The best YA genre books with boys who defy stereotypes

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a grown man who reads and writes young adult fantasy books. I believe YA stories are perfect for nearly every audience. Let me tell you why. Our teenage years are filled with growth. As we mature, we forget what such rapid change feels like. We become less empathetic toward youth. And yet, many of our characteristics—positive and negative—develop during these years. I read YA to understand myself. It also helps me be a more understanding father and teacher. That said, I'm very picky. I despise teenage stereotypes. For young men, it is particularly hard to find books that depict empathetic male characters. Here’s a list of books where young men feel genuine.


I wrote...

Forged in the Fallout

By Ben Green,

Book cover of Forged in the Fallout

What is my book about?

Isolated in the Appalachians, Clayson Spangler tends to his father’s failing health. At least, until his father’s old enemies show up. Clayson finds himself not only on the run, but introduced to a world of metal magic deep beneath the Rocky Mountains—built of neon cities, artificial suns, and magical fast food. With his father on the run and his mother on trial for treason, Clayson will need to find new friends and the power to protect his family from harm. This deep point-of-view, first-person narrative, explores all of Clayson’s uncertainties, particularly his status as an outsider in a strange world—in the style of Hunger Games, with the worldbuilding of the Potterverse.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Steelheart

Ben Green Why did I love this book?

David Charleston’s character resonated with me. He’s eccentric, passionate, and meticulous, while also being a great friend.

He’s also out for revenge against his father’s killer—A supervillain named Steelheart who has taken over Chicago. David unites with a secret group of people called the Reckoners who are trying to learn each villain's weakness to assassinate them.

David’s obsession with details is relatable, and against the terrifying powers of these supervillains, you're left on the edge of your seat hoping the Reckoner's schemes will be enough.

By Brandon Sanderson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Steelheart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.

Nobody fights the Epics... nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart - the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David's father.…


Book cover of Star Wars The High Republic: Into The Dark

Ben Green Why did I love this book?

Reath Silas is a very relatable Jedi, though perhaps not the most heroic at first.

He deeply doesn’t want to leave the comfort of his home on Coruscant, especially for his first assignment in the outer rim. He would rather explore the Jedi archives and attend historiography. Maybe, like Anakin Skywalker, he too dislikes sand. But reluctantly he faces the challenge.

When his group’s ship is pulled out of hyperspace, they take refuge in an abandoned space station. Reath is thrust into a world of pirate looters, shady guild members, and a dark-side mystery concerning the station itself.

What lessons will this young padawan learn?

By Claudia Gray, Giorgio Baroni (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Star Wars The High Republic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Long before the Clone Wars, the Empire, or the First Order, the Jedi lit the way for the galaxy in a golden age known as the High Republic!

Padawan Reath Silas is being sent from the cosmopolitan galactic capital of Coruscant to the undeveloped frontier-and he couldn't be less happy about it. He'd rather stay at the Jedi Temple, studying the archives. But when the ship he's traveling on is knocked out of hyperspace in a galactic-wide disaster, Reath finds himself at the center of the action. The Jedi and their traveling companions find refuge on what appears to be…


Book cover of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Ben Green Why did I love this book?

I hated that I came to an understanding with the younger version of President Coriolanus Snow—the villain of the Hunger Games novels.

Despite living in the capital, his family is starving. Coriolanus buries the secret of his family's relative poverty, hiding it from the world by overcompensating in school and social achievements. Having been raised in the inner city, by parents who worked minimum wage retail jobs, I truly, truly felt this one.

Having to pretend you don’t need food is something I deeply understood. But Corio—as his little sister calls him—slowly descends further and further into ruthlessness, as he discards his good nature for power and influence to save his family.

As with the original trilogy, this book can teach us something about our own natures and the hope we must always cultivate. 

By Suzanne Collins,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Ambition will fuel him.Competition will drive him.But power has its price.

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute. The odds are against him. He's been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District…


Book cover of Windswept

Ben Green Why did I love this book?

Young adulthood is filled with opportunities to try new things.

Teens want to feel independent, test themselves, and explore the world. The main character of Windswept, Fox, seeks out training to become a trader and trapper like his father. He’s already pretty good at trapping, but will he have the skills and temperament to become a trader? His village and the plot depend on it.

On top of that, he discovers he can sense things in the wind: a far-off invading army, the caravan coming in too late, and the location of prey. Woven throughout the story, Fox’s friendship with Lai shows the importance of cultivating friendship. 

By Kaitlin Bellamy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Windswept as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

"Somewhere to the north, something terrible was happening. In the same way that he could smell the snow, and the same way he knew when the caravan would arrive, he could feel something in the air. A fire, in some town a day or so away. And there was a hint of fear in the air, the wild panic of a trapped animal before the slaughter."

The wind has always spoken to Fox, but it was just instinct, wasn't it? Not a god's Blessing ... not magic. But his powers are growing, and soon, he cannot ignore it anymore: he…


Book cover of The Raven Boys

Ben Green Why did I love this book?

I chose this book because three of its main points of view are from young men. Richard Gansey III goes to a prestigious school in Virginia with his two friends Adam (quiet, smart, reserved) and Ronan (explosive, profane, delinquent).

With the addition of Blue, a girl from a psychic family who’s been told that the first boy she kisses will die, the tension in this book is sharp. I instantly love any book where one of the characters comes from poverty, especially if it’s represented accurately and not exploitative. Adam is that person.

I love how Gansey and Ronan want to protect him, and I love how he asserts his independence from their wealth. It also deals perfectly with the awkwardness of mixed-gender friend groups. All that and they’re on a hunt for the burial place of a long-dead Welsh king and/or the ley lines that could lead to him. 

By Maggie Stiefvater,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Raven Boys as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

'There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark's Eve,' Neeve said. 'Either you're his true love ... or you killed him.'Every
year Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the
soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them - until this year, when a
boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.His name is Gansey,
a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy
of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only
mean trouble. But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a…


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The Others

By Evette Davis,

Book cover of The Others

Evette Davis Author Of Woman King

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve worked in journalism, politics, and public policy for 30-plus years and watched as the extreme voices gained the most traction on either side of a debate. On social media, these minority views often dominate the discussion. 48 States is a stand-alone novel highlighting the problems of extremist viewpoints in a civil society. I also have another book series that features a political consultant who discovers she's a witch and joins a secret society that uses magic to manipulate elections to protect humanity. Bottom line: if I can’t fix political discourse for a living, I can write science fiction novels that contemplate how to do it.

Evette's book list on dystopian stories for the bada** feminist in us all

What is my book about?

True Blood meets Supernatural in the kickoff of this urban paranormal fantasy series from an acclaimed author. Readers enter a dystopian San Francisco filled with empaths and vampires embroiled in political unrest—and Book 1 is just the beginning.

Much as she wishes otherwise, superstar political consultant Olivia Shepherd was born a powerful empath. It’s a legacy she walked away from long ago—but when she wakes up one morning to find Elsa, a tenacious time-walker, standing in her kitchen, she realizes she can no longer ignore her gifts. She is quickly plunged into the hidden world of powerful “Others” and drafted…

The Others

By Evette Davis,

What is this book about?

True Blood meets Supernatural in the kickoff of this urban paranormal fantasy series from an acclaimed author. Readers enter a dystopian San Francisco filled with empaths and vampires embroiled in political unrest—and Book 1 is just the beginning.

Much as she wishes otherwise, superstar political consultant Olivia Shepherd was born a powerful empath. It’s a legacy she walked away from long ago—but when she wakes up one morning to find Elsa, a tenacious time-walker, standing in her kitchen, she realizes she can no longer ignore her gifts. She is quickly plunged into the hidden world of powerful “Others” and drafted…


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