The YA community is amazing. Ever since I started reading & blogging about YA fiction, I’ve made so many friends and gotten in touch with so many authors and even publishers and I’ve loved every minute of it! I will admit that when I first started picking up YA books, I had a hard time convincing myself that even as an adult, I would like novels with teenagers as their main characters. I had it in my mind that these books were for teens and no one else, but with the growing popularity as well as spotlight on young adult fiction, it’s clear that teens and adults alike are enjoying them with great enthusiasm!
My blog is absolutely a young adult focus, no question about it and I’m grateful for all of the other young adult readers who continue to support and follow my blog… But I also want to start to open up this world to people like I once was: someone who loved to read but was very skeptical about YA fiction purely for the stigma that it’s written for teens. I may not be able to convince my friends and family (right away), but for anyone who’s been curious and wanted to try out a few YA books but doesn’t know where to start, I can surely help you there!
Here are my recommendations for some good YA novels to help non-YA readers crossover!
THE 5TH WAVE by Rick Yancey: This idea for suggestions for non-YA readers actually first hit me when I was reading THE 5TH WAVE. I was loving the book, especially the main character Cassie. Yes, she’s a teenager, but I felt like her voice would be very easy and fun for people who are afraid of an MC feeling “too teenagery”. She’s sassy, sarcastic, and extremely fierce. THE 5TH WAVE also has tons of great action, a bit of romance, and a whole lot of mystery & unknown. The concept of the “alien invasion” and the science fiction aspects of the story are great and not at all less intense or complicated simply because it’s aimed towards teens. This is very much an “adult” book as well so if you’re not into YA, THE 5TH WAVE could be a great place to start!
My Review || Goodreads
Already enjoyed THE 5TH WAVE? Try these next: Cinder by Marissa Meyer (science-fiction, also deals with aliens/extra terrestrials), Reboot by Amy Tintera (science-fiction & dystopian elements)
CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein: CODE NAME VERITY is historical fiction taking place during World War II. Although both of the main characters are teenage girls, their stories are both INCREDIBLY intense. This isn’t just a story that takes place during the war… These girls are actively involved in the war. Espionage, danger, secret plane rides — This story is not short on surprises or action. Admittedly, the very beginning may start out a little slowly, but the middle and ending are incredible and Elizabeth Wein leaves nothing out of this book. There are several incredibly intense situations and for someone who doesn’t know that much about WWII, I didn’t feel at all lost in references or specific situations. CODE NAME VERITY is perfect for history buffs or anyone interested in historical fiction, teens and adults alike.
READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline: READY PLAYER ONE could be a great book for anyone who grew up with the 80s as their prime. It’s a science-fiction book set in the future where the majority of the population now interacts through the Oasis, a virtual reality platform created by the legendary James Halliday. When Halliday dies and leaves a message for the world saying he leaves his inheritance to whoever finds the “Easter egg” hidden deep within the worlds of the Oasis, main character Wade Watts becomes an “gunter” (an egg hunter) and begins the epic quest to find it. Since Halliday was a huge fan of the 80s, the quest is made up of string after string of 80s movies, music, and pop culture references. Even though my prime was the 90s and 2000s, I had a blast with all of the 80s references, even the ones that went over my head. I feel like children of the 80s would get a kick out of READY PLAYER ONE, especially the audiobook which was narrated by Wil Wheaton (and he even gets to name drop himself in the audio!) — I actually loved the audio so much that I’m dying to go back and listen to it again!
45 POUNDS (MORE OR LESS) by K.A. Barson: This book was very reminiscent of many “chick lit” novels (think Meg Cabot, Sophie Kinsella). The main character Ann is trying to lose 45 lbs (more or less) before her aunt’s wedding. The reader sees her struggle through the highs and lows of dieting so we get a serious side yet a lighter side with lots of great humor. Ann’s also got a crazy family and tries to figure out how to maintain some healthy family relationships as well which I feel is pretty universal! It’s got a bit of romance, but Ann’s real focus is on her weight, her family, her friendships, and how all of those things really tie into one another. I think fans of contemporary women’s fiction like Meg Cabot, Sophie Kinsella, and Jane Green will really enjoy 45 POUNDS!
My Review || Goodreads
Already enjoyed 45 POUNDS? Try these next: Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg (family & appearance issues), The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding (family issues, discovering oneself & new family)
TIGER LILY by Jodi Lynn Anderson: If you’re a Disney fan, into fairy tales, or love retellings, TIGER LILY is a great choice for you. TIGER LILY is not only a retelling of Peter Pan, but it’s a deep and emotional read. It’s told by Tinkerbell and it tells the story of Tiger Lily and Peter Pan before Wendy came along and let me tell you… Peter Pan isn’t even one of my favorite fairy tales or Disney movies, but the story of Tiger Lily, her tribe, her family, her friends, and how all of that affects her relationship with Peter (ALONG with Peter himself) — it’s a very emotional journey. Jodi Lynn Anderson has a serious gift for writing that tugs at your heartstrings and really makes you feel for characters. Even if Peter Pan isn’t your favorite, this retelling is really and truly magical.
My Review || Goodreads
Already enjoyed TIGER LILY? Try these next: Cinder/Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (Cinderella & Little Red Riding Hood retellings), The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddar (Alice in Wonderland retelling)
SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo: I will forever be an advocate of this series. SHADOW AND BONE is a fantasy series with some amazing magical elements set in a fictional world based of off tsarist Russia. The world alone makes for an amazingly interesting setting but Leigh Bardugo’s characters are amazingly deep and continue to grow throughout the series (well, at least book two which was PHENOMENAL) and the plot just gets thicker and thicker as the story progresses. SHADOW AND BONE has danger, revelations, magic, villains, romance, and intrigue. Leigh Bardugo is an amazing author and even if the main characters are teenager/young adult age, I think it’s easy for an adult to get lost in this world and the fantastical elements of it. I think fans of series like George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire as well as Harry Potter fans (yes, I AM making that reference… Don’t be scared!) will appreciate so many different aspects of Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha series! It has the potential to suck you and keep you reading straight through until you finish.
Thanks for all of the suggestions from the comments! I wanted to update this post to include several suggestions that people left in the comments as well — There were some really great ones that I hadn’t included on my list and I thought they deserved to be shared!
- Kelley from Another Novel Read said Insignia is another good one (which I agree with! Loved it!)
- Asti from A Bookish Heart said her mom JUST started reading YA for the first time. The book she loved? Daughter of Smoke and Bone!
- Estelle‘s mom loved The Reece Malcolm List and How To Save A Life — Her non YA-reading friend loved My Life Next Door and Second Chance Summer. (I bet she reads YA now! Haha)
- Stephanie was so proud that she got her sister to read Divergent!