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5 Young Adult Novels Worthy of Adult Audiences
Lauren Oliver Reads Chapter 1 of Panic
1. Panic by Lauren Oliver
Panic is the most recently published novel by Lauren Oliver. Like a quick-spreading rumor, the story is unimaginable, shocking, and just believable enough to captivate the audience.
Panic takes place in the small town of Carp, New York. Graduation marks the start of a dangerous and illegal game that only graduating seniors can play. There is one winner. The prize is life-changing, but so is the game of Panic. Players never know who or what will take them out of the game. What is clear is that they have a lot to lose.
Heather is careful and responsible. Panic is neither. Everyone goes to the first night and Heather plans to cheer for her best friend, Nat. After spotting her ex-boyfriend with her replacement, Heather realizes she is tired of being overlooked. She joins the game.
People don't pay much attention to Dodge, but that's not why he wants to play Panic. His reason? Revenge. Dodge spent years planning for Panic and he will win- at any cost.
Oliver tells the story of Panic through Dodge and Heather, as their lives unexpectedly come together. They don't think their lives would change much after graduation. Nothing changes in Carp. But the game has unintended consequences on other parts of their lives- friendships, love, and family. In one summer, everything changes.
Panic is a thriller that is equally suspenseful for adults and teens. It's easy for readers to invest in Oliver's genuine and likeable characters. The plot is original and the terror is real. Once you start Panic, it's impossible to stop.
The Maze Runner Movie Trailer (2014)
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2. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
The Maze Runner is the first book in the action-packed trilogy by James Dashner. Thomas is the 16-year-old protagonist. Unlike in some YA novels, Thomas's age is not a distraction for adult readers. Reading The Maze Runner feels like you're watching a science fiction movie. Dashner has an uncanny ability to show readers Thomas's story.
Thomas wakes up in a box. With the exception of his name, he has no memories from his previous life. He gets out of the box and learns that his strange new home is called the Glade. Its inhabitants call themselves Gladers. It's a community built by and filled with teenage boys. They have their own language and system of government. Everyone has a job. No one remembers life before the Glade. Each boy arrived in a metal box and knew one thing- his name.
The Gladers care about two things: surviving and finding a solution to the maze. They have rules, systems, and routines, until Thomas shows up. Thomas has trouble accepting the rules of his new home, but the rules are about to change. Time is running out to solve the maze.
The Maze Runner is made for people who don't really like to read, but love adventure. It's exciting and fresh. Thomas faces challenges atypical of most teenagers, so even adults who avoid YA novels can enjoy The Maze Runner.
Vampire Academy Movie Trailer (2014)
3. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Mead's twist on the conventional teenage vampire drama is refreshing. Vampire Academy takes readers through the ups and downs of a typical high school experience, but in a paranormal setting. The dialogue embodies the teenage spirit- witty, melodramatic, honest, and apathetic. The teenage narrator Rose Hathaway will make you laugh and bite your nails as she tells her story.
Princess Vasilisa Dragomir (Lissa) is the last member of the royal Dragomir line. She is also Rose's best friend. Lissa is in danger and Rose will do anything to protect her, which means she has to actually study and follow rules. Rose's work ethic and loyalty is exceptional for someone her age, but she is not above the drama of high school. And at St. Vladimir's Academy, she's usually right in the thick of it.
4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Perks of Being a Wallflower Movie Trailer
The YA is trendy, but it's not new. We just called them "the books we read for school." The Giver, Catcher in the Rye, and To Kill a Mockingbird are all YA novels.
Published in 1999, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the oldest book on this list by over a decade. 15-year-old Charlie is a typical high school student. Well, he's slightly more awkward than most teenagers. Relive the best and worst parts of high school as Charlie experiences a long list of firsts. Cigarettes, kisses, drugs, high school dances, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show are new to Charlie. It's easy to relate to Charlie during the fun parts, but also when he faces more difficult challenges.
Chbosky boldly addresses sexual abuse, homosexuality, and suicide through Charlie's voice. By the end of the novel, the drama in Charlie's life is exhausting and somewhat unbelievable. But Charlie remains authentic. Adult readers will appreciate his story.
Chbosky also wrote and directed the film version, which was released in 2012.
The Fault in Our Stars Movie Trailer (2014)
5. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
A book club favorite for teens and adults around the world, The Fault in Our Stars is one of Green's most popular YA novels. Hazel and Augustus brave teenage love and terminal cancer while trying to outwit each other. While the dialogue is a bit unrealistic, the story is enchanting.
What Makes a Book "Young Adult?"
It depends who you ask. Publishers have different standards for what should be included in a YA novel and also what cannot be in a novel labeled YA. Writers who self-publish might have their own ideas about what YA means. Although there is no universal definition of YA novel, typical YA stories share a few core elements.
Common Characteristics of YA Novels
- Target audience is 12-18
- Teen protagonist
- Feature teenage problems
- Story emphasizes internal struggles
- Interesting to teens
Want to know more? Check out the All About YA section on YA Highway.