By Stephan Lee
July 09, 2012 at 06:25 PM EDT

Goodreads users — like most passionate readers — are an opinionated bunch, so it’s rare for them to come to a consensus about any book. But there are some under-the-radar titles that users of the literary social network widely agree are deserving of greater attention and acclaim. The editors at Goodreads have selected seven books that, according to user ratings and comments, should be on the verge of breaking out. Click through to learn more about these dark horses in the fiction, nonfiction, and young adult categories.

NEXT: A page-turner destined to become a classic?

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson (Goodreads Author)

4.31 average rating

Not your average techno-thriller. Goodreads members love this new novel that blends a suspenseful plot — a hacker on the run from the government — with the jinn of Middle Eastern folklore and plenty of political intrigue straight out of the Arab Spring. Goodreads member Nagpochenpo says, “By all rights this should be a massive Harry Potter-sized hit, one of the most original, exciting books I’ve read in a long time — topical and magical.”

NEXT: An unforgettable, epic love story…

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian (Goodreads Author)

4.40 average rating

Goodreads members give sky-high ratings to this historical family saga and call it Bohjalian’s best work to date. Inspired by his own grandparents’ love story, the author follows a cast of characters from 1915 Syria to present-day New York. Goodreads member Roxanne says, “It took me several weeks to fully digest this book, and, just let me say that I am forever changed…Chris Bohjalian’s masterpiece.”

NEXT: The tale of a sentimental journey…

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

4.18 average rating

A shy, aging gentleman impulsively decides to walk the length of England — more than 500 miles — to deliver a letter to a dying friend. He believes, “As long as I walk, she must live.” Goodreads member Marguerite calls it “funny, touching, tragic, uplifting…there were times when my feet ached with Harold’s…this was one of the best books I’ve read in ages and I can’t recommend it enough.”

NEXT: On to excellent nonfiction…

Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats by Kristen Iversen (Goodreads Author)

4.20 average rating

Part exposé, part memoir, this narrative nonfiction work details the health hazards that plagued the local community near Colorado’s secret nuclear weapons plant, Rocky Flats. Goodreads member Peggy says, “Kristen Iversen is a brave whistle blower, the Erin Brockovich of plutonium pollution. And she’s a hell of a good writer…a compelling, frightening, and personal story.”

NEXT: A bighearted memoir that’s hard to categorize…

A Queer and Pleasant Danger by Kate Bornstein

4.31 average rating

The subtitle of this one-of-a-kind memoir says it all: “The true story of a nice Jewish boy who joins the Church of Scientology and leaves twelve years later to become the lovely lady she is today.” Goodreads member Sally says, “This an amazing, intense, heartfelt read that goes far beyond questions of gender and sexuality to examine, really, what it means to be human.”

NEXT: Hot, lesser-known picks for the young-adult set…

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Goodreads Author)

4.38 average rating

Goodreads reviewers insist that it would be unforgivable to spoil the plot of this roller-coaster espionage thriller about two young women: a pilot and a spy captured by the Nazis. Goodreads member Lexie says, “This book is going to be an instant classic in Young Adult fiction. The last time I was this excited about a book…it was The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Seriously.”

NEXT: A big Goodreads favorite…

Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick

4.54 average rating

It is rare to see Goodreads members so unified about a book. This novel for young adults is based on the author’s interviews with Arn Chorn-Pond, a Cambodian child soldier-turned humanitarian. Goodreads member Edward calls it “A vivid, harrowing, and profoundly moving story…a superbly written, memorable novel.”

Follow Stephan on Twitter: @EWStephanLee

Read more:

Goodreads users select the best books of 2011

Where are people reading ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’? Here’s a map

  • Book
Complete Coverage