Best Young Adult Books from 2021

Best Young Adult Books from 2021

Best Young Adult Books from 2021

2021 was quite a year! I had lots of ups and some pretty dark downs, but one of the things I’m truly thankful for is the books. Some of the best young adult books from 2021 kept me company on long sleepless nights and provided a safe place to escape for a few hours.

I’ve been a fan of YA since before I started blogging, both as a reader and writer. I’m always excited to see new, fresh takes on familiar themes or entirely new ideas and broader representation bursting from the pages. These books are a mix of all those things. They really only have one thing in common, and that’s how much I liked them!

Here are some of the young adult books I still can’t stop talking about and thinking about that were published in 2021.

Best Young Adult Books from 2021

Into the Heartless Wood by Joanna Ruth Meyer

Into the Heartless Wood by Joanna Ruth Meyer

AmazonBookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: A deadly forest guarded by siren trees. A grieving boy. Forbidden love. A gender-flipped Beauty and the Beast in all the best ways. I couldn’t stop reading this one. So. Good.

Published January 12, 2021 | My Review


You Have a Match by Emma Lord

You Have a Match by Emma Lord

AmazonBookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: A secret sister revealed by a DNA test. Summer camp and a chance to get to know her. Best friends to lovers. All the quirky, hilarious fun you want in a RomCom.

Published January 12, 2021 | My Review


The Project by Courtney Summers

The Project by Courtney Summers

AmazonBookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: A girl looking for the sister who disappeared into a shadowy cult. She swore never to trust its charismatic leader, suddenly he feels like her only ally on her search for the truth. This one swallowed me whole. Content warnings in my review.

Published February 2, 2021 | My Review


amelia unabridged ashley schumacher

Amelia Unabridged by Ashley Schumacher

AmazonBookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: Searing grief. Found family. A love story to books and beautiful tale of first love. If you like books by John Green (or the idea of them), buckle up and grab a copy of this one. I just want to read it again and again.

Published February 16, 2021 | My Review


Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft

Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft

AmazonBookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: A soldier/healer whose heart keeps running away with her head. A legendary enemy. An mysterious estate. Dark secrets. Forbidden love. This one blew me away. One of my favorites for the year.

Published March 2, 2021 | My Review


Can't Take That Away by Steven Salvatore

Can’t Take That Away by Steven Salvatore

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: A genderqueer teen who dreams of being a diva. A battle against discrimination. A perfect celebration of family relationships, friendship, and love for Mariah Carey. I adored this book as I read it, and so much more now as I’ve followed the author on social media. Steven Salvatore’s is a wise voice we need.

Published March 9, 2021 | My Review


Fragile Remedy by Maria Ingrande Mora

Fragile Remedy by Maria Ingrande Mora

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: A dystopian world dependent on genetically engineered humans to treat diseases that ravage the population. Explores addiction and its destructive power. Features a M/M romance. The dystopian world and high stakes made this one a great read for me.

Published March 9, 2021 | My Review


Kisses and Croissants by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau

Kisses and Croissants by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: A summer in Paris, ballet dancing, mysterious rumors about a Degas painting, and of course a whirlwind romance. Perfect for fans of LOVE AND GELATO.

Published April 6, 2021 | My Review


These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy

These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: Sisters– one to become queen, one to become the Firebird, a powerful being who maintains the balance of magic. F/F romance. Political intrigue. Kept me on the edge of my seat.

Published April 20, 2021 | My Review


The Ones We're Meant to Find by Joan He

The People We Choose by Katelyn Detweiler

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: A post-climate-disaster world. A girl searching for her missing sister. A sister stranded on a strange island. So. Many. Secrets. I couldn’t stop reading this one.

Published May 4, 2021 | My Review


The People We Choose by Katelyn Detweiler

The People We Choose by Katelyn Detweiler

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: A small town girl wondering about the identity of her biological father. A new neighbor with undeniable chemistry. A best friend/unrequited love. So many feels.

Published May 4, 2021 | My Review


Lucky Girl by Jamie Pacton

Lucky Girl by Jamie Pacton

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: A seventeen-year-old with a secret: she’s won the lottery. And she can’t tell anyone. Explores grief, hoarding, and best friendships. I really liked that this story didn’t center on romance.

Published May 11, 2021 | My Review


Misfit in Love by S K Ali

Misfit in Love by S. K. Ali

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: A faith-positive story with Muslim rep. First love at a wedding. Speaking up about assault and finding your people. Beautiful and moving.

Published May 25, 2021 | My Review


Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar

Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: Fake dating. Faith-positive. Sweet and salty. I really enjoyed this one.

Published May 25, 2021 | My Review


Don't Hate the Player by Alexis Nedd

The Marvelous by Claire Kann

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: Great gamer references. A sweet friends to lovers romance. A powerful dissection of online bullying against female players. Quirky characters and loads of fun.

