Genre Guide

Sci-Fi

Stories in which science, technology, space, and/or the future are central themes.
Examples: Star Trek, Illuminae by Amie Kaufmann and Jay Kristoff

Fantasy

A story where myth and impossibilities abound, other worlds are explored, characters may have magical powers. Anything is possible.
Examples: Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Alien

Incorporates beings from other worlds (usually a sub-genre of Sci-Fi).
Examples: I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore, The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

Fairy Tales

Stories that draw from fairy tales, such as Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast or that draw on common fairy tale tropes.
Examples: Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Mythology

Draw from myths, often incorporating gods and goddesses.
Examples: Percy Jackson & The Olympians by Rick Riordan, Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

Time Travel

A story that spans across two or more time periods in which the same character is able to move freely between these periods.
Examples: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, Doctor Who

Space Opera

A story with a melodramatic adventure set mainly or entirely in space, generally involving a conflict between opponents possessing powerful (and sometimes quite extraordinary) technologies and abilities. Settings, characters, battles, powers, and themes tend to be very large-scale.
Examples: Star Wars, Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Epic Fantasy

A subset of fantasy where the stakes are high and the protagonist goes on a quest of grand proportions.
Examples: The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan, Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Dystopic

A story set in an imaginary society where social or technological trends have culminated in a greatly diminished quality of life or degradation of values.
Examples: Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Steampunk

An adventure set in a world with themes based on 19th century society and steam-operated machines.
Examples: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, A Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Contemporary

A story that takes place in the modern world, with no magical, mystical, or otherworldly elements. This means that the internet, iPhones, and Starbucks coffee exist, vampires, magic, and flying cars do not.
Examples: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

Summer

Usually a subset of contemporary novels, these are stories set during warm months, usually with a vacation or beach read feel.
Examples: Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen, The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

School

Stories that unfold in or around school settings or with school related scenarios and problems.
Examples: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

Holiday

Stories centered around a specific holiday setting such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines Day, etc.  
Examples: My True Love Gave to Me by Various Authors, Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Issue

Stories that deal with hardships and challenges such as death, addiction or bullying.
Examples: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Family

Stories centered around relationships between teens and their parents, siblings, and other family members.
Examples: How to Say I Love You Out Loud by Karole Cozzo, Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Friendship

Stories with a central theme of friendships: gaining them, losing them, or discovering who your true friends are.
Examples: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares, Meg & Linus by Hanna Nowinski

Adventure

A story with a plotline with the highest of stakes – often life and death. These can include solving murders, going off to war, defeating serial killers, joining a band of pirates, surviving zombie hordes or defeating an evil empire. The point is that the tension and stakes are not solely emotional.

Mystery

A story in which there is a secret or problem that needs to be discovered or solved.. May include a crime, investigators, a process to uncover the crime, and finally the identification of the culprit. Elements of suspense and intrigue drive the story forward.
Examples: Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard, Veronica Mars

Horror

A story that is meant to frighten the audience, whether it unfolds in an overtly terrifying setting or a more subtle atmospheric darkness.
Examples: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Thriller

A story that has elements similar to a mystery, but instead of the focus being on solving the issue, it focuses on escaping from a known danger or rescuing someone that you know is in danger.
Examples: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver, Taken (yes, the Liam Neeson movie)

Paranormal

A story that includes characters that have some kind of magical feature. Heroines with psychic or magic powers who also have to go to school, boyfriends that live on blood, villains that also happen to be dead, all of these tend to fall under paranormal. The plot of the story will usually be influenced by this magical feature.
Examples: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia

Angel/Demon

A story that incorporates the paranormal element of angels and/or demons.
Examples: Fallen by Lauren Kate, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Faerie

A story that incorporates the paranormal element of faeries.
Examples: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa, The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Ghosts

A story that incorporates the paranormal element of ghosts or spectres.
Examples: The Mediator Series by Meg Cabot, Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley

Werewolf/Shifter

A story that incorporates the paranormal element of shape-shifting animals such as werewolves.
Examples: Shiver by Maggie Stievfater, Teen Wolf

Vampire

A story that incorporates the paranormal element of vampires.
Examples: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, The Vampire Diaries

Witch

A story that incorporates the paranormal element of witches.
Examples: The Secret Circle Series by L.J. Smith, The Craft

LGBTQIA

Novels in which LGBTQIA characters and relationships are central to the plot.
Examples:  If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo, More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

New Adult

Stories with protagonists aged 18 to 23 years old. Think college, not high school. But also not adult. So maybe it’s the second time you fall in love, or it can be a new set of firsts, like the first time that you have to live on your own or the experience of being in a college dorm or your first drunken frat party. We wrote a blog post with more details on this.
Examples: Losing It by Cora Carmack, The Deal by Elle Kennedy

Romance

A story in which the central plot centers around falling in love.
Examples: Kiss Cam by Kiara London, My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Historical

A story recognizably set in the past, and influenced by that time period. These books usually involve a lot of research, and will incorporate the customs, dress, manners, and level of technological advancement of the time and place the book is set in. These are usually based in times and locations that actually existed on earth at one point, versus creating a new world from scratch.
Examples: Love, Lies & Spies by Cindy Anstey, Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco