The Rest of the Best MG & YA Books of 2015

Those end-of-the-year “best of” book lists can be rough. When you try to come up with only ten or fifteen titles, chances are some very worthy books aren’t going to be included, especially some of those published earlier in the year. It also seems like the same titles are always being mentioned; no doubt those books are great, but let’s share the love a little, yeah? Here then, from PubCrawlers and friends, are our picks for the best middle grade and young adult books of 2015 that you probably won’t find on any other lists. These are terrific choices for last-minute gifts for the readers in your life! In no particular order:

INFANDOUS by Elana K. Arnold. This is a gorgeous, lyrical coming-of-age contemporary (and I don’t often read contemporary!) YA novel set in LA. —recommended by S. Jae-Jones (Wintersong, Thomas Dunne, 2016)

THE STORYSPINNER by Becky Wallace. This book is an easy to slip into YA fantasy, laced with magic and romance, and with a creative MC who I rooted for throughout the entire book. —recommended by Stephanie Garber (Caraval, Flatiron/Macmillan, 2016)

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ZEBULON FINCH by Daniel Kraus. It was marketed as YA but probably holds more appeal to adults. It follows the extraordinarily long life of Zebulon Finch, who’s murdered as a teenager, but comes back to life and can’t die. I don’t know if you can call a book like this a Bildungsroman, but it has the feel of one. The writing is spectacular, and Kraus somehow manages to make this really horrible character sympathetic and likable. —recommended by Rachel Seigel

CONSPIRACY OF BLOOD AND SMOKE by Anne Blankman. The sequel to PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG, it’s amazing historical fiction set in Germany during the rise of the Nazis, and it’s a dang good story. —recommended by Julie Eshbaugh (Ivory and Bone, HarperCollins, 2016)

THIS MONSTROUS THING by MacKenzie Lee is a steampunk retelling of Frankenstein from the perspective of a teenaged mechanic who repairs human “clockwork” parts. A fascinating look at what it means to be human. —recommended by Stacey Lee (Under a Painted Sky and Outrun the Moon, G.P. Putnam’s Sons for Young Readers, 2016)

ZEROBOXER by Fonda Lee is a science fiction thriller set in a world where zero-gravity boxing can elevate one’s standing in society. Absorbing and fast-paced! —recommended by Stacey Lee

CITY OF THIRST by Carrie Ryan and JP Davis. The sequel to MAP TO EVERYWHERE, this fun adventure series is on par with Harry Potter–it has the most imaginative world I’ve ever been immersed in, and the characters are brilliantly written, funny, brave, and just wonderful. It’s not just a huge hit with me–it’s also my nephew’s favorite book! Definitely dive into this story! —recommended by Beth Revis (Across the Universe, The Body Electric, Paper Hearts)

THE LIES ABOUT TRUTH by Courtney C. Stevens, which is the wrenching and poignant story of a car crash survivor whose mental and physical scars have isolated her from everyone she knows and loves.  Court has this gift of being able to look the worst parts of life unflinchingly in the face and somehow still see hope, along with the capacity for healing and change. Lies is one of those books that makes me sniffle and then smile within the space of a few pages. —recommended by Bethany Hagen (Landry Park, Jubilee Manor)

FIRES OF INVENTION by J. Scott Savage. It is about a couple of kids who defy the “no inventing” rule in their underground city and build a steam-powered dragon huge enough to ride. I don’t think I’ve ever read a steampunk with this much heart. It was well written, chock full of action, had great characters and fascinating conflicts and plenty of mysteries to keep you dying to find out what happens next. And did I mention a STEAM-POWERED DRAGON?! —recommended by Peggy Eddleman (Sky Jumpers)

FIG by Sarah Elizabeth Schantz. Beautifully written, moving story and complex characters. —recommended by Elisa Ludwig (Pretty Crooked, Pretty Sly, Pretty Wanted, Coin Heist)

UPDRAFT by Fran Wilde. It’s rare to encounter such an original and fascinating setting as this city with its living bone towers, winged citizens, and frightening sky monsters. Wilde has built a world with a detailed, believable history and society, and layered the story with intrigue, action, and compelling characters—rich with themes of tradition, progress, ambition, and class struggles that will resonate with readers. —recommended by E.C. Myers (Fair Coin, Quantum Coin, The Silence of Six)

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