Top Ten Underrated Young Adult Books


Hello and happy Top Ten Tuesday, you guys! This week’s theme has to do with underrated books, something defined as books with less than 2000 Goodreads ratings by the talented folks at The Broke and the Bookish.

For my list, I’ve written out the number of ratings each book has received a couple of weeks ago, so it might have increased from then, but I think most of these would probably still be underrated by any definition of the word. Here we go — starting from the less underrated. 🙂

1) Symptoms of Being Human – Jeff Garvin (1,753 ratings)

Symptoms of Being Human - Jeff GarvinRiley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure.

RATING: ★★★★☆

WHAT I LOVED: Garvin’s writing is really accessible, and thematically this book is preeeetty damn unique.

2) Little Peach – Peggy Kern (1,546 ratings)

Little PeachWhen Michelle runs away from her drug-addicted mother, she has just enough money to make it to New York City, where she hopes to move in with a friend. But once she arrives at the bustling Port Authority, she is confronted with the terrifying truth: she is alone and out of options.

Then she meets Devon, a good-looking, well-dressed guy who emerges from the crowd armed with a kind smile, a place for her to stay, and eyes that seem to understand exactly how she feels.

But Devon is not what he seems to be, and soon Michelle finds herself engulfed in the world of child prostitution where he becomes her “Daddy” and she his “Little Peach.” It is a world of impossible choices, where the line between love and abuse, captor and savior, is blurred beyond recognition.

RATING: ★★★★☆

WHAT I LOVED: Short and sparse, this book is pretty dark and intense. Read it and be blown away.

3) Highly Illogical Behavior – John Corey Whaley (1,483 ratings)

Highly Illogical Behavior John Corey WhaleySixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him. Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But is ambition alone enough to get her in?.

Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa steps into his world, along with her charming boyfriend, Clark, and soon the three form an unexpected bond. But, as Lisa learns more about Sol and he and Clark grow closer and closer, the walls they’ve built around themselves start to collapse and their friendships threaten to do the same.

RATING: ★★★★☆

WHAT I LOVED: The characters are realistic, funny, and flawed. Whaley’s writing is also snarky and humourous.

4) How to Repair a Mechanical Heart – J. C. Lillis (1,361 ratings)

How to Repair A Mechanical HeartEighteen-year-old Castaway Planet fans Brandon and Abel hate bad fan fiction—especially when it pairs their number-one TV crushes of all time, dashing space captain Cadmus and dapper android Sim. As co-runners of the Internet’s third most popular Castaway Planet vlog, they love to spar with the “Cadsim” fangirls who think Cadmus will melt Sim’s mechanical heart by the Season 5 finale.

This summer, Brandon and Abel have a mission: hit the road in an RV to follow the traveling Castaway Planet convention, interview the actors and showrunner, and uncover proof that a legit Cadsim romance will NEVER, EVER HAPPEN.

RATING: ★★★★★

WHAT I LOVED: The fandom-speak. The humour. The characters. I think this is the only fandom-themed YA novel I’ve read that actually doesn’t disappoint and isn’t problematic.

5) The Impostor Queen – Sarah Fine (1,303 ratings)

The Impostor QueenSixteen-year-old Elli was only a child when the Elders of Kupari chose her to succeed the Valtia, the queen who wields infinitely powerful ice and fire magic in service of her people. The only life Elli has known has been in the temple, surrounded by luxury, tutored by magic-wielding priests, preparing for the day when the queen perishes—and the ice and fire find a new home in Elli, who is prophesied to be the most powerful Valtia to ever rule.

But when the queen dies defending the kingdom from invading warriors, the magic doesn’t enter Elli. It’s nowhere to be found.

RATING: ★★★★☆

WHAT I LOVED: The magic system is sound, you guys! And I love the whole concept.

6) Mr. Galliano’s Circus – Enid Blyton (835 ratings)

Mr Galliano's Circus - Enid BlytonWhen Mr Galliano’s circus comes to town, Jimmy is very excited. He soon makes friends with Lotta the circus girl and the other fascinating circus folk. Then, when Jimmy’s father is asked to join the circus as odd-job man, the little boy is delighted.

