Young adult literature has the unique power to captivate both the young and the young at heart. It opens a window to diverse worlds, from the turbulent waves of teenage emotions to the fantastical realms of adventure and magic.
These books often tackle the complex journey of self-discovery, the pain of first love, and the challenges of growing up.
Whether you’re a voracious reader or someone looking to rekindle their love for reading, our list of these young adult books promises to take you on an unforgettable journey like no other.
55 Best Young Adult Books
“The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins
A dystopian novel set in a post-apocalyptic world where a totalitarian government forces children to participate in a televised fight to the death as a form of entertainment and oppression.
The story follows Katniss Everdeen, a resourceful and determined teenager from District 12, as she volunteers to participate in place of her younger sister.
“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling
The first book in the beloved Harry Potter series, introducing readers to the world of Hogwarts, a magical school for witches and wizards.
The story follows young Harry Potter, an orphan who discovers he is a wizard on his eleventh birthday, as he begins his journey in the magical world, making friends, confronting enemies, and uncovering his destiny.
“The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green
A heart-wrenching novel that tells the story of Hazel Grace Lancaster, a sixteen-year-old cancer patient, and Augustus Waters, a fellow cancer survivor.
Their shared experiences of illness and their passion for life bring them together in a poignant and ultimately tragic love story that explores themes of mortality, love, and the meaning of a life well-lived.
“Divergent” by Veronica Roth
Set in a futuristic dystopian Chicago where society is divided into five factions based on human virtues, this novel follows Beatrice “Tris” Prior, who discovers she is Divergent, meaning she does not fit into any one faction.
As she uncovers a conspiracy to eliminate all Divergents, Tris must find out what makes being Divergent so dangerous before it’s too late.
“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
A timeless classic that delves into the depths of human behavior, focusing on prejudice and racial injustice in the Deep South during the 1930s.
The story is told through the eyes of young Scout Finch, whose father, Atticus Finch, is a lawyer defending a Black man falsely accused of raping a white woman.
“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas
This powerful and relevant novel explores the life of Starr Carter, a 16-year-old African American girl who witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer.
Starr’s struggle for justice and her navigation through different worlds – the poor, mostly black neighborhood where she lives and the wealthy, mostly white prep school she attends – offer a modern commentary on race, police brutality, and activism.
“Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer
A romance fantasy novel that sparked a global phenomenon, “Twilight” is centered around Bella Swan, a teenage girl who moves to Forks, Washington, and falls in love with Edward Cullen, a mysteriously charming and enigmatic vampire.
Their forbidden love story explores themes of desire, consequences, and the nature of being different.
“Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief” by Rick Riordan
This adventurous fantasy novel is the first in the Percy Jackson series. It introduces Percy Jackson, a teenager who discovers he is a demigod, the son of Poseidon.
The story combines modern-day settings with ancient Greek mythology as Percy embarks on a quest across the United States to prevent a war between the gods.
“The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak
Set in Nazi Germany, this novel tells the story of Liesel Meminger, a young girl living with foster parents. Liesel steals books and shares them with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.
Narrated by Death, it’s a story about the power of words, love, and resilience in the face of destruction.
“Looking for Alaska” by John Green
A novel that revolves around Miles “Pudge” Halter, who enrolls in a boarding school to seek what the poet François Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.”
There he meets Alaska Young, a fascinating but emotionally troubled girl. The book is a journey through the labyrinth of life and death, exploring themes of love, grief, and the search for meaning.
“Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell
Set in 1986, this novel tells the story of two sixteen-year-olds, Eleanor, a bold and quirky girl, and Park, a half-Korean boy who feels out of place. They form an unlikely bond on the school bus and gradually fall in love, sharing comic books and mixtapes.
Their story is a poignant exploration of first love, identity, and the struggles of teenage life.
“City of Bones” (The Mortal Instruments) by Cassandra Clare
This is the first book in ‘The Mortal Instruments’ series, a fantasy world filled with shadowhunters, beings who are half-angel and half-human.
The story follows Clary Fray, a teenager who discovers she is a shadowhunter after her mother is abducted.
She is thrust into a world of demons, vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural beings.
“The Giver” by Lois Lowry
A thought-provoking dystopian novel set in a seemingly utopian society without pain, fear, or war.
The story centers on Jonas, a 12-year-old boy who is chosen to inherit the position of ‘Receiver of Memory’, the person who stores all past memories of the time before Sameness. This role exposes him to realities of the world he never knew, leading him to question everything.
