1. The Giver quartet by Lois Lowry
Sure you groaned and moaned in class when you were handed your classroom issued paperback, but Lowry has written a pretty chilling series that is now considered the forerunner of YA dystopians.
2. Animorphs by K.A. Applegate
Five human teens (Jake, Cassie, Marco, Tobias, and Rachel) and one alien named Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill (or just Ax) can transform into any animal they can touch. It’s a pretty sweet gig, except they have to save the world against a secret alien infiltration. PS: Jake and Cassie 5ever.
3. Fearless by Francine Pascal
Fearless is basically Alias in YA form. Gaia Moore is incapable of fear, as she was born without that gene. Expect: sordid parental history involving Russian spies, love triangles, and lots of action.
4. Roswell High by Melinda Metz
Melinda Metz wrote a series about teenage aliens masquerading (and romancing!) amongst us in high school in Roswell, New Mexico. The series spawned the WB tv show Roswell, Katherine Heigl’s career, and inspired a spinoff book series. Meta.
5. Abhorsen by Garth Nix
Necromancy, high fantasy, and girls with gumption. Garth Nix’s trilogy captures the best of YA and what it can be.
6. Everworld by K.A. Applegate
Animorphs did have some surprisingly sophisticated sci-fi notions, but Everworld was just something entirely different and a whole lot darker. It’s kind of fucked up, actually.
7. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Really, you just need to read this trilogy. Like, yesterday.
8. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
A 12yo criminal millionaire mastermind who has to ally with faeries to defeat evil and save both the human and fairyworlds? Yes.
9. The Georgia Nicholson series by Louise Rennison
If you’ve never read along with the hilarious madcap antics of Georgia Nicholson and her friends, you should. The downside is you might start using slang no one else does and you’ll be left wishing that Georgia was your friend.