The 10 Best YA Fantasy Books for High Schoolers

Young adult (YA) fantasy books have long captured the imaginations of high schoolers, providing them with thrilling adventures, relatable characters, and unforgettable storylines. In this article, we will explore the top 10 YA fantasy books for high schoolers, delving into the reasons why these novels are perfect for teenage readers and highlighting both acclaimed series and standalone novels that you won’t want to miss.

The 10 Best YA Fantasy Books for High Schoolers

Why YA Fantasy Books are Perfect for High Schoolers

In order to truly appreciate the power and impact of YA fantasy books, we need to examine what sets them apart and makes them so appealing to high schoolers in particular. Some key factors that contribute to the popularity of these novels among teenage readers include the importance of escapism and imagination, the relatability of the characters and themes, and the ability to encourage a love for reading.

The Importance of Escapism and Imagination

High school can be a stressful time, filled with social pressures, academic challenges, and the looming uncertainty of the future. YA fantasy novels offer a much-needed escape from reality, transporting readers to fantastical worlds where they can experience thrilling adventures alongside their favorite characters.

For example, in the “Harry Potter” series, readers are transported to the magical world of Hogwarts, where they can join Harry, Ron, and Hermione on their epic quest to defeat Lord Voldemort. The series allows readers to experience the excitement and wonder of magic, while also exploring deeper themes such as friendship, loyalty, and the power of love.

These books ignite the imagination, allowing readers to explore new horizons and possibilities beyond the confines of their everyday lives. Furthermore, by immersing themselves in these magical realms, high schoolers can develop their creativity and problem-solving skills, essential traits that will serve them well throughout their lives.

No matter how fantastical the setting or plot, there’s always an underlying message or lesson that can be applied to real-life situations, helping readers navigate their own challenges and hurdles. For example, in “The Hunger Games” series, readers are introduced to a dystopian society where teenagers are forced to fight to the death in a televised competition. While the premise may seem far-fetched, the series explores themes such as survival, sacrifice, and the corrupting influence of power, all of which are relevant to the real world.

Relatable Characters and Themes

Despite the fantastical elements present in YA fantasy novels, these books often feature relatable characters and themes that resonate with high schoolers. Protagonists in YA fantasy novels typically undergo a journey of self-discovery and personal growth, grappling with issues like identity, friendships, and love – all experiences that teenagers can relate to.

For example, in “The Mortal Instruments” series, readers follow the story of Clary Fray, a teenage girl who discovers she is a shadowhunter, a human-angel hybrid tasked with protecting the world from demons. Alongside Clary, readers explore themes such as love, betrayal, and the importance of family, all while enjoying the thrilling action and suspense that comes with a well-crafted fantasy novel.

By following the journeys of these fictional characters, readers can find solace, inspiration, and even guidance when facing their own tumultuous adolescence. Additionally, YA fantasy books tend to tackle themes such as resilience, courage, and the importance of standing up for what’s right. These powerful messages encourage high schoolers to embrace their own strengths, face their fears, and be true to themselves, all while enjoying the excitement and page-turning suspense that comes with a well-crafted fantasy novel.

Encouraging a Love for Reading

Finally, YA fantasy books can easily capture the interest of even the most reluctant reader. They ignite a passion for reading by offering engaging and accessible stories that deliver adventure, excitement, and relatable experiences.

For example, in “The Lunar Chronicles” series, readers are introduced to a futuristic world where cyborgs and humans coexist, and a young girl named Cinder must fight to save her world from an evil queen. The series offers a unique twist on classic fairy tales, while also exploring themes such as identity, prejudice, and the power of love.

Through this newfound love for reading, high schoolers can improve their comprehension and critical thinking skills, while also exploring other literary genres that were previously overlooked or considered dull. YA fantasy books offer a gateway to a world of literary possibilities, inspiring readers to explore new authors, genres, and styles.


YA fantasy books are the perfect choice for high schoolers looking for an escape from reality, relatable characters and themes, and a passion for reading. By exploring these magical worlds, readers can develop their imagination, creativity, and problem-solving skills, while also finding solace, inspiration, and guidance in their own lives. Whether you’re a die-hard fan of “Harry Potter” or a newcomer to the genre, there’s a YA fantasy novel out there for everyone.

The Top 5 YA Fantasy Series

Now that we’ve explored why YA fantasy is the perfect genre for high schoolers, it’s time to dive into the top 5 series that should undoubtedly be on your reading list.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter

It’s impossible to discuss YA fantasy without mentioning the iconic Harry Potter series. J.K. Rowling’s masterpiece chronicles the adventures of young wizard Harry Potter as he navigates life at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The series delivers an irresistible blend of magic, mystery, and friendship, all while exploring themes such as bravery, loyalty, and the battle between good and evil.

