Graphic novels are a great way to explore new stories—or revisit well-loved ones in whole new ways. Oftentimes filled with visual color and always with jaw-dropping artwork, if you haven’t tried one, you’re definitely missing out! But that’s not to be discouraged. When we announced that graphic novels would be fourth week’s challenge in our Year of Epic Reads, plenty of people admitted to them being outside of their usual reading zone.
But there are so many awesome stories in the graphic novel world, and if you’re totally willing to dive in, then there’s no better time than now!
If you don’t know which YA graphic novels to read first or don’t know where to start searching—have no fear! This list of #epicreads (ha, get it?) can help you find the perfect graphic novel to start and fall in love with. Before you know it, your TBR list will skyrocket in graphic novel numbers.
You can thank us later.
29 Must-Read YA Graphic Novels
TO START BUILDING YOUR COLLECTION
Written and illustrated by Noelle Stevenson
Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel has been hailed by critics and fans alike as the arrival of a “superstar” talent.
Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.
But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.
2. Legend: The Graphic Novel
Written by Marie Lu, adapted by Leigh Dragoon, and illustrated by Kaari
Once unknown as the western coast of United States, the Republic is now a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors, the Colonies
Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a military prodigy. Obedient, passionate, and committed to her country, she is being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest circles.
Born into the slums of the Republic’s Lake Sector, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.
From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered, and Day becomes the prime suspect. Now, caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June tries desperately to avenge Metias’s death.
But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths to which their country will go to keep its secrets.
3. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel
Written by Ransom Riggs and illustrated by Cassandra Jean
When Jacob Portman was a boy, his grandfather regaled him with stories of his fantastic life at Miss Peregrine’s home during the Second World War, even sharing photos of the remarkable children with whom he resided. As Jacob grew up, though, he decided that these photos were obvious fakes, simple forgeries designed to stir his youthful imagination. Or were they…?
Following his grandfather’s death – a scene Jacob literally couldn’t believe with his own eyes – the sixteen-year-old boy embarks on a mission to disentangle fact from fiction in his grandfather’s tall tales. But even his grandfather’s elaborate yarns couldn’t prepare Jacob for the eccentricities he will discover at Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children!
4. Beautiful Creatures: The Manga
Written by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl, illustrated by Cassandra Jean
In crisp black and white manga pictures, Ethan Wate narrates his dreams, haunted an unreachable raven-haired beauty.
Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.
Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.
5. Paper Girls
By Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matthew Wilson, & Jared K. Fletcher
Erin Tieng, a new resident of Stony Stream, is a recently hired paper delivery girl. While out delivering newspapers in the early hours of the morning of November 1, 1988, Erin meets Mac, KJ, and Tiffany, a group of friends and fellow paper girls who invite Erin to join them.
The girls are soon attacked by a group of teenagers; one of the teens steals a walkie-talkie from Tiffany. The girls subsequently chase the group to a construction house and find what appears to be a time machine in the basement. They are then struck by mysterious energy emanating from the machine. The girls learn that the teenagers are time-travelers from the distant future, who are engaged in an ongoing war with a group known as the “Old-Timers”—known as “The Battle of the Ages.” At the center of this conflict is the question of whether or not the past can and should be changed by future time-travelers.
By Marjorie M. Liu, Sana Takeda, Rus Wooton, & Yoshi Yoshitani
Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steam punk, MONSTRESS tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both and make them the target of both human and otherworldly powers.
New York Times bestselling and award-winning writer Marjorie Liu is best known for her fiction and comic books. She teaches comic book writing at MIT, and leads a class on Popular Fiction at the Voices of Our Nation (VONA) workshop. Ms. Liu’s extensive work includes the bestselling “Astonishing X-Men” for Marvel Comics, which featured the gay wedding of X-Man Northstar and was subsequently nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for outstanding media images of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Prior to writing full-time, Liu was a lawyer. She currently resides in Boston.
7. Runaways: Find Your Way Home
By Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka
GET READY TO RUN!
The “IT” book of the early 2000s with the original cast is back–Nico! Karolina! Molly! Chase! Old Lace! And, could it be… GERT?!
