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Young Adult Literature

15 YA Books that Reflect Black Sabbath’s Hits

Lucas Maxwell


Lucas Maxwell has been working with youth in libraries for over fifteen years. Originally from Nova Scotia, Canada, he's been a high school librarian in London, UK for over a decade. In 2017 he won the UK's School Librarian of the Year award and in 2022 he was named the UK Literacy Association's Reading For Pleasure Teacher Champion. He loves Dungeons & Dragons and is the author of Let's Roll: A Guide for Setting up Tabletop Roleplaying Games in Your School or Public Library. You can follow him on Twitter and on his blog.

Black Sabbath played their final gig recently, marking the end of a band that some argue invented heavy metal.

I found out about Sabbath the way you should find out about them, In a dingy basement of one of my older brothers’ friends.

There were posters of bands down there that my twelve year old brain hadn’t been exposed to yet: Iron Maiden, AC/DC, The Misfits, Guns ‘N Roses, all of them leering down at me while I played “Bad Dudes” on the NES and ate Hickory Sticks.

Someone put Sabbath on the stereo and when that opening riff to Paranoid came barrelling out it grabbed me by the spine and shook something loose that could never be put back. Their music has something to it that’s hard to pin down, a little bit of sooty grime that you can’t quite shake no matter how hard you try.

I was hooked.

Over and over I have turned to them, their songs are etched into the crevices of my memory bank, both good and bad.

Good books are the same, they stick with you. You’ll find yourself turning to them in an attempt to relive a moment that you’re worried about losing to the dark pit that is time, ageing and moving on.

I’ve chosen 10 Young Adult books that I’ve interpreted as reflecting some of Sabbath’s hits.

“But all of their songs are about drugs!” you cry.

Sure, it might seem that way on the outside, but for a fan of Black Sabbath, their songs are more about the (often) forced and cheesy lyrics.

They’re about the guttural, raw noise that they created. Noise that feels like it’s howling through the broken windows of a dark, abandoned factory in the north of England.

And they’re about the memories. Good books are the same. So here they are:



Concentr8“People think I’m insane because I am frowning all the time.”

It’s future London, and all the kids are on Concentr8. It keeps them cool, focused and on the straight and narrow. Then the drug disappears, taken away by the government.

Furious, the teens take to the streets to burn London to the ground. For a group of misfit teens, the riots will change their lives forever.


Planet Caravan

Tinder“The earth / a purple blaze / of sapphire haze.”

Otto, a young soldier caught in a war he doesn’t understand or believe in, flees a battle in terror. Badly wounded, he falls into a fever dream where he’s nursed back to health by a strange shaman who gives him magical dice to help him decide his future paths.

What follows is a head trip through terrifying castles and strange lands as Otto seeks out Safire, the woman he loves. Giant white wolves follow him, people are out for his head and he might be the new owner of magical powers, but is it true or has he simply gone insane?

Iron Man

Black Sabbath“Now the time is here for Iron Man to spread fear”

After Calamity came, nothing would be the same again. It was a burst in the sky, an exploded meteorite? A comet? Nobody knows. What they do know is that it gave a handful of people super powers. Not just any super powers, evil ones.

Now it’s up to a rag-tag group of rebels known as the Reckoners to figure out the weaknesses of these super-bad asses and save the planet.

Electric Funeral

Black SabbathReflex in the sky warn you you’re gonna die.”

In this messed up version of Ireland, every teen will experience The Call. Most won’t survive. They’ll be taken from their world without warning, thrust into a place called the Grey Land.

Then, when the horns start blaring, the hunt is on, and you don’t want to know what’s coming.


Children of the Grave

Black Sabbath“They’ll fight the world until they’ve won and love comes flowing through.”

Dill struggles to come to terms with the crimes of his father. His home life is a mess, he’s bullied at school, everything seems to be wrong.

His only solace is are his friends Travis & Lydia, both are fighting their own demons. Together they try to escape the prison that is their small town, but the roots of home have a strong hold.


War Pigs

Black Sabbath“Evil minds that plot destruction”

It’s 1956. The Axis have won the war, to celebrate, Hitler hosts the Axis Tour, an annual motorcycle race across the Axis countries. The winner is given a private audience with Hitler at his compound in Tokyo.

Do I need to write more? This book is freaking awesome and you should dive into this series A-SAP.


Symptom of the Universe

Black SabbathAll I have to do is give you love that never dies / The symptom of the universe is written in your eyes”

Laia is a slave living under a brutal regime. When her brother is arrested, she must risk everything in order to try and save him.

When she meets Elias, a soldier within the regime and sworn to weed out people like Laia, everything changes, not just for them but for the entire world.


Black Sabbath“Look into my eyes, you’ll see who I am / My name is Lucifer,  please take my hand.”

Ok, she’s not the devil incarnate, but there’s definitely something seriously wrong with Juliette’s touch – namely it kills people instantly.

The problem is, nobody can help her because the world is falling to pieces all around her. To solve the issue, the new government, called The Reestablishment, throws her in prison.

It doesn’t take long for The Reestablishment to see Juliette’s potential as a deadly weapon. Now she must choose whether she wants to be controlled or fight back for what she believes in.


Fairies Wear Boots

Black Sabbath

“Yeah fairies wear boots and you gotta believ me”

Byrony is not the type of fairy to ride ladybugs to the sugar plum dance. She’s a badass, and when she’s appointed by the Queen to become Hunter, she gives herself a new name: Knife.

Knife knows how to survive the outside world, where it’s dark and dangerous at all tim



Hand of Doom

Black Sabbath“Take Your Written Rules / You Join the Other Fools / Turn to Something New / Now It’s Killing You”

Genna Colon is trapped in a drug-riddled world of crime and destitution. Out of nowhere, her wish to escape her life is granted and she finds herself taken to Brooklyn, New York during the Civil War.