Young Adult novels are written for teen readers, but there’s no reason why adults can’t love them, too! Some of the best contemporary, science fiction, historical, fantasy and romance novels are written by YA authors, and here are fifty you are certain to enjoy at any age.
Up To This Pointe, by Jennifer Lia Longo
Harper Scott’s ancestor died trying to get to the South Pole, so she has always tried to do the opposite: stick to a plan, to what she’s good at, and never take unnecessary risks. But when Harper’s plan goes up in flames, she finds herself headed exactly where she never thought she’d go—to Antarctica, to wait out a broken heart in their six-month winter. One of the most honest, beautiful, and crushing depictions of friendship you will ever read.
Vengeance Road, by Erin Bowman
Historical fiction fans will love this Gold Rush-era western in which a girl seeks vengeance for her father’s murder by trekking across the west dressed as a boy. She meets two brothers along the way and finds herself torn between the rage in her heart and the possible love which might take its place. (Look out for the companion novel, Retribution Rails, in November!)
Allegedly, by Tiffany D. Jackson
Mary killed a baby when she was only nine years old. Allegedly. The case seemed open and shut, especially since Mary confessed. But was her confession coerced? And now that she finds herself pregnant, will the state take custody of her own child? This psychological thriller seems as cut and dry as the situation it describes, until the plot thickens.
The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater
All her life, Blue has known that her true love would die. She’s also known that she belongs to a family of clairvoyants, and to heed their warnings, which come from the dead. But when she finds herself tempted by four boys, students at the local private school—and one of them in particular—she fears that she can’t avoid true love, or death, any longer.
Grave Mercy, by Robin LaFevers
Magic, history, and Mortain—the God of Death—combine in this trilogy-starter about a group of assassin nuns who do death’s bidding. One of the most sensual and evocative novels you’ll come across in any genre, with heroines and prose worthy of acclaim.
Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo
The streets of Ketterdam are owned by Kaz Brekker, leader of the Dregs gang: a group of likeminded individuals, each with skills of their own, debts to repay…and some magic at their disposal. But Kaz’s quest for power has a dark underbelly—a secret he is trying to protect, and a rival he is desperate to unseat—and when one heist to steal something valuable could accomplish his darkest desires, he puts everyone at risk to achieve it.
The Young Elites, by Marie Lu
Every villain has an origin story, and this is Adelina’s: after suffering the effects of a fever which left her, and other survivors, scarred and feared by their community, she realizes that what she once thought was a curse may be the key to her freedom…and the ruin of those who cursed her.
Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson
A princess who believes herself to be completely unremarkable becomes embroiled in a secret marriage, a war to protect a kingdom, and a prophecy that says against all reason, she will be the one to save them all. Beautiful prose and a unique magic system for fantasy fans!
Paperback $11.11 | $11.99
An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir
Two lives collide and the fate of a kingdom is at stake when a slave becomes a spy for the resistance and the soldier son of a fearsome ruler decides to help her. Tahir weaves action-packed fight scenes and secrecy with the nuanced thread of romance as, over the course of the novel, the two realize there is more at stake than their lives, and their freedom; their love. Add to the equation a third character who is desperately, but secretly, in love with the soldier, and complications ensue.
The Winner’s Curse, by Marie Rutkoski
Kestrel has always has two choices: join the army like her father, or marry. She desires neither—until she meets Arin, a slave she purchases on a whim in the marketplace. Suddenly she desires quite a bit: to fight, to love, and to put her trust in a man who confounds her at every turn. Arin is tempted by Kestrel, but the truth is he also wants to fight: specifically, her father, who is responsible for the colonization of his people. And he will use Kestrel to get what he needs.
The Flame in the Mist, by Renee Ahdieh
Mariko is a talented alchemist, but her skills matter less than her ability to marry and unite her family with that of the emperor’s. But on her way there, she is attacked—and when she escapes, she decides that finding those who tried to kill her and bringing them to justice is her true path in life.
History is All You Left Me, by Adam Silvera
In this moving novel about first love, regret, and grief, Griffin is confronted by his worst fear: his ex-boyfriend—the guy he believed he would one day be with again—is dead. Spiraling downward, Griffin finds himself drawn back into past memories of Theo as well as confronted by the reality of the present, when Theo’s boyfriend comes to town for the funeral.
The Madman’s Daughter, by Megan Shepherd
Gothic novel fans will love this historical science-fiction novel in the vein of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the Isle of Dr. Moreau. Juliet has lost everything after her father’s career was ruined due to accusations she was always sure were false. She journeys to find the truth and finds herself torn between reality and insanity, and wonders if she will inherit her father’s legacy.
Charm and Strange, by Stephanie Kuehn
A boy is convinced he is turning into a monster—and not the metaphorical kind. But even monsters can’t outrun the secrets and shames of their pasts, and he is no exception. One of the most unique books I’ve ever read: part psychological thriller, part paranormal, part mystery, with prose that is exactly what the title suggests.
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, by Mackenzi Lee
Summer may be over, but you can live vicariously through this European tour during the 1700’s featuring a pair of best friends—and one of them is in love with the other. Monty, a son of the aristocracy, and Percy, a black man raised with his rich, white relatives, somewhat to their dismay—have been friends their whole lives. Monty is a rake and a rogue, falling into bed and into bars with anyone willing, but his heart is set on Percy. They have one final gallivant through Europe, joined by Monty’s precocious sister, before they both must take on the responsibilities and obligations of men in their time. Regency romance fans will rejoice at this one!
And I Darken, by Kiersten White
This gender-flipped backstory to Vlad Dracul (now Lada Dragwyla) is as ruthless as its main character, who yearns for the day when she and her brother, Radu, can escape the clutches of the Ottomans and seek vengeance by waging a war she believes is her birthright. But when she and Radu both find themselves falling for the royal enemy, their story is destined to end in blood.
Three Dark Crowns, by Kendare Blake
Three sisters, all heirs to a powerful throne…but destined to die for it. If you love Game of Thrones’ magic and mind-games, this powerful and shocking fantasy series will make the wait for the next season fly by.
The Star Touched Queen, by Roshani Chokshi
A gorgeous fantasy about a reluctant queen caught between a prophecy that dooms any man who marries her—and her growing love for the man who does. Vivid, moving prose inspired by Indian folklore!
Paperback $8.49 | $9.99
A Study in Charlotte, by Brittany Cavallaro
While you’re waiting for the next series of Sherlock, check out this YA genderflipped version! Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson are descended from the famed detectives bearing their last names. But unlike their counterparts, they are not friends. That is, until someone dies, and Jamie decides he and Charlotte are the only ones who can solve the case.
This is Where it Ends, by Marieke Nijkamp
A shooter causes havoc in a school over 54 minutes in this bestseller, a harrowing, emotional psychological thriller. Told through four perspectives, all with their own fears and secrets, this novel’s diverse cast shines light on the importance of inclusivity and mental health care.
Wink Poppy Midnight, by April Genevieve Tucholke
Part contemporary romance, part magical realism, and part thriller, this is one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. A twisted love triangle turns violent and those involved are left to decide whether their actions played any part.
As I Descended, by Robin Talley
If you’re a Shakespeare fan, don’t miss this horror-tinged retelling of Macbeth. This time the ill-fated couple is Maria and Lily; who are in love, and determined to stay that way despite the class differences that could spell the end of their time together, as college approaches. When Lily coaxes Maria into committing a terrible act in order to win their school’s most coveted award, they are both haunted by the choice—literally.
The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are aware that THUG is the book of the year to read. A direct response to the Black Lives Matter movement, this novel tells the story of Starr, who watches her childhood best friend get gunned down by a white cop. Caught between her family, her white friends and boyfriend, and the pressure of being the sole witness to this murder as protests rage and the fate of the cop is determined—Starr must decide how to use her voice, and her power, to get justice.
The First Time She Drowned, by Kerry Kletter
After spending two years in an institution, Cassie is finally getting her freedom—but when her mother comes back into her life, Cassie finds herself once again being drawn into a toxic relationship. After all: her mother’s the one who had her committed, simply to get her out of the way. A moving story of mothers and daughters, mental illness, and fresh starts.
