15 Young Adult Novels That Will Entertain and Challenge

Many people stop reading books when they finish school. Some schools treat reading like a chore. It isn't fun, it's a task to be completed and then forgotten. There are a ton of really great books out there to read for fun. A good book can change your perspective on the world around you. It will open up your mind and allow you experiences you can never achieve in real life.

15 Young Adult Novels That Will Entertain and Challenge
15 Young Adult Novels That Will Entertain and Challenge

This list is full of great books for both the casual and avid reader. Some are simple and some are a little more intense. These are all cultivated from my personal reading experience of looking through the teen section at my local library and by what I could find at local book sales.

Many of these books you can find at your local library or purchase for under $5 on Amazon.com. There are also e-books available for many of them if you choose to read on a kindle or other device.

1. Stranger in a Strange Land (Robert Heinlein)

This is my all time favorite book. I read this at a point in my life where I was very interested in religion. So if you're interested in religions, cults, and Martians then this book is for you.

Michael Valentine is a human who was raised by Maritans on Mars. He learned their ways of how to connect with each other and the planet on a spiritual level. He understands things more deeply than normal humans do so when he is brought back to Earth he is sort of a messiah.

When he encounters the Christian religion he decides he should start his own, the "Church of All Worlds."

The main characters encounter many interesting people and the story plays out in a very believable manner. It sounds like something that could happen not too far into our future.

2. Maximum Ride (James Patterson)

I loved these books in middle school. I was very willing to suspend my disbelief and believe James Patterson when he told me there were six genetically engineered bird kids flying around fighting kids that are part human part wolf.

Then he wrote the fourth book in the series which is about how bad global warming is, it's purely political and just trash. Then the series took a steep dive in my opinion. So stick to the first three books okay?

Bird kids, with wings and other magical powers including but not limited to mind reading, breathing underwater, and turning invisible when still. They're powerful and they're all under the age of 15 for most of the series.

Unfortunately there are so many plot holes in this series that they become very difficult to get through unless you have never heard of critically reading a book.

3. The Nine Lives of Chloe King (Celia Thomson)

I found this book on the sale rack at my library. My name is Chloe so I immediately bought it without a second thought.

Where Maximum Ride is about bird kids this book is about cat people. Yep, people with the reflexes and abilities of cats. They also have nine lives. So when Chloe falls off a building at the beginning of the book she realizes she is one of these cat people by the fact that she doesn't die. She also learns a bunch of other things and the story gets a little weird.

Most of the plot focuses on the love triangle between Chloe and two guys. Does she date guy one or guy two? The people trying to kill her for being a cat person are never really much of a threat.

Liz Braswell was hired to write the series under the pen name Celia Thompson. There were supposed to be nine books in the series but interest dropped off after book three so that's where the series ended. It ties up well and is a satisfying ending.

4. The Shadow of the Wind (Carlo Ruiz Zafon)

This is the deepest book you will ever read. It's a mystery and a love story and a million layers deep. Everything connects to everything else. It's really hard to describe it. It is an adult novel though. Some of the themes are pretty intense and while I read it in high school I understand it better now that I'm in my twenties.

I will tell you that it is slow going. I'm a fast reader and it took me months of forcing myself to pick it up and read it before I finally finished. The second read through went much better because I knew how amazing it was.

The writing style is fantastic and I really need to get my hands on some of Zafon's other books.

This is a novel about looking beyond the surface of things. I get chills just thinking about it.

5. Shades of Grey (Jasper Fforde)

The premise of this book is a dystopian future where a caste system exists based on the colors of light that people are able to see. Those who can see high levels of blue and red (purple) are very important. Those who can see yellow are the rule makers. Those who can see grey are the working class.

I love this book because there are so many elements to it. It's written in a humorous manner that makes you want to know what happens next. It also contains a lot of unanswered questions about the world that the reader gets to find out at the same pace as the main character. This novel is a love story, a mystery, a murder mystery, and a coming of age novel.

The main character is male and has many very male interests but the females in the story are also very strong and relatable making it a good choice for girls as well.

6. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (J.K. Rowling)

Of course Harry Potter is going to be on my list. If you haven't read the series yet then now is the best time to start. The novels start out simple and grow more complicated as the characters grow up.

If you've only seen the movies then you're only getting about 10% of the awesomeness of the series and the characters.

J.K. Rowling is one of my literary heroes. This series is more than just a bunch of children waving wands around and speaking in Latin. She took a story about magic and made it about character, growing up, friendship, love, and loss.

You will laugh, you will cry, you will scream at the book and throw it across the room. Harry Potter is a classic of our era.

7. A Swiftly Tilting Planet (Madeline L'Engle)

I've always liked Madeline L'Engle as an author. She has an interesting perspective on life and how it all works. I started out by reading aWrinkle in Time and couldn't get enough so I went to read nearly everything else she had written.

