The most recommended young adult mystery books

Who picked these books? Meet our 327 experts.

327 authors created a book list with a young adult mystery book, and here are their favorites.

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Book cover of The New Girl

Heather DiAngelis Author Of Speech and Debacles

From Heather's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Animal rescuer Endo sufferer Audiobook fanatic

Heather's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Heather's 8-year-old's favorite books.

Heather DiAngelis Why did Heather love this book?

Rich boarding school meets murder mystery in Jesse Q. Sutanto’s The New Girl—except main character Lia Setiawan is anything but wealthy, and we already know she’s the killer.

It was an accident, but that doesn’t stop her from worrying about going to prison for her teacher’s murder as the detectives circle the drain. I laughed out loud so many times while I flew through this book, the question of whether she’d get caught ripping me to shreds in anticipation.

There are no spoilers here, but I’ll tell you it’s worth the wild ride.

By Jesse Q. Sutanto,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The New Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Lia Setiawan has never really fit in. And when she wins a full ride to the prestigious Draycott Academy on a track scholarship, she's determined to make it work even though she's never felt more out of place.
But on her first day there she witnesses a girl being forcefully carried away by campus security. Her new schoolmates and teachers seem unphased, but it leaves her unsure of what she's gotten herself into.
And as she uncovers the secrets of Draycott, complete with a corrupt teacher, a golden boy who isn't what he seems, and a blackmailer determined to get…


Book cover of The Invisible Man

Robin Friedman Author Of Nothing

From my list on classics that expose the cruelty of society.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am one of those people who always feels sorry for the monster at the end of the movie. I am always more disturbed by the avenging townspeople’s bloodlust than the monster’s destructiveness. At a deeper level, for me these horror stories actually depict compassion, acceptance, and the hysteria whipped up by self-righteous mobs. They are books with very dark themes, and they generally do not have happy endings, but rather than being depressing, I find them instructive, even enriching, and certainly valuable. More than anything, they show me – in bloody detail  the terrifying limits of conformity.

Robin's book list on classics that expose the cruelty of society

Robin Friedman Why did Robin love this book?

Similar in vein, a more opaque story than Frankenstein, and with a more indeterminate morality surrounding the main character, who is, after all, a crackpot murderer, but eliciting perhaps the same complex reactions toward him and the other characters at the book’s tragic ending. 

By H.G. Wells,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Invisible Man 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?

H. G. Wells was one of the founders of science fiction and his novels have remained extremely popular since they were first released.


Book cover of What Lives in the Woods

Natalie Rompella Author Of Malik's Number Thoughts: A Story about OCD

From Natalie's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Nature enthusiast Insect lover PIckleballer Creative Dog (and kid) mom

Natalie's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Natalie's 12, and 14-year-old's favorite books.

Natalie Rompella Why did Natalie love this book?

I discovered Lindsay’s book on Twitter. I grew up enjoying scary books, so when I saw her covers, I knew I wanted to interview her about her new one that wasn’t yet out. In the meantime, I read What Lies in the Woods.

This book is for middle graders, but even I felt it was scary! It read like a movie.

By Lindsay Currie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What Lives in the Woods as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

For fans of Small Spaces and the Goosebumps series by R.L Stine comes a chilling ghost story about a girl living in the decrepit and creepy mansion, who discovers something in the woods is after her.

All Ginny Anderson wants from her summer is to sleep in, attend a mystery writing workshop, and spend time with her best friend. But when Ginny's father―a respected restoration expert in Chicago―surprises the family with a month-long trip to Michigan, everything changes. They aren't staying in a hotel like most families would. No, they're staying in a mansion. A twenty-six room, century-old building surrounded…


Artemis Sparke and the Sound Seekers Brigade

By Kimberly Behre Kenna,

Book cover of Artemis Sparke and the Sound Seekers Brigade

Kimberly Behre Kenna Author Of Artemis Sparke and the Sound Seekers Brigade

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

From early childhood, I escaped into nature when times got tough—climbing trees, exploring the woods, and chatting with beach creatures. When I had to be indoors, books were my escape, and most of my favorites had rich nature settings that were so well-drawn that I could see them and feel like I was actually there. Following strong protagonists as they deal with life challenges by interacting with nature was an affirmation for me and still is. As a parent and former fifth-grade teacher, I’ve witnessed the power that books have to lessen loneliness and inspire hope and activism. 

Kimberly's book list on middle grade kids and nature mingle

What is my book about?

Artemis Sparke has had it with humans. She heads to the nearby salt marsh to hang out with the birds, plants, and mollusks who don't make a big deal of her stutter. The shoreline sanctuary is predictable, unlike her family and friends, and the data in her science journal proves it.

But one day that data goes haywire, and her bird friend RT confirms it: the salt marsh is dying. Artemis discovers that the historic hotel where she lives with her mom may be part of the problem, but speaking up would mean confronting the cranky hotel owner who happens…

Artemis Sparke and the Sound Seekers Brigade

By Kimberly Behre Kenna,

What is this book about?

"...Artemis Sparke is pure energy! ...Kenna's well-crafted debut is a timely gift." -Leslie Connor, National Book Award finalist and author of The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle and Anybody Here Seen Frenchie?

When Artemis Sparke has had it with humans, she heads to the nearby salt marsh to hang out with the birds, plants, and mollusks who don't make a big deal of her stutter. The shoreline sanctuary is predictable, unlike her family and friends, and the data in her science journal proves it. But one day that data goes haywire, and her bird friend RT confirms it: the…


Book cover of Disney After Dark

Richard W. Kelly Author Of The Psi-Chotic Adventures of Drew Darby

From my list on fantasy more fun than just dragons and sorcery.

Why am I passionate about this?

Although I write in many genres, fantasy was my first love in reading. I fell in love with the possibilities of a boundless world. And as the years went on, I realized that fantasy could be more than just dragons and sorcery. Fantasy was this big umbrella that housed all the impossible dreams. So, I gravitated toward the genre. I also have an affinity for fun things. I don’t like to be sad, so I prefer movies, music, games, and books that revolve around fun and humor.

Richard's book list on fantasy more fun than just dragons and sorcery

Richard W. Kelly Why did Richard love this book?

If there is something I love outside of writing it is Disney. I won’t try and convince anyone these are great works of literature, but they do an amazing job of making the Disney magic come to life.  

Ever since I went to Disney World for the first time I imagined what it would be like to work there. To see the park at night with no one in it. To be alone in all that magic. So, when I read Disney After Dark I felt like a little kid having his ideas put to paper.  

By Ridley Pearson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Disney After Dark as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Five young teens tapped as models for theme park “guides” (using a new hologram technology developed by the Disney Imagineers) find themselves pitted against Disney villains and witches that threaten both the future of Walt Disney World and the stability of the world outside its walls. Featuring a new cover design and additional content!


Book cover of 13 Reasons Why

Kathleen Fine Author Of Girl on Trial

From my list on contemporary YA about peer pressure and addiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started to experiment at a very early age with alcohol. During my teen years, like so many of my peers, I had low self-esteem. I wanted to fit in so I understand firsthand the effects that peer pressure can have on a teenager. When I think back to those years, I sometimes wonder: what if? There were so many terrible outcomes that could have occurred in my life. These novels show their readers a “what if.” I hope that teens who read these books think twice before following a crowd and stand firmly with what they know is right in their heart as well as hope for healing.

Kathleen's book list on contemporary YA about peer pressure and addiction

Kathleen Fine Why did Kathleen love this book?

This book has had many mixed reviews, but in my opinion, it is an excellent story for adults of teens and mature teens to read.

Hannah, a teenage girl, commits suicide. She leaves her classmate a package with a cassette tape in it, explaining the 13 reasons why she decided to end her life. This novel demonstrates the cruelties of teen life, from rumors, to reputations, to rape. It shows the reader: “in the end, everything matters.”

Hopefully, people who read this book will better understand how much their actions affect one another, and they’ll think twice before causing even the littlest amount of harm to someone else. We all need to have more empathy for one another, because this world is cruel enough as it is. 

By Jay Asher,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked 13 Reasons Why 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?

THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES AND INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

Featuring cover art from the Netflix original series, with exclusive interviews and photos inside!
"Eerie, beautiful, and devastating." --Chicago Tribune
"A stealthy hit with staying power. . . . thriller-like pacing." --The New York Times
"Thirteen Reasons Why will leave you with chills long after you have finished reading." --Amber Gibson, NPR's "All Things Considered"
 

You can't stop the future. 
You can't rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his…


Book cover of Nevermoor

Ryan Graudin Author Of The Girl Who Kept the Castle

From my list on featuring magical houses.

Why am I passionate about this?

Well, truly, who doesn’t want to live inside of a magical castle? A few years ago, I was lucky enough to become the owner of a crumbling Victorian house. It was in bad shape—a hoarder had lived there before with lots of cats and also, somehow, rats?—but the place had “good bones.” My husband and I were determined to scrape away all of the rot and give it new life—all while I was writing my middle-grade novel. Now that both projects are done, I truly feel like I live in an enchanted space.

Ryan's book list on featuring magical houses

Ryan Graudin Why did Ryan love this book?

I bought this book for my niece for Christmas but found it difficult to wrap it because I was so immersed in the world Jessica Townsend conjured! Morrigan's main character has such a wry and endearing voice, and I loved following her on her adventures!

I especially loved the Hotel Deucalion, with its shifting rooms and smoking lounge filled with different flavors of mist—it felt like an utterly charming place to stay. Ultimately, this book was a lovely, magical escape!

By Jessica Townsend,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Nevermoor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

A breathtaking, enchanting new series by debut author Jessica Townsend, about a cursed girl who escapes death and finds herself in a magical world--but is then tested beyond her wildest imagination.

Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she's blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks--and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.

But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters…


Book cover of Winterhouse

Linda Joy Singleton Author Of The Curious Cat Spy Club

From my list on for young readers on puzzling and magical mysteries.

Why am I passionate about this?

My love for magical and mysterious books was inspired by Harriet the Spy, Nancy Drew, Judy Bolton, and Harry Potter. Since I was 8 years old, I longed to write my own mystery series—SO I DID! My latest mystery series, The Curious Cat Spy Club, is based on my own childhood club. My friends and I played cryptic games, spied on suspicious neighbors, and helped abandoned kittens. I love writing about mysteries + animals. And I’m excited to share my favorite mysterious and magical books with you!!

Linda's book list on for young readers on puzzling and magical mysteries

Linda Joy Singleton Why did Linda love this book?

It’s fun to travel and stay at hotels, so I couldn’t resist this mystery set in a very mysterious and magical hotel. When orphaned Elizabeth is sent away to Winterhouse Hotel, she finds a puzzle book and solves cryptic clues that lead to secret passages and magic. Readers will enjoy trying to decipher the secret codes and clever puzzles. Enjoy!!

By Ben Guterson, Chloe Bristol (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Winterhouse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

An Edgar Award Finalist
An Agatha Award Finalist

An enchanting urban fantasy middle-grade debut―the first book in a trilogy―set in a magical hotel full of secrets.

Orphan Elizabeth Somers’s malevolent aunt and uncle ship her off to the ominous Winterhouse Hotel, owned by the peculiar Norbridge Falls. Upon arrival, Elizabeth quickly discovers that Winterhouse has many charms―most notably its massive library. It’s not long before she locates a magical book of puzzles that will unlock a mystery involving Norbridge and his sinister family. But the deeper she delves into the hotel’s secrets, the more Elizabeth starts to realize that she…


Book cover of All the Greys on Greene Street

Aaron Shkuda Author Of The Lofts of SoHo: Gentrification, Art, and Industry in New York, 1950-1980

From my list on books that capture the creative energy of New York’s art scene.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent my childhood in New York and my early adulthood in Chicago, which inspired my fascination with the histories of cities and how we can analyze their built environments to understand the culture, politics, and economy of these vital but complicated places. I wrote my first book about New York’s SoHo neighborhood to better understand how some former disinvested industrial areas became wealthy and gentrified and how artists became known as critical actors in the contemporary city. Since then, I’ve focused the bulk of my teaching and research on urban history. This list includes my favorite fiction and non-fiction titles about New York’s dynamic art scene. Enjoy!

Aaron's book list on books that capture the creative energy of New York’s art scene

Aaron Shkuda Why did Aaron love this book?

My favorite image from my research on New York’s SoHo neighborhood is a photograph of a girl riding her bicycle through her parents’ loft apartment—a former factory transformed into an airy, art-filled home that was spacious enough to serve as an indoor playground.

This book captures what it was like to grow up in one of New York’s most famous artist communities. While few (if any) SoHo children helped to break up an international art forgery ring (like the one depicted in this YA novel), it evocatively captures the sense of adventure that children might have felt living in an industrial area during a time of neighborhood transition.

By Laura Tucker,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked All the Greys on Greene Street as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

"A dazzling debut novel about resilience, courage, home and family."--Rebecca Stead, Newbery Award-winning author of When You Reach Me

SoHo, 1981. Twelve-year-old Olympia is an artist--and in her neighborhood, that's normal. Her dad and his business partner Apollo bring antique paintings back to life, while her mother makes intricate sculptures in a corner of their loft, leaving Ollie to roam the streets of New York with her best friends Richard and Alex, drawing everything that catches her eye. Then everything falls apart. Ollie's dad disappears in the middle of the night, leaving her only a cryptic note and instructions to…


Book cover of The Boy Meets Girl Massacre

Nicole M. Wolverton Author Of A Misfortune of Lake Monsters

From my list on YA books to launch you into the autumn spooky season.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Pushcart-nominated writer of (mostly) young adult and adult horror and suspense. I primarily write about the fear of isolated and sparsely populated places, which makes sense: I grew up in the rural hinterlands of northeast Pennsylvania, steeped in dark cornfields, eerie quiet, and weird characters. I now live in the Philadelphia area with my husband and rescue dog in a creaky, century-old house, giving myself agita about the creepy crawlspace in the basement. I’m the author of two novels: A Misfortune of Lake Monsters (YA horror, July 2024) and The Trajectory of Dreams (adult psychological suspense, 2013).

Nicole's book list on YA books to launch you into the autumn spooky season

Nicole M. Wolverton Why did Nicole love this book?

Look, I know Hogarth is better known for her more recent novel Motherthing, but I will always have a soft spot for this book. Decades ago, there were some grisly cannibalistic murders at the Boy Meets Girl Inn, resulting in a reputed haunting. Noelle and Alf, high school friends with summer night shift gigs at the Inn, are organizing a soiree to celebrate the anniversary of the killings.

It's told mostly in Noelle’s journal entries that have been annotated and footnoted by detectives, experts, and a movie director, which made it irresistible to me since it’s done so well; the novel spotlights the ultimate unreliable narrator and includes some absolutely disgusting (in the best possible way) body horror scenes. I’ve read and re-read this book, and each time, I’m so creeped out.

Take this book with you on a summer vacation that involves a hotel stay, and read it…

By Ainslie Hogarth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Boy Meets Girl Massacre 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?

Gripping, grisly, and keeps you guessing until the shocking end

Noelle Dixon takes a summer nightshift job at the infamous Boy Meets Girl Inn, even though she’s well aware of the horrifying murders that happened there decades ago. That’s why she has a diary―to write down everything she experiences in case things go bump in the night. But the inexplicable freezing drafts, the migrating rotten-flesh smell, and the misplaced personal items don’t really scare her. Noelle has bigger problems: her father’s failing health, her friend Alfred’s inappropriate crush, and the sore spot on the back of her head that keeps…


Book cover of The Westing Game

Kate Michaelson Author Of Hidden Rooms

From my list on ill or disabled sleuths.

Why am I passionate about this?

I know all too well that finding a diagnosis and treating a chronic health condition can be like unraveling a mystery—maybe that’s why characters dealing with these issues make natural detectives. As a mystery writer with chronic illness, I love reading about sleuths who embody the difficulties of living with health challenges yet show the tremendous capacity we still have to contribute. Many of the sleuths on this list are confined to their homes and unable to work, so solving a mystery not only adds suspense. It gives us the satisfaction of seeing these characters find their way back into the world and rediscover their sense of purpose.

Kate's book list on ill or disabled sleuths

Kate Michaelson Why did Kate love this book?

One of my favorite characters in this middle-grade mystery has always been Chris Theodorakis, the teen boy with an unnamed neurological condition that confines him to a wheelchair and, for the most part, to his house.

Even if he can’t leave home—and even if people often look away from him when he does—Chris plays a key role in solving the mystery at the heart of the book by being a keen observer of everything that passes in front of his window. I love how this novel depicts Chris’s inner world to young readers, including his awareness of how his condition affects others’ perceptions.

More importantly, it shows how much people with disabilities and illnesses still have to offer. 

By Ellen Raskin,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Westing Game as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

A Newbery Medal Winner

"A supersharp mystery...confoundingly clever, and very funny." —Booklist, starred review

 

A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger—and a possible murderer—to inherit his vast fortune, on things for sure: Sam Westing may be dead…but that won’t stop him from playing one last game!

Winner of the Newbery Medal
Winner of the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award
An ALA Notable Book
 

 

"Great fun for those who enjoy illusion, word play, or sleight…