Who doesn’t love a good competition or rather reading about them? You are probably familiar with the fierce rivalries and page-turning challenges and tournaments found in classics like The Hunger Games, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and Ender’s Game. You’ve probably even read The Selection, Divergent, Red Queen, and Legendborn. So, here are some heart-pounding new recs that will keep you up all night!
1. Forged in the Fallout by Ben Green A world beneath the Rocky Mountains. Only two cities remain standing at the end of the Mithrium War. Artificial suns, brilliant neon skylines, and dungeons filled with dangerous puzzles, magic, and memories. Join Clayson and his friends on a strange adventure as they uncover the secrets that powered the magic of war. Will their own magic be enough to prevent a future catastrophe?
2. The Faerie Games by Michelle Madow
On the island of Avalon, everyone has magical abilities. Except Selena Pearce. As if being the only non-magical person on the island isn’t bad enough, her parents happen to be the King and Queen of Avalon—and the most magical people alive. She’s never felt like she fit in on Avalon, but that all changes when she leaves the island and meets Julian—a mesmerizing, mysterious human. Everything feels perfect between them at first… until he drags her through a portal to the enchanted realm of the fae, where Selena learns that there’s more to the mystery of why she doesn’t have magic than she ever imagined. Long-buried secrets soon emerge, and she discovers that to escape the fae realm, she must compete in the annual Faerie Games—a televised reality show competition where half-bloods fight to the death. Because it turns out she’s a half-blood fae. As is Julian. And he’ll be playing in the games as well.
3. The Shadow Games by Alison Ingleby
Powers make her an outcast. Fear will get her killed.
At eighteen, Vesper is driven by one ambition—to live up to her family's expectations and win a place at the Royal Academy.
But when she fails an unexpected test, Vesper is taken from the white tower of New Vegas and dumped on the city floor—home to those the city outlaws. She quickly finds herself branded a slave in a shadow city where factions war and monsters terrorize the streets.
Most terrifying of all are the powers that Vesper and her new friends wield. Having killed once, Vesper is determined it won't happen again. To save her friends, Vesper must learn to control her power.
And that means facing her greatest fear—that her power could destroy her.
4. The Elite Trials by Becky Moynihan
AN INESCAPABLE CITY. THREE DEADLY TRIALS. ONE WAY OUT. Lune Tatum, adopted daughter of the Supreme Elite, has lived within her father's walled city for eleven years. But she wants out. Except she can't leave, and not because of the clans and mutated beasts that roam beyond the impenetrable, electrified walls protecting her life. Her plan has always been to win the Elite Trials and earn Title of Choice--her only chance at freedom. And the only way to return home to her mother.
Then a boy from her past arrives on her eighteenth birthday. His presence threatens Lune's carefully laid plans and exposes memories she's desperate to forget. He can't be trusted. Especially as he possesses dangerous secrets. And what he reveals could ruin the chance at freedom she's willing to die for.
5. Princess of the Elves by R. L. Medina
This was their world. I was the strange one. I was the prey. I’d never been ‘normal.’ Unless you considered invisible stalkers, animal telepathy, and reading people’s thoughts normal. Oh, and the panic attacks that came out of nowhere. Those were fun. So, you’d think when goblins abduct my mom and an elf assassin claims to be my guardian, I wouldn't totally freak. Not so much. Cue panic attack. He tells me I'm a halfling. Not those cute little guys. I'm half elf and half human. A freak. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I discover just why my mom never talked about her past. Like the fact that she is the rightful heir to a literal fairy tale kingdom. Only this one is not filled with cute little pixies and singing animals. Oh, no. It’s darker—much, much darker. Now, I’m forced to endure the trials of each of the deadly fae courts. If I win, my so-called family won’t kill me. But what will it take to win? The last piece of my humanity?
6. PRAX and the Hazardous Countdown by Matthew Francis
In 2019, foster teen Philo Nockby is shocked to learn his dead parents were time-traveling secret agents and is dragged forward to the year 3451 to also be trained at the Superior Institute of Young Trioka. In this complex future, human DNA has evolved and civilization expanded to live below oceans, in the skies, and rule over Antarctica. Philo and his new friends Raelyn, Alani, and Xendo, must investigate human history and the ancient martial art of kineoka to defend the world from the impending dangers his parents fought to reveal. While struggling to hide his past life and survive his SIYT classes, Philo becomes stronger by gaining skills and abilities he never thought possible. However, when a contentious election for the newest global president shakes up their harmonious future society, Philo and his friends soon learn that time-traveling through history is a deadly business.
7. Seven Crowns by E.V. Everest
A crown is dangerous. A crown split seven ways is deadly.
Sixteen-year-old Ana is far from royalty. She’s a foster kid with a dead mom and a deadbeat dad. The only thing she wants is to escape—her hometown and her grief.
