top of page

I Saved You the Time: Best Time Twisting YA and NA Fantasy and Sci-Fi Books

Updated: Jul 29, 2022

Timey Wimey Wibbly Wobbly

Ever heard the saying “A Trip in Time Saves Nine?” No? Oh, well, I must have accidentally altered the timeline… oh, rats, it’s now “A stitch in time?” How does that make sense?

Well, that’s what happens when you mess with the timeline, I suppose!

This blog post has been written in the past to be viewed by you so that you, lovely future-reader, can select your time-bending, time-twisting, multiverse madness read of all time!

It’s time spent wisely, I promise you…


Let’s go through the common time-travel tropes. I promise this list won’t be massively exhaustive, but it won’t be exhausting to read. If it is, just use a time turner and nap for three hours. Done!

Jump in my time machine with me!

The first epoch

I tried to go back in time to the first instances of time travel being used in stories.

Some ancient myths depict a character skipping forward in time. In Hindu mythology, the Vishnu Purana mentions the story of King Raivata Kakudmi, who travels to heaven to meet the creator Brahma and is surprised to learn when he returns to Earth that many ages have passed. The Japanese tale of "Urashima Tarō", tells of a young fisherman named Urashima-no-ko who visits an undersea palace. After three days, he returns home to his village and finds himself 300 years in the future, where he has been forgotten, his house is in ruins, and his family has died (gaaaaasp!)

Time travel is usually associated with sci-fi, but it’s much broader than that. Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol (1843) has early depictions of mystical time travel in both directions, as the protagonist, Ebenezer Scrooge, is transported to Christmases past and future. Other stories employ the same template, where a character naturally goes to sleep, and upon waking up finds themself in a different time.

One of the first stories to feature time travel by means of a machine that I found was "The Clock that Went Backward" by Edward Page Mitchell, which appeared in the New York Sun in 1881. However, the mechanism borders on fantasy. It's about an unusual clock, when wound, runs backwards and transports people nearby back in time.

For me, once we got into special relativity era in physics, boy howdy, now every man and his dog is into closed timeline curves (spacetime loops, don’t cha know, where you can return to a point in your past), and that really starts to fire the imagination for time travel!

Types of Time Travel

In my journey, I’ve come across a few time travel methods (aka sub-genres). I’ll give you the run down of a few of my favourites and, just like I can, you can skip forward in time to the tropes that interest you the most for a run down of the best Young Adult and New Adult books I've found for this feature!


  1. Show me the time machines please!

  2. I'd like a time accident, sure!

  3. Give me an ability!

  4. I could use a long nap...

  5. I'd like to see what I'm getting into, please.

  6. Multiverse madness please!

  7. Multiverse urban!

  8. Multiverse sword and sorcery!

Time Machine

Probably the most automatically recognisable as time travel because there's a machine or mechanism that enables the travel, and off the characters go. Usually the tropes we find here are about the ethical questions around time travel: is it right to mess with the timeline? If you know what's going to happen, can you even avert it without messing up everything like a kitten with a ball of yarn? Can you even change anything, or will the timeline reset itself?

There's sometimes a juicy ethical dilemma or two, about saving lots of people versus one or two special ones. Many times it's about struggling to get back, in true Back to the Future style!


Most of all, the prevailing trope is "fish out of water": the characters are confronting new things for the first time and getting to grips with how things used to be or how they function now.


Sometimes the mechanism of how they time travel is just as interesting as the journeys they make (anyone else think the Tardis is practically its own character?)

Shows that feature this sort of trope include Dr Who and Back to the Future.

The Oxford Time Travel Series by Connie Willis

An oldie but goodie, the Oxford Time Travel series is about an Oxford College (Balliol, of course) who allow their students to go for jaunts in time to learn more about human society and anthropology. The characterisation is absolutely superb, and I highly recommend them for people who like tongue-in-cheek British humour and a less romantically-driven storyline. But what really sets this series apart is the research. I genuinely felt like I was in London during the Blitz and, even though the students know what's going to happen when, they still can't be prepared for every eventuality...

Connie Willis has won more major sci-fi awards than Philip K. Dick, Arthur C. Clarke, and Isaac Asimov combined. You know, just saying...

You can read them in any order (apart from Blackout and All Clear). I highly recommend starting with "To Say Nothing of the Dog," then "Fire Watch." "Doomsday Book" is a lot darker (it is about the Black Death, after all). "Blackout" and "All Clear" are some of my all-time favourite books, (Binny! Oh my gosh).

