8 Great Books for 12-13 Year Old Boys

great books for 12 13-year-old boysA friend recently asked me to suggest some books for her 12-year-old son. Since far more books are marketed to girls that age than boys, my friend complained that it’s hard to find stories her son would like.

Here are the suggestions I gave her, as well as some more I got from my librarian husband… if you know any boys in this age group who are interested in reading, you might consider recommending or buying some of these books to them as well:

  1. Gone by Michael Grant. One reviewer describes this story as “Lord of the Flies, if it were written by Stephen King” and I think the description is pretty apt.

    In the book, everyone 15 years old and up disappears in an eye blink from a small California town and the children who are left have to figure out how to deal with it. And some of those kids are developing strange mutant powers…

    It’s an exciting, fast-moving read. My one complaint is the characters are pretty one-dimensional. The bad guys are bad — really sociopathically evil — for no other reason than they were born that way. The male protagonist is a little more interesting in that he’s an extremely reluctant hero. But the story did deal with some of the issues I thought might get glossed over, such as “what about the friggin’ babies?!”

    There are at least two more books in this series – Hunger and Lies. Haven’t read them yet but plan to.

  2. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. The story of Nobody Owens, a boy who’s raised from a baby by a bunch of ghosts in a graveyard and a vampire. If he leaves the protection of the graveyard then he risks being murdered by the nefarious “Jack,” the assassin who killed his family and is eagerly waiting to finish the job.

    I love this book so much. Neil Gaiman is a wonderful writer and creates worlds that are original, creepy, beautiful, and unforgettable.

  3. I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore. Haven’t read this one yet but am dying to. It’s being promoted as a book that fans of the Hunger Games trilogy will love and is scheduled to be released as a major motion picture in 2011.

    “John Smith” is one of nine aliens who were brought to Earth as an infant to flee the invading species that attacked their home world, Lorien. The only problem is, the invading species has now found them on Earth. Three of Loriens have already been found and murdered. John is number four on the list.

  4. The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson. Daniel X is an alien who looks just like a regular teenager who’s tasked with the onerous duty of protecting the Earth from all the really NASTY aliens out there… It’s got kind of a “Men in Black” thing going on.

    The writing is short, snappy, and fun. Plus, the bad guys are monstrously gruesome.

  5. The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer. Rob recommended this series about a high school guy whose father was a vampire and mom was human. His parents died in a mysterious accident and he has to discover the truth of what happened to them, in addition to dealing with regular high school drama and avoid getting spiked by the vampire hunters who are on to him.

    Yeah, I know, vampires, bleah… I’m sick of them, too. But at least this story has a male protagonist who presumably doesn’t sparkle.

  6. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. This is a more literary read which has garnered great reviews. It’s about two very different boys who happen to share the same name and whose paths intersect in a way that changes their lives forever. Critics call it “humourous and insightful.”

  7. Bonechiller by Graham MacNamee. This is a great horror story for kids—but be warned: it is SCARY. Not gruesome or gory… just “scared to turn out the lights” freaky. Danny and his father move to a small, remote town in Ontario where every generation, during the coldest winters, children mysteriously start disappearing. People think they’ve run away, but Danny discovers the truth on one particularly frigid evening when a horrifying creature taps him to be its next victim.

    The monster in this story is original and downright disturbing… but the writing is top-notch and the characters are interesting and well rendered. If scary stories are the only thing that pique your 12- or 13-year-old’s reading interest then I suggest you get him to give this one a try.

  8. RIP, M.D. by Mitch Schauer. This graphic novel is perfect for boys who aren’t quite sure if they really like reading yet, but are into funny, dark stories involving monsters.

    Ripley Plimpt’s life is turned upside down when he saves the life of a tiny bat — only discover the bat was really a vampire. Suddenly he acquires the reputation as a “monster doctor” and has all sorts of monsters big and small coming to him for help in solving their problems.

So those are some ideas to get you started… Do you have any more suggestions? If you know of any books that your boys have enjoyed reading, please tell us about them in the comments.

14 thoughts on “8 Great Books for 12-13 Year Old Boys”

      1. Hi Koree! A couple of the books on this list would be fine for that age group, I think — e.g., The Dangerous Days of Daniel X and RIP, M.D.

        If your boys are into graphic novels, I’ve heard good things about the “Bone” series.

        The “Artemis Fowl” books also target a younger male audience and are pretty funny. They’re about a criminal mastermind who’s only 11 or 12 years old and constantly has to do battle with other bad guys and supernatural creatures. They’re not incredibly well written or deep, but they’re fun.

        I also highly recommend Daniel Pinkwater’s books — such as “The Neddiad: How Neddie Took the Train, Went to Hollywood, and Saved Civilization,” “The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death,” and “The Snarkout Boys and the Baconberg Horror.” He’s a wonderful writer and his books are hilarious.

        I will ask Rob for more recommendations tonight… He’s more dialed into kids’ books for the younger crowd than I am these days.

  1. I just read the Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexei and would highly recommend it to boys age 12-14. One of my friends suggested it would be a good replacement for The Outsiders in the high-school curriculum. It is a gritty story about a boy from the Spokane Indian Reservation who chooses to go to a “white” school in order to better his opportunities in life. The novel touches on many themes that are relevant to this age group: racism/stereo-types, friendship & loyalty, alcoholism, self-image/confidence and personal drive. There is a graphic component to the book that provides literary & comic relief.

  2. Wow,Erin – gruesome choices. Do you have anything to elevate a young mind?
    This really set the bar low for young men.

  3. @Maria — with all respect, that’s what many parents in the 19th century said when their children said they wanted to read Robert Louis Stevenson. “You want to read about pirates? Kidnappings? Hideous man-monsters? Perish the thought!”

    I believe that the most important thing is to get kids excited about reading. Period. If that means providing them with subject matter that is not exactly what you would call uplifting or inspiring — yet is perfectly in alignment with their own personal interests — then so be it. Once they come to think of reading as something they love to do, then I would challenge them with more “enlightened” subject matter, as it were.

    And, considering that all of the books in the list involve protagonists having to make moral choices in the face of adversity, I would argue that there are still valuable lessons to be learned in such stories.

  4. i am stunned about all the “murder” in these books…can’t anyone come up with something more creative than all this murder and mayhem. I would not call these “great” picks at all..such a disappointment! Millions of parents and boys will certainly feel the same..shame on you.

  5. @kennedy I agree, the books aimed at young teens have been fairly dark. What about “Ungifted” by Gordon Korman? I haven’t read it, but his books are generally more humorous. Carl Hiassen also has some more though-provoking novels for young teens–try Hoot or Flush. –Dana

  6. I don’t know if this will be read but I’m a 13 year old boy and I have read hunger games,harry potter, Artemis fowl, fablehaven, Alex rider and more but my favorite of everything is the Percy Jackson series
    I have 3 friends and their favorite books were Harry potter until I introduced them to Percy Jackson. It talks about a boy who’s father was a Greek god and mother was a candy shop owner in New York. And he comes to a camp for “demigods” and he goes on quests that were told to him by prophecy and he battles mythical monsters and the 5 book series ends off with a bit of romance. It is perfect

    Now again I don’t know if this will be read but that’s my opinion

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