15 YA books all grown-ups should read

Listen up all you “adults” out there. YA is an incredible genre and if you’re a book-lover and haven’t delved into the YA world yet, you’re missing out! Read on to find out why. 

I updated this post on 24 May 2015 to add more awesome books to the line-up. 


While young adult (YA) fiction is well-loved among much of the book-blogging community, there are many people out there who’d expect that I, a 24-year-old, would have grown out of the genre by now. However, I most certainly haven’t, and I know I ever will. Why? Because I don’t want to – YA is amazing!

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy reading books written for adults, but I always find myself drawn back to the exciting world of YA. I can’t help but feel like there’s an extra spark within YA fiction that many adult books lack, though perhaps I’ve yet to come across the adult novel that will change my mind about that.

The thing I find disappointing is that YA fiction is found in the children’s section of bookshops. For me, that’s fine! I’m not ashamed of browsing the shelves there. But, I imagine that there are lots of “grown-ups” (I don’t believe there’s really such thing as a grown-up, we’re all kids at heart) that wouldn’t consider setting foot in the children’s section while looking for a book of their own to read. If you’re one of those people, listen up! You’re missing out!

There are so many incredible books in the YA section just waiting to be read by you. It’s not just teenagers that enjoy YA fiction, adults do too. A prime example is Harry Potter, which now has adult covers and can be found within adult bookshelves despite the fact that it actually started life in the 8-12 year old section. Another is The Hunger Games, which I now see lots of professionals reading during their commute into London (this makes me extremely happy). In fact, I know several adults who had never read a YA book before who couldn’t put The Hunger Games down.

But there’s so much more where Harry Potter and The Hunger Games came from. Here’s a list of 15 YA books that I think all grown-ups should read. (Not including Harry Potter or The Hunger Games. But if you haven’t already read them… WHY!?)

1. More Than This by Patrick Ness


This book is amazing. I’ve been raving about it to anyone that will listen since I finished reading it. Any book-lover should read this masterpiece.

My More Than This review

Amazon | Goodreads

Bonus: If you read More Than This and enjoy it (you will) try The Knife of Never Letting Go next, also by the incredible Patrick Ness.

2. Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth

Divergent Review

Ok, so I know this is technically three books. But if you enjoyed The Hunger Games, I have no doubt that you’ll enjoy these books. They’re up there among my top favourite books ever.

You can find out more about the Divergent trilogy here.

Amazon | Goodreads

3. The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner

Absolutely intriguing book. Boys arrive in a mysterious location connected to a dangerous maze with no recollection of how they got there, or what their lives were like before. Will the boys ever escape and discover what’s on the outside world? Well, you’ll have to read it to find out, won’t you. There’s also a movie of The Maze Runner now and it’s BRILLIANT.

Amazon | Goodreads

4. Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

Ketchup Clouds

This is a book that I could not put down. It’s so cleverly written, telling the story of troubled Zoe through a series of letters to a man who’s serving time in prison for murder. I know several adults who’ve read this one and loved it, and it’s one of my top 10 reads of 2014.

My Ketchup Clouds review

Amazon | Goodreads

5. Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly


This one’s a bit different, and probably a little more girly than the previous two recommendations, but I absolutely loved it. It’s got a dash of history (it’s about the French Revolution), a spot of fantasy and little bit of romance thrown in there, too.

My Revolution review

Amazon | Goodreads

6. You Against Me by Jenny Downham

you against me

Another, probably more suited to the female reader but equally as brilliant as the rest, is You Against Me (by the author of the also excellent Before I Die). It’s a Romeo and Juliet-like forbidden romance story (though I’m pretty sure the ending isn’t quite so tragic) but also a story about about family, trust and loyalty that I remember devouring. It’s really good.

Amazon | Goodreads

7. Gone by Michael Grant


I know a grown-up or two that has read this one, so I’m certain it’s not just for teenagers. Gone is another intriguing story in which everyone over the age of 15 disappears. It’s sci-fi meets dystopian. In fact, it’s really rather scary and quite gruesome at times, too.

Amazon | Goodreads

8. I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

I'll Give You The Sun

I would recommend this book to anyone. It’s unique, compelling and very emotional. In my review I wrote that this stunning novel broke my heart and put it back together again.

It’s about twins who experience a tragic loss and thanks to alternating narratives that not only switch between the twins but also between time frames, we get to experience the story before and after the loss affected their lives.

My I’ll Give You The Sun review

Amazon | Goodreads

9. Trial By Fire by Josephine Angelini


The first fantasy on my list is Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini, which provides the perfect mix of magic, supernatural and incredible world-building blended surprisingly smoothly with a parallel universe element based on Murphy’s Law.

