In many ways, the past decade signaled YA’s coming of age. Young adult titles continued to become household names, contributed to global and national discussions and enhanced the lives of readers across generations. You only have to look at the bestselling YA books of the decade to see the industry’s growth.
So as we say goodbye to the teen years, here’s a look back at the bestselling books of each year this past decade.
How was this list compiled? With the exception of 2019, these books come from Amazon’s annual bestsellers book list. The bestseller of each year is the highest YA novel present on the list for that year — the books may or may not have been published in that year. In order to make the list, books had to be published in 2010 or later. In many cases, the same novels or books in the same series were the bestselling books for multiple years. In order to reduce redundancy, we skipped books from the same series if they were already included in an earlier entry. For example, the Hunger Games books were the bestselling YA books for multiple years but are only included in the first entry.
One last thing: This list makes an exception for Rick Riordan novels which are usually classified as middle-grade on bestsellers lists. The reason for Riordan’s inclusion is because his books generally have a shared appeal among YA readers and also because some of Amazon’s lists didn’t include new releases that were strictly Young Adult.
2010: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Starting the list off is what might be the most influential YA book of the decade, the capstone to the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay. It’s difficult to understate this book’s impact. As a whole, the trilogy would set the stage for the books that were to come during the following 10 years. Divergent, The Maze Runner, The Selection — the YA dystopia craze was all the rage this decade, and that’s in large part due to Collins’ work.
Mockingjay was released in September of 2010 and was the eighth bestselling book of the year, according to Amazon. It had an initial print-run of 1.2 million copies. By 2012, Mockingjay had sold 9 million copies in the United States, according to Entertainment Weekly. The trilogy itself had over 65 million copies in circulation in the states by 2014.
Also: Diary of a Wimpy Kid — The Ugly Truth, a middle-grade novel, was actually the sixth bestselling book that year. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, a novella set in the Twilight universe by Stephenie Meyer, enjoyed the 18th spot on the list.
2011: Inheritance by Christopher Paolini
Another series conclusion, Inheritance by Christopher Paolini brought the epic dragon-riding story of Eragon to a close in November 2011. Collectively known as the Inheritance Cycle, Paolini’s series was originally billed as a trilogy. Inheritance became the fourth book in his dragon saga. Fans were eager to see the final showdown between Eragon and Galbatorix, making it the seventh bestselling book of that year on Amazon.
Although the final book was met with lukewarm reviews, it sold half a million copies on its first day, according to its entry from Wikipedia. 35 million copies of the Inheritance Cycle had been sold by 2013, according to USA Today.
Also: Middle-grade series Diary of a Wimpy Kid continued to dominate in 2011, its sixth book hitting the third bestselling spot on Amazon’s charts that year. Hunger Games also saw a surge, the first book of the trilogy at number five on Amazon’s list. And George R.R. Martin — famous for penning A Song of Ice and Fire — first emerged on Amazon’s annual bestsellers list. Season One of HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones,’ based on Martin’s books, was released in June of that year and would go on to become one of (if not the) biggest television dramas of all time. ‘Thrones’ arguably propped up the fantasy genre, its influence felt in television, video games and — yes — YA.
2012: The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan
Rick Riordan’s third installment to his Percy Jackson spin-off series, The Mark of Athena, enjoyed the 13th position on Amazon’s bestsellers list in 2012.
While the Hunger Games books filled some of the top bestseller spots in 2012 (no doubt due to the release of the first film adaptation), Athena sold 237,000 copies during its first week, according to numbers provided by BookScan.
Also: J.K. Rowling released her first post-Harry Potter novel that year, The Casual Vacancy, which sat at the 24th spot on Amazon’s list.
2013: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars was originally published in 2012 but saw a boost in sales in 2013, reaching the 14th spot on Amazon’s bestseller list. A touching story about two teen lovers, the book was praised for its take on tragedy while offering a sense of hope.
By 2013, the book had sold roughly one million copies, according to USA Today. The book would see even more success in 2014 with the release of its movie adaptation.
