Young Adult Books: The 100 Best Novels for Teenagers

Young Adult Books

Young adult books fascinate more than just the younger readers among us. While many of the novels in this category have a light-hearted feel, some of them are not afraid to tackle serious topics that will stay with you for a long time. We want to present you with the 100 best books for young adults in our selection. The best list for young readers, the literary young at heart, and the nostalgic – have fun!

1st place: Joanne K. Rowling – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” kicks off a seven-part fantasy series that takes its readers into a breathtaking wizarding world. Young Harry, however, initially ekes out an incredibly thankless existence. Orphaned, the scion is doomed to grow up with his imperious next of kin, the Dursley family. When the protagonist with the lightning scar on his forehead suddenly receives a letter from Hogwarts’s legendary magic school, nothing in Harry’s life is ever the same again.

Joanne K. Rowling has created a literary masterpiece with the “Harry Potter” series. The British author decorates her books with fantastic adventures, dramatic showdowns, and heartwarming stories about friendship, love, and courage. An absolute must for any reader who has even a slight penchant for fairy-tale characters in detailed dream worlds.

2nd place: J.R.R. Tolkien – The Little Hobbit

The Little Hobbit
Bilbo Baggins shuns any form of adventure. The little hobbit enjoys his comfortable life in his idyllic homeland. However, the halfling’s world is permanently shaken when the wizard Gandalf suddenly appears on his doorstep, soon followed by a band of rude dwarves. The unequal team sets off on a dangerous journey; in the end, a legendary dragon wants to be defeated.

“The Little Hobbit” by “The Lord of the Rings” creator J.R.R. Tolkien is rightly considered one of the essential adventure books of the 20th century. It offers its fans a successful introduction to a self-contained world populated by orcs, elves, and trolls. The book is a perfect way to escape from the daily grind and immerse yourself in the incomparable story of the legendary author.

3rd place: John Green – Fate is a rotten traitor

Fate is a lousy traitor (Hanser series)
As soon as a person is confronted with the horror diagnosis of “cancer,” a world collapses for the person affected. While adults find it difficult to cope with such strokes of fate, the question arises as to how young people deal with this low blow in life.

John Green’s novel “Fate is a Lousy Traitor” tells us the story of sixteen-year-old Hazel, who has been suffering from thyroid cancer for some time now. Within a support group for teenage patients, the title character meets Gus, severely scarred by his cancer. The teenagers get to know and love each other – but unfortunately, fate does not always provide a happy ending.

It is a heartbreaking love story in a coming-of-age context that will stay with you for a long time because of its emotional makeup.

4th place: Suzanne Collins – The Tributes of Panem: Deadly Games

The Tributes of Panem 1. Deadly Games
If you liked the first part of the “The Tribute of Panem” series, you could look forward to two more volumes of the series, which round off the fantasy trilogy of the author Suzanne Collins in a skillful way. In terms of content, the book takes us into a bleak future scenario in which our once flourishing earth resembles a lonely pile of rubble. An integral part of everyday life is the so-called Hunger Games, an annual martial event in which only one participant ever escapes with his life. When teenager Katniss learns that her younger sister is to participate in this year’s tournament, the protagonist volunteers to participate in the Hunger Games instead of her relatives.

“The Tributes of Panem” is stylistically quite different from similar books for young people. Suzanne Collins has created a multi-layered work of art that exaggerates and critically questions many social aspects of our lives. Nevertheless, the story of Katniss is gripping and authentic, which gives the book an addictive factor.

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5th place: Daniel Defoe – Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe - Complete Edition
“Robinson Crusoe” by Daniel Defoe appeared on the market more than 300 years ago and thus represented not only one of the most popular novels for young people of all time but also an essential contemporary testimony from days long past. In terms of content, we follow the titular protagonist, a well-to-do merchant’s son who gives up his comfortable life to go to sea. However, after the first-person narrator is shipwrecked and stranded on a desert island, numerous adventures await our titular hero.

“Robinson Crusoe” was to have a lasting impact on the development of European literature. Although the work is not free of outdated world views and prejudices, the exceptional value of the classic novel is still undisputed.

6th place: Ernest Hemingway – The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea
As staged as “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway, the lessons drawn from the short novel, published in 1952, are equally profound. The plot centers on an old fisherman who has long been driven to catch a giant marlin. However, bad luck seems to stick to the proverbial heels of the title character.

