Young adult fiction as a genre has really changed over the past decade or so and become more of a destination for readers rather than a holdover between children and adult books. We often at the library have someone who has read a book and loved it and now wants the sequel who, when we head toward the young adult section, says something to the effect of "Oh, but those books are for teens" not realizing that the book they are after is a young adult book. I have interacted with adults who are embarrassed to head into the teen section and find the book that they want because they do not want to be seen checking out young adult books without a teenager at their side. And on the flip side, I have met many adults like myself who the majority of what they read is young adult fiction. I am here to tell you today to try one of those young adult books, even if you aren't a young adult! Maybe you hate it, but maybe you love it! Below are an assortment of young adult books in no particular genre or order that tend to be popular hits with the masses. And, if you like these, keep an eye out for another list coming later this month! Happy reading!
This book is a fun read with a happy ending which is always nice. As realistic fiction the book does a good job of dealing with themes that are applicable to actual teenagers such as identity struggle, embracing talents, broken friendships, and teenage love. This book was not utterly complex in character or plot, but was relateable for an average teenage girl with a little bit of heartbreak and then perfect resolution to make the story enjoyable. This book also ties into its predecessor, Anna and the French Kiss, by using the same characters at the theater where Lola works.
Best for: Grade 9 and older. Romantic and some mature sexual themes, no graphic descriptions.
I had heard a great deal about what a terrific read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe was, but I really had no idea what to expect. This book is so packed with poignant social themes that I really only could read short sections at a time. It honestly was not my typical read simply because of how heavy and tumultuous I felt it was, however, I think this book has value beyond what many books in the realistic fiction genre may offer. This book also provides a voice to teens who are struggling with both discovering and/or accepting their sexuality. The characters were well developed and conflicted enough that readers can connect to them on a more personal level. While I thought the book was well written and complex, it is not necessarily everyone's cup of tea.
Best for: Grades 9 and older.
I really enjoyed this novel and have since read the second and third in the trilogy! The book caught me from the very first pages and kept me engaged throughout the story. I really enjoyed the concept and that it felt unique. One thing I like about fantasy books is that because the genre is so wide and all-encompassing, the authors often write using very original or unique ideas and so I feel less like I am reading a formulaic story that I've read a thousand times before. I also enjoyed reading from the standpoint of a female character who, at first, is not a strong female lead. She is insecure and downtrodden simply doing as she is told, whereas by the end of the book she has begun to realize she has some power over her choices and destiny and becomes a very strong and likable character. It was really good character development on the part of the author which made me engage with and relate to the main character, and thereby the story, even more. The book also is so involved with a great deal happening that it was a quick read because I did not want to put it down at all!
Best for: Grades 9 and up.
This is a book which I have known about for a while but have put off reading because I knew the content was poignant dealing with the Nazi's and WWII and that many characters died. I finally took the opportunity to read it and was fascinated by the way it is written. Yes, the book is sad, but it is also very interesting in that the narrator of the story is Death. Death describes the encounters he has had with the book thief, Liesel, and describes them using the colors White, Red, and Black which are also reminiscent of the Nazi flag so there is flagrant symbolism involved. This book was very emotional, and because of the way it is written as a fiction with a main character who grows in age over the course of the story it is also easy for readers to relate to. It is also a book told from a different point of view than many mainstream books on WWII. Liesel is not a direct target of the Nazi's as she looks like the ideal German citizen. However, her foster parents also care for and hide Max, who is a Jew on the run. Seeing the war from another point of view with this family, and Liesel, quietly undermining the Nazi's, was thought provoking.
Best for: Grades 9 and up.
This is a lesser known book which I have checked out probably 5 different times and wanted to read and yet somehow I just never get around to it. How wrong I was! This is another book with a strong female lead who is just trying to make a life for herself while her parents and other kingdoms try to force their will upon her. This book is a mix of fantasy and dystopian genres which makes it a fun read. Also, if you read the whole trilogy, there are some fun little Easter eggs hidden throughout the text about the society and time which came before that you may find interesting. This book was well-written, entertaining, and thought provoking about the way we view and judge other societies and cultures with which we may not be familiar, based on our overheard or perceived constructs.
Best for: Grades 9 and up.
Looking for some inspiration on what to read next? Who better to ask then the people who work around books for a living!? Each month we will post a "staff picks" blog post written by one of our staff members. These posts will vary in genre, theme, age appropriateness, etc. If you have any requests on a genre or age category you would like to see, submit a comment here and we will get it on the list!