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10 of the Best Genre Blending Young Adult Novels of the Year

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Eric Smith

Staff Writer

Eric Smith an author, blogger, and literary agent based in Philadelphia. When he isn’t busy trying to discover new books, he sometimes tries to write his own. Blog: Eric Smith Twitter: @ericsmithrocks

Listen, as you’ve probably noticed on the ol’ Hey YA podcast (are you listening and subscribing?), I tend to ramble a lot about how much I love young adult novels that do a bit of genre blending.

In fact, that’s what I probably like the most about YA books as a whole. There’s just so much room to experiment. Kid lit has a lot of freedom there, crossing genres and toying with where to be placed on the bookshelf, and goodness, do I adore it.

And let me tell you, this year really showcased that in a major way.

From novels about teens with clocks for hearts to stories of undersea cities, there was a lot to love in 2019. Let’s talk about a few of them, because if these wildly unique books weren’t on your radar, I want to make sure that they are.

Let’s go!

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

Blending together a moving YA romance with elements of time travel, it’s a contemporary/sci-fi mashup that’s perfect if you loved Netflix’s Russian Doll and are in the mood for a serious cry.

Immunity by Erin Bowman

This sequel to the Edgar Award nominee Contagion was one of my most-anticipated reads of the year. I adored the first book, a novel that expertly blended together a mystery/thriller set in a sci-fi landscape packed full of horror.

When the Sky Fell on Splendor by Emily Henry

There were two really powerful aliens books (please note, you have to say aliens like this guy on the History Channel) released this year, and Emily Henry’s latest was absolutely one of them.

Because this contemporary YA blended with sci-fi mashup did something really spectacular, making for a novel that feels a bit like Super 8…where it’s more about the characters and relationships, than about whatever wild thing is going on around them.

I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi

Oh hey, let’s talk about aliens again, because this was one of my favorite novels of the year. Like Henry’s novel, this one is more about the characters, and what one does facing the end of the world. Because these aliens? They aren’t the nice kind. And our teens have a limited amount of time left.


Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

This gorgeous debut introduces readers to a teen girl who’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who devours the energy of men to live. It’s a blend of contemporary, fantasy, and mythology, and the first in a duology. I need book two right now.

Destroy All Monsters by Sam J. Miller

I don’t know why, but I feel like folks slept on Miller’s latest novel, which just is not right. His debut, The Art of Starving, was magnificent, and his latest YA is no different. A story of dreams, memories, and facing the truth, it’s another powerful book from a serious gift of a writer.

The Boy and Girl Who Broke the World by Amy Reed

You’ve likely heard Amy Reed mentioned a bunch on the Hey YA podcast, as she is an eternal Kelly Jensen Favorite™. And her latest blends together contemporary and fantasy, in a really wild and surrealistic novel.

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

This book thundered into the YA world, a contemporary novel blending horror into so many of my favorite kid lit tropes. Private school! An island! A plague! My God. Pure YA catnip.

Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor

I won’t lie to you, Book Riot readers. I wrote this post because I wanted a chance to scream about this particular book some more. A sci-fi/fantasy blend that mixes together to form a perfect book, I loved every single delicious page. Whatever Rosiee Thor is working on next, I want it yesterday.

The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah

Oh, this stunner of a novel. An underwater novel set in a dystopian sci-fi world, it is a genre blending, diverse book that has a cherished place on my bookshelf this year. We need the sequel yesterday. If you played Bioshock and loved it (of course you did, it’s a great game), you need this book right now.