My new nickname for the other members of FYA HQ is now “Sophies 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5” because when I told them I thought we should do a post about our favorite YA books of the decade, you would have thought I’d asked them to murder one of their own children. And sometimes it felt that way, as we struggled to decide between our favorite books for the top spots. Did we include our personal favorites, or the books that held the most cultural impact? Best sellers or lesser known faves? Sometimes those categories overlapped, other times they didn’t. Eventually, we settled on sharing our personal favorites, and for the sake of everyone’s sanity, we allowed ourselves the indulgence of counting a whole series as one entry. It’s Christmas, after all.

I’m not totally sure they’ll ever forgive me for this, but we managed to narrow it down to a handful of series and standalones that we’ve deemed the Best of the Decade. What we’re saying is: if you haven’t read these books, do so immediately.

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Sarah’s Picks

FAVORITE STANDALONES:

Cover of the Female of the Species, with academic-style drawings of a fox, elephant, cat, dog, and a teenage girl

Title: The Female of the Species
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Published: 2016

Sexual violence is a brutal topic, and Mindy McGinnis doesn’t pretend otherwise in this mesmerizing exploration of revenge, redemption, and what it means to be human. With its searing pain and startling beauty, this book will absolutely wreck you, but then it will take your hand and pull you back up again.

(Seconded by Stephanie, Mandy C., Rosemary)

Title: Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity #3)
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Published: 2012
Series: Code Name Verity

This incredible portrait of the friendship between two amazing, brave women during WWII is equal parts inspiring, harrowing, and devastating. Rich with historical details that never hinder the electrifying plot, Wein’s storytelling is masterful and, just like the spy main character, quite cunning.

(Seconded a million times by Stephanie)

Title: Before I Fall
Author: Lauren Oliver
Published: 2010

Fun fact: This novel was the inaugural selection for the FYA Book Club! And what a worthy pick it was. In the hands of any other writer, the story of a mean girl stuck in a Groundhog Day loop could easily fall flat, but thanks to Lauren Oliver’s gorgeous prose and piercing insight into the teenage experience, Before I Fall is an exquisitely haunting and heartbreaking read.

(Seconded by Stephanie)

FAVORITE SERIES:

Titles: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1)
The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2)
Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3)
The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4)

Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Published: 2012-2016
Series: The Raven Cycle

Has there ever been anything quite like The Raven Cycle? This is the kind of story you wish you could live in, with characters that feel like old friends. Wildly imaginative, deeply moving, and sharply funny, Maggie Stiefvater’s series is nothing short of extraordinary.

(Seconded by Mandy C. and Rosemary)

Cover of An Ember in the Ashes: A large gray wall with title text and a roman-looking town above

Titles: An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1)
A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2)
A Reaper at the Gates (An Ember in the Ashes #3)
Author:
 Sabaa Tahir
Published: 2015-
Series: An Ember in the Ashes

We’ve still got one book left, but I have zero doubt that this series will conclude just as it began, with nail-biting action, compellingly layered characters, and jaw-dropping reveals. Tahir’s world-building is next level–not that you have much time to appreciate it, considering the breathless pacing and intensely high stakes. But the heart of the story never gets lost in the rush, nor does the insane chemistry.

Mandy W.’s Picks

FAVORITE SERIES:

Cover of Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Titles: The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1)
Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2)
Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3)
Author:
 Suzanne Collins
Published: 2008-2010
Series: The Hunger Games

Its impact? Indelible. Its conclusion? Polarizing — but I fall on the side of LOVING IT. And I actually think I’ve only appreciated it more with time. Mockingjay is devastatingly brutal because war is devastatingly brutal. There’s no winning in a war; it simply ends on the battlefield. And it lives on in the survivors who are forever changed by its horrors.

On a personal note, The Hunger Games series was one of the catalysts for me finding and becoming involved with FYA — i.e., literally life-changing. And even though “May the odds be ever in your favour” is the quote that’s been absorbed into the cultural lexicon, the one I actually think of a lot (like, quite often with regards to real-world issues) is “Remember who the enemy is”.