Scythe, by Neal Shusterman
Imagine a world where there is no death no poverty, no war…but to keep the population from growing out of control and to preserve the peace, some lives must be taken. That’s where Scythes come in, and this dystopian sci-fi follows the journey of two reapers-in-training as they learn the art of killing, and the value of human life.
Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here, by Anna Breslaw
A fun contemporary novel for fans of fan-fiction—when Scarlett’s favorite TV show is cancelled, her anonymous fanfiction series goes viral…but it’s actually based on real people who would be hurt by her depiction of them. Scarlett is one of the most endearing characters you’ll ever meet; even as she makes mistakes, you root for her.
The Scorpion Rules, by Erin Bow
A future world in which the children of political leaders are held as hostages—to keep their parents under control, for any act of war would result in their deaths. A maniacal AI dictator, a burgeoning romance (or two), and two children at the mercy of their parents’ ill-fated decisions makes for a compelling read.
Girl in Pieces, by Kathleen Glasgow
Charlie is determined not to think of the things she’s lost, or fall back into old patterns, but the past always comes home to roost. An incredibly authentic portrayal of depression, self-harm, and the depths of the human soul.
Empress of a Thousand Skies, by Rhoda Belleza
Two parallel narratives collide when a princess who was thought to be murdered and the refugee accused of killing her both seek justice for their circumstances. Rhee has always known she would inherit the throne her parents left vacant when they died. But after a failed assassination attempt, she realizes that destiny has other plans. Aly, a refugee who has gained fame as the star of a futuristic reality show, is determined to seek out the real villain—before an entire country declares war on him. A diverse epic that, while not set in this galaxy, reflects many of the issues we currently face.
When the Moon Was Ours, by Anna Marie McLemore
Magical realism at its finest meets a love story between two innocent teens caught in a web of secrecy. When a group of rumored witches decide to capture Miel and use the roses that grow from her wrists to make an infallible love spell, her relationship with Sam is put in jeopardy—as is the one secret she has kept from him.
Female of the Species, by Mindy McGinnis
A brutal, dark tale of the thin line between revenge and justice. Alex has killed her sister’s rapist and murderer—and it’s awakened something within her that can’t be controlled. As she tries to go about living a normal life in the wake of her undiscovered crime, she starts to have another uncontrollable urge: first love. Gritty, difficult, and powerful, this novel sends a strong message about rape culture.
My Sister Rosa, by Justine Larbalestier
Che thinks his sister is a sociopath. The problem? He’s the only person she trusts, and his parents don’t believe him. A psychological thriller as gripping as it is disturbing.
We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart
If you love unreliable narrators, toxic friendships, and crushing tragedy (and who doesn’t honestly?) you will love this book. One summer changes everything for a group of friends, and only by going backwards can one girl pick up the pieces.
The Sun is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon
A feel-good romance and an emotional story about how the stories of our lives are formed by our interactions with others combine for this award-winning novel. When an immigrant girl about to be deported and a boy who feels trapped by his parents’ expectations fall in love over a day, their story impacts everyone around them.
When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon
An arranged marriage turns into a delightful comedic romance when Dimple meets Rishi, the guy her parents want her to be with. Of course it does not go the way their parents expect it to: Dimple is more focused on her education, while Rishi actually does want to be matched…laughs and swoons definitely ensue.
Exit, Pursued by a Bear, by EK Johnston
When Hermione is raped, she is determined not to let it interfere with her plans and her path. The aftermath of a rape is emotional, and often depicted as tragic. But in this narrative, heroine Hermione finds herself supported by everyone she knows—her parents, her best friend, her school, and local law enforcement. Still, she faces tough decisions in her journey to reclaim that which has been taken from her.
Passenger, by Alexandra Bracken
A sweeping time-travel fantasy romance for fans of Outlander! Etta is sent back in time to learn that not only are time travelers real, but she is from a family of them—and it is her obligation to continue their work. But when she meets Nicholas, sparks fly between them, and she is torn between fulfilling the destiny which she seems born to find, and returning to the life she had before. Impeccably researched and full of twists and turns, with diverse characters.
