SPOILER ALERT: These boys are dead. I repeat: these boys are dead. Do not venture further if you would like to avoid both spoilers and emotional distress. While technically some of these boys are undead, it feels okay to say they are all at the very least death-adjacent. Whether ghost, vampire, zombie, or just plain dead, these boys have felt the cold kiss of death in some way (sometimes they’ve even given that kiss). And because of that, we love them and we need to protect them. Without further ado or any actual summoning, I give you: The Best Dead Boys in YA.
I, too, would like an immortal being to teach me swordplay.
By night, the Ankou is a legendary, permanently young mercenary—the most fearsome sword for hire in all of the Five Lands, and its most abiding mystery. But when the sun rises, a dark magic leaves him no more than bones. Cursed with this cycle of death and resurrection, the Ankou wants only to find the final rest that has been prophesied for him, no matter the cost.
When the kingdom of Kaer-Ise is sacked, Flora, handmaiden to the royal family, is assaulted and left for dead. Wounded, heartbroken, and the sole survivor of the massacre, Flora wants desperately to be reunited with the princess she served and loved. She and the Ankou make a deal: He will help Flora find her princess, and train Flora in combat, in exchange for her aid in breaking his curse. But it isn’t easy to kill an immortal, especially when their bond begins to deepen into something more . . .
The gasp I let out when my ghost son revealed himself. Unmatched.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them--until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her. His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble. But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can't entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little. For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn't believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore.
by Adalyn Grace
I mean, it's right there in the name.
Nineteen-year-old Signa Farrow, orphaned as a baby, has been raised by a string of guardians, each more interested in her wealth than her well-being—and each has met an untimely end. Her last remaining relatives are the Hawthornes, an eccentric family living at the glittering and gloomy estate of Thorn Grove. Thorn Grove’s patriarch, Elijah, mourns his late wife, Lillian, through wild parties and drink, while eldest son Percy grapples for control of the family’s waning reputation and daughter Blythe suffers from the same mysterious illness that killed her mother. And when Lillian’s spirit confronts Signa and claims she was poisoned, Signa realizes that Blythe could be next to die.
Signa’s best chance of uncovering the culprit and solving Lillian’s murder is an alliance with Death himself—the very man she hates most. And Death, that fascinating, dangerous shadow who has never been far from her side, shows her that their connection may be more powerful than she ever dared imagine.
If you think I've stopped crying over this boy, you would be most wrong.
Dee Moreno is out of options. Her home life sucks (to put it mildly), and she’s about to get booted from her boarding school–the only place she’s ever felt free–for lack of funds. But this is a world where demons exist, and the demons are there to make deals: one human body part in exchange for one wish come true.
The demon who Dee approaches doesn’t trade in the usual arms and legs, however. He’s only interested in her heart. And what comes after Dee makes her deal is a nightmare far bigger, far more monstrous than anything she ever could have imagined. Reality is turned on its head, and Dee has only her fellow “heartless,” the charming but secretive James Lancer, to keep her grounded. As something like love grows between them amid an otherworldly threat, Dee begins to wonder: Can she give James her heart when it’s no longer hers to give?
by Holly Black
Gavriel has truly been through it. And yet, despite being a former assassin (emphasis on former), I would still trust him with my life.
Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.
One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.
Our undead emo Spanish Influenza-surviving king.
Isabella Swan’s move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Isabella’s life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn.
Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Isabella, the person Edward holds most dear. The lovers find themselves balanced precariously on the point of a knife — between desire and danger.
Yadriel's attraction to Julian is ridiculously relatable.
When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.
However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school's resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He's determined to find out what happened and tie off some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.
Does it count if everyone just thinks you're dead?
As a memory thief, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria, Renata was used by the crown to carry out the King’s Wrath, a siege that resulted in the deaths of thousands of her own people.
Now Renata is one of the Whispers, rebel spies working against the crown. The Whispers may have rescued Renata years ago, but she cannot escape their mistrust and hatred—or the overpowering memories of the hundreds of souls she drained during her time in the palace.
When Dez, the commander of her unit—and the boy she’s grown to love—is taken captive by the notorious Principe Dorado, Renata must return to Andalucia and complete Dez’s top secret mission herself. But as Renata grows more deeply embedded in the politics of the royal court, she uncovers a secret in her past that could change the fate of the entire kingdom—and end the war that has cost her everything.
Yes, it absolutely counts if everyone just thinks you're dead.
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
Tea can raise the dead, but resurrection comes at a price...
When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother, Fox, from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she's a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.
In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha―one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles...and make a powerful choice.