(Seconded by Stephanie, Mandy C., Rosemary)

Titles: The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus #1)
The Son of Neptune (The Heroes of Olympus #2)
The Mark of Athena (The Heroes of Olympus #3)
The House of Hades (The Heroes of Olympus #4)
The Blood of Olympus (The Heroes of Olympus #5)

Author: Rick Riordan
Published: 2010-2014
Series: The Heroes of Olympus

I fell in like with Percy Jackson and the Olympians, but I was in full-blown love with The Heroes of Olympus. The Rick Riordanverse just keeps getting bigger and better and more inclusive, and I am so here for it. (Which is why I have 1.5 shelves for his books, even if I’ve fallen woefully behind on reading and reviewing them.)

(Seconded by Stephanie)

A girl's face, in black and white, covered by a bright blue feathered mask

Titles: Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1)
Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2)
Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3)
Author: Laini Taylor
Published: 2011-2014
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Blame it for being a pioneer of the “[Blank] of [Blank] and [Blank]” YA title trend, but the Daughter of Smoke & Bone series is 100%. THAT. BISH. Angels and demons, love and war, twists and turns — to paraphrase another 2010s icon, these books have EVERYTHING.

(Seconded by Rosemary and Stephanie)

Title text with a dagger in place of the T in Elites, against a stormy gray sky backdrop

Titles: The Young Elites (The Young Elites #1)
The Rose Society (The Young Elites #2)
The Midnight Star (The Young Elites #3)

Author: Marie Lu
Published: 2014-2016
Series: The Young Elites

I always feel a little scared with this recommendation. Not because it’s dark and tragic — I mean, it is, but that’s not the reason for my apprehension. I hold this series so dearly in my heart that omg I can’t handle it if I suggest it to someone and they don’t love it. (But I’m working on that by YAngelizing through the fear anyway!)

Cover of To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

Titles: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #1)
P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #2)
Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #3)
Author: Jenny Han
Published: 2014-2017
Series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Long before Noah Centineo became the internet’s collective fake boyfriend, we book readers fell in love with this rom-com-tastic series, as warm and sweet as any of Lara Jean’s culinary creations.

(Seconded by Stephanie)

Mandy C.’s Picks

FAVORITE STANDALONES:

Title: The Serpent King
Author: Jeff Zentner
Published: 2016

It took me more than a year to not get choked up when talking about this book. Zentner’s debut novel was an absolutely stunning blend of humor, hope, and heartbreak, and his characters are some of the most real I’ve ever read. The Serpent King gave me one of the most severe cases of TEABS I’ve ever had, and I’m actually the better for it.

(Seconded by Brian, Stephanie, and Rosemary)

Cover of Fangirl, with a redheaded boy trying to talk to a girl who is busy writing fan fiction on her laptop

Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published: 2013

I’ve been a massive nerd my entire life, thanks in part to nerdy parents, but even someone who grew up loving nerdy things can feel out of place in fandom, let down by fandom, or like she doesn’t live up to fandom’s expectations. It’s a massive amount of BS, but it’s hard not to listen to the loud voices (which, sadly, are often the most hateful). Because of all of this, Fangirl was such a cathartic read, and came across as such a truthful look at what it means to be a fan. Plus: It introduced us to Simon Snow and Tyrannus Basilton Grimm-Pitch, without whom we’d have to reread the same ol’ Drarry fanfic over and over again.

(Seconded by Sarah)

FAVORITE SERIES:

Titles: Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1)
Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2)

Author: Leigh Bardugo
Published: 2015-2016
Series: Six of Crows

No mourners, no funerals. It’s a motto I never knew I could believe in so completely. But thanks to Bardugo’s brilliant, broken, hilarious, sassy, thrilling Six of Crows, it’s a motto I’ll hold in my heart forever. If I had to choose one book universe to live in, it would be the Grishaverse. As long as I could hang out with the Dregs, natch.

(Seconded by Stephanie and Rosemary)

Cover of Illuminae, featuring the title and various other words and phrases "ripped out" of a red-orange cloud background

Titles: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1)
Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2)
Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3)
Authors: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Published: 2015-2018
Series: The Illuminae Files

Illuminae was the first book I read from either of these two authors, and it rocketed them to the top of my faves list, partly because of the unique format of the book—documents and transcripts and chat logs rather than standard prose—but mostly because how well they captured the personalities of the various characters and the action of this massive space adventure. I have a bittersweet feeling that there will never be another series quite like this one, even if someone tries to emulate its unique format. (I know, too, that similar things have been done before.) But I’m OK with that, because I’ll always have these books in my life.

(Seconded by Stephanie, Sarah and Rosemary)

Cover of A Court of Thorns and Roses, featuring a woman in a dress made of feathers and scales in front of a red background

Titles: A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1)
A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2)
A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)
A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3.1)

Author: Sarah J. Maas
Published: 2015-2018
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses

When I read the first book in Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series, I thought it was a standalone. I thought I didn’t need more from the series. I thought I was Team Tamlin. Y’all, THANK GOODNESS that I was wrong. Can you imagine life without knowing the truth about Rhysand? Without the Court of Dreams? Without Chapter 55? Sure, this series is more NA than YA, but I think we can all excuse me for including it in my best of list, considering.

(Seconded by Rosemary, Sarah and Stephanie)

Rosemary’s Picks

The cover of The Royal We, with an illustration of a bride and a prince kissing

Title: The Royal We (Royal We #1)
Authors: Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
Published: 2015
Series: Royal We

Royal wedding fever was high in a decade that saw the nuptials of both Princes William *and* Harry. The Royal We is like the best sort royal fanfiction we Yankees could ask for: an American girl who ends up at college with a hot member of the monarchy, and the chaos and swoon that ensues leading up to their wedding day. Though it falls more in the New Adult or Romances categories, this book is every bit as devourable as your favorite royal YA stories, but with more sexy bits. 

(Seconded by Sarah and Stephanie)

Title: The Fault In Our Stars
Author: John Green
Published: 2012

I loved this book so much I actually used a passage from it as a reading in my wedding. It’s one of those books that got SO famous, it’s hard to separate the story from the (over)hype, but thinking back to 2012 and remembering the way I felt the first time I read it, there’s no doubt that this book had a major impact on me at the time and will forever hold a special place in my heart.

Cover of The Start of Me and You with a boy and a girl sitting together on a rock overlooking the water

Title: The Start of Me and You (The Start of Me and You #1)
Author: Emery Lord
Published: 2015
Series: The Start of Me and You

In a decade that was defined by high concept, high stakes stories, The Start of Me and You stands out in that it’s none of those things. It’s simply a beautifully written, emotionally heartfelt, coming-of-age story about a girl learning to cope with grief and overcome her fears. It subverts genre tropes, features the best group of girlfriends anyone could ask for, and introduced me to my favorite book boy of the decade. (High praise!) I return to this story again and again, because it feels so real and raw and wonderful.

FAVORITE SERIES:

Titles: A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes #1)
The Last of August (Charlotte Holmes #2)
The Case for Jamie (Charlotte Holmes #3)
A Question of Holmes (Charlotte Holmes #4)

Author: Brittany Cavallaro
Published: 2016-2019
Series: Charlotte Holmes

This gender-flipped Sherlock Holmes retelling was filled with all my favorite things: a complicated girl, a flawed boy, an overarching feud sprinkled with smaller mysteries, gorgeous covers, loads of swoon, and most importantly, writing so clever I found myself smiling from ear to ear as I read. 

Titles: Every Breath (Every #1)
Every Word (Every #2)
Every Move (Every #3)
Author: Ellie Marnie
Published: 2013-2016
Series: Every

Not until this very moment typing these words do I realize that my picks for favorite series of the decade are both Sherlock Holmes retellings. What can I say? I’m a sucker for swoon and mysteries, and this Australian series delivered both in spades. I loved how messy Mycroft was, and how Australian-outback-bad-ass Watts was. The chemistry between them threatened to set the pages of these books on fire, and that chemistry didn’t wain after they got together.

(Seconded by Mandy C.)

Stephanie’s Picks

FAVORITE STANDALONES:

Cover of Letters to the Lost: A bouquet of flowers made out of paper

Title: Letters to the Lost (Letters to the Lost #1)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Published: 2017
Series: Letters to the Lost

Brigid’s books are always so emotional with great, multi-layered characters (especially her male characters. They make my heart break). This one made me cry embarrassingly multiple times and I thought about long after it was done.

