10 YA Books I Think Should Become Classics

Classic Remarks

Classic Remarks is a meme hosted here at Pages Unbound that poses questions each Friday about classic literature and asks participants to engage in ongoing discussions surrounding not only themes in the novels but also questions about canon formation, the “timelessness” of literature, and modes of interpretation. Leave your link in the comments below. And feel free to comment even if you are not officially participating! This week’s prompt is:

Which YA books would you like to see become classics and why?

10 YA books will become classics
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The Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows stunned the YA community with its vivid worldbuilding, its complex plot, and its nuanced characters. A lot of YA fantasy can feel derivative, but Bardugo made hers feel fresh. By doing so, she also inspired a wave of YA heist novels. As in many cases, however, the first proved to be among the best. I suspect fans will be reading Bardugo’s work for years to come.

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The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Hunger Games

Suzanne Collins’ trilogy set off a wave of dystopian fare for YA readers. However, its vision still feels original and compelling. The trilogy grapples with questions of authority and resistance, questions that continue to speak to teens. Additionally, it addresses issues such as consumerism and waste, and public image and propaganda–issues that remain relevant today.

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A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge

A Skinful of Shadows

Frances Hardinge is one of the best YA fantasy authors writing today. She avoids the common YA tropes to write highly original stories that typically have just a twist of the supernatural or the creepy. And her prose is beautiful, effortless, sometimes speaking truths that hit the heart. Her work may not be as popular as some, but it certainly deserves recognition.

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Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Will just watched his older brother die. And he’s pretty sure he knows the guy who shot him. So it’s time to follow the Rules. The most important Rule? Get revenge. But as Will takes the elevator down to find his target, he is joined by a series of spirits who tell him their stories. It seems that the Rules solve nothing and only continue the cycle of violence. The book has won an impressive number of awards and tackles difficult, relevant topics. I can see this book being assigned in classrooms, helping it to gain classic status.

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The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling

To be fair, Rowling’s series might be considered half middle-grade and half YA. But it already seems well on its way to achieving classic status as enthusiasm for the series seems not to have waned in the years since its initial publication. And Millenial parents will no doubt pass on a love of Harry Potter to the new generation.

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The Arc of a Scythe Trilogy by Neal Shusterman

Neal Shusterman’s trilogy raises important philosophical questions about the nature of death, the possibilities of AI, and the good and evil shown in human nature. This gives Shusterman’s work a depth not all books have, which probably helped the series become a bestseller. I can also see teachers using the series in the classroom, thus helping to cement its classic status.

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They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Adam Silvera’s They Both Die at the End is a poignant look at what it means to die–and what it means to live.  In an alternate world, Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio both receive a call from Death-Cast notifying them that they will die that day.  They connect through the Last Friend app and, together, make special moments, but also find that death allows them to face the world, and themselves, with unexpected honesty. This book is special because it makes readers ask themselves big questions: what makes a life worth living, what kind of legacy can we expect to leave behind, and why we often leave so many important things undone and unsaid.

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The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie Stiefvater’s does not read quite like anything else in YA and that originality is what should make it a classic. That, combined with its beautiful prose, lovable characters, and intricate plot. I also love that it references a historical time period not many readers likely knew about previously.

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The Reckoners Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson has a gift for creating unique worlds and magic systems. The Reckoners trilogy showcases his talents as he creates a world where superheroes are the villains and “ordinary” people must band together to fight them. Sanderson is a perennial fan favorite, and I can see his books lasting as fantasy and sci-classics.

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give climbed the bestseller list as it gave readers a personal look at the Black Lives Matter movement. Its important historical context will surely see it become a classic, as will the fact that it is currently being assigned on school reading lists and in book clubs. Readers are not likely to soon forget Thomas’s powerful debut.

28 thoughts on “10 YA Books I Think Should Become Classics

  1. Eustacia | Eustea Reads says:

    I believe The Hunger Games is on the list of books schools in Singapore can choose to teach to lower secondary students! It’s not a compulsory text, but it is an option if a teacher feels it’s relevant.

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    • Krysta says:

      That’s very cool! I know the Hunger Games is taught in some colleges in the U.S., but I don’t know about high school. High schools tend to be more influential, I think, in creating classics because not every student will go on to study English lit in college.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I think it depends on your definition of classic. They have been around for about a decade and look here to stay, but personally I would say something has to last longer to be a classic. I’m sure there are plenty of books that have been in print ten years that won’t really be read fifty years from now.