“A Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah J. Maas
This book is the first in a fantasy series that retells the classic ‘Beauty and the Beast’ story with a strong, dynamic female protagonist.
Feyre, a huntress, finds herself entwined in the magical faerie lands after she kills a wolf who is more than he seems. The novel combines romance, adventure, and faerie lore.
“The Maze Runner” by James Dashner
In this post-apocalyptic dystopian thriller, Thomas wakes up with no memory in a maze with a group of other boys.
The story follows their attempts to escape, uncovering the secrets of who they are, why they’re there, and what the world outside the maze has become.
“Throne of Glass” by Sarah J. Maas
The first book in a high fantasy series, it features Celaena Sardothien, an 18-year-old assassin in a corrupt kingdom with a tyrannical ruler.
Offered her freedom in exchange for participating in a competition to find a new royal assassin, Celaena must fight against thieves and warriors with a dark force looming in the background.
“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs
A unique blend of fantasy and horror, this novel follows Jacob Portman as he discovers the ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
As Jacob explores the abandoned bedrooms and hallways, he realizes that the children were more than just peculiar; they may have been dangerous, and they may still be alive.
“Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson
This powerful novel deals with the aftermath of a teenage girl’s sexual assault. Melinda Sordino, ostracized at school and struggling with inner turmoil, finds solace in her art class.
Through her journey, the novel explores themes of speaking out, healing, and finding one’s voice.
“Shadow and Bone” by Leigh Bardugo
Set in a war-torn world inspired by Tsarist Russia, this fantasy novel introduces Alina Starkov, a soldier who unexpectedly uncovers a power that might save her nation.
As she trains with the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling, she learns the stakes are higher than she ever imagined.
“Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell
“Fangirl” is a novel that tells the story of Cath Avery, an introverted and passionate fan of a popular fantasy series.
As she navigates her first year of college, struggling with leaving her family, especially her twin sister, and her comfort zone, Cath finds solace and expression in writing fan fiction. This coming-of-age story explores themes of identity, love, and the transition from adolescence to adulthood.
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky
This novel is a profound exploration of adolescence through the eyes of Charlie, a sensitive and introspective teenager navigating the complex world of high school.
Written as a series of letters to an anonymous friend, the story delves into themes of friendship, first love, mental health, and the pain of growing up.
“Red Queen” by Victoria Aveyard
Set in a world where society is divided by blood – red for commoners and silver for the elite with supernatural abilities – “Red Queen” follows Mare Barrow, a Red girl who discovers she possesses powers of her own.
This revelation thrusts her into the dangerous world of the Silver elite, where she must navigate a treacherous web of betrayal and revolution.
“The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton
This enduring novel focuses on the conflict between two rival teenage gangs – the Greasers and the Socs – in the 1960s.
The story is told from the perspective of Ponyboy Curtis, a member of the Greasers, offering an intimate look at the struggles and unity among the group.
It’s a tale about the bonds of brotherhood, the stark socio-economic divide, and the tragic cost of violence.
“Paper Towns” by John Green
A coming-of-age story that combines elements of mystery, “Paper Towns” follows Quentin Jacobsen and his search for Margo Roth Spiegelman, his enigmatic neighbor who vanishes after a night of adventure.
Quentin follows the clues she left behind, leading him on a journey that is as much about discovering himself as it is about finding Margo.
“The Sun Is Also a Star” by Nicola Yoon
This novel tells the story of Natasha, a girl 12 hours away from being deported to Jamaica, and Daniel, a Korean-American boy struggling to meet his parents’ expectations.
Their chance encounter in New York City evolves into a transformative relationship, exploring themes of fate, love, and the interconnectedness of lives.
“Turtles All the Way Down” by John Green
Centered on Aza Holmes, a teenager grappling with obsessive-compulsive disorder, “Turtles All the Way Down” delves deeply into the challenges of mental illness.
As Aza navigates daily life and a budding detective story, the novel offers a heartfelt and honest portrayal of the struggles of mental health, the persistence of love, and the journey of self-acceptance.
“Children of Blood and Bone” by Tomi Adeyemi
Inspired by West African mythology, this fantasy novel follows Zélie Adebola as she attempts to bring magic back to her people.
In a land where the king has banished magic and oppressed its practitioners, Zélie, with the help of a rogue princess, faces immense dangers and obstacles to ignite a rebellion and restore her people’s hope.
