10 Fantasy Books for Young Adults

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10 Fantasy Books for Young Adults - LibraryAdventure.com

Do you like young adult literature? If your answer was no, have you tried it lately? Let me tell you…it has come a LONG way even since I was a teenager (back in the 1990’s). In fact, there technically wasn’t even a genre called Young Adult Literature yet!

Thankfully, publishers realized there was a serious market for books to help teenagers transition to mainstream adult literature. The books that are published now are rich and vibrant with spellbinding stories and true-to-life characters!

Hot on the market right now are two genres: Science Fiction and Fantasy. These should each have their own special section in a young adults section at the library because of the sheer volume of literature!

I have a thing for Young Adult lit and I’ve tried a bit of this and bit of that within each genre and I think these two genres are probably my favorite because you can let your imagination soar and take on real-world subjects in a way that teenagers will actually be able to relate to. Young Adult Sci-Fi calls my name loud and clear…I just love it. But lately I’ve been checking out more of the books in the Fantasy genre and have found several good ones that I want to share with you.

In case you are wondering on the difference between the genres it’s actually pretty simple. If it has magic, talking animals, special powers, or faerie land creatures, it is classified as Fantasy.  Books like The Hunger Games, Divergent and Ender’s Game would be considered Science Fiction.

I’ve put together a lit of 10 Fantasy Books for Young Adults. I have only scratched the surface of what is out there, but I think that these ten selections give you a great place to start and to fall in love with a new genre.

1. The Secret Zoo (Book #1) by Brian Chick

The Secret Zoo - 1 of 10 Fantasy Books for Young Adults - LibraryAdventure.com

Why do I like the series, The Secret Zoo? Out of all the young adult fantasy books I’ve read thus far, this one is the most transitional–meaning that I could see you easily giving it to your 8-10 year old who is ready for a chapter book series that is easy to follow without a complex plot. This series contains six books.

The ages of the characters are pre-teens and have both strong male and female characters, making it equally appealing for the sexes. The story isn’t full of “mature” topics as some young adult selections are. It is fun and animal filled–where even though the animals don’t “talk”, they do things that animals just aren’t supposed to do!

2.  Waterfall (River of Time Series Book #1) by Lisa T. Bergren

Waterfall - 2 of 10 Fantasy Books for Young Adults - LibraryAdventure.com

If you want to dive into Young Adult literature as an adult, I highly recommend the River of Time series by Lisa T. Bergren. This series swept me off my feet as I was carried back in time with the main characters (two American girls in their late teens) as they were transported from present day to 14th century Italy.

The author spares no expense in her vibrant word pictures of the castles, knights, and the stunning landscape of that century. The plot captured me from the first chapter. I HAD to keep reading each book in the series, of which there are currently five (including the two latest novellas)…and the author’s not done with them yet, which feeds my hunger for more! If you already enjoy historical fiction, or if you are familiar with Lisa T. Bergren’s work as an adult author in the Inspirational Fiction genre, you really need to give these books a try!

3. Gregor the Overlander (The Underland Chronicles Book #1) by Suzanne Collins

Gregor the Overlander - 3 of 10 Fantasy Books for Young Adults - LibraryAdventure.com

Before she brought the world the phenomena of The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins gave us the bestselling series The Underland Chronicles. This five book series follow Gregor, an eleven year old living in the slum of NYC who (while babysitting his two year old sister named Boots) gets sucked into an air vent in the laundry facilities of his apartment and falls into the world of Underland. A place where there are pale skinned, violet eyed humans living side by side with giant cockroaches and rats who talk and bats that are ridden like horses down far below the city, tucked deep in the earth. Again, this would be another for the pre-teens/early teens ready to move out of generic children’s literature.

4. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

The Chronicles of Narnia - 4 of 10 Fantasy Books for Young Adults - LibraryAdventure.com

I would be remiss if I didn’t include this fabulous classic series on my list. It set the stage for the present YA Fantasy genre and is just as loved today as when it first was released. It’s a must have, must read for anyone, young adult or not!

5.  The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles Book #1) by Rick Riordan

The Red Pyramid - 5 of 10 Fantasy Books for Young Adults - LibraryAdventure.com

I’m sure by now you are all familiar with and have read most, if not all of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan…but have you read The Kane Chronicles? This series dives into the world of ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses with the same flair, excitement and zeal as the Percy Jackson books. There are three in the series right now and the fun thing is that it’s clear he’s not done with them yet AND he hints in them at times to events happening in the Gods of Olympus and Heroes of Olympus series which makes for great speculation!

6. A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty

A Corner of White - 6 of 10 Fantasy Books for Young Adults - LibraryAdventure.com

I found this very fun and fresh new book (as of 2013) by Jaclyn Moriarty very recently and just had to add it to my list. This is book one of the Colors of Madeleine trilogy (books 2 and 3 not available yet) which focuses on two main characters: the mysterious Madeleine living in present day Cambridge, England and the clever Elliot living in the town of Bonfire in the Kingdom of Cello.

