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27 Young Adult Books for Older Teens - Introducing "New Adult"

Updated: Oct 31, 2022

Welcome to the world of New Adult books!

Ooh. . . is it going to be steamy from here on out? Do you want a list of all the content warnings? Maybe you'll need to skip reading those pages where there are explicitly-described scenes about (as one author friend puts it) "tabs and slots." (Lol.)

There's certainly been some confusion since this classification, similar to "young adult", doesn't even exist in certain countries. And then some significantly popular books have been misshelved into YA anyway.

One obvious example being Sarah J. Maas' "A Court of Thorn and Roses." Though this has since been rectified as these books are now labeled with the age range of over 16+ (not strictly YA any longer) where it belongs. Incidentally, a showpiece of NA!

Granted, many books in this "New Adult" classification/genre are indeed dark, gritty, full of steam and chilis.

But wait! I know some NA books that have the same thrilling action adventure as YA, only with slightly more mature themes. Where there are no explicit scenes at all. Sometimes not even heavy swearing. And while sex may be mentioned in some, scenarios simply fade to black. . .

Check out these teen-friendly sci-fi & fantasy books dealing with slightly more mature themes and tones, with slightly older protagonists (18-26ish or so we've observed.) Perfect for older teens, your advanced teen reader, or (ahem) older people who enjoy reading YA but are looking for just that little bit more.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Where would any book list be without a Sarah J. Maas book? So here it is.

Meet Celaena Sardothien.

Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.

In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake. She got caught.

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

In glittering Shanghai, a monster awakens . . .

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery. A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city in chaos.

When a deadly madness strikes gangsters on both sides, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, and a monster in the shadows. And as the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns - and grudges - aside and work together.

Enchanting the Elven Mage by Alisha Klapheke

Today, Aury learned three things: One, she is a princess. Two, she might be a powerful mage. And three, a brutal mountain elf is on his way to the kingdom for their marriage. Aury can’t escape her newly revealed and horribly cruel royal parents quickly enough. If they think she is going to marry some vicious elven warrior mage, they have another thing coming.

This fantasy romance about a princess and her marriage to a dangerous elven warrior will keep you up all night!

A Deal with the Elf King by Elise Kova

The elves come for two things: war and wives. In both cases, they come for death.

Three-thousand years ago, humans were hunted by powerful races with wild magic until the treaty was formed. Now, for centuries, the elves have taken a young woman from Luella's village to be their Human Queen.

Tomb of the Queen by Joss Walker

Librarian Jayne Thorne enjoys her quiet life of tea and books. That is, until she finds a spell book in the Vanderbilt University archives that accidentally gives her access to a magical dimension.

Now she's hunted by a magic-wielding terrorist group, and the only way for her to survive is to team up with a secret branch of the CIA.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Of course I want to be like them. They're beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie.

The Lost Clan by Olivia Wildenstein

I wasn't the type of girl who believed in fairytales, much less tales about faeries, but that changed the day the fae walked into my life.

Staying away from my lakeside hometown was the plan, but Mom died suddenly. Dad said she suffered a stroke after she dug up one of the ancient Native American graves in our backyard.

Creepy, I know.

Creepier still, there was no corpse inside the old coffin, only fresh rose petals.

Bow Before the Elf Queen by J.M. Kearl

In hiding all her life, Layala prepares for the day the wicked High Elf King Thane will come to steal her— his powerful mate. She trains to take her revenge for the wrongful execution of her parents, who died for her freedom.

Now that day has come, forcing her to come face-to-face with what she’s hidden from: a dangerous, dark-haired, warrior king determined to marry her.

Recorder by Cathy McCrumb

The Consortium is All. But Recorder Can No Longer Obey.

Recorder has no family, no friends, and no name. Donated to the Consortium before birth, her sole purpose is to maintain and verify the records. A neural implant and drone ensure compliance, punishing for displays of bias.

Curse of the Wolf King by Tessonja Odette

A beastly fae king with a deadly curse.

A devious bargain to break it…

All Gemma Bellefleur wants is to leave her past behind and forget the day scandal broke her heart. But when she’s captured by a trickster fae king who threatens to hold her for ransom, she’ll find herself at the top of the gossip column yet again.


CW: Between ACOTAR and TOG steam and violence levels

Curse of the Dragon Heir by S. R. Breaker

A rare fae mage with no magic accidentally sets an evil demon free but he may be the key to unlocking her powers. . .

Second-born of the High Fae mage family of the Priori clan of Arcadia, Soleia was only expected to do certain things. Mind her dull familial duties. Undergo training to master portal summoning, the rarest form of casting among her people. Free a dangerous demon from a fifty-year-old curse and release him into their village--oops, that was an accident!

A thrilling, slow-burn, enemies-to-lovers, closed-door fantasy romance. Perfect for fans of "Throne of Glass" and "Shadow and Bone."

The Demon's Kiss by R.L. Perez

Cora is an assassin who never misses her mark. But she has a deadly secret: her blood can create the most powerful magical elixirs in the world.

And she's been hunted for it her whole life.

When a powerful demon blackmails her, threatening to expose her secret, she has to do one last job to buy her freedom: kill a Nephilim named Vince. Cora figures this will be an easy target.

Legacy by Jesikah Sundin

Willow Oak Watson has never met a stranger. Never known the open wide sky. Never seen modern technology.

The experimental world she was born into is built on rules and traditions. Edicts no one has dared challenge—until her father’s shocking death places an invisible crown of power on her brother’s head. A coveted legacy that may be the very reason her father now lies dead.

Unsure of who they can trust, her brother risks their family’s banishment in a hunt for answers.

CW: The Biodome Chronicles series contains some F-word cursing

Sowing by Angie Grigaliunas

They can take your house, your daughter, whatever they want.

For Ariliah, life under the militarized Hulcondans is one of order and safety. Despite the soldiers’ ruthless policies, she trusts their judgment. They alone provide protection from the enemies lurking beyond the city wall.

CW: Contains some F-word cursing

DARKWIND by Renee Dugan

The Middle Kingdom of Talheim has enjoyed peace for decades. But with the threat of war rising from the ruthless South, the dream of a quiet life is fading. And for the noble but naïve Princess Cistine, that means embarking on a dangerous quest to the Northern Kingdom, where she hopes to forge an alliance against their southern foes and save her people.

The Lightning Bride by D. M. Sonntag

What if gaining a husband meant losing her freedom?

Maydeline Shadow dreamed of adventures on the Five Seas, certainly not settling in the Northern Kingdom with any of her mother’s choice of suitors. But when her family’s secret is exposed, Maylie is forced by old rules to find a husband.

The Companion's Tale by Astrid V.J.

Elaine is thrown in the deep end and her life unravels before her eyes when the princess she serves dies in a tragic accident. All of a sudden, Elaine doesn't have a purpose. Alone and drifting, she realises the princess' death may not have been an accident at all, and things spiral even further into chaos.

Can Elaine find herself in the midst of it all, or will she let the stream tug her into yet another life not of her choosing?

The Devil's Own: Murphy's Law by K.A. Fox

Delaney Murphy has always known she’s the Devil’s daughter. And although the title itself is a burden, she never expects to inherit all her father’s infernal abilities. When her newfound magic begins to poison the people closest to her, Laney must make a choice.

To protect the world from the worst she can do, she leaves everyone she loves behind and builds a new life for herself, alone, in a place where she can control the urge to give in to the magic living within her.

Born To Magic by David Wind

A Post Apocalyptic Epic Sci-Fi Fantasy of Earth's future

If you lived in a Post Apocalyptic world of Epic Fantasy ... What would you do if you were told the future of the world is in your hands? Princess Areenna of Freemorn expects her life to follow the normal path of marriage to a prince, and to eventually become a Queen. But the mysterious High King’s son has different plans.

A Spell of Rowans by Byrd Nash

As children Mother twisted our magic as part of her games.

