Within the pages of the best teen books, you’ll find realistic dilemmas, timeless themes, and messages of hope. Young adult authors have found a way to capture the minds of young readers, whether through fantastic worlds or gritty realism.
There are hundreds of excellent teen books on the market, and more are published every year. This is by no means a definitive list. However, we hope it serves as a starting point for finding your own favorite books for adolescent readers.
1. The Hunger Games Trilogy
by Suzanne Collins
Both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire received top marks from the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). Collins dystopian future caught fire in the imagination of teens and adults alike, spawning online conversations, fan fiction and films. This New York Times Bestseller is available as a boxset, The Hunger Games Triology.
2. Heist Society
by Ally Carter
Ally Carter gained attention with teen fans with her Gallagher Girls series about budding CIA spies. In her 2010 novel, ranked third by YALSA for 2010, Carter’s Heist Society tells the story of Katrina Bishop who grew up the daughter of one of the world’s most prestigious art thieves and wants out of the life. Unfortunately not everyone is willing to let her go.
3. The Iron King
by Julie Kagawa
Earning a spot in the Top 25 Teen Novels of 2011 by YALSA, Julie Kagawa won a RITA award from the Romance Writers of America for The Iron King, a Harlequin teen novel that launches 16-year old Meghan Chase into the world of the Fae and a war between the fairy courts.
4. I Am Number Four
by Pittcus Lore
The tale of nine survivors from a planet called Lorien and the legacies they inherit was the focus of a 2011 film. The series follows the fourth survivor, John Smith as he fights to stay alive. His enemies hunt the last nine survivors in order; the first three are dead and he is number four. The book spent seven weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list and was listed as one of Amazon’s best books of the month in August 2010.
5. The Outsiders
by S.E. Hinton
While the book’s setting and characters are a bit dated, this classic young adult novel remains one of the best teen books. In 1988, Hinton was the first recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award, in large part due to the timelessness of her work.
by Rachel Hawkins
Both Hawkins’ debut novel Hex Hall and the sequel Demonglass were rated in YALSA’s top twenty-five novels of 2011. The series follows a young witch named Sophie Mercer as she finds herself exiled to a reform school for wayward paranormals.
7. The Harry Potter Series
by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter’s adventures have entranced readers of all ages, and today’s teen readers have grown up with the young wizard. There are few series with Potter’s power to inspire devoted and voracious reading. Reading the Harry Potter series can also lead teens to other quality works of fantasy like The Lord of the Rings trilogy. With the release of the final film in 2011 and the launch of Pottermore, Harry Potter and his adventures are firmly entrenched in the mindset of a generation.
8. Twilight Series
by Stephanie Meyer
Meyer’s best-selling Twilight Series has inspired an entire generation of teens with her tale of epic love between human girl Bella Swan and her vampire paramour Edward Cullen. The series traces Bella’s journey as she longs to join Edward as a vampire and the ancient vampire enemies that come for them.
9. The Vampire Academy
by Richelle Mead
This series of six New York Times best-selling novels, follows Rose and Lissa through epic adventures in their world fraught with natural dangers, power hungry politics and lovers torn apart. Rose’s story concluded in December 2010 with the release of The Last Sacrifice, but Mead announced a follow up series that would spin off with characters from the first.
10. The Percy Jackson Series
by Rick Riordan
Riordan captured the imagination of mid-grade and YA readers everywhere with his tale of demigod Percy Jackson. He followed the series up with a revisit to Camp Half Blood in a new series titled The Heroes of Olympus.