Children's books special: the best teen fiction

From breathless thrillers to historical adventures, let older children find a book that speaks to them

The new trilogy by Teri Terry begins with the thriller Contagion

Told from two alternating viewpoints, All The Things That Could Go Wrong by Stewart Foster (Simon & Schuster, £6.99) is a thought-provoking and moving story of two boys struggling through secondary school. Dan is a bully; his big brother and hero has been taken away and he’s left feeling angry and confused. Alex, his target, is battling with OCD and can barely leave the house any more, let alone stand up to his tormentors.

Dan and Alex leap off the page in this captivatingly written novel, the fragility of their burgeoning friendship is beautifully drawn and the reader is made to genuinely care about both of them.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Contagion (Orchard, £7.99) is the first book in a brand-new trilogy by Teri Terry. Kai’s sister Callie has been missing for almost a year. Held against her will in a secure medical facility in Shetland, her only chance of escape comes at a deadly cost as a super-infectious disease is unleashed. Meanwhile, Kai’s hunt for his sister throws him into the path of Shay, the last person to see Callie before she disappears. As the contagion spreads and chaos descends, Shay and Kai battle to stay one step ahead of the ever-widening quarantine zones and search out the truth behind Callie’s disappearance and the cause of the infection that is killing so many.

Teri Terry is a master of the thriller, and the pace of this book rivals the deadly infection itself. Just don’t expect everything to be neatly tied up at the end – this story crashes head-first towards a massive cliffhanger that will leave you hungry for more.

Carnegie winner Tanya Landman’s new novel Passing for White (Barrington Stoke, £6.99) transports the reader to the American Deep South at the height of the slave trade. When Benjamin meets Rosa he mistakes her for the daughter of the house, due to her father’s fair skin. As their love blossoms and their situation worsens they realise that their only way to be happy is to be free. Thus begins a terrifying journey to the safety of the Northern States, with Rosa passing for a Southern gentleman travelling with her slave.

Based on a true story, Passing for White follows Rosa as she desperately tries to hold her nerve on the long and tortuous road to freedom. A super-readable book for teenagers that grips the reader and doesn’t let go, from one tense encounter to the next.

Out of Heart by Irfan Master (Hot Key Books, £6.99) tells the story of Adam, an intense young artist with the weight of the world on his shoulders; his father has left, his sister has lost her ability to speak and his mother is working around the clock to try and hold their family together. When their Grandad passes away and donates his heart, the family is left uncertain of their future, until William turns up on their doorstep, quiet, unassuming, with their Grandad’s heart beating in his chest.

Gradually Adam starts to open up to this gentle stranger as he seeks to understand the world around him and his own sense of self on the pages of his sketchbook. Lyrical and moving, this is an intimate picture of a small family coming to terms with their past and struggling to fight for their future.

The pages of Cathy MacPhail’s Between the Lies (Kelpies, £6.99) are a labyrinth of secrets and half-truths.When one of the most popular girls in school, Jude Tremayne, goes missing, the halls of St Thomas’s School are buzzing with speculation as to what could have happened to her. So when Abbie Kerr, a school nobody, receives a message from the missing girl, the rumour mill, supercharged by social media, goes into overdrive. Suddenly Abbie is the centre of attention wherever she goes, friends are coming out of the woodwork and the press are fighting to speak to her. But being in the spotlight comes at a cost: when you’ve been raised up so quickly there’s only one way back down. A compelling story that will leave you guessing right up to the final page.