My Recipe For The Perfect YA Fantasy Book

Top Ten Tuesday (12)

So this is pretty self explanatory but this post is going to be about all of the elements I personally think would make up the perfect YA Fantasy book! These are things that will guarantee a 5 star rating from me! I’m thinking this may be a sort of series of posts I’ll do and just switch up the genres so we’ll see how this one goes first. I’m not really sure if this counts more as a discussion post, bookish list, or just a random post!

I will also provide examples of books I feel embody these “ingredients”Β  perfectly and will also link reviews if I have them! This post is also very similar to another I did that

Also I’ll be using quite a few gifs so if you don’t like gifs….well….don’t continue on then because there are more than a few and they’re lame but also perfect!

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World Building

Yes most fantasy books have world building but the key thing for me is that it’s well developed and complex world building. I want to know every detail about the world the story is set in from the land to the cultures, tell me everything! It just isn’t fantasy unless the author can thoroughly transport me into the world they’ve created.

I also want it to be unique and creative, I don’t like reading about the same ‘ol things that are overused in every YA fantasy book. I want different groups of people with unique features or ways of life, magic, creatures, kingdoms, everything! I could care less about a female heroine staying cooped up in a castle all day and fretting over boys and ball gowns.

Example: “Nevernight” by Jay Kristoff

Unique Mythology

This one goes hand in hand with the world building but I do find that while a book may have good world building it may not necessarily have any mythology of its world. I like when stories are provided about why certain events occurred or stories about the gods and deities that might inhabit the world or even tales of ancient heroes and battles. I feel original mythology (or mythology based off of “real” mythology) really adds a whole lot more to the world building.

Example: “Stormdancer” by Jay Kristoff

Strong, Badass Characters

I don’t know about you guys but I don’t like my YA fantasy books full of helpless damsels, I like strong and badass characters who prove their badassness! This could also go towards well-developed and three dimensional characters in general as well, because a good fantasy book needs fleshed out characters.

Image result for you're a badass gif

Example: “And I Darken” by Kirsten White (I know technically this is historical fiction but let’s let it slide…)

Crazy Plot Twists!

Everyone loves a good plot twist, it keeps things interesting and sets the pacing of the book. I personally love when there’s revenge, betrayal, and even court intrigue (mind games!) in my YA fantasy because I feel it gives the characters a lot more drive. I can’t tell you how disappointed I get when there isn’t at least a LITTLE bit of a revenge or betrayal story in a fantasy book!

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Example: “The Winner’s Curse” by Marie Rutkoski

Mythological Creatures and/or Animal Companions

What can I say? I’m an animal lover and therefore it just makes sense that I love the inclusion of fantastic beasts and animal companions in my YA Fantasy! I feel it makes the world a lot more immersive when there are creatures from myth included because it just feeds the imagination more, fantasy IS all about escape from reality after all. Also talking animal companions, who doesn’t wish animals could talk?

Example: “Stormdancer” by Jay Kristoff



Now first of all I’m definitely not saying a YA fantasy book HAS to have magic to be incredible because it most certainly does not, I personally just love having it included. However, it has to be well done! I like when the magic system is really creative and unique and is NOT all powerful, because magic does have consequences after all. The example I’m using is “The Impostor Queen” because it embodies all of those perfectly, the magic system is unique and powerful but not all powerful it comes at great cost.

Example: “The Impostor Queen” by Sarah Fine

NO Romance!

(Or it at least has to be well done)

I get really sick and tired of YA fantasy books that get muddled down in tropes such as love triangles and insta-love or plots that centralize around the romance instead of vice versa. So for me, ideally, a YA Fantasy would have zero romance or at least one that isn’t riddled with tropes and doesn’t take over the entire plot.

Image result for no chick flick moments gif

Examples: “The Forbidden Wish” by Jessica Khoury & “Half a King” by Joe Abercrombie

Even/Fast Pacing

Who hates slow pacing in books?

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Me! This is kind of just how I feel with every book in general but it definitely feels like a lot of YA fantasy books get really bogged down with world building and details sometimes that the pacing is super slow. So I like some fast paced YA fantasy!

Example: “Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo

Attention Grabbing Beginning

This almost goes hand in hand with the pacing I mentioned above but how am I supposed to be interested in the world you’ve created if your story doesn’t grab my attention immediately? Let’s get thrown right into the nitty gritty (but also maybe have a little explanation too…no one likes being completely lost)!

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Example: “Kingdom of Ash and Briars” by Hannah West

Morally Gray Characters

You can’t really have wonderful plot twists unless you have some morally grey characters in the mix because they definitely spice things up! Who can you trust? No one! I love how thrilling it is being unable to guess a “gray character’s” intentions or actions it really adds the element of surprise and shock factor to your twists because they’re all the harder to see coming. I also like to be torn between characters like that because I’m weird and like pain apparently.

Example: “Half a King” by Joe Abercrombie

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Do you agree with any of my “ingredients”?

Are there any “ingredients” in making the perfect YA fantasy that you felt I missed?

What makes up the perfect YA fantasy book for you?

Let me know in the comments!

The Sassy

20 thoughts on “My Recipe For The Perfect YA Fantasy Book

  1. thewisegreek March 22, 2017 / 5:15 pm

    I think romantic subplots can be good for a book or series of books. The Mortal Instruments and one of J.K Rowling’s books had a romantic subplot. I think it makes books seem more real, and if the romance actually helps move the main story along then that makes it even better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thesassygeek April 5, 2017 / 3:50 pm

      I definitely agree, what I meant in this post was that usually with YA books the romance takes over any sort of story-line and that’s when I personally don’t enjoy it. If it’s well done I’ll enjoy the book more like you said but usually I find I’d rather have no romance then one that is the sole focus of the story and is full of tropes.


  2. Sydney @ Fire and Rain Books March 22, 2017 / 5:38 pm

    This list of ingredients is perfect! I particularly like the morally gray characters. It’s so much more exciting when you can’t decide if the character is a good guy or a bad guy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • thesassygeek April 5, 2017 / 3:51 pm

      I know right? That’s exactly why I added it! So glad you agree, I find that it makes the story and characters all the more unpredictable. πŸ™‚


  3. Zezee March 22, 2017 / 6:51 pm

    I almost thought Jay Kristoff would rule the examples part. That proved to me that I really need to read his books. I agree with all these except the slow pace part. I don’t mind it if it’s slow for a good reason, say, detailed world building or something.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thesassygeek April 5, 2017 / 3:54 pm

      Trust me, it was very hard to NOT let Jay Kristoff rule all of the examples! I could have easily used him for all of these but I told myself I have to keep it a little diverse haha! I always highly recommend his books.
      I agree with you, I can sacrifice fast pacing if the world building and plot are detailed and well written but of course in my “perfect” book I’d have all of that! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    • thesassygeek April 5, 2017 / 3:56 pm

      Thank you so much! I’m glad you agree my “ingredients”, I must say you have excellent taste, haha! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. sophiethestark March 23, 2017 / 3:51 pm

    YES, all of it! Except for the romance part… I *need* my romance XD But it needs to be done well πŸ™‚
    Loved this post, Heather!

    Liked by 1 person

    • thesassygeek April 5, 2017 / 3:58 pm

      Thank you!
      I can handle YA romances if they’re well done, like you said, but a lot of the time they’re so full of tropes and I can’t stand those! So of course I’d like my YA romance free in that case but if it’s done well and doesn’t take over the plot completely (in fantasy anyways) I love it! πŸ™‚


  5. ashley March 24, 2017 / 10:14 am

    I honestly haven’t read too much YA fantasy. But Lord of the Rings fits all of these things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thesassygeek April 24, 2017 / 8:41 am

      It definitely does, I haven’t read “The Lord of the Rings” yet but the movies are my favorite! It really is the perfect Fantasy! πŸ™‚


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  7. Rachel (Bookish Rachel) June 21, 2017 / 3:51 pm

    I love the idea of no triangles in a YA fantasy. I’m fine with romance, but I would love to read more books with just one relationship for the main character. Divergent did a nice job with that, from what I remember, but that’s not exactly fantasy.

    Nice Dean gif, by the way. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    • Heather @ The Sassy Book Geek June 26, 2017 / 3:24 pm

      Yes, so much agreeing! It’s not that I hate romance in YA fantasy it’s just that most of the time it’s filled with tropes like the love triangle and that’s when it annoys me.

      Thanks, I knew that Dean gif would be perfect for what I was talking about! πŸ™‚


      • Rachel (Bookish Rachel) June 26, 2017 / 4:46 pm

        Oh yes, I don’t hate romance (really, I prefer a romance in books most of the time), but I hate triangles where there isn’t a clear cut “best” option. I end up liking the unpopular one haha.

        Dean gifs are always a perfect choice.


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