Follow his adventures as he learns all about the circus, trains his very own circus dog, rescues an escaped chimpanzee and helps capture a thief. A wonderful story of circus life from one of the world’s best-loved children’s authors, Enid Blyton.

RATING: ★★★★☆

WHAT I LOVED: Blyton is my favourite author when I was a kid and I LOVED the concept of living with a traveling circus. The main character trains a dog in the story and I think it made me want to be a dog trainer too. It’s probably more Middle Grade than YA, but I think the appeal is there.

7) Seven Ways We Lie – Riley Redgate (717 ratings)

Seven Ways We LiePaloma High School is ordinary by anyone’s standards. It’s got the same cliques, the same prejudices, the same suspect cafeteria food. And like every high school, every student has something to hide—from Kat, the thespian who conceals her trust issues onstage, to Valentine, the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal.

When that scandal bubbles over, and rumors of a teacher-student affair surface, everyone starts hunting for someone to blame. For the seven unlikely allies at the heart of it all, the collision of their seven ordinary-seeming lives results in extraordinary change.

RATING: ★★★★★

WHAT I LOVED: The ensemble cast. The unique voices.

8) Serpentine – Cindy Pon (452 ratings)

She Latitude - Serpentine CoverSERPENTINE is a sweeping fantasy set in the ancient Kingdom of Xia and inspired by the rich history of Chinese mythology.

Lush with details from Chinese folklore, SERPENTINE tells the coming of age story of Skybright, a young girl who worries about her growing otherness. As she turns sixteen, Skybright notices troubling changes. By day, she is a companion and handmaid to the youngest daughter of a very wealthy family. But nighttime brings with it a darkness that not even daybreak can quell.

RATING: ★★★★☆

WHAT I LOVED: The setting feels really authentic! And it’s quite cool an idea.

9) Fifteen Lanes – S. J. Laidlaw (82 ratings)

Fifteen LanesNoor has lived all of her fourteen years in the fifteen lanes of Mumbai’s red light district. Born into a brothel, she is destined for the same fate as her mother: a desperate life trapped in the city’s sex trade. She must act soon to have any chance of escaping this grim future.

Across the sprawling city, fifteen-year-old Grace enjoys a life of privilege. Her father, the CEO of one of India’s largest international banks, has brought his family to Mumbai where they live in unparalleled luxury. But Grace’s seemingly perfect life is shattered when she becomes a victim of a cruel online attack.

When their paths intersect, Noor and Grace will be changed forever. Can two girls living in vastly different worlds find a common path?

RATING: ★★★☆☆

WHAT I LOVED: I think I mention this book way too much but I feel like it’s so underrated! It’s about two girls who couldn’t be more different – one lives a privileged life and the other is a prostitute’s daughter in the slums of India.

10) How The Moth Became A Boat – Josephine Rowe (62 ratings)

How A Moth Becomes A BoatA person will go blind if they stare at the sun for too long.

She learnt this when she was very young and tried to reverse the process by turning her face towards the warmth of it and waiting. Wondering what people who were not blind dreamed about.

A father teaches his daughter how to break whiskey bottles.
A woman looks for an old lover in a satellite photograph.
A man finds the voice of his dead wife on an unlabelled cassette tape.
A blind girl dreams about the taste of the moon.

RATING: ★★★★★

WHAT I LOVED: Okaaay, this is not a YA book but you know what, the writing is just gorgeous — so simplistic yet so evocative. Also it’s by a local author.

What’s on your TTT this week? Leave me a link or let me know in the comments!

63 thoughts on “Top Ten Underrated Young Adult Books

  1. Oh I love this list ! I’ve been eyeing most of these books for quiiite some while. Seven ways we lie is one that I always thought I wouldn’t like so I didn’t even think of giving it a shot but seeing your rating here makes me want to read it 😁


  2. I’ve heard only good things about Symptoms of Being Human and I’ve been dying to pick it up for a while. all of the other books seem really interesting but there is something about Highly Illogical Behaviour which makes me want to read them more than the rest
    – Yasmin


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