Fun Friday: The 25 Best YA Fantasy Novels of All Time?


When you Google “Best YA Fantasy,” the first thing that pops up is a .pdf of a 2001 list of the “25 Best Young Adult Fantasy Novels of All Time—So Far” compiled by Patty Campbell, a woman with many YA and youth literary accolades to her name.  It’s a pretty good list… but the fact is that it was compiled long before the YA Fantasy explosion—four years before Twilight, even (not that I’m saying that should or should not be on the list)—so it does feel a little dated.

The list is as follows:

Can you see why this list makes me kind of turn my head a little bit?  I admit, I can claim to have read very little of this list.  In fact, all I’ve read off of it is The Once and Future King, and of course, Harry Potter*.  The truth is, I haven’t even heard of many of these books.  Many of these just aren’t young adult novels, though.  Several are classic fantasy—appropriate for young adults, sure, but not YA themselves.  Some of them are children’s fantasy.  And some of them… frankly some of them are just odd.  Someday I’m going to have to read that House of Stairs, because the description is one of the oddest things I’ve ever read.  We’re talking Flatland weird—okay, not really, but somewhere close.  And do you like how Harry Potter is tagged on at the very end there, as if it were no big deal?  Even the outdatedness of this list can’t excuse that—Goblet of Fire was out in 2001, andtook the Hugo Award for Best Novel that same year.

No disrespect to Patty Campbell.  Anyone who spends as much of their time and efforts—as much of their life, really, bringing literature to young adults (or anyone!) has my highest regard.  All I’m saying is… I think it’s about time we had a new list.  Don’t you?

*Yes, I realize that it’s somewhat disgraceful that I haven’t read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or The Lord of the Rings.  I’m working on it.

About Lisa Asanuma

Lisa is a professional freelance writer and editor, along with a bookbinder and knitting obsessee. Lisa has a passion for YA literature (inside her passion for literature in general) and is currently working on her first novel. View all posts by Lisa Asanuma

9 responses to “Fun Friday: The 25 Best YA Fantasy Novels of All Time?

  • hollye

    I haven’t read most of these either, but I highly recommend Lowry’s The Giver. Its one of my all time favorite books.

    • Lisa

      You know for some reason as a kid I got The Giver and The Cay mixed up in my head (must be because of the weathered-looking men on the covers lol), and so I’ve always thought The Giver was about the kid on the island and… well I forgot The Cay existed. 😛 But now that I’ve read the synopsis for The Giver, it does sound interesting!

  • MLE

    I love your blog! It definitely covers a part of the YA fiction and blogosphere that is not covered in depth. Thanks for doing this.

    If it’s okay I’m going to post a link to your site on my blog and would love if you’d do the same. My blog is general YA fiction reviews.

    Thanks and keep up the good work!


    • Lisa

      Thanks so much, MLE! And yes, please do link to us, we’ll be happy to link to you! One thing we’re missing so far is a good links list, thanks for helping us start one!

  • Chrissy

    Harry Potter is on mine for sure as well! One that I just read I loved and read cover to cover is a book called, Sea Learwater, by Selene Cardenas. Its a fun YA fantasy YA fantasy that I found sitting all lonely asking me to read it! I picked it up and could NOT put it down.

  • Erin

    I agree, some of these aren’t strictly YA (or even strictly fantasy!), and a few of them I haven’t heard of. But most of them are fairly well-known. I’ve read 16+ of them. Admittedly, I wouldn’t have included some of them in a top 25 list (even pre-2001) . . . It’s one person’s opinion of “the best.”

    Harry Potter is near the end because the books are in chronological order.

    • Lisa

      Oh yes I know many of them are well-read classics—I’m a bit embarrassed that I haven’t read more of the list myself, though I’ve focused more on non-fantasy classics in my school reading, specifically.

      And yes, I realize they’re in chronological order and my comment was a little overly-sarcastic, but I was also sort of referring to way she describes the Harry Potter books in the .pdf—with Goblet of Fire out I would have gone with something a bit more grand than “A British schoolboy living with nasty relatives… summoned
      to claim his magical heritage”

      Patty Cambpell has done impressive things with youth literacy, but I would have asked someone more… discerning, I guess, to come up with a list claimed to be “the best.” But it is definitely personal-choice.

      • Isabelle

        I’m pretty ashamed I haven’t read more of these either. But it’s a good reference point. Many of them are ‘classics’ and somewhat outdated, and I’m constantly making long lists of ones I want to read that are coming out, so I have to make time to go back!

        I’m with you Lisa, on reading the non-fantasy classics. I’m making my way through Austen and Bronte. 🙂

  • tahliaN

    I agree totally, the list is definitely outdated and not specifically YA. Your post made me realise how much YA fantasy has appeared on the scene since Harry P. It’s a really strong and specific genre these days and has quite different parameters to adult and children’s literature. When you compare Lord of the Rings ( and most others in that list) to the YA fantasy around today, I wouldn’t put it in that category at all. Sure young adults can read it, but that doesn’t make it YA.

    If you’re interested, you can read ch 1 of my YA fantasy novel, ‘Lethal Inheritance’ at
    I’d love to know what you think of it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: