Here’s the thing about Young Adult literature: it’s literature, and not-so-young adults can read it too. YA lit is, at its core, most important because adolescents need literature that is written for them, not at them. But it’s also important to acknowledge that this age-bracketed genre contains books (many, many books) worthy of readers of all ages, from all walks of life.
If you’re normally a reader of straight-up adult fiction but are looking to give YA a chance, perhaps you’d prefer to begin with some gateway YA books that easily function as crossover novels between the two age groups. Whether it be due to subject material, writing style, or genre, crack open of the below YA novels and you’ll soon forget that, when it comes to good literature, age brackets exist at all. Some of the books are new, some of them are relatively new, and many are to come. Enjoy!
To say that Cath and her twin sister Wren are die hard fans of Simon Snow (think Harry Potter meets Twilight) would be an understatement. They dress up as Simon Snow, line up in the cold for the latest books and movies, and most importantly, write Simon Snow fan fiction. They do everything together, and they are also going to college together. But when Wren acclimates to college life seamlessly and Cath remains ensconced in the world of Simon Snow, they grow apart for the first time in their lives. Cath needs to learn to care for her sister from afar, keep up with her classes, and handle her suddenly flourishing love life, all while finishing her epic volume of Simon Snow fan fiction that hundreds of thousands of internet fans are avidly following. Ultimately, she will need to learn to enter the real world while bringing her fictional worlds with her.
From the author of the Beloved Between Shades of Gray comes another work of historical fiction, this time set in East Prussia in WWII. The novel zeroes in on one group of refugees amidst the ten thousand aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff on their way to salvation. Based on the true life tragedy of the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, this book tells the story of adults and children alike banding together for their lives and their freedom. Fans of All the Light We Cannot See will love this one.
The first installment to Sabaa Tahir’s bestselling high fantasy series, An Ember in the Ashes is perfect for fans of A Game of Thrones. Although Laia is a slave and Elias is a soldier, both are bound by the Martial Empire in their brutal ancient Rome-inspired world, and neither is free. When Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, the two make for an unlikely but unstoppable team. Together, they can change each other’s lives and the fate of the Empire.
Inspired by One Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath & the Dawn is for readers and fans of A Game of Thrones and Arabian Nights. Sixteen-year-old Shahrzad (Shazi for short) lives in Khorasan, a land ruled by a murderer. Khalid is the eighteen-year-old murderous Caliph of Khorasan. Each night, he takes a new bride, and has her executed at sunrise. When Shazi agrees to marry him, it is a shock to all–he murdered her best friend and countless other girls. But Shazi has a plan to avenge their deaths, and is determined to see the sunrise that no other bride of Khalid has seen before.
Wrecked is a brutally moving novel about sexual assault on a college campus. Jenny returns from a party late one night, and her roommate Haley can tell that something isn’t right. That same night, Richard hears Jordan bragging about hooking up with a cute freshman. When Jenny accuses Jordan of rape, both Haley and Richard are pulled in to opposite sides of a conflict more serious than either of them can appreciate. At a time when a few college campus rape cases are highly publicized and many more are quietly swept under the rug, Wrecked will illuminate for readers the intricate webs of memory, judgment, and reputation that contribute to the horrors of sexual assault.
We All Looked Up is told in alternating chapters from the perspectives of Peter, Eliza, Anita, and Andy, who have gone to school together since they were children, but know very little about each other. They are forced together when it is announced that an asteroid is due to hit earth in a matter of weeks. Suddenly their wide-open futures as high school seniors seem much smaller. This is a gorgeous novel about the potential we as humans have to connect with each other when we abandon all pretense and learn to see each other as we truly are.
Emily Trunko; illustrated by Zoë Ingram
Sixteen-year-old Emily Trunko’s Tumblr, Last Message Received, is a compilation of the very last pieces of correspondence people all over the world have received from others. For example, the last text you received from a boyfriend before you broke up, or the final letter you received from your grandmother before she passed away, or the last post your best friend posted to your Facebook wall before you had that falling out. Yes, her Tumblr will break your heart, and so will this book, which includes over a hundred final text messages, social media posts, emails, and more.
