Life, Reading

Young Adult Must Reads

Who else remembers the Twilight craze circa 2008? I’m not going to lie, I was definitely Team Edward (I still am, honestly). While Twilight might not have been the greatest series of our time, it is responsible for putting young adult fiction on the map in terms of popular literature. Young adult isn’t only for teens (what really is a “young adult” anyway?), it’s for everyone. There are a lot of awesome young adult books out now, and I’ve got a lot of recommendations! These are my favorite young adult must reads!

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

“Mara Dyer believes life can’t get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there. It can. She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed. There is. She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love. She’s wrong.”

This is the first book in the Mara Dyer Series, and I honestly couldn’t put it down. It’s one of those books that seriously created a problem for my academic commitments. The narrator is gloriously unreliable, and if you’re into unreliable narrators than this book is for you. The only negative of this book, in my opinion, is that it delves a little too much into the “Bad Boy” stereotype, but I’m willing to overlook this because the plot is so interesting.

You can find The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer on Amazon for $7.99

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

“Sixteen-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother’s death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls’ academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing.”

This is one of my favorite reads EVER. Seriously. The whole series is gripping, and the end will leave you crying for days. I read this years ago, but it’s still one of the best series I’ve read. Libba Bray creates a beautiful and fantastic world which will make your life seem boring and sad in comparison. I’m surprised this trilogy hasn’t received the attention it deserves, though it does seem to have a growing following. If you’re a fan of Victorian fiction, definitely add this to your must read list! It’s like if Pride and Prejudice took place in Hogwarts if that makes any sense?

You can find A Great and Terrible Beauty and the entire Gemma Doyle Trilogy on Amazon for $5.99

Wither by Lauren DeStephano

“By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.”

Wither paints a horrifying future of the human race in which females are reduced to childbearing machines. This story has echoes of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, but with the addition of mad scientists and a love interest. I loved this story so much I searched for an ebook so I could continue the series when I was traveling abroad. Each book in this series adds another layer to a very complicated story, and the twist ending is both satisfying and horrifying.

You can find Wither on Amazon for $6.99

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

“As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret.”

Ugh, this story wrecks me in the best way. The master/slave dynamic is unexpected, and though I had reservations, Rutkoski does a great job treading this fine line. While the main character at times seems a little too perfect to me, I was impressed by the world building of this trilogy which sends a poignant message about colonialism. Bonus, there were no love triangles, not even once.

You can find The Winners Curse and the rest of the series on Amazon for $7.80

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

“A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.”

I was hesitant to start this novel after seeing the conflicting reviews on Goodreads. I’m glad I went ahead and read it because I still think about this book years later. This is the kind of book that makes you want to turn on the shower so nobody can hear you weeping. Though it seems rather uneventful from the outside, Lockhart delivers a heartbreaking twist which is cleverly hidden in the novel title.

You can find We Were Liars on Amazon for $9.99

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

“My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla. But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.”

I read Everything Everything before the movie came out, and I finished it in a day. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I adored the book. Yoon paints the main character very sympathetically, and I found myself rooting for her escape just as much as she was. I also appreciate how Yoon avoided falling for the cliche love-at-first-sight nonsense. This story was surprisingly believable and endearing.

You can find Everything, Everything on Amazon for $6.83

Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pheffer

“Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun?”

This story was horrifying and gave me nightmares but I couldn’t stop reading it. It’s a series, though the books could stand on their own because the second one follows a different family, and the final one involves the meeting of both families. I’ve always been more than a little interested in end-of-the-world disaster stories, and this one did not disappoint. Compared to other dystopian series like The Hunger Games or Divergent, this one is very realistic and humble. The main character doesn’t become a symbol of a revolution or lead her family from disaster. It’s a grueling story of survival and struggle without the glamor.

You can find Life as We Knew it on Amazon for $6.00

The 5th Wave by Rich Yancy

“After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one. Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them.”

Unlike Life as We Know It, this main character does take a lead role in fighting against the outsiders. However, it’s dark and twisty in the best way. Things are not as they appear in Yancy’s The Fifth Wave, and you’ll be constantly guessing what comes next. The story ends on a cliffhanger, but don’t worry, the series is complete. Yancy’s writing is reminiscent of The Road by Cormac Mccarthy, but a little less depressing, if that’s possible.

You can find The Fifth Wave on Amazon for $7.00

Young adult must reads

Young Adult Must Reads

Even though I read constantly for class as an English major, I still love reading in my free time. As you can see, I really love fantasy and dystopian novels. They really offer me an escape from my often mundane everyday life. If you’re new to young adult fiction, I hope you give it a try! It’s really come a long way, and I think some of the greatest works of modern fiction are in the young adult genre! Happy reading! Feel free to follow me on Goodreads for more recommendations!

Have you read any of these? What are your recommendations?

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  • I read a fun series on my tablet. Stray is the first book in the Touchstone Series by Andrea K Host.

  • Divergent is one of my fav too. Great post!

    Mash |

  • Love this list! Especially HP. I started reading them when I was a year younger than the main character in the book, but I don’t think I’ll ever stop rereading them!

  • I love, love, love the Mara Dyer trilogy! I read it as each book was released and reread the books before each release. I love it so much that I think I might read (or listen, because I have all the audiobooks too) to the series this year.

