The young adult section is home to some of the culture’s most popular stories — from tales of dystopian futures like in the Hunger Games franchise to action-packed fantasy worlds like in Six of Crows. Although YA has garnered massive success across all demographics, rare are the novels written by Black authors that get adapted for the screen or go viral.

Young adult fiction explores a wide array of genres, including classic literature, romance, fantasy, science fiction, social drama, and more. Here are our best picks of novels written by Black authors.

Thriller – Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Àbíké-Íyímídé’s debut novel is often touted as Gossip Girl meets Get Out. It follows two private school students competing to become the valedictorian. Their run for the first spot is challenging when anonymous texts revealing their secrets start to surface. As revelations escalate, they try to uncover the mystery behind the texts, putting their futures in peril. 


Fantasy – The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

Sixteen-year-old Deka only yearns for one thing — for her blood to run red during the ceremony to determine whether she will become a member of her village. When her blood runs gold, the color of impurity, Deka is visited by a mysterious woman. She is offered to leave her home and join an army of girls like her, alaki, near-immortals with rare gifts. As she trains to defend the empire, she discovers that nothing is what it seems.

Social drama – All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely 

When sixteen-year-old Rashad goes to the bodega for a bag of chips, a police officer mistakes him for a shoplifter and beats him. A video of the incident surfaces while Quinn, one of Rashad’s classmates and the officer’s son, witnesses the scene. The town starts taking sides after the video is broadcast on the news. The novel explores tensions and decision-making within a community in the face of police brutality against a Black student.

Romance – A Love Hate Thing by Whitney D. Grandison

Nandy is furious when her parents, who live in a wealthy coastal community, take in Tyson, a troubled teenage boy, under their roof after he nearly survives a shooting. Nandy fears he will affect her reputation, while Tyson has to fit into a community where he feels he doesn’t belong. Attraction starts to grow over the summer despite their initial hate for one another. If you like friends-to-lovers tropes, this one’s for you.

Coming-of-age – The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

This coming-of-age novel follows Michael, a mixed-race gay teenager living in London. Being both of Greek-Cypriot and Jamaican heritage, he has never felt like he quite fit in. Confusion ensues when he starts exploring his sexuality. That’s when Michael discovers the Drag Society, where he finds a space where he belongs. This novel explores the intricate layers of identity and what makes us complete individuals.

Science-fiction – Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

Dana, a 26-year-old woman in 1976 California, inexplicably jumps into antebellum Maryland. She saves a White boy from drowning and keeps being thrown back in time to protect him. Dana realizes she has been given a mission — to protect this young slaveholder until he can become a father to her great-grandmother. This novel is considered one of the first science-fiction novels written by an African American woman.

Literary classic – The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Edmond Dantes is imprisoned for a crime he did not commit and organizes his great escape when he learns of a treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo. In this action-packed adventure novel, he vows to take revenge on the three men responsible for his incarceration. A real-life case of wrongful imprisonment inspired this literary classic. It was written by one of the most highly regarded French authors, who also wrote The Three Musketeers.

Social drama – The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Every day, sixteen-year-old Starr Carter commutes from the low-income neighborhood she lives in into the suburban preparatory school where she’s enrolled. When her childhood best friend is shot and killed by a police officer, his death is all over the news. Protests are organized, and everyone takes sides and wants to know what really happened the night of the incident.

Romance – Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant

Sixteen-year-old Tessa has a passion for writing romance stories, which leads her to join a creative writing program at a prestigious art school. As she attends her first workshop, all inspiration is gone. She draws a checklist of the elements needed to live out the perfect romance story for literature’s sake. Tessa even meets Nico, an artist who perfectly fits the bill. As she checks elements off her list, she starts departing from what she expected love to be and develops a surprising bond with one of her neighbors.

Fantasy – Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

One night, magic disappears in Orïsha under the orders of a ruthless king. Zélie Adebola and a rogue princess work together to bring magic back and fight against the monarchy. In this novel, inspired by West African cultures, she struggles to control her powers and growing feelings for the enemy.

Contemporary drama/comedy – Fruit of the Lemon by Andrea Levy

Faith Jackson grew up in England from Jamaican parents who moved before she could remember. Her life as a young professional is upended when they announce they are moving back. Faith travels to her parent’s home country for the first time to reconnect with her family and discover the tales of her ancestors, who have lived lives across the world, from Cuba and Panama to Harlem and Scotland. 

Romance – Love Radio by Ebony LaDelle

Seventeen-year-old Prince Jones gives romantic advice on a radio show and believes he can make a girl fall in love with him in just three dates. He meets Dani Ford, a straight-A student and aspiring author who is finding it difficult to move on from a past incident at a party. When they two meet, sparks fly, and Dani gives Prince one chance to convince her of his theory.

Science-Fiction – Do You Dream of Terra-Two? by Temi Oh

When an Earth-like planet is discovered, a team of six highly trained teenagers and three astronauts embark on an exploration journey. They take off on a 26-year trip to reach Terra-Two, a planet believed to be a habitable environment. This novel follows their adventures in space, where they have to rely on each other, and no rescue is possible.