Also: Allegiant by Veronica Roth hit shelves in October 2013, concluding Roth’s Divergent trilogy. Reaction to the book was explosive and controversial in the YA world, but it enjoyed the 24th spot on Amazon’s bestsellers list that year with an initial two million-copy print-run, according to the Chicago Tribune. Riordan also saw continued success with House of Hades, released in 2013, which was praised for its introduction of mature themes, including its LGBTQ representation.
2014: Divergent by Veronica Roth
Veronica Roth’s Divergent was a bestseller from its publication in 2011, but its blockbuster film adaptation, which hit theaters in March 2014, gave the book series a surge in sales. Coupled with the 2013 release of the final Divergent novel, Allegiant, it makes sense why Roth’s debut was topping charts yet again, rising to Amazon’s 13th position on the bestseller list in 2014.
Collectively, the three books in the trilogy sold more than 6.7 million copies in 2013, according to Publishers Weekly. Divergent earned Roth the number one spot on the USA Today bestsellers list for the first time in the weeks leading up to the movie’s release.
Also: Rick Riordan’s The Blood of Olympus fared well in 2014. It concluded the Percy Jackson-era of books for Riordan, and snagged the eighth spot on Amazon’s list that year.
2015: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan
Riordan did well yet again in 2015 with the launch of his Magnus Chase novels. It was #64 on Amazon’s list that year. The books follow in the tradition of the Percy Jackson series, this time with a Viking twist.
The Sword of Summer was released in October 2015. 2.5 million copies were included in the first printing and it debuted at number one on the New York Times Best Sellers list for Children’s Middle-Grade Hardcover.
Also: John Green’s Paper Towns (originally published in 2009) actually sold better than Sword of Summer in 2015, according to Amazon. A movie adaptation of the same name was released in July of that year.
2016: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany
In a decade of reunions and reboots, one of the biggest events in YA was the re-introduction of Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. While the story was made to be acted on stage, the majority of Harry Potter fans experienced the “eighth story” via the page, as the script was bound and released in hardcover. It was also the first Harry Potter story not wholly written by J.K. Rowling herself.
Cursed Child was critically acclaimed but received … mixed responses from some of Rowling’s fanbase (to put it nicely). Still, Cursed Child was the bestselling book on Amazon in 2016 — that includes all categories and genres. It is, hands down, the bestselling book on this list, selling two million copies in its first two days. Despite not being as popular as the original Harry Potter series, it’s one of the fastest-selling books in history, according to The Hollywood Reporter. By 2017, it sold 4.5 million copies in the U.S., according to Forbes.
Also: The script of J.K. Rowling’s ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ was also a bestseller in 2016, as were the illustrated editions of the Harry Potter books.
2017: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down sat in the 70th spot on Amazon’s list. The book was notable for its treatment of mental illness. “This is my first attempt to write directly about the kind of mental illness that has affected my life since childhood,” Green said at the time. “So while the story is fictional, it is also quite personal.”
The book hit shelves in October 2017. It sold 129,000 copies in the days after its publication and Publishers Weekly credited the book with boosting sales in the YA market that month.
Also: Wonder by R.J. Palacio, a middle-grade novel originally published in 2012, was the bestselling book of the year, according to Amazon. Like others, it also had a movie adaptation hit screens that year.
2018: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Angie Thomas strolled onto the literary scene with a force in her debut, The Hate U Give in 2017, but it saw most of its success in conjunction with the release of the film adaptation of the same name in 2018, reaching the 25th spot on Amazon’s bestsellers list for that year.
The book sold 850,000 copies by the summer of 2018 and was also awarded the William C. Morris Award from the American Library Association.
Also: 2018 was also the year Crazy Rich Asians, a 2014 romance novel by Kevin Kwan, saw a surge in sales thanks to the popular blockbuster adaptation.
2019: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Amazon’s 2019 list has yet to be finalized at the time of publication. But some of Amazon’s other lists, including its “Most Wished For” list and the current standings in the New York Times, indicate that Tomi Adeyemi’s 2018 novel, A Children of Blood and Bone has dominated the bestsellers list this year. While it can’t be said that the book is definitively the bestselling YA book of 2019, it’s been a force to be reckoned with.