    And Tris is one of my favorite main characters, too. Like you said, she’s so flawed, which makes her relatable, but she also has a quiet strength, which I think also makes her relatable. She’s not an obvious heroine from the start, but she has this amazing strength that just grows with each book. Love her!

    Great roundup! I loved what you said about young adult not being just for teens. I actually write YA and a few years ago I attended a local YA conference. One of the sessions was a talk with a YA editor for a local publishing company and he talked about YA as being fiction with teenage protagonists. It’s not for teens, it’s about teens. Sure, in some books some of the content may be edited for teens (in terms of language and situations), but that’s definitely not true for all of it. But even if some of that is toned down, it doesn’t mean that adults can’t read and enjoy the books, just like teens can (and will, even if parents try to stop them) read books with adult protagonists.

  • I’ve read some of these, but the others sounds great! I’m definitely going to check these books out, especially since it’s starting to get colder and what better way to spend winter days than reading! Loved this post!

  • I have been wanting to read divergent and paper towns for months now!

  • Oh man, there are at least two of those books on my wish list!

    I love Harry Potter. But I also love anything Neil Gaiman. The Graveyard Book, Neverwhere, Ocean at the End of the Lane… So good.

    Oh and I recently finished Menagerie by Rachel Vincent and it was super good!

  • Jen

    This is a great list!! I absolutely LOVED the Wither series even though it was really crazy, haha. And I liked the Divergent series, too, up until I finished the last few pages of the last book. I am actually reading “We Were Liars” right now and I’m enjoying it so far! I’ll have to check out the other books you posted!

  • I just created a book list as well! I actually haven’t read any of those yet!

  • I have not read any of these!

  • I’m a huge John Green fan!
    I’d also recommend the book “All the Bright Places” by Jennifer Niven. It is absolutely incredible. I have a review of it on my blog 🙂
    I love YA fiction!!

  • I am definitely going to suggest some of these to my kids. They loved Harry Potter! Thanks for a great list.

  • omg. I have been looking for this list. Pinned and going to add to good reads stat!

  • Great list! I just wrote a list of my favorite books for baby’s first year and beyond. Very different but hopefully mine leads to yours eventually!

  • Even though I’m not quite a young adult anymore, I still love young adult fiction. I’ll have to check these out.

  • I just recently read The Unbecoming of Mara Dryer and LOVED it! The second book in the series is just as good!

  • Great recommendations! I love to read, and don’t consider myself too old for “young adult” yet. Lol.

  • We Were Liars is on my to read list along with Paper Towns.
    Can’t wait to get to read them.

    xoxo, Jenny

  • I can’t say enough fangirl things about the Divergent series lol. I’ve never heard of the Mara Dyer series…I’m gonna have to check that out because it sounds really interesting. Thank you for sharing! I’m always looking for new books to read.

  • Oh my goodness!!! I am a mom to a 15 yo girl and she would love this whole stack. She’s missed reading a few but saw the movies. She loves to read! She would be able to use her future Barnes and Nobles gift cards from Christmas on other books. But she does have her eyes set on Paper Towns for sure and she loves Divergent! Fingers crossed and legs too.

  • I am not much of a reader…except for blogs these days…I sort of wish I was but I just can’t seem to connect with a book. There has been very few I was able to read cover to cover but I was never a book worm

  • A Great and Terrible Beauty is one my list! I absolutely loved Divergent and Paper Towns!

  • Very cool giveaway!!!

  • I read Paper Towns and it was a good read! I really enjoy the pacing of his books.

    • I was Team Edward back in the day too!!!! These young adult books are usually the best. Thanks for sharing.

      Allison Jones

  • Awesome giveaway, I have read most of these books and they are great reads, will share with some girls who would love some of these books!

  • I love book posts! Time to add some of these to my library!

    xx. Brittany | Southern Soul

  • I love a good YA read! Thanks for sharing :]

    ​​xx katie // A Touch of Teal

  • Great recommendations. Love Harry Potter and Divergent but definitely need to check out the others.

  • Great list! I started reading Divergent and then never finished it for some reason. Same with Paper Towns. I’ll have to finish them this month!

  • Kim

    My daughter is a big fan of dystopian reads, but she has recently moved into mysteries for young adult. A few of her recent favorites are: “When” by Victoria Laurie, “Trust Me I’m Lying,” by Mart Elizabeth Summer and “Double” by Jeffrey Valentine which she has read four times now.

  • There are so many good options, I’m not even sure what I’d choose! YA’s are my favorite reads. I just gave the Percy Jackson series a try and got seriously hooked. If you haven’t tried them out, and you like Harry Potter, you should definitely give them a go. I was really surprised about how funny they were!

  • I have been in need of some new reads! Thank you for sharing this list! And for hosting this giveaway!

  • I was definitely team Edward too . Loved We Were Liars .I’m just about to start the latest in the Shopoholic series and I’m so excited .

  • It looks like I have some books to add to my reading list! They all look like good reads!

  • DeeDee

    I love Harry Potter!!!!! my all time favorite!

  • I do believe young adult books are my favorite. And a good variety of sub-genres you have chosen!

  • Moonlight Shimmer

    Atlantia by Ally Condie is another great read for young adults! I just started that book today and I am am loving it so much right now!

  • You should also check out: 13 reasons why , I am princess X, and All the Bright Places.