Elliot and Madeleine each have mysteries to solve in their own lives, but accidentally begin to exchange messages across worlds where they slowly discover that each is living in a world far different then the other…Can Madeleine ever be convinced that Elliot is real? How could she when he talks about “storms of colors” that can kill you or a magical Butterfly child that can end a drought?

7. The Emerald Atlas (Books of Beginning Book #1) by John Stephens

The Emeralc Atlas - 7 of 10 Fantasy Books for Young Adults - LibraryAdventure.com

The Emerald Atlas is book #1 in the Books of Beginning series by John Stephens. When you take magic, dwarfs, elves, “Screechers”, kidnapping, time travel, three ancient powerful books and three orphaned-in-name-only siblings, and put them together in a trilogy, you should expect that it’s going to be good.

Those of you who enjoyed the His Dark Materials series, Harry Potter and The Hobbit, will probably enjoy this book, as it has the best of each of those mixed together into one series. Each book in the series focuses predominately on one of the siblings–book #1 on Kate, book #2 on Michael and the soon-coming book #3 on the youngest, Emma. Each book ties into the other which will have you eager for more. These books are for the mid to upper level teens due to their more dark plot material.

8. Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle Book #1) by Christopher Paolini

Eragon - 8 of 10 Fantasy Books for Young Adults - LibraryAdventure.com

I have been a fan of Christopher Paolini since I was halfway into Eragon. He’s an excellent writer…and creates fantasy worlds nearly as detailed as JRR Tolkien’s worlds! Eragon is the first book in an incredible four book series. Some of you might be familiar from the movie Eragon that came out in 2006. Movie doesn’t even compare (as usual! LOL!) to the incredible book.

Eragon‘s world is a mix of medieval life with dragons, elves, dwarfs, mystical creatures and a young orphaned boy who learns his inheritance is beyond the small farm he’s living on and far beyond anything he ever dreamed! Another thing that is great about this series–the author was just 18 when Eragon was published!

9. The City of Bones (Mortal Instruments Book #1) by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones - 9 of 10 Fantasy Books for Young Adults - LibraryAdventure.com

The Mortal Instruments series is one of the hottest out there right now. Adults and teens alike have fallen in love with 15-year old Clary Fray and the Shadowhunters. This series has vampires, werewolves, intrigue, magic, romance, angst…as well as a plot that captures you from chapter one! But I warn you in advance, there are 6 books in this series, and let’s not forget the two prequels, two series sequels, and a spin-off series! Yeah…it’s THAT popular!

10. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings - 10 of 10 Fantasy Books for Young Adults - LibraryAdventure.com

Just as I had to include the Narnia series, so too do I need to end this list with Tolkien’s books. Tolkien’s books are a must read for the advanced reader–or to read aloud to your younger teen. Not only are they ripe with opulent word pictures, but there are so many lessons from life that can be learned. With the creation of the movies, it is ideal for following up the books with a movie marathon! I recently re-read the LOTR trilogy again, following each book with it’s coordinating movie. That was definitely worth my time because it made the words come even more alive.

There you have it! Ten fabulous selections to introduce you to (or increase your love for) the fantasy genre for Young Adults. There are so many incredible books out there, that it was hard to narrow it down. I didn’t have the space to include books by Brandon Sanderson, Ursula La Guin, Terry Brooks or Robin McKinley but those are some other authors that you can definitely check out! I think that if you will take a chance on Young Adult Fantasy, you will be sure to find something that you enjoy!

About Lisa McKinney

Lisa’s been married to the love of her life for 11 years after being transplanted from the city life in Washington (the state!) to the farm life in Kentucky. They have two amazing boys and are embracing the country life. She enjoys bringing some of her family’s farm adventures to life on her blog including posts about homeschooling, cooking, the farm and just life in general. She has a love for cooking, is a glitter junkie and a book hoarder who dances around the kitchen to old movie musical soundtracks. The glass is absolutely half-full in her life and she thanks God for all the little things that He shares with her every day.


  1. I do enjoy YA and I’m so pleased it has grown in popularity. A lot of adults I know love reading stories about young adults, too. These stories are usually fast reading and a great way to recall those wonder days when we were teens.

  2. I am a total YA reader, everything I read is YA, but I’m still a teen, and I guess you could say it makes sense to keep on reading YA. Anyways, the only 2 books that I’ve read from this list is A Corner of White (which I absolutely didn’t like) and City of Bones, which is one of my favourite novels of all time. I always wanted to pick up Eragon, so maybe I eventually will. Awesome post!

    Please visit my book blog, http://www.thatgirlybookworm.blogspot.ca

    I’m doing the A-Z Challenge and my theme focuses on books with the title featuring the letter of the day!

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