, by Melina Marchetta
If you know teens who love epic fantasy, do them a favor and introduce them to The Lumatere Chronicles trilogy, whose final book, Quintana of Charyn, was released this past year. Marchetta, an Australian author who won the Printz Award for her beautiful contemporary YA Jellicoe Road, has a masterful way with casts of characters, and this series is infused with her trademark thoughfulness, depth, and complexity.
What book will you be buying the teen on your list?