14 Underhyped YA Books Worth Reading
I was emailing with an author of one of my favorite books from last year, and I realized it’s been a while since I shared a list of the books that I loved that just didn’t seem to get the hype they deserved. Some of these were published during the early days of Covid, when authors canceled book signings, school visits, and other bookish events. A few of these underhyped YA titles are from the ancient days before the pandemic changed life as we knew it. Others were published more recently– perhaps a victim of Barnes & Noble’s switch to carrying mostly paperbacks? I’m not sure what the deal is, but I am sure these books deserve more attention than they received thus far.
This list includes books that were published at least 90 days ago (usually much more than that) which have fewer than 500 ratings on Goodreads as of April 2023.
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The Minus-One Club by Kekla Magoon
What you need to know: After losing his sister in a car accident, Kermit gets invited to a grief support group of sorts, where he finds love and friendship, until the group faces a crisis that could undo them all. Such great storytelling here.
Published January 17, 2023 | 145 Goodreads ratings
How We Ricochet by Faith Gardner
What you need to know: After Betty and her family survive a shooting incident, she wrestles with why it happened. She builds a friendship with the brother of the shooter, trying to learn about the boy who tried to kill her sister and mother. An unforgettable, timely story.
Published May 24, 2022| 144 Goodreads ratings
Shades of Rust and Ruin by A. G. Howard
What you need to know: Twin sisters. A family curse. An incredible boy who should be off-limits. Inspired by “Goblin Market” by Christina Rosetti. I am hooked on this one.
Release Date: September 6, 2022 | 361 Goodreads ratings
It Looks Like Us by Allison Ames
What you need to know: A high school team visiting an Antarctic research station. An unknown, shapeshifting infection pursuing them one by one. Scary books aren’t my usual go-to, but I couldn’t put this one down. Ace main character. Also, there’s an obnoxious billionaire named Anton Rusk. This was a spark of joy that I didn’t know I needed.
Release Date: September 13, 2022 | 460 Goodreads ratings
The 9:09 Project by Mark H. Parsons
What you need to know: A boy grieving the loss of his mother. A project: capturing pictures of ordinary people on the street. As the photos show him a deeper world, he begins to forge connections with new friends and reconnect with his memories of his mother.
Release Date: November 15, 2022 | 143 Goodreads ratings
Belittled Women by Amanda Sellet
What you need to know: From Goodreads: “Lit’s about to hit the fan.” (This book had me at that line.) A girl whose mother is obsessed with the Alcott classic navigates her frustration at feeling boxed in by the classic story. This is exactly the rom-com I need in my life.
Release Date: November 29, 2022 | 288 Goodreads ratings
Malcolm and Me by Robin Farmer
What you need to know: Set against Watergate and the post-civil rights era. A coming-of-age tale of truth-telling, faith, family, forgiveness, and social activism featuring a 13-year-old Philly native with the soul of a poet.
Available November 17, 2020 | 164 Goodreads ratings
We Made It All Up by Margot Harrison
What you need to know: A town full of secrets. A love-story fan-fic written by two unlikely friends. A murder: the boy they’ve written about. Twisty and suspenseful. Great characters. I was on the edge of my seat.
Release Date: July 12, 2022 | 259 Goodreads ratings
Don’t Call Me a Hurricane by Ellen Hagan
What you need to know: A novel in verse. From Goodreads: “An affecting and resonant YA novel in verse that explores family, community, the changing ocean tides, and what it means to fall in love with someone who sees the world in a different way.” This book totally delivered on that promise.
Release Date: July 19, 2022 | 187 Goodreads ratings
The Splendor by Breeana Shields
What you need to know: I couldn’t put this one down. Juliette and Henri are the kind of characters that hit like an arrow to the heart: vulnerable, desperate to save/protect the people they love, wounded, and smart.
Published September 28, 2021 | 426 Goodreads Ratings
Away We Go by Emil Ostrovski
What you need to know: A highly deadly, highly contagious illness affecting teens forces afflicted teens to live in a sort of boarding school. It’s heartbreaking and filled with some of the smartest exploration of love and identity. Still a favorite.
Release Date: April 5, 2016 | 458 Goodreads ratings
What are your favorite underhyped young adult books?
Have you read any of the books on my list? (If so, help out the authors by jumping on over to Goodreads or a retail site to leave a review!)
What are your favorite underhyped young adult books? Leave a comment and let me know what I need to add to my reading list!