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5 Favorite Young Adult Books Selected by Author Victoria Lee

Victoria Lee | The Children’s Book Review | March 22, 2018

Vita NostraVita Nostra

Written by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko

This book messed me up good. If you’re tired of the same old variations on magic school books, this one turns the trope on its head. I’d be more inclined to call it ‘dark academia’ than anything else—it’s about a girl who is recruited after a series of increasingly bizarre and threatening tests to attend a special, secretive university in the Ukraine. There, she becomes enmeshed in a series of mind games and thought experiments that may or may not involve very real magic, where speaking up about the dangerous activities of the school might lead to the murder of all your loved ones. The fact the book’s characters are all young adults at the age when psychosis and mood disorders often become apparent is likely not a mistake. By the time I finished this book I was left dizzy and discombobulated and entirely unsure how to feel. I recommend it to anyone who is okay feeling vaguely nauseated throughout the entire read. But like…in a good way. I think.

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Ages 14+ | Publisher: Harper Voyager | November 13, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0062694591

Girls of Paper and FireGirls of Paper and Fire

Written by Natasha Ngan

Have you been reading YA fantasy and wishing it was more Asian and more sapphic? Natasha Ngan has you covered. Girlsis a Malaysian-inspired fantasy about a girl who is taken to be a courtesan to the demon king…and there, falls in love with another courtesan, a girl who is mysterious and vulnerable and dangerous in equal measure. It’s a powerful story of resistance and feminism and survivorship and queerness in the face of patriarchy and I would recommend it to just about everyone. Not to mention the prose is wonderfully poetic and transporting. Love love love.

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Ages 14+ | Publisher: jimmy patterson | November 6, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0316561365

In Other LandsIn Other Lands

Written by Sarah Rees Brennan

So, I don’t usually like humorous books. Possibly because I’m a curmudgeon. This book was the exception. It’s another twist on the magic school idea, this time following blunt nerdy bisexual Elliott as he gets drawn into a mysterious magic training program in a second magical dimension that exists alongside our own. It has a cast of queer badass kids with a variety of talents and flaws, including an elf girl from a fiercely matriarchal culture. My main mode of communication is sarcasm so if you relate, this is definitely the book for you. I was wriggling around on my bed while I read it, cracking up and shrieking at all the good bits.

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Ages 14+ | Publisher: Big Mouth House | August 15, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1618731203

EnchanteeEnchantée

Written by Gita Trelease

This book had such a gloriously rich and evocative setting—I devoured it in the span of a night. The Paris of this book feels like a character in its own right, just as strikingly-realized as the people that populate it. Enchantée follows a girl with illusion-based magic abilities who must disguise herself as an aristocrat to gain entrance to Versailles’ most elite gambling circles, hoping to make enough money to support herself and her sister. But meanwhile she’s falling for a brilliant young balloonist…and it turns out nobody is what they seem.

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Ages 14+ | Publisher: Flatiron Books | February 5, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-1250295521

If I Was Your GirlIf I Was Your Girl

Written by Meredith Russo

This book follows the story of a young trans girl who is trying to start a new life in a new town. The friendships and romances that blossom in this book—and the family relationships that strengthen—left me a crying wreck at four in the morning when I finally turned the last page. This is the happy-ending trans romance we’ve all been waiting for. This book will change so many lives, and I wish it could be required reading in schools. It will break your heart and stitch you back together again in the most wonderful way.

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Ages 14+ | Publisher: Flatiron Books | May 3, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1250078407

About the Victoria Lee

Victoria Lee is the author of The Fever King, published by Skyscape on March 1, 2019. Find her online at www.victorialeewrites.com and follow her on Twitter: @sosaidvictoria, Instagram: @sosaidvictoria, and Facebook: @victorialeewrites

The Fever KingThe Fever King

Written by Victorie Lee

Publisher’s Synopsis: In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

Ages 14+ | Publisher: Skyscape | March 1, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-1542040174

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Victoria Lee, author of The Fever King, selected these young adult books. Discover more articles on The Children’s Book Review tagged with  and .

Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review. She is a reader, reviewer, mother and children’s book lover. She also has a decade’s worth of experience working with children in the great outdoors. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s specialist bookseller, the goal is to share her passion for children’s literature to grow readers. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, she now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado.

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