Young Adult (YA) fiction has been a popular genre across all ages. With its relatable and fresh takes on reality, it has captivated a multitude of readers worldwide. The start of YA books paved the way for other sub-genres such as romance, mysteries and dystopian novels among others. What is it that takes these books from small time to bestseller?
The criteria for Goodreads young adult novel ratings include the members’ ratings and votes as well as the number of readers who have added the stories to their Goodreads library. The list was last finalized in 2015 and it hasn’t been updated since. Books in this list belong to The Top 100 Young Adult Books of All Time and have been considered the “best of the best”. Let’s take a look at what this giant of a platform for bibliophiles has to say.
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10. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
The first on the list is the extraordinary adventure of three children to rescue their father Mr. Murry who had been missing for over a year. Meg Murry is visited by a celestial creature named Mrs. Whatsit one stormy evening, informing her the existence of a tesseract – a wrinkle in space and time where Mr. Murry might be located.
Together with her younger brother, Charles Wallace, and her friend, Calvin O’Keefe, they traveled through an unknown dimension. This 1962 novel has stood the test of time, having been made into a major motion picture in 2018.
9. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Narrated through a series of letters that protagonist Charlie writes to an anonymous friend, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a coming-of-age story about fifteen-year-old who has just entered his freshmen year of high school. Charlie struggles with the traumatic death of his aunt who died in a car crash as well as that of a friend of his who committed suicide.
Despite being a “wallflower”, he manages to find good friends in school. The Perks of Being a Wallflower explores themes that many young people will come across in their adolescence, and begs the question “why do good people let themselves be treated badly?”. Goodreads young adult selections may be targeted towards a younger demographic, but their themes are all adult.
8. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Clary Fray was a witness to a murder. However, by the time the authorities arrived, the victim hads disappeared, and despite the attackers standing right in front of them, Clary is the only one who can see them. In a world where Shadowhunters and demons exist, Clary’s mother goes missing after the incident, and Clary herself is attacked by a demon of all things.
And that’s just the start of it. City of Bones is the first book in the Mortal Instruments series, and also serves as a sequel to The Infernal Devices series. Cassandra Clare is a titan among YA authors, and it would seem that Goodreads agrees.
7. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Hazel Grace, suffering from thyroid cancer, meets Augustus Waters in a cancer support group. The natural chemistry between the main characters is undeniably beautiful from the start to end, and as they navigate the trials and tribulations of health and young love, the reader can’t help but root for the couple. John Green crafts a masterful tale of love and tragedy, and invites us to understand that sometimes getting hurt is the right choice.
6. The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Giver takes us in a dystopian world where there is a perfect society where citizens have designated roles to play in the community including who to marry and who to become until they die or vanished in Elsewhere. In this story, we follow a very polite boy named Jonas who was chosen to become the new Receiver of Memory. With this new assignment, Jonas discovered horrific revelations and devised a plan that could change things in the community forever.
5. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The March girls — Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. The names conjure nostalgia for millions of readers around the world. Following the siblings from childhood to adulthood and set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, Little Women teaches us about love, hope, and the bonds of family. It’s easy to form a connections with the sisters , these wildly different girls that we can all relate to at one time or another in our lives.
This book is an inspiration for young adults with aspirations, and challenges readers to contemplate which path they would choose: going after what your family needs or going after what you want.
4. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
A new TV adaptation of The Lightning Thief under Disney+ is coming-fans rejoice! Percy Jackson thinks he’s just an ordinary boy, but after his teacher tries to kill him he suspects that there may be more to his simple life than he thought. After his mother learns of the incident, she sends Percy to Camp Half-Blood where he discovers his father is actually Poseidon, one of the “Big Three” gods.
The God of Sea is accused by Zeus of stealing his lightning bolt, and must return it before the summer solstice in order to avoid an all out war among the Gods. Soon, it’s up to Percy and his friends to step in and save the day.
3. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
The Diary of a Young Girl may be the most famous autobiography in the world, telling the tale of Anne Frank, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl trying to survive the Nazi Occupation of the 1940s. After her death in a concentration camp in 1945, Frank’s diary was discovered in an attic where she lived and hid with her family for two years.
A remarkable and harrowing account of the young woman’s thoughts and feelings, the diary has been translated into over 70 languages and is taught in schools across the world to this day.
2. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Adored by readers since it’s original publication in 1908, Anne of Green Gables is a heartwarming story of Anne Shirley, an orphan taken in by siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. The novel follows Anne as she grows up on the Cuthbert’s ancestral farm in the fictional town of Avonlea in Prince Edward Island Canada.
One of the best selling books worldwide, Montgomery’s work is devoured by grade schoolers all the way through adulthood. Anne and her spunky personality continue to captivate readers across the globe, and it’s no wonder it’s a Goodreads young adult pick.
1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Young
Reading this novel in the time of a pandemic hits differently. Vivid descriptions, emotional twists, and unexpected turns make The Hunger Games a modern young adult classic. Creating iconic lines such as “I volunteer as tribute” and “survival of the fittest” The Hunger Games is certainly one of the world’s most renowned YA dystopian series.
In an act of desperation, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her sister’s place in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death viewed as entertainment by the world’s elite. Soon she must navigate the life or death “game”, along with the politics of an echelon of society that she’s never had access to. Can she do it? You’ll have to pick it up to find out.
Here’s a quick recap of the 10 Best Young Adult Books according to Goodreads:
- The Hunger Games
- The Diary of a Young Girl
- Little Women
- The Fault in our Stars
- Anne of Green Gables
- The Lightning Thief
- The Giver
- City of Bones
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower
- A Wrinkle in Time
The majority of these books have become popular enough to warrant film and television adaptations. Each book is unique, and has their own inspiring story to tell. Let us know what you think about these young adult books. Do you agree with the ranking? How many have you read already?