Although the book faced some criticism at its publication, it is thanks to works such as “The Old Man and the Sea” that Ernest Hemingway has finally established himself among the ranks of the most significant authors on our globe. The reduced setting focuses on a single man’s struggle without getting lost in distracting subplots.

7th place: Patrick Süskind – Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
While most of us perceive the scent of perfume as a pleasant, quickly passing whiff, the perfect smell meant more to Jean-Baptiste Grenouille than anything else. The protagonist of Patrick Süskind’s novel even goes so far as to kill other people to process their scents into a unique perfume.

“Perfume” is distinguished above all by its gruesome subject matter, which portrays the abysses of the human soul in an incomparable power of language. After its publication, the 1985 novel quickly became a hotly debated object of world literature. More than 20 million copies sold show that the German author has created a modern monument with his work of art.

8th place: William Golding – Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies: Novel. Newly translated by Peter Torberg (Fischer Klassik)
The first work by British author William Golding, published in 1954, remained the most successful release in the author’s career. Within the story of “Lord of the Flies,” we follow a group of teenagers struggling to survive after a plane crash on a deserted South Sea island. The contradictory dynamics that quickly develop between the protagonists are a great attraction of the novel. While one-half of the stranded people decide to hold on to the values and morals taught in civilized society, the other part of the youth seeks reckless adventure. It doesn’t take long until a meaningful conflict between the two camps emerges.

The serious subject matter contrasts well with the otherwise idyllic tropical setting. The writer’s work exemplifies that the innocence of the human soul is always linked to certain external factors. An absolute cult book with depth that you should not miss out on!

9th place: Harper Lee – To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird ..
In the early 1930s, large segments of the U.S. population found themselves in highly expendable living conditions. The Great Depression, one of the worst economic crises in history, swept across the country like a wave of poverty. But racism against African-Americans was also still pervasive. When attorney Atticus Finch is called to defend a black defendant in court, the public defender quickly faces the wrath of his arch-conservative fellow citizens. The racist hostilities rapidly develop a dangerous momentum of their own.

“Whoever Disturbs the Mockingbird” was published in 1961 and does not shy away from impressively presenting the terrible consequences of social prejudice. More than 40 million copies of the book have been sold to date, which is still a source of heated controversy in its American homeland.

10th place: Rick Riordan – Percy Jackson: Thieves in Olympus

 Percy Jackson - Thieves on Olympus (Percy Jackson 1): The first volume of the bestselling series!
“Thieves in Olympus” represents the first representative of the “Percy Jackson” series, which in detail comprises five volumes. The novel is aimed at all readers who have a penchant for elaborate fantasy narratives in a mythical context. The 17-year-old Percy is considered in his environment as a crank which causes nothing but trouble. One day, the teenage protagonist finally learns the truth about his past: the title character is the son of the fabled god Poseidon. From then on, Percy faces the terrible wrath of Zeus, who suspects the son of the gods of having stolen his legendary thunderbolt. A thrillingly staged fantasy epic awakens in us the desire for the following parts of the series.

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11th place: Lois Lowry – Guardian of Memory

Keeper of Memory: Novel
“Keeper of Memory” by Lois Lowry combines a stylish science fiction setting with the sensitively described story of Jonas’s title character. At first glance, the teenager’s home resembles a utopia come true. In the world of Jonas, there is neither war nor poverty. However, the government has equated the population through a futuristic drug; the drug causes the inhabitants not to feel any powerful emotions. Only the Keeper of Memory knows how the world used to be. When he shares his secret knowledge with Jonas, it has momentous consequences for the young title character.

The work of the US-American author is bursting with social sideshows and encourages us to question the developments on our globe critically.

12th place: Clive Staples Lewis – The Chronicles of Narnia: The Wonder of Narnia

The Wonder of Narnia: The Chronicles of Narnia Vol. 1
Before we get to the actual content of “The Wonder of Narnia,” we would first like to do some clarification work. Published in 1955, this novel is not the first spin-off of the fairy-tale, seven-volume “Narnia” series. In fact, “The King of Narnia” appeared already five years earlier. However, the individual books were not published chronologically in terms of their internal timeline, which is why the Irish author Clive Staples Lewis himself once recommended his readers to begin their journey into the breathtaking dream world with “The Wonder of Narnia.” Within the book, we learn how the fabled kingdom came to be and what adventures the earliest inhabitants of the fairyland experienced.

