The Fandom’s Best YA Books of the Decade

We’re a couple days away from the end of the year, but it’s also the end of the decade!

Young adult books shaped The Fandom from day one, so we thought we’d celebrate the decade that was with a little list! We asked our staff to share their favorite Young Adult novels from the past 10 years– a task that was sometimes nostalgic and sometimes surprising (“What do you mean that came out nine years ago?!”)

Take a look and see if your favorites made the cut!

Listed by release date.

MOCKINGJAY by Suzanne Collins

August 24, 2010

I recognize that not everyone loved this series ender but oh man, did I ever! Katniss’ journey holds a major place in my heart. Sure, the love triangle came on a little too thick (reportedly at the behest of the publisher,) but the book carefully explored politics, warfare, and PTSD while giving us a heart-pounding race through The Capitol, a much more realistic take on trust and romance than most YA novels offer, devastating losses and hard-won victories, and a beautiful, bittersweet ending that’s etched into my brain forever.

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


HEROES OF OLYMPUS by Rick Riordan

October 12, 2010

(Yes, we know it’s middle grade, but we’re giving it a pass!) Since the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series completed before 2010, I decided to choose another series by Rick Riordan. The Greek mythology world has been analyzed and renewed in a way that is exciting for all ages. The quick-witted humor, the humanized gods and dehumanized men, and seeing our favorite heroes grow up alongside us is something hard to forget.

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


CINDER by Marissa Meyer

January 3, 2012

It takes great skill to take a popular fairy tale and make it your own, especially when the stories have been made over and over and over again. But Marissa Meyer did just that with The Lunar Chronicles, starting with Cinder. She was able to tell the story of Snow White in a Sci-fi world and make it completely original. The attention to details was perfect and the way she kept the essence of the original fairy tales was amazing. You felt like you already knew these characters, but were allowed to meet them for the very first time all over again.

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green

January 10, 2012

This book about two cancer-stricken teens who fall in love hits a lot of emotional levels that still stay with you long after you’ve read it. It’s wonderfully told, despite a tad more pretentiousness than I would’ve liked. However, that doesn’t negate how strongly you feel for these teens who continuously have to deal with not only the physical struggles of their illness but the mental and emotional issues that go along with it.

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo

June 5, 2012

It’s been such a long time since we got a fantasy world that’s so detailed that you think it’s real. But Leigh Bardugo did just that with the Grishaverse. You automatically feel like the setting is real and as if you could get on a plane and go visit it at this very moment. The characters were fresh and captivating, the story was mesmerizing, and I still can’t believe it’s taken this long for an adaptation to happen. The Grishaverse stands up with Hogwarts and The Capitol as one of the best settings in a YA series.

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


EVERY DAY by David Levithan

August 28, 2012

The idea of someone jumping from one body to the next, never having a physical form of their own was fascinating to me. What a unique character Every Day’s protagonist, A, is. A is used to waking up in a new body every morning–until A meets Rhiannon. I tend to find romance in YA novels pretty cliché, but the obstacles these two faced kept them and their relationship interesting. Every Day also raises complicated physiological questions: What does it mean to be human, to be alive, to have a form of consciousness?

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


CLOCKWORK PRINCESS by Cassandra Clare

September 5, 2013

If I were going to choose a favorite of all Shadowhunter Chronicles books by Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Princess is hands-down my absolute favorite, no matter what decade. All Cassandra’s Shadowhunters books are amazing, but something about the bond between Will Herondale and Jem Carstairs, as well as the connection between Tessa Gray with both Will and Jem, is so unique and true that it makes me wish they were real people. Will and Jem displayed such a strong parabatai bond, they continue to still be the epitome of a relationship that is “stronger than brothers.” The story itself was full of action, drama, and emotion that was so overwhelming, I had to put the book down so I could just breathe. This book still holds its place as one of my favorite overall.

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


RED RISING by Pierce Brown

January 28, 2014

Though the series as a whole is actually a strong science fiction adult series, the first book of was labeled into the YA genre, as it centered on 16-year-old Darrow of Lykos. This was Pierce Brown’s debut book and he pulled me into his creation from page one and hasn’t unhooked me yet. It’s a stirring space saga with creative world-building, intelligent (as well as massively immature and humorous) dialogue, unforgettable characters with complicated relationships, and epic, and quite violent, action sequences that constitutes an incredibly strong foundation for the books that followed. The character of Darrow has been lauded as comparable to Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games trilogy and Ender Wiggin of the Ender’s Saga, however, Darrow and many of the characters in the book have been able to stand on their own, and it shows from the very beginning. I cannot rave enough about this book or this series, and I hope this story and the people within stay with me for a very long time, because I just love them that much!

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER by Stephanie Perkins

August 14, 2014

The entire Anna and the French Kiss series is the perfect combination of fluffy, dramatic, and heartwarming with just a touch of the outrageous, but my favorite of the bunch is Isla and the Happily Ever After. I was so engaged in the earnest joy between Isla and Josh as her years-long crush grows into a relationship, only for them to be tested by distance and diverging futures. It was such an emotional and swoony journey! We also love the way these two interact with characters from the previous books, giving the whole “universe” a strong ending while still working perfectly as a standalone.

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson

September 16, 2014

I’ll Give You The Sun is a really excellent book, but it’s also really, really hard to describe. The story centers around a twin brother and sister. We alternate between the perspectives of Noah at age 13– Awkward and finally unleashing his true self with glorious abandon, concerned for his twin sister, who’s eager to be popular and fit the mold, and Jude at age 16– A crunchy, artsy, borderline hypochondriac who only believes in superstition and secretly mourns the loss of her brother’s individuality and joie de vivre. In between there, STUFF HAPPENS. Through the “then” and “now,” the story slowly stitches itself together into something monumental, poetic, terrible, and touching.

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


RED QUEEN by Victoria Aveyard

February 10, 2015

I’ll admit that it was the book cover that peaked my curiosity with this amazing series. And boy was I happy to pick up this book! Following the uprising of the commoners known as reds, the book focused on the storyline of its female protagonist, Mare Barrow, who throughout the sequels is perfectly portrayed as a captivating and relatable character. A great coming-of-age novel filled with lovable characters, super abilities, and a stunning plot that many readers will enjoy one way or another. It shows growth, struggle, and discovery that a lot of readers go through in real life, no matter the situation. The series is a great four-book read and not to forget the novellas and the companion novel that ties loose ends in the story. And if we were to be blessed with a live-action film of the series, the wardrobe would be a theme in itself!

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo

September 29, 2015

It may seem unfair to include another book by Leigh Bardugo, especially considering the setting also takes place in the Grishaverse. However, the story takes place with a very different and diverse group of people, in a completely different part of the world Bardugo has created. The characters are mesmerizing, each one of them, and the story is just as compelling as the one in the Shadow and Bone series, maybe even more so with such a variety of characters, and each with their own intriguing backstory. With the story centering on a heist that will benefit each of them for their own reasons, it not only has the action and stealth to get your heart racing, this book is chock-full of charisma you can’t help but fall in love with this band of misfits.

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir

February 9, 2016

Sabaa Tahir’s debut novel enraptured readers with a fully-formed fantasy world filled with fascinating characters and eerie magic. Laia and Elias’ very different worlds intersect with charm and complexity, delivering a nail-biting fantasy that will make you feel every emotion on the spectrum. I was both amazed and horrified by the trials and tribulations these characters face, ranging from human brutishness to supernatural ghouls. The story has an eerie, mythic power to it, but it also supplies readers with plenty of sweet, endearing interactions that will help restore your faith in humanity. I remember reading this before Tahir was signed to an overall series deal and thinking about what a TRAVESTY it was that she wasn’t offered one right away, given how amazing this book was!

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


THE RAVEN KING by Maggie Stiefvater 

April 26, 2016

I’m writing about The Raven King because it is marginally my favourite Raven Cycle book, but they are all gorgeous works of art, and definitely rank as one of the best series of the decade, or in YA canon in general. The Raven King was the perfect conclusion to this ethereal, magical series. Maggie Stiefvater manages to weave a world of magic so vivid I find myself listening for the trees to speak any time I’m in a forest, but she also does what many fantasy authors cannot: she makes the real world just as special. The town of Henrietta, where the series takes place, is described so lovingly, so precisely, that it brims with magic just as much as, if not more than, the magical spaces. Stiefvater’s every word is graceful and perfect. No matter how many times I read these books, I am always swept away by the prose and the shimmering magic in all of the story. If you haven’t read The Raven Cycle, it should definitely be your New Year’s Resolution. It will fill a hole in your heart you didn’t even know was there.

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


EMPIRE OF STORMS by Sarah J Maas

September 6, 2016

I probably could have chosen any book by Sarah J. Maas for this list, but I wanted to go with a Throne of Glass book, and this one’s my favorite. With a Throne of Glass book released every year from 2012-2018, and Court of Thorns and Roses books released in between, Sarah J. Maas books defined the decade for a lot of fans. While later books in the series, as well as the Court books are closer to new adult, the beginning of the series, which sets the stage, falls squarely in the YA category. This story of a young, abused girl who becomes an assassin in a competition representing the people she despises took off into so much more, I can’t even begin to describe it without spoilers for previous books. Marking ship wars like I hadn’t seen in years, only for all to come together behind the author’s choice for end game, this series existed in a world of its own with some very loyal followers.

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR by Nicola Yoon

November 1, 2016

The book follows a young girl, Natasha, as she fights to keep her family from being deported within the next 24 hours. Intertwined within that is a young man, Daniel, who has no clue what’s happening and only knows that he wants to capture her heart. I think this had to be one of the best YA novels this decade because it touched on a subject that is very important and at large today. We see a girl who was born here from immigrant parents and yet she’s fighting to not go to a country she’s never been to. The romance part adds some rose colored glasses to the story, but look behind it and you’ll find a gut-wrenching, and oftentimes, too real look at our world.

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


WE ARE OKAY by Nina LaCour 

February 14, 2017

If you asked me to tell you the details of the plot of this book, I probably couldn’t tell you. But I still remember distinctly how it made me feel. The words flowed so smoothly it felt like waltzing. The characters were understated but vivid. The emotions were strong and compelling. I laughed, cried, and hugged the book tightly to my chest. It was devastatingly lovely. It is the story of a girl who has lost so much but still persists, the story of enduring friendship and lasting love. We Are Okay won the Printz award, and it was so deserved; this book shines.

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas

February 28, 2017

The second half of a decade made long strides for diversity and own voices in young adult fiction. Thomas’s debut novel was a turning point for YA contemporary. It both tackled the ongoing topic of police violence and institutionalized racism, as well as gave voice to concerns the black community have suffered for years, and their white neighbors were just beginning to acknowledge. With skyrocketing success upon its release and a quick movie deal and production, this book also confirmed it was exactly what this community needed. It was real, heartbreaking, entertaining, and necessary. It certainly changed my way of thinking about the world and had no competition for my favorite book of 2017. I recommended it to everyone asking for a book and still do to this day. (147 weeks on NYT bestseller list and counting)

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE  by Tomi Adeyemi

March 6, 2018

At the start of March 2018, Black Panther was topping the charts for top-grossing movie, and The Hate U Give was the number one YA book for its 51st straight week on the NYT bestseller list. By its third week out, Children of Blood and Bone would be taking that number one spot, and confirming what book and film industries had already figured out by then: not only are audiences willing to read about POC; they’re craving it. This epic African fantasy brings the themes of the Black Lives Matters movement seamlessly into a cast of all POC. Every moment of this 500+ page book is important to the journey of these characters and shows how well Adeyemi truly understands the art of storytelling. She creates a story that is captivating, enjoyable, high stakes, and important all at once. The moment I hopped in line to grab an ARC with my friends remains one of my best decisions, as this book was certainly more memorable than whatever I had actually been in line for at the time. (Oh, and at the time I’m writing this, it has been on the NYT bestseller list for 94 straight weeks. Currently number 3, with number 1 being its sequel.)

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY by Adib Khorram

August 28, 2018

I’m not sure if there were any books before this one that dealt with characters with clinical depression, but I was drawn to the character of Darius, a young biracial teen who not only has to deal with depression but the struggle of not feeling like he belonged. Author Adib Khorram’s careful and sensitive approach in his storytelling from Darius’s perspective is insightful, empathetic, and emotional you can’t help but feel all the things Darius feels. Also, his take on Persian food affected me so that I had to try the dishes he described, which added another layer of joy to my experience with the book. 

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


Here’s to all the amazing books we’ll be re-reading for decades to come!

About Author

Kait is a New Englander, a YA book and adaptation lover, and a Slythindor, as well as a red velvet and red wine enthusiast. She likes to like things. Catch her on Twitter: @kaitmary

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