15 YA novels with the most jaw-droppingly good twists
The best plot twists in YA fiction
We've decided to round up 15 great YA novels that also include game-changing revelations. Here's the best of the twisty YA class.
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
The Hazel Wood creates a world in which the grimmest of fairy tales might just be real — and Alice, whose grandmother wrote said tales, can't escape them. What seems like a classic rescue mission becomes much more as Alice unravels the truth about her family and what they've been running from for so long.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Stories dealing with memory loss are pretty much guaranteed to feature surprises, but the mystery of what happened to Cadence and her cousins/best friends — "The Liars" — still packs a powerful punch. The story finds a delicate balance between summer romance and serious drama. Cadence must come to terms with the corrupting influence that wealth and power has had on her family if she wants to discover the truth of what caused her memory loss.
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
A Court of Thorns and Roses, the first book in Maas' lush romantic series, introduced protagonist Feyre to the world of Prythian and the faeries that live there. In this second installment, Feyre discovers more about her new world and the High Lords that rule it — and everything she believed is flipped on its head.
One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus
Billed as a Breakfast Club–murder mystery hybrid — now adapted into a Peacock original series — One of Us Is Lying tells the story of a group of teens that witness the death of a classmate. All of them have secrets, but how far they're willing to go to hide them (and who will ultimately pay the price for the murder) will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
In the book that inspired the 2017 film adaptation, Maddy Whittier spends her entire life indoors, with only her mother and nurse, Carla, for company. When an intriguing new boy moves in next door, Maddy's tiny world begins to expand. As she lives more fully and takes more risks, however, she'll learn shocking truths about herself and her family.
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
The love between two sisters is at the heart of Caraval. Scarlett Dragna must play a magical — and perhaps deadly — game in order to save her sister Tella from Legend, a mysterious ringmaster. The game is full of twists and turns, and neither Scarlett nor the reader can fully trust what's real, through to the very last page.
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Mare Barrow is swept into a deadly game of politics and power when she discovers she has the ability to manipulate electricity, despite the red blood that should make her powerless. She becomes a prisoner behind palace walls, with two princes vying for her attention while she struggles to survive. Mare has to choose whom to trust carefully, or her family and her people suffer the consequences.
Identical by Ellen Hopkins
This dark novel, written in verse, follows the unique perspectives of identical twins Kaeleigh and Raeanne, who both turn to destructive coping mechanisms to deal with their troubled home life. Delving further into the girls' entwined world reveals shocking and unexpected truths about what it means for these twins to get by.
Looking for Alaska by John Green
John Green has a reputation for writing stories that pull at your heartstrings, and some of his books have been adapted for the big screen (2014's The Fault in Our Stars, 2015's Paper Towns, and 2019's Let It Snow). But it all began with Looking for Alaska — which was adapted into a Hulu miniseries of the same name in 2019 — Green's debut novel about Miles "Pudge" Halter, a boarding school student searching for meaning in his life. The story hinges on Pudge's classmate, Alaska, a troubled girl he falls for. The book's plot twist makes Pudge's search for meaning — and his yearning for the "Great Perhaps" — all the more relevant.
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Jodi Picoult's best-seller — which led to a 2009 film adaptation starring Cameron Diaz, Alec Baldwin, and Abigail Breslin — features a young girl, Anna, who was born for the purpose of saving her sister, Kate, who suffered from acute leukemia. After years of procedures, 13-year-old Anna decides to sue her parents for medical emancipation. The ensuing trial leads to twists and revelations that will change the family forever.
The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie by Jaclyn Moriarty
Jaclyn Moriarty's Ashbury/Brookfield books are all lively and entertaining and told through letters, journals, and notes. In The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie, Bindy's unreliable narration makes for a surprisingly funny and twisty mystery. Told with charm and humor, this book's twist will have you feeling empathy for Bindy, a former insufferable know-it-all.
The Leaving by Tara Altebrando
Six kindergarteners disappear without a trace, devastating their families and their small town. Eleven years later, five of the missing children reappear as teens, with no memory of what happened to them — or any memory of the sixth child, Max. Told from multiple perspectives, the group has to settle back into the world while unraveling the startling mystery of what happened to them.
Mastiff by Tamora Pierce
Tamora Pierce's Tortall is beautifully realized, with multiple generations of fierce, fascinating women, deadly battles, and palace intrigue. Perhaps no Tortallan twist is greater than the one in Mastiff, the final book in the Provost's Dog trilogy and the conclusion to Beka Cooper's story.
Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
In Dangerous Girls, which calls to mind the true story of Amanda Knox, a young American woman becomes trapped in a foreign country after being accused of murder. Anna is left to unravel the mystery of her best friend Elise's murder while trying not to crumble under legal and public pressure.
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
The novel that spun into a best-selling series and a blockbuster film trilogy, The Maze Runner is as much a puzzle for readers as it is for Thomas. When Thomas is placed inside the Maze with no memory, he's faced with more and more questions: Who is he? Where is he? And what is WICKED, the name that appears again and again throughout the maze? The answers might turn out to be even more surprising than the questions.