Book List: Older YA Male Protagonists

When Jordi’s book review, Myke Bartlett’s Fire in the Sea, went up on Wednesday, we were struck by one of her closing lines.

It’s been too long since I felt confident in recommending a book to an older teen (particularly male) audience.

As is our way, we put our heads together to come up with a list of older YA male protagonists for older YA males.

Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

Little bit of a cheat, as Harry grows older as the series goes on, but I take them where I can get them. Set in a world of magic, we follow Harry as he tackles school, friends and a growing magical war.

Bloomsbury

Gary Paulsen

Paulsen makes it a bit of a (lovely) habit to writer older male protagonists into his YA novels. Older male protagonists who are discovering love and life for the first time, in sad circumstances.

Random House

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Maragret Stohl

I labelled this ‘male Twilight’ when I first read it and I feel like it does the job of encompassing the whole feel of the book. Boy sees girl, boy instantly falls for girl, boy realises weird things are going on. We’re so used to seeing female protagonists in YA paranormal romance that it’s nice to see the boys are presented as well.

Penguin

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

Our protagonist Sam is college-aged. Necromancer strikes that really perfect line of humour, creep factor and likability in it’s characters.

Penguin

John Green

Another author who writes older male protagonists, Green covers out barely there contemporary YA. An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, and Looking for Alaska contain slightly nerdy teenage boys who get the beautiful teenage girl.

Penguin

Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

Tyler is stepping back into his senior year of high school, where he has been absent while finishing his community service (punishment for graffiting his school). Constantly emotionally abused by his father, Tyler has vivid daydreams of escape and retribution.

The Messenger by Markus Zusak

Ed is lost. He’s an underage (19) cabdriver, who feels the blankness and unfulfillment in his life until he (accidentally) becomes a hero. From that moment on, his life becomes a series of cards that lead him to label himself ‘the messenger’. As twists are revealed it becomes apparent to Ed that he is actually ‘the message’.

Pan Macmillan

Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Sixteen year-old Cameron is dying. Accompanied by a host of too-crazy-to-believe characters, Cameron sets off to have the adventure of his life.

Allen and Unwin

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

A science fiction novel that allows parents to ‘unwind’ their children. Christopher, one of our three main characters, is scheduled for unwinding. With Risa and Levi at his back, the trio escape and become fugitives.

Simon and Schuster

Boy Toy by Barry Lyga

Josh is preparing to graduate high school when he is informed of his abuser’s imminent release from jail. Told in a series of flashbacks we learn how Eve, his teacher, systematically set about manipulating and sexually abusing Josh.

Pan Macmillan

The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta

Tom is lost. He’s floating through life with no direction and no motivation. Estranged from family and friends, Tom is finally beginning to fight the fog that has been his life for the last five years. What follows is a heartbreaking and beautiful story of family, friendship and love.

Penguin

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