Ana’s plans are derailed when a dangerous family secret is revealed. She is the sole heir to a fallen dynasty on a world where seven families share the crown. Her family was murdered one by one, leaving six families to rule. Now, someone knows Ana’s location. With assassins closing in, Ana’s life and the crown are at stake.
With the help of a handsome hobo, she escapes to the place where it all began—a faraway world where magic and technology coexist. Ana must navigate a tangled web of friends and foes to unmask her would-be assassin before it's too late.
8. Silent Melody by Alice Ivinya
When the Pied Piper came, only three children remained. One was deaf and one was blind.
Being deaf meant life was hard for Adelaide in thirteenth century Germany. However, it also saved her from the Pied Piper's music. When the children were stolen, she was left behind.
Now she and her blind friend risk everything to free the children trapped in an eternal dance. But to rescue them she must face the Heartless Queen, who will do anything to keep them, and survive her twisted games. Adelaide finds she has no choice but to trust the man she should hate and hope he is not playing games of his own. If she fails, the children will be lost forever.
9. May a Divine Awaken by Michael Tinsley
On the lost continent of Pyris, eight lands are controlled by Divines—powerful beings with abilities to manipulate metals, harness the wind, and turn flesh to ash. Since their inception, Divines have been responsible for protecting eight sacred keys. Keys that if combined will unseal a forbidden relic of omnipotent power known as the Book of Pure. Desperate to claim the book’s power, the King of Aypha devises a sinister plan to eliminate the Divines and obtain the eight keys.
Caught in the middle is Marcus Azure, a young Aypha soldier born with blemished skin marks that leaves him ostracized by his people. When assassins attack his village, Marcus vows to prove himself and sets off on a quest of revenge. But along the way, he encounters Sinclair Bonet, a disgraced queen who reveals to him that his skin blemishes are a sign of great potential. She offers to awaken Marcus’s power, but doing so comes at a grave consequence that will force Marcus to either betray his people or advance his king’s mission. Unfortunately, the final decision may not rest in his hands…
10. The Princess Trials by Cordelia K Castel
Thirty young women. A handsome prince. A battle to the death
Water is scarce. Deserts have taken over the land. Nuclear war has devastated humanity. Humans live in walled super cities to keep out the irradiated. The land that was formerly known as America is divided into kingdoms ruled by royal elites. Born into the lowest Echelon of the Kingdom of Phangloria, sixteen-year-old Zea Calico faces a life of hunger, thirst, and toil. The only way out of this drudgery is revolution, and Zea is desperate to help the cause. When the palace calls for candidates to compete to marry Prince Kevon, Zea joins the Princess Trials to search the palace for weaknesses. The trials should be a fairytale of sumptuous meals, ballgowns, and romance, but one misplaced word causes Zea to attract the Prince’s attention. When Zea uncovers the man beneath Prince Kevon’s public facade, she is at risk of falling in love and losing sight of her mission. But the televised beauty pageant turns deadly, and Zea must fight for survival.
11.The Oasis Trials by Heidi Catherine and Tamar Sloan
Five trials to prove your worth. Two teens with everything to lose. One chance to escape.
In a world ravaged by global warming, an unconventional leader plans to sail away and start again in a mythical place known as Tomorrow Land. He’s decided to take one hundred young lives with him…if they pass a series of tests.
Fyve’s grown up in the poverty and violence molded by environmental and economic collapse. Passing is his only ticket to escape a life of starvation and struggle. But it also means leaving his family, the ones he’s spent his life protecting. Halo is the daughter of the leader, and she’s determined to compete in the Trials just like everyone else. As the tests become more deadly with each one that passes, she questions if the future she yearns for is worth it. Especially if Fyve is adamant he won’t set foot on the ship her father has promised will arrive.
12. The Cup and the Prince by Day Leitao
When a girl set on revenge meets an arrogant prince, sparks fly and tempers rise.
Yes, Zora cheated her way into the Royal Games, but it was for a very good reason: Spite.
Her ex was an asshole and thought she could never attain glory on her own. Just because she's a girl. So she took his place.
Now she's competing for the legendary Blood Cup, representing the Dark Valley, a place where shadow creatures spawn in the dark and survive in sunlight. It's her chance to prove her worth and bring glory to her people. If she wins, of course.
But winning is far from easy.
The younger prince thinks she's a fragile damsel who doesn't belong in the competition. Determined to eliminate her at all costs, he's stacking the challenges against her. Ha. All he's doing is making her want to win this competition more than ever.
The older prince is helping her, but the cost is getting Zora entangled in dangerous flirting games. Flirting. The last thing she wanted.
And then there's someone trying to kill her.
13. A Lair of Bones by Helen Scheuerer
A deadly contest. A vaulting ambition. How far will one cyren go to win?
