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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