Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2025) Featured Review: Under This Red Rock by Mindy McGinnis

  • Under This Red Rock
  • by Mindy McGinnis
  • Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
  • Release date: March 19, 2024
  • ISBN: 9780063230415

Neely knows the voices she hears are hallucinations, but she’s afraid to burden her family by telling them about her schizophrenia, especially in the aftermath of her brother’s suicide. She finds comfort and stability in the local cavern attraction and is even lucky enough to get a job there as a guide. However, her stability upends after she tries drugs at a party and her coworker and crush, Mila, is found brutally murdered in the caverns. Neely can’t shake the fear that she was the one who did it. 

Under this Red Rock isn’t just a mind-bending psychological thriller. It’s also an open-ended invitation for the reader to reflect on their biases about mental illness, as well as a reminder that it’s okay to ask for help. Hypnotic and harrowing, this book will stay with you long after you put it down.

This book is for teens who like twisty mysteries that remain grounded in realism. Give it to fans of Courtney Summers and Kathleen Glasgow, but note that the story contains depictions of drug use and violent imagery, including a graphic description of a suicide.

-Yona Yurwit

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.
The Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee appreciates teen feedback as members evaluate the nominated titles. Teen librarians are encouraged to share the List of Potential Nominees under consideration with their patrons and solicit feedback using the link: https://bit.ly/BFYA25TeenFB

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2025) Featured Review: What the River Knows by Isabel Ibañez

After the mysterious death of her parents, Inez Olivera sets out from her home in Argentina to visit the place they lived and lost their lives, Egypt. There she meets her new guardian and his handsome assistant who try to send her back home to Buenos Aires. Instead, she sneaks onto a ship headed to the archaeological site where her parents were last seen in the hopes that she might uncover the truth behind their disappearance. Along the way the magic she is using to guide her search ends up leading her to uncover more than just the truth about her parents’ death.

What the River Knows is a historical fantasy set in Egypt in the 1880s. It is full of adventure, mystery, magic, and intrigue. The immersive setting, engaging plot, and strong characters come together to create a world that will draw readers in and keep them engaged with twists and turns. The narration of Hamad and Osorio does an excellent job expressing the emotions and tension of the characters and situations in the book. The narrators have a strong grasp of proper pronunciation of words in multiple languages in the book.The use of music and multiple narrators was also a nice addition to the overall production.

Readers who enjoyed Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross or books by Chloe Gong or R.F. Kuang would enjoy this story. It would also be a perfect read for fans of The Mummy. Additionally, readers who enjoy mythology based stories like the Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan would find elements of this book appealing.

-Haley Shaw

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: February 27, 2024
Release Date: September 26, 2023
Release Date: November 7, 2023

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.

Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2025) Featured Review: What the River Knows by Isabel Ibañez

  • What the River Knows
  • by Isabel Ibañez
  • Publisher: Wednesday Books
  • Release date: 10/31, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781250803375

Inez, an Argentinian society young woman, heads to Egypt to find out what happened to her missing (presumed dead) parents, who were on an archeological dig. Her uncle, now her guardian, is a secretive man who appears to be selling Egyptian artifacts–in other words a tomb robber–assisted by an English military deserter who goes by the moniker, “Whit.” When Inez dares to defy societal convention and her uncle by boarding a ship to Egypt to conduct her own search for her parents, she encounters scoundrels, thieves, and murderers who are willing to do anything to get their hands on Cleopatra’s wealth and are happy to sacrifice Inez and all she holds dear to acquire it.

This compelling enemies to lovers trope takes place against a very evocative 1880’s Egyptian backdrop. Chocolate éclairs consumed on linen couches in a hotel lobby next to fez-topped effendi, while tomb-robbing is discussed in clipped British tones is enough of a draw for adventure fans. When you add revolvers, secret doors, and missing/dead parents along with a touch of real, old magic, there is the basis of a solid story. 

This historical fantasy setting, with a little magic, and a lot of slow-burn romance will set historical fiction fans’ hearts aflutter.  This is a high-school themed version of The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan with more romance and less teaching of mythology.  For historical romance fans hand this to fans of Erin Beaty’s Traitor’s Kiss series, Mary Pearson’s Dance of Thieves series, or Stephanie Garber’s Caraval series. Fans who like the down and dirty reality of being on a trip without all the benefits of civilization, but with magical abilities informing the storyline, will also like Rae Carson’s Walk on Earth a Stranger series.

-Michael Fleming

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.

The Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee appreciates teen feedback as members evaluate the nominated titles. Teen librarians are encouraged to share the List of Potential Nominees under consideration with their patrons and solicit feedback using the link: https://bit.ly/BFYA25TeenFB

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2024) Featured Review: The Brothers Hawthorne by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

  • The Brothers Hawthorne
  • by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
  • Narrated by Jay Ben Markson
  • Hachette Audio | Little, Brown Young Readers
  • Publication Date: August 29, 2023
  • ISBN:9781668623817

Grayson Hawthorne takes care of his family. Always. When his half-sisters (who know nothing about him) need help, he’s there. Thankfully, Xander and Nash show-up, too, just when Grayson needs them most. Jameson Hawthorne loves to win. When his absent father presents him with the challenge to win back his father’s inherited family residence, he is determined to win, as usual. Avery (the girl who inherited the boys’ grandfather’s fortune in The Inheritance Games) becomes his his accomplice. Tobias Hawthorne prepared his grandsons to solve every puzzle, to protect family at all cost, and – above all else – to win. In the face of new challenges, Grayson and Jameson are prepared to do just that. Except, this time, the Hawthorne brothers aren’t together to do so.   

The mystery of the Hawthorne family seems to never end. New readers will fall in love with Grayson and Jameson and be drawn into the current challenges. Curiosity may lead to reading the previous titles, but isn’t necessary. Jay Ben Markson’s narration keeps readers on the edge of their seats, rooting for Grayson and Jameson as each works to solve the clues to their own challenge, likely to change each of their lives.  


Perfect for readers who read other books in the series or enjoyed One of Us is Lying, Truly Devious, or Firekeeper’s Daughter. Also a good choice for teens who’ve seen and enjoyed the mystery of Knives Out and Glass Onion

-Lysha Thompson

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: October 18, 2022
Release Date: June 13, 2023
Release Date: March 7, 2023
Release Date: September 6, 2022
Release Date: October 11, 2022
Release Date: June 6, 2023
Release Date: March 14, 2023
Release Date: September 26, 2023
Release Date: March 14, 2023
Release Date: May 2, 2023

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.

Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Feature Review: Royal Blood by Aimee Carter

  • Royal Blood
  • by Aimee Carter 
  • Publisher: Random House
  • Imprint: Delacorte Press
  • Release date: March 7, 2023
  • ISBN: 9780593485910

Evan Bright has been kicked out of many boarding schools but this last infraction included possible felony charges. Which leads her caretaker, Jenkins, with one option, get her out of the country and to her father, the King of England. Evan and the King’s legitimate family have always known about her parentage but when her existence is leaked to the press it becomes the scandal of the century. Soon after her arrival, Evan is assaulted by a friend of the royal family who later ends up dead, leaving her as the prime suspect and public enemy number one. She doesn’t know who to trust and has few people on her side in a foreign country while she is determined to clear her name.

Royalty is a hot topic in books and real life. Evan gets the Meghan Markle treatment in the press clippings that start each chapter. This book gives a peek into how real life mistakes can be twisted to create a narrative for the press. Evan is sympathetic and side characters grow to create a family and support system that Evan so desperately needs. The treatment of sexual assault and mental illness is gentle and educational. 


Readers might also enjoy American Royals by Katherine McGee and The Castle School for Troubled Girls by Alyssa B Sheinmel.

-Cathy DeCampli

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: January 17, 2023
Release Date: May 14, 2023

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.

Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2024) Featured Review: Invisible Son by Kim Johnson

  • Invisible Son
  • by Kim Johnson
  • Publisher: Random House
  • Release date: June 27, 2023
  • ISBN: 9780593482100

Seventeen-year-old Andres Jackson just spent two months incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit.  A restorative justice program is allowing him to return to his family home in Northeast Portland–and the neighborhood friends who were actually the guilty parties.  However, Andres’ plans for returning to school and establishing his innocence are interrupted by the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Andres now must juggle pandemic losses, family struggles, and the realization that perhaps the truth behind who framed him for stealing is much more complicated than he previously thought.  

This title is a suspenseful and dramatic mystery that slowly builds towards an action packed climax.  The story weaves together important aspects of the historical treatment of Blacks in Portland, contemporary social justice themes, a complicated romance storyline, and a slow burning suspenseful mystery plot.  Readers will connect with Andres’ struggle to learn the truth.

Teen readers drawn to storylines about social justice advocacy and emotion-filled dramas will be drawn to this text. Fans of Nic Stone’s Dear Martin and Dear Justyce, Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give and Concrete Rose, and Jason Reynolds’ and Brendan Kiely’s All American Boys will enjoy this important story of racial injustice and its intersection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

-Marie LeJeune

Other Nominated Titles

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.

The Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee appreciates teen feedback as members evaluate the nominated titles. Teen librarians are encouraged to share the List of Potential Nominees under consideration with their patrons and solicit feedback using the link: https://bit.ly/BFYA24TeenFB

Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Feature Review: Someone is Always Watching by Kelley Armstrong

  • Someone is Always Watching
  • by Kelley Armstrong
  • Publisher: Penguin Random House
  • Imprint: Tundra
  • Release date: April 11, 2023 
  • ISBN: 9780735270923

Blythe’s tight-knit group of friends have started to be plagued by nightmares, hallucinations, and what seem to be repressed memories. The stakes are raised when her best friend Gabrielle has a series of psychotic breaks at school, and is whisked away to a mental health facility following a suspicious death of a school official. Blythe and her friends must work together to find out what really happened to Gabrielle and how this relates to their own nightmares and visions. But can they trust anyone, even one another?

Someone is Always Watching is a fast-paced, plot driven thriller. Although some parts of the plot feel a bit underdeveloped, especially in the second half of the book, the twists and turns will likely keep readers turning the pages until the end. The book is just about 350 pages, but reads as quickly as a book half its length.

Also try books by Karen McManus or These Deadly Games by Diana Urban.

– Julianne Novetsky

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: April 18, 2023
Release Date: January 3, 2023

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.

Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Feature Review: Missing Clarissa by Ripley Jones

  • Missing Clarissa
  • by Ripley Jones
  • Publisher: Wednesday Books
  • Imprint: St. Martin’s Publishing Group
  • Release date: March 7, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781250801968

Twenty years ago, a popular cheerleader named Clarissa Campbell disappeared from a summer party in the woods. In the present day, best friends Blair and Cameron create a podcast as a school project that will explore this still unsolved mystery. In the years since Clarissa vanished, the story has taken on urban legend-like status in their rural, Washington community. But as the girls dig deeper into the case, they begin to uncover secrets that could put them in very real danger.

Missing Clarissa is a suspenseful, and intricately plotted book that is just over 250 pages. This makes it a quick read that is perfect for readers who prefer shorter books. The story is primarily plot-driven, but the two main characters have distinctive personalities. The podcast plot device is not new, but it will still appeal to teens who are fans of true crime in real life.

 For readers who also enjoyed A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson and Cold by Mariko Tamaki.

-Julianne Novetsky

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: April 25, 2023
Release Date: April 11, 2023

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.

Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Feature Review: Going Dark by Melissa De La Cruz

  • Going Dark
  • by Melissa De La Cruz
  • Publisher: Sterling Publishing Co
  • Imprint: Union Square and Co
  • Release date: January 31, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781454947646

When college sophomore, Josh, returns from a romantic Roman getaway without his travel influencer girlfriend the internet has questions. Soon #WhereIsAmeliaAshley is trending and Josh is the police’s number one suspect. But fellow student and master hacker, Harper, is also working the case and she has discovered that even people who live their lives online can have plenty of secrets.

True crime fans will recognize the similarities to the Gabby Petito case, which is sure to raise interest. But this is not a retelling of her tragic death. This fast-paced book is filled with twists that have twists. The tone is dramatic and readers feel like they are rushing towards an inevitably dark conclusion.

Readers who are into influencer culture,  quick mysteries, and unreliable narrators should read  Live Your Best Lie by Jessie Weavernd You’re So Dead by Ash Parsons.

-Cathy DeCampli

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: March 7, 2023
Release Date: April 25, 2023

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.

Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Feature Review: Aces Wild: A Heist by Amanda DeWitt

  • Aces Wild: A Heist
  • by Amanda DeWitt
  • Publisher: Peachtree Teen
  • Imprint: Holiday House
  • Release date: September 13, 2022
  • ISBN: 9781682634660

Jack attends a private school in Massachusetts and runs an underground, literally in the basement, blackjack ring where he uses his card counting tricks learned from his life in Las Vegas where his family owns and runs a casino.  Things seem to be running smoothly until he sees his mother arrested on TV and has to race back to Las Vegas.

Jack is ace and has a group of internet friends that have found each other as allies who are also ace that live around the country. When Jack’s mom is arrested, he makes an impulsive decision to fly his friends to Vegas to help him figure out what happened. Many bad decisions are made, but they have each other to rely on.

Readers who love the idea of taking risks in casinos and banding together with friends on a mission will enjoy Jack and his friend gang. Similar reads are The 99 Boyfriends of Micah Summers by Adam Sass, Overturned by Lamar Giles.

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: April 4, 2023
Release Date: January 31, 2023

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.