The best YA books

From teen romances to epic fantasy, here's our round-up of the best young adult fiction, that adults will love too.

2 minutes to read
Four colourful book covers, Muhammed Khan Kick the moon, Sara barnard Fierce Fragile Hearts, Justin Reynolds Opposite of Always and Archenemies Marissa Meyer

Young adult fiction is still having a moment, with film adaptations of YA smash hits To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and The Hate U Give as well as boundary-breaking debuts like Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone and Muhammad Khan’s I Am Thunder. Here’s our round-up of the best young adult fiction you should be reading, no matter your age.

Children of Virtue and Vengeance

by Tomi Adeyemi

Book cover for Children of Virtue and Vengeance

Children of Blood and Bone was one of the most talked-about fantasy books of 2018, and at last Tomi Adeyemi is back with this thrilling sequel. After battling the impossible, Zélie and Amari have finally succeeded in bringing magic back to the land of Orïsha. But the ritual was more powerful than they imagined, reigniting the powers of not only the maji but also some nobles with magic ancestry. With civil war looming on the horizon, Zélie finds herself at a breaking point: she must find a way to bring the kingdom together or watch as Orïsha tears itself apart. Children of Virtue and Vengeance is one of the best fantasy books of 2020 for young adult readers.


by Frances Hardinge

Book cover for Deeplight

Deeplight is a mystical fantasy book from the author Sarah Perry described as ‘one of our finest storytellers’: Frances Hardinge. For centuries, the gods of the Undersea have ruled the islands of the Myriad through awe and terror. Sacrifices were hurled into the waters to appease them, and every boat was painted with pleading eyes to entreat their mercy. They were served, feared and adored. Then, thirty years ago, the gods rose up in madness and tore each other apart. Now, the gods are nothing but a collection of valuable scraps to be scavenged from the ocean and sold. But something is pulsing beneath the waves, calling to someone brave enough to retrieve it.

Fierce Fragile Hearts

Book cover for Fierce Fragile Hearts

Two years after the events of Beautiful Broken Things – the bestseller that was chosen for the inaugural Zoella’s Book Club – Suzanne is starting her life over. Her two best friends, Caddy and Rosie, helped to see her through a downward spiral that brought her as low as you can possibly go, but now they’re leaving for university. When your friends have been your light in the darkness, what happens when you're the one left behind?

Opposite of Always

by Justin A. Reynolds

Book cover for Opposite of Always

When Jack and Kate meet at a party, Jack knows he’s found someone he could share the rest of his life with. Just months later, Kate dies – but their story doesn’t end there. Kate’s death sends Jack back in time to the moment they first met, giving him multiple chances to change their destiny, and save Kate’s life.

Kick the Moon

by Muhammad Khan

Book cover for Kick the Moon

Fifteen-year-old Ilyas is under pressure from everyone in his life: his dad wants him to join the family business, GCSEs are looming, and nobody seems to care that Ilyas just wants to draw comic books. Nobody, that is, except his new best friend Kelly, the school good girl who’s the first person to actually understand him. But when local bad boy Imran decides to seduce Kelly for a bet, Ilyas has to choose between a confrontation that could endanger his family and losing the person who’s most important to him.


by Marissa Meyer

Book cover for Archenemies

This is the action-packed sequel to Marissa Meyer’s fantastic Renegades, which takes place in a world ruled by the Renegades, superheroes who represent a symbol of hope and justice to everyone – except for the Anarchists, the villains they once overthrew. Nova is one of these Anarchists, but her quest for vengeance is complicated by her growing feelings for Renegade, Adrian. In the sequel, this unlikely pair are thrown together once again, and Adrian is about to reveal some dark secrets of his own.

Field Notes on Love

by Jennifer E. Smith

Book cover for Field Notes on Love

Hugo and his girlfriend have the perfect romantic trip planned together – travelling across America by train. But then she dumps him. She leaves him the tickets as a parting gift, the only problem is that they’re in her name, and they’re non-transferable. Desperate to get away, Hugo advertises for a replacement Margaret Campbell, which is where Mae comes in. After getting rejected from film school, she’s looking for a new adventure and a cross-country trip with a stranger will prove to be just that.

The Kingdom

by Jess Rothenberg

Book cover for The Kingdom

The Kingdom is a fantasy theme park where technology helps dreams come to life. Formerly extinct species roam the park, and twelve beautiful 'Fantasists' – half-human, half-android princesses – entertain visitors and make wishes come true. But this fairytale ends in murder, and now Ana, one of the twelve Fantasists, is in the dock.

Told through court testimony, interrogation records and fragmented flashbacks, The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg has the futuristic appeal of Westworld and the twists and turns of a true crime thriller.

What She Found in the Woods

by Josephine Angelini

Book cover for What She Found in the Woods

World-weary New York teen Magda is on her last chance. After setting off a scandal in the elite New York City private school scene, she’s been shipped off to her grandparents’ sleepy Pacific Northwest town to spend a summer under the radar. Over-medicated and uninspired, she finds her only solace in the beautiful hiking trails behind her grandparents’ cottage. But all that is about to change, when she meets the steadfast and strong, but curiously unsophisticated Bo, who gives her hope that there might be a second chapter to her life story. But when a series of crimes start breaking out across the region, and a body is found in the woods near Bo’s encampment, it’s clear that Magda’s nightmare is just beginning. And she's no longer sure who she can trust.

No Big Deal

by Bethany Rutter

Book cover for No Big Deal

This is the debut novel from body positive influencer, Bethany Rutter, and it follows Emily Daly, a stylish, cute, intelligent and hilarious seventeen-year-old about to start her last year at school. Emily is also fat. She likes herself and her body. When she meets Joe at a house party, he instantly becomes The Crush of Her Life. But, as they spend more time together, doubts start to creep in. With her mum trying new fad diets every week and increasing pressure to change, Emily faces a constant battle to stay strong, be her true self and not change for anyone.

Five Dark Fates

by Kendare Blake

Book cover for Five Dark Fates

At last, the epic conclusion to Kendare Blake’s Three Dark Crowns series. On the island of Fennbirn, three sisters must fight to the death to win the throne, each using their own unique magical abilities. The war has been waged throughout the series, and now, in the final novel, the fate of the island lies in the hands of its queens.


Watch Kevin from Irish Reader talk about even more fantastic YA books you should read

The best YA books of 2019