This was a Top Ten Tuesday that I absolutely adored. Since today is not Tuesday, I won’t tag it as such. But, I just couldn’t skip the idea. There are so many books that I don’t think get the attention they deserve. So here are my top ten favorite underrated YA novels. Please give each of them a look. I promise, they are really worth the time.
Lotus and Thorn by Sarah Wilson Etienne is a fast paced Sci-Fi / Dystopian novel that is full to the brim with girl power. Unfortunately, it suffered from mismanaged marketing and many of it’s 168 ratings on Goodreads are low. Why? Because it was sold as a Fantasy and you won’t find any elves or magic here. It is all Sci-Fi all of the time. So, if you are looking for something new, we here at Shelfie cannot recommend this one enough. We even did a podcast on it that can be found here. Though, if you are worried about spoilers, you should read the book first because that episode is a super spoiler squee-fest. That is usually what happens when you don’t have high hopes for a book and are baffled by how good it is.
Replica by Lauren Oliver has the most ratings of any book on this list at 3,500. But that seems remarkably low for a book that is so remarkably unique. This is not your average Sci-Fi / Contemporary. No, Lauren Oliver outdid herself with this one. Replica’s unique formatting allows you to read the book in one of many different ways by actually reading one chapter and then physically flipping the book over and reading the next. In reality this gem is two books in one that entwine in ways that I cannot even try to explain. Replica is an experience. An experience that we at Shelfie discussed in detail on our podcast. Check it out here. But again, be prepared for spoilers if you haven’t read the book.
Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine was a shock. I picked it up looking for a generic Fantasy to get lost in for a few hours and found myself completely enamored. Fine took the “Chosen One” trope and flipped it on it’s head. The main character is marked as a child and chosen to inherit the powers of the Queen when the reigning Queen dies. It doesn’t quite turn out that way. The magical mantle doesn’t pass to Elli and she is accused of rejecting it and threatening their society. I won’t spoil more, but this is a well written story with an interesting take on a common YA theme. It certainly deserves more than the 1,867 ratings it has on Goodreads.
Hunter by Mercedes Lackey has issues. It is not the perfect novel. That said, the unique setting is what sets it apart. Mythology is bleeding into reality. Monsters of legend pour through rifts and terrorize cities. The Hunters are trained to fight these legends and protect the cities in which they reside. The world building is unlike anything I have seen in the YA genre. The downside is that the main character is not exceptionally well done, though I believe that can be chalked up to this being the first novel in a series and requiring quite a bit of set up. I haven’t read the sequel, Elite, yet. But, I will absolutely review it when I do. If you are interested in hearing more of my views on Hunter, you can find my review here.
The Reader by Traci Chee is quite the magical debut novel. It is a story within a story within a story. Chee weaves it all together in a way that can’t quite be matched. It is hard to explain without spoiling too much of the story, but the gist is that Sefia lives in a society where books are not common and reading is magic. The story begins when a rare artifact, a book, comes into her possession and she begins reading the tall tales within. There are some far fetched bits, but in the end it’s a wonderful book. If you want to hear more about it you should check out the podcast episode here. Again, it’s spoilery. So maybe you should read it before hitting play.
Your Voice is All I Hear by Leah Sheier is not just a good book. It is an important book. It is one of very few books that realistically portrays mental illness. One of the main characters suffers from Schizophrenia. This isn’t a light and happy read. It is truly painful to watch the effect it has on him and the people around him. It also touches on the common issues teenagers face while in high school. I wish there had been a book like this for me to read when I was that age. That said, it still left quite the impact on me as an adult. I really cannot recommend it enough.
Nemesis by Anna Banks is another Fantasy novel that I expected to be run of the mill. Instead I was enamored. The world is rich and interesting with warring kingdoms, a princess in a foreign land, and serpent like dragon mounts. Just do the best you can to ignore the cover, which in all honesty should never have gone to print. They were clearly attempting to show the silver color of the main character’s skin, but it just doesn’t translate. That said, it is easy enough to ignore. So, if you are looking for a good fantasy that you haven’t already read, I suggest picking this one up and enjoying the ride. Especially if you enjoyed The Wrath & The Dawn.
Menagerie by Rachel Vincent is one of the more unique books on this list. It is an interesting take on Urban Fantasy. Mythical creatures exist and are held captive in carnivals and menageries for the entertainment of society. Delilah, our main character, discovers early on in the book that she is not human, even if she appears to be, and is sold to a carnival that is passing through town. This book is not for the faint of heart. It contains torture, abuse, and rape. However it is a powerful story and well worth the read. I am truly shocked that it only has 3,000 ratings on Goodreads.
The Reluctant Sacrifice by Kerr-Ann Dempster is the most hidden of the gems on this list. With less than 1000 ratings on Goodreads this Paranormal Romance is not being read nearly enough! Main character, Aubrey is a child of prophecy. Her culture believes that she must be sacrificed in order for them to return to their home land from exile. However, she has no interest in being sacrificed. The book follows her story as she flees the hunters and falls in love. The romance in charming and Aubrey’s development in wonderful. You can find my full review here. If you’re in the mood for a good Paranormal Romance give this one a chance and then tell all of your friends!
The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden is a true YA Urban Fantasy and those are pretty hard to come by these days. It’s got all of the right pieces: Vampires, Witches, and a supernatural mystery. I was excited to find that this YA novel falls squarely in the Urban Fantasy genre instead of it’s YA cousin, Paranormal Romance. Sometimes you want sexy vampires and sometimes you want a good occult mystery that keeps you on the edge of your seat. I can’t explain why people aren’t raving about The Casquette girls. It’s an awesome story with an awesome cover. You’d think it would be all over everywhere. Instead it has 1,311 ratings on Goodreads. We can change that, right?
So there they are. My hidden gems. Do you agree with my choices? Have you read them? Did you love them or hate them? I’d love to hear your opinions so share them in the comments below. And if you haven’t read them, please do!