It's hard to say what to define "underrated" as... Dictionary.com defines the word as "to rate or evaluate too low; underestimate." So I suppose that a book could be read a hundred million times, but because of its low rating on Goodreads or Amazon be considered "underrated" by some. But I think what most people mean when they say a book is underrated is that not many people have read it. It doesn't have a lot of buzz -- it's an amazing book that not a lot of people are talking about.
There was an article a few weeks ago that talked about "underrated book series" that YA readers should read. I understand it was from community suggestions, and while I may not have a firm definition on what an "underrated book" is, I do know that if I see a book on the New York Times Bestsellers list or a movie based on that series, it's definitely not underrated.
So in that spirit I've gathered a list of books that I believe are amazing books, well worth reading, that just happen to have a lower amount of ratings on Goodreads. I tried to stick with books that had 5,000 or fewer ratings. Some have more, and some have way less. I've also included a few series where the first book was fairly well read, but by the next (or last) book the numbers went down drastically.
Without further ado, here are my first picks, with statistics gathered the week of April 6...
Underrated Young Adult Novels:
Waiting for the Storm by Marie Landry [108 ratings, 4.20 average]
My heart, it aches. Everyone who is at all a fan of contemp YA stories needs to stop and read this masterpiece. Full disclosure that I consider Marie a friend, but I was reading her books before I got to know her as a fellow Canadian blogger. This is a quiet and emotional story about dealing with grief and change. It’s a great family story, but it also contains an incredibly swoony romance.
Relic by Renee Collins [462 ratings, 3.67 average]
Magical, exciting, and unique. Relic is a Western style alternate history involving magic relics (bones of long dead magical creatures). There’s a mystery which the main character has very high stakes in, and some light romantic elements.
Exile by Kevin Emerson [634 ratings, 3.61 average]
This book has a great concept, and it’s executed beautifully. You have a girl who’s worrying about her romantic relationship, who’s working hard to truly manage a band (she goes to a performing arts high school where this is taken Very Seriously), and she’s helping to solve a mystery involving a dead rocker. Everything is so well done, and I had a blast reading this one.
How I Lost You by Janet Gurtler [801 ratings, 3.78 average]
How have so few people read this book?! I am actually hurt by this. Janet writes some absolutely amazing contemporary YA, reminiscent of Sarah Dessen, Elizabeth Scott, and Deb Caletti. This book is probably my favourite of hers, a great story about a toxic friendship. It features a girl who wants to be a college paintball player, which is definitely something I haven't seen before. It also has a very sweet romance featuring an incredibly nice guy.
Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer [1,231 ratings, 3.65 average]
As the title declares, this is a book about rivalry. It’s about female friendship and the complexities of that, especially in high school. It’s also about a competitive singing group, which is done so well. Bonus points for a full on nerd boy character and awesome mentions of fanfiction and dorky online hobbies.
Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley [2,854 ratings, 4.01 average]
Sam is one of the first girls to attend Denmark Military Academy, and her story is not an easy one to read. I was absolutely enthralled with this book, flipping the pages as fast as I could, but I also can’t remember when a book made me more angry -- in a good way, sort of? The author’s writing was so powerful and the treatment Sam receives so despicable that I was practically shaking with anger for a lot of the book. This is a compelling read about an incredibly strong girl (not just talking physically, either).
Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally [3,363 ratings, 4.08 average]
I feel like Miranda Kenneally gets pretty good buzz in the YA blogger community for her amazing contemp YA romances. But this book has less than 10% the amount of readers Catching Jordan does, which is a huge shame because it's an AMAZING book. This is another book which portrays grief and loss beautifully. Miranda's books are always smart, interesting, and swoony, but this is really one of my favourites of hers, if not the favourite.
Amplified by Tara Kelly [4,589 ratings, 3.75 average]
Tara Kelly is the best at writing about music. You can tell that she loves it just by the way her characters love and describe it. I loved how lively and fun the band in this book was, and I absolutely adored the romance. Love/hate chemistry and flirty banter? Yes please!
Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson [6,537 ratings, 3.80 average]
This is a genre-bending read which thoroughly caught my attention. I loved the general setting (Sudbury, ON, Canada) and the more direct setting (mental institution!). I can't really say much more about this book because it has a certain twist to it, but know that it is incredibly interesting and compulsively readable.
Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen [Book 1: 14,134 ratings, 4.01 average; Book 2: 3,307 ratings, 4.11 average]
This is a book with a decently high amount of readers where the amount of readers for Book 2 drastically dropped. What happened? Was it readers who didn't mesh with the dialogue style of the book? Was it just less marketing that led people to forget about the series? Either way it needs to be remedied, because while Scarlet is a great book, Lady Thief may be even better. You NEED to read this book where Will Scarlet is actually Scarlet, a girl, with another secret identity under her belt. I'm incredibly excited for the series closer to release on May 19.