Many 12 year olds have grown out of the middle grade books aimed at 8-12 year olds (unless they are in the mood for a comfort read) but are still too young for young adult novels.
There are books aimed at 10-14 year olds as well as books for teens which appeal to 12 year olds, but the distinction with more mature young adult novels is not always obvious. In general, books with a main character that is two to three years older will work, or books with a 12 year old main character but a bit more violence than is normal for the younger end of middle grade.
Below are the most recent books in several series that are popular with 12 year old readers, but bear in mind that tastes and maturity levels change at different ages for different children, and your 12 year old might prefer books primarily targeted at slightly younger or older readers.
Some series have characters that age with each book, so although the first book is recommended for younger kids the series as a whole is still popular with 12 year olds. This is the case with Aru Shah in the Pandava novels, for example, and classic series such as Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. In Alex Rider, the main character doesn’t age as much between books but the content gets edgier, so the later books in the series would appeal more to a 12 year old than to a younger middle grade reader.
by Nnedi Okorafor
Want to start at the beginning of the series? The first book is Akata Witch (published in Nigeria as What Sunny Saw in the Flames).
It has been picked by Efua Traoré in our interview on the Best West African Fantasy Books for Teenagers and by Anbara Salam in our interview on The Best Boarding School Novels.
The Nsibidi Scripts (book 3). West-African inspired fantasy by award-winning Nigerian American author. Age 12+
The Burning Swift
by Joseph Elliott
Want to start at the beginning of the series? The first book, The Good Hawk has an award-winning audio edition.
Concluding volume in the Shadow Skye trilogy. A third character, Sigrid, is on the scene (the first book was alternately narrated by Jaime and Agatha, who probably has Down's syndrome). Fast paced fantasy adventure set in a mythical Scotland. Age 12+
by Brandon Sanderson
Want to start at the beginning? The first book in this series is Skyward.
Skyward (book 3). Science fiction series with galaxy-wide war and a resourceful teenage protagonist. Age 12+
by Malorie Blackman
Want to start at the beginning of the series? The first book, Noughts & Crosses, was picked by Robert Muchamore in our interview on Books for the Reluctant 12-Year-Old Reader.
Noughts + Crosses series (book 6), the final book in this series set in an alternative 21st century Britain, featuring love, racial and social inequality, and high stakes intrigue. Age 12+
The Desolations of Devil's Acre
by Ransom Riggs
Want to start at the beginning of the series? A boy follows clues to a mystery that spans different worlds and times. As he gets to know the residents of the magical place known as Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, as well as the children’s special powers and their enemies, the mystery and danger deepen.
Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children (book 6, concluding volume). Age 12+
A companion volume called Miss Peregrine's Museum of Wonders: An Indispensable Guide to the Dangers and Delights of the Peculiar World for the Instruction of New Arrivals was published in September 2022. There is also a graphic novel version of this series.