If You Like This YA Book, Try This Classic


If you like Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Read The Lord of the Flies by William Golding

In Brown’s YA dystopian novel, protagonist Darrow discovers the origins of his society and what actions humans are capable when the comforts of civilization break down.  Golding explores similar themes in The Lord of the Flies, when a class of young boys is stranded on a island and left to fend for themselves.

If you like the Protector of the Small series by Tamora Pierce

Read Ivanoe by Sir Walter Scott

If you like stories in set in medieval or medieval-inspired time periods, you’ll want to read Ivanhoe.  Scott’s work was written in the 1800s, when the Romanticists indulged their own obsessing with studying and recreating the medieval world. This means you get all the flavor of England in the Middle Ages without having to read an actual Middle English text. Plus, Scott’s protagonist has to prove his worth as a knight, a theme that will resonate with fans of Tamora Pierce.

If you like The False Prince by Jennifer A Nielsen

Read The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Nielsen’s novel is all about a clever, spunky protagonist who pulls off amazing plot twists.  But no classic author does intrigue and surprising twists than Alexandre Dumas.  His books do tend to be heavy on the history, but they’re also full of passionate characters with the smarts to pull off amazingly wild schemes.

If you like Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly

Read Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Connolly’s fantasy novel features a starry-eyed, kind-hearted protagonist who wants nothing more than to help others and have a place where she belongs.  Even though she’s not fully human, this means Kymera has a lot in common with Montgomery’s red-headed orphan Anne Shirley. Readers will fall in love with both girls and their big dreams.

If you like A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin

Read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Baldwin’s series introduces readers to a school of smart, sometimes sassy girls who don’t mind a bit of romance in their lies.  Fans of the Regency period will want to see where it all began with Jane Austen’s own tales of delightfully witty women finding the loves of their lives.  (Biting social commentary is also a highlight.)

If you like The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

Read The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

If you enjoy alien stories, you can’t miss out on Wells’s classic story of an alien invasion.  Though Wells’s writing style isn’t necessarily about adding suspense and action in a way familiar to readers of YA, he does know how to tell a thought-provoking story.  Readers won’t want to miss out on his version of earth vs. aliens.

15 thoughts on “If You Like This YA Book, Try This Classic

  1. Michael J. Miller says:

    I think this is a fantastic post! Of late I’ve had many conversations with people (and seen many an article online) where people essentially proclaim, “I only read YA books because I can’t find anything to enjoy/relate to/appreciate in adult literature.” While I admit there are YA series that are classic and will still be seen as classic a century from now (Harry Potter) and some that offer brilliant social critique (like ‘The Hunger Games’), I can’t understand how you can have no connection to anything in classic literature. For example, I think I understand and take more away from ‘The Great Gatsby’ each time I read it. I’m so happy you did a post like this. Thank you🙂.


    • Briana says:

      I always find it baffling, too, that so many people don’t read and insist they don’t like classics. “Classic” really means nothing more than the fact society seems to think the book DOES have something to offer, even after its publication date. I mean, classics come in every genre, so it seems different from saying “I don’t like romance” or “I don’t like mysteries.” And they come from every time period, from the very first writing we have to “modern classics” published just a few decades ago. I can understand not being specifically into 19th century Romantic poetry or something, but I like to think that everyone can find at least a few classics they will relate to and enjoy. (And, hopefully this doesn’t make me come across as a book snob, but, as much as I love YA, I do often find that classics have more to offer upon rereading. Most YA books I read once, enjoy, and promptly forget.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Michael J. Miller says:

        I don’t think that’s snobby, I think that’s honest. And I’d agree. Maybe part of it has to do with the target market? YA books can (and do) express deep, honest truths. But they are aimed primarily at a younger audience and then enjoyed by a wider audience. So what they express must be understood by that younger audience first and foremost. When I think of how I understand/experience love, for example, it’s changed so much. What I meant by “love” at nineteen is worlds apart from what it means to me now at thirty-four. I think, for lack of a better term, “adult literature” (classics specifically) often explore more nuanced emotional landscapes. As such, like you said in your comment above, I find myself getting more from those books with each read.


        • Briana says:

          That’s a good point. I occassionally run across a YA book where I think “Wow, this is really interesting. This could have been really surprising and formative for me if I’d read it when I was fifteen.” Because some of them do have nuanced and deep messages, but at this point in my life they are often messages I’ve heard a couple times before.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. wonderfilledreads says:

    Ahhh, so awesome to see 3 of my all time favorite books make your list (Anne of Green Gables, Red Rising, and Count of Monte Cristo)! I definitely agree with your comparison choices as well. Great post!


  3. looloolooweez says:

    LOVE these recommendations — and they work in reverse, too! ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ and ‘Anne of Green Gables’ are a couple of my fav classics, so I probably ought to try to find copies of ‘The False Prince’ and ‘Monstrous’ as well right?


    • Briana says:

      I’ve been looking awhile for a book that felt like Anne of Green Gables to me. I’ve looked up reading suggestions before, and usually people just recommend books that were published generally around the same time and have girls as protagonist–but a lot of those books really seem to have little in common with Anne, to me. Monstrous was the first book I read in a long time where I thought, “This really reminds me of Anne.” Obviously the stories are completely different because in one we’re looking at a magical fantasy world, but the protagonist really have something of Anne’s spirit.


  4. E.C. Orr says:

    This is a great post! I sometimes have a hard time getting into classics (though there are some which have earned a spot on my favorites… Like, all of Hawthorne basically), so this is a really neat idea. Very informative and a great way to bridge the gap to the classics.🙂


    • Briana says:

      There are classics I don’t like either. I’m still bitter about reading Ethan Frome in high school. (And Hawthorne is sometimes low on plot.) But I like to think there’s a wide enough variety in classics we can all find something we like!


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