Young Adult literature is my first love. Not only did I grow up reading it, but I gained a whole new appreciation as a high school English teacher. Yeah, I taught the classics, but I used a lot of contemporary YA in the classroom too.
YA literature has embraced steampunk, and you'll find some awesome reads in this genre. Here are a few of my favorites:
Boneshaker, by Cherie Priest: Zeke Wilkes needs to clear his father’s name of a horrible tragedy. Sixteen years ago Dr. Wilkes was determined to find gold with his bone shaking drill engine, but instead he released a toxic gas that destroyed the city of Seattle and turned its people into zombies. Set in 1880s Civil War-era Seattle amid high tech mechanical gadgetry, this alternate reality story by Cherie Priest mixes mad scientists, airships, and the living dead into a clever story of survival and suspense.
The Looking Glass Wars, by Frank Beddor: Alyss Heart is royalty in Wonderland and next in line to inherit the throne. There’s just one problem: her evil Aunt Redd is plotting to kill her. To escape, Alyss jumps into the Pool of Tears, a portal to other worlds, and reemerges from a puddle in Victorian England. Although loosely based on the original story by Lewis Carroll, fans will enjoy seeing familiar characters in an alternate reality.
The Hunchback Assignments, by Arthur Slade: Hunchbacked teen Modo has a special gift: the ability to transform his appearance. When Mr. Socrates, a mysterious agent from the Permanent Association, learns of Modo’s abilities he offers to train the boy to be a spy for the British crown. Modo’s first assignment is to uncover murderous plots laid by The Clockworld Guild against Britain, and to stop a mad scientist from turning street orphans into automatons.
The Leviathan Series, by Scott Westerfield: Two opposing forces are on the brink of war. The Clankers - who put their faith in machinery - and the Darwinists - who have begun evolving living creatures into tools. Prince Aleksandar, the would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, comes from a family of Clankers, and travels the country in a walker, a heavily-fortified tank on legs. Meanwhile Deryn Sharp, a girl disguised as a boy, works for the British Empire, crewing the ultimate flying machine: an airship made of living animals. Now, as Alek flees from his own people, and Deryn crash-lands in enemy territory, their lives are about to collide...