One of Us is Lying, by Karen M. McManus
The Breakfast Club turns deadly in this mystery where one student ends up dead during detention…just before he planned to shed light on all the dirty secrets of his fellow classmates. Suddenly everyone’s secrets and motives are brought into the light…and the killer will do anything to protect theirs.
When We Collided, by Emery Lord
Lord’s newest novel features a sensitive and nuanced depiction of mental illness. Jonah already sees it at home, in his mother, who has been battling depression since the death of his father, but when Vivi moves to town, she seems exactly like the injection of fun and life his family needs. What he doesn’t realize at first is she has mental health issues of her own, and they just may push them both over the edge.
If I Was Your Girl, by Meredith Russo
An important story of a trans girl finding love, written by a trans women. Amanda falls hard for Grant—but as this is her first real relationship, and first relationship after transitioning from the gender she was assigned at birth to the one she identifies as—she’s scared it could blow up in her face if he found out about her past. How long can she keep her secret, and will she be accepted for who she really is? (Forgive the spoiler, but I believe it’s important: this one has a happy ending.)
A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas
A fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast in which Feyre is forced to live with Tamlin, a High Fae, as punishment for attacking a fae she believed was a wolf. If you love gilded castles and beautiful gowns, villains and cold-hearted rakes, magic and mayhem and of course a whole lot of romance, this series is for you.
The Bone Witch, by Rin Chupeco
When a girl raises her dead brother from the grave, she begins to undergo training to become a Bone Witch, tasked with fighting daeva and keeping The Dark at bay. But her gift means she will be feared by her community…and perhaps with good reason.
Finnikin of the Rock, by Melina Marchetta
After the royal family and many others were murdered years ago, Finnikin has always believed the true heir to the throne is dead—until his dreams tell him differently. But in order to find the true heir, Finnikin must align himself with the mysterious Evanjalin—who doesn’t speak, but claims to know where the answers lie.
Poison Study, by Maria V. Snyder
To save her skin, Yelena agrees to become a food taster for the Commander: meaning that if anyone tries to poison him, she’ll be the one to die. The catch (if that wasn’t enough) is that she drinks a fatal poison to ensure her loyalty…and must take a daily antidote to survive. But her kingdom is in turmoil, and the last thing she needs is secret magical powers…
A Great and Terrible Beauty, by Libba Bray
The tale of Gemma Doyle, a boarding school student with a rough past and a talent for seeing the future. Like all of Bray’s novels, A Great and Terrible Beauty is filled with strong female friendships, luscious and heartbreaking romance, and a plot that keeps you on your toes.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor
This story about a human girl who can cross through the barrier between our world and the world of the chimera, is riveting and romantic. Except Karou is beginning to doubt the story of her life that has been told to her: why is her hair naturally blue, why is she entrusted to gather human teeth and bring them to the other world…and who is Akiva, a stranger who shows up with tragic answers to a past Karou is desperate to find.
The Passion of Dolssa, by Julie Berry
In medieval France, one girl believes with all her heart that she can communicate with God—while others, those with power, seek to have her executed as a heretic. She meets Botille, a young matchmaker who agrees to hide her from the people pursuing her—and when their two paths collide, Botille puts her family at risk to protect Dolssa’s secret. A fascinating exploration of history.
One, by Sarah Crossan
Two twins have been together as long as they can remember—because they are conjoined twins, and share the same body. But when one of them starts to get sick, separation is put on the table in a way it never was before…because it could save their life. The one life they were determined to live together. A stunning story told in verse.
The Lie Tree, by Francis Hardinge
Faith wants to be a good, obedient daughter—but the curiosity she feels about the world, especially science—is unnatural according to her family. So she keeps her true self a secret…until her father is murdered, and only Faith holds the key to why: and it all comes down to a simple tree that her father believed held all the answers to the world’s questions. Will Faith find her father’s murderer, or will the tree damn her as it may have damned him?
The Sky is Everywhere, by Jandy Nelson
Mourning the death of her sister Bailey causes Lennie to navigate the winding, complicated roads of grief. Especially when they involve Bailey’s boyfriend, and feelings for him that she can’t ignore—and a new boy in town who makes her feel alive again. Heartbreaking and hopeful, one girl must come to terms with a future beyond her sister’s ever-lingering shadow.