Beautiful and poignant teen graphic novels teach us about love, life, family, and friendship, which is why we keep coming back to them even as adults.
The Heartstopper series, Pumpkinheads, and Nimona are some of our favorite YA graphic novels of all time.
The Spinning and Fence series are two excellent examples of young adult graphic novels that feature sports as a central theme.
The films Isla to Island, Displaced, and When the Stars Fall teach us about immigration, war, and the effects of trauma on successive generations.
There are a plethora of graphic novels aimed at young adults. Listed below are some of the finest graphic novels ever written for young adults, covering everything from fantasy to history to memoir to horror and beyond.
Read books about eating Take a romp through a corn maze with your best friend while meeting werewolves, ghosts, and witches, GBBO-style.
Please share your recommendations for great graphic novels for teens below. So, shall we?
Best graphic novels for teenagers
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me By Mariko Tamaki And Rosemary Valero-O’connell
Unfortunately for Freddie, her girlfriend Laura Dean tends to dump her around major holidays. Freddie, unsure of what to do but unwilling to let Laura go, looks everywhere but in the mirror to find the solution to her relationship problems. An excellent look at teen relationship development and the nature of love itself. Its ethereal artwork earned it a Printz Honor for children’s literature.
Pumpkinheads By Rainbow Rowell And Faith Erin Hicks
Deja and Josiah, two of the best people they’ve ever worked with, spend their last night at the Pumpkin Patch having a blast. Deja is determined to make the most of it, so while she is on a mission to consume all of the delicious snacks available, she is also encouraging Josiah to confess his feelings to his long-time crush. but things don’t go as smoothly as hoped for that night! The vivid pumpkin patch comes to life with the help of the autumnal color palette and the intricate illustrations.
Honor Girl By Maggie Thrash
Maggie Thrash spent a formative summer at camp, during which she excelled at shooting and developed feelings for her (much older) female camp counselor. In the early 2000s, when Maggie came to terms with her sexual orientation, the acceptance of LGBTQ couples was still in its infancy. The art does a great job of conjuring early 2000s nostalgia, and this memoir has (without manipulation) an excellent story arc.
On A Sunbeam By Tillie Walden
This stunning and massive science fiction graphic novel follows two parallel stories: Two students at a school located on a space station somewhere in the middle of the galaxy become friends and may develop romantic feelings for each other. One night, however, one of them vanishes. When their friendship ends, the surviving girl goes on to join a team that deconstructs abandoned space stations, but she never forgets her best friend and never stops hoping for a chance to be reunited with her. There’s a dreamlike quality to this book, and the world-building and character descriptions are fantastic.
This One Summer By Mariko Tamaki And Jillian Tamaki
The Eisner, Printz, and Caldecott Medals were all awarded to This One Summer, making it one of the most celebrated teen graphic novels of all time. Rose and her family have a lakeside cabin where they vacation every year. Windy, Rose’s best summertime friend who is a year younger than Rose, is also present. But this summer, Rose’s parents can’t seem to get along, and she and Windy can’t decide what to do, especially after getting involved in the teen drama of the neighborhood. With tensions rising, this summer is shaping up to be one for the record books.
Isla To Island by Alexis Castellanos
Castellanos’s novel, set in the 1960s and aimed at readers 10 and up, is one of the newest tween and teen graphic novels, published in 2022.
The transition from Cuba to New York City for young Marisol is depicted in this gorgeous graphic novel with minimal text.
The novel is told from Marisol’s perspective, who can only speak and understand Spanish at the time. It all starts off in Spanish.
Despite Marisol’s protests, her parents decide to send her to the United States as part of Operation Peter Pan because they fear for her safety in Cuba.
Marisol is taken in by a Catholic family who must now learn to cope with their new circumstances. Marisol is fortunate to have a host family who are supportive and patient as she adjusts to her new environment.
In spite of this, Marisol’s once vibrant world of flowers and community becomes drab and silent until she discovers the library, books, and New York’s botanical gardens.
Marisol gradually adjusts to her new environment and rediscovers pleasure in familiar pursuits as she waits to be reunited with her loved ones.
Isla To Island is a stunningly moving historical YA graphic novel, from the coloring (or lack thereof) of the illustrations to the messages they convey.
Displacement by Kiku Hughes
Displacement takes you back in time to the concentration camps where Japanese Americans were held during World War II.
Kiku has a limited understanding of her heritage, and this includes the fact that her famous violinist grandmother is now deceased.
Kiku visits her grandma in San Francisco and finds herself transported back in time, seeing firsthand how Japanese Americans were forcibly relocated to makeshift camps that were little more than glorified prisons.
Hughes emphasizes the significance of comprehending and recognizing generational trauma through a more straightforward method of storytelling, which includes an abundance of white space across pages.
Displacement, set against the fading presidency of Donald Trump, is a sobering reminder of how close we came, and are, to repeating history.
After seeing children taken from their parents and placed in cages, as Hughes suggests, we have a moral obligation to take action to prevent this from happening again.
Displacement is one of the few WWII young adult novels that makes complex topics like politics, trauma, war, and racism accessible to young readers.
