Underrated YA Novels

UnderratedYA Novels

There are so many hyped YA novels that everyone seems to talk about and I thought it might be nice to shine a light on some YA books that I feel like do not receive enough attention. Most of these books have under 5,000 ratings on Goodreads!

The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord


I was so surprised to see that The Names They Gave Us only has 4, 381 ratings on Goodreads! I absolutely adored everything about this book. It is beautifully written with memorable and realistic characters. I love that the story is set at a summer camp and it brought me a lot of nostalgia. I now plan on reading everything by Emery Lord.

Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely


Gunslinger Girl only has 1,258 ratings on Goodreads! I saw a lot of people talking about this book when it first came out in January but I do not hear a lot about it these days. This book was so much fun! It is a Western set in a dystopian world but there is also a circus show! It sounds wild and it is, but in a really entertaining and amazing way!

The Beauty That Remains by Amanda Woodfolk


The Beauty That Remains is a newer release but I am still surprised that is only has 739 reviews on Goodreads! This is a book that deserves so much more attention. It is focused on grief and the power of music. I truly loved every single minute of it and was connected to each of the characters. It is one of the best YA novels that I have ever read, and it is Ashley Woodfolk’s debut novel! I can not wait to see watch she writes next.

The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook


The Hanging Girl is the first YA mystery/thriller that I ever read and it was a great way to discover the genre. It is one of the few thrillers that I have read that truly kept me on the edge of the seat and I did not see ANY of the twists coming. I would think I had figured out what was going on and then another twist would come and knock me off my seat. I also appreciated that the twists were not unrealistic or unbelievable.

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins


I have not seen a lot of people talking about You Bring the Distant Near and it only has 1,615 ratings on Goodreads. It is a beautiful story that takes place over the course of three generations. It focuses on what it is like to be an immigrant and how difficult in can be to find your place. It is about families, love and friendships and it is beautiful.

The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone


The Unlikelies is a perfect summer read, if you couldn’t tell from the cover! It surprises me that it only has 720 ratings on Goodreads. It is very fast-paced and I love that is was set in the Hamptons. The story centers around a new group of friends that are each completely different but form such a strong bond that was a joy to read about. It also takes on some heavy topics, such as drug addiction, and it does it in a realistic way.

Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller


It has been years since I read Where the Stars Still Shine but I remember it like it was yesterday. While it has 8,328 ratings on Goodreads, I do not think it is a book anyone talks about anymore! It is the story about Callie, who was kidnapped by her mother, and she is found twelve years later and returned home to her father. It is an adjustment for her and I was so invested in her story. I absolutely adored her father, and although I am not a huge fan of romance, I really adored her love interest!


I am always on the hunt for underrated YA novels so I would love to hear your recommendations!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?


54 thoughts on “Underrated YA Novels

  1. Great post! I have the Gunslinger Girl in my library bag, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read it next or not… I think I’ll pick it up after my current read.. πŸ‘πŸ» Thanks!

  2. I read The Beauty That Remains, and I’m one of those 739 reviews! I loved it! I’ll have to look into the other books on this list as well! Great post πŸ™‚

  3. Great post and a great way to serve readers and the genre. I can think of so many times – not as an author – when I wished I’d had someone with a platform like yours to shine a little light on my work. It’s a beautiful thing. Cheers, Brian

  4. This is such a good post! I’m not terribly into YA but every once in a while I’m in the mood for it and I get tired of seeing the same books over and over on here and booktube. The Hanging Girl has been on my TBR for a while and you’ve really piqued my interest in that!

  5. I haven’t heard of any of these, but I’m certain I would have bought at least two of them based on cover alone. Thank you for the recommendations!

  6. I had most of these on my list already but I had kind of forgotten them! I’m very much interested in The Hanging Girl, Gunslinger Girl, and Where The Stars Still Shine now though! This was a great idea with good, underrated books. I really enjoyed it!

  7. Great idea for a post – There are definitely some YA reads that slip under the radar! One of the ones that I really enjoyed but only has 1,298 Goodreads ratings is Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke, where the protagonist attends community college but in order to afford moving out, she joins a Big Brother-esque reality show with her fellow college students and becomes determined to win. Contemporary YA isn’t a genre that I often pick up, but I loved how unique the premise was, the humour, and the way in which it dealt with mental health issues (honestly, but not at all in a heavy-handed way).

  8. Great post idea! I’m always looking for the ones that slipped through the cracks. Glad you liked Gunslinger Girl as well it’s been in my TBR pile since it came out and I really want to get to it soon. I think Courtney Summers deserves more love but her books are fairly dark so they may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

  9. Oh! I have the Gunslinger Girl! I want to read it but keep putting it off so I’m glad this made it to the list. I love the western and dystopian thing so I should definitely read it soon!

  10. No I have not read any of these books but now I really really REALLY want to. You are a great advocate. So since you asked for recommendations – some great books with way less than 5000 reviews are the books coming through the Burt Award for teen/young adult Caribbean literature which I really think readers beyond the Caribbean would enjoy if they were aware of them. I have them listed here with teasers if anyone is up for a reading teen/young adult Caribbean lit challenge https://wadadlipen.wordpress.com/2018/03/29/barbados-guyana-and-bermuda-finalists-for-2018-burt-award The list includes my own Musical Youth which much like one of the books you describe has to do with grief and the power of music, and, like another of the books you mentioned, unlikely friendships…and finding your voice and your way.

  11. I read three of the books posted and I really liked them. I read Where the Stars Still Shined, The Names They Gave Us,and Gunslinger Girl. There are 2 books on your list that I want to read. If you haven’t read American Road Trip by Patrick Flores-Scott, I highly recommend it, as it flew under the radar. Soldier Boy by Keely Hutton (true story- YA -war) and The Border by Steve Schafer were also great reads that are underrated.

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