Best 2021, Best Books, Best Year-End, Children & Teen, YA (Young Adult)

The Best Young Adult Books of 2021 (A Year-End List Aggregation)

“What are the best Young Adult books released in 2021?” We looked at 264 of the top Young Adult books, aggregating and ranking them so we could answer that very question!

The top 17 books, all appearing on 3 or more “Best Young Adult” book lists, are ranked below by how many times they appear. The remaining 200+ titles, as well as the sources we used, are in alphabetical order on the bottom of the page.

Our other Best Of 2021 Articles:

Previous Years: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015

Happy Scrolling!

Top 17 Best Young Adult Books From 2021

17.) Concrete Rose written byAngie Thomas

Concrete Rose

Lists It Appears On:

  • NPR
  • SLJ
  • Teen Vogue

International phenomenon Angie Thomas revisits Garden Heights seventeen years before the events of The Hate U Give in this searing and poignant explor…

16.) From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial That Galvanized the Asian American Movement written byPaula Yoo

From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial That Galvanized the Asian American Movement

Lists It Appears On:

  • NPR
  • NY Public Library
  • Publishers Weekly

America in 1982: Japanese car companies are on the rise and believed to be putting U.S. autoworkers out of their jobs. Anti-Asian American sentiment s…

15.) Six Crimson Cranes written byElizabeth Lim

Six Crimson Cranes

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brightly
  • Indigo
  • NPR

A princess in exile, a shapeshifting dragon, six enchanted cranes, and an unspeakable curse… Drawing from fairy tales and East Asian folklore, this …

14.) Skin of the Sea written byNatasha Bowen

Skin of the Sea

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brightly
  • NPR
  • Publishers Weekly

The must-read Black mermaid fantasy series that #1 NYT bestselling author Nicola Yoon calls “epic and original,” in which one mermaid takes on the god…

13.) Small Favors written byErin A. Craig

Small Favors

Lists It Appears On:

  • Barnes & Noble
  • Phoenix Public Library
  • Powell’s

THE From the critically-acclaimed author of House of Salt and Sorrows comes a mesmerizing and chilling fairy-talesque novel about Ellerie Downing, a y…

12.) We Are Not Free written byTraci Chee

We Are Not Free

Lists It Appears On:

  • Amazon
  • Booklist
  • Five Books

* NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST * PRINTZ HONOR BOOK * WALTER HONOR BOOK * From New York Times best-selling and acclaimed author Traci Chee comes We Are…

11.) Yolk written byMary H.K. Choi


Lists It Appears On:

  • NPR
  • Parade
  • Teen Vogue

“Sneaks up on you with its insight and poignancy.” –Entertainment WeeklyFrom New York Times bestselling author Mary H.K. Choi comes a funny and emoti…

10.) Ace of Spades written byFaridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Ace of Spades

Lists It Appears On:

  • Barnes & Noble
  • Indigo
  • SLJ
  • Teen Vogue

Gossip Girl meets Get Out in Ace of Spades, a YA contemporary thriller by debut author Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé about two students, Devon & Chiamaka, and…

9.) Beasts of Prey written byAyana Gray

Beasts of Prey

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brightly
  • NY Public Library
  • Parade
  • SLJ

In this blockbuster fantasy series, perfect for fans of Kingdom of the Wicked and Iron Widow, fate binds two Black teenagers together as they journey …

8.) Blackout written byDhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon


Lists It Appears On:

  • Barnes & Noble
  • Publishers Weekly
  • SLJ
  • Teen Vogue

Six critically acclaimed, bestselling, and award-winning authors bring the glowing warmth and electricity of Black teens in love to this charming, hil…

7.) How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe written byRaquel Vasquez Gilliland

How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe

Lists It Appears On:

  • Indigo
  • NY Public Library
  • Phoenix Public Library
  • SLJ

“Breathlessly atmospheric…A gorgeous, hopeful book.” –Rachel Lynn Solomon, author of Today Tonight Tomorrow The Hating Game meets I Am Not Your Per…

6.) Instructions for Dancing written byNicola Yoon

Instructions for Dancing

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brightly
  • Parade
  • Phoenix Public Library
  • SLJ

A charming, wholehearted love story that’s sure to make readers swoon.–Entertainment Weekly Nicola Yoon writes from the heart in this beautiful lov…

5.) The Girls I’ve Been written byTess Sharpe

The Girls I've Been

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brightly
  • NY Public Library
  • Phoenix Public Library
  • SLJ

Soon to be a Netflix film starring Millie Bobbie Brown! In this feminist, suspenseful thriller the daughter of a con artist is taken hostage in a bank…

4.) Tokyo Ever After written byEmiko Jean

Tokyo Ever After

Lists It Appears On:

  • Blue Willow Bookshop
  • Indigo
  • Parade
  • SLJ

The and Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine YA Book Club Pick! Emiko Jean’s Tokyo Ever After is the “refreshing, spot-on” (Booklist, starred review) s…

3.) Last Night at the Telegraph Club written byMalinda Lo

Last Night at the Telegraph Club

Lists It Appears On:

  • Book Riot
  • Brightly
  • NPR
  • NY Public Library
  • Publishers Weekly
  • SLJ

Winner of the National Book Award Proof of Malinda Lo’s skill at creating darkly romantic tales of love in the face of danger.–O: The Oprah Magazine …

2.) The Gilded Ones written byNamina Forna

The Gilded Ones

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brightly
  • Five Books
  • NPR
  • Parade
  • Phoenix Public Library
  • SLJ
  • Teen Vogue

THE INSTANT! “Namina Forna Could Be The Toni Morrison Of YA Fantasy.” -Refinery 29 “Fans of Children of Blood and Bone, Mulan, and the Dora Milaje fro…

1.) Firekeeper’s Daughter written byAngeline Boulley

Firekeeper's Daughter

Lists It Appears On:

  • Barnes & Noble
  • Blue Willow Bookshop
  • Indigo
  • NPR
  • NY Public Library
  • Parade
  • Phoenix Public Library
  • Powell’s
  • Publishers Weekly
  • SLJ

