Library Home page | Library Catalog
Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Teen Reader Advisory: Gia's Picks

Gia's Picks

You may know Hank Green from TikTok or Crash Course but I'm here to tell you he's a fabulous author as well! An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is an insane journey through the trials and tribulations of overnight online stardom, including the many mistakes made by the book's lovable but disastrous protagonist, April May, and the motley crew she assembles along the way. AART and its sequel A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor tell a wonderfully human story despite their otherworldly sci-fi conceit. Every character will worm their way into your heart and stay there long after you've put the books down.

As a long time fan of John Green, I can confidently say The Anthropocene Reviewed is his best work yet. Filled with wonder and romanticizing mundanity, this novel was a perfect and uplifting read for such a bleak time in human history. Green's words could remind even the most cynical person to take a moment and appreciate the simple and steadfast beauty of a sunset. And for the Hank Green fans, he gets plenty of mentions throughout. I give The Anthropocene Reviewed five stars only because that's the scale I'm working with but it gets one thousand stars in my heart.

A truly gruesome horror novel about good ol' fashioned aliens (...or are they...?) with some brutal commentary on humans' willingness to follow along to fit in, and the limits and conditions of compassion. Definitely not for the faint of heart or those making their first foray into horror, but Bent Heavens is a must-read for body horror fans. There's one scene that will make your teeth hurt. Good luck.

Blankets is breathtakingly beautiful, both aesthetically and in story. The emotions conveyed through the text and illustrations feel so real and raw that, while I was reading it, it was almost like they were happening to me. A must-read for anyone struggling to reconcile their lifelong faith with their burgeoning personal identity, and still a great read even if you aren't.

A Complicated Love Story Set in Space was a wild ride from explosive start to satisfying finish. The relationships between the characters felt so real, and the emotions they experienced were very relatable despite their otherworldly setting and circumstance. A great book for people who like science fiction but prefer character-driven stories over Trekkie technobabble. I wish I could read it again for the first time just to experience all the crazy twists with a fresh brain.

Drag Teen is fun fun fun. The perfect book for when you're looking to breeze through something light and silly that will make you feel good. I'm still holding out hope that we'll get a movie of this one eventually, but until then, all I can do is recommend it to everyone. Plus, as someone who very frequently has pink hair and owns a hundred different pink lipsticks and at least one tiara, I adore the cover.

This extremely cute illustrated novel will cheer up even the saddest of us. Jonny Sun's beautiful and simple words are punctuated by his equally beautiful and simple drawings. If you've ever seen that tweet that says, "Look. Life's bad. Everyone's sad. We're all gonna die. But I already bought this inflatable bouncy castle so are you gonna take your shoes off or what?" – that's this guy. In fact, that tweet made it into the book, with an illustration that brought me so much joy. Everyone's a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.

Reading Everything, Everything is self-care. It's like curling up on the couch on a rainy day with fuzzy socks and a cup of tea. It's a quick read, since some chapters consist only of a single line of text, a drawing or a text conversation. The story is very romantic and, although it's a little predictable, that predictability brings an element of comfort. It's a touching story about the overwhelming feelings of first love and self discovery that anyone can relate to. The 2017 movie adaptation starring Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson is also one of my favorite book-to-movie adaptations ever done.

Goodbye, Again felt like an emotional spa treatment. Refreshing, lovely, a little sad, a little hopeful, a lot comforting, I read the entire thing in one sitting and it made my heart so full. Every essay is wonderful, but my personal favorite was "Your last 15 minutes before the end of the world, ranked from worst to best" which you can read here if you need convincing. I don't want to say too much else and spoil the experience of reading this book, but if the simple title and beautifully minimal cover are calling to you, then you will almost definitely enjoy the whole thing.

Oddly enough, I didn't enjoy Harrow Lake much while I was reading it. Some of the horror tropes – small-town gossip, estranged grandmother and mysteriously disappeared mom, protagonist from the city who thinks she's above all the townsfolk – were just a bit too on the nose for me. But I pushed through and read the whole thing, then found myself thinking about it constantly in the following weeks and reevaluating how I felt about certain parts of the story. Definitely not for everyone, but lovers of slow-building horror and creeping tension should make Harrow Lake their next read. The Cake Scene will stick with you.

All I have to say about Heartstopper is [takes a deep breath] [SCREECHES FOR TWENTY MINUTES]. This book and its sequels (and the webcomic, where you can read ahead of where the physical books have stopped for now!) are so cute that the entire time I was reading them I was chomping on my tongue to keep from audibly reacting. Heartstopper is a beautiful, funny, touching story about blossoming love that's filled with tons of LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC representation. I'm obsessed. And watch out for the TV show coming soon-ish!

A true classic, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a must-read for any sci-fi fan. I didn't read it until embarrassingly recently (summer 2019, in one weekend, entirely on various modes of public transit between Monroe and Brooklyn) and the whole time I felt an overwhelming sense of "why in the world did I wait so long to read this incredible book?!?!" If you haven't read it but have always been meaning to, I urge you to read it. If you already have and are thinking you should read it again, do it. It's an absolute delight.

You ever read something that's so adorable that you have to physically bite your lip to keep from squeaking? That's what happened the entire time I was reading I Love You So Mochi. With characters as sweet as the mochi they eat throughout and all the classic rom-com tropes, this book was a joy. A great read if you just want to turn your brain off and bask in the cuteness. Especially if you plan to visit Japan one day, or have been and are currently missing it.

The Kids Are Gonna Ask was one of the most enthralling books I've read in a while. The characters all immediately felt extremely tangible, and I cared so much about what they were going through and whether or not they were going to find their father. Watching the podcast play out and gain traction and the kids' very real reactions to it all almost felt like reading a memoir rather than a fiction novel. Definitely recommend for podcast people or anyone looking for an interesting and character-driven story.

If you're a fan of historical fiction, strong female leads and/or bittersweet gay stuff, Last Night at the Telegraph Club is the book for you. Lily's struggles with her identity and sexuality and what that will mean to her family are portrayed beautifully against the historical and clearly well-researched backdrop of 1950s San Francisco. I felt so much genuine compassion for Lily and Kath the entire time I was reading this novel, and the ending was extremely satisfying. It's one I'll think about for a long time. Plus, how gorgeous is that cover?

One of my absolute favorite books ever written. It's hard to describe this one without giving away too much of the plot, which has so many twist and turns I could barely keep up, but in a really fun way. The perfect blend of classic horror, '80s pop culture and the raw power of teenage female friendship with an ending that made me cry because it was so lovely. If you're a fan of Stranger Things (especially Eleven and Max's relationship in season 3), IT Chapter One, or any other pieces of media about teens fighting scary things before they had cell phones, you'll definitely enjoy this one.

If you love New York City as much as I do, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist is the book for you. It perfectly captures the chaos and confusion of wandering around the city with no money, no plan and no idea how you're going to get home but knowing you have the perfect person at your side to help you figure it all out. Filled with mountains of music references, some slightly dated language, and lots of kissing, this book is a ton of fun every time I read it. I never get tired of it.

This one's a heartbreaker, folks. So much so that when I was listening to the audiobook, after already having read the physical book, one scene made me cry so hard that I had to pull my car over. But if you're into that kind of thing, Noggin is for you. Despite its ridiculously outlandish sci-fi concept (cryogenic freezing AND attaching a head to a new body?!) it examines the human condition and how we deal with love and loss in ways no other book I've ever read has. I read this one in 2016 and I still think about it all the time. It'll stick with you in the best way, and I can't recommend it enough.

The Only Good Indians will sneak up on you. I'd heard it lauded as one of the best horror novels of the year, and about 25% of the way through the audiobook, I wondered if I'd misread or accidentally checked out the wrong book because nothing really scary had happened yet. Then something scary happened. Then a LOT OF SCARY THINGS HAPPENED. Brutal, beautiful and haunting, this novel is perfect for fans of slasher horror. And if you like it, the author Stephen Graham Jones has plenty of other novels, novellas and short stories published to work through. Night of the Mannequins was also excellent.

Orpheus Girl is an incredibly powerful work of fiction, mostly due to the plot being so deeply rooted in reality. It was a difficult novel to get through, due to graphic descriptions of conversion therapy and rampant homophobia from many of the characters. But despite the anger and sadness it made me feel, I was ultimately happy to have had the experience of reading it. I don't know if I'd say I enjoyed it, per se, but it stuck with me for weeks.

Not my favorite book I've ever read, but its unique premise is what gets it put on my picks list. I've always been a fan of midnight horror movies and the TV hosts that show them, and to read a contemporary YA book about two girls hosting midnight horror on their local public access station was delightful. The story overall was a little slow, a little predictable, but the characters, setting and themes made it worth the read. If you're looking for a quick, fun read with silly costumes, a road trip, and some romance, Rayne and Delilah's Midnite Matinee is one for you.

Ahhhh, Simon. Where do I even start with this lovely book? One of my favorite YA books ever written, I've read it multiple times now and it's just as wonderful every time. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, as well as its sequel Leah on the Offbeat, struck a chord deep in my heart in a way that's hard to articulate. I often joke that Leah "plagiarized my life." If the summary intrigues you even a little bit, I recommend giving this one a chance. And if you love it, there's a movie too!

