Sometimes, life gets complicated and we all need an escape. Each generation has its share of magical tales that help us do exactly that. Part of what makes the fantasy genre so impactful is its ability to push the boundaries of incredible storytelling, expand our imaginations, and explore new worlds, helping us cope with the pressures of reality. I’ve collected a few of my favorite young adult fantasy books for you to find your escape. Happy reading!
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (1911)
The story of Peter Pan centers around three siblings who are forced to grow up and live under the thumb of their strict father. However, the hero Peter Pan takes them to Never Land, giving them the opportunity to escape their overwhelming reality. Just as L. Frank Baum places emphasis on a story of a child wanting escape in The Wizard of Oz, so does Barrie with Peter Pan.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (1950)
In this book, Lucy and her siblings are sent away to a country house during the air raids of World War 2, which catapults into an adventure in a magical land. In addition to war, this book, like Tony DiTerlizzi’s The Spiderwick Chronicles and Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, deals with moving to another place.
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (1977)
Not many fantasy and young adult novels deal with bullying, neglect, or even loss as much as Bridge to Terabithia. Seeing protagonists Jesse and Leslie form their own realm represents how we as children want to escape a neglecting world.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (1997)
At the start of this book, Harry Potter, like a multitude of fantasy protagonists, wants escape, as he spends his days living with his abusive aunt and uncle, as well as his bullying cousin. Harry’s life is turned upside down when the benevolent giant Hagrid takes him to a special school for witches and wizards – a place where he finds his sense of belonging.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan (2005-2009)
In this series, Percy Jackson, like Harry Potter, is an outcast and misjudged because of his dyslexia and ADHD. In addition, he has to live with his unfriendly stepfather. All that changes when he enters Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp for demigods and a place where people with gifts are judged not by their problems but by their capabilities.