Teens who like time travel novels will also enjoy this, as it is one of the best historical graphic novels in that genre.
Salt Magic by Hope Larson and Rebecca Mock
Salt Magic, winner of the Eisner Award for young adults, is recommended for readers who enjoy stories about magic and the paranormal.
Vonceil longs for adventure and adventure is exactly what she doesn’t get working on her family’s farm in Oklahoma.
Ebner, her older brother, returns from World War I with physical and emotional scars, and she is saddened by the man he has become.
A white witch who comes to retrieve Ebner puts a curse on the farm’s water supply after learning that he is already married. To protect her loved ones, Vonceil leaves for a fantastical land.
What will she give up, and what will she gain, on her journey?
With a salt and sugar witch on the loose, Salt Magic is one of those tween and young adult graphic novels that has a shaky beginning but builds to something stronger and deliciously bizarre.
Larson and Mock’s story about curses, binding promises, jealousy, love, and loneliness is worth the effort it takes to get through the first few chapters.
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
A prince by day and a princess at night. Sebastian’s parents are searching for his future bride while he lives a double life as the glamorous Lady Crystallia. Frances, his best friend and unbelievable talented tailor, is his only hope. However, Frances harbors ambitions of her own, and these are threatened by the prince’s secret. Even Lady Crystallia cannot remain in hiding indefinitely. This coming-of-age story from 2018 is perfect for tweens who enjoy romance, fashion, books about friendship, and secret adventures.
Bloom by Kevin Panetta
Two young men meet and fall in love in a bakery in this graphic novel by Savanna Ganucheau, published in 2013. Before Ari and his band can relocate to the city, however, Hector must be taught to bake. As Ari learns more about Hector and why he spends so much time at the bakery, Hector presents an unexpected challenge to Ari’s plans and his outlook on life. Bloom is a story about discovering one’s true identity and the hidden bounty that can be found when one stops looking for it. This is a great choice for a teen graphic novel, and it would also make a great beach read.
Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan
You won’t want to miss the 2022 premiere of the Amazon Prime adaptation of this time travel novel, published in 2015. A group of newspaper girls are swept up in a time-traveling adventure that takes them across dimensions and through history. These teen graphic novels are packed with action, focus on the story, and a healthy dose of science fiction. It’s not to be missed and has been recognized with numerous awards (including several Eisners, a Harvey, and numerous nominations and shortlist placements). Cliff Chang drew the illustrations for this book, and Matt Wilson and Jared K. Fletcher added color and lettering, respectively.
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
This 2014 collection of ghost stories is just the thing for a spooky Halloween read. In addition to the wildly successful “His Face All Red,” Emily Carroll has released four additional installments in this series. They can be quite long, but never terrifying. You’ll sleep with your head tucked into your chest, either out of fear of strangers or out of worry that something strange lies within those closest to you. Don’t read this right before bed, to put it plainly. Here are a few more of the top series for young adults if you’re looking to expand your reading list.
Messy Roots: A Graphic Memoir of a Wuhanese American by Laura Gao
The author writes that “Messy Roots is a hilarious, heartfelt, and deeply engaging story of their journey to find themself” as an American, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, a queer person, and a Wuhanese American in the midst of a pandemic. Quoted from I Was Their American Dream by Malaka Gharib.
Before moving to Texas, Laura spent her childhood in Wuhan, China, where she rode water buffaloes and ate stinky tofu. However, after moving to Texas, her hometown is as foreign to her as Mars is to an alien.
Laura depicts her maturation in Messy Roots as the girl who wants nothing more than to be a member of the basketball team, to get out of Chinese school, and to understand the mystery of the female gender and its effect on her heart.
Gao’s first graphic novel is a triumph of storytelling, full of insight, originality, and hilarity as it moves between the past and the present, China and the United States.
Incredible Doom by Matthew Bogart and Jesse Holden
It’s a new era, and it’s the internet age.
Allison can’t get a break from her controlling father, the stage magician. With the arrival of the family’s first computer, she is able to run away from home and join a community of like-minded individuals led by Samir.
Richard moves to a new town, leaving behind his friends and acquaintances. He finds a mysterious note in his locker with instructions on how to connect to “Evol BBS,” a dial-in bulletin board system, and there he meets a fierce punk named Tina, who completely upends his life.
This debut graphic novel for young adults is about finding community even as your world crumbles, and features unlikely alliances, first love, and minor crime sprees.
Nimona by ND Stevenson
Nimona is a young shapeshifter who acts on impulse and has a penchant for mischief. The villainous Lord Ballister Blackheart has a grudge against you. Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to cause some major destruction in their dual roles as sidekick and supervillain. The kingdom has entrusted them with a mission: disprove the heroic reputation of Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his fellow graduates of the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics.
But as Nimona’s pranks snowball into a bloody battle, Lord Blackheart comes to understand that Nimona’s abilities are just as cloudy and mysterious as her past. And he may be underestimating the danger posed by her unpredictable wild side.
In some ways, graphic novels can be compared to comic books. Here, we’ve introduced you to the various forms of graphic novels and the various names for Japanese comics.
You can always find something to read now that you know what the top graphic novels are for older kids and tweens.