“The Chronicles of Narnia” is a sure bet for all readers who like thrillingly staged heroic stories in a magical setting.

13th place: The Diary of Anne Frank

The diary entries of Anne Frank are not a book for young people in the classical sense. The descriptions captured on paper are instead a touching testimony of a Jewish girl who had to hide from the terror of the National Socialists during the Second World War together with her family and other persecuted persons. In 1942, the victims were condemned to live in a secret backhouse in the Netherlands to escape the German occupiers’ horrors. According to this book, the teenager describes her emotions and experiences in an extraordinary, depressing context.

The diary entries end just as abruptly as the sudden arrest of Anne and her fellow victims. After her deportation, the girl died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in the spring of 1945.

14th place: Markus Zusak – The Book Thief

The Book Thief. Novel
The novel “The Book Thief” saw the literary light of day in 2005 and presents us with an unusual protagonist. We live through the experiences described, which take place around World War II, from the point of view of death. The latter accompanies nine-year-old Liesel wherever she goes, without knowing her sinister henchman.

“The Book Thief” stands out for its engaging yet nuanced narrative style. The story’s unorthodox approach brings a breath of fresh air to your bookshelf and encourages reflection on life in general.

15th place: Susan E. Hinton – The Outsiders

The Outsider
The Outsiders” centers on the ruthless feud between two rival youth gangs. The “greasers” and the “socials” develop into absolute arch-enemies over time. The battle of the gangs soon claims its first fatality. The situation then continues to escalate until the hatred of the hostile youths finally reaches its terrible climax.

The book of the US-American author Susan E. Hinton appeared on the market in 1967 and depicted the ills within American society in a captivating way. The socially critical work is considered a milestone of world literature today.

16th place: Veronica Roth – The Destiny

Destiny, Deadly Truth, Final Decision, Four's Story, V Roth
After the world was devastated by a devastating war, the population of Chicago has divided itself into five different classes. The members of the individual factions always pursue a specific goal, which should serve to restore the morale of humanity. The class in which the inhabitants are placed depends entirely on their talents. However, Tris surprisingly has all five skills, so she is subsequently classified as “indeterminate.” Soon the title heroine is on the trail of a large-scale plot that could cost her her life.

“Destiny” by Veronica Roth is the literary prelude to a three-part series of novels. The author succeeds in coherently portraying the protagonists’ development, which allows the reader to empathize very well with the emotional world of the main characters.

17th place: Stephen Chbosky – So This Is My Life / Maybe Better Tomorrow

So this is my life: Novel
To avoid misunderstandings: “So this is my life” was also published in this country under the title “Maybe better tomorrow,” so both books are the same novel. The U.S. author Stephen Chbosky is told in an exchange of letters. The protagonist Charlie starts his first year at high school in the early 90s and has already had to cope with several strokes of fate in his life. The best and only friend of the psychologically unstable teenager took his own life, and since then, Charlie has spent his life as a reclusive outsider. When the teenager finally meets Sam and Patrick, a little light returns to the introvert’s dark daily life, and the threesome experiences highs and lows together.

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This coming-of-age story is not intended to be a light-hearted teen tale but rather a believable portrayal of the turmoil and high points of growing up – and it succeeds on all levels.

18th place: William Goldman – The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's classic tale of true love and noble adventures
We all know and love fairy tales. “The Princess Bride” by William Goldman takes many elements of the time-honored tales and then enjoyably puts them through the mill. Accordingly, the novel is full of fairy-tale clichés, such as noble princes, a fair maiden in distress, and legendary warriors.

The work, published in 1973, is full of comedic touches that still work wonderfully today.

19th place: Jules Verne – Around the world in 80 days

Around the world in 80 days
The gentleman Phileas Fogg is an overcorrect personality. The well-to-do Englishman, characterized by his stoic calm, never does anything rash. It is, therefore, all the more astonishing that the protagonist embarks on an adventurous wager to circumnavigate the globe in just 80 days. With his faithful servant Passepartout in tow, the eccentric embarks on a fascinating journey on which he could lose not only a small fortune but also his freedom.

The first edition of Jules Verne’s masterpiece was published in 1873. The story takes its readers to many exotic locations, described in detail, and doesn’t skimp on suspense, wit, and drama.

