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Indie YA Books You Should Check Out
Recently Published Indie YA Titles
Young Adult is a massive and hugely popular genre, encompassing mature issues and themes, new worlds, diverse heros and heroines, and experimental storytelling. While in the past YA may have been unfairly dismissed as simply books for teens, it is finally starting to get the attention it deserves; not only as a genre for adults too, but as a powerful social force.
Here are some of the best indie YA books we have seen in the past year, from both self-publishers and small presses. Tell us about any great YA books you've read in the comment section below.
Tripping Back Blue, by Kara Storti (Carolrhoda Lab)
"Some readers dismiss YA as books for teens but lacking depth. Tripping Back Blue is one I would give to those readers to challenge that misconception. We meet Finn as he is selling drugs to fund his studious sister's upcoming Harvard education. The two don't have any other family they can rely on and Finn is immediately sympathetic, despite his criminal actions. As the book progresses though, the reader is taken into the very real and visceral world of drug dealing and drug abuse and the slippery slopes- not straight lines- that can lead there. Despite the sometimes dark and seemingly hopeless situations, Storti keeps you reading with richly drawn characters you want to follow to the end."
-Amy Shamroe, IP Staff
Kaboom! by Brian Adams (Green Writers Press)
"Cyndie and Ashley are laugh out loud funny, and their daily adventures at high school in West Virginia are entertaining enough. But the girls are in the middle of coal country, so when their favorite mountain gets tagged they decide to fight Big Coal and stand up for Mother Nature. This doesn’t go over well in a town that reveres its coal mascot like a God; the girls quickly end up in hot water. A great look at how teens can be active in the fight to save the environment."
-Lauren White, IP Staff
Esfir Is Alive, by Andrea Simon (Bedazzled Ink Publishing)
Esfir Manevich is a young Jewish girl who lives in the Polish town of Kobrin in 1936. Facing anti-Semitism in public school, Esfir moves in with her charming aunt who runs a boardinghouse in the bustling city of Brest. Being younger than the other boarders, Esfir struggles to find a place in her new life, all the while worrying about her diminishing role in the family she left behind. As the years pass, Esfir experiences the bombing of her hometown during the German invasion of 1939. When the Russians overtake the area, Esfir sees many of her socialist relatives and friends become disillusioned by the harsh restrictions. During the German occupation, Esfir and her family are enclosed in a ghetto where they develop heartbreaking methods of survival. In the summer of 1942, shortly before Esfir's thirteenth birthday, the ghetto is liquidated and the inhabitants are forced onto cattle cars destined for the killing fields and Esfir must face unimaginable horror.
Upside Down in a Laura Ingalls Town, by Leslie Tall Manning (Self-Published)
"Sixteen year old Brooke Decker is more focused on partying than her schoolwork and her father doesn't know what to do with her- until he gets the family on a reality show. This reality show has a different spin though. All the participants are forced to live in the North Carolina backcountry, circa 1861. Now, Brooke flounders when dealing with the demands of a teenager in the nineteenth century like milking cows and fetching water. To make matters worse, modern troubles still exist in this time too- dressing the right way, trying to figure out if a guy likes her. All while having every moment of her life filmed. Brooke's struggles with family, relationships, acclimation, and living in a 'reality' show are handled with believable emotion and humor. Her journey feels real and Manning avoids making the story cliched."
- Amy Shamroe, IP Staff
Hogtown, by C.J. Livingstone
"Cameron Power lives in a small town living a small town life. He is a junior in high school with good grades and a certified math nerd- with the stereotypical look to match. A chance invite to a party changes his whole life in one night. Rock and roll and a punk girl set him down a road he never imagined for himself. As he taps into his new passion, he finds resistance from his parents, some support from his friends, and, most importantly, a part of himself he never knew existed. Hogtown is a rock fairy tale with a great soundtrack, where the hero wields a guitar and getting the girl isn't the mission, the gig is. "
-Amy Shamroe, IP Staff
Here's the Thing, by Emily O'Beirne (Ylva Publishing)
It’s only for a year. That’s what sixteen-year-old Zel keeps telling herself after moving to Sydney for her dad’s work. She’ll just wait it out until she gets back to New York and Prim, her epic crush/best friend, and the unfinished subway project. Even if Prim hasn’t spoken to her since that day on Coney Island.
But Zel soon finds life in Sydney won’t let her hide. There’s her art teacher, who keeps forcing her to dig deeper. There’s the band of sweet, strange misfits her cousin has forced her to join for a Drama project. And then there’s the curiosity that is the always-late Stella.
As she waits for Prim to explain her radio silence and she begins to forge new friendships, Zel feels strung between two worlds. Finally, she must figure out how to move on while leaving no one behind.
SCI-FI & FANTASY
Beyond the Red, by Ava Jae (Sky Pony Press)
"This book starts out with a bang. Eros, a half-blood, is captured when his human town is brutally destroyed by the ruling alien race. His unusual blood (which violates strict human-alien reproduction laws) coupled with his royal eye color single him out for unwanted attention from both the cruel alien guards and the conflicted alien queen, Kora. As the relationship between Kora and Eros deepens, tensions among the aliens and the insurgent humans threaten her rule. A fascinating world filled with colorful and complex characters."
