There has never been a better time for young adult readers. Novels and stories catering specifically to this demographic have been on the rise for quite some time, and do not seem to be declining in popularity any time soon. Novels geared towards teenagers have taken the world by storm, and characters from young adult series have become household names. Harry Potter went from being the lonely boy living under the stairs to being on the tip of everyone’s tongue, and the Hunger Games have become a paradigm of dystopian fiction the world over. After countless years of being ignored by the literary community, young adults and teenagers can now enjoy a vast variety of books to choose from; ranging from realistic novels dealing with teenage issues to fantastical realms they can delve into whenever they please.
The Zom-B Series
by Darren Shan
Darren O’Shaughnessy, known as Darren Shan in the literary world, is one of the most morbid authors on this list. His books are mostly horror-themed, bursting at the seams with vampires, demons and zombies. His fascination with all things macabre started when he was just a teenager, discovering the joys of writing in his native Ireland. His teenage flirtation with the gruesome developed into a passion for writing, specifically young adult fiction. He penned various trilogies and sagas, including the popular Zom-B series, which follows the life (or death?) or B Smith, a human turned zombie trying to figure out life in an undead-infested London. B struggles to make sense of her surroundings as she is one of the few zombies who retained the ability to reason, and she heads on a quest to find like-minded beings in a seemingly hopeless environment. Having had to deal with some pretty awful humans throughout her short lifetime, she is now faced with new challenges, where almost nothing and no one is what it seems.
The Warrior Cats Series
by Erin Hunter
Contrary to what the name suggests, Erin Hunter is not just one author, rather a group of authors, editors and story-writers who collaborated on a series of books about feral cats upon request of HarperCollins. The Warrior Cats series was the brainchild of Vicky Holmes, whose affair with cats started as a suggestion by the book publisher. Vicky actually describes herself as being more of a dog-person, however she became enamoured with the cats in her books as soon as she realised that her characters can still convey human emotion, and live out experiences just as much as humans can. The series follows four clans of cats – Thunderclan, Windclan, Riverclan and Shadowclan – all of which follow a strict ‘warrior code’ while living in different parts of the same forest. The clans are guided by the now extinct Starclan, and are in constant turmoil over which clan dominates the forest. The books in this series touch on numerous themes, including the enduring theme of forbidden love, the psychological dilemma of nature vs nurture, and the age-old premise of warring faiths.
The Princess Diaries Series
by Meg Cabot
The Princess Diaries has become ingrained in popular culture ever since the Disney film by the same name was released in 2001. Many teenage girls could relate to the day-to-day struggles of student-turned-princess Mia Thermopolis, a factor which contributed to the popularity of the book series. Written in diary form, following Princess Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo on her daily struggles as she wraps her head around the fact that she is in fact princess of Genovia, but also as she pines for her crush, The Princess Diaries lets teenage girls live out their childhood fantasy of becoming princesses and having a problem-solving Grandmere as a fairy godmother. The Diaries were authored by Meg Cabot, who has sold over 25 million books worldwide and boasts nearly 80 publications under her belt. Her books are mostly aimed towards young adult readers, as she chronicles the day-to-day growing pains of teenage life, with all its trials in love, angst, conflict, and triumph.
The Percy Jackson Series
by Rick Riordian
Rick Riordian is an American author whose literary aspirations grew out of the bed-time stories he used to tell his son Haley, who suffered from ADHD and dyslexia. Latching onto his son’s interest in Greek mythology, Riordian created the now acclaimed character of Percy Jackson, a demigod who also suffers from the same afflictions as Haley, which plague him as he is hardwired to read Ancient Greek and have battlefield reflexes. Percy is the son of the Greek god of the sea Poseidon, and has unknown powers which he eventually discovers and develops throughout the book series. Percy is thrust into the mythological world of gods and monsters when Zeus accuses him of stealing his lightning bolt, which he then strives to recover by embarking on a journey throughout the United States, aided by his loyal companions: a satyr and the daughter of the goddess Athena. Greek mythology and fantasy intertwine in this 5-book series, as gods interfere with human lives and unleash all sorts of monsters and mischief to hinder Percy’s quests. Riordian incorporates new mythological creatures along with traditional mythic beings, bringing Ancient Greece back to life and back to the twenty first century with his creative retelling of ancient myths.
The Jacqueline Wilson Series
by Jacqueline Wilson
Jacqueline Wilson has now become synonymous with young adult and teenage literature. Her novels are some of the best-loved of their genre, and touch upon themes which are approachable and familiar to teenage readers. Adopting the guises of various characters over the years, Wilson has managed to embody various social themes which trouble young adults since time immemorial, such as, bullying, the loss of loved ones, young love, and friendships. Wilson’s most memorable and loved character is Tracy Beaker, a lively ten-year old girl who lives in a care home dubbed ‘The Dumping Ground’, abandoned by a mother whom she idolizes. Tracy has big dreams for herself and aspires to become an actress just like her mother, a dream she manages to satisfy in the book ‘Starring Tracy Beaker’. Wilson has collaborated with illustrator Nick Sharratt on most of her books, giving her novels an iconic and instantly recognisable look. Her books are a staple in young girls’ road to adulthood, and manage to ease these young readers into the ‘real’ world after having inhabited the fairy tale realms of children’s literature.