The best young adult fantasy books that you should have read ten years ago

Nichole Giles Author Of Water So Deep
By Nichole Giles

Who am I?

I’m an author of Young Adult Fantasy fiction. When my oldest was six, I started reading Harry Potter to him. It was such a bonding experience that we both cherish. We still talk about the stories, even though he's all grown up and lives away from me most of the time. The thing about fantasy is that stories set in worlds or with people that don’t actually exist make it easier for us to swallow deep meanings, storylines with which we can identify, and that crawl deep down into our souls and nest there. It’s not just about escaping into a fantasy world, but about finding human experience in otherworldly situations and characters. 

I wrote...

Water So Deep

By Nichole Giles,

Book cover of Water So Deep

What is my book about?

Seventeen-year-old Emma Harris is drowning on dry land. No one knows what’s happening to her, and she’d like to keep her evolution from human to mermaid a secret, but the truth is getting harder and harder to hide. From her adoptive family, from her friends, and especially from the irresistible James Phelps.

When Emma’s brother disappears on her watch, James is the only person she trusts to help her save him. But even if they can save her brother, nothing can prevent her return to the sea. Whether she likes it or not, Emma is changing—unable to breathe without yielding to the tide—and it's only a matter of time before she's forced to surrender forever.

The books I picked & why

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By Maggie Stiefvater,

Book cover of Shiver

Why this book?

This is a beautifully written story that has stuck with me for more than a decade. It says a lot about a story when you only read it once (or twice, maybe) but specific details about it pop up in your mind years down the road. One of the reasons I loved it so much is because it’s a paranormal story that reminded me how desperately fragile we are as humans, and how lucky. We don’t live in packs, but we do live in family groups (whether our family is related to us or not) and those people are often our strength. This story reminded me of the power of love.

The Eternal Ones

By Kirsten Miller,

Book cover of The Eternal Ones

Why this book?

Have you ever met someone for the first time, and felt like you’d known them forever? I have. On multiple occasions. Not just love interests, but friends, mentors, and others who have come and gone from my life at times when they were most needed. This particular story struck me hard as something I can identify with in this way, as it explores that phenomenon, and takes it one step farther toward the possibility of reincarnation, and the idea that we all have a single soulmate who we are meant to meet in every lifetime. I loved this idea, and it was well done enough to—again—still stick in my memory years later. 

These Broken Stars: A Starbound Novel

By Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner,

Book cover of These Broken Stars: A Starbound Novel

Why this book?

You know that question about being stranded on a desert island with only one other person and a spaceship? Oh, wait. I think that’s supposed to be a sunken ship. This story has a bit of a similar feel, only instead of an island, it’s a deserted planet, and no one is coming to save Lilac and Tarver—so they have to save themselves instead. This one is a good mix of the rich-girl/poor-boy dynamic, (think Pretty in Pink, flip-flopped) with a hint of mystery, all in the style of Survivor. The depth of feeling is strong in this one.  


By J. R. Johansson,

Book cover of Insomnia

Why this book?

Every once in a while, when I’m under a lot of stress or experiencing emotional turmoil, I struggle to sleep. At one point a few years back. I went more than a week where I was only able to sleep around an hour or two per night. Needless to say, I was not myself. I love how this story explores the importance of sleep, the long-term effects of not getting a solid amount of it, and what it’s like to lose large chunks of time that you can’t account for. Plus, stalking. There’s a lot of fascinating psychology in this story, along with a best friend whose sense of humor brings valuable comic relief to the situation. Yeah. Another must-read!

Ever the Hunted

By Erin Summerill,

Book cover of Ever the Hunted

Why this book?

I have a deep love of history and all stories that feel historical, specifically when royalty is involved (call it my royal roots, if you will). This story is a little bit like royal history, only in a fantasy setting (which, let’s be honest, is part of the draw of history) with a strong, deep female heroine who is able to save herself, along with the boy who broke her heart, and her entire kingdom along with them. What’s not to love about that? 

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