Published May 31, 2021 | My Review


The Marvelous by Claire Kann

The Marvelous by Claire Kann

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: Three young women in a high-stakes reality show game. A mysterious mansion and more mysterious hostess. Unexpected and unforgettable friendships. If you like twisty, mystery-slash-riddle stories with strong characters, you have to check this one out.

Published June 8, 2021 | My Review


Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo

Rule of Wolves (King of Scars #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: More Nikolai, Zoya, and Nina (Plus cameos from some of your favorite Crows!). Witty banter. Desperate battles. The last book in the Grishaverse. SIX OF CROWS is still my favorite by Bardugo, but this one is a close second.

Published June 8, 2021 | My Review


The Sea is Salt and So Am I by Cassandra Hartt

The Sea is Salt and So Am I by Cassandra Hartt

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: Twin brothers and a rivalry that began with a girl. A tiny town perched on the edge of the sea and a hurricane that could swallow it. Depression and first love. Lyrical prose. Crushing and beautiful.

Published June 8, 2021 | My Review


We Can't Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon

We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: A practical harpist with zero interest in romance. Her bestie, a hopeless romantic and amazing baker. A summer of weddings together that kindles feelings. I think I read this one in one sitting.

Published June 8, 2021 | My Review


Broken Web by Lori M. Lee

Broken Web (Shamanborn #2) by Lori Lee

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: More creepy trees! Forbidden magic. Lots of twisty storytelling. Fierce characters. I loved this and can’t wait for the rest of this series.

Published June 15, 2021 | My Review


We Can Be Heroes by Kyrie McCauley

We Can Be Heroes by Kyrie McCauley

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: Incredible friendships. Fierce girls in a fight for justice. This book broke me in all the best possible ways.

Published September 14, 2021 | My Review


Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer

Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: I kind of thought Brigid Kemmerer would never write another book that I loved as much as I love LETTERS TO THE LOST and I was so very wrong. I was on the edge of my seat until the very last page.

Published September 14, 2021 | My Review


This is Why We Lie by Gabriella Lepore

This Is Why We Lie by Gabrielle Lepore

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: A murdered girl. A boy running from a dark past. Complex characters and loads of tension. Definitely an edge-of-your-seat read! Perfect for fans of Karen McManus.

Published September 21, 2021 | My Review


The Splendor by Breeana Shields

The Splendor by Breeana Shields

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

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 | My Review


Tonight We Rule the World by Zack Smedley

Tonight We Rule the World by Zack Smedley

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: Friends to lovers. ASD rep. Explores PTSD and recovery from a sexual assault. A heartbreaking but so real look at abusive relationships and healing. This one will stay with me a long time.

Published October 12, 2021 | My Review


We Light Up the Sky by Lilliam Rivera

We Light Up the Sky by Lilliam Rivera

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: An alien invasion. Unlikely allies and friendships. A post-pandemic Los Angeles. Eerie and beautifully written.

Published October 26, 2021 | My Review


You Can Go Your Own Way by Eric Smith

You Can Go Your Own Way by Eric Smith

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: A pinball machine arcade and fantastic love for 80s music. Friends to enemies to lovers. A blizzard that traps two people together. Grief and daddy issues. So sweet and so fun. Perfect and nostalgic. I still have heart eyes for this one.

Published November 2, 2021 | My Review


The Ballad of Dinah Caldwell by Kate Brauning

The Ballad of Dinah Caldwell by Kate Brauning

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: A dystopian America. A lone girl taking on a powerful, wealthy man who controls her whole world. Gritty, raw prose. Aching storytelling.

Published November 23, 2021 | My Review


The Excalibur Curse by Kiersten White

The Excalibur Curse (Camelot Rising #3) by Kiersten White

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: The last in a female-centered King Arthur legend trilogy. The fiercest, most magical Guinevere you’ve ever seen. High stakes battles and unforgettable friendships plus a bit of romance. I love this whole series.

Published December 7, 2021 | My Review


Spin Me Right Round by David Valdes

Spin Me Right Round by David Valdes

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: LGBTQ spin on Back to the Future. Time travel to the 1980s. A flashy, fun protagonist desperate to change history and save another boy’s life. Possibly the most fun book I read last year.

Published December 7, 2021 | My Review

What were your favorite books from 2021?

What were the best young adult grade books from 2021 that you read? Did you read any of the books on my list? If so, did any of them rank among your favorites?

If there are any books on my list that you’re thinking of checking out now that you’ve seen them here, please let me know! Knowing someone is going to check out one of my favorite books totally makes my whole week.

If you like this list, check out my list of Best Middle Grade Books from 2021.

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About Kasey Giard

I'm a mama, reader, and writer. Passionate about peppermint (it's not just for Christmas, okay?!), fly fishing, and movie night.

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