YA Romance Books List: Top Picks for Teen Readers

Disclaimer: When you buy from links on our site, we may receive a commission at no additional cost to you.  Learn more

Young Adult (YA) romance books capture the tumultuous and vibrant emotions of adolescence, weaving stories of love, growth, and self-discovery that resonate with readers of all ages.

Romance as a genre within young adult literature has carved out a significant niche, offering an exploration of relationships through narratives that are both enthralling and heartfelt.

These novels often serve as a mirror to the complexities of young love, reflecting the inherent challenges and jubilant highs encountered during teen years.

The landscape of YA romance is as diverse as its readership, featuring everything from the sweet and light-hearted to the deep and thought-provoking. Awards like the prestigious Printz and the YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults offer recognition to standout titles, providing a form of validation and recommendation that can be particularly helpful for readers new to the genre.

Series like “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han and “The Selection” by Kiera Cass have shown remarkable staying power, with readers eagerly awaiting each installment and adaptations bringing them to an even wider audience.

Post Highlights:

  • YA romance novels are a significant and influential part of young adult literature.
  • Awards and recognitions help guide readers to quality YA romance books.
  • Series and adaptations have expanded the reach and impact of YA romance stories.

Popular YA Romance Books of the 2020s

The 2020s have brought a multitude of young adult romance books that capture the complexities of love and growing up. Here are some titles that have resonated with readers across various subgenres.

Contemporary Romance

  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han: This series has become a phenomenon, intertwining the awkwardness of unrequited love with heartwarming moments.
  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli: Follow Simon’s story of self-discovery and love, which has also been adapted into a hit movie.

Fantasy & Paranormal Romance

  • A Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah J. Maas: A spellbinding series blending romance with high fantasy elements.
  • Crescent City” by Sarah J. Maas: Dive into a world where humans and mythical creatures coexist, and love battles through dark forces.

Historical Romance

  • The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue” by Mackenzi Lee: A romp through 18th-century Europe combining history with a captivating romance.
  • Lovely War” by Julie Berry: An intricate tale told by the goddess Aphrodite, showcasing love during the time of World War I.

Award-Winning YA Romance Novels

If you’re in search of exceptional YA romance novels, you won’t be disappointed with award-winning titles that have captivated both critics and readers alike. Explore the exquisite storytelling and emotional depth that these honored books offer.

Printz Award Recipients

The Michael L. Printz Award is an esteemed literary award that annually recognizes the best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit. One notable recipient in the romance genre is “Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell. This novel has achieved acclaim for its depiction of two star-crossed teens finding love and understanding in each other’s company.

National Book Award for Young People’s Literature

The National Book Award for Young People’s Literature honors outstanding literary work by U.S. citizens. Within the realm of YA romance, a standout winner is “I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy Nelson. It’s a poignant story that intricately weaves romance with complex family dynamics, celebrated for its vivid characters and heart-rendering plot.

YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults

YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults list offers annual recommendations of books that have the potential for both the widespread appeal and the literary quality to resonate with a diverse range of young adults. Among the romantic titles that have earned a spot on this list is “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli, acknowledged for its charmingly authentic take on first love and the journey of self-acceptance.

Diverse YA Romance Novels

Diverse YA Romance novels are a celebration of love in all its forms, showcasing a range of experiences that reflect the real world. They’re essential for understanding different perspectives and championing inclusivity.

LGBTQ+ Romance Storylines

You’ll find LGBTQ+ storylines that not only highlight the journey of love but also the nuances of identity and self-acceptance. Books like Let’s Talk About Love, which centers around a biromantic asexual protagonist, expand the representation of diverse romantic experiences while weaving compelling stories of love and discovery.

Multicultural & Interracial Relationships

Romance novels featuring Multicultural & Interracial Relationships break the mold of traditional narratives, bringing fresh voices and cultural experiences to the forefront. You’ll find characters from different backgrounds, who not only fall in love but also navigate the complexities of their identities and societies. For example, a collection of Diverse Genre Romances on Goodreads offers a range of books where romance transcends cultural boundaries, offering you stories that resonate with today’s diverse world.

Neurodiversity in Romance

Neurodiversity in Romance is an emerging area in YA fiction. These novels give insight into the romantic lives of individuals with neurological differences, acknowledging the spectrum of human experience. Such stories offer you a unique perspective, challenging preconceived notions about who deserves a love story.

Debut YA Romance Authors

As you explore the realm of Young Adult literature, you’ll discover an exciting selection of debut YA romance authors who promise to bring fresh narratives and irresistible characters to your bookshelves.

Breakout Authors to Watch

  • Rod Pulido: Kicking off the list with promise, Rod Pulido’s book Chasing Pacquiao emerged as a notable debut, blending cultural themes with the thrill of young love.
  • Kate Sweeney: Another name to keep on your radar is Kate Sweeney, whose novel This One’s For You delivers a gripping romance during a life-altering road trip, illuminating the complexities of past relationships and new beginnings.

Notable First Novels

  • Compass and Blade by Rachel Greenlaw: Fantastical elements with a touch of romance make Greenlaw’s debut a compelling addition for fans seeking an adventure of love amidst sirens and a sea-bound journey, marking it as a first novel of note.
  • This One’s For You by Kate Sweeney: Elegantly penned, Sweeney’s introduction to the YA genre has garnered attention, setting a high bar for contemporary romance weaving themes of loss and friendship into a modern love story.

YA Romance Series

Young Adult (YA) romance series captivate readers with their blend of emotion, growth, and the excitement of first love. They often explore complex themes through sequels that deepen the connections between characters.

Continuing Series of the Year

  • Obsidian (Lux, #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout is a standout in continuing series, blending paranormal romance with relatable teen challenges. With high ratings among readers, it marks a succession of books that keep fans entranced. More about the Lux series can be found on this Goodreads list.
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, though more dystopian, weaves a significant romance subplot that remains a favorite. The ongoing appeal of the series showcases how love stories can thrive even in the darkest of settings. More details are on this Ranker list.

New Series with Buzz

  • The Selection by Kiera Cass has gained attention for its fairy-tale romance set against a reality TV-style competition. It’s a perfect match for those who enjoyed other dystopian romances. You can find out more about the enthralling world of The Selection on Epic Reads.
  • A fresh addition, Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz has made waves as an intriguing historical romance, promising to be a strong contender in YA literature. Schwartz’s blending of historical details with an enrapturing love story captures readers’ hearts. More on this novel is featured at Candid Cover.

YA Romance Adaptations

Young Adult (YA) romance novels have a rich history of being adapted into films and TV shows, bringing the cherished narratives of love, growth, and adventure to a wider audience. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of both popular adaptations and those currently in development.

Books to Film & TV

  • To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before: A Netflix series that charmed audiences with its adaptation of Jenny Han’s novel about teenage love and identity.
  • Twilight: The franchise, adapted from Stephanie Meyer’s book series, became a cultural phenomenon with its story of vampire-human romance. The most popular YA romance adaptation ever.

Book Adaptations in Development

Noteworthy YA Romance Publishers

When exploring the world of Young Adult (YA) romance literature, you’ll find a diverse selection of publishers that bring these enthralling stories to life. Knowing where to find the most compelling YA romance titles can enhance your reading experience.

Major Publishing Houses

  • HarperTeen: An imprint of HarperCollins, HarperTeen publishes a wide range of YA genres with a strong catalog of romance titles. Notable for bringing readers contemporary works as well as fantasy romances that captivate the heart.
  • Tor Teen: A heavyweight in the world of speculative fiction, Tor Teen offers a robust selection of YA romance, especially within the realms of science fiction and fantasy.

Independent Publishers Specializing in YA Romance

  • Entangled Teen: Entangled Teen specializes in YA romance that spans across several sub-genres, including paranormal and contemporary stories. They focus on delivering tales that resonate with young adults and foster strong emotional connections.
  • Swoon Reads: Part of Macmillan, Swoon Reads involves readers in the publishing process through peer reviews. They seek books that make readers’ hearts race and palms sweat, showcasing the power of young love.

Trends in YA Romance

In the landscape of Young Adult (YA) literature, the romance genre is seeing invigorating shifts. As you explore current YA romance novels, you’ll notice distinctive trends that reflect contemporary interests and cultural dialogues.

Rising Themes & Tropes

Prominent in today’s YA romance literature are themes that tackle social issues and mental health. Books like The 29 best young adult romance books to read in 2022 showcase protagonists dealing with real-world issues while navigating the complexities of young love. Additionally, the enemies-to-lovers and fake dating tropes are gaining momentum, offering a captivating dynamic that keeps you guessing on how the relationship will unfold.

Genre Blending in YA Romance

No longer confined to traditional settings, YA romance is experiencing an exciting evolution through genre blending. Fantasy and sci-fi elements are being woven into romantic storylines, offering you new worlds and adventures amidst love stories. Books like 28 YA Romances That Will Melt Your Heart perfectly illustrate this trend, mixing otherworldly elements with the thrill of romance, hence expanding the scope and appeal of the genre.

YA Romance Communities

Young Adult (YA) romance literature enthusiasts have carved out their dedicated spaces where you can engage with fellow readers. These communities provide platforms to discuss your favorite YA romance novels and authors, share recommendations, and celebrate the genre.

Online Discussion Forums

Goodreads – You have access to an extensive collection of YA romance books within their Listopia feature, where community members curate lists of top YA romance novels, such as Best YA Romance. The community also allows you to participate in discussions, post reviews, and vote for your favorite titles.

Reddit – Subreddits like r/YAlit offer you a space to engage in lively book discussions, find reviews, and get book suggestions from other YA romance readers. Members often share their personal favorites and you’re welcome to join in with your questions or recommendations.

Book Clubs and Groups

Online Book Clubs – Various online platforms host book clubs specifically for YA romance fans. Here, you can join monthly reading challenges, engage in group discussions about the current book selections, and connect with others who share your passion for the genre.

Local Community Groups – Don’t overlook local libraries and community centers that often organize book clubs and reading groups. They are a great way to meet fellow YA romance enthusiasts in your area and participate in regular meetups to discuss the latest or classical YA romance titles.

Bookstores, both independent and chain, might also host author events and signings which are perfect opportunities to delve into the YA romance community and meet your favorite authors.

How to Find YA Romance Books

Exploring the rich tapestry of young adult (YA) romance books can be a thrilling experience. Your journey to the next remarkable story begins by tapping into expert opinions and leveraging the wealth of online resources.

Recommendations from Book Bloggers

Book bloggers are a valuable resource for discovering heartfelt and exciting YA romance novels. They often provide detailed reviews and curated lists that reflect their deep understanding of the genre. For example, you can find a comprehensive collection of Best YA Romance Novels on Goodreads, which is a treasure trove of peer-recommended titles. Blogs like Epic Reads also highlight YA romances that will melt your heart, showcasing a mix of popular and up-and-coming authors.

Using Book Discovery Platforms

Online book discovery platforms offer advanced tools to help you find books that suit your taste. Goodreads, for example, not only offers lists like Best YA Romance, but also features a powerful recommendation engine that suggests books based on your past reading history and ratings. Websites such as Beyond the Bookends provide curated selections as seen in their list of the 47 Best YA Romance Books to indulge in now, making it easier to find novels that resonate with your preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, you’ll find answers to common inquiries about young adult romance literature, from popular tropes and series to age-appropriateness and broader readership appeal.

What are some popular young adult romance books featuring enemies-to-lovers tropes?

Books with the enemies-to-lovers trope often feature engaging banter and tension that evolves into romance. Titles like The Holiday Switch by Tif Marcelo capture this dynamic with a festive twist, offering a light-hearted read where adversaries turn into allies and, eventually, lovers.

Can you recommend any well-loved young adult romance book series?

If you’re drawn to series that can keep you invested over multiple books, consider The Selection by Kiera Cass, noted for its fairy-tale romance and thrilling intrigue. This series combines the allure of competition with the complexities of young love.

What are some highly rated high school romance novels for young adults?

High school is a common setting for YA romance because it resonates with the target demographic. Esteemed reads like Sarah Dessen’s novels provide compelling stories that explore youthful relationships against the backdrop of adolescent life.

Are there any clean YA romance books suitable for a younger audience?

Yes, many YA romances are written with a younger teen audience in mind, focusing on sweet romance and relatable challenges. Books like those on Beyond the Bookends’ list of YA romance are carefully selected for their appealing content that is appropriate for a wide range of young readers.

At what age is it typically appropriate for teens to start reading YA romance novels?

Young adult fiction, including romance, is generally marketed to readers aged 12 to 18. However, individual maturity levels vary, so guardians might consider previewing content to ensure it aligns with personal and familial values.

Is it common for adults to enjoy reading YA romance books?

Absolutely, many adults find joy and entertainment in young adult romance books. The themes of self-discovery and first love have universal appeal, transcending age barriers and often providing a nostalgic escape for more mature readers.

Motherhood Life Balance, Bookworm Era | + posts

Victoria Cornell helps women adopt a positive mindset even when the struggles of motherhood feel overwhelming. On her sites, Motherhood Life Balance, Neon Moon and Bookworm Era she writes about ways to reduce stress with mindset, manifesting, goal planning, productivity, and more.