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18 YA Fantasy/Sci-Fi Books Featuring Tournaments and Competitions That You Haven’t Read Yet

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?