15 Best Young Adult Books You Need to Read

Here are the best young adult books you will want to add to your must-read list.

As young people graduate from graphic novels and picture books to longer tales that explore more intricate themes, the young adult fiction genre awaits. The best young adult books often feature teenagers that learn valuable lessons as they come of age, and the emotion and humanity of these stories make them appealing.

Interestingly, some authors seem to gravitate toward writing young adult books and make their career out of this particular type of fiction. With so many YA books on Amazon, how can you find the best?

This list highlights 15 of the best young adult books and audiobooks that you will want to add to your bookshelf. As you consider the best books to add to your reading list, these will be great additions.

The Best Young Adult Books for Today's Readers

Best young adult books

Whether you like young adult books for yourself or are looking for YA books for a person in your life, there are many in this genre that stand out, including fantasy books, coming-of-age tales, dystopian novels and historical fiction. These are the 15 best YA books that are a must-read if you are a fan of this genre.

1. Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling

A list of the best YA novels would always be incomplete without a discussion of the Harry Potter series. This book series watches as an 11-year-old boy wizard grows into a young man, and readers can grow right alongside Harry and his best friends Ron and Hermione as they fight dark forces and discovers his true self.

While the first few Harry Potter books may appeal to a younger audience, the final books in the series are definitely aimed at young adults. They are appealing to any reader because of Rowling's expert storytelling abilities. 

“There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.”

J. K. Rowling
Sale
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
  • Philosopher's Stone
  • Hogwart's
  • Dumbledore
  • Magic
  • School Days

2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games trilogy follows a young Katniss Everdeen as she takes on the establishment in the barbaric Hunger Games, a fight to the death among teenagers. Through the course of these young adult novels, Katniss fights for her own survival and the survival of her community.

This book has an intricately complex society, which is part of the genius of Collins as an author. It also has a love story written is as many young adult books do.

“Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor.”

Suzanne Collins
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The Hunger Games (Book 1)
  • The Hunger Games (Book 1)
  • Suzanne Collins (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages - 07/03/2010 (Publication Date) - Scholastic Press (Publisher)

3. Divergent by Veronica Roth

The best young adult book: Divergent by Veronica Roth
Divergent  Author, Veronica Roth

Divergent is a trilogy of books set in a dystopian world of what was once Chicago. This world divides humanity into five factions, making all 16-year-olds choose a faction, which sometimes means leaving family behind. 

The main character, Tris, has a secret. It is that secret that makes her Divergent and could potentially save the world around her. 

“Becoming fearless isn't the point. That's impossible. It's learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it.”

Veronica Roth
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Divergent (Divergent Series, 1)
  • Katherine Tegen Books
  • Roth, Veronica (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 576 Pages - 09/30/2014 (Publication Date) - Katherine Tegen Books (Publisher)

4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

In this book, 16-year-old Starr Carter from a poor neighborhood gets the chance to attend a suburban prep school. After witnessing a murder at the hands of a police officer, she must decide where she will stand.

The Hate U Give takes on some of the challenging topics that fuel the Black Lives Matter movement. It talks about one young girl's fight for justice in a world that is seemingly against her from the start.

“What's the point of having a voice if you're gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn't be?”

Angie Thomas
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The Hate U Give
  • BALZER BRAY
  • Hardcover Book
  • Thomas, Angie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 464 Pages - 02/28/2017 (Publication Date) - Balzer + Bray (Publisher)

5. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows follows criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker as he decides how to pull of the heist of a lifetime. He brings together a team of thieves who just might be more dangerous than the heist itself.

Six of Crows was a number one New York Times bestseller and a USA Today bestseller. It was named to the Teens' Top Ten list in 2016. Its appeal lies in how it follows a group of outcasts on an adventure, only to find that they are actually helping to save the world from destruction.

“I'm a business man,” he'd told her. “No more, no less.”

“You're a thief, Kaz.”

“Isn't that what I just said?”

Leigh Bardugo
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Six of Crows (Six of Crows, 1)
  • Bardugo, Leigh (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 495 Pages - 02/06/2018 (Publication Date) - Square Fish (Publisher)

6. The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver won the Newberry Medal in 1994. This famous book tells the story of 12-year-old Jonas who lives in an idyllic world. When he learns he has a gift, he takes on an important role as the Receiver of Memory.

As he receives memory from The Giver, Jonas learns the truth behind his seemingly perfect society. This book explores how a perfect society can actually be dystopian when you look closely.

“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It's the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”

Lois Lowry
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The Giver (1) (Giver Quartet)
  • paperback
  • Lowry, Lois (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages - 07/01/1993 (Publication Date) - Clarion Books (Publisher)

7. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

The Sun Is Also a Star tells the story of two teenagers who are drawn to one another, only to find that the universe is trying to pull them apart. This National Book Award finalist explores not only the truth of young love but also the plight of immigrants in New York City.

Yoon masterfully depicts her characters and keeps the story light while putting a deeper meaning in it. The book tells the story from multiple perspectives, which makes it an interesting read.

“Maybe part of falling in love with someone else is also falling in love with yourself.”

Nicola Yoon
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The Sun Is Also a Star
  • Yoon, Nicola (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages - 03/05/2019 (Publication Date) - Ember (Publisher)

8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower reads like a collection of letters from the main character, Charlie, as he watches high school life unfold before him. This coming-of-age story taps into the rich emotions of adolescents as they watch the world around them.

