A

s the Star Wars book publishing industry has shifted and grown over the years, the Star Wars Expanded Universe has welcomed many different genres of fiction into its ranks. Though young adult (YA) Star Wars books haven’t always been a prominent staple on the shelves, this is quickly -- and successfully -- changing.

Let’s be honest: When you hear the phrase “young adult novel,” you probably automatically assume it’s a book about two teenagers who fall in love, face an obstacle, break up, and eventually find each other again before their supposed happily-ever-after.

The more YA literature expands its horizons, the more authors explore themes and circumstances that aren’t always about traditional love -- though they still can be, and some of the best YA books out there still are. YA now has its own segment within the Star Wars Expanded Universe, and authors such as Claudia Gray and E.K. Johnston have already established themselves as some of the community’s favorite Star Wars authors through their YA books.

While one Star Wars YA book stands out as a favorite among Youtini staff and our community alike, there are YA books expanding the universe for every kind of reader. From YA books by character to stories with more romantic elements to the best audiobooks of the genre, this is your expert guide to Star Wars YA and the best books it has to offer.

If you’re looking for the best Star Wars books of any genre, check out our list of the Best Star Wars Books Of All Time.

How We Review Star Wars Books

What makes a Star Wars book “good” differs for everyone -- even among different members of our staff. When rating and reviewing books, we needed to come up with a structured way to determine how to rank books in different categories to better help you decide what you want to read.

So we developed our own rating system, complete with a super-fancy algorithm that presents a clean numeric rating for every book based on detailed feedback from our selected team of book reviewers.

Here at Youtini, we rate books based on a specific list of criteria that all add up to a final score:

  • Plot
  • Characters
  • Originality
  • Writing
  • Entertainment

Every category gets its own score, and each of these individual scores add up to produce a cumulative rating out of 10.

This way, when we determine which book in a particular category is the “best,” we actually mean it. Ratings aren’t necessarily based on which books we liked or didn’t like, but instead on books that are strong in multiple categories across our rating system.

This also ensures that even if a book doesn’t have a strong plot for example, but excels in its writing and originality, it still gets a fair score and isn’t rated too low because of one weaker category.

How We Categorize Star Wars YA Books

Star Wars books published in Canon meet many of the same requirements as the YA genre as a whole. They feature characters in their teens and typically involve some form of coming-of-age narrative in which their main character must embark on a journey of self-discovery. (But it’s also Star Wars, so they’re journeys of self-discovery but also in space.)

As you read through this guide, you’ll notice there aren’t any Legends books on this list. While there are Star Wars books published before 2014 that were classified as YA, the boundaries get a little confusing when comparing those to the Star Wars YA books published since 2014.

Legends books classified as YA at their time of publication much more closely resemble books we would consider middle-grade or young readers’ books today. So while we highly recommend books such as the Young Jedi Knights series, to avoid further confusion, we’re going to leave them off this list for now and stick with YA Canon Star Wars books.

Best YA Star Wars Novel Overall

Now that you know how we rate books at Youtini and what classifies as YA in both Canon and Legends, it will make much more sense why the best YA Star Wars novel has earned that title. It’s not just a well-written book with an intriguing plot. It’s a character-driven narrative that keeps the reader turning pages from beginning to end.

Lost Stars by Claudia Gray

Lost Stars cover

To say Lost Stars is a “good” Star Wars book wouldn’t nearly do it justice. It has a little bit of everything Star Wars fans love: Space battles, forbidden romances, phantom twins, explosions -- it’s as close to perfect as any Star Wars book will ever get.

The book tells the story of two Imperial pilots struggling to define their greater purpose in the galaxy…as well as their relationship with one another. After one of them defects to the Rebel Alliance and the other stays behind, the narrative morphs into a deep look at what it really means to fight what you hate by saving what you love.

Claudia Gray somehow manages to naturally weave a heartfelt, believable romance into a book about aspiring Imperial pilots -- a feat not easily achieved, but there’s a reason that Lost Stars catapulted Gray straight to the top of the list of fan favorite writers. It doesn’t feel forced or unnecessary -- rather, it’s as important to the book’s success as every other ingredient that makes it shine.

The standout element of this Star Wars YA novel is its various tie-ins to the original trilogy. The book takes place over all three original Star Wars movies and even features well-known scenes, such as the destruction of the Death Star, from the points of view of brand-new characters.

These connections back to familiar and beloved stories make it not only the best YA Star Wars book to read, but Youtini’s most highly recommended Star Wars book overall.

For more info about Lost Stars, visit our Official Book Profile where you can find additional staff comments, user reviews, and affiliate links to order the book directly and help Youtini out in the process.

To hear a full breakdown of Lost Stars, check out our roundtable discussion on The Living Force podcast.

