Better Reading’s own Young Adult expert, Jess Horton, has long been passionate about YA fiction. Now in her twenties, she still loves this genre. Here are some of her all-time favourites:
- Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl #1) by Eoin Colfer
You can’t help but like Artemis Fowl. For all his bluster and conniving, he’s still just a 12 year old boy dealing with the disappearance of his father and the manic episodes of his mother. And he manages to give the fairies a run for their money, with the help of his faithful manservant Butler, and Butler’s wrestling-fan sister Juliet.
- Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
I had never heard of Jasper Fforde before I picked up this book, and it had me hooked. A society based on the colour spectrum that people can see is fascinating, and there was enough mystery and intrigue to keep me reading until the very last page. Fforde is said to be working on a sequel (and has been since this book came out), but this works really well as a stand-alone book, as it doesn’t leave you with a massive cliffhanger at the end.
- We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach
Described to me as “The Breakfast Club meets the apocalypse”, I knew I had to read this book. I’m a big fan of flawed characters, and this bunch of misfits is written so cleverly that I felt like I knew them, or someone just like them. It definitely makes you wonder, “What would I do if I only had a 33% chance of survival?”
- Etiquette and Espionage (Finishing School #1) by Gail Carriger
I am a massive fan of Gail Carriger’s Soulless series, so when I heard she was bringing out a YA prequel series, I couldn’t resist. Set in the steampunk Victorian era, a 14 year old girl is sent off to an exclusive finishing school, only to find it deals in espionage, assassination, and the supernatural.
- Redwall (Redwall #1) by Brian Jacques
In my younger years, I was never really interested in medieval fiction, probably because they were far too serious and historical. And then, one day, I picked up Redwall. I have a soft spot for animals, so how could I pass on the story of a mouse who goes on a quest to find a legendary sword and save the local abbey from attack?
- The Magicians (The Magicians #1) by Lev Grossman
Quentin is obsessed with an old series of books about children in a magical world, but believes magic isn’t real, until he’s admitted to an exclusive college of magic after graduation. This is the darker cousin of Harry Potter, full of danger and suspense. A must-read for anyone who grew up with Hogwarts.
- Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo
Alina, an orphan-turned-soldier, awakens a dormant power within her to save her best friend, and is whisked away to a life unlike anything she’s ever known. While this novel focuses on Alina learning to control her powers, the two other books in series are much darker, and even more of an addictive read.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
This wouldn’t be a YA list without Harry Potter. I was exactly the right age when the books first came out, and I identified strongly with Hermione (even though I’m a Ravenclaw). If you’ve only watched the movies, I beg of you, READ THE BOOKS. There’s so much detail in the series that is lost, not the least of which is Peeves the poltergeist, who provides much-needed comic relief.
- Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta
I could pick this book up now and it would still be as relevant as the day I first read it. Though Josie is your typical teenager, you can’t help but sympathise with her through her rebellion against her grandmother’s traditional values, her mother’s no-nonsense attitude, and the fraught relationships she has with her father and the boys her own age.
- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
This was the first Neil Gaiman I ever read, back in 2013. Nobody “Bod” Owens, escaped from a killer as a baby and was raised in a graveyard by ghosts and the mysterious Silas (hinted at being a vampire). I think this book has universal appeal, because while it’s not too scary for younger YA readers, it’s also thrilling enough for older readers.
- Howl’s Moving Castle (Howl’s Moving Castle #1) by Diana Wynne Jones
I can never resist a clever plot, and this book is no exception. As the eldest of three daughters, Sophie knows that she is destined to fail if she leaves home to seek her fortune. But when she accidentally angers a powerful witch, she finds herself turned into an old woman, and sets out for the home of the mysterious Wizard Howl, hoping to break the spell. A spellbinding (literally!) tale with magic, suspense, and an element of mystery.
- Sabriel (Abhorsen #1) by Garth Nix
What happens when a teenage girl, sent off to boarding school in another country where there is no magic, suddenly becomes the Abhorsen – a supreme necromancer who keeps the living dead at bay? With a quest to save her father from the clutches of evil, and finding love in the unlikeliest of places, Sabriel is enjoyable to the last.
See the 10 Most Popular Young Adult Library Books here