20th place: Stephanie Meyer – Bite at Dawn

Bite at Dawn (Bella and Edward 1)
Vampires are ruthless bloodsuckers who are relentless in their pursuit of ordinary mortals? Wrong Thought! If you follow the famous “Twilight” series by Stephanie Meyer, the flutterers are sometimes attractive creatures who are no strangers to feelings such as love and affection. The entertaining love story between Bella and the vampire Edward became an absolute bestseller in no time at all.

Places 21-100 of the best young adult books of all time:

Place:Roman:Author:Link to book:
21.Eleanor & ParkRainbow Rowell
22.The boy in the striped pajamasJohn Boyne
23.Three steps to youTobias Iaconis
24.The Hate U GiveAngie Thomas
25.Only three wordsBecky Albertalli
26.Keeper of the memoryLois Lowry
27.Sophie in the castle of the wizardDiana Wynne Jones
28.One like AlaskaJohn Green
29.The jokerMarkus Zusak
30.When I stayGayle Forman
31.I give you the sunJandy Nelson
32.Alanna – The Song of the LionessTamora Pierce
33.Call of the WildJack London
34.Margo’s FootstepsJohn Green
35.Evil comes on silent solesRay Bradbury
36.The nightElie Wiesel
37.Between now and alwaysSarah Dessen
38.The Catcher in the RyeJ. D. Salinger
39.The Chosen – In the LabyrinthJames Dashner
40.As long as we lieE. Lockhart
41.Angel NightLauren Kate
42.When you die, your whole life passes you by, they sayLauren Oliver
43.Four colors of magicV. E. Schwab
44.Will & WillDavid Levithan and John Green
45.Dead girls do not lieJay Asher
46.SpeakLaurie Halse Anderson
47.Daughter of Smoke and Bone: Between the WorldsLaini Taylor
48.Bloodlines – False PromisesRichelle Mead
49.One for fourAnn Brashares
50.A Different PeaceJohn Knowles
51.His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass, The Magic Knife and The Amber Telescope in a slipcasePhilip Pullman
52.The PresenteeKristin Cashore
53.To All the Boys I’ve Loved BeforeJenny Han
54.Eragon – The Legacy of the Dragon RidersChristopher Paolini
55.Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universeBenjamin Alire Sáenz
56.Super Good Days or The Strange World of Christopher BooneMark Haddon
57.Very blue eyesToni Morrison
58.Treasure IslandRobert Louis Stevenson
59.Everything okayNina LaCour
60.The glass bellSylvia Plath
61.City of Bones: Chronicles of the UnderworldCassandra Clare
62.Shadow ChildrenMargaret Peterson Haddix
63.BartimaeusJonathan Stroud
64.The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time IndianSherman Alexie
65.Heartbeat in FrenchStephanie Perkins
66.Cry! Only if I am loud, things will changeLaurie Halse Anderson
67.The Desert PlanetFrank Herbert
68.1984George Orwell
69.EarthseaUrsula K. Le Guin
70.A really crazy storyNed Vizzini
71.Chronicles of the ShadowhuntersCassandra Clare
72.One of Us Is LyingKaren M. McManus
73.Fire AwakeningRosaria Munda
74.First love [after 19 futile attempts]John Green
75.DeliriumLauren Oliver
76.In the end we die anywayAdam Silvera
77.Drawn: House of NightP.C. Cast Kristin Cast
78.Sadie: If she dies, no one will know the truthCourtney Summers
79.Finished (Unwind)Neal Shusterman
80.Animal FarmGeorge Orwell
81.Leviathan – The Secret MissionScott Westerfeld
82.Song of the CrowsLeigh Bardugo
83.On My Sister’s LifeJodi Picoult
84.Just ListenSarah Dessen
85.Angel of the nightBecca Fitzpatrick
86.Flowers for AlgernonDaniel Keyes
87.The Scorpion HouseNancy Farmer
88.FangirlRainbow Rowell
89.LostMichael Grant
90.Fahrenheit 451Ray Bradbury
91.The Adventures of Huckleberry FinnMark Twain
92.Dumplin’ – Go Big or Go HomeJulie Murphy
93.Nick & Norah – Soundtrack of a nightDavid Levithan and Rachel Cohn
94.Long Way DownJason Reynolds
95.Ender’s GameOrson Scott Card
96.Frankly in LoveDavid Yoon
97.The Last UnicornPeter S. Beagle
98.The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time IndianSherman Alexie
99.Vampire Academy: Blood SistersRichelle Mead
100.After SummerMaggie Stepfather

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