a rec list of subjectively awesome under-appreciated YA bc all i get on tumblr is john green and thg and lately the mortal instruments and there is good YA i swear
- White Cat by Holly Black: modern day urban fantasy noir with a MOC what else do you need ETA: HOLLY BLACK IN GENERAL OK
- Liar by Justine Larbalestier: a beautiful mindfuck of truths you won’t believe by a bi WOC narrator
- The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater: for an understanding between souls who eat and breath man-eating horses of the sea some like to call romance (do not go in expecting the hunger games whatever the description reads)
- Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey: SUBVERTED PERSEPHONE – not explicitly but still. this book is entrenched in its New Zealand setting and built entirely on Maori myth
- Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathan Stroud: it’s abt magicians and stuff and w/e ACKNOWLEDGEMENT THAT THAT THEIR POWERS COME FROM SLAVERY AND BARTIMAEUS XEMSELF JUST READ
- The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan: Supernatural set in the UK and this amoral pair of brothers get blackmailed by a pink-haired girl (who eventually becomes the heroine yay!) into helping her brother.
- Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor: a collection of short stories based on Western fairyfolk written to wring out tears of awe.
- Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey: there are no words [tw: torture, abuse, it’s extremely disturbing so prepare for everything tbh]
- Star Crossed by Elizabeth C. Bunce: a YA ASOFAI where religious sects fight for the throne centered on a thief with blood on her hands and magic in her veins. (it’s also a perfect winter read.)
- Ash by Malinda Lo: a lesbian retelling of Cinderella and this is intensely biased as i have a crush on cinderella’s love interest
- Eon by Alison Goodman: i can’t say anything for its authenticity but its world is based on ancient China and is a good deal less offensive than other ancient china recs i’ve seen, so for a change of setting.
- Devil’s Kiss by Sarwat Chadda: also set in the UK, it stars a Middle-Eastern girl Templer Knight raised in the business.
- Rampant by Diana Peterfreund: killer unicorns and the cloister of huntresses who kill them. that is all
- Everything by Courtney Summers: her protagonists range from the terrible to the flawed and it’s a breath of fresh air in a genre where all main characters must be Good. [tw: for some transmisogyny in cracked up to be]
idk if she’s truly underappreciated on tumblr but i feel like no one reads her anyway and this is my list so
- Everything by Melina Marchetta: it’s the soul nourishment you didn’t know you needed. i advise you buy half her books if buying bc you’ll be lost after the first one.
I’m going to have to point you towards Nnedi Okorafor’s ZAHRAH THE WINDSEEKER and WHO FEARS DEATH set in African-derived secondary worlds. The second one is harsh to read since it talks about genocidal rape and genital mutilation which rarely gets any kind of humanizing treatment so it’s really important that WFD is in fact a YA novel.
Also HEART OF IRON by Ekaterina Sedia is a great steampunk YA novel set in alt-hist Russia where the Decembrists were successful and the Trans-Siberian railroad was completed, and a young woman journeys to find allies in China in order to stop a war brewing between China, Russia and Britain.
For a change in setting that will genuinely not fuck up, anyway, not something “less offensive than usual”.