Seeing the characters grow up over the course of seven books, it’s no wonder that many high schoolers find Harry, Hermione, and Ron to be relatable and inspiring figures, as they face common teenage challenges while also saving the world from the dark forces of evil.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Hunger Games

Set in a dystopian future where teenagers are forced to take part in a televised fight to the death, The Hunger Games series tackles themes of survival, resistance, and the importance of staying true to oneself. Protagonist Katniss Everdeen is a strong, determined character whose journey and resilience in the face of adversity resonate with many high schoolers.

This gripping series has inspired a new wave of dystopian fiction, as well as several blockbuster movies, ensuring its place as one of the most influential YA fantasy series of all time.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne Of Glass

Featuring a strong, complex heroine, the Throne of Glass series follows assassin Celaena Sardothien as she battles for her freedom and uncovers hidden truths about her world. Along the way, she forges powerful friendships, experiences romance, and finds her place in a world filled with political intrigue and mind-blowing magic.

This captivating series weaves together rich character development and a thrilling, action-packed plot, making it the perfect addition to any high schooler’s reading list.

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

The Mortal Instruments

Blending urban fantasy with paranormal romance, The Mortal Instruments series follows Clary Fray as she discovers a hidden world of demons, angels, and Shadowhunters – warriors dedicated to protecting humanity. As Clary navigates this new reality, she learns the importance of love, loyalty, and the power that comes from embracing one’s true self.

The series has inspired several spin-offs and adaptions, successfully creating a sprawling, immersive universe that high schoolers can lose themselves in for hours at a time.

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

His Dark Materials

His Dark Materials is a thought-provoking trilogy that takes readers on an extraordinary journey through multiple parallel worlds. Following the adventures of Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry, the series grapples with complex philosophical questions while still providing a thrilling and imaginative fantasy tale.

This groundbreaking series has been praised for its richly detailed world-building and unforgettable characters, making it a must-read for every high schooler who loves fantasy literature.

Standalone YA Fantasy Novels You Can’t Miss

While series often dominate the YA fantasy genre, let’s not forget the fantastic standalone novels that transport high schoolers to new realms and unforgettable adventures.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus: A Novel

The Night Circus is a mesmerizing tale of magic, love, and competition, set against the backdrop of a fantastical traveling circus. With lush prose and enchanting world-building, this novel tells the story of two young magicians who are bound by a deadly competition and ultimately find love amidst the enchanting chaos.

High schoolers who delight in immersive world-building, captivating storytelling, and beautifully drawn characters will find The Night Circus to be an unforgettable read.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes

This fast-paced novel transports readers to a brutal world inspired by ancient Rome, where Laia, a slave, and Elias, a soldier, become entwined in a dangerous quest for freedom and justice. An Ember in the Ashes deftly balances high-stakes action with complex character development, exploring themes of loyalty, family, and the sacrifices we make for those we love.

While this novel might be the first in a series, it can be enjoyed as a standalone book, offering high schoolers a gripping and powerful reading experience.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air Book 1)

The Cruel Prince tells the story of the human girl Jude, who grows up in the treacherous world of the High Court of Faerie. As Jude fights for power and respect in a realm filled with scheming, betrayal, and enchantment, she must confront her own love-hate relationship with Prince Cardan, a dangerous and alluring faerie prince. This captivating novel is perfect for high schoolers who crave high-stakes political intrigue, lush world-building, and complex characters.

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

The Wrath & the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn Book 1)

Inspired by the classic tale of One Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath and the Dawn follows the story of Shahrzad, a young woman who volunteers to marry the murderous king responsible for the death of her best friend. As she weaves captivating stories to stay alive, Shahrzad falls in love with her captor and unwittingly uncovers the hidden truth behind the king’s actions. This spellbinding novel delivers romance, mystery, and beautiful writing, making it an irresistible read for high schoolers.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows

Set in the same magical world as her Grisha trilogy, Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows is a standalone novel that follows a heist crew led by mastermind Kaz Brekker. Tasked with an impossible mission, these six outcasts must learn to trust each other and harness their unique talents in order to pull off the heist of a lifetime.

Featuring a diverse cast of characters, high-stakes action, and gripping twists, Six of Crows is a testament to the power of teamwork, resilience, and the bonds forged by unlikely friends.


What age range does YA encompass?

Young adult (YA) fiction is targeted at children aged between 12 and 18. However, many adults still enjoy YA fantasy.

What is the difference between YA and adult fantasy?

Typically, YA fantasy will not include the swearing, explicit sex, and violence that adult fantasy is known for. It will instead focus on teenage protagonists as they mature and embark on an adventure that seeks to change the society they live in.

Is it better to read a standalone fantasy or a series?

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. Following an epic journey across multiple books can be a thrilling and rewarding experience. However, if you don’t want to commit to three or more books, a standalone fantasy can provide all the same thrills, just on a smaller scale.

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