1. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Incredible science fiction story about boys in battle school in the near future. Won every award in the book. The novel I've gone back to more than any other. It's brilliant.
2. The Long Walk by Stephen King
King is the best-known horror writer in the world. What are much less well-known than his blockbuster novels are the shorter books he wrote under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. The Long Walk is the best of these and in my opinion the most moving single novel he's ever written. In a near-future world a group of teenage boys are walking across America. Their prize is untold riches and celebrity. But only the last one left walking wins. The rest, as they falter, are shot like dogs. This novel is a great slice of real horror. And by that, first and foremost, I mean characters you really care about - because if you didn't what does it matter what happens to them? But I also mean the set-up is perfect. Horror is all about uncertainty. In The Long Walk nothing is certain except death, there is nothing you can take comfort from, and the only rules you can understand are ones controlled by your enemy.
3. Legion by Dan Abnett
Dan Abnett is probably the best writer of dark military SF in the world. Set in the distant future, this volume in the Horus Heresy Warhammer 40,000 series is about genetically-enhanced men fighting frequently inglorious wars for dubious reasons. What lifts the series into true pathos and makes the story so frightening is the dark heart of the series' premise. You think you're going to be reading about gladiatorial contests in some far-flung future, and Abnett delivers on that in spades for you action-fans, but what you get on top of that is a tragedy which ultimately assumes Shakespearean proportions.
4. Bloodtide by Melvin Burgess
I've left my favourite scary story of all time to last. Bloodtide is an urban fantasy set in a near-future where rival gang lords vie for power in a London watched over by capricious Norse gods. It's a retelling of the ancient Volsunga Saga, but carried off with such power, originality and vision that it is quite simply one of the most eloquently dark books ever written for a young adult audience. When the novel came out in 2000 critic Wendy Cooling said that 'it will leave teen readers with shredded emotions that will last forever.' That's a perfectly accurate description of this book. Dystopian fiction abounds these days in the YA field, but Bloodtide ranks in its savage brilliance alongside any of the adult twentieth-century classics. You need a strong stomach, but if you can handle it this is not a book you'll ever forget.
Cliff McNish is the author of The Silver Sequence and The Doomspell Trilogy, as well as several horror novels, including Breathe: A Ghost Story and Savannah Grey. McNish lives in England. Visit him at www.cliffmcnish.com, or on twitter and facebook.
The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
"The absolute master at psychology-driven sci-fi"
The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith
"Definitely for the older teen, but this book really freaked me out."
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
"So funny and heartfelt"
To the Vanishing Point by Alan Dean Foster
"Not one of his more notable books, but the utter craziness of it really appealed to me as a teen"
Feed by M.T. Anderson
"One of my favorite sci-fi/coming-of-age hybrids"
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
"The ultimate coming-of-age book, and now an awesome movie as well"
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
"More adult, but very teen friendly. Touted as the 'grown-up' Harry Potter"
Holes by Louis Sachar
"For the younger teen, this is an incredible boy book"
Ned Vizzini's Top 5 Books for Teenage Guys
1. William Sleator - Singularity
I didn't discover this book until my friend & writing partner Nick Antosca recommended it. I was a fan of Sleator's Interstellar Pig and I'd have to re-read that to determine which is better -- but this is a great example of a book that only works as a book. A large portion of it takes place in one room, over one whole year, and it's still riveting. Sleator passed away in 2011.
2. Michael Crichton - Jurassic Park
I don't understand why people say Moby-Dick is the Great American Novel. It's Jurassic Park, which tackles the same themes as Moby-Dick but with a precise, mechanical occupation of your brain that prevents you from doing anything other than reading it. Everyone I knew growing up read this book.
3. Gary Paulsen - Hatchet
If somebody took away your cell phone, laptop, and tablet and gave you a hatchet and dumped you in the woods, how long would you survive? Hatchet is strangely relevant to today's technocracy.
4. George Orwell - A Collection of Essays
Appearing one year after Catcher In the Rye, George Orwell's essay "Such, Such Were the Joys," which opens this book, is a better exploration of teen angst. Orwell was already dead when it was published, so he never had to take the flack for writing about the beating, bed-wetting, and class hierarchies that dominated his time at Eton (his high school), but for anybody who's ever felt like an outsider, this essay is a revelation. The book gets better from there.
5. Brian Jacques - Redwall
Sure, Narnia and Middle-Earth are great, but give me Mossflower Wood any day, where there's a sense of humor! Brian Jacques (pronounced "Jakes") created something very special in his 22-book Redwall series and this is the place to start. Chapter Two, which introduces Cluny the Scourge, is the best introduction of any villain ever. ("Cluny was coming!") Jacques passed away in 2011.
Sean Beaudoin is the author of numerous short stories as well as four books for young adults: Going Nowhere Faster, Fade To Blue, You Killed Wesley Payne, and his latest novel, The Infects. He can be found at his blog, over at goodreads, and on twitter.
Some particular favourites follow: