The "young adult fiction" classification doesn’t quite exist in French literature as it does in English, where an ever growing and already extensive corpus of novels, graphic novels, short stories and even poetry has been published under that label. Youth literature exists, via collections such as Bibliothèque Rose, but is usually aimed at people under 12. Reason for the lack of choice in this "segment" probably stems from education, as it is traditionally expected, at least in French-speaking European countries, from teenagers 12 to 16 to read, master and comment on all the most important and complex works of French literature by the time they end high school.

This said, here is a unsorted selection of a couple of titles that are:

  1. Originally published in French.

  2. Reasonably short.

  3. Written clearly and concisely, with no excentric of especially inventive use of the language.

  4. Considered important or representative of a genre, and went through the trial of time (no obscure titles).

  5. Themed around topics that have appeal to the youth (adventure, wonder, love, initiatic journeys).

The Selection

Vingt Mille Lieues sous les mers

By Jules Verne. Probably the most famous novel of the grand-daddy of modern sci-fy. A great blend of anticipation and initiatic novel.

Les Mains d’Orlac

By Maurice Renard. A Short Fantasy novel that will remind you of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Stevenson' Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. French is very pure and bare.

La Guerre du feu

By J.-H. Rosny ainé. An anticipation novel of epic proportion set into prehistoric time, that inspired two movies and countless archaeological vocations. You can even listen to it online.

La Nuit des temps

By René Barjavel. A vibrant love story embedded into a sci-fi/apocalyptic novel. All guys fall in love with Eléa, all gals with Coban.

La Naissance des dieux

By Charles & Nathalie Henneberