11 Enchanting YA Books Where Realism and Fantasy Collide

Young Adult fiction is at its best when it helps its audience to better understand themselves and their society while remaining entertaining. That can be done through love, fear, or even reason. These novels take a different approach, stimulating readers' imaginations while remaining grounded in the real world. Younger readers or those who want more pure fantasy might appreciate this list. When you click links from this website, we may receive advertising revenue to support our research. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

Captivating Young Adult Novels That Blend Realism With Fantasy

  1. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
  2. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
  3. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
  4. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
  5. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  6. Evermore: The Immortals by Alyson Noël
  7. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
  8. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
  9. Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck
  10. Project Paper Doll: The Rules by Stacey Kade
  11. Infinity by Jus Accardo

What Is Magical Realism?

In Depth

There has been a lot of buzz around young adult books that combine realism with magical elements. While it may seem contradictory, blending fantasy into an ordinary world where most characters are human beings makes these fictional works fun to read. Stories that seamlessly mix reality with make-believe notions encourage readers to believe that magic can come into our day-to-day lives. In no particular order, here are 11 Y.A. books that feature realistic characters thrust into fantastical situations, revealing intense emotions while opening up incredible new worlds.

At #1 is the dystopian novel "Delirium," Lauren Oliver's first book in the New York Times bestselling "Delirium Trilogy." Readers are transported into an alternate world where love is forbidden in an oppressive society. The novel's main characters struggle to rise above these horrors, opening questions that are easily applicable to the world today and making the book's issues particularly compelling. With a gripping story of consciousness and true love, the ending makes captivated readers more than ready for the second volume of this trilogy.

The #2 book brings on the ultimate test of courage and loyalty. "The Raven Boys" by Maggie Stiefvater combines adventure, romance, and horse stories to make an entirely original fantasy novel. As the first volume of the four-part book series "The Raven Cycle," this piece of fiction features a set of characters that are not the typical crowd, but will draw readers into a beautifully written tale.

The female lead learns to balance her sheltered upbringing with her passion for adventure. Stepping out of the young adult fantasy genre, "The Raven Boys" is a unique novel that both teens and adults will find exciting.

Landing at #3 is the intensely romantic and suspenseful "Twilight," the first book of a four-part vampire-themed teen fantasy series. Stephenie Meyer captures Y.A. enthusiasts with a riveting blend of desire and horror. The author lays out a risky relationship, inner struggles among adolescents, and human vulnerabilities to create a passionate love story that must be kept hushed between the two lead characters.

Adapted as a movie by Summit Entertainment, the big-screen version stars Kristen Stewart as Bella and Robert Pattinson as Edward; the film was released on November 21, 2008.

Adapted as a movie by Summit Entertainment, the big-screen version stars Kristen Stewart as Bella and Robert Pattinson as Edward; the film was released on November 21, 2008.

The #4 book in the list is the clever psychological thriller "The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer" by Michelle Hodkin. This fast-paced tale strikes a balance between dark humor, chilling scenes, and romantic lines. The underlying mystery will take everyone for a suspenseful ride while Mara Dyer's show of strength, despite her struggles with emotional issues, gives her a realistic touch. Answered questions about a huge accident will lead to even more problems at the end of the story, leaving readers wanting more.

Coming in at #5 is the New York Times bestseller "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children." Author Ransom Riggs lays out an unforgettable tale that incorporates haunting old-fashioned photography, making for a spine-chilling fantasy novel that appeals to teens and adults alike. The first book in a time-travel trilogy, its text and images seamlessly work together around well-developed characters, eerie monsters, and true-to-life settings.

The novel has become a major motion picture, bringing the vintage photos of peculiar children to life. Directed by Tim Burton, the film stars Asa Butterfield, Eva Green, and Samuel L. Jackson.

Directed by Tim Burton, the film stars Asa Butterfield, Eva Green, and Samuel L. Jackson.

The #6 book in this list will thrill teen readers who seek fantasy and suspense. Alyson Noel's "Evermore: The Immortals" presents an exciting mix of traditional themes that are given a dangerous twist, such as teen angst. After Ever Bloom's accident, she begins to hear people's thoughts by merely touching them. However, as she looks for answers, she finds herself falling in love instead. The novel appeals to readers who are easily lovestruck, seek a new kind of adventure, or simply love an outstanding thriller.

At #7 is the intensely moving "A Monster Calls" by Patrick Ness. The author combines unique illustrations with short but powerful sentences to create a powerful tale about sorrow, fear, rage, and bravery. The black-ink artwork around the book's pages offers solace as readers are taken on an emotional ride, with Conor having to deal with his mother's imminent death while his own healing begins as he befriends a tree monster.

A touching story of a boy who feels angry, guilty, and damaged, this book has been transformed into a well-crafted movie. Directed by J.A. Bayona, the dark fantasy film was released in 2016 with Lewis MacDougall, Felicity Jones, and Sigourney Weaver bringing the lead characters to life.

Directed by J.A. Bayona, the dark fantasy film was released in 2016 with Lewis MacDougall, Felicity Jones, and Sigourney Weaver bringing the lead characters to life.

The #8 book is Rachel Hawkins' contemporary fantasy "Hex Hall," a novel that stands out from the flood of supernatural stories for kids and teens in school settings. 16-year-old Sophie Mercer attends a reform school for witches, fairies, and other mythical creatures. The story depicts classic teen situations, including encounters with bullies and boyfriends.

This fast-paced tale also pokes fun at the paranormal genre with unconventional characters, drawing readers to both the humor and interpersonal dynamics. The first of a trilogy that has an original take on teen witches, its ending will leave you hanging and grabbing for the second volume.

Coming in at #9 is the "Tiger's Curse," the first volume of an epic series by Colleen Houck. As Kelsey Hayes spends her summer with a mysterious white tiger, she comes face-to-face with magic, dark forces, and mystical worlds. Packed with adventure, action, and romance, readers will find themselves cheering on the edge of their seats as Kelsey risks it all to change her destiny. Weaving poetry, Indian culture, and an original fairy tale, Houck tells a captivating story that will leave the saga's fans wanting more.

Packed with adventure, action, and romance, readers will find themselves cheering on the edge of their seats as Kelsey risks it all to change her destiny.

At #10 is Stacey Kade's "Project Paper Doll: The Rules," a special story that brings emotion and humor together after half-human, half-alien Ariana Tucker escapes from a genetics lab. In a moving tale that depicts high school drama amidst blending in with full-blooded humans, she comes across deadly secrets and forbidden love. Book enthusiasts will also enjoy the determination of these older teen characters who stumble into a ride of surprising twists.

Finally, the #11 book is Jus Accardo's "Infinity," a fast-paced, entertaining read that takes on serious themes, including family connections, grief, and the true identity of one's self. While the story involves crossing parallel universes, it stays focused on developing the relationships between female lead Kori and other characters. Her empathy and strength build instances of deep reflection, witty conversations, and intense action.