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Great Reads for Teens - Alex Award Winners

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The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. All items found in Adult Fiction or Non-Fiction as indicated


All Systems Red (available in Black Gold)
by Martha Wells
Stuck on a distant planet with an exploratory crew, a Security Robot kills time watching soaps. After a group of scientists is killed, the robot (now calling itself “Murderbot”) must figure out how to save its crew from a similar fate. 

The Clockwork Dynasty (available in Black Gold)
by Daniel H. Wilson
Automata Elena and Peter are "born" in Peter the Great's Russia… or are they? Can they really live in the power-hungry world of humans? And can they find the "breath of life" before it is too late? 

Down Among the Sticks and Bones (NEW FICTION)
by Seanan McGuire
In this dark fable, twins Jillian and Jacqueline venture to a dangerous world where they must choose one of two paths. As they discover their true selves, they find that love and adventure are among the most hazardous things. 

Electric Arches (available in Black Gold)
by Eve L. Ewing
Wielding words and images like lasers, and bending genres to her will, Ewing’s poetry and prose tells stories both personal and universal. With humor and gravitas, this collection spotlights the joy, cruelty, and struggle of life.

A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea (available in Black Gold)
by Melissa Fleming
This gripping account follows Doaa Al Zamel's journey to Egypt and her harrowing days at sea as she leaves her war-torn home for the promise of a better life in Europe.

Malagash (not available)
by Joey Comeau 

Roughneck (available in Black Gold)
by Jeff Lemire
In the snowy recesses of northern Canada, a down-and-out former hockey player must confront his past when his long-lost sister returns to town battling demons of her own. Can they save each other? Or will violence swallow them both? 

She Rides Shotgun (NEW FICTION)
by Jordan Harper
Polly, an 11-year-old girl with “gunfighter eyes,” her teddy bear, and her estranged father suddenly find themselves struggling for survival in a world ruled by gangs. Fast-paced and thrilling, this will get even reluctant readers' hearts racing. 

Things We Have in Common (available in Black Gold)
by Tasha Kavanagh
Yasmin wants to be close to the most beautiful girl in her school, but surely a freak like her has no chance. Unless, that is, she can save her from the man who was staring at her from the woods. 

An Unkindness of Magicians (available in Black Gold)
by Kat Howard
The Wheel is turning and Sydney is determined to have fate spin her way. Meanwhile, magic is faltering and there are people who will do whatever it takes to save it. 


The Queen of Blood (FICTION)
by Sarah Beth Durst
Daleina is determined to keep her family safe from vengeance-seeking spirits, placing her in the crossfire of an insecure queen and powerful spirits.

The Regional Office is Under Attack! (available in Black Gold)
by Manuel Gonzales
Fraught with explosive action, female assassins, teenage crushes, and even a cyborg, this fast-paced, dynamic story of revenge explores what happens to a group of women hell-bent on defending the world from evil forces.

In the Country We Love: My Family Divided (available in Black Gold)
by Diane Guerrero with Michelle Burford
After Diane Guerrero returned home from school one day to find her family deported, the 14-year-old went on to combat self-injury and suicidal thoughts, finish her education, and to become a successful actress and citizenship activist.

Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded (DOWNLOADABLE)
by Hannah Hart
Candid and thoughtful, Hart’s memoir details her difficult childhood and rise to internet fame.

Arena (available in Black Gold)
by Holly Jennings
Virtual gaming: Kali's team is competing to win, not to die.

Every Heart a Doorway (DOWNLOADABLE)
by Seanan McGuire
Sometimes kids disappear. Sometimes they come back. And when they come back, they need a place to go. At the Home for Wayward Children, everybody has a story, and some stories have better ending than others.

Romeo and/or Juliet: A Choosable-Path Adventure (unavailable)
by Ryan North 

Die Young with Me: A Memoir (unavailable)
by Rob Rufus

The Wasp that Brainwashed the Caterpillar (available in Black Gold)
by Matt Simon
Simon explores the benefits of evolution, in these odd yet compelling stories that range from creatures adapting to find food to having sex.

