The best YA books that adults will love too

 Jean Menzies selects just some of the brilliantly written and complex YA novels that adult readers shouldn’t miss.

by   Jean Menzies
27/01/2020

With dystopian trilogies becoming blockbuster films and high school love stories melting hearts of all ages, the best YA books transcend the genre and appeal to readers of all ages. In fact, it has been found that over half of YA books are bought by adults, mainly for their own reading pleasure. But why has YA literature become so popular with adult readers? One reason is that YA literature addresses universal experiences of friendship, love and self-discovery that readers from thirteen to 113 can relate to. And as we’re bombarded with the doom and gloom of the news, young adult literature offers an escape, whether into the unknown worlds of YA genre fiction or the nostalgia of our own teenage years. 

Here is our edit of the best young adult novels that adults will love too. Each of these books will immerse you in the world of their young protagonists, taking you along for the journey no matter your age.

Discover the best new YA fiction here.

 

Wilder Girls

by Rory Power

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Wilder Girls is the debut feminist YA horror from bestselling author Rory Power. The reader follows a group of teenage girls infected by ‘the Tox’ and forced to live apart from the rest of society as their bodies transform. With no cure in sight, they have to learn to depend on each other to survive. Rory’s speculative epidemic shines a gruesome torch on the horrors of girlhood in the face of pervasive misogyny – a theme women of all ages can relate to.

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Children of Virtue and Vengeance

by Tomi Adeyemi

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The Legacy of Orïsha series begins with Children of Blood & Bone and follows Zélie, a powerful young magi on a mission to save her people from a royal family hellbent on destroying magic. The second book in the series, Children of Virtue and Vengeance, continues the adventure as Zélie fights to bring the kingdom of Orïsha together. 

Tomi has created a fantasy world in which she explores oppression and the abuse of power to great effect. The detailed world-building and complex character depictions will appeal to fantasy readers, and linger long beyond the completion of that final page.

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Rules for Being a Girl

by Candace Bushnell

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Marin is a studious young woman who loves reading and learning. Her world is turned upside down, however, when one of her teachers makes a sexual advance towards her. When the school refuses to believe her, she strikes back publicly through her writing and starts a feminist book club through which she finds a supportive group of new friends. Candace and Katie’s teenage protagonist offers readers of all ages an opportunity to consider the way in which society insidiously dismisses women’s experiences from a young age.

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The Harry Potter series

by J. K. Rowling

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J. K. Rowling’s world-renowned novels about boy wizard Harry Potter were a game-changer for YA books, their almost ubiquitous popularity making it perfectly acceptable for adults to be seen reading books written for children. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone introduced audiences to the world of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where eleven-year-old Harry discovers his magical inheritance. 

The books take their audience with them as they grow in maturity with each passing school year; throughout, they deal with universal themes of friendship, loss and responsibility. By the final book Harry and his friends are primed to enter the adult world, and readers of all ages have relished experiencing that journey with them.

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His Dark Materials trilogy

by Philip Pullman

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Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials has continued to capture imaginations since book one, The Northern Lights, was first released in 1995. From the original series to an ongoing companion series La Belle Sauvage, as well as stage, film and television adaptations, the characters, stories and themes draw in audiences of all ages. Through the story of Lyra, a young girl raised by scholars in an alternative world full of magic and danger, Pullman explores power, religion, childhood and growing up. Even if you read the trilogy as a child, it certainly holds up subsequent reading as an adult.

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No Big Deal

by Bethany Rutter

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With society sometimes seeming obsessed with the perfect weight, size and shape, No Big Deal’s teen protagonist Emily is the body positivity hero we all need.  Perfectly happy in her own body, Emily cannot understand why everyone else should be so preoccupied with it; she is, after all, a complex young woman, with complex wants and needs, just trying to live her life. Emily’s story gives voice to the countless readers who feel pressured to change for the sake of someone other than themselves and helps us understand how easily we internalise and perpetuate these expectations.

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