“We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart
A psychological suspense novel set on a private island, “We Were Liars” focuses on Cadence Sinclair, a young woman from a privileged family who suffers from amnesia.
Throughout the novel, she struggles to remember the details of a mysterious accident that occurred during her fifteenth summer, leading to a stunning and unexpected conclusion.
“An Ember in the Ashes” by Sabaa Tahir
Set in a brutal, Roman-like world, this novel tells the story of Laia, a slave fighting for her family, and Elias, a soldier fighting for his freedom.
Bound to the oppressive Martial Empire, their lives intersect in unexpected ways, embroiling them in a struggle for liberation, survival, and the hope of change.
“I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy Nelson
This novel is a profound exploration of art, love, and family, told through the alternating perspectives of twins Noah and Jude. Split between different time periods, the story delves into their individual struggles with grief, guilt, and self-discovery.
As they come to terms with the tragic events that have shaped their lives, the twins learn about the transformative power of forgiveness and truth.
“Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
A touching coming-of-age story that follows two Mexican-American teenagers, Aristotle “Ari” Mendoza and Dante Quintana, as they navigate the complexities of identity, friendship, and family.
Set in the 1980s, their journey of self-discovery and acceptance is a heartfelt exploration of the bonds that form who we are.
“Delirium” by Lauren Oliver
Set in a dystopian world where love is deemed a dangerous disease called “Amor Deliria Nervosa,” this novel follows Lena Haloway as she looks forward to the government-mandated cure that will prevent her from contracting the disease.
However, her perspective on the world changes dramatically when she falls in love, leading her to question the very foundations of her society.
“Legend” by Marie Lu
In a dark, militarized future where the United States is divided, “Legend” is a high-octane story following two protagonists from opposite worlds: June, a prodigy born into an elite family, and Day, the country’s most wanted criminal.
When their paths cross, they uncover the truth about their totalitarian government and the secrets that keep it in power.
“They Both Die at the End” by Adam Silvera
This poignant novel explores the concept of living life to the fullest, set in a world where a service called Death-Cast informs people of their impending death.
It follows Mateo and Rufus, two teenagers who meet through an app called Last Friend on their End Day. Together, they embark on a journey to live a lifetime in a single day.
“Carry On” by Rainbow Rowell
A fantasy novel that blends romance, magic, and adventure, “Carry On” is the story of Simon Snow, the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.
As he navigates his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, Simon must deal with a dangerous foe, his chaotic magic, and the complexities of falling in love with his vampire roommate, Baz.
“Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo
Set in the Grishaverse, this fantasy heist novel revolves around a group of criminal outcasts led by Kaz Brekker.
Tasked with a seemingly impossible heist, the team must navigate a web of danger and betrayal in the city of Ketterdam.
The novel is known for its intricate plot, diverse cast of characters, and rich world-building.
“Ash” by Malinda Lo
A refreshing retelling of Cinderella, “Ash” offers a lesbian romance within a fairy tale framework. After her father’s death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother.
Her escape comes in the form of a dangerous fairy, Sidhean, and the King’s Huntress, Kaisa, with whom she forms an unexpected connection.
“The Selection” by Kiera Cass
This novel is set in a dystopian future where a young woman named America Singer is chosen to participate in the Selection, a contest to win the heart of Prince Maxon and become the princess of Illea.
As America navigates the opulent world of the palace, she must confront questions of love, loyalty, and her own identity.
“Eragon” by Christopher Paolini
When the dragon hatches, Eragon is thrust into a world of magic and power, as he becomes a Dragon Rider and faces an evil king’s dark forces.
“One of Us Is Lying” by Karen M. McManus
This mystery novel is set in a high school where five students walk into detention, but only four walk out alive.
The story revolves around the investigation into the death of Simon, the creator of a notorious gossip app, and unfolds from the perspectives of the four students who become suspects.
Each harbors a secret, and as the truth unravels, their lives change forever.
“Uglies” by Scott Westerfeld
Set in a future dystopian world, this novel follows Tally Youngblood, who awaits her sixteenth birthday when she will undergo an operation to turn from an ‘Ugly’ into a ‘Pretty’ – a society standard of beauty designed to eliminate conflict.
However, when Tally’s friend Shay runs away to avoid the surgery, Tally learns about a darker side of the Pretty world, forcing her to make difficult choices about beauty, identity, and conformity.
“Matched” by Ally Condie
In a society where the government controls every aspect of life, including whom you marry, “Matched” follows the story of Cassia Reyes.
At her Matching ceremony, where her future husband is chosen, Cassia sees two faces – her best friend’s and a stranger’s.
