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My Top 5 Young Adult Books

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved to read. My mom read me a picture book every night, and, when I got a little older, I’d read myself books before bed. The first book I ever learned to “read” was Franklin’s School Play—I couldn’t actually read at that time, though. My mom had read me the story so many times I memorized which words went with which pictures!

I still love to read today, and my favorite genre is young adult books. Some people turn their nose up at young adult literature, but I think that’s silly—what constitutes a good book is purely subjective. Let the people read what they want! Besides, YA lit has more drama, romance, and humor than other genres, and they can also seamlessly weave in exciting genre fiction plots (like elements of fantasy or sci-fi).

Want to get into YA but aren’t sure where to start? Here is a list of my top five favorite YA books from the past few years. Hopefully, it’ll help you find your next read!

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

From Goodreads: “Jack Ellison King. King of Almost. He almost made valedictorian. He almost made varsity. He almost got the girl . . .

When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack. Jack’s curse of almost is finally over.

But this love story is . . . complicated. It is an almost happily ever after. Because Kate dies. And their story should end there. Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again...Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind. Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences...he has to figure out what he’s willing to do—and let go—to save the people he loves.”

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This book is like Groundhog Day, if the stakes were somehow even higher. It’s a story of love, a story of loss, a story of inexplicable time travel, and a story that answers the question: can we overcome fate? I laughed, I cried, I put the book down and immediately wanted to pick it back up again. Please read this incredible book!

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

From Goodreads: "Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts...I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations...when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?”

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Nicola Yoon—queen of YA. First, she brought us Everything, Everything, and now this masterpiece. The Sun is Also a Star is told from multiple perspectives and tells the story of two teenagers who fall in love in a single day. It makes you think a lot about destiny, soulmates, and the potential that your Daniel or Natasha could come into your life at any second. And that ending…big love.

My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton

From Goodreads: “You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

Or does she?

Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems...one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights. ”

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Jane Eyre gets the supernatural treatment in this tale, the second book by the author trio Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton. If you love the original story but think it needed a little something more—or if you’re an avid Rochester hater like myself—My Plain Jane is the story for you. Also, it gives us the chance to see what it would be like if author Charlotte Brontë was in her own story. An author being in their own book is a great concept, but I don’t think Stephen King would appreciate It very much…I’ll see myself out.

 

The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash

From Goodreads: Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. Archie and Veronica. Althena and Noth.…Graham and Roxy?

Graham met his best friend, Roxy, when he moved into her neighborhood eight years ago and she asked him which Hogwarts house he’d be sorted into. Graham has been in love with her ever since...When Graham learns that the creator of their favorite comic, The Chronicles of Althena, is making a rare appearance at this year’s New York Comic Con, he knows he must score tickets. And the event inspires Graham to come up with the perfect plan to tell Roxy how he really feels about her. He’s got three days to woo his best friend at the coolest, kookiest con full of superheroes and supervillains...And Graham is starting to realize fictional love stories are way less complicated than real-life ones.”

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This book is pop culture references galore. Most of the story takes place at New York Comic Con, and there are book, movie, and video game Easter eggs everywhere. Not to mention Graham and Roxy are the coolest duo of best friends in the world. Also, can I actually read The Chronicles of Althena now? It sounds freaking incredible!

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

From Goodreads: “It all begins with a fugitive billionaire and the promise of a cash reward. Turtles All the Way Down is about lifelong friendship, the intimacy of an unexpected reunion, Star Wars fan fiction, and tuatara. But at its heart is Aza Holmes, a young woman navigating daily existence within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

In his long-awaited return, John Green shares Aza's story with shattering, unflinching clarity.”

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As someone who struggles with mental illness and anxiety, I saw fragments of myself in Aza. I love how this book weaves so many elements together—the protagonist’s struggle with OCD, the mystery of a missing billionaire, and many, many Star Wars references. This is my favorite John Green book—and that’s saying something, because he’s written lots of hits!

What’s your favorite YA book? Are any of them on this list?

xo Rachel

Rachel is a senior and Creative Writing major/English minor at UNCW. She loves to write about entertainment and often publishes listicles on her favorite movies, music, and TV. Rachel is probably rereading the Percy Jackson books, watching comedy specials on Netflix, or petting a dog right about now. Sometimes, she's doing all three.
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