Best YA Book by Star Wars Character

Stack of Best YA Books by Character
Best YA Books by Character

Star Wars books are part of the Expanded Universe, aiming to tell stories that add to the lore already established in the films and TV shows. Sometimes this means these stories introduce new characters into an already familiar galaxy. Oftentimes, it means telling new stories featuring characters we already know and love.

Many -- though not all -- of the YA Star Wars books released feature well-known characters such as Padmé Amidala, Leia Organa, and Ahsoka Tano, while simultaneously introducing new characters alongside them.

Padmé Amidala

Padmé Amidala -- former Queen of Naboo and member of the Galactic Senate, and so much more -- is often cited as one of the most inspiring and tragic main characters of the Star Wars Prequel Era. 

Though many argue her story didn’t get the depth and attention it needed in the films, the Expanded Universe has rounded out her arc and the impact of her legacy better than we ever could have imagined.

Much of the credit for this added depth goes to E.K. Johnston. The author’s two YA novels centered around Padmé and her handmaidens show us just how hard the politician had to fight to make her voice heard -- and how her efforts outlived her thanks to the many allies she left behind.

Queen's Shadow Cover
Queen's Shadow by E. K. Johnston

Queen’s Shadow mostly takes place several years after Queen Amidala’s term ends and Padmé transitions to her new role as a senator on Coruscant. The book follows young Padmé as she tries to establish herself and her ideas on a larger political scale, and also introduces her to familiar characters such as Bail Organa and Mon Mothma.

For more info about Queen’s Shadow, visit our Official Book Profile where you can find additional staff comments, user reviews, and affiliate links to order the book directly and help Youtini out in the process.

Queen's Peril Cover
Queen's Peril by E. K. Johnston

Queen’s Peril is the prequel to Queen’s Shadow and partially takes place during the events of The Phantom Menace. Within Peril, Johnston further expands upon the relationships between the handmaidens and their respective relationships with Padmé. It is a celebration of teenage female friendship, complete with an in-universe boy band.

For more info about Queen’s Peril, visit our Official Book Profile where you can find additional staff comments, user reviews, and affiliate links to order the book directly and help Youtini out in the process.

Ahsoka Tano

When she first appeared on-screen in 2008, Ahsoka Tano received mixed reactions. Giving Anakin Skywalker a Padawan learner in the middle of a war? How dare they?

As The Clone Wars series progressed over the years -- and survived a cancellation, returning to the small screen with a vengeance in 2020 to finish its run with one final season -- Ahsoka became a fan-favorite character. Her decision to leave the Jedi Order on her own accord remains one of the most powerful moments in the show’s history.

Now that the series has aired its final episodes, Johnston’s third Star Wars YA novel has become a fundamental study of Ahsoka’s journey from Padawan to exile to Fulcrum agent. It remains one of few of the character’s appearances in written form, but fingers crossed there are plenty more stories to tell.

Ahsoka Cover
Ahsoka by E. K. Johnston

Ahsoka takes place exactly one year following the end of the Clone Wars, beginning with our beloved Tagruta-in-hiding dodging Imperial forces on Empire Day. Ahsoka goes by a different name these days, doing everything she can to avoid drawing unwanted attention to herself. But even though she’s no longer a Jedi, the Order’s core values can never truly leave her. There will come a moment when she must choose between staying hidden and helping those in need -- even if it costs her her life.

For more info about Ahsoka, visit our Official Book Profile where you can find additional staff comments, user reviews, and affiliate links to order the book directly and help Youtini out in the process.

Han Solo

Most Wanted Cover
Most Watned by Rae Carson

Though we got plenty of stories featuring young Han Solo in Legends, we didn’t know much about his life before A New Hope until Solo: A Star Wars Story hit theaters in 2018.

Along with this film and its novelization came another prequel novel featuring a young Han and Qi’ra before we meet them in Solo. The book not only gave more insight into Han’s motivations to leave -- and then make desperate efforts to return to -- Corellia, but also allowed readers inside Qi’ra’s head to further explain why she ends up a slave to the infamous Dryden Vos later in her life.

Most Wanted is Rae Carson’s first dive into the Star Wars universe, and she more than proves her ability to depict strong and dynamic characters in suspenseful and action-heavy storytelling. Set several years before the events of Solo, the book showcases Han and Qi’ra’s fight to stay alive and gain favor with Lady Proxima as they’re forced to embark on dangerous missions on her behalf.

For more info about Most Wanted, visit our Official Book Profile where you can find additional staff comments, user reviews, and affiliate links to order the book directly and help Youtini out in the process.

Leia Organa

Leia: Princess of Alderaan Cover
Leia: Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray

Long before she was the known daughter of Darth Vader, sister of Luke Skywalker, lover of Han Solo and mother to the boy that would one day call himself Kylo Ren, Leia Organa was a force not to be fooled -- she did plenty of that all on her own.

