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.
My Review || Goodreads
Already enjoyed CODE NAME VERITY? Try these next: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood (both are more historical fiction)
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!
My Review || Goodreads
Already enjoyed READY PLAYER ONE? Try these next: Insignia by S.J. Kincaid (for its sci-fi & futuristic themes), Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (set in the 80s)
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.
My Review || Goodreads
Already enjoyed SHADOW AND BONE? Try these next: Graceling by Kristen Cashore, Prophecy by Ellen Oh (both for high fantasy settings and elements)
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!
Book Rock Betty said her husband loved The 5th Wave (yahoo!) and also Miss Peregrines Home For Peculiar Children
- 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!
16 thoughts on “YA Recommendations for Non-YA Readers”
You came up with such great suggestions B! I think you were spot on in the way you wrote about each book, and I agree with lots of them (but particularly Shadow and Bone, Code Name Verity and Tiger Lily, which are the ones I’ve read). I’m very intrigued to see what happens if people read these books, especially if they’re not particularly interested in YA.
I already have The 5th Wave and Shadow and Bone and I’m planning to read them once I’ve finished Reboot. Btw, I’m not enjoying Reboot at all 🙁 My friend also recommended me Ready Player One. The cover looks so catchy! Tiger Lily looks promising! I’m such a BIG fan of retellings <33 Thanks for sharing!
Oh no, I’m so sorry you’re not liking Reboot 🙁 I actually enjoyed that one more than I thought I would.
I think Ready Player One is GREAT and easy for anyone to enjoy! 🙂
Thanks so much for commenting!! I hope you enjoy The 5th Wave and Shadow and Bone as well! Those are both really fantastic 🙂
One of my proudest accomplishments is the fact that my sister has spent all summer catching up on YA because she read Divergent and started paying attention to my other book recommendations. My world domination plan is well underway 🙂
Such a great list! I do this a lot… my friends are not YA readers but I really work carefully to cater toward their interests and I find that it works a lot must of the time. I’ve also been lending my mom some YAs to see what she thinks.
So far my mom really liked Reese Malcolm, and I also lent her How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr.
I bought Tiger Lily for a non-YA reader, who loves Disney and Peter Pan, and he enjoyed that one.
I feel like the more literary books are always a good way to go so I’m glad you included Code Name. Maybe like Starstruck or Dreamland Social Club. I also bought My Life Next Door and Second Chance Summer for my best friend who is not a huge reader (only when I buy her things) and she enjoyed both.
i think people can easily find something to enjoy in YA if they are just looking for a good story because it all really comes down to that.
Would love to see you do an experiment with these books and see how non-YA readers react. I plan on doing something with my mom soon.
Thanks, Estelle! I’m going to try to slip these recommendations to my friends the next time we talk about books. I don’t think they’re anti-YA but I think pitching something to them as YA would be more of a turn off than a turn on. SO many good ones you mentioned too (and yikes, I still need to read some like My Life Next Door!)
I agree. It’s all about the good story — that’s the most important part. I read plenty of adult books when I was still a teenager and I enjoyed them. It’s not like I knew what it was like to be married or have kids or look for a serious job then. It’s about the feelings that book evokes and how much you like the plot and the characters… Age really shouldn’t make a HUGE difference in many cases.
Oooh great list! I’m saddened that I’ve only read one of your main recommendations, Shadow and Bone (and even then, I just read it last week)! I really need to fix that. I’ve heard great things about both Code Name Verity and The 5th Wave! (I’m sure the other three are good as well, just not really my type of books :P)
My mom actually decided to read a YA book for the first time ever. Just came into my room and grabbed one. Which one? Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. And, judging by the fact that it suddenly reappeared on my desk today and Days of Blood and Starlight is now gone, I’m guessing she liked it! Maybe that’s another possibility for someone looking to read YA! 😉
Ohhh nice! I FINALLY just read DoSaB and I’m going to read DoBaS soon! 🙂 I can easily see anyone enjoying that one too. It’s so different and interesting that it’s not like a contemporary YA where it’s a teenage love story, ya know? It spans over so many feelings and genres and … planes of existence haha.
Ooh, I love these! And I love that the 5th Wave is one of your picks. I know it’s TECHNICALLY YA, but really, in my mind it’s adult. And I’m not sure WHY. . . but even though Cassie is a teenager, something about it just sorta presents itself as adult sci-fi to me.
Awesome list! I love this idea, and I think about it a lot since I’m always trying to get my husband to read YA. I’d also add Insignia and The Rithmatist to this list. 🙂
Great idea for a list! I was staunchly against YA for a long, long, long time. I don’t quite remember what made me give it a shot, but I’m so happy I did. I honestly think some of the best writers out there right now period are writing YA, which is amazing. Plus there are so many sub genres to choose from.
I love love Ready Player One but didn’t really think of it as a YA book. I need to read the 5th Wave though.. everyone seems to love it!
Ahh… good list. Mr. Betty doesn’t read much fiction to begin with, but I got him to read The 5th Wave recently and he loved it! He also really liked Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. 🙂 I agree with you for sure on Code Name Verity and Shadow and Bone!
Great feature gal 😉