My favourite Young Adult novels

More than this by Patrick Ness

Ness’ writing is sparse and delicious, with a great use of space and emptiness. In particular this book is almost a work of art. It’s one of those amazing books where there’s somehow a cliffhanger at the end of every single chapter, so your heartbeat rises and rises and rises, until you can’t possibly imagine how it could be resolved by the end. With an incredibly diverse group of characters, this is a book to treasure.

Everything leads to you by Nina LaCour

It’s a lovely, angst free, happily-ever-after fluffy love story and it felt fresh and new and like coming home all at once. This is the kind of book that you reread, just because it makes you feel happy and content all over. I wish there was a film of this book, because I would watch it over and over.

I just love this book so much, it has everything: secret letters and long lost families and romance and celebrities….

Exodus by Julia Bertagna

A future dystopia about the sea levels rising and a village that is one of the only islands left in the UK slowly going underwater. The internet is a kind of 3D world that has been long since abandoned and the girl starts exploring its ruins, and finds a fox avatar that she makes friends with. Online dating of the coolest most adventurous kind.

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

This book! THIS BOOK, GUYS!! It’s a diverse action adventure, with a unique love triangle, an amazing plotline (GIANT GRASSHOPPERS.) and the best horny teenager protag ever. It’s a wild ride from start to finish, and I loved it.

The disreputable history of Frankie Landau Banks by e. lockhart 

The best kind of feminist literature- with secret societies and private boarding schools and girls realising they don’t need no boys.

The Shoebox project

Not technically YA, but I love it so much I have to include it. Marauders era Harry Potter fic that’s novel length and ILLUSTRATED and one of the funniest things I’ve literally ever read.

Spindle’s end by Robin Mckinley

Retelling of Sleeping beauty which starts with a witch stealing the baby princess and trekking across the country with her for weeks, with the help of local foxes and other animals. HOW AMAZING!!! The love interest is totally unexpected too, and it’s all just a complete party of cool female characters, even the pretty pink ones. The princess is a tomboy who communes with wildlife and hangs out with the blacksmith. Perfect

The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke

Thieves living in an abandoned theatre in Venice, and magic on an island. Need I say more??

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Commonly thought (by me) to contain the cutest fictional boy ever. If you’ve seen the movie: this is literally nothing like that.

Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster

This was written in 1912, and it’s basically the first ever YA novel. It’s a series of letters written from a first year orphan uni student to her Mysterious Millionaire Scholarship Provider. SO CUTE, and very easy reading considering it’s literally a century old. Nothing ever changes, especially not at uni.

Daughter of Venice by Donna Jo Napoli

Also set in Venice, because that’s clearly My Thing, this is a historical novel about a rich girl who sneaks out of her house to flirt with a cute Jewish boy who teaches her to write. I got this out of the library about three times when I was fourteen.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Everyone knows what this is about. A girl uses fanfiction to escape her life. So great.

Lirael by Garth Nix

This is the second in the series, but it’s by far my favourite. A girl in a huge underground library explores its thousand year old depths with her magic dog sidekick. Every delicious trope rolled into one – and no romance!

Published by Lauren James

Lauren James is the twice Carnegie-nominated British author of many Young Adult novels, including Green Rising, The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker and The Loneliest Girl in the Universe. She is a RLF Royal Fellow, freelance editor and screenwriter. Lauren is the founder of the Climate Fiction Writers League, and on the board of the Authors & Illustrators Sustainability Working Group through the Society of Authors. Her books have sold over a hundred thousand copies worldwide and been translated into six languages. The Quiet at the End of the World was shortlisted for the YA Book Prize and STEAM Children’s Book Award. Her other novels include The Next Together series, the dyslexia-friendly novella series The Watchmaker and the Duke and serialised online novel An Unauthorised Fan Treatise. She was born in 1992, and has a Masters degree from the University of Nottingham, where she studied Chemistry and Physics. Lauren is a passionate advocate of STEM further education, and many of her books feature female scientists in prominent roles. She sold the rights to her first novel when she was 21, whilst she was still at university. Her writing has been described as ‘gripping romantic sci-fi’ by the Wall Street Journal and ‘a strange, witty, compulsively unpredictable read which blows most of its new YA-suspense brethren out of the water’ by Entertainment Weekly. Lauren lives in the West Midlands and is an Arts Council grant recipient. She has written articles for numerous publications, including the Guardian, Buzzfeed, Den of Geek, The Toast, and the Children’s Writers and Artist’s Yearbook 2022. She has taught creative writing for Coventry University, WriteMentor, and Writing West Midlands.

3 thoughts on “My favourite Young Adult novels

  1. Have you read any of Michelle Lovric’s books set in Venice? I haven’t. You just made me think of them.


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