Our seven favorite YA books for adults

These books prove that young adult novels have plenty to offer older readers.


Hey! Adults can read YA too, you know.

Young Adult books span many genres, themes and ideas. They challenge the world with thoughtful premises and questions. And they inspire readers to rise up.

So is it really any question why many older readers turn to YA every day?

Here are seven of our favorite YA books that we think everyone — adults included — will enjoy.

Our top YA books for adults
‘The Winner’s Curse’ by Marie Rutkoski (Farrar Straus Giroux)

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

This series is perfect for adults who enjoy reading about the politics of a new world. Although the first book in this series centers around the romance, the following books dig deeper into the war and the political agendas of these characters. Marie Rutkoski’s beautiful writing brings to life a story of what happens when putting your heart first means losing it all. (Kristy)

‘A Darker Shade of Magic’ by V.E. Schwab (Tor Books)

A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab

Victoria Schwab’s writing sets this series apart from most YA fantasy series. There is a lot of information packed into this series given that it’s set in four different Londons. Schwab does a great job building this magical world and allowing each character continuous growth, you’ll appreciate how thought out every detail is. It’s a lot darker than most YA fantasy novels, but that’s what makes it so intriguing to read! (Kristy)

‘Ink and Bone’ by Rachel Caine (NAL)

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

The Great Library series is perfect for any adult who loves a good fantasy book. With great detail in terms of plot and world-building, this novel isn’t your average YA book. Rachel Caine portrays a world in which the Great Library at Alexandria never burnt down, and explores what the world would be like if we still had all that lost knowledge. I believe this is a YA novel perfect for adults as it writes so eloquently and reads so beautifully. (Eleanor)

‘A Discovery of Witches’ by Deborah Harkness (Viking Penguin)

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Although this book isn’t technically YA, I think it deserves to be mentioned here. It has themes of vampires, witches, and demons (which sound pretty YA to me) and tells a story of the forbidden love of a powerful witch and centuries-old vampire. Diana, our main character, is a university professor which perfectly sums up the age of the intended audience. It is a great fantasy novel that allows adults to dip their toe into the Young Adult genre. I think it is a captivating read, no matter your age. (Eleanor)

‘Ender’s Game’ by Orson Scott Card (Macmillan)

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

A staple in science fiction, Ender’s Game applies themes of politics and war to children. Andrew “Ender” Wiggin’s entire existence is to fight in the war against an alien race. When he’s whisked away to the militaristic Battle School, his mental, emotional and physical capacities are pushed to their limits as the leader of an army of his peers. Ender’s Game has been discussed for its political themes, but also its treatment of leadership and ethics. If you haven’t read this one yet, I highly recommend adding it to your reading list. (Saul)

‘Northern Lights’ by Philip Pullman (Scholastic Point)

Northern Lights (The Golden Compass)/His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman

While controversial in some regards, Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy is a strong fantasy series derived from John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost. When young Lyra Belacqua’s friend Roger goes missing, she travels the world to the Arctic to find him. Throughout her journey, she uncovers a dangerous conspiracy that could shake the cores of her universe as well as the universes parallel to it. The entire trilogy explores ideas of religion, science and philosophy while placing children and young adults at the center of the action. (Saul)

‘Mistborn: The Final Empire’ by Brandon Sanderson (Tor Books)

Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

I cannot possibly recommend this book enough. Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy has been one of the best books I’ve read in recent years. If you’re looking for something different in fantasy, then you should certainly pick up the first book in his incredible trilogy, The Final Empire. Vin, a young street urchin, finds herself at the center of a plot to steal from the Lord Ruler and topple the empire’s economy. To do so, she’ll need to first master her metal-based powers from the mysterious but stealthy Kelsier. With larger-than-life characters and a unique take on magic weaved with themes of politics, religion and philosophy, this is a story you do not want to miss. I don’t think Sanderson intended for this to be a YA, but it’s been popular in YA circles as of late — and the publisher seems eager to market it accordingly. (Saul)

What YA books for adults do you recommend? Let us know in the comments!

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