This glitch sets her on a path of self-discovery and rebellion as she starts to question the infallibility of the system and the nature of freedom and love.
“The 5th Wave” by Rick Yancey
In this post-apocalyptic novel, Earth is ravaged by waves of alien invasions, each more devastating than the last.
The story follows Cassie Sullivan, a survivor determined to save her younger brother. As she navigates a world where trusting others could be lethal, Cassie encounters Evan Walker, who may be her only hope for rescuing her brother and humanity.
“Graceling” by Kristin Cashore
This fantasy novel introduces a world where certain individuals are born with Graces, extraordinary skills that set them apart. Katsa, gifted with the Grace of killing, is forced to work as the king’s enforcer.
Her life changes when she meets Prince Po and embarks on a journey that leads her to discover a terrible secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms.
“Hush, Hush” by Becca Fitzpatrick
Nora Grey, a high school student, finds her life intertwined with that of Patch, a mysterious new boy with a dark secret.
He is actually a fallen angel on a mission, and as Nora gets drawn deeper into his world, she finds herself facing unknown dangers and an inexplicable attraction to Patch.
“The Iron King” by Julie Kagawa
Meghan Chase discovers on her sixteenth birthday that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and that her younger brother has been replaced by a changeling.
This revelation pulls her into the world of Faery, where she must navigate the dangerous politics of the Seelie and Unseelie courts, ally with a rogue prince, and confront an ancient, dark force.
“Shatter Me” by Tahereh Mafi
Juliette Ferrars possesses a lethal touch, a power that has isolated her from the outside world.
The novel follows her journey from imprisonment to becoming a weapon for The Reestablishment, a regime seeking to use her abilities for their purposes. Along the way, Juliette must come to terms with her powers and decide where her loyalties lie.
“Before I Fall” by Lauren Oliver
Samantha Kingston relives the last day of her life seven times, trapped in a loop after dying in a car crash.
With each repetition, she unravels more about the impact of her actions on the lives of others and the mystery surrounding her death.
This journey leads Samantha to a deeper understanding of life, love, and the value of a single day.
“The Raven Boys” by Maggie Stiefvater
This novel blends mystery, romance, and the supernatural, centering around Blue Sargent, who comes from a family of psychics, and her involvement with a group of boys from the local private school, known as the Raven Boys.
Together, they embark on a quest to find a long-lost Welsh king, uncovering a world of magic, dreams, and deadly curses along the way.
“I Am Number Four” by Pittacus Lore
A science fiction novel that follows the story of John Smith, an alien from the planet Lorien, who hides on Earth from an enemy species intent on destroying his kind.
As one of nine Lorien survivors, each with unique powers, John navigates the challenges of a typical high school student while eluding his relentless pursuers. The novel is a thrilling mix of suspense, action, and the complexities of growing up different.
“Anna and the French Kiss” by Stephanie Perkins
Set in the romantic city of Paris, this novel is a charming tale of Anna Oliphant, an American girl sent to a boarding school in France for her senior year. There, she meets Étienne St. Clair, a charismatic and handsome student.
Despite the complications of existing relationships and the uncertainties of youth, Anna and Étienne’s friendship blossoms into a sweet romance, capturing the essence of young love and the enchanting backdrop of Paris.
“The Knife of Never Letting Go” by Patrick Ness
In a unique and unsettling world where everyone can hear each other’s thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise, the story follows young Todd Hewitt.
Todd uncovers a silent spot in the Noise, leading him on a journey of discovery that challenges everything he has been taught about his town’s history and his own existence.
The novel is an inventive and thought-provoking tale about growing up, the power of information, and the importance of finding one’s voice.
“Daughter of Smoke & Bone” by Laini Taylor
This fantasy novel introduces Karou, a young art student in Prague who is mysteriously raised by chimerical creatures. Karou’s quest for her identity takes her across the world and into an ancient war between angels and demons.
The novel is beautifully written, blending myth, magic, and romance in a vividly crafted world, exploring themes of love, belonging, and the complexity of good and evil.
“Will Grayson, Will Grayson” by John Green and David Levithan
A novel about two teenagers, both named Will Grayson, who cross paths one night in Chicago, setting off a series of events that will change their lives.
One Will Grayson is dealing with love and friendship in the shadow of his larger-than-life best friend, while the other is navigating the complexities of depression and online relationships.
Their story is one of identity, friendship, and the unexpected ways lives intersect.