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    • Krysta says:

      You could argue that they are modern classics since it’s been a little over 10 years for both of them. I don’t know that there is a strict definition of how many years it takes to be a classic.

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  2. One Book More says:

    Awesome list! I NEED to read the Six of Crows duology soon. It sounds amazing!
    I actually taught The Hunger Games to many of my classes. I had a dystopian unit where I compared a few classics (Brave New World, some Ray Bradbury short stories, etc.) to some modern works (The Hunger Games, Enclave, etc.). It was my favorite unit! 🙂

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  3. Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

    I only picked 5 books, but we have a lot of overlap — particularly when you pull in my “runner up” categories. I didn’t add Harry Potter as I tried to focus on books in the last 20 years. This was a shockingly difficult post to write!

    I like the addition of They Both Die in the End to your list — I agree, this has the potential to become a classic! We need more YA books that ask big questions and cover serious topics. I feel like far too many YA book skirt the big issues, though we’re moving closer to seeing more that take these head on — like The Hate U Give.

    I don’t agree about The Reckoners. Sanderson’s writing is incredible, and he is definitely a perennial fan-favorite. But I find this trilogy is one of his least well-loved. The first book is exceptional, the second falls a bit flat and doesn’t cover the breadth of character and difficult concepts I expect in Sanderson’s masterful way, and the third is fun — but, that’s about it. At least, for me. I love the world, though! I expect to see Sanderson’s writing stand out as classics in the future. Perhaps not this trilogy.

    Anyway! Here’s my list: http://deathbytsundoku.com/classic-remarks-which-ya-books-would-you-like-to-see-become-classics/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      Yes, I love YA books that, as you put it, take on the “big issues.” I think that’s really part of something that makes a book stay in print. It gives people something to keep thinking about and talking about.

      I realize that I am one of the few people who appreciate Sanderson’s Reckoners trilogy. But, I like it. And so it’s on my list!! XD I do appreciate, too, that it has a male lead, which is not usual in YA. I think a lot of boys skip right over YA to adult, but this one might actually appeal to some?

      Thanks for sharing your link!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

        I don’t think there is anything wrong with appreciating The Reckoners trilogy! I’m loving the diversity in all these posts — which is what makes it fun. No one knows what will truly become a Classic! 🙂

        And interesting point about the male lead. I see a lot of male protagonists in books written about Black Lives Matter or LGBTQ issues… but I don’t see many YA male protagonists who are cis-white guys. I wonder why that is…

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        • Krysta says:

          I do see more Black male leads, now that you mention it. However, those books tend to be less popular, I think. They are the types of books libraries and educators buy, but it’s sadly harder, I think, to get them in the hands of the general public. Which, of course, is an issue the book blogging community has been talking about for awhile now.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Lois says:

    Definitely agree with the Hunger Games. That’s the series that got a then fifteen year old me to read again and it did kick start that wave of dystopia novels and also has relevant topics that can be discussed and debated in class.

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  5. Davida Chazan says:

    Okay, so what is a classic? They aren’t just old books. They are books that have timeless themes and universal messages, told in an engaging way that can stand the test of time. I see several books on your list that I know are already classics – modern day classics, if you will.

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  6. Aubrey @ The Shelf Life Chronicles says:

    This is so interesting to think about. What makes a classic? I start off thinking of contemporaries like Wuthering Heights and Pride & Prejudice but there are magical ones like Alice in Wonderland. I definitely think The Hate U Give and The Hunger Games fit into those categories

    Liked by 1 person

  7. PerfectlyTolerable says:

    Harry Potter was the classic book of my childhood!! I think it is well on its way to becoming a classic for sure! And one of the great things about the series is that it grows with the characters and readers. Starting as middle grade and moving into YA.

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    • Krysta says:

      Yes, I agree! The series has no signs of waning in popularity so far! And I do think part of its original publishing success was in how it grew as readers did!

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  8. Laura's Bookish Banter says:

    Great list! I definitely agree with Six of Crows and The Hate U Give. I’d add Fangirl, Daugher of Smoke and Bone, and The Wrath and the Dawn, too. 😉

    Like

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