FAVORITE SERIES:

Titles: The Enemy (The Enemy #1)
The Dead (The Enemy #2)
The Fear (The Enemy #3)
The Sacrifice (The Enemy #4)
The Fallen (The Enemy #5)
The Hunted (The Enemy #6)
The End (The Enemy #7)

Author: Charlie Higson
Published: 2009-2015
Series: The Enemy

This zombie-survival series combined SO MANY of my favorite things: disaster/survival stories, horror, YA, adventure, and even a bit of romance. It’s not often a book creeps me out so bad that I get scared about sleeping alone, but there were multiple instances over all the books where I had to stop and take a breath and remind myself that zombies don’t exist (…yet).

Titles: The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Girl of Fire and Thorns #1)
The Crown of Embers (Girl of Fire and Thorns #2)
The Bitter Kingdom (Girl of Fire and Thorns #3)
The Empire of Dreams (Girl of Fire & Thorns #4)
Author: Rae Carson
Published: 2011-2013
Series: Girl of Fire & Thorns

This is one of those series where the sum is greater than its parts. If you read Sarah’s review of the first book, it’s just alright. But the second and third books are where I fell in love with this story and its world, and I immediately went out and forced multiple people to go read it. I am a sucker for a great romance, and the slow-burn that came out of nowhere for me in this series was perfection.

Titles: The Bear and the Nightingale (The Winternight Trilogy #1)
The Girl in the Tower (The Winternight Trilogy #2)
The Winter of the Witch (The Winternight Trilogy #3)

Author: Katherine Arden
Published: 2017-2019
Series: The Winternight Trilogy

Arden’s series satisfied that part of me that is obsessed with fairy tales and an old-world, timeless story. Her imagery is so lush and lyrical without being too flowery. I always have an ability to sink in to a good book, but there are some rare ones where I practically feel transported, where I could reach out and touch the frozen leaves and breathe in the harsh winter air. Brava.

Titles: Finnikin of the Rock (The Lumatere Chronicles #1)
Froi of the Exiles (The Lumatere Chronicles #2)
Quintana of Charyn (The Lumatere Chronicles #3)

Author: Melina Marchetta
Published: 2008-2012
Series: The Lumatere Chronicles

I WAS going to pick Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road because *I* personally didn’t read it until 2011, but it came out in the previous decade so I figured I should honor the spirit of the list. Full disclosure, the first book of this series came out in 2009, but the rest were well within the 2010s, so…I’m going to allow it, because I need SOMETHING of Marchetta’s on here because she is amazing. I had this series on my TBR pile for YEARS before I finally picked it up just a few months ago (I like to save good things sometimes; it’s weird, I know). I think she should change her name to Melina Magic-Fingers Marchetta because the way this lady writes is GOLD. Just a beautiful fantasy series that I know I will reread someday.

Brian’s Picks

FAVORITE STANDALONES:

Cover of Scream All Night. A creepy castle at night

Title: Scream All Night
Author: Derek Milman
Published: 2018

Combines horror movies, a strange castle, family drama, and a teenager forced to take over a movie studio.

Cover of All the Birds in the Sky. Plain blue cover, speckled with birds and stars

Title: All The Birds In The Sky (All The Birds In The Sky #1)
Author: Charlie Jane Anders
Published: 2016
Series: All The Birds In The Sky

Phenomenal work of magic realism. And I’m not totally hoping to hit the author up for a blurb in the future.

Title: The Girl Who Drank the Moon
Author: Kelly Barnhill
Published: 2016

Great work with an almost exclusively female cast.

Title: The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love
Author: Sarvenaz Tash
Published: 2016

Great adventure set at Comic Con.

FAVORITE SERIES:

Cover of The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue. A handsome man in 18th century clothes

Titles: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (Montague Siblings #1)
The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (Montague Siblings #2)

Author: Mackenzi Lee
Published: 2017-
Series: Montague Siblings

Great LGBTQ novel set in the 1700s.


So…what say you? Were your faves on the list? Do you hate us as much as we hate ourselves for leaving your favorite off the list? Tell us in the comments!

Want more of our faves? Check out our favorite picks and our readers’ favorites from each year of the decade, dating all the way back to 2010!

FYA Faves

Reader Polls

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Rosemary lives in Little Rock, AR with her husband and cocker spaniel. At 16, she plucked a copy of Sloppy Firsts off the "New Releases" shelf and hasn't stopped reading YA since. She is a brand designer who loves tiki drinks, her mid-century modern house, and obsessive Google mapping.