Transitioning from YA to Adult Literature

Hey, Young Adult readers, are you struggling to make the transition to adult literature? Is it too boring? Are the characters written in a very lofty, unrelatable fashion? I used to be there too. Actually, I’m kind of still there.

I consider myself an avid YA reader. I love so many YA authors’ writing styles, their characters are often very relatable to me, and they aren’t filled with esoteric tangents about the meaning of life, purply prose, etc (okay, I’ll admit I’m guilty of loving purple prose now and then). I mean, I am a young adult, after all.

But as I’m entering my mid-twenties, I’ve come to an upsetting realization: I don’t love YA as much as I did even two or three years ago. Some of it is starting to read too juvenile. The plots are starting to feel flat. The issues the characters are facing aren’t always as deep as the characters make them out to be. And while I haven’t forgotten what it feels like to be sixteen and feel like everything is the end of the world (not making fun, it’s just a fact of life at sixteen when you’re experiencing more drama than just a fall on the playground or having to give a presentation in front of the class), some YA just isn’t for me anymore.

It’s been a sad realization, but I also have felt lost in the transition from YA to adult books and it’s been harder to find books for me to relate to. If you’re like me, let me help you. Here are 10 YA books/duologies to help you ease into some more mature reading without leaving the genre behind completely.

 

Book one   Book two

These Violent Delights & Our Violent Ends
by Chloe Gong

  I love a duology, and this is the first of two on our list. I love recommending these books to any YA reader that comes into the store looking for something engaging, dark, and fun. And retellings of classics are trendy right now! This duology is a retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, set in 1920’s Shanghai. The Scarlet Gang rules the streets of Shanghai, rivaled in power only by the White Flowers, a Russian gang headed by the Montagov family. Eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, daughter of the Scarlet Gang’s leader, has just returned from Paris, but is thrown back into the feud between the Flowers and the Scarlets, thanks to her first love-turned-enemy and White Flower Golden Child, Roma Montagov. When Scarlets and Flowers both turn up infected with a mysterious disease that makes them claw their own throats out, Juliette and Roma reluctantly join forces to uncover the truth behind who is trying to destroy both gangs and hopefully come up with a cure.

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Already read it?  Get the second book

 


 

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Girl in Pieces
by Kathleen Glasgow

Charlotte Davis, or Charlie, is seventeen and has already known more loss than most people her age. After being checked into a psychiatric facility, Charlie undergoes treatment and is later released, left to pick up the pieces of herself and start over on her own. This book deals with quite a few heavy topics, like self-harm, attempted suicide, drug use, and more.

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Yolk
by Mary H. K. Choi

Sisters June and Jayne Baek couldn’t be more different. Jayne is struggling through school, a relationship with an awful boyfriend, and an eating disorder she’s trying to ignore. June is wildly successful with a beautiful apartment, a job with a fat paycheck, and a great apartment. But when June is diagnosed with uterine cancer, the sisters are thrown into living together, with them switching places and committing insurance fraud to save June’s life. This book is painfully authentic and well-written, I loved it.

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House of Hollow
by Krystal Sutherland

This book was an interesting, if somewhat unsettling read. YA horror is something I’ve recently gotten into, and this was a great place to start! Iris and her two older sisters, Grey and Vivi went missing for months as children, only to show up in the same place they disappeared from, seemingly unharmed aside from a crescent-shaped scar at the base of each of their necks. Since then, Iris has spent her life trying to escape what happened to her, eventually becoming estranged from each of her sisters. When the eldest, Grey, goes missing again under similar mysterious circumstances, Vivi and Iris come together to try to find out what happened to their sister. After a string of horrific events in their search for Grey, Iris and Vivi begin to uncover a secret Grey has been keeping from them that may be the answer to why they all went missing in the first place.

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Book one   Book two

Raybearer & Redemptor
by Jordan Ifueko

Our second duology! I LOVE these books. The world-building is fantastic in this series, which will draw you in from the start. I raced through them, I couldn’t put them down. For readers trying to dive deeper into fantasy, these books are a great place to start. They’re not overly long and include a great cast of characters. Raised in isolation for her entire life, Tarisai has always longed for a family. All she knows is the mysterious woman who cares for her, called The Lady. When Tarisai is sent to the capital of the empire, she is tasked with competing against other children to be chosen as one of the young Crown Prince’s Council of 11, joined together by a magical bond called the Ray, which runs deeper than blood. But there’s a catch: The Lady sends Tarisai with a magical wish that she is forced to obey: Kill the Crown Prince. It’s up to Tarisai to be strong enough to choose her own path before she’s forced to succumb to the Lady’s will.

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Already read it?  Get the second book

 


 

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Last Night at the Telegraph Club
by Malinda Lo

If you’ve read any of my other articles or been into the store recently, you know I love this book. It’s also currently one of my staff picks! This book is YA romance and historical fiction rolled into one, and is so wonderfully written. Set in 1950’s San Francisco, this book follows Lily Hu as she grapples with her identity and sexuality. After seeing an advertisement for a drag king performance at a place called the Telegraph Club, Lily decides to sneak out and attend. There she meets Kathleen Miller and the two fall in love. But with the pressure of the Red Scare bearing down on Lily and her family and the rampant homophobia of the 1950’s, it’s certainly not a safe time or place for two girls to fall in love.

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A Scatter of Light
by Malinda Lo

While this isn’t a direct sequel to Last Night at the Telegraph Club, Lo’s latest YA novel deals with characters from the same universe. This book is set nearly fifty years after the end of Telegraph Club, in 2013, shortly after same-sex marriage was legalized in California. After a series of nude photos are taken and posted without her permission, Aria Tang West’s summer plans are thrown into chaos. Her friends, with whom she’d planned on spending the entire summer, ditch her, and Aria is sent to her grandmother’s house in San Francisco. Her grandmother, Joan, West, is a famous artist, and Aria helps tidy her home, her studio, and attends events with her. She also meets Joan’s gardener, Steph Nichols who introduces her to the LGBTQ+ scene in San Francisco, taking what Aria thought would be a boring summer to one that is utterly unforgettable.

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The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak

At her brother’s gravesite, Liesel finds and picks up a copy of the Gravedigger’s Handbook, left by accident. It is her first act of stealing a book, one that doesn’t end when she arrives at her new foster home. She begins stealing them from Nazi book-burnings and wherever else she can find books. She and her foster parents are put in more serious danger when they begin hiding a Jewish man in their basement. The man, named Max, becomes close friends with Liesel as time goes on and they share their love of reading together. Narrated by Death himself, this book is an absolute must-read for any and everyone.

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With the Fire on High
by Elizabeth Acevedo

Emoni Santiago is a senior in high school and a single mother supporting her daughter as well as her abuela. She also loves to cook, and every dish she makes is magical. Despite having very little free time or money for it, Emoni enrolls in her schools culinary arts class, which includes a class trip to Spain, to get one step closer to her dream of working in a real kitchen. Each of Acevedo’s books is amazing, and this novel in verse is no exception.

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Between Shades of Gray
by Ruta Sepetys

When Soviet officers barge into fifteen-year-old Lina’s home, the Lithuanian’s family’s lives are changed forever. Lina, her mother, and younger brother are forced onto a train separate from her father and taken into the Arctic Circle in Siberia, where they and other prisoners of war are forced to work at a camp. As she and her family struggle to survive, Lina finds solace in her art, hoping her drawings and their carefully concealed messages make it to her father’s camp and that they will one day be together again.

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