My Trial by Fire review

Amazon | Goodreads

10. The Declaration by Gemma Malley

The Declaration

Children are no longer allowed in the future that The Declaration is set in. Why? Because no one dies or gets old anymore, so children only add to the already overflowing population and use up resources. Therefore, illegal children are locked up in a prison-like environment as punishment. Sounds cool, right? (To read, I mean. I don’t think it sounds cool to be locked up just for being born).

Amazon | Goodreads

11. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver


This book is genius. It’s think of it more like a poem or a work of art than a novel. What would you do if you were forced to relive your last day on Earth again and again?

My Before I Fall review

Amazon | Goodreads

12. Delirium by Lauren Oliver


It’s another Lauren Oliver, I know. But this book (and the two that follow in the trilogy) is so good. It’s set in a future (a lot of the books I love are set in the future…) where love is considered disease and a cure has been developed to prevent it.

My Delirium review

Amazon | Goodreads

13. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo


Another fantasy now, this time with more of a historical feel based in a world that was inspired by Russia. It’s a world that I fell in love with, despite the terrifying bad guys.

My Shadow and Bone review

Amazon | Goodreads

14. Slated by Teri Terry

slated review

The penultimate book in my top 15 YA books grown-ups should read list is Slated. Ok, so it’s another dystopian (they’re my favourite), but it’s just soooo good! A memory-erasing technique has been developed to give young offenders a fresh start in life (a blank slate, I guess). But is Kyla, who’s accused of being a terrorist before she was slated, really what they say she is?

My Slated review

Amazon | Goodreads

15. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in our Stars

Last but certainly not least is John Green’s devastatingly good novel The Fault in Our Stars. Heartbreaking and thought-provoking, it’s another book I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.

My The Fault in Our Stars review

Amazon | Goodreads

Also by John Green: Looking for Alaska | Paper Towns

There you have it. Fifteen amazing books that you’ll find in the YA section. Read one! I dare you.

YA readers – are there any books you think should be in this list that aren’t? Or vice versa, of course. I’d love to know your thoughts.



  1. 16th November 2013 / 10:55 pm

    Eeek, this list makes me happy. I adored Slated so much. And Divergent, ah-ma-zing.

  2. 17th November 2013 / 5:58 pm

    I think one of the major reasons I still read YA is because most of those YA authors are willing to take chances on their world and character building. I am currently listening to the “Graceling” audiobook and it is simply amazing. I couldn’t imagine running into a story like it in the adult fantasy section.

    It may be that YA is the perfect age for things to make sense, yet still respect our ability to believe.

    • 8th January 2014 / 7:21 pm

      Extraordinarly late reply but I think you’ve got it spot on dthegamer! There’s something about YA books that feels more imaginative yet can still be sophisticated and not patronising. I truly believe that every “adult” should give YA a go, because it’ll surprise them!

      Thanks for your comment too Charlotte, I loved both Slated and Divergent too (obviously).

  3. 9th January 2014 / 12:28 am

    I got into YA books not too long ago when I started reading books from my little sister’s shelf. And I haven’t looked back since! But there are so many out there, I never know which to choose. Thanks to your list, now I have 11 books to look forward to! (Already read ‘Fault.’) Thank you so much!! I can’t wait to check them out. 🙂

  4. 9th January 2014 / 12:11 pm

    great list! ive read 2 and really happy to read the other 10. thanks for this… though im 33, but that doesnt stop me in enjoying YA books. ages are just numbers…

  5. 18th January 2014 / 11:35 am

    Great list! Gonna have to get my reading cap on now 😀

  6. 2nd January 2015 / 10:14 pm

    I already read and love YA, but thanks for giving me a few more books to check out – specifically: The Declaration and Slated. Yay for YA! 🙂

  7. Carson Williams
    26th May 2015 / 9:37 pm

    I think The Doomsday Kids series by Karyn Folan makes excellent adult reading. Especially for those who enjoyed The Hunger Games.
    I found it far more interesting and the characters are written with great depth. You can easily become quite emotionally attached to young cast in this series. They are such a wonderfully diverse group that stray from the usual, expected kind of characters for stories like this.
    Some of the strongest characters in the series are the least expected but it’s very refreshing to read and every book in the series is just a fantastic page turner. Highly recommended reading for a wide range of audiences.


  8. 5th August 2015 / 1:22 pm

    I’m 28, I haven’t grown out of this genre either. Actually it was only a few years ago that I grew INTO it. Ha ha!

    I haven’t read any of your suggestions. I’ve been looking at I’ll Give You the Sun, Gone and The Fault in Our Stars for a while though. I probably should have read the two latter a looong time ago. Adding the other titles to my list of books I want to read, thank you for the lovely suggestions!

    • 6th August 2015 / 5:06 pm

      Amazing! Glad to hear it 🙂 YA is awesome, I can’t imagine that I will ever grow out of it and I don’t want to xx thanks for reading and I’m so glad you’ve got some new books to add to your TBR!

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