My talent for reading other people’s feelings, my sister who could charm men, and my brother who knows with a touch the history of any object

But Troubles and Magic comes in Threes.

The 716 by S.J. Pratt

Olivia is destined to be the future leader of Meliora. She’s smart, rich, and innovative, and she has a pink Identifeye light. Andy is destined to be a waiter and househusband. His blue Identifeye light prevents him from pursuing his dream of becoming an engineer. After all, who ever heard of a male engineer? But when Andy’s life becomes entangled with Olivia’s and he gets the chance to prove himself on the female stage, everything starts to change.

Of Earth and Flame by Elayna R. Gallea

She refuses to be bound to anyone; he’s trying to find freedom.

Aileana is the king’s pet. She has lived her entire life in a tower, waiting for the day she will be forced to marry his son.

When that day arrives, she has a plan. Armed with her daggers and her desire for freedom, she runs from the king and his deadly power.

CW: Steamy but not graphic

The Quarter Mage by Angelina J. Steffort

A forgotten princess. A cruel realm. A Mage who might be her salvation.

Sanja is a princess on the run. And when she flees her father's court to escape an arranged marriage to a tyrant, the one thing she doesn’t expect, is to be killed for her throne.

But magic that shouldn’t exist in her kingdom saves her, and Sanja is thrust into the daunting fairylands where, as a human, she’s prey…

CW: Between ACOTAR and TOG steam and violence levels

The Lochlann Treaty by Robin D. Mahle and Elle Madison

Princess Charlotte’s entire life had been planned.Right up until the moment her fiancé is kidnapped on her wedding day, sending the entire kingdom hurtling toward disaster.

Charlie has never left the protective grounds of the castle, but to save her intended, she’ll trade her crown for a sword and forge into dangerous rebel lands alongside her fiancé’s arrogant older brother, Logan.

Logan thinks she’s a spoiled princess. She’s about to prove him wrong.

Cinders: Necessary Evil by Sky Sommers

Oh, you think you know Cinderella? She loses a shoe and in exchange gets a prince...

Here's a double book that tells all - the stepmother's tale vs. Ella's diary of the events.

With a restaurant to run, Ella to boss around and a cannibalistic witch to befriend, Grace seems to have made the bargain of a life-time. If it wasn’t for one estranged husband, the lying mirrors and Ella’s teen romances getting completely out of hand. Also, there seems to be a part of the bargain Grace might be forgetting, while her son’s third birthday is approaching. Fast.

CW: Contains non-explicit/fade-to-black teen sex

Opposite Ends of the Sea by Daniela A. Mera

Two Courts. Two Fae. One Winter, one Summer. A sea between them. One forbidden love.

I am not a good Fae. Maybe I was at one point, but things change. I have been shaped into the Fae I am today. Cold. Heartless. Uncaring. I spend my days hunting the worst criminals in our world. For a long time, I didn’t care what happened to me. Then one day, I meet a Summer Fae that I can’t get out of my head. Every time I see him, our connection grows.

Arranged to the Fae Warrior by S. R. Breaker

What's worse than being arranged to wed the most arrogant fae warrior in your clan? Well, to be kidnapped by pirates on the eve of the ceremony, of course.

First-born of the High Fae mage family of the Priori clan of Arcadia, Caelina has certain responsibilities. Destined to lead her people, she dedicates her life to her training and the pursuit of perfection.

A thrilling, enemies-to-lovers arranged marriage fantasy romance. Perfect for fans of "Throne of Glass" and "Pirates of the Caribbean."

What are some of your favorite teen-friendly New Adult books? Let us know in the comments!

If you're looking for a wider range of New Adult books, sweet or spicy, check out our new New Adult Nook!


This article was written by S. R. Breaker.

S. R. Breaker is a USA Today Bestselling Author of non-stop action adventure, offbeat YA/NA fantasy romance books. She lives in New Zealand with her husband and two kids. Suburban mum by day and author by night, she loves to live vicariously through her characters. They don’t have to vacuum all day long and are almost always guaranteed to survive any fantastical or thrilling incidents, no matter how treacherous she writes them.


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