Mighty cyrens have ruled the ancient lair of Saddoriel for centuries. A cavernous fortress, a subterranean labyrinth of tunnels and levels, powered by magic and music…
From the moment she was born, Roh, the daughter of an infamous criminal, has been despised by her own kind. Restricted to the Lower Sector and forced to work as a common bone cleaner, she has always believed she belongs above: where lies adventure… and power.
Opportunity arises in the form of the Queen’s Tournament, a treacherous set of trials that could see the victor crowned ruler of the entire lair. Up against the most cunning, dangerous cyrens in all the realms, does Roh stand a chance?
14. Silver Fae Games by KB Anne
Meet Starr Bishop. Or is it Jessalyn Silverlain?
Depends who you ask and whether I’m under the Greater Demon’s possession or not.
Everyone refuses to believe the truth—I follow Master willingly. No spells,
no curses, no magick, unless, of course, drinking demon blood counts. Then maybe...
No, I’m in full possession of myself and ready to show off my newfound Silver Fae abilities in the Summer Solstice Games. I’ll need to pass through seven levels of the Games, or as my grandmother, Queen Evelyn, calls them, The Seven Hells. No pressure or anything.
Especially with an all-powerful artifact as the prize. The Queen wants it, Master deserves it, and I need all the help I can get to find it. But no emotional attachments—or at least that’s the plan.
Until I see Christian. Those blue eyes, sexy muscles, and dreamy smile remind me of a love once shared. A life once led. A wolf bite is fatal to a Fae. Is a Fae bite fatal to a wolf? Guess we’ll find out.
Let the training for the Games begin.
15. The Elements of the Crown by Kay L Moody
She wasn’t supposed to become so powerful. She wasn’t even supposed to survive. In an empire divided into three rings, Talise is from the lowliest and most dangerous outer ring. To escape that life, she just has to do three things. 1) Attend an elite academy for manipulating the elements of water, air, earth, and fire. 2) Become the most powerful student in her year. 3) Prove her magic is the best in a competition in front of the emperor himself. Everything goes according to plan until a handsome and rich young man shows up with just as much skill as her. She has to win. She has to hate him. But when the competition falls apart, the emperor forces them to work together instead. Their growing attraction only distracts them from dark truths that the empire has hidden for too long. Secrets lurk in every shadow of the palace, hiding a conflict that sits on the brink of war. But Talise has secrets of her own. Secrets that could destroy her. A war is coming. Talise can only hope she’s powerful enough to meet it.
16. The Dark Realm by Anthea Sharp
WHEN A GAME... Feyland is the most immersive sim-game ever designed, and Jennet Carter is the first to play the prototype. But she doesn’t suspect the virtual world is close enough to touch — or that she’ll be battling for her life against the Dark Queen of the faeries. TURNS REAL... Tam Linn is the perfect hero — in-game. Too bad the rest of his life is seriously flawed. The last thing he needs is rich-girl Jennet prying into his secrets, insisting he’s the only one who can help her. WINNING IS EVERYTHING... Together, Jennet and Tam enter the Dark Realm of Feyland, only to discover that the entire human world is in danger. Pushed to the limit of their abilities, they must defeat the Dark Queen… before it’s too late.
17. Crystal Dragon by Katie Cherry
I can never be one of them. But it’s not because I grew up in a different realm.
I may not have been satisfied with farm life on Earth, but I certainly didn’t want all this. Kidnapped and taken to a magical realm called Zilferia. Assigned a partner and a coach and thrown to the mercies of the realm’s creatures in a desperate bid to grow into magical powers gifted to us from the realm itself. Avoid getting caught by the realm’s violent, self-proclaimed ‘Dragon Hunters.’ Sure, my partner Nathan quickly becomes a good friend to me, and sure, I love the magic and the dragons here, but make no mistake- I’d rather go home. I’m not their lost princess. I’m not some half-dragon shifter freak. I’m certainly not destined to save the seven realms from destruction.
18. To be a Fae Queen by Tricia Copeland
The last of her line, a faerie princess prepares to take the throne. But multiple forces plot against her, some trusted friends…
After losing her brothers, Titania studied and trained to rule Aubren. But she hadn’t planned on becoming Queen at fifteen. Now with her reign challenged from within the castle walls, she must decide what is best for her kingdom. Should another rule in her stead? Or has fate led her to this moment?
Only she can decide a path that becomes littered with choices. Will a marriage shore up her reign? Could naming a successor be enough? And what of the creatures of the deep and a tale of one who can end all evil? Faced with a choice to aid beings of Upper Earth, she must weigh whether to believe her inner compass and face charges of treason. Accepting the edicts of the High Council may be a safer route, but is it the best choice for the realm?
Titania’s emerging power lies just beyond her reach. Will it manifest we she most needs it? Or do they face an eternity in darkness?