By Alexis Harmon
Many avid readers will remember growing up on a steady diet of books full of magic, adventure, heartache and drama. As the years go on, the market for books geared to young adults has grown exponentially – and so has the audience. Though YA books are made with teen audiences in mind, the genre has something for everyone. From coming of age stories to fantastical tales of magic inspired by different cultures, YA authors have you covered for all of your fiction needs. So whether you’re shopping for a young reader or for yourself, check out these 15 YA books that are sure to draw you in. Happy reading!
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas – If you’re looking for a fantasy series to sink your teeth into, pick up the Throne of Glass series. The tale follows young assassin Celaena Sardothien as she fights off not only the toughest criminals in the world, but evil magic that lingers in the broken land of Erilea. With a total of 8 books, Maas’s Throne of Glass is sure to draw you into a world of excitement, danger and love.
It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Suguira – This book is perfect for those that crave a twist on the classic coming-of-age tale. Young Sana Kiyohara battles with secrets big and small, including her father’s affair and falling in love with a girl. It’s Not Like It’s A Secret is great for those looking for a novel with LGBT representation and all of the beautifully complicated feelings that come with a first love.
The Selection by Kiera Cass – The Selection series is made for young romantics. If you love beautiful gowns, unexpected romance and mean girl dramatics, the five book Selection series is for you. The book is even set to be transformed into a Netflix movie in 2021, directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour!
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – A rich family, a private island, a group of friends, a mysterious accident that changes Cadence Sinclair’s life forever. What’s not to love? We Were Liars is a quick read for YA readers that crave drama and suspense.
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown – If you need a fix of magic, high stakes and burgeoning romance, Brown’s debut novel A Song of Wraiths and Ruin is your best bet. Inspired by West and North African folklore, you’ll be pulled along as a princess and a refugee set out to destroy one another and fight the attraction that sparks between them.
Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros – Efrén Divided is an amazing novel that deals with familial love and the struggles that immigrants and their children face in the United States. Cisneros’s book is heartbreakingly beautiful and a must-read for those that need a little humanity in these trying times.
Legendborn by Tracy Deonn – Legendborn is a great book for those that love reimagined classics. Young Bree Matthews faces the death of her mother, demons, mages and a secret society, and must learn to use her own magic to defend herself. With a mix of the legend of King Arthur and modern Southern Black culture, Deonn’s novel is made for magic lovers of all ages.
The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte – If you love science fiction and intriguing sibling rivalries, The Vanishing Deep is the book for you. Tempe seeks to find out what happened to her late parents, but the only way to do that is to revive her sister, who was responsible for her parents’ death. Scholte’s book is made for thrill seekers and sci-fi lovers alike.
A Phoenix First Must Burn by Patrice Caldwell – This short story collection is sure to become your new favorite. From authors such as Charlotte Nicole Davis and Ibi Zoboi, A Phoenix First Must Burn contains sixteen tales that explore the Black experience through fantasy, magic, and science fiction. From witches to scientists to lovers, this collection has something for every reader.
Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder – This book is for all the graphic novel lovers! In Dancing at the Pity Party, Tyler Feder navigates the loss of her mother and all the painful and touching feelings that come with it. With a blend of humorous and candid moments, Feder’s graphic novel is perfect for those struggling with a loss of their own.
The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh – Vampire lovers, this one is for you. Dive into vibrant 1870s new Orleans with Celine Rousseau as she battles attraction to the mysterious leader of the La Cour des Lions and a serial killer terrorizing the city. The Beautiful was written for those who love supernatural drama and forbidden love.
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas – Cemetery Boys is an amazing coming of age story about growing up trans and Latinx and finding a place in the community. Yadriel sets out to find a place for himself as a trans boy in his traditional family by summoning a spirit, but he accidentally ends up helping Julian, the resident bad boy. Thomas’s debut novel is a beautiful depiction of culture and identity and will definitely have you falling in love with the characters and story.
Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan – In this Slavic-inspired fantasy, readers will be taken on a dark, romantic ride. In the midst of a centuries-long war, Nadya, Malachiasz and Serefin’s worlds collide as they must fight to save the world. As the beginning of Duncan’s Something Dark and Holy trilogy, Wicked Saints is perfect for those who love the dark and divine.
You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson – You Should See Me in a Crown is a must read for sapphic romcom lovers, and anyone who seeks out a good dose of high school drama. Liz Lighty, who hates being the center of attention, has to compete to be her school’s prom queen in order to get a scholarship. Faced with mean girls, social media, and an unexpected crush, Johnson details all the good and bad that young (and not so young) adults face. If you need something light and fun to get you through your week, this is for you.
Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust – This book takes a spin on the classic cursed princess story. Inspired by traditional Persian stories, Girl, Serpent, Thorn follows Soraya as she struggles to choose which path to follow, and whether or not she is a true princess, or a monster at heart. With her feminist and biromantic main character, Bashardoust has created the modern fairytale that we’ve always wanted.
Alexis Harmon is a UCLA student studying English and Education Studies in addition to working for the Writers’ Program. She strives to write well, foster good vibes at all times and love cats to the point of annoyance.