Not Just for Adults: Books that Resonate with the Teen Reader

Today’s post is written by teen Jayla Johnson. In her own words: Jayla is an avid reader, and her favorite type of books involve anything with fantasy, dystopias or science fiction. Jayla loves writing nonfiction, giving out recommendations and talking about books; she is really excited to be a guest writer on The Hub, especially since it combines all of these things. She will be attending Denison University this fall, majoring in biology and minoring in literature studies.

Thank you, Jayla, for sharing your thoughts with us! -Rebecca O’Neil, currently reading The Marvels, by Brian Selznick.

As a long time reader, I’ve always felt that in order to truly appreciate books you have to explore and read all types of them: children’s, young adult, and the adult genre all hold gems that deserve to be discovered and treasured. I only read kid- and teen-related books up until I was around fourteen or fifteen; the idea of taking a plunge in the adult fiction section before that was too scary to even imagine. Even when my interest in adult books finally peaked, I was still slightly at loss as to what books to try, and wondered how different they could be. It wasn’t until I read Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (2008 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults) that I realized, perhaps quite obviously, adult fiction could posses just as interesting and page-turning stories as teen books. And, suddenly, my entire world of book reading possibilities expanded tremendously.

For teens who have not yet ventured to reading non-YA books, or reading them for fun and not for school, it’s easy to get stuck in the thought that adult books are only composed of either dusty, boring classics or lengthy, seemingly unobtainable novels (I’m looking at you War and Peace). Fortunately, that’s far from the truth. There are countless books geared to adults that can generate just as much, if not sometimes more, interest in a teen reader.

Whether you have already read several books from the adult genre or are searching for your first to try, check out the list below of seven books that offer exciting and mature plots, intricate characters and absorbing settings. Ranging from romance to fantasy to poetry, these books, while marketed towards adults, offer plenty of appeal to teenagers.

Parasite – Mira Grant

parasiteIt is the year 2027 and all diseases have been eradicated thanks to a genetically modified parasite created by SymboGen Cooperation. Once the tapeworm is inserted into the human being, that person begins a life guarded from illness. Behind the success of SymboGen, however, lies deep secrets that the company is hiding. Secrets that may come to light as, all around, the very parasites put in to protect people are now the ones taking over their lives. With zombie and dystopian stories more popular than ever, and especially beloved by teenagers, Grant’s Parasite is a great addition.

The Rosie Project Graeme Simsion

rosie projectWhat would you do for love? Professor Don Tillman is an awkward, and incredibly smart genetics professor who decides to create a scientific formula to find his perfect wife. Despite being brilliant, he is clueless when it comes to love and is mostly socially disliked by both his peers and the general public. During his hunt for a wife, proclaiming it as “the Wife Project”, Tillman sets to stick to his strict rules that together form his ideal picture of a wife, yet realizes along the way that, a lot of times, the best people come unexpectedly. Similar to a lot of teen romance books, The Rosie Project features an unlikely couple falling in love, and the trials and trumps of discovering that perfect person the character was destined to be with.

Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

s-typeopts13Among the fictional land of Avryn, Hadrian Blackwater and Royce Melborn make their living working for the various nobles and aristocrats. Hadrian, an adept mercenary, and Royce, an expert thief, are hired for a seemingly normal job until they suddenly find themselves charged with regicide and arrested. Now, on the run from authorities and angry over whoever framed them, Hadrian and Royce set out to seek revenge. What starts as a straightforward mission ultimately leads the two partners in crime to ancient conspiracies and on a quest that could alter their whole world. While this book has its plenty share of elves, goblins, and exciting sword-fighting scenes, the witty banter and faithful friendship between Hadrian and Royce are what sets this fantasy book apart from others.

No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay

no matter the wreckagePerhaps you might recognize her name from her infamous TED talk or spoken poetry performances. If not, Kay’s debut fills in for the moments and locations where it’s not possible to be consumed live. She writes about love, family, traveling, history, friends and dozens of other topics in this debut. Each poem various in length, but they all pack an emotional punch, equally raw and honest.



Bedlam by Nick Spencer

bedlamA scientist has believed to have discovered a way to fundamentally change even the worst criminal mind. Yet, in order to test his theory, he needs a subject: enter in Madder Red. Fillmore Press, the man behind the mask of Madder Red, is a violent, sadistic manic who continues to terrorize the city of Bedlam. Caught and cured of his disturbing tendencies, Madder Red now wants to help the very city he had tormented. This graphic novel is definitely not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach, but will appeal to teens who love dark stories that deal with psychopaths, crime and mysteries.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (2003 Best Books for Young Adults)

beesSet in 1964, young Lily Owens is living on a peach farm with her stringent, cruel father who’s entire life has been affected by her obscure memory of her mother. Not a pleasant memory, but one of the afternoon her mother was killed when Lily was four. When Rosaleen, an African American woman Lily views as her surrogate mother, insults a couple of vicious racists they vanish to Tiburon, South Carolina. In this small town that appears to carry the secret of Lily’s mother’s past, they are taken in by an unconventional group of African American beekeeping sisters who welcome them to their world of bees and honey, and Black Madonna. Through friendship, betrayal, and forgiveness Lily is led to the answers of her mother’s history.

The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin (2004 Margaret A. Edwards Award winner)

lathePublished in 1971, this book is seen as one of the many building blocks among science fiction literature, and is a true classic. Upon the opening pages, George Orr is stumbling down the hallway of his apartment, delirious, after overdosing to keep himself from dreaming. The reason? George Orr can literally make his dreams come true. Upon waking up, however, George is the only one who remembers the previous reality. To the rest of the world, this new reality is (and has always been) the only one. When George is appointed to psychiatrist Haber, George hopes Haber can once and for all rid him of his dream-making abilities. Haber, though, sees an endless sea of possibilities with George’s power, and soon begins making plans of his own that have dangerous consequences. For teens searching for a story with depth and challenging philosophical questions to think about, The Lathe of Heaven doesn’t disappoint.

~Jayla Johnson, currently reading A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab

3 thoughts on “Not Just for Adults: Books that Resonate with the Teen Reader”

  1. I hadn’t heard of the Sarah Kay thing! (I kept thinking it was a reference to the novel/movie Sarah’s Key. LOL!) Will have to check her out.

    P.S. If I remember correctly, my first “adult” novel was Insomnia by Stephen King. Not a bad way to ease into the grownup world.

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