-Lauren White, IP Staff
Fairhaven's Forsaken, by Susan Fernandez (Goose Rocks Publishing)
The last thing seventeen-year-old Eva needs right now is a cryptic warning from someone who disappears before her eyes. But dark portents, out-of-body experiences, and unpredictable storms are all perks of Eva's magic becoming erratic - magic she's never trusted. As if growing up the strange orphan from Ragnarok Abbey wasn't hard enough. Then there's Tristan, the new guy who moved in next door: cute and mysterious - and friends with the kids who torment her at school. But Tristan isn't enough to distract Eva from the nightmare sweeping ever closer. She must figure out how to harness her unruly magic before it's too late.
Ghost Chronicles, by Marlo Berliner (Self-Published)
"Ghost Chronicles is the first in an anticipated series bringing a more original spin to paranormal fantasies. Michael is kind of an All-Star eighteen year old- loving family, great girlfriend, and a budding basketball career. Then an accident wiped it out in an instant. He struggles as a ghost, adapting to his new world and watching his family mourn. With the help of another ghost, Tom, Michael learns more about his abilities. Soon he meets Sarah, another teenager who died tragically. As he grows closer to Sarah and struggles to deal with the rule about not joining souls in the afterlife, he faces a more serious problem when he finds out demons are after his soul for an unknown reason. There is a lot of world building in this book to set up what could be a very compelling series."
-Amy Shamroe, IP Staff
Caught in Between, by Alison L. Perry (Alison Sexton)
Sixteen-year-old Sadie is a vampire who faints at the sight of blood, trips over her own feet, and can only, at best, be called cute.
As the imperfect middle child in a perfect vampire family, she struggles to fit into a world where she is different from everyone else.
Forced to follow her parents’ wishes by attending University, the local finishing school for graceful young vampires, she soon becomes the laughingstock of her oh-so-perfect class. But when the most popular boy on campus comes to her rescue and calls her “beautiful,” Sadie becomes the target of a group of mean girls who rule the school.
Plagued by a series of embarrassing failures, Sadie is kicked out of University and must face reality: she doesn’t belong with vampires. And when a mysterious elder vampire seeks her out with vague and cryptic conversation, she’s even more convinced that something is amiss.
With no other acceptable choice for her future, Sadie must convince her traditional vampire parents to let her do something unheard of for vampires her age. But questions continue to plague her. Is she truly a vampire? Or is she something else?
The Circlet Half Drawn, by Jessie Biggs (Quill & Hearth Publishing House)
In a futuristic society split into upper class "Elites" and lower class "Dregs," Ambry Croft's blue hair and reckless nature have never quite fit the mold of her high-profile family. Ambry's father is a powerful and respected Timekeeper-one of twenty-four individuals entrusted with the research and distribution of the world's supply of time capsules. If activated, a single capsule has the power to freeze time. But when Ambry saves a thief named Rift-a mysterious and brilliant Rebel leader bent on bringing down the Global Government-she's unwittingly thrown into the tumultuous world of an underground Resistance that seeks to topple all her family stands for. Now Ambry must choose between the life she's known and an uncertain future fighting alongside Rift and the rest of the Resistance. But can she trust someone who won't reveal his own past? The Circlet Half Drawn is packed with teleportation, time-technology, and the relational struggles of a young woman discovering where she truly belongs.
In the Depths of Darkness, by Sean Fletcher (CreateSpace)
The year is 2119. Earth is a crowded, ugly shell of its former self, surrounded by numerous alien races and protected by the oppressive Earth Alliance. When Alyx Starburn is arrested for stealing food, he's given a choice: join a new branch of the Earth Alliance, created to rehab convicts like him into the service, or rot in a quarry on a backwater planet a thousand light-years away. It isn't a hard decision, and he quickly finds himself in basic training with three other outcasts, each with secrets that put his life in danger. Alyx discovers they've been chosen as the unsuspecting test subjects of an advanced neural Chip; a Chip capable of turning them into elite soldiers. If they survive the implantation process. Those who do will spearhead the EA's conquest for galactic domination. Alyx and his team have barely come out of the procedure before they're blamed for murders they didn't commit and find themselves on the run, searching for somewhere-anywhere-safe. Pursued by armies, bounty hunters, and a relentless squad of mysterious soldiers, the group must figure out who they can trust and who they can't, as they come to realize their own kind may be the most dangerous enemy of all.
Girl of Fire, by Norma Hinkens (Dunecadia Publishing)
"Fans of Star Wars will love Girl of Fire, a fast-paced sci-fi that follows the adventures of Trattora through a Galactic underworld. As the chieftain’s daughter, Trattora takes the fate of her planet into her own hands in the face of an approaching space pirate invasion. Searching for a way to leverage her planet’s natural resources to acquire weapons or defense for her people, she must, among other things, help transport illegal human heads to be attached to stolen bodies, barter in a galactic black market, and deal with a frightening captain. An exciting and incredibly engrossing book."
- Lauren White, IP Staff
Age of Order, by Julian North (Plebian Media)
"Age of Order is a dystopian novel that stands out for its characters and setting. In the not too distant future, New York City is divided into five cities and movement between them is not free, it all comes down to genetics. When Daniela Machado is offered the chance to leave Bronx City for the elite Tuck school, she is suspicious, but also desperate to gain access to a cure for the disease killing her brother. As Daniela fights the politics and rivalries around her, she uncovers a bigger threat than she ever could have imagined. This is a thrilling sci-fi story that grabs the reader on the first page and doesn't let them go."
-Amy Shamroe, IP Staff