Thursday, March 10, 2016

Five Political YA Novels

It's a presidential election year here in the United States, and this election cycle is absolute insanity. A real estate mogul is running—and is, unbelievably, leading among the Republican candidates. A self-proclaimed democratic socialist has also gathered popular support. Debates are reaching the fever pitch, mixing Spanish-language shouting with personal attacks and polarizing views. And to top it all off, a Supreme Court justice has died, leading to debates over whether or not the President should do his constitutional job and appoint another.

With the headache-inducing anxiety that this set of current events produces, some may want to focus on politics as little as possible. But for me, the opposite is true. Having turned 18 in December, I can finally vote (I've been anticipating this day for more than 10 years), and I'm so excited that I couldn't turn away from the election if I tried.

In fact, I'm also in the mood for both reading and recommending books related to government and politics. If you, like me, are looking for stories about laws and the people who make, interpret, and enforce them, here are five pieces of fiction to accompany this stranger-than-fiction election.

1. All Fall Down by Ally Carter
If U.S. politics are tiring you out, take a breather with this story of international diplomacy. Set against the backdrop of Embassy Row, a collection of several countries' bases in a fictional European country, the plot follows a girl who is trying to track down the man who killed her mother several years ago. With the help of an intelligent, endearing group of friends who were also raised in the world of international relations, Grace peels back layers of the mystery—and perhaps becomes entangled in high-stakes, large-scale conflict in the process.

2. The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
When 16-year-old Tess moves in with her older sister, Ivy, she discovers that her new guardian is a professional "fixer" who helps the elite of Washington, D.C. deal with embarrassing and incriminating PR issues. The death of a Supreme Court justice from surgery complications seems like just another case—that is, until Tess finds reason to believe his death was not accidental, but a murder. What happens next is a thrilling and dangerous series of events that will have you engrossed and desperate for the sequel. I read this one in January and loved it; look for my review coming soon.

3. The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne
I was a bit disappointed by this book's slow plot, but that doesn't stop me from recommending it for its political merit. After discovering that her long-lost father is a high-powered Republican running for president, the protagonist, Kate, is plunged into a national campaign, taking readers along for the ride. I enjoyed getting a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes work of getting elected—from unexpected rules to strict dress codes. Best of all, I loved watching Kate's father communicate with his daughter and entertain her differing ideas, showing an open mindedness that is often missing in today's government.

4. Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
This stunning work of alternate historical fiction imagines a corrupt and toxic country run by the Nazi party, which, in this world, emerged victorious after World War II. The protagonist, Yael, is on a mission to assassinate Hitler and end his tyranny and will do whatever it takes to get within shooting distance. If you want a morally complex story about a government that may even make yours look calm in comparison, look no further.

5. The Vow by Jessica Martinez
This novel has less to do with government officials and more to do with laws—specifically immigration laws. When Mo's father loses his job, and therefore his work visa, he and his family are on the verge of being forced to move back to their native Jordan, despite having lived in the states for years. But Mo's best friend, Annie, concocts a plan to circumvent the rules: the pair will get married, giving him legal grounds to stay. The result is a poignant story of friendship, the repercussion of bending laws, and growing up before you're ready.
How do you feel about this election cycle? Are you following it, and if you live in the U.S., do you plan to vote? And what are your favorite political books? Let me know in the comments.


  1. This is such a great idea! You definitely put me in the mood for a political read now.

    I'm from the US. I've been following the election and will definitely vote. I feel this time around, people are being extra cruel if you aren't voting for the person they like. I've seen so many attacks on people on social media. It's kind of ridiculous. The whole point there is an election is because we are ALLOWED to have different opinions/be part of different parties. It's crazy how people attack each other for it!

    Molly @ Molly's Book Nook

  2. This is such a great list Emily! I absolutely loved All Fall Down (such an interesting look at international relations), The Fixer, The Wrong Side of Right (it was really interesting reading about what goes on behind the scenes during elections) and Wolf by Wolf. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous post! ♥

  3. Love this list! I haven't read a single one of these, but I've heard of a couple of them and have been interested in picking them up--especially Wolf by Wolf. I'd been meaning to read The Walled City by the same author for over a year now and all of a sudden this new release has been receiving such positive feedback. I need it in my life!

    I feel like the most political books I've read have been fantasy-set so far (beside most dystopian books). I consider myself a bit of a social justice warrior and political addict, so I really need to get on this.

  4. OH MY GOSH THIS BLOG POST IS GOLD. I've been looking for some political ya novels and NOW I HAVE FOUND SOME (and shockingly enough - I've not read any of these although I have heard of some of them!).
    I don't live in the US, BUT, good grief am I following the election campaigns because. Well, what can I say -- Donald Trump?! *hides under blanket*

  5. i haven't been keeping up with the american election very closely but i have been reading some pieces on it. it's interesting for me to see everything unfold as a canadian and witness an election cycle completely different from ours.

    i've only read the fixer from this list of books and i thought the inside look at washington's political dynamics was super cool! thank you for this list! i'll be looking into picking up some of these other books in the future! :)

  6. Mm, I really enjoyed reading the political side of things with The Wrong Side of Right! Glad to see it's on this list - I know it was what kept me hooked onto the book! I'm waiting to read Wolf by Wolf right now...but it does sound like it's a perfect read, and I love how it's got a mixture of sci-fi in it, of sorts! :D
    Geraldine @ Corralling Books


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