Slaughterhouse-Five is the only book I read in high school that I enjoyed. And, to be honest, I didn't even enjoy it until I decided on a whim to read it again a few years after high school. Now I've read or listened to it dozens of times. It's a tough one to follow, but once you break through the shell of the nonlinear narrative, SH-5 is one of the most unique, powerful and memorable stories I've ever encountered. It also permanently changed the way I look at the stars. The graphic novel adaptation by Ryan North is excellent as well.

I know they say "don't judge a book by its cover" but when a book has a cover this cool, how can you not? Luckily, The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik lives up to its cool cover by having an equally cool story. Fans of David Bowie, pick this one up right now. Everyone else, if you like parallel universes, unreliable narrators, high school mysteries, unreality in general, and reading books where you're never quite sure what's going on, pick this one up right now. It's an absolutely wild ride.

One part classic slasher, one part teen rom-com, one part whodunnit thriller and one part mysterious backstory reveal all come together in unexpected ways to create this unique and unforgettable YA novel. There’s Someone Inside Your House is a delightfully trope-filled horror romp packed to the brim with scares, suspense, and cliffhanger chapters which make it nearly impossible to put down until all is revealed.

Who's ready to cry their eyes out? You, hopefully, if you're considering this book. Despite the downer (and spoiler) of a title, They Both Die at the End is a celebration of life and the people we spend it with. Yes, the ending is sad, due to the whole "they both die" thing. But the rest of the book is a joy to read as Rufus and Mateo, complete strangers who meet through the circumstance of their lives ending, spend their Last Day together and try their hardest to make it count. Plus this one's gonna be a TV show soon, so read it now before everyone else does.

A modern classic, Twilight changed the face of YA literature when it was published and has remained at the forefront of the cultural hivemind ever since. Is the writing amazing? Definitely not. Does it have issues, specifically with the way the very real Native American Quileute Tribe are fictionalized and portrayed? Absolutely, and that's important to talk about critically. But Twilight and the rest of its saga are fun, silly, romantic as heck and make me feel good every time I reread them, which is an annual occurrence in my life. If you like vampires, werewolves, clumsy teenage humans and/or cheesy romance, these are absolutely the books for you.

The word iconic gets thrown around a lot these days, but Watchmen is truly iconic. With an incredible story (and story-within-a-story) and gorgeous art, Watchmen claws its way under your skin and stays there. I've been thinking about it for more than a decade now. Its vibrant orange, green, purple and brown color palette were groundbreaking at the time of publication, when other comics were mostly red, yellow, blue and black. The 2009 film adaptation was also fantastic despite its changes to the plot, and I've heard good things about the HBO sequel series as well. There's a lot to dive into with this one.

I have two words to describe We Are Okay: "cozy" and "melancholy." Despite being a book about grief and loss, both of life and of love, We Are Okay felt overwhelmingly comforting, mostly due to the beauty of Nina LaCour's writing. The two protagonists are caught in a snowstorm for the majority of the book, and that's exactly what it felt like emotionally – being curled up under a warm blanket and watching the snow fall outside. A quick read, We Are Okay is one that will stay in your heart long after you finish.

Very weird, kind of gross, extremely surreal and heavy on the gothic overtones, What Big Teeth isn't a novel for everyone but will absolutely delight the right reader. Lovers of tarot, astrology, What Remains of Edith Finch, eerie vibes, the Void Stiles season of MTV's Teen Wolf, and the way the moon looks on a cloudy night will surely find a new favorite with this one. The perfect read for a chilly October evening. And basically every character in the book is queer, if you're looking for representation.

Mary H.K. Choi is the weighted blanket of YA authors. All her novels are emotionally heavy but intensely comforting, and Yolk is absolutely her best work yet. June and Jayne's relationship, the reluctant-but-unwavering support they showed each other, and the conflicts they faced throughout felt extremely authentic – no one can drive you crazier than a sibling, but no one else has your back the same way they do. A wonderful story about family, love and Korean-American culture that will tug at your heartstrings in all the right ways. And with yet another beautiful cover, as all of Choi's books have.

A rotating collection of YA books (and a few teen-appropriate adult books) I've loved for years, new and great ones I've read recently, and books I want to share with others. Click the book title to read more about the book and a short review from me.

Read all of these and want more recs? Or none of them catching your eye? Stop by the library to chat or send me an email at gia@monroefreelibrary.org and I'll give you some personalized recommendations!