The books a person reads during their youth can profoundly impact their entire life.
Young Adult (YA) fiction is a popular genre that appeals to the 12 to 18-year-old demographic. The stories told in the best YA books of all time deal with coming-of-age-type subjects, like death and grief, first loves, bullying, teen pregnancy, and mental health.
Good storytellers weave a narrative that enraptures young readers who can’t put the book down. These books are so popular that many have been made into films.
Today, readers will get a taste of the best YA books of 2018 and 2019, as well as some classics that should be on everyone’s “must-read” list.
YA TBR List: 9 of the Best YA Books of All Time
A list of the best books of all time could go on forever. Here’s a glimpse of some of the best YA books of all time in AudioBookStore’s humble opinion.
1. Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor
Akata Warrior is one of the best YA books of 2019. It’s an exciting and empowering story of a young girl inducted into a secret society. There, she learns to harness her magical powers, and, before long, she’s chosen to save humanity from the apocalypse.
2. Dig by A.S. King
Affluence, white supremacy, and family dysfunction are at the heart of Dig by A.S. King. A family that once farmed potatoes has now become a family of millionaires – well, at least the parents are wealthy. They’ve avoided sharing their wealth with their adult children and grandchildren. Eventually, though, their white, suburban respectability begins to tarnish, and the rest of the family has to find a way to help.
3. The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys
One of the best YA books for boys (and girls!) is The Fountains of Silence, set in Franco’s Madrid in 1957. Young Daniel, a photographer, travels to Madrid to explore his mother’s birthplace. There, he meets Ana, whose family is still recovering from the Spanish Civil War. Difficult decisions, uncomfortable questions, the hidden cruelty of silence, and dangers consume Daniel, who simply wants to protect those he loves.
4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Liesel Meminger lives in poverty in WWII Germany. A book lover, Liesel steals books for herself and others, including a Jew who is being hidden in her basement.
Markus Zusak is an award-winning author who chose Death as his narrator, providing readers with a unique and interesting perspective.
5. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
A plane crashes on a remote tropical island. It was carrying British war evacuees, and the only survivors are some young schoolboys. In the beginning, they create some order out of the tragedy. Eventually, though, they become divided and become paranoid and violent. What will become of them?
6. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Not only is The Fault in Our Stars one of the best YA books on Goodreads, but it’s also one of the most beloved romance novels. The best YA books of all time are those that appeal to the reader’s heart, and this book does that.
The story is of Hazel, who has terminal cancer. She meets Gus, a fellow cancer patient and the two begin a sweet, intense, and heartbreaking romance.
7. The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
In Orleans, Belles are revered for their exceptional beauty, a highly coveted commodity. Everyone in Orleans is born gray but with the help of a Belle, they can transform.
Camilla has the aspiration to be the most powerful Belle in the land, but in doing so, she’s asked to do something that could cost her dearly and change her world completely.
8. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Forbes has called A Wrinkle in Time one of the best YA fantasy books of all time. Interestingly, since its publication in the early 1960s, the book has become one of the most frequently banned books. Parents and religious leaders have shunned the book claiming that:
- It’s too complex for young readers
- The female protagonist isn’t a good example
- The author mixes science and religion in an attempt to “re-vision Christianity”
- Three of the main characters are “witchy,” making the book about the occult
- It equated Gandhi, Einstein, and Buddha with Jesus
9. Smoke in the Sun by Renée Ahdieh
Secrets, betrayal, danger, lies, political intrigue, and a wedding are at the heart of Smoke in the Sun, one of the best YA fantasy books of 2018. Will Mariko be able to save her love, her honor, and her empire? Download it now to find out.
Most Anticipated YA Books for 2020
It looks like 2020 is gearing up to be another fantastic year for YA fiction. Here are some highly anticipated titles.
- Infinity Son by Adam Silvera: January 2020
- Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender: May 12, 2020
- The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins: May 19, 2020
- Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas: June 9, 2020
Why Readers of All Ages Can Enjoy YA Fiction
It’s easy to think the “young adult” genre can only be enjoyed by teens.
However, a 2012 study (published in Understanding the Children’s Book Consumer in the Digital Age) found that adults purchase 55% of YA books over 18. In fact, those aged 30-44 years account for 28% of YA sales. And nearly 80% said they bought the book for themselves – not the young adult in their family.
Readers of all ages think YA books are some of the best books of all time. Those who want to expand their horizons should definitely give the best YA books of all time a try!
Besides the list provided above, be sure to check out our YA section to see which books have the best reader reviews.