book stack header

New Year, New TBR: 4 Suggestions for Trying a New YA Genre

Happy New Year, Swooners!

If you’re like me then you’re probably pretty bogged down by all the “New Year, New You” vibes in the air. I stopped making New Year’s “resolutions” a long time ago, but something I have been doing is trying to do one thing a year that challenges me or makes me step outside my comfort zone (which I guess is a resolution in of itself but WHATEVER).

This year I’m challenging myself to read more genres that I don’t normally gravitate to. Below are some of examples of YA books/series that serve as fantastic gateways to new genres. Who knows, you might end up LOVING them and have a whole other world of books to explore!

If fantasy hasn't been your thing, try...

the hazel wood cover

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away—by a figure who claims to have come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead on finding her is the message she left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the heart of the world where her grandmother’s stories began—and find out why her own story went so wrong.

Gateway Notes: The combination of fairy tale-like storytelling and half of the book being set in modern times makes it easily digestible for a first-time fantasy reader.

If science-fiction has eluded you all these years, try...

the ones cover

Genetically engineered teenagers called the Ones go to extremes fighting for their rights as society turns against them.

Seventeen-year-old Cody and her boyfriend, James, were two of the lucky ones randomly selected before birth to receive genetic engineering. Known as the Ones, this one percent of the population is healthy, beautiful, and talented... and to some that's not fair. Mounting fear and jealousy of the Ones’ success leads to the creation of the Equality Movement, which quickly gains enough political traction to demote Cody, James, and others like them to second-class citizens. The line between right and wrong blurs in the face of injustice, and Cody becomes closer to a group of radical Ones intent on fighting back, while James begins to fear just how far she is willing to go for the cause.

Gateway Notes: It’s easy to forget Sweren-Becker’s novels are even sci-fi with how much relatable content and true to the times allegory is packed in here.

If you think historical is a giant bore, try...

Love Lies and Spies final cover

Juliana Telford is not your average nineteenth-century young lady. She's much more interested in researching ladybugs than marriage, fashionable dresses, or dances. So when her father sends her to London for a season, she's determined not to form any attachments. Instead, she plans to secretly publish her research.

Spencer Northam is not the average young gentleman of leisure he appears. He is actually a spy for the War Office, and is more focused on acing his first mission than meeting eligible ladies. Fortunately, Juliana feels the same, and they agree to pretend to fall for each other. Spencer can finally focus, until he is tasked with observing Juliana's traveling companions... and Juliana herself.

Gateway Notes: Anstey does an amazing job at taking the stuffiness out of pomp and circumstance and filling her historical novels with fun, and vivid characters who break the mold.

If you've never felt all warm and fuzzy for romance, try...

brightsiders final cover

After being labeled the music world’s newest celebrity trainwreck, a bisexual teen drummer has to find a way to be true to herself in the midst of family betrayal, relationship drama and the ever-present paparazzi attention.

As a rock star drummer in the hit band The Brightsiders, Emmy King’s life should be perfect. But there’s nothing the paparazzi love more than watching a celebrity crash and burn. When a night of partying lands Emmy in hospital, she’s branded the latest tabloid train wreck.

Luckily, Emmy has her friends and bandmates, including the super-swoonworthy Alfie, to help her pick up the pieces of her life. She knows hooking up with a band member is exactly the kind of trouble she should be avoiding, and yet Emmy and Alfie Just. Keep. Kissing.

Will the inevitable fallout turn her into a clickbait scandal (again)? Or will she find the strength to stand on her own?

Gateway Notes: A lot of romance deniers cite the genre being too cliché and mushy, so Wilde’s witty writing and endlessly sassy cast of characters is the perfect antidote.

Comment below with recommendations for readers trying to break into your favorite genre OR tell us a genre you would love to get into!

Author spotlight

Liz O.

Brooklyn resident, sarcasm connoisseur, pop culture junkie, food obsessed. I am on the editorial board for Swoon, binge reading manuscripts …

See More