5 Young Adult Novels That You'll Never Outgrow

Originally published on March 21, 2014 4:05 pm

This was a strange and wonderful year for young adult fiction — but also a confused and divisive one. We learned that 55 percent of young adult fiction was read by adults. Debates raged over what constituted a young adult novel versus an adult novel. Apologetic grown-ups sneaked into the teen section of the bookstore, passing subversive teens pattering into the adult paranormal and literature and mystery shelves.

For the most part, I let the discussion pass me by. I don't care what a book is classified as: I care that it's good. So it should shock no one that my list of my top five young adult reads includes books I think adults will love too. They don't all contain magic, but I find them all magical.

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As 2013 approaches, we're looking back at the best books of 2012. Over the next couple of weekends, we'll be asking authors from four major genres to tell us about their favorite books of the last year. We begin with the best young adult fiction of the year. Maggie Stiefvater is the bestselling author of "Shiver" trilogy and "The Raven Boys." She recommends young adult fiction for all ages.

MAGGIE STIEFVATER: I am a voracious reader as well as a writer. I love reading young adult novels, and I actually knew all along that I was going to write young adult because they always say you should write what you've always loved to read, and those were the books I always picked up off the shelf.


STIEFVATER: My absolute favorite book of the year was "Code Name Verity." And it is not a fantasy novel. It's actually historical fiction. And it's about two girls who are best friends during World War II. They both live in England and they're both part of the war effort. One of them is a pilot and the other one is a spy. And the story begins when one of them is shot down over France and is interrogated.


STIEFVATER: So, my favorite character in "Code Name Verity" is actually the girl who was shot down over World War II in France. And the thing I love about her is that she's very brave and very spunky but then when she does break - and invariably she does break - it is heart-rending because you can see how strong she is and how much she had to put up with in order to actually be taken down like that.


STIEFVATER: It has a depth of storytelling and character building that I think can appeal to adults but it also has an overall simplified storyline that goes through this kind of tangled mess of wires that I think even the youngest of readers could appreciate coming into historical fiction. I can't think of anybody on my list that I wouldn't be happy putting this book in the hand of.

SIMON: Maggie Stiefvater's latest book is "The Raven Boys." Her favorite young adult book of 2012 was "Code Name Verity" by Elizabeth Wein. You can see her full list of best books from last year at npr.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.