Hi all! I hope you’ve had a good week since I last did one of these, I’ve been really busy at work, tomorrow is my last shift of four in a row and I’m looking forward to getting to relax a bit. It’s my birthday on Sunday and I’m going out for lunch with a friend, plus the final season of Lucifer is coming out just in time for my birthday so I’m looking forward to a lovely chill day!
Anyway, it’s Tuesday, so it’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic was meant to be Books Guaranteed To Put A Smile On Your Face, but I did that topic last year, so instead I decided to a different topic this week and talk about Books With Late Teens/Twenty Something Characters. I thought this one would be easier, as I’ve been trying to actively seek out books with characters closer to my age in the last few years, but it turns out it was still quite hard! More fantasies with characters in their twenties please! Anyway, these are some of my favourite books with 18-29 year old protagonists:
- A Darker Shade of Magic-VE Schwab
A Darker Shade of Magic is a super great choice if you’re looking for an adult book that still feels YA in terms of pacing and characters having big self-discovery/emotional development/finding their place in the world arcs. The characters are on the younger side of the age range for this list, Lila is 19, Kell is 21 & Rhy is 20 and I was 19 almost 20 when I read the first book, so it was really great to see characters around my age having cool adventures! It’s one of my favourite books, and the book that made me fall in love with VE Schwab’s writing, so I highly recommend if you’re looking to branch into Adult from YA.
2. The Bone Season-Samantha Shannon
The Bone Season is kind of similar to A Darker Shade of Magic in that it works quite well as a crossover for both a YA and adult audience. The main character Paige is 19, and turns 20 in the fourth book of the series, and the series is very much about Paige’s emotional journey and coming into her powers so there’s definitely the high emotional stakes of YA, but it’s definitely a lot more complicated than most YA fantasy! Again if you’re looking to move into adult fantasy, this series makes a nice transition!
3. The Rose Code-Kate Quinn
This book was my first adult historical fiction, and since reading it, I’ve read two more (both also included on this list) and it’s definitely something I want to keep reading more of. I will admit, I had a slight moment when I realised that I was the same age as Beth (at least at the beginning of the book as it spans several years), the oldest of the three of the girls! At the start of the book, Osla is 18, Mab is 21/22 and Beth is 24 and we get to follow them over seven years so you really get to see their development, and as a 24 year old woman, it’s nice seeing women of a similar age navigating work and relationships (albeit in a very different time period and I’ve never had to deal with a war!). If you like historical fiction, I would definitely recommend this one as Bletchley Park is fascinating and the characters are brilliant.
4. The Daevabad Trilogy-SA Chakraborty
The main characters in the Daevabad trilogy are 18 & 20 in the first book, and 25 & 23 in the subsequent two after a five year time jump. If you love books with complicated world building, intense political scheming, and a smart and funny heroine, the Daevabad trilogy is definitely for you. It’s not as pacey as a lot of YA fantasy, but it definitely goes into a lot more depth in the world-building which I appreciated. I will say that in the second and third books, though Ali and Nahri are meant to be five years older, they really don’t feel like it, and I didn’t think it was entirely necessary as the plot of Kingdom of Copper could quite easily have taken place straight after City of Brass.
5. The Alice Network-Kate Quinn
Charlie, one of the POV characters in The Alice Network is 19 and turns 20 during the course of the book, and Eve, the other main character is 22 in her past timeline and 54 in the present timeline. I have to admit that I warmed to Eve more quickly, she’s stubborn, funny, incredibly smart and brave and obviously what she does as a 22 year old in WWI is incredibly impressive, I couldn’t have done half of what she does at 22. Charlie on the other hand is a lot harder to warm to, she’s quite immature, naive and in all honesty more than a little annoying at the start of the book. However she is just 19 years old, and those traits are quite common for a teenager! And she grows a lot over the course of the book, to the point where I really did feel for her in the end. Anyway, The Alice Network is a brilliant, emotional read and if you want to learn more about WWI spy networks, I highly recommend it.
