As the days get shorter, the cold gets colder, and the leaves fall faster, take some time to relax, stave off the impending doom of winter, and embrace your inner child with these young adult reading recommendations. Or, if you have young readers of your own, get them back in the swing of reading and learning with these these fantastic young adult novels (all of which, unsurprisingly, were written by talented women).
By Claire Schultz
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
In the seedy underbelly of an industrial port city, a group of teenage outcasts prepare to pull off an impossible heist. In a Herculean feat of her own, Bardugo has written a sort of supernatural Ocean’s Eleven, complete with a remarkably diverse, memorable, and surprisingly lovable cast.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Angie Thomas’s debut novel is a nuanced and unflinching exploration of systemic racism, but it is also a thoughtful coming-of-age story for its protagonist, Starr, who comes into her own in the midst of both extreme violence and high school drama. Yes, it is as good as all the hype.
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Carry On started life as thinly-veiled Harry Potter fan-fiction in Rowell’s previous novel, Fangirl (also excellent), but it has grown into so much more than that. It is funny and exciting and romantic and manages to perfectly tread the line between childhood wizard-school nostalgia and inventive world-building.
Renegades by Marissa Meyer
Renegades is essentially what would happen if the Avengers controlled the government. When Nova, a teenage girl with superpowers–and for all intents a budding supervillain–infiltrates their ranks, the lines between good and evil get very blurry, and it makes for a very, very fun ride.
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
With her signature sense of the surreal and a love of strange birds and old muscle cars, Stiefvater begins the story of several private school boys and a psychic’s daughter on a supernatural treasure hunt for a long-dead Welsh King, who may or may not be buried in a small town in Virginia.
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
The Hazel Wood seems like it should be Alice in Wonderland for angsty teens, but it’s somehow darker and even stranger than that. When Alice’s mother vanishes and the stories from a book of dark fairy tales (think Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber) come to life with a vengeance, she falls headfirst into a sinister, twisted fable of her own.
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
A little bit Night Circus, a little bit Oz, Stephanie Garber has created an immersive carnival game where magic may or may not be real and the stakes are either impossibly high or nothing at all. Caraval is a twisty, turny puzzle box of a novel, lush with atmosphere and heavy on dreams.
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Strange the Dreamer is not the book you’ll expect it to be, and that is a very good thing. It is the story of a librarian on an adventure, but it is also the story of an alchemist and an abandoned city and the orphaned blue offspring of malevolent gods. It is as strange and dreamy as its title, and Taylor has woven an epic tale worthy of its fantasy-obsessed protagonist.
Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan
Cotton-candy fluffy and just as sweet, Jennifer Dugan’s Hot Dog Girl is a centers around around a queer teen who literally wears a hot dog suit at a crummy local amusement park. It is endearingly big-hearted and often very funny, and its distinctive voice is an excellent portrait of a high schooler just trying her best to get through the summer.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Lara Jean Covey Song is a hopeless romantic who prefers to read about romance than go after it herself, and when a box of her love letters somehow gets mailed, she’s going to have to confront her childhood crushes. The basis of the Netflix film of the same name, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is just as delightful and surprisingly moving.
Looking for more book suggestions? Visit our Reading Recommendations page to find inspiration for what to read next!