The heart of the Runaways died years ago, but you won’t believe how she returns! Superstar author Rainbow Rowell (Eleanor & Park, Carry On) makes her Marvel debut with fan-favorite artist Kris Anka (ALL-NEW X-MEN, CAPTAIN MARVEL) in the series that will shock you and break your heart!
Did Chase and Gert’s love survive their time apart? Have Karolina and Nico’s feelings made their friendship impossible? What emotional landmines lie in wait to DESTROY the Runaways?!
8. The Complete Maus
By Art Spiegelman
The Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father’s story. Maus approaches the unspeakable through the diminutive. Its form, the cartoon (the Nazis are cats, the Jews mice), shocks us out of any lingering sense of familiarity and succeeds in “drawing us closer to the bleak heart of the Holocaust.”
Maus is a haunting tale within a tale. Vladek’s harrowing story of survival is woven into the author’s account of his tortured relationship with his aging father. Against the backdrop of guilt brought by survival, they stage a normal life of small arguments and unhappy visits. This astonishing retelling of our century’s grisliest news is a story of survival, not only of Vladek but of the children who survive even the survivors. Maus studies the bloody pawprints of history and tracks its meaning for all of us.
9. The Graveyard Book
By Neil Gaiman
The first paperback edition of the glorious two-volume, full-color graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s #1 New York Times bestselling and Newbery Medal-winning novel The Graveyard Book.
After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.
Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family…
10. The Prince and the Dressmaker
By Jen Wang
Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:
Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!
Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart.
11. Check, Please!: #Hockey
By Ngozi Ukazu
Helloooo, Internet Land. Bitty here!
Y’all… I might not be ready for this. I may be a former junior figure skating champion, vlogger extraordinaire, and very talented amateur pâtissier, but being a freshman on the Samwell University hockey team is a whole new challenge. It’s nothing like co-ed club hockey back in Georgia! First of all? There’s checking. And then, there is Jack—our very attractive but moody captain.
A collection of the first half of the megapopular webcomic series of the same name, Check, Please!: #Hockey is the first book of a hilarious and stirring two-volume coming-of-age story about hockey, bros, and trying to find yourself during the best four years of your life.
12. Zodiac Starforce: By the Power of Astra
By Kevin Panetta and Paulina Ganucheau
They’re an elite group of teenage girls with magical powers who have sworn to protect our planet against dark creatures . . . as long as they can get out of class! Known as the Zodiac Starforce, these high-school girls aren’t just combating math tests. They’re also battling monsters–not your typical afterschool activity! But when an evil force from another dimension infects team leader Emma, she must work with her team of magically powered friends to save herself–and the world–from the evil Diana and her mean-girl minions!
From Kevin Panetta (Bravest Warriors) and Paulina Ganucheau (TMNT: New Animated Adventures, Bravest Warriors), this super-fun and heartfelt story of growing up and friendship–with plenty of magical-girl fighting action–delivers the most exciting new ensemble cast in comics!
13. Deadly Class: Reagan Youth
By Rick Remender, Wes Craig, Lee Loughride, & David Lapham
It’s 1987. Marcus Lopez hates school. His grades suck. The jocks are hassling his friends. He can’t focus in class. But the jocks are the children of Joseph Stalin’s top assassin, the teachers are members of an ancient league of assassins, the class he’s failing is “Dismemberment 101,” and his crush has a double-digit body count. Welcome to the most brutal high school on earth, where the world’s top crime families send the next generation of assassins to be trained. Murder is an art. Killing is a craft. At Kings Dominion School for the Deadly Arts, the dagger in your back isn’t always metaphorical.
Collecting the first arc of the most critically acclaimed new series of 2014, by writer RICK REMENDER (BLACK SCIENCE, Fear Agent) and rising star artist WESLEY CRAIG (Batman). Experience the 1980s underground through the eyes of the world’s most damaged and dangerous teenagers.
14. Archie: The New Riverdale
By Mark Waid, Fiona Staples, Annie Wu, & Veronica Fish
America’s Favorite Teenager, Archie Andrews, is reborn in the pages of this must-have graphic novel collecting the first six issues of the comic book series that everyone is talking about. Meet Riverdale High teen Archie, his oddball, food-loving best friend Jughead, girl-next-door Betty and well-to-do snob Veronica Lodge as they embark on a modern reimagining of the beloved Archie world. It’s all here: the love triangle, friendship, humor, charm and lots of fun – but with a decidedly modern twist.
Brought to you by some of the masters of the comic book genre, including writer Mark Waid and the all-star lineup of artists: Fiona Staples, Annie Wu and Veronica Fish, the first volume of ARCHIE presents readers with a new take on the beloved Archie Comics concepts while retaining the best elements from the company’s 75 years of history. ARCHIE VOL. 1 collects ARCHIE #1-6 and features bonus content including scripts, sketches, variant covers and the full first issue of the all new JUGHEAD series by acclaimed writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Erica Henderson.
15. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: The Crucible
By Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack
On the eve of her sixteenth birthday, the young sorceress Sabrina Spellman finds herself at a crossroads, having to choose between an unearthly destiny and her mortal boyfriend, Harvey. But a foe from her family’s past has arrived in Greendale, Madame Satan, and she has her own deadly agenda.
At long last, the secret history of the Queen of Hell is revealed, and she sets her vengeful gaze upon the Spellman family. No one, especially those close to Sabrina, is safe, and very, very soon, the quiet streets of Greendale will run red with blood…
16. I Am Alfonso Jones
By Tony Media, John Jennings, & Stacey Robinson
Alfonso Jones can’t wait to play the role of Hamlet in his school’s hip-hop rendition of the classic Shakespearean play. He also wants to let his best friend, Danetta, know how he really feels about her. But as he is buying his first suit, an off-duty police officer mistakes a clothes hanger for a gun, and he shoots Alfonso.
When Alfonso wakes up in the afterlife, he’s on a ghost train guided by well-known victims of police shootings, who teach him what he needs to know about this subterranean spiritual world. Meanwhile, Alfonso’s family and friends struggle with their grief and seek justice for Alfonso in the streets. As they confront their new realities, both Alfonso and those he loves realize the work that lies ahead in the fight for justice.
In the first graphic novel for young readers to focus on police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement, as in Hamlet, the dead shall speak—and the living yield even more surprises.
17. Ms. Marvel: No Normal
By G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona
Marvel Comics presents the new Ms. Marvel, the groundbreaking heroine that has become an international sensation!
Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she’s suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she’s comin’ for you, Jersey!
It’s history in the making from acclaimed writer G. Willow Wilson (Air, Cairo) and beloved artist Adrian Alphona (RUNAWAYS)! Collecting MS. MARVEL (2014) #1-5 and material from ALL-NEW MARVEL NOW! POINT ONE #1.
By C.S. Pacat, Johanna the Mad, & Joana Lafuente
Nicholas Cox is determined to prove himself in the world of competitive fencing, and earn his place alongside fencing legends like the dad he never knew, but things get more complicated when he’s up against his golden-boy half-brother, as well as sullen fencing prodigy, Seiji Katayama.
Nicholas, the illegitimate son of a retired fencing champion, is a scrappy fencing wunderkind, and dreams of getting the chance and the training to actually compete. After getting accepted to the prodigious Kings Row private school, Nicholas is thrust into a cut-throat world, and finds himself facing not only his golden-boy half-brother, but the unbeatable, mysterious Seiji Katayama…
Through clashes, rivalries, and romance between teammates, Nicholas and the boys of Kings Row will discover there’s much more to fencing than just foils and lunges.
19. Speak: The Graphic Novel
By Laurie Halse Anderson and Emily Carroll
“Speak up for yourself—we want to know what you have to say.”
From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication.
In the graphic adaptation of Laurie Halse Anderson’s powerful novel, an utterly believable heroine with a bitterly ironic voice delivers a blow to the hypocritical world of high school. She speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while demonstrating the importance of speaking up for oneself.
20. My Boyfriend Is a Bear
By Pamela Ribon and Cat Farris
A story of girl meets bear.
Nora has bad luck with men. When she meets an (actual) bear on a hike in the Los Angeles hills, he turns out to be the best romantic partner she’s ever had! He’s considerate, he’s sweet, he takes care of her.
But he’s a bear, and winning over her friends and family is difficult.
Not to mention he has to hibernate all winter.
Can true love conquer all?
21. Anya’s Ghost
By Vera Brosgol
Anya could really use a friend. But her new BFF isn’t kidding about the “Forever” part.
Of all the things Anya expected to find at the bottom of an old well, a new friend was not one of them. Especially not a new friend who’s been dead for a century.
Falling down a well is bad enough, but Anya’s normal life might actually be worse. She’s embarrassed by her family, self-conscious about her body, and she’s pretty much given up on fitting in at school. A new friend—even a ghost—is just what she needs.
Or so she thinks. Spooky, sardonic, and secretly sincere, Anya’s Ghost is a wonderfully entertaining debut from author/artist Vera Brosgol.
22. A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel
By Madeleine L’Engle and Hope Larson
Late one night, three otherworldly creatures appear and sweep Meg Murry, her brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin O’Keefe away on a mission to save Mr. Murry, who has gone missing while doing top-secret work for the government. They travel via tesseract — a wrinkle that transports one across space and time — to the planet Camazotz, where Mr. Murry is being held captive. There they discover a dark force that threatens not only Mr. Murry but the safety of the whole universe.
Never before illustrated, A Wrinkle in Time is now available in a spellbinding graphic novel adaptation. Hope Larson takes the classic story to a new level with her vividly imagined interpretations of Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, Mrs Which, the Happy Medium, Aunt Beast, and the many other characters that readers have loved for the past fifty years. Winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal, A Wrinkle in Time is the first book in Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quintet.
23. This One Summer
By Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It’s their getaway, their refuge. Rosie’s friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It’s a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.
In This One Summer two stellar creators redefine the teen graphic novel. Cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, the team behind Skim, have collaborated on this gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about a girl on the cusp of her teen age — a story of renewal and revelation.
24. The Complete Persepolis
By Marjane Satrapi, Mattias Ripa, Blake Ferris, & Anjali Singh
Here, in one volume: Marjane Satrapi’s best-selling, internationally acclaimed graphic memoir.
Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming–both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.
Edgy, searingly observant, and candid, often heartbreaking but threaded throughout with raw humor and hard-earned wisdom—Persepolis is a stunning work from one of the most highly regarded, singularly talented graphic artists at work today.
25. Lumberjanes: Beware the Kitten Holy
By Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Faith Hicks, Brooke A. Allen, & more
FRIENDSHIP TO THE MAX!
At Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s camp for hard-core lady-types, things are not what they seem.
Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves. Anagrams.
Luckily, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer together… And they’re not gonna let a magical quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! The mystery keeps getting bigger, and it all begins here.
26. Wires and Nerve
By Marissa Meyer and Douglas Holgate
In her first graphic novel, bestselling author Marissa Meyer extends the world of the Lunar Chronicles with a brand-new, action-packed story about Iko, the android with a heart of (mechanized) gold.
When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers’ leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity.
With appearances by Cinder and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the bestselling series.
27. Spill Zone
By Scott Westerfeld, Alex Puvilland, & Hilary Sycamore
Nobody’s ever really explained the Spill.
Was it an angelic visitation? A nanotech accident? A porthole opening from another world?
Whatever it was, no one’s allowed in the Spill Zone these days except government scientists and hazmat teams. But a few intrepid explorers know how to sneak through the patrols and steer clear of the dangers inside the Zone.
Addison Merrick is one such explorer, dedicated to finding out what happened that night and to unraveling the events that took her parents and left her little sister mute and disconnected from the world.
28. Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World
By Pénélope Bagieu
Throughout history and across the globe, one characteristic connects the daring women of Brazen: their indomitable spirit. Against overwhelming adversity, these remarkable women raised their voices and changed history.
With her one-of-a-kind wit and dazzling drawings, celebrated graphic novelist Pénélope Bagieu profiles the lives of these feisty female role models, some world-famous, some little known. From Nellie Bly to Mae Jemison or Josephine Baker to Naziq al-Abid, the stories in this comic biography are sure to inspire the next generation of rebel ladies.
29. Bandette: Presto!
By Paul Tobin, Colleen Cover, and more
She is alluring…
She is mysterious…
She is bandette…
The world’s greatest thief is a costumed teen burglar by the nome d’arte of Bandette! Gleefully plying her skills on either side of the law alongside her network of street urchins, Bandette is a thorn in the side of both Police Inspector Belgique and the criminal underworld. But it’s not all breaking hearts and purloining masterpieces when a rival thief makes a startling discovery. Can even Bandette laugh off a plot against her life?