100 Best-Ever Teen Novels

Top 100 Young Adult Novels

Harriet Russell - npr books - August 7, 2012

It's almost a cliche at this point to say that teen fiction isn't just for teens anymore. Just last year, the Association of American Publishers ranked Children's/Young Adult books as the single fastest-growing publishing category.
Which is why we were only a little surprised to see the tremendous response that came in for this summer's Best-Ever Teen Fiction poll. A whopping 75,220 of you voted for your favorite young adult novels, blasting past the total for last year's science fiction and fantasy poll at, dare we say it, warp speed.
And now, the final results are in. While it's no surprise to see Harry Potter and the Hunger Games trilogy on top, this year's list also highlights some writers we weren't as familiar with. For example, John Green, author of the 2012 hit The Fault in Our Stars, appears five times in the top 100.
Selecting a manageable voting roster from among the more than 1,200 nominations that came in from readers wasn't easy, and we were happy to be able to rely on such an experienced panel of judges. But deciding what does and doesn't count as a young-adult novel isn't an exact science. If you're surprised not to see some of your favorite books among the winners, you might want to look at this blog post, which describes the thinking behind the tough calls.
Summer, like youth, is fleeting. But the books we read when we're young can stay with us for a lifetime. Here's hoping that when the school bell rings in a few short weeks, it will find you engrossed in just such a memorable read, selected by the NPR audience. Enjoy. (For your convenience, here's a printable version of the top-100 list, and here's a list of the 235 finalists.)

Harry Potter series

Harry Potter Box SetThe adventures of Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, and his wand-wielding friends at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry, Ron and Hermione must master their craft and battle the machinations of the evil wizard Voldemort and his Death Eaters.

The Hunger Games series

The Hunger GamesIn the ruins of a future North America, a young girl is picked to leave her impoverished district and travel to the decadent Capitol for a battle to the death in the savage Hunger Games. But for Katniss Everdeen, winning the Games only puts her deeper in danger as the strict social order of Panem begins to unravel.

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a MockingbirdThis Pulitzer Prize-winning novel from author Harper Lee explores racial tensions in the fictional "tired old town" of Maycomb, Ala., through the eyes of 6-year-old Scout Finch. As her lawyer father, Atticus, defends a black man accused of rape, Scout and her friends learn about the unjust treatment of African-Americans — and their mysterious neighbor, Boo Radley.

The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our StarsDespite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few more years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at the Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.
Hobbit or There and Back Again

The Hobbit

Bilbo Baggins, a respectable, well-to-do hobbit, lives comfortably in his hobbit hole until the day the wandering wizard Gandalf chooses him to take part in an adventure from which he may never return.
Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye

With the author's death, the classic novel about young Holden Caulfield's disillusionment with the adult world and its "phoniness" will only rise in popularity — and controversy, since it is a favorite target of censors, who often cite profanity and sexual references in their efforts to ban the book.

The Lord of the Rings

The Lord Of The RingsTolkien's seminal three-volume epic chronicles the War of the Ring, in which Frodo the hobbit and his companions set out to destroy the evil Ring of Power and restore peace to Middle-earth. The beloved trilogy still casts a long shadow, having established some of the most familiar and enduring tropes in fantasy literature.Literary Award Winner
Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451

In a far future world, television dominates, and books are outlawed. The totalitarian regime has ordered all books to be burned by "firemen," whose job is to start the fires rather than stop them. But one fireman begins to see the value of the printed word.
Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska

Sixteen-year-old Miles' first year at Culver Creek Preparatory School in Alabama includes good friends and great pranks, but is defined by the search for answers about life and death after a fatal car crash.

The Book Thief

The Book ThiefTrying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel — a young German girl whose book-stealing and storytelling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.

The full list at npr books