Young Adult books have been topping the bestsellers charts increasingly often over the past couple of years, particularly as more and more have film adaptations released; just think about The Fault In Our Stars, The Hunger Games and even Harry Potter and you’ll realise just how far the appeal of these books reaches.
And why shouldn’t adults enjoy YA books? Just because a book was written with a teenage audience in mind, this doesn’t mean the themes and characters can’t appeal to all ages. Just as a crime book can be enjoyed by people who usually enjoy romance, or fantasy can be enjoyed by avid non-fiction readers, YA books can be enjoyed by all ages if you find the right one for you! So here is my countdown of the best YA books for adults to read and enjoy!
The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games is one of the big, iconic books which really brought dystopian fiction to a wide audience; it’s set in a society split into districts, where every year 2 children from each district are selected to take part in The Hunger Games; a fight to the death broadcast throughout the country. When 16 year-old Katniss volunteers for her district to save her younger sister we get to follow her journey and begin to understand just how warped her society is.
The contestants are treated like celebrities and it provides an interesting commentary on today’s celebrity-obsessed culture and our love of reality TV. Later in the series, it also provides an interesting insight into a nation at war and what happens when the masses decide to speak up for themselves and fight back, whilst showing how this can affect families, friends and relationships.
Although the main characters may be children, the decisions they have to make and the journey they take is a very adult one. Regardless of your age, you’ll find something in this series which you can relate to.
Girl, Interrupted – Susanna Kaysen
Girl, Interrupted is a short, quick read which tells the story of the author’s 2 years spent in a teenage psychiatric ward in the 60s. It’s wonderfully honest and revealing and filled with dark humour. While reminiscent of The Bell Jar, Girl, Interrupted reveals a slightly different side of mental illness; a topic which is still very relevant today.
Even though it’s the story of a teenage girl this doesn’t mean her story isn’t relevant to all ages and genders. At some point everyone feels like life is too much, it’s too difficult and they’re struggling and, in this way, Girl, Interrupted is a book which everyone needs to read at some point.
The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
I’m a huge fan of books with unusual narrators which is perhaps why this appealed to me in the first place as it’s narrated by Death as he tells the story of 9 year old Liesel growing up in Nazi Germany during WWII who finds comfort in the books she steals.
Death follows Liesel as she grows up; her foster father teaches her how to read, she makes friends, she experiences some horrific things, her family hide a Jew in their basement, among a whole host of other things. Without giving too much away, I can tell you The Book Thief is one of the most emotional books I’ve ever read and it even made me cry when I read it… I enjoyed it as much back when I read it at 17 as my sister who was in her 30s did – it’s really one of those books which everyone can appreciate.
Looking For Alaska – John Green
John Green captures the modern teenager’s voice perfectly; his books are full of angst-filled characters who grow and change and learn and Looking For Alaska is no different. Following Miles as he starts at Culver Creek Boarding School, Looking For Alaska is split into 2 sections; Before, as he makes new friends and is drawn into the world of Alaska, a girl he is completely fascinated by, and After, when his life will never be the same.
As with all John Green books, it’s funny, smart and completely emotional. Regardless of your age, you’ll get drawn into the plot, attached the characters and became an emotional wreck in all the right places.