The 200+ Additional Best Young Adult Books Released In 2021

18) A Sitting in St. James – Rita Williams-Garcia List: Blue Willow Bookshop
19) A Snake Falls to Earth – Darcie Little Badger List: NY Public Library
Publishers Weekly
20) American Betiya – Anuradha D. Rajurkar List: Book Riot
21) Blood Like Magic – Liselle Sambury List: Indigo
22) Chlorine Sky – Mahogany L. Browne List: Brightly
NY Public Library
23) Clap When You Land – List: Booklist
Five Books
24) Dear Justyce – List: Amazon
25) Dragon Hoops – List: Amazon
Five Books
26) Himawari House – Harmony Becker List: NY Public Library
Publishers Weekly
27) House of Hollow – Krystal Sutherland List: Brightly
NY Public Library
28) Iron Widow – Xiran Jay Zhao List: Indigo
NY Public Library
29) Kent State – List: Booklist
Five Books
30) Let’s Talk About It – Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan List: NY Public Library
Phoenix Public Library
31) Lore – Alexandra Bracken List: Barnes & Noble
32) Love Is a Revolution – Renée Watson List: NY Public Library
33) Me (Moth) – Amber McBride List: NPR
34) Not Here to Be Liked – Michelle Quach List: NPR
Phoenix Public Library
35) Once Upon a Broken Heart – Stephanie Garber List: Barnes & Noble
36) One Last Stop – Casey McQuiston List: Parade
Teen Vogue
37) One of the Good Ones – Maika Moulite and Maritza List: Parade
Phoenix Public Library
38) Punching Bag – Rex Ogle List: Blue Willow Bookshop
NY Public Library
39) Punching the Air – List: Amazon
40) Raybearer – List: Amazon
41) Realm Breaker – Victoria Aveyard List: Barnes & Noble
42) Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People – Kekla Magoon List: NY Public Library
Publishers Weekly
43) Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet – Laekan Zea Kemp List: NY Public Library
Publishers Weekly
44) Super Fake Love Song – List: Amazon
45) Take Me With You When You Go – David Levithan and Jennifer List: Brightly
46) The Cost of Knowing – Brittney Morris List: NY Public Library
Phoenix Public Library
47) The Cousins – List: Amazon
48) The Crossroads at Midnight – Abby Howard List: NY Public Library
Phoenix Public Library
49) The Enigma Game – List: Amazon
50) The Inheritance Games (The Inheritance Games, 1) – List: Amazon
51) The Lake – Natasha Preston List: Barnes & Noble
52) The Mary Shelley Club – Goldy Moldavsky List: NY Public Library
Publishers Weekly
53) The Mirror Season – Anna-Marie McLemore List: Publishers Weekly
54) The Valley and the Flood – Rebecca Mahoney List: NY Public Library
Phoenix Public Library
55) They’ll Never Catch Us – Jessica Goodman List: Brightly
56) This Is Not the Jess Show – Anna Carey List: NY Public Library
Phoenix Public Library
57) Tweet Cute – List: Amazon
58) Vespertine – List: Powell’s
59) When We Were Them – Laura Taylor Namey List: Parade
Phoenix Public Library
60) White Smoke – Tiffany D Jackson List: Parade
61) You Should See Me in a Crown – List: Amazon
62) 21 Questions – Alexandria Rose Rizik List: Parade
63) 29 Locks – List: Financial Times
64) A Chorus Rises – List: Powell’s
65) A Dark and Hollow Star – List: Riveted
66) A Lesson in Vengeance. – List: SLJ
67) A Queen of Gilded Horns – Amanda Joy List: Brightly
68) A Rush of Wings – List: Riveted
69) A Sky Beyond the Storm (An Ember in the Ashes) – List: Amazon
70) A Song of Wraiths and Ruin. – List: Booklist
71) Adventures in Time – List: Financial Times
72) Agnes at the End of the World. – List: Booklist
73) All Our Hidden Gifts. – List: SLJ
74) All These Bodies – Kendare Blake List: Parade
75) All These Monsters. – List: Booklist
76) All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team – List: Five Books
77) All-American Muslim Girl. – List: Booklist
78) An Emotion of Great Delight. – List: SLJ
79) Apple: Skin to the Core – List: Five Books
80) Aristotle and Dante Dive into… – Benjamin Alire Sáenz List: Barnes & Noble
81) As Good as Dead – Holly Jackson List: Brightly
82) Ashlords. – List: Booklist
83) Aurora’s End – List: Booktopia
84) Bad Witch Burning – Jessica Lewis List: NY Public Library
85) Be Not Far from Me. – List: Booklist
86) Becoming: Adapted for Younger Readers – List: Five Books
87) Before the Ever After. – List: Booklist
88) Black Birds in the Sky – Brandy Colbert List: NY Public Library
89) Blood & Honey (Serpent & Dove, 2) – List: Amazon
90) Blood Moon. – List: Booklist
91) Boys Run the Riot – Keito Gaku (Writer & Illustrator), Leo McDonagh (Translator) List: NY Public Library
92) Break the Fall. – List: Booklist
93) Briar Girls – List: Riveted
94) Burn Our Bodies Down. – List: Booklist
95) Call Down the Hawk. – List: Booklist
96) Call Me Athena: Girl From Detroit – Colby Cedar Smith List: Blue Willow Bookshop
97) Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A Hip-Hop History (Young Adult Edition) – Jeff Chang & Dave “Davey D” Cook List: NY Public Library
98) Cemetery Boys. – List: Booklist
99) Chain of Iron – List: Riveted
100) Chaos on CatNet – Naomi Kritzer List: NPR
101) Charming as a Verb. – List: Booklist
102) Cheer Up: Love and Pompoms – Crystal Frasier and Val Wise List: NY Public Library
103) Clockwork Curandera, Volume 1: The Witch Owl Parliament – David Bowles & Raúl the Third List: NY Public Library
104) Cool for the Summer – Dahlia Adler List: Parade
105) Counting Down with You. – List: SLJ
106) Crave – Ed Smith List: Amazon
107) Dagger Hill – Devon Taylor List: NY Public Library
108) Darius the Great Deserves Better. – List: Booklist
109) Darling – K. Ancrum List: NY Public Library
110) Day Break – List: Booktopia
111) Dear Haiti, Love Alaine. – List: Booklist
112) Dear Senthuran – Akwaeke Emezi List: Teen Vogue
113) Deeplight. – List: Booklist
114) Defy the Night (B&N Exclusive… – Brigid Kemmerer List: Barnes & Noble
115) Determined to Stay: Palestinian Youth Fight for Their Village – Jody Sokolower List: NY Public Library
116) Disability Visibility: 17 First-Person Stories for Today – Alice Wong List: NY Public Library
117) Don’t Read the Comments. – List: Booklist
118) Dustborn – Erin Bowman List: NY Public Library
119) Early Departures. – List: Booklist
120) Elatsoe. – List: Booklist
121) Every Body Looking – List: Five Books
122) Everything Sad Is Untrue (a true story) – List: Five Books
123) Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry – Joya Goffney List: NY Public Library
124) Fable. – List: Booklist
125) Face for Picasso: Coming of Age with Crouzon Syndrome – Ariel Henley List: NY Public Library
126) Fat Chance, Charlie Vega – Crystal Maldonado List: NPR
127) Felix Ever After. – List: Booklist
128) Fighting Words – List: Five Books
129) Firebreak – Nicole Kornher-Stace List: NPR
130) For All Time – Shanna Miles List: Parade
131) Furia. – List: Booklist
132) Ghost Wood Song. – List: Booklist
133) Girl, Serpent, Thorn. – List: Booklist
134) Girl, Unframed. – List: Booklist
135) Girls Save the World in This One. – List: Booklist
136) Golden Arm. – List: Booklist
137) Grown. – List: Booklist
138) Happily Ever Afters – List: Powell’s
139) He Must Like You. – List: Booklist
140) Here the Whole Time. – List: Booklist
141) Hide and Secrets – List: Five Books
142) Home Is Not a Country – Safia Elhillo List: Brightly
143) Horrid. – List: Booklist
144) How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America – Clint Smith List: Teen Vogue
145) How to be a Real Man – List: Booktopia
146) How to Grow Up and Feel Amazing: The No Worries Guide for Boys – List: Five Books
147) Hunting by Stars – Cherie Dimaline List: NPR
148) Hurricane Summer – Asha Bromfield List: NY Public Library
149) I’ll Be the One. – List: Booklist
150) If I Tell You the Truth – Jasmin Kaur List: NY Public Library
151) In Deeper Waters – List: Riveted
152) In the Wild Light – Jeff Zentner List: Publishers Weekly
153) Instant karma – List: Phoenix Public Library
154) It All Comes Back to You – Farah Naz Rishi List: Parade
155) Kaleidoscope – Brian Selznick List: SLJ
156) King and the Dragonflies. – List: Booklist
157) Kingdom of Souls. – List: Booklist
158) Lady Bird Screenplay Book – A24 List: Teen Vogue
159) Legendborn. – List: Booklist
160) Let’s Talk About It: The Teen’s Guide to Sex, Relationships, and Being a Human – Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan List: Publishers Weekly
161) Lies Like Wildfire – List: Five Books
162) Light It Up. – List: Booklist
163) Like Other Girls – Britta Lundin List: NPR
164) Little Thieves – Margaret Owen List: Powell’s
165) Lobizona. – List: Booklist
166) Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know. – List: Booklist
167) Malibu Rising – Taylor Jenkins Reid List: Teen Vogue
168) Mao, Vol. 1 – Rumiko Takahashi List: NY Public Library
169) Meet the Georgians: Epic Tales from Britain’s Wildest Century – List: Five Books
170) Midnight Sun – List: Amazon
171) Miss Meteor. – List: Booklist
172) Mister Impossible (Dreamer Trilogy #2) – List: Powell’s
173) More than Just a Pretty Face. – List: Booklist
174) My Calamity Jane. – List: Booklist
175) My Love Mix-Up! Vol. 1 – Wataru Hinekure List: NY Public Library
176) Nubia: Real One – L. L. McKinney and Robyn Smith List: NY Public Library
177) Our Violent Ends – List: Riveted
178) Perfectly Parvin – Olivia Abtahi List: NY Public Library
179) Poisoned. – List: Booklist
180) Prepped. – List: SLJ
181) Queer as All Get Out: 10 People Who’ve Inspired Me – Shelby Criswell List: NY Public Library
182) Redemptor – Jordan Ifueko List: NPR
183) Rosie the Rhinoceros – List: Booktopia
184) Sanctuary. – List: Booklist
185) She Memes Well – Quinta Brunson List: Teen Vogue
186) Singled Out: The True Story of Glenn Burke – Andrew Maraniss List: NY Public Library
187) Ski Weekend – Rektok Ross List: Parade
188) Spin Me Right Round – David Valdes List: NY Public Library
