I have a group of 5 tweens who are exceptionally bright, avid readers, and are also incredibly excited about our book club that meets on Wednesday afternoons. They are not really interested in the high school drama/fantasy/romance style YA book, so I have been on a quest to find great books for them. They have absolutely loved these two books. The first, Genius, is about a diverse group of teens who excel in various STEM fields. They are invited to participate in a global competition and join a mysterious technology firm which has ambitions to change the world. My group of kids are also very diverse, so they loved each having a character they could relate to personally. They also enjoyed the moral ambiguity of the characters, which made great fodder for book club discussion.
The second book, Scythe, came highly recommended by a number of my colleagues. While it was quite different from the type of novel I had been searching for, the rave reviews convinced me to try it with the group. Scythe is about a future where technology has rendered death and sickness obsolete, but in order to keep the population in check, there is a society that must kill off a certain number of people. Two teens are selected as apprentices who train to be Scythes, and must ponder their existence and the meaning of life. This book is interesting to discuss in a group setting, and while it is quite long, the fast pace makes it a quick and easy read.
These books are great for academically motivated, intellectually curious teens and tweens. They are both wonderful for promoting interesting discussions and there is very nearly zero romance, for those who are sick of love stories taking over their novels. The group even developed a theory that Scythe is the future of Genius, after the brilliant kids in the competition create the technology that makes the Scythes necessary. It really has been a lot of fun talking about these books!