Natalie C. Anderson
This enthralling murder mystery, set in Kenya, follows Tina as she plots to avenge her mother’s murder. Tina and her mother had arrived in Kenya as refugees after fleeing the Congo, hoping for a better life. But when Tina’s mother is found shot to death in the personal study of the prominent and wealthy man for whom she’d worked as a maid, Tina goes underground. For four years, she survives on the streets, alone. Working as a thief for Sangui City’s local gang, Tina jumps at the chance to return to the site of her mother’s murder, as she sees her opportunity for vengeance. But all doesn’t go according to plan, and Tina, hopefully not too late, must come to realize that vengeance isn’t worth her life. This book is perfect for fans of Gone Girl and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
After everything she’s ever known is thrown into disarray, Marin packs her bags and and flies across the country to college in New York City. She doesn’t look back, even though she’s left her best friend Mabel behind. But with an entire country between Marin and her tragedies, she still carries all that she’s tried to outrun with her. When Mabel comes to visit Marin during winter break, Marin is forced to confront all that she’s buried within her, and all that she’s tried to leave behind.
Out Feb. 14
Sayings like “Keep calm and carry on” and “Think positive” are a lot easier said than done, especially if you struggle with severe anxiety. Maeve sure does–she can never seem to stop imagining the worst, no matter how hard she tries. When her mother has to go away for half a year and Maeve is sent to live with her father in Vancouver, things get even worse. Her father is not quite sober, her pregnant step mom is insisting on having a home birth, and then there’s the girl Maeve is falling in love with. Salix. If Maeve can’t help but worry about everything, Salix can’t help but never worry about anything. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll be able to help each other out.
Out Feb. 28
Calamity concludes Brandon Sanderson’s #1 New York Times bestselling Reckoners series, so if this novel sounds good to you, make sure you start at the beginning with Steelheart. This critically acclaimed sci-fi series follows David Charleston as he fights to avenge the death of his father and the destruction of his city at the hands of the Epics–a group of villains with near-uncontrollable powers. In order to take them down, David must join forces with a shadowy group of rebels called the Reckoners, who may need him just as much as he needs them.
Out Feb. 28
Carver Briggs blames himself for the deaths of his three best friends. He didn’t think a simple text message sent from the drivers seat would take all of their lives, but somehow spare his. Carver is left feeling vulnerable in every way–to the judge who wants to open up a criminal investigation, and to the families of his three dead best friends. When their families all request their own “goodbye days” with Carver–days to reminisce and say goodbye to those they lost–Carver thinks things may be about to get much worse for him, if that’s even possible.
Out March 7
Blood Rose Rebellion is the first installment in a new historical fiction/fantasy trilogy set in Hungary. It tells the story of sixteen-year-old Anna Arden, who is born into the Luminate, (powerful users of magic), but who herself is Barren (unable to perform magic of any kind). In a society where prestige stems from magic, money, and blood, her lack of ability is deadly. Anna is exiled to her family’s native but crumbling land of Hungary when she inadvertently interferes with her sister’s debutante spell, and from then on discovers that her journey may have less to do with social prestige, and more to do with social change.
Out March 28
Whether you’re a reader of YA or not, you will have heard of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. No? Please read it, then watch it. The author of the beloved New York Times-bestselling series is back with another lovely and powerful novel about love, class differences, and betrayal. Relatable for readers of any age who have suffered through divorce, The Whole Thing Together unfolds over the course of a summer that a broken family spends on Long Island. Estranged step-siblings Sasha, Ray, Emma, Mattie, and Quinn struggle to reconcile their neat pasts with their messy present as their warring and forever connected families struggle to let go of the past and move forward.
Out April 25
Can’t wait to get your hands on some of these upcoming titles? Good news: you can sign up for First in Line for exclusive content and advanced reader copies here.