Charlie is a self-proclaimed wallflower, but through the novel, he learns the benefits of sharing his passion. The book's appeal is in the way it perfectly captures the emotional roller coaster of adolescents. Chbosky is one of the newest YA authors, but with this novel, he proves he has what it takes to write to this genre.

“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be.”

Stephen Chbosky
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The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • Excellent gift item
  • It is made up of premium quality material.
  • Chbosky, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

9. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This historical fiction novel takes place in 1939 in Nazi Germany. Liesel, a young German girl, falls in love with books. However, books are hard to come by, and she turns to thievery, even from book-burning events, to get them. 

Yet the book stealing is just a cover for the real story that unfolds in The Book Thief, as Liesel discovers her family hides a Jew in their basement. She learns the truth about Nazi Germany, as Zusak masterfully shows what life was like from a German child's perspective.

“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”

Markus Zusak
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The Book Thief
  • Alfred A Knopf Books for Young Readers
  • Markus Zusak (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 608 Pages - 09/11/2007 (Publication Date) - Knopf Books for Young Readers (Publisher)

10. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The first time she lays eyes on Augustus Waters, Hazel knows her life is about to change. In The Fault in Our Stars, John Green explores what happens when a girl with a terminal cancer diagnosis falls in love. 

This poignant story is a novel about love and life, even though the ending is somewhat tragic. It is definitely one to read with tissues in hand, but Hazel and Augustus's story is worth knowing. 

“As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”

John Green
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The Fault in Our Stars
  • John Green
  • romance
  • Death & Dying
  • Green, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

11. One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

What happens when someone in detention dies? When all four of the other students in suspension are suspects, how can investigators find the truth?

In One of Us Is Lying, McManus takes the “who done it” mystery story and puts it in the middle of high school. This novel keeps readers guessing to the very end.

“I guess we're almost friends now, or as friendly as you can get when you're not one hundred percent sure the other person isn't framing you for murder.”

Karen M. McManus
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One of Us Is Lying
  • DELACORTE
  • Hardcover Book
  • McManus, Karen M. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 416 Pages - 05/30/2017 (Publication Date) - Delacorte Press (Publisher)

12. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

In We Were Liars, main character Cadence Sinclair Easton tells the story of herself and her three good friends, the four “liars.” The group spends summers together on a private island, only this year Cadence suffers a mysterious accident that leaves her with amnesia.

The story tells about family drama, romance and a bit of mystery as readers must unravel what happened to Cadence. The ending is a surprise, which is something young adult readers enjoy.

“Do not accept an evil you can change.”

E. Lockhart
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We Were Liars
  • Lockhart, E. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 05/29/2018 (Publication Date) - Ember (Publisher)

13. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird is not a new novel, as it was published in 1960, but it remains popular with young adults. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and has also been made into a movie. The book has some darker themes, including rape and racial inequality.

Told from an innocent child's perspective, the story unfolds as the main character's father, Atticus, decides to defend a black man who was falsely accused of a crime against a white woman. In the end, the reader is challenged to see life from the perspective of another person. 

“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”  

Harper Lee
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To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Harper Perennial
  • Harper Lee (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages - 12/04/2021 (Publication Date) - Harper Perennial (Publisher)

14. The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton

The Outsiders covers two weeks in the life of one teenage boy as he struggles to figure out how to fit into society as an outsider. When he views a murder at the hands of a gang, He realizes that life may not be as simple as he once thought. 

With The Outsiders, S. E. Hinton showed young adult books could break free from high school crushes and explore darker themes while watching characters come of age. This book was the winner of the Massachusetts Children's Book Award.

“I lie to myself all the time. But I never believe me.”

S. E. Hinton
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The Outsiders
  • Speak
  • S. E. Hinton (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 04/20/2006 (Publication Date) - Viking Books for Young Readers (Publisher)

15. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

When Celaena Sardothien is brought before the Crown Prince after spending time in the salt mines of Endovier for criminal behavior, she gets the chance to earn her freedom, but only by fighting others in an attempt to become the next royal assassin. When the champions start coming up dead before their battles, a mystery unfolds. 

In the midst of the battles and magic of this mythical kingdom, Throne of Glass also explores romance. It is an action-packed fantasy novel that is well-received among young readers.

“Libraries were full of ideas—perhaps the most dangerous and powerful of all weapons.”

Sarah J. Maas
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Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, 1)
  • In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king's champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien. The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass and it is there to kill. When her competi
  • Maas, Sarah J. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 432 Pages - 05/07/2013 (Publication Date) - Bloomsbury USA Childrens (Publisher)

A Final Word on the Best Young Adult Books

The young adult genre of books is appealing to teenagers as well as adults. Watching a character learn life lessons while growing into adulthood is compelling, no matter your age.

The best young adult books span many different styles of writing. You can find mystery books, romances, dystopian fantasies, and much more if you like this type of book. 

FAQs About the Best Young Adult Books

What are good romance books for young adults?

Some of the top romance books for young adults are:
1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
2. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon 

What is the best young adult book?

According to Goodreads, the best young adult book is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, followed by The Hunger Games.

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Author

  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.

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