This book in particular struck me. I found it really intriguing how she spun the story using science I couldn't comprehend and a form of time travel I didn't understand. I know it has always been on my top ten favorite books list and it will probably always remain there.

This book taught me that everything changes everything else. Every one of us is connected, some of the connections are easy to see and some are more obscure, but they are always there.

8. The Egypt Game (Zilpha Keatly Snyder)

I don't remember how I came across this book, but I do know it is the book that made me love Zilpha Keatly Snyder. She writes about real life and problems that kids face with friends, growing up, and their parents.

This book is about a group of kids who take an abandoned lot and turn it into ancient Egypt. They wear costumes and each one acts out their roles even going as far as researching how to embalm an animal.

There are multiple dangers in this story that kids face in our society. The biggest theme that Snyder writes about is growing up. It flows through all of her books.

Magic exists in the world, but you have to work for it and make it.

9. On a Pale Horse (Piers Anthony)

This is a series I got from my Step-dad. I thought it was amazing. The series is Incarnations of Immortality and it consists of 5 books. Each book is about a different incarnation. Death, Time, Fate, War, and, Gaia (Mother Earth). Each of the main characters is tied to the others through their past and it is a very uniquely woven story that is just beautiful and I strongly recommend it to those who like a little fantasy with their sci-fi.

This series taught me that stories require depth. To look beyond the shallow characters and delve into their background, their back story and everybody who knew them before they hit their current situation. It shows the beauty of recurring characters and how important they are to a plot line. Characters that seem insignificant in the first book are actually vitally important down the line. This is another series where I learned more from the physical words of the story than the emotions the story instilled in me.

10. The Gospel According to Larry (Janet Tashan)

This is a book about an ordinary person changing the world through words. Josh writes a blog with big ideas and his popularity grows but soon his anti-consumerism message gets buried under consumerism of his message.

The main character owns 75 possessions and it challenged me as a reader to cut down on some of the baggage and things in my life. This book challenged me to become a better person and do something for the world. It challenged me to stop consuming and start creating engaging content.

The series shows that anyone can change the world if they put enough hard work into it. It's very inspiring. In the second book Josh runs for president.

11. Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card)

I read Ender's Game because I remember my step-dad telling me about how it ended and I always found it intriguing. This book receives a lot of criticism about the characters. Ender is a six year old who can do no wrong and knows more than everybody else at all times.

Orson Scott Card has a gift for telling difficult stories. He knows how to spin science in a believable way. He tells stories that most others consider too graphic or gruesome. (His short stories are wonderful and can be found in Google books.)

Card has a very individual writing style that draws the reader in and lets them experience the universe and the minds of it's characters.

12. Armageddon Summer (Jane Yolen & Bruce Coville)

I love the art on the cover of this book. I just think it's so beautiful. Bruce Coville is a long standing favorite author of mine.

While I don't believe in teenage love (the main characters are very young) I do believe that people are brought together to help each other at certain points in their life.

This book is about a cult and how people are brought together under strange circumstances. It's about family relationships and romantic relationships.

This is a really short read. I read it about once a summer because I can finish it in just a couple hours. It really makes you consider the relationships in your life and their importance.

13. Godless (Pete Hautman)

This book is about some kids who create a religion based around the town's water tower. It's an interesting concept, it gives life but otherwise sits there and doesn't really answer anyone's questions or help anyone with their problems.

It shows how foolish beliefs can be if led by the wrong people. It also shows just how charismatic some people can be in getting others to follow them. Just because someone has a religion and followers doesn't make them right, or even necessarily sane. Look at the core morals and then make your decision. Don't let those beliefs control/ruin your life.

14. The Dark is Rising (Susan Cooper)

This series is deep and magical. I feel in love with it in middle school. However it is not an easy read. I don't know what allowed middle school me to read these sorts of books but unless I read it then I can barely get through it now.

This is a story about magic that is right under our noses and exists in the real world. The sort of magic that people search their entire lives for.

Themes of destiny and following your heart are prevalent. Mistakes happen but they teach us lessons.

If you want a deep interconnected story about high magic and real people then this is for you. Start with "The Dark is Rising" then read the prequel "Over Sea, Under Stone."

15. So You Want to Be a Wizard (Diane Duane)

I found this book when I was searching for something to sate my hunger for more Harry Potter.

This series has a more down to earth magic system. It requires an exchange of energy which is something that Harry Potter doesn't have. Therefore if you want to do a big spell be prepared to be exhausted afterwards.

It has themes of coming of age and growing up, relationships, friendships, problems that can't be solved.

There are several books in the series and each moves the story forward. There is no repetition of core plot. The overall premise is that the universe is slowly dying and the "wizards" are there to slow it down, everything dies and everything is turned into something useful, recycled.

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alyssagoesgreen profile image

alyssagoesgreen 2 years ago from USA

Great suggestions! The Egypt Game was always a childhood favorite of mine and A Wrinkle In Time as well. I'll definitely check out some of these. Thank you for the hub.

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