189) Stamped (for Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You – Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi List: Amazon
190) Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous – Suzanne Park List: NPR
191) Sway with Me – Syed M. Masood List: NY Public Library
192) Sweet & Bitter Magic – List: Riveted
193) The Astonishing Chronicles of Oscar from Elsewhere – List: Booktopia
194) The Awesome Power of Sleep: How Sleep Supercharges Your Teenage Brain – List: Five Books
195) The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (A Hunger Games Novel) – List: Amazon
196) The Black Flamingo. – List: Booklist
197) The Black Kids. – List: Booklist
198) The Bones of Ruin – List: Riveted
199) The Book of Stolen Dreams – List: Financial Times
200) The Boy from the Mish – List: Booktopia
201) The City Beautiful – Aden Polydoros List: NY Public Library
202) The Desolations of Devil’s Acre – Ransom Riggs List: Brightly
203) The Dire Days of Willowweep Manor – Shaenon K. Garrity List: NY Public Library
204) The Downstairs Girl – Stacey Lee List: Parade
205) The Edelweiss Pirates – List: Financial Times
206) The Edge of Thirteen – List: Booktopia
207) The Electric Kingdom – David Arnold List: Brightly
208) The Extraordinaries (The Extraordinaries, 1) – List: Amazon
209) The Faithless Hawk. – List: Booklist
210) The Falling in Love Montage. – List: Booklist
211) The First Scientists – List: Booktopia
212) The Girl from the Sea – Molly Knox Ostertag List: Indigo
213) The Hazards of Lov – Stan Stanley List: NY Public Library
214) The Henna Wars. – List: Booklist
215) The How and the Why. – List: Booklist
216) The Last True Poets of the Sea. – List: Booklist
217) The Left-Handed Booksellers of London. – List: Booklist
218) The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly. – List: Booklist
219) The Loop. – List: Booklist
220) The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre. – List: Booklist
221) The Marvelous Mirza Girls – Sheba Karim List: Parade
222) The New David Espinoza. – List: Booklist
223) The Ones We’re Meant to Find – List: SLJ
224) The Other Merlin (Emry Merlin #1) – Robyn Schneider List: Publishers Weekly
225) The Prison Healer – List: Booktopia
226) The Ravens – List: Amazon
227) The Summer We Turned Green – List: Financial Times
228) The Taking of Jake Livingston – Ryan Douglass List: Brightly
229) The Voting Booth. – List: Booklist
230) The Way Back – List: Amazon
231) The Wild Ones – List: Riveted
232) The Witch King (The Witch King #1) – H.E. Edgmon List: Publishers Weekly
233) The World Between Us – List: Five Books
234) The Year of the Witching. – List: Booklist
235) These Violent Delights. – List: Booklist
236) They Went Left. – List: Booklist
237) This Is My America. – List: Booklist
238) This Poison Heart – Kalynn Bayron List: NY Public Library
239) Three Dark Crowns – List: Riveted
240) Three Things I Know Are True. – List: Booklist
241) Throwaway Girls – List: Five Books
242) Tiger Daughter – List: Booktopia
243) Tigers, Not Daughters. – List: Booklist
244) Today Tonight Tomorrow. – List: Booklist
245) Tomorrow is a Brand-New Day – List: Booktopia
246) Unscripted. – List: Booklist
247) Victories Greater Than Death – Charlie Jane Anders List: NPR
248) Watch Over Me. – List: Booklist
249) We Are Not from Here. – List: Booklist
250) We Can Be Heroes – Kyrie McCauley List: Parade
251) Welcome to Consent – List: Booktopia
252) What I Carry. – List: Booklist
253) When We Make It – Elisabet Velasquez List: SLJ
254) When You Were Everything. – List: Booklist
255) Why We Fly – Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal List: NPR
256) Wings of Ebony – List: Riveted
257) Wings of Shadow – List: Riveted
258) Winterkeep – Kristin Cashore List: Brightly
259) Witch King, The – H.E. Edgmon List: NY Public Library
260) XOXO – Axie Oh List: Parade
261) Yasmeen – Saif A. Ahmed List: NY Public Library
262) Yes No Maybe So. – List: Booklist
263) You Have a Match – Emma Lord List: Parade
264) You Know I’m No Good. – List: Booklist

20 Best Young Adult Book Sources/Lists

Amazon Best young adult books of 2021
Barnes & Noble Barnes & Noble’s Best Teens & YA Books of 2021
Blue Willow Bookshop The Best Books of 2021
Booklist Best Fiction for Young Adults: 2021
Bookpage Best Young Adult Books of 2021
Book Riot Best Books of 2021
Booktopia The Best Books of 2021: Kids & YA
Brightly The Best YA Books of 2021
Financial Times Best books of 2021: Young adult
Indigo Best Teen Books of 2021
NY Public Library Best Books for Teens 2021
NPR Books We Love
Parade From Teenage Love Triangles to Magical Thrillers, Here Are The Best Young Adult Books of 2021
Phoenix Public Library Our Best Books of 2021
Powell’s Best Books of 2021: Kids’ and Young Adult
Publishers Weekly Best YA
Riveted Our Favorite YA Fantasy Books of 2021
SLJ Best Young Adult Books 2021 | SLJ Best Books
Teen Vogue The Best Books of 2021 Are Absolute Must-Reads