YA (young adult) novels are often looked down on; there are so many that revolve around love triangles that it’s easy to forget about the ones that deal with more serious issues. The following list contains books that adults would seriously be missing out on if they thought they were just for teenagers.

1. Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

This is a trilogy set in a dystopian world where light-skinned noughts are ruled over by dark-skinned Crosses. Callum, a nought, and Sephy, a Cross, have been friends since childhood. Against the backdrop of social change as noughts are finally allowed to attend the same schools as Crosses, and noughts begin using terrorist attacks to make their voices heard, Callum and Sephy find themselves falling in love.

There is a love story at the heart of this novel, but it is so much more than that. Tackling important issues of race, terrorism and prejudice, this book will speak to adults as much as it will to teenagers. Adults often sniff at YA novels because they think they won’t be as intelligent or well-crafted as books written for adults. Read Noughts and Crosses, and your opinion will be permanently altered. Blackman writes fantastic characters and has superb pacing and structure. The ending will just about break your heart.

2. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Jacob is a perfectly normal American teenager. That is, until his grandfather is killed by a beast and Jacob’s father takes him to a remote Welsh village. In the woods, Jacob comes across the ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As he explores the crumbling house, he begins to learn all about its strange inhabitants. Most peculiar of all, they may still be alive.

This is a truly unique novel told through a mix of prose and genuine vintage photography. No one outweighs the other, but the two work together perfectly to convey a story that is surreal, thrilling and entertaining. Fantasy fans will jump at the chance to read something that is so unlike the usual tales of dragons and assassins. The characters are beguiling, the photographs are strangely beautiful and the plot is a real adventure.

3. A Note of Madness by Tabitha Suzuma

Flynn is a top pianist at the Royal College of Music in London, but things are starting to fall apart. On good days he stays up all night composing music. But on bad days he can’t bring himself to get out of bed. It seems that the harder he tries to pull himself together, the worse things get.

This is not a particularly happy book, but it is superbly written. Suzuma, herself a sufferer of bipolar disorder, writes about the illness with great skill and heart-breaking insight. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve re-read this novel, because each time I fall in love with the characters and find myself rooting for things to work out for Flynn. This is more than a story about mental illness, however. It’s about relationships, genius and family. I defy you to read it and not be moved. (And if you are moved, check out the sequel, Voices in the Distance.)

4. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

I’m sure you’ve heard of this one. The Curious Incident follows fifteen-year-old Christopher as he struggles to solve the murder of his neighbour’s dog. What makes this book unique is that Christopher has Asperger’s, so he sees things a little differently.

This book is funny, touching and brilliantly written. Haddon transports you inside Christopher’s mind as you follow him on his journey. This is a murder mystery novel with a difference. Children, teenagers and adults should all check this one out. Most people can only guess what it feels like to live with autism, and Haddon’s novel is the closest you can get. Christopher is a great main character. He is brave and intelligent, and steps far outside of his comfort zone in order to do what is right.

5. Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy

After six years in prison Alice has been released and now faces the difficulty of building her life anew. All she wants is to be normal, but the past continues to haunt her. Because, at the age of ten, she was convicted of killing her best friend.

This is a brilliant thought-provoking read for both teenagers and adults. Is Alice evil? Or was it a terrible mistake she made when she was no more than a child? It is brilliantly written and Cassidy has chosen a difficult and fascinating subject to explore. Despite all you know about what she’s done, Cassidy does a brilliant job of creating sympathy for Alice. Read it and decide for yourself if Alice has earned her misery, or if she deserves the chance of a new start.

Kelly Pells graduated Brunel University with a first in English with Creative Writing. She has had her short stories published by magazines and runs the book review blog scribblerreview.blogspot.co.uk.