10 Underrated Young Adult Novels You Might Have Missed

These hidden gems deserve some love.
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Underrated young adult novels
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I want to spotlight some of my favorite young adult books that haven't gotten enough attention. These novels captured my heart and dominated my thoughts and conversations for days after I read them. To my surprise, I found that they had very few ratings and reviews on Goodreads, the social cataloging website for books. 

So, here are 10 of my favorite underrated young adult novels! I hope at least one of them captivates you as much as they did me. 

1. Ghost Wood Song by Erica Waters

Book cover for Ghost Wood Song, an underrated novel
HarperTeen

Waters' debut novel is a true Southern Gothic tale about family, belonging, and how the past can haunt the present. Shady Grove inherited her father's fiddle that has the ability to raise ghosts. When her brother is accused of murder, Shady has to find out what the dead know so she can clear his name. This book has just enough eeriness, just enough romance, and just enough mystery to keep you reading straight through until the end. 

Goodreads | Bookshop | IndieBound | Amazon

2. Look by Zan Romanoff

Book cover for look, underrated young adult novel
Dial Books

Lulu Shapiro feels like an absolute mess, but you wouldn't know it by looking at her social media. She has a curated version of herself that she shares with her 10,000 followers. Then, she meets Cass, who is more interested in knowing the real Lulu, even if Lulu herself isn't quite sure who that is yet. "Look" is about coming-of-age on social media, manufactured intimacy, and how real life can seem like a performance when everything is being documented. This book really resonated with me, as I grew up online and helped me reflect on authenticity, especially as it relates to interpersonal relationships.

Goodreads | Bookshop | IndieBound | Amazon

3. Late to the Party by Kelly Quindlen

Book cover for Late to the Party, an underrated young adult book
Roaring Brook Press

Codi, 17, prefers to spend her weekends watching bad Netflix with her best friends over going out to parties like "normal" teenagers, but when those same best friends start to feel like they're missing out, Codi isn't sure how to feel anymore. Then, she accidentally befriends Ricky, one of those "normal" teens, and suddenly she's having late night adventures and going to parties, all the while keeping this new version of herself a secret from her best friends. This story about friendship, self-acceptance, and the "teenage experience" has wonderfully written realistic and human characters that feel incredibly relatable. 

Goodreads | Bookshop | IndieBound | Amazon

4. Just for Clicks by Kara McDowell

Book cover for Just for Clicks, an underrated young adult book
Amberjack

Poppy and Claire grew up as the stars of their mom's popular mommy blog, and now, as teenagers, are internet celebrities in their own right. Poppy seems to love the influencer life and hopes to continue this career for as long as possible, but Claire wishes she could be "just Claire." After all, most of the trolls go after her, and she was almost kidnapped as a child because of the blog. On top of everything else, Claire finds her mother's old journals that reveal a secret so big it makes Claire question everything she knows about her life. "Just For Clicks" is another interesting book that explores the repercussions of growing up on social media and how that changes the "coming-of-age" experience. 

Goodreads | Bookshop | IndieBound | Amazon

5. Super Adjacent by Crystal Cestari

Book cover for Super Adjacent, an underrated young adult (YA) book
Disney-Hyperion

Claire is a superhero super-fan and getting an internship at Warrior Nation, the company that manages heroes, might just be the best thing that has ever happened to her. Bridgette is not too fond of Warrior Nation super-fans, as she's often harassed for being the girlfriend of the beloved hero Vaporizer. Then, the heroes start going missing, leaving Claire and Bridgette to save the day. This cute and fun book has mystery, romance, and action enough to be a really enjoyable light read, especially for anyone familiar with internet fandom. 

Goodreads | Bookshop | IndieBound | Amazon

6. Night Shine by Tessa Gratton

Book cover for Night Shine, underrated young adult fantasy novel
Margaret K. McElderry Books

This dark fantasy novel was described by the author as a "queer 'Howl's Moving Castle'" and fans adored it. A girl named Nothing must go on a quest to save her Prince Kirin from the Sorceress Who Eats Girls. As Nothing spends more time with the Sorceress, she begins to learn more about herself and her true nature, including why she seems to be so magically inclined. With lush prose, Gratton describes landscapes, architecture, and characters so beautifully that this "enemies to lovers" romance about finding yourself and where you belong is sure to pull you into its magical world. 

Goodreads | Bookshop | IndieBound | Amazon

7. We Were Promised Spotlights by Lindsay Sproul

Book cover for We Were Promised Spotlights, underrated young adult book
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Taylor Garland's beauty has made her small-town royalty. She's the life of the party, the homecoming queen, and everyone wants the opportunity to be near her. Everyone expects her to marry the homecoming king and live a perfect little small-town life, except no one bothered to ask Taylor if that's what she wanted. Desperate to escape and be free of everyone's expectations, Taylor must figure out how to throw away her perfect life before she gets trapped by it. I fell in love with every sentence in this introspective and moody novel. Sproul's debut absolutely excels at creating a narrator that captures your heart and mind. 

Goodreads | Bookshop | IndieBound | Amazon

8. The Last 8 by Laura Pohl

The Last 8 book cover, underrated YA book
Sourcebooks Fire

Clover Martinez was starting to believe she was the only one who survived an alien attack on Earth when she picks up a radio signal from other survivors in Area 51. When she arrives, she meets the group who call themselves "The Last Teenagers on Earth." Clover starts to regret her decision when the teens seem more comfortable hiding out that fighting back. Then, she uncovers a hidden alien spaceship that shakes her trust in the whole group. This action-packed thriller about the end of the world is the first entry in a duology and a super fun read that I thoroughly enjoyed. 

Goodreads | Bookshop | IndieBound | Amazon

9. I'll Be the One by Lyla Lee

Book cover for I'll Be the One, underrated young adult novel
Katherine Tegen Books

Lyla Lee's debut novel centers around Skye Shin, a plus-sized dancer determined to make it in the glamorous world of K-pop. Skye enters an internationally televised competition to be the next K-pop star, much to the chagrin of her mother, who wishes that Skye wouldn't dance because of her size. As she competes against the other contestants, Skye finds herself also battling restrictive beauty standards and trying to navigate newfound social media fame. On top of everything else, romance is budding between her and her famous fellow competitor, Henry Cho. This book was one of my favorite reads of the year and it is a perfect book for people seeking more inclusive characters and also for fans of K-pop. 

Goodreads | Bookshop | IndieBound | Amazon

10. Throwaway Girls by Andrea Contos

Book cover for Throwaway Girls, underrated book
Kids Can Press

This debut thriller is a dark academia book about narrator Caroline's search for her missing best friend Madison, and all the secrets that get uncovered while she's looking for the truth. It turns out Caroline might not have known Madison as well as she thought, and things only get more strange when she learns that there are more cases of missing girls left unsolved, and the only connection between all the disappearances is herself. Caroline is a deeply flawed character that some readers found unlikeable, but her responses to being hurt in the past felt real to me, and I found myself enjoying Caroline's character more than most. Though the beginning is a bit slow, the mystery is extremely compelling and well worth the wait. 

Goodreads | Bookshop | IndieBound | Amazon

I hope one of these caught your attention enough for you to order it from your local bookstore!

Suzi is a writer who perpetually has a coffee in her hand and a cat on her lap. Her other hobbies include reading and playing video games.

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