The Girl from Everywhere - Heidi Heilig

This sounds more like a fantasy time travel adventure!

Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.

Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.

For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.

She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.

Or she could disappear.

Time "Accident"

Maybe the characters don't know how they time travelled, and that doesn't matter one jot to the story. Usually it'll be a "we found this thing and touched it, and now we're back in the past!" And probably involves some Celts somewhere. We're big on leaving those time-travelling stones lying around.

These stories will often feature a wonderful "dilemma" around whether time should be changed or even can be changed.

A fairly okay movie featuring this trope is "Timeline," which I enjoyed but seemed to be a bit of a flop at the theatres!

Waterfall - Lisa T. Bergren

What do you do when your knight in shining armor lives, literally, in a different world?

Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Betarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives among the romantic hills with their archaelogist parents. Stuck among the rubble of the medieval castles in rural Tuscany, on yet another hot, dusty archaeological site, Gabi and Lia are bored out of their minds...until Gabi places her hand atop a handprint in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth-century Italy. And worse yet, in the middle of a fierce battle between knights of two opposing forces.

Suddenly Gabi's summer in Italy is much, much more interesting.

The Ancient Future - Traci Harding

Late one evening, a car accident leaves Tory - a daughter of a prominent history professor - stranded near a ring of stones in the English countryside. She resolves to spend the night at the sacred site; a black belt in Tae-kwon-do, Tory holds little fear for her safety...

But across the vortex of time and space, she is being watched. The Merlin knows of the legend Tory is to become, and through the wisdom of the Old Ones, teleports her back to the Dark Age.

Prince Maelgwyn of Gwynedd and his band of knights stumble across this mysterious woman dressed in jeans and a leather jacket. Believing she is the witch of the stones, they threaten to kill her. Rising to her own defence, Tory challenges the Prince's champion to unarmed combat. With her superior fighting skill she easily overwhelms the warrior, winning the admiration of the Prince, and changing the course of British history forever.

Time Ability

This takes time travel more toward fantasy, with an inherent ability that the characters use to travel through time. These stories will definitely veer toward amazing locations, difficult questions, and heart-rending ethical dilemmas. Man, I love bending the timeline.

The Timecaster Chronicles - R. L. Perez

A fall through time. A reckless witch. A war of monsters.

17-year-old witch Desiree Campbell tries to cast a spell to go to Miami for spring break.

But she ends up in Cuba a hundred years in the past.

The year is 1898. The Spanish-American War rages. Demons thrive in the city, preying on humans. Desi is caught between the war of mortals and the war of monsters.

In her efforts to return home, she is hunted by a demon vampire who is desperate to learn the secret to time travel.

Then Desi meets Oliver Gerrick, a handsome American soldier and warlock. He offers to help her fight off demons and find a way home. But the closer Desi gets to Oliver, the more secrets she uncovers . . . and the harder she falls for him.

Dive into the Timecaster Chronicles, and follow Desi's journey from Cuba to the Philippines to New York City as she faces love, death, and the darkest magic imaginable.

Ruby Red Trilogy - Kerstin Gier

The Ruby Red Trilogy: Ruby Red, Sapphire Blue, and Emerald Green

This internationally bestselling series follows Gwyneth Shepherd, a girl with a time-traveling secret. Traipsing through past centuries, juggling a potential romance, and unlocking her destiny, Gwen has her work cut out for her.

Ruby Red: Gwen has always known that her family is different—the women, in particular. As time travelers, they are no strangers to the possibility of the impossible. But even they are't expecting it when Gwen shows signs of being a time traveler rather than her cousin Charlotte. Thrust into a world she should have been excluded from, Gwen is introduced to Gideon, a fellow traveler. Although the two don't get along, something other than annoyance might be brewing under the surface. As Gwen masters her new ability, she learns more abou therself than she ever could have imagined.

Stealing Infinity - Alyson Noel

These days, I’ve been killing it when it comes to letting people down. Now I’ve been kicked out of high school, arrested, and accepted into a remote, off-the-grid school owned and operated by an inscrutable billionaire tech guru. Gray Wolf Academy is looking for a certain kind of student. Ones that no one will miss. Like me.

Then there’s Braxton. The beautiful, oddly anachronistic guy who showed up right when the trouble started. And he’s a total enigma—which means that I definitely can’t trust him, even if there’s something about him that makes me want to.

They all tell me I have a gift. A very rare gift. And Gray Wolf Academy wants me to learn it. To use it. Because if what they say is true, I have all the time in the world.

And that makes me the most dangerous high school student you’ll never know…

The Last Magician - Lisa Maxwell