Don't Judge: Older YA Books You Ought to Check Out

When we look for new books, we tend judge them by their cover, by their newness and fresh scent. That’s fine; it’s nice to read something new and exciting. But when you’re skimming the YA shelf looking for something new to read, there’s some slightly older books that are worth your attention. Here are some books that are a little older, but we have a hunch that you'll love them

Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde—Giannine lives in a world where video game arcades are full of VR rigs, ready to transport you into the hot new game Heir Apparent. Giannine keeps dying, over and over again, but she’s determined to beat the hottest new game, Heir Apparent. What she doesn’t know is that she’s in danger of dying for real.

Dreamland by Sarah Dessen—Caitlin’s relationship with Rogerson Briscoe lets her forget her troubled life. Rogerson makes Caitlin feel like she’s in a dream—but something’s not quite right….

Tithe by Holly Black—Kaye is wild and strange, an outcast on the road or in her blue collar hometown. The faeries are even wilder, stranger, and a whole lot more dangerous. And they have plans for Kaye.

Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden—hugely controversial at the time it was published and banned across the country, Annie On My Mind  is the story of two girls who have growing feelings for each other.

Blue Sword by Robin McKinley—Harry is an orphan in a remote colony. When she’s kidnapped by a desert king, she has no idea that she’s got a big destiny ahead of her. (There's also a prequel, The Hero and The Crown.)

Jackaroo by Cynthia Voigt—Gwyn is an innkeeper’s daughter and doesn’t have much time for silly tales. But when the fabled outlaw Jackaroo is on everyone’s lips, she finds herself getting close to the truth behind the tale.

Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause—Vivian loves being a werewolf, but her pack has fallen apart since her father's death, with no clear way forward. When she falls in love with a human boy, will she have to choose between her wolf and herself?

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George—Miyax is thirteen, married, and desperate to get out. To become Julie, the normal teenager, rather than Miyax the eskimo. Running away across the wilderness, it will take everything Miyax has ever learned just to survive. (Julie of the Wolves is technically JFiction, but the sequel, Julie, is firmly YA if you want to skip ahead.)

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce—Alanna can’t go to knight school because she’s a girl. Fortunately, she’s got a twin brother, and he’s down for a switcheroo. (If you like this world, the 20th book set in Tortall comes out in February!)

Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers—Perry dreamed of going to college, but when that falls through, he volunteers for service and is shipped off to the middle of the Vietnam War. The reality of war is more brutal than he could have ever realized.

Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones—Gwendolyn Chant is a magical prodigy, and Cat, her little brother, is just content to have one whole living relative. When they're invited to live with the great Chrestomanci, Gwendolyn might have to face the fact that she's not that special. Or, she might tear apart the multiverse in order to get her way. (Search for Chrestomanci in the catalog to find more of this series!)

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli—Magee is just an orphan—until he starts running, and becomes so much more.

Dangerous Angels: the Weetzie Bat Books by Francesca Lia Block--Weetzie Bat, Witch Baby and other fantastical characters roam a magical Los Angeles in this collection of the Weetzie Bat series.

Sabriel by Garth Nix—Sabriel’s father is the Abhorsen: he’s a good necromancer, who keeps the undead from preying upon the living. But he’s gone missing, and powerful undead are rising again. Sabriel must cross into the Old Kingdom, find her father, and save the world. (First in a series that’s still going!)

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld—When people turn sixteen, they get their operation and become Pretties, who are all supernaturally beautiful and who all get to do nothing but have fun. Tally’s excited about her operation, but when her best friend runs away, she discovers there’s a dark underbelly to a world where everyone is Pretty.

In The Forests of the Night by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes—Risika was turned into a vampire 300 years ago, and she has wandered, cursed, ever since. Now her past, her origin as a vampire, has come to haunt her.

Gossip Girl by Cecily Von Ziegesar—If you’re rich, popular, and go to an elite NYC school, it’s easy for lying, drinking, and huge drama to ensue. But what do you do when the anonymous Gossip Girl starts blogging all your dirty little secrets? (Also a TV show.)  

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C Wrede—Cimorene loves cooking, fencing, and magic—so it’s really too bad that she’s a princess, and it only gets worse when her parents try to arrange her marriage to a very stupid prince. So Cimorene runs away to become a dragon’s princess! What could go wrong? (First in a quartet!)

Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman? by Eleanor Updale--You'd think nearly dying and getting arrested would change Montmorency's mind on the topic of thieving from every home and business in Victorian London. Instead, it inspires him to set his sights much, much bigger.

So You Want To Be a Wizard by Diane Duane—Nita runs her hands along the library’s shelves until she hits on an interesting book. But it’s not just any book; it’s a manual for becoming an actual, real wizard. Now she can handle her bullies, but will she be able to handle the responsibility of safeguarding the universe? (First in an ongoing series.)

Firebirds: An Anthology of Original Fantasy and Science Fiction—Filled with short stories by many of the classic YA genre authors of the 80s and 90s, this book is a great starting point if you’re not sure which authors you’ll like.