Sci-fi and fantasy have their big, bad, powerful villains, but make no mistake—so does contemporary. In realistic YA fiction, no villain stands out like the bully, those classmates who make your life a living hell. Most of those books, of course, feature the victims: kids who get bullied for anything from going for the wrong person to not fitting in to…anything under the sun, really. But these are the YAs that put the bully in the hot seat, that show the world from their perspective and perhaps examine a little of the Why from another angle.
Tease, by Amanda Maciel
Everyone knows the stories in the news of girls who are bullied to death—girls like Emma. But not everyone knows the other side, where Sara sits. Sara, who has been charged, along with her friends, with driving Emma to suicide. Sara, who had more reasons to hate Emma than everyone knew. Sara, who’s steadfast in her belief that Emma deserved exactly what happened to her. Sara, who’s now the very kind of outcast she and her friends once made Emma, right up until Emma couldn’t take it anymore.
Some Girls Are, by Courtney Summers
Regina Afton knows what it’s like to be on top. After all, she’s second-in-command to the school’s queen bee, Anna. Or she was, until Anna’s boyfriend assaulted her and turned her into a target. Now Anna and all their old friends are determined to destroy Regina in the very same fashion she used to join in on, and the only person she can turn to is a guy who knows exactly what it’s like to be on the receiving end of that evil…because he was once Anna’s—and Regina’s—victim, too.
Winning, by Lara Deloza
Alexandra Miles doesn’t play nice. Well, that’s not quite accurate—she plays nice plenty. But nice girls finish last; they don’t get the homecoming crown, and you better believe Alexandra will. With the help of her conveniently-kind-of-in-love-with-her BFF, Samantha, Alexandra knows she can tear down anyone in her path with some well-placed rumors and lies…including new girl Erin, the biggest obstacle in Alexandra’s path. But when she goes too far with her manipulations, she’ll quickly learn she’s not the only girl at school who knows how to play well with others to get what she wants.
Side Effects May Vary, by Julie Murphy
Alice isn’t exactly besties with her classmates, and nothing would please her more than the opportunity for revenge. So when she’s diagnosed with leukemia and ostensibly given a death sentence, she decides it’s the perfect time to wreak vengeful havoc, with her smitten best friend, Harvey, at her side. But no one is more surprised than Alice when she goes into remission, and realizes the news that she’s gonna live after all means she’ll be doing so with some major consequences.
Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver
Oliver takes you into the head of a class-A bully not just once but seven times. In the tradition of Groundhog Day, Samantha Kingston wakes up every day reliving the same day over and over again. The worst part? It’s the day she died in a car accident with her queen-bee BFFs. The only way for her to find ultimate peace is for Samantha to do things differently, and to learn to make the right decisions when it comes to those she hurt.