The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko (available in Black Gold)
by Scott Stambach
He has no arms or legs. She has blood that is betraying her. They are the smartest people in the children’s hospital and the only ones who understand, and they take “star-crossed lovers” to a whole new level.


by Ryan Gattis
Los Angeles, 1992: in the chaos of a rioting city, between settling scores and surviving another day, 18 young men and women—gangbangers, a nurse, an artist, a dreamer—give intense and sometimes brutal voice to their complex human experiences.

Between the World and Me (305.80097 C652)
by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Coates writes to his 15-year-old son about the inborn hazards of being black in America and his own intellectual, political and emotional confrontation with the need to live fully, even in the face of racialist culture.

Bones & All (available in Black Gold)
by Camille DeAngelis
Sixteen-year-old Maren literally eats the ones who love her, bones and all. When her mother abandons her, Maren sets out to find the father she has never met, hoping he can help her understand why she is a monster.

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits (available in Black Gold)
by David Wong
Zoey never had much ambition beyond being a barista, but when her father leaves her in control of the lawless city of Tabla Ra$a, she goes from steaming milk to slaying supervillains.

by Sara Nović
Ana's early life was ravaged by the 1991 Balkan wars. Now a college student, Ana relives her war and its consequences as she unravels the (MYSTERY) of herself and the meaning of home.

Half the World (FICTION)
by Joe Abercrombie
A bloodthirsty girl and a reluctant warrior are recruited by a cunning minister for a mission that will either save or doom their kingdom.

Humans of New York: Stories (available in Black Gold)
by Brandon Stanton
In pictures and interviews that captivate, puzzle and reveal, photojournalist Brandon Stanton collects an immeasurable range of human emotions and perspectives. The photos draw us in and their subjects’ words leave us wondering and cheering at the variety of humanity.

Sacred Heart (unavailable)
by Liz Suburbia
Adults have disappeared, and Ben Schiller is trying to keep things together until their return in this unsettling graphic novel. A series of mysterious deaths may be a sign of impending doom for Alexandria’s troubled kids.

Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League (available in Black Gold)
by Dan-el Padilla Peralta                          
Overstaying his visa in the U.S. before he was in kindergarten, Padilla Peralta joined other young DREAM Act scholars to erase his illegal status. His humor, wisdom, success and very American boyhood smash anti-immigration stereotypes.

The Unraveling of Mercy Louis (FICTION)
by Keija Parssinen
Mercy, a high school basketball star, lives under the thumb of her grandmother, a fierce believer in Y2K as the apocalypse. The year 1999 alters Mercy’s life in a small Texas refinery town and gives her a future beyond it.


All the Light We Cannot See (FICTION)
by Anthony Doerr                         
A blind Parisian girl and an orphaned German boy conscripted by the Nazis for his radio skills meet in the chaos of the American bombing of a French coastal resort.

Everything I Never Told You (FICTION)
by Celeste Ng
Lydia is dead. Is it murder? Suicide? As her family grieves for their perfect teen, they learn how little they really knew Lydia and how many secrets died with her.

The Martian 
by Andy Weir
Marooned on Mars after a tragic accident, astronaut Mark Watney’s supplies are running low and he has no way to signal Earth. Fortunately, Mark can grow space potatoes and has a bold plan to escape the Red Planet. 

The Terrorist’s Son: A Story of Choice (303.62509 E168)
by Zak Ebrahim with Jeff Giles
This true account of Zak Ebrahim, whose father was responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, is a powerful book about tolerance and choice.

Wolf in White Van (FICTION)
by John Darnielle
After his face is destroyed, Sean manages to carve out a life for himself as a designer of virtual role-playing games. When two teens take the game too far, Sean is forced to relive all his moves. 


Brewster (FICTION)
by Mark Slouka
Still reeling from the death of his older brother, a sixteen-year-old track star befriends a street-fighting rebel and together they search for redemption amidst the social changes of 1968.

The Death of Bees (FICTION)
by Lisa O’Donnell
Trying to keep the death of their parents a secret, Marnie and her little sister Nelly are on their own until several residents in Glasgow's Hazelhurst housing estate suspect that something isn't right and as one lie leads to another, dark secrets emerge, threatening to tear the girls apart.

Golden boy: a novel (available in Black Gold)
by Abigail Tarttelin
Presenting themselves to the world as an effortlessly excellent family, successful criminal lawyer Karen, her Parliament candidate husband and her intelligent athlete son, Max, find their world crumbling in the wake of a friend's betrayal and the secret about Max's intersexual identity.

Help for the Haunted (MYSTERY)
by John Searles
Struggling with the loss of her parents, who helped haunted souls find peace, Sylvie Mason pursues the (MYSTERY), moving closer to the truth of what happened that night as she comes to terms with her family's past.

Lexicon: a novel (DOWNLOADABLE)
by Max Barry
At an exclusive school somewhere outside of Arlington, Virginia, students aren’t taught history, geography, or mathematics. Instead, they are taught to persuade. The very best will graduate as “poets”: adept wielders of language who belong to a nameless organization that is as influential as it is secretive. Whip-smart orphan Emily Ruff becomes the school’s most talented prodigy until she makes a catastrophic mistake: She falls in love. Meanwhile, a seemingly innocent man named Wil Jamieson is brutally ambushed by two strange men in an airport bathroom. In order to survive, Wil must journey to the toxically decimated town of Broken Hill, Australia, to discover who he is and why an entire town was blown off the map. 

Lives of Tao (unavailable)
by Wesley Chu

Mother, mother: a novel (available in Black Gold)
by Koren ZailckasThe disturbing fate of a runaway older sister is gradually revealed in a tale told from the perspectives of the Hurst family, including a teen girl whose drug use has landed her in a mental ward, an autistic youth, an alcoholic father, and an insidiously manipulative mother. 

Relish (741.5973 K718)
by Lucy Knisley
Lucy Knisley loves food. The daughter of a chef and a gourmet, this talented young cartoonist comes by her obsession honestly. In her forthright, thoughtful, and funny memoir, Lucy traces key episodes in her life thus far, framed by what she was eating at the time and lessons learned about food, cooking, and life. 

The Sea of Tranquility: a novel (unavailable)
by Katja Millay 

The Universe Versus Alex Woods (available in Black Gold)
by Gavin Extence
The son of a fortune teller, who was struck by a meteorite when he was ten years old, befriends a grumpy old widower and proves his friendship by getting stopped at the border by customs with a large bag of marijuana and an urn full of ashes.


Caring is Creepy (DOWNLOADABLE)
by David Zimmerman
Suspecting that her overworked nurse mother has been enmeshed in a boyfriend's petty criminal schemes, fifteen-year-old Lynn Marie engages in online flirtations and hides a troubled AWOL soldier in the storage space of her home. 

Girlchild (FICTION)
by Tupelo Hassman
Obsessively following the edicts of the Girl Scouts Handbook in spite of her lack of a troop, young Rory longs to escape the Reno trailer park where she lives with her bartender mother.

Juvenile in Justice by Richard Ross UNAVAILABLE

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore (FICTION)
by Robin Sloan
A gleeful and exhilarating tale of global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, high-tech data visualization, young love, rollicking adventure, and the secret to eternal life—mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore.

My Friend Dahmer (DOWNLOADABLE)
by Derf Backderf
You only think you know this story. In 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer—the most notorious serial killer since Jack the Ripper—seared himself into the American consciousness. To the public, Dahmer was a monster who committed unthinkable atrocities. To Derf Backderf, Dahmer was a much more complex figure: a high school friend with whom he had shared classrooms, hallways, and car rides. In My Friend Dahmer, a haunting and original graphic novel, writer-artist Backderf creates a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a disturbed young man struggling against the morbid urges emanating from the deep recesses of his psyche—a shy kid, a teenage alcoholic, and a goofball who never quite fit in with his classmates.

One Shot at Forever (DOWNLOADABLE)
by Chris Ballard
In 1971, a small-town high school baseball team from rural Illinois playing with hand-me-down uniforms and peace signs on their hats defied convention and the odds. Led by an English teacher with no coaching experience, the Macon Ironmen emerged from a field of 370 teams to become the smallest school in Illinois history to make the state final, a distinction that still stands. There, sporting long hair, and warming up to Jesus Christ Superstar, the Ironmen would play a dramatic game against a Chicago powerhouse that would change their lives forever.

by Julianna Baggott
In a post-apocalyptic world, Pressia, a sixteen-year-old survivor with a doll's head fused onto her left hand meets Partridge, a "Pure" dome-dweller who is searching for his mother, sure that she has survived the cataclysm. 

The Round House (FICTION)
by Louise Erdrich
When his mother, a tribal enrollment specialist living on a reservation in North Dakota, slips into an abyss of depression after being brutally attacked, fourteen-year-old Joe Coutz sets out with his three friends to find the person that destroyed his family.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home (DOWNLOADABLE)
by Carol Rifka Brunt
Her world upended by the death of a beloved artist uncle who was the only person who understood her, 14-year-old June is mailed a teapot by her uncle's grieving friend, with whom June forges a poignant relationship.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette? (FICTION)
by Maria Semple
When her notorious, hilarious, volatile, talented, troubled, and agoraphobic mother goes missing, teenage Bee begins a trip that takes her to the ends of the earth to find her.


Big Girl Small (FICTION)
by Rachel DeWoskin
Sixteen-year-old Judy Lohden finds her three feet nine inches tall, incredibly talented self in the middle of a scandal, with the national media on her trail and the students at Darcy Academy, a local performing arts high school, involved in the mayhem.

In Zanesville (available in Black Gold)
by Jo Ann Beard
Along with her best friend, the fourteen-year-old narrator navigates a 1970s American girlhood, including challenges from popular girls and the first hints of womanhood.

The Lover’s Dictionary (FICTION)
by David Levithan
A modern love story told through a series of dictionary-style entries is a sequence of intimate windows into the large and small events that shape the course of a romantic relationship.

The New Kids: Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens (373.18)
by Brooke Hauser
Chronicles a year in the life of a diverse group of seniors, all recent immigrants for whom English is a second language, at the renowned International High School in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

The Night Circus (FICTION)
by Erin Morgenstern
Waging a fierce competition for which they have trained since childhood, circus magicians Celia and Marco unexpectedly fall in love with each other and share a fantastical romance that manifests in fateful ways.

Ready Player One (FICTION)
by Ernest Cline
Immersing himself in a mid-twenty-first-century technological virtual utopia to escape an ugly real world of famine, poverty, and disease, Wade Watts joins an increasingly violent effort to solve a series of puzzles by the virtual world's creator. 

Robopocalypse: A Novel (FICTION & SCIENCE FICTION)
by Daniel H. Wilson
Two decades into the future humans are battling for their very survival when a powerful AI computer goes rogue, and all the machines on earth rebel against their human controllers.

Salvage the Bones (FICTION)
by Jesmyn Ward
Enduring a hardscrabble existence as the children of alcoholic and absent parents, four siblings from a coastal Mississippi town prepare their meager stores for the arrival of Hurricane Katrina while struggling with such challenges as a teen pregnancy and a dying litter of prize pups. 

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in Pictures (available in Black Gold)
by Caroline Preston
Using an array of vintage memorabilia, a novel told in the form of a scrapbook follows Frankie Pratt, who goes to Vassar in 1920 with dreams of becoming a writer, which becomes a stepping stone to an international adventure.

The Talk-Funny Girl (FICTION)
by Roland Merullo
Raised by parents so intentionally isolated that they speak their own hybrid dialect, abused youth Marjorie witnesses her parents' submission to a sadistic cult leader before she is rescued by another abuse survivor who teaches her stoneworking skills.