Young Adult Novels My Heart Belongs To

I am a total bookworm and I have always loved to read and write. However, for ten years I’ve been stuck reading young adult novels, but am I even mad about it? No. I don’t think there is a rule that you need to stop reading them as soon as you turn 18. Sure, I am sometimes embarrassed when I’m in Target or Barnes and Noble looking in the teen and young adult sections, but what’s really the alternative? Novels about divorced 30- or 40-year-olds? There does not seem to be a niche for college-aged readers. I can’t relate to people over 30, but I can relate to high school students who are the most common character in young adult novels, because I’ve already experienced that age. As a writer myself, I want to focus on the niche age of 18 to 23, if I ever get a book published.

While I have read adult-aged books by authors like Jodi Picoult, Nicholas Sparks (well some of his), and most recently George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones!), my heart lies with the young adult genre. I grew up with Harry Potter, I love The Hunger Games, and I was captivated by Divergent. However, some of my favorites are not Sarah Dessen’s, John Green’s, or all the book-turned-movie stories. Here are some of my favorite underrated young adult novels for the college-aged reader.

1. The Red Queen, Victoria Aveyard


“This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.”

My review:

I am a freaking sucker for fantasy, and The Red Queen series is absolutely one of my favorites. It has plot twists, romance, and of course a dystopian society… who can resist? Mare Barrow is one of my favorite book characters and she is beautifully brought to life. This is about a revolution, a band of heroes, and a girl rising from nothing. The fourth and final book comes out this May, and I cannot wait for the conclusion.

2. The Anatomical Shape of a Heart, Jenn Bennet


“Artist Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she's spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci's footsteps, she's ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital's Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive . . . and possibly one of San Francisco's most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is - and tries to uncover what he's hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in Beatrix's own family's closet tear them apart?”

My review:

Okay, who can resist a bad boy? I know I can’t, especially one like Jack. Beatrix, a.k.a. Bex, is amazing and driven to accomplish her goal of becoming a medical illustrator, which I think is such a cool career. There are serious backstories to this book and I fell in love with it all: the rebellion, art, and of course, the romance.

3. Every Day, David Levithan


“A has no friends. No parents. No family. No possessions. No home, even. Because every day, A wakes up in the body of a different person. A is able to access each person's memory, enough to be able to get through the day without parents, friends, and teachers realizing this is not their child, not their friend, not their student. Because it isn't. It's A. It's a lonely existence--until, one day, it isn't. A meets a girl named Rhiannon. And A falls for her after a perfect day together. But when night falls, it's over. Because A can never be the same person twice. But yet, A can't stop thinking about Rhiannon. She becomes A's reason for existing. So every day, in different bodies--of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and walks of life--A tries to get back to her and convince her of their love. But can their love transcend such an obstacle?”

My review:

This book just became a movie but I haven’t seen it yet. I’ll also admit that it has been a while since I’ve read this and I don’t remember all of it, but I remember the beauty of it. David Levithan beautifully captured the spectrum of human life from emotion to gender to sexuality. A becomes someone new every day, so A has experienced so many different things.

4. The Selection, Kiera Cass


“For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself—and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.”

My review:

This series has three books, and then two more with its own storyline. The Selection is basically The Bachelor, but with a prince and it’s set in a dystopian society… what else do you need, really? It’s a cheesy romance with a strong female lead who stands up for her friends and what she believes in. The story has a dark side with its cruel society and tragic past.

5. 13 Little Blue Envelopes, Maureen Johnson


“Ginny Blackstone never thought she’d spend her summer vacation backpacking across Europe. But that was before she received the first little blue envelope from Aunt Peg.

This letter was different from Peg’s usual letters for two reasons:

1. Peg had been dead for three months.

2. The letter included $1000 cash for a passport and a plane ticket.

Armed with instructions for how to retrieve 12 other letters Peg wrote—12 letters that tell Ginny where she needs to go and what she needs to do when she gets there—Ginny quickly finds herself swept away in her first real adventure. Traveling from London to Edinburgh to Amsterdam and beyond, Ginny begins to uncover stories from her aunt’s past and discover who Peg really was. But the most surprising thing Ginny learns isn’t about Peg . . . it’s about herself.

Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it’s all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.”

My review:

I read this book over the summer, and I can’t think of a better season to read it. The easy-to-read adventure took me across Europe as Ginny discovered secrets, as well as a whole new part of her. Her journey would be a dream come true for me, a travel addict. With each envelope read, I wished I could be alongside her. There is a sequel to this, but I have not read it.

I’m sure I missed some great books, and I also have a lot more on my list to read. I encourage you to give these books a try and get hooked on them just like I have.

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