Is it any wonder why YA books have become cultural touchstones for minds both young and old?
YA can at the same time be fun and light-hearted while also profound and rich with meaning. When looking at the wide scope of these books, it becomes apparent that many authors have left a mark on the YA movement. After nearly a decade of covering these books, we asked ourselves which ones helped define and shape the landscape?
That’s a big question to tackle. You’re likely to get different answers depending on who you ask.
It would be wrong to claim that our answer is the definitive answer. After all, books belong to their readers, which means the YA experience isn’t the same from person to person. That said, when we started putting this list together, we considered books that caused a lot of buzz while also considering books that defied genres, explored important topics, started movements and some that were simply a good time.
During the course of Bookstacked’s life, YA underwent a few “eras.” In the site’s infancy, many of the books we read kicked off mega franchises, becoming household names. Science fiction, specifically anything dystopian, thrived. As time went on, YA authors focused more on the world around us and looked for ways to introduce more diversity into their stories. These voices reminded us that representation matters and that everyone — no matter who they are — has a story to share.
At each turn, there were always a few titles and authors leading the way. These were the books shaping the landscape.
Your list might look different, but these are the books that shaped the way we saw YA during our time covering the industry. This list is organized in no particular order.
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley
Heartstopper by Alice Oseman
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
Legend by Marie Lu
Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Monster by Walter Dean Myers
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