Posing as a loyal member of the Imperial Senate while working undercover for her father’s budding rebellion, Leia quickly found herself lost with no family, no home, but every reason in the world to keep fighting.

Before the destruction of Alderaan and the rebellion’s major stand against the Empire’s menacing Death Star, Leia was like any other galactic teenage princess: Wary of her destiny to one day take the throne and desperate for a greater purpose among the stars.

Leia: Princess of Alderaan may not have been Claudia Gray’s first addition to Star Wars YA, but it remains a highly beloved story featuring a longtime fan favorite hero. This story takes place several years before A New Hope and follow’s 16-year-old Leia as she begins to discover not only where she fits in the larger galaxy, but how she can play a significant role in whatever secret her parents are hiding from her.

For more info about Leia: Princess of Alderaan, visit our Official Book Profile where you can find additional staff comments, user reviews, and affiliate links to order the book directly and help Youtini out in the process.

Jyn Erso

Rebel Rising Cover
Rebel Rising by Beth Revis

The Empire took her parents away from her when she was just eight years old. At 16, the friend who took her in and practically raised her vanished without saying goodbye. Yet somehow, after all that pain and loss, Jyn Erso still grew up, found something to fight for, and died a hero the galaxy would never forget.

Rogue One begins with the moment young Jyn witnesses the murder of her mother -- the day her life changed forever. The story skips over a large portion of Jyn's life to line up the story’s climax perfectly with the beginning of A New Hope. But there’s a YA novel that tells the story of what happened all those years ago when Saw Garerra takes Jyn in as one of his own.

Rebel Rising is Beth Revis’ Star Wars debut, a heartbreaking journey about a young girl who must learn how to survive in a galaxy without the parents who loved and protected her for her entire life. Jyn Erso is now under the protection of Saw Gerrera, living among his rebel partisans and struggling to figure out whether or not she’s on the right side of the ongoing fight for justice.

For more info about Rebel Rising, visit our Official Book Profile where you can find additional staff comments, user reviews, and affiliate links to order the book directly and help Youtini out in the process.

Poe Dameron

Poe Dameron: Free Fall Cover
Poe Dameron: Free Fall by Alex Segura

He’s a pilot -- that’s his thing. If it’s not a fast ship, he’s not interested. Poe Dameron grew up around starfighters; it’s hard not to when your mother is a renowned veteran pilot who fought in the Galactic Civil War. While she was alive, he dreamed of flying alongside her. After she died, he flew to honor her memory -- and her legacy.

We know Poe Dameron of the sequel trilogy as a skilled pilot with a habit of questioning authority. He wants to do things his way, and part of his character arc involves learning that being a leader means you can’t always depend on yourself to know the best tactics in every situation.

In The Rise of Skywalker, audiences learned that Poe Dameron used to be a spice runner. Alex Segura’s debut Star Wars YA novel expands further upon that revelation.

Poe Dameron: Free Fall is Alex Segura’s Star Wars easter egg-filled YA novel about an aspiring pilot who just wants to get off his boring homeworld and have an adventure. Leave it to Zorii and her gang of spice runners to find themselves trapped on Yavin 4 in dire need of a pilot who won’t ask too many questions (well, they got the pilot, at least). Young Poe Dameron needs to learn an important lesson about family, sacrifice, and what doing the right thing truly means.

For more info about Rebel Rising, visit our Official Book Profile where you can find additional staff comments, user reviews, and affiliate links to order the book directly and help Youtini out in the process.

Best YA Star Wars Books Featuring Original Characters

Several YA Star Wars books have expanded the universe even further by adding completely original characters in their stories. Just like Lost Stars, these books feature characters that had previously never appeared in the galaxy, and certainly have the potential to do so again in future stories.

Force Collector Cover
Force Collector by Kevin Shinick

Force Collector was released as part of the Journey to The Rise of Skywalker publishing initiative, and there’s a reason for that. In its own unique way, the book celebrates every era of The Skywalker Saga thanks to its main character, Carr, seeing visions of the past through the objects he touches.

In classic YA fashion, Force Collector places Carr in front of many obstacles throughout his journey as he begins to accept who he is, where he comes from, and his true purpose in the larger universe.

For more info about Force Collector, visit our Official Book Profile where you can find additional staff comments, user reviews, and affiliate links to order the book directly and help Youtini out in the process.

A Crash of Fate Cover
A Crash of Fate by Zoraida Cordova

A Crash of Fate is one of two books released as part of the official launch of Galaxy’s Edge, but it puts a unique spin on a story that could have easily focused too much on marketing Batuu and Black Spire to its audience.

The book features two new characters, Jules and Izzy -- childhood friends who are separated and brought back together by, quite literally, a fateful starfighter crash. Zoraida Córdova’s Star Wars debut offers a much-needed glimpse into what a galaxy at war looks like through the eyes of the young, fearful, and determined to survive.

For more info about A Crash of Fate, visit our Official Book Profile where you can find additional staff comments, user reviews, and affiliate links to order the book directly and help Youtini out in the process.

Best YA Star Wars Romance Novels

In Star Wars, romance weaves through stories at varying degrees of intensity. Han and Leia’s journey from barely being able to exist in the same enclosed space to standing with each other through the worst life had to offer -- even when a galaxy apart -- developed over multiple films and in-universe decades.

While many Star Wars books feature romantic elements in some capacity -- Leia: Princess of Alderaan pairs its protagonist princess with a charming yet questionable significant other, though it clearly didn’t last long -- some YA novels in particular could technically fall under the romance category, if we were to split Star Wars books up by fictional genre.

  • Most Wanted isn’t your traditional romance novel, but it does focus heavily on the developing relationship between Qi’ra and Han, who both depend on Lady Proxima and her minions for survival. The book sets up the tragic romance woven throughout Solo.
  • Lost Stars quickly turns into an “enemies to lovers” romance as Thane and Ciena find themselves fighting on opposite sides of a deadly civil war. How much will each have to risk to protect the other from their allies?
  • A Crash of Fate reunites childhood friends Jules and Izzy on the streets of Batuu, leaving them to question whether or not they can fall in love in a galaxy so heavily plagued by war.

Best YA Star Wars Character Studies

Stack of Queen's Peril and Queen's Shadow
YA Star Wars Character Studies

Not all Star Wars YA books heavily feature romantic storylines, and many that don’t also keep the fast-paced action at a minimum. These YA novels focus primarily on developing their characters and the relationships that help them along their journeys of self-discovery and victory over evil.

  • Queen’s Peril & Queen’s Shadow both focus mainly on the relationships between Padmé Amidala and her handmaidens. Queen’s Peril especially puts most of its emphasis on the handmaidens themselves and how they each contribute to the unsuccessful Separatist occupation of Naboo.
  • Ahsoka is an in-depth look at Ahsoka Tano’s struggle to survive in a galaxy where using the Force could lead to her execution. It showcases her need to help the innocent, her intolerance for injustice, and her strong connection to the Force as a weapon against hatred and evil.
  • Poe Dameron: Free Fall is arguably as much of a Zorii book as it is a Poe book. The story spends many of its pages exploring the inner conflicts and desires of its two main characters, making them highly relatable and intriguing.

Best YA Star Wars Audiobooks

There’s more than one way to experience a Star Wars book. If you’re on the go and want to keep up with the latest new Star Wars book releases, an audiobook is a perfect way to consume these narratives. Star Wars audiobooks are known for their high production quality, complete with familiar music and sounds effects and stellar narration.

While there are many unforgettable narrators behind some of the best Star Wars audiobooks, several of them add a unique element to the experience: They’re narrated by the voice actors behind the characters you already know and adore.

The best YA Star Wars audiobook and its runner-up are both products of the brilliant mind of E.K Johnston and narrated by the voice actors who first brought each stories’ animated characters to life.

Queen’s Shadow

Queen’s Shadow offers a deeper look into Padmé’s past, following her as she struggles to fit in among her new colleagues in the Republic Senate. Why not hear the story from Padmé Amidala herself?

Catherine Taber courtesy of IMDb
Image Credit: IMDb

The audiobook is narrated by Catherine Taber, who voiced Padmé in The Clone Wars. Hearing Padmé narrate the story chapter by chapter makes the listening experience both more immersive and more enjoyable than simply reading the words on a page.

Runner-up: Ahsoka

The Ahsoka novel serves as a bridge between the two Ahsokas we know: The former Jedi who survived Order 66 and the secret rebel agent that saves Ezra Bridger from the ruthless hands of Darth Vader.

Ashley Eckstein courtesy of Disney Youth
Image Credit: Disney Youth

Ashley Eckstein, the original voice of Ahsoka, brings even more emotion and heartbreak into the narrative as she recounts Ahsoka’s memories and narrates her journey from exile to rebel.

If you’re considering giving one of these audiobooks a try, make sure you take advantage of the free Star Wars audiobook download you get when you sign up for Audible through Youtini.

Before you judge a Star Wars book by its size (Canon YA books are, after all, a little smaller in stature than their adult counterparts), consider the unique elements YA stories have to offer fans of a galaxy far, far away. Not all YA books are romance-heavy. Not all of them are more character-focused than your average Star Wars film.

Star Wars YA books offer a variety of stories for readers of varying ages. Start with a character you already enjoy, or an era or type of story you tend to gravitate toward, and go from there. 

Even if not all these books are your style, there’s likely another Star Wars book with similar qualities outside the YA genre out there just waiting to be explored. Browse our reading collections to discover your next read by searching for a character, author, or theme that interests you most.

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