Young Adult Retellings of the Classics

Georgetown LibraryStaff Picks

Young Adult Retellings of the Classics

Reimaginings of Classic Literature for Teens

Although the library constantly gets wonderful new fiction, classic literature continues to circulate well. Even readers who have not picked up a classic recently have likely read one for school. For readers who may not find the classics accessible, or just want something different, we have a variety of novels that retell classic literature. This list focuses on retellings that are written for young adults.

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
In this retelling of Persuasion, Elliot North lives in a world where genetic tinkering has divided the population. Elliot is a Luddite, a child of the social class that hid when the experiments nearly wiped out humanity. The Luddites controlled society once they remerged, including large estates and exploiting the Reduced, or those who were mentally challenged because of the tinkering. Now that Reduced are having healthy children, also known as Posts for Post-Reductions, Elliot's estate is suffering. However, Elliot remained so loyal to her family that when her childhood sweetheart, Kai, proposed four years ago, Elliot said no. Now Elliot is forced to rent part of the family estate to a group of shipbuilders called the Cloud Fleet, and she realizes that Kai, who has been gone since his proposal and is now Captain Malakai Wentworth, is among them. Those who love the romance of Persuasion and science fiction stories should read For Darkness Shows the Stars.

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Tiger Lily, who lives in the forest in Neverland, doesn't believe in happy endings. When she meets Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, who are considered enemies of her people, she immediately falls in love with Peter. The prospect of marriage to a terrible man in her tribe that makes Tiger Lily realize how uncertain her future with Peter is. Even as enemies on the island threaten to separate Peter and Tiger Lily, it is when Wendy Darling arrives that Tiger Lily realizes how kind and loving some enemies can be. Readers who have read a classic and wondered what comes before should read this retelling of Peter Pan narrated by Tinker Bell.

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger
In this reimagining of the Greek play Lysistrata, Lissa is dating Randy, the quarterback of the football team at their school, Hamilton High. The one thing that keeps getting in the way of their relationship is the rivalry between the football teams and the soccer teams. Even when Randy doesn't ditch Lissa to prank the soccer team, disaster is never far off, like Randy's car being egged while Randy and Lissa are in it. Lissa rallies the other football and soccer girlfriends and together, they form a plan: no more hookups until the rivalry is over. What Lissa doesn't plan on is the rivalry between the girls and the boys that begins. Shut Out is a lighthearted story that also explores gender politics.

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Everyone knows that Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Korasan, marries a new woman each night, only to have her murdered by strangulation in the morning. When Shahrzad's best friend is murdered by Khalid, she is determined to get revenge, so she marries Khalid with a plan to kill him. Shahrzad decides to save her own life by telling Khalid a story every night. Although she has always thought that Khalid is a monster, every moment that she spends with him makes her believe otherwise. Readers seeking lush writing and a hint of magic will love this retelling of A Thousand and One Nights.

Nevermore by Kelly Creagh
Isobel Lanley and Varen Nethers are not amused when they assigned to work together on a school project. Isobel is a cheerleader and Varen is sharp-tongued, cold, and aloof. When Isobel peeks into Varen's journal and finds a dream world where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life, she finds herself drawn to him. Isobel breaks up with her boyfriend and spending more time with Varen, and as she realizes how powerful the reality in Varen's journal is, she wonders if she can save him. Nevermore is a particularly creepy and romantic retelling of Edgar Allan Poe's work.