6. The Last Bookshop In London-Madeline Martin
Grace Bennett is 23 at the beginning of this book, and probably has the most “normal” job of any of the characters in WWII books I’ve read (if anything in war can be called normal). She works at Primrose Hill Books, a slightly neglected bookshop with a gruff older owner. I loved this book precisely because of the smaller, quieter, nature of it, yes there’s a war on, and Grace spends her nights as an air raid warden, but most of the WWII books I’ve read have been about pilots and spies and codebreakers, so it was nice to read a story where a regular girl with a regular job was the star. Much as I love reading about 20+ year old women who work as spies or break Nazi codes, I could definitely relate more to Grace, a 23 year old who works in a bookshop and worries about her elderly landlady and is initially terrified in her work as an air raid warden. This book is such a lovely little story about community and hope and books and ultimately shows that the war wasn’t just the people on the front lines fighting the Nazis, it was also ordinary citizens pulling together and doing whatever they could to help their communities.
7. The Gilded Wolves-Roshani Chokshi
The Gilded Wolves is still very much YA, but the characters are slightly older, Laila is 19, Severin is 18/19, Zofia is 19 and honestly I’m not sure how old Enrique is, I think a little older than the others as he’s mentioned as having been to University, so I’d guess in his 20s? Anyway, I felt like this book gave me the best of both worlds, with more mature characters who are obviously self-sufficient, but you still get the self-discovery and messy feelings that comes with YA books.
8. Vicious/Vengeful-VE Schwab
Honestly there’s a wide span of character ages in both of the books in Schwab’s Villains duology, you have everyone from a 13 year old girl, to characters in their 30s and 40s and because the books jump between different timelines, the same characters can span several ages. So for example, in Vicious, Victor and Eli are 22 in the past timeline, but 32 in the present, where in Vengeful, Sydney is 18 in the present, but younger in flashbacks. The different timelines is one of the things that makes these books so interesting though, as you are able to literally piece together how the characters came to be who they are in the present timeline. If you love villians, I highly recommend this duology, as no one does villains like Schwab and it’s amazing how she can write a book where literally everyone is bad and you still fall in love with the characters.
9. The Priory of The Orange Tree-Samantha Shannon
The characters span quite a breadth of ages, the ones that fit the criteria for this list are Ead who is 26, Sabran who is 28 and Tane who is 19 but the narrators range in age from 19-64. It was quite funny for me when I read this because I sat pretty much bang in the middle of Tane and Ead, I was 22, almost 23. Priory is an absolute beast of a book, and a lot more dense than what I usually read (adult epic fantasy is still fairly new for me!), and I definitely struggled with the pacing and the characters were a little flat, but I did love how much agency the female characters had, and I liked that romance was a component but not the main part of the story.
10. King of Scars-Leigh Bardugo
King of Scars is again technically YA, but it’s set several years after the original Grisha trilogy, so the main characters are all either in their late teens or early twenties. I suppose if New Adult had been allowed to become a thing, this might be that? Honestly it probably helps that all the characters in Six of Crows felt very much like adults in their twenties anyway, so this book kind of carries that on, and obviously, the characters have more adult responsibilities now, like running a country and making sure it doesn’t collapse into ruin.
So there we go, those are some of the books with main characters in their late teens/twenties that I’ve enjoyed. I did struggle once I reached number 7, I’ll be honest but I’m quite pleased that I managed to find a good range across the ages and they weren’t all clustered down at the 18/19 end! Have you read any of these books? What are your favourite books with characters in their late teens/twenties (please give me recommendations, I’m desperate for them! Preferably with characters who are a little older so like the 23-28 age range would be great, I feel like I’m okay at finding books with characters in the 19-23 range)? Let me know in the comments!
Next week’s topic is Books With Numbers In The Title, which is one I did last year, but I actually am going to do this one again, as it turns out there are lots of books with numbers in their title, so I can do it without repeating any I did last time!