‘Tis the Fandom Gift Guide Season: YA Books Edition


The season of gift-giving is rapidly approaching. As we enter the jolliest time of year, the pressure to find just the right gifts is on, and you know what makes perfect gifts? BOOKS! If you have a friend or family member (a teen, perhaps) who loves to read but aren’t sure what they might like, Nerds and Beyond has you covered. Below are some of our favorite YA books that’d make great gifts for the teens in your life (and are just all-around great reads).

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Cover design by Laura Eckes, Cover illustration copyright by Hillary Wilson. Image courtesy of Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing

After the madness of 2020, I think it’s safe to say that we could all use a little magic and escape from reality. Legendborn is the perfect book to find that escape. It follows 16-year-old Bree Matthews, who’s reeling from the sudden death of her mother. When she begins an Early College program, she witnesses a magical attack and realizes there may be more to her mother’s death. Legendborn is a modern-day legend that cleverly flips Arthurian mythology. It’s a well-paced story filled with heart, action, great twists, and imbued with Black girl magic.

You can purchase Legendborn here.

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

Courtesy of Penguin Random House

Even if you don’t see the monsters anymore, does it mean they’re really gone? To best friends Jam and Redemption, it does; their town of Lucille claims that there are no more monsters. However, when Jam meets a creature called Pet, who came from a painting Jam’s mother created, she begins to question everything she was taught about monsters. Pet is there to hunt a real monster – one that lurks in Redemption’s house – and together, Jam and Pet set out to protect Redemption. Emezi crafts an incredibly relevant and thought-provoking story. Their words will sit deep within you even after you’ve closed the book.

Purchase your copy here.

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus

Cover design by Samira Iravani. Art by Charles Chaisson. Courtesy of Penguin Random House

After being caught with her girlfriend by her religious mother, 16-year-old Audre is forced to move from Trinidad to live with her father in America. In Minneapolis, Mabel (also 16) is trying to work through her own conflicting feelings. Soon, Mabel and Audre meet through their fathers, and the two form a profound bond, finding love in many forms with each other. This stunning debut from Junauda Petrus is a unique, emotional, and joyous story that you will never forget.

You can buy your copy here.

Ash by Malinda Lo

Courtesy of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

You know the story of Cinderella, now get ready for Malinda Lo’s entrancing and romantic lesbian retelling. After the death of her father, Ash is left only with her cruel stepmother. Her grief is all-consuming. She finds brief reprieve in re-reading fairy tales her mother told her and dreams of the day fairies will come to take her away. When Ash meets Sidhean, she thinks her dreams are coming true, but then she meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress. As the two become closer, something awakens within Ash, but she still must make the decision between the dreams she’s always had or true love. In her book, Lo examines life, death, grief, and love, weaving an enchanting story that’s a must-read.

Grab your copy of Ash here.

The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen

Cover design by Esther Kim. Cover art by Victo Ngai. Image courtesy of Lauren Shippen/Tor Teen.

This book follows Caleb Michaels, a high school football player who gets sent to see a therapist named Dr. Bright after being involved in a fight at school. All of her clients are “atypical,” including Caleb, who soon learns he is an empath. Readers also meet the intelligent and introverted Adam Hayes. As the story progresses, he and Caleb spend more time together and get closer; eventually, Adam becomes an anchor and keeps him green. As sparks fly, both characters develop a deep connection with one another, falling in love (bestill my queer heart). It is a great coming of age story about finding yourself, coming to terms with having “powers,” and falling for your first love.

Get your copy of The Infinite Noise here.

Hood by Jenny Elder Moke

Cover design by Phil Buchanan. Image courtesy of Hyperion.

All Isabelle Kirklees knows is living a quiet life in the convent with her mother, Marien. After she is arrested for helping villagers, Isabelle is sent on a mission by her mother, who is trying to keep her safe. She must find her father, who she has never met but can help her — Robin Hood. Yes, that Robin Hood.

You can get your copy here.

Cursed by Thomas Wheeler

Cover design by Lucy Ruth Cummins. Jacket photograph by Netflix/Mitch Jenkins. Book illustrations by Frank Miller. Image courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

This is a different retelling of the King Arthur story — as in, it is not about him at all. It is the story of The Lady of the Lake, Nimue. After her mother dies, she is given a sword and told to go find Merlin. That sword is Excalibur. During her journey, she does meet a thief named Arthur, who, along with her friends, go on an incredible journey to become who they are meant to be.

Get your copy of the book here, and watch the series which is on Netflix now.

The Unstoppable Wasp: Built on Hope by Sam Maggs

Cover design by Kurt Hartman. Cover art by Laura Bifano. Image courtesy of Marvel/ Disney Books.

This book follows Nadia as she tries to balance family, friends, work, and being a superhero. Trying to do so much at once, she finds that there is not enough time in the day. After trying to use a new artificial intelligence assistant, things do not work out as planned. Nadia must make peace with her past to move forward; “Sometimes, the best way to effect big change is to think small — maybe even super small.” Nadia will need the help of her G.I.R.L. (Genius In action Research Labs) friends to save the world and herself. And do not worry, there will be some “Nadia’s Neat Science Facts” along the way.

Get your copy here.

Stay tuned for more recommendations as the staff here at Nerds continues to bring you more holiday gift guides!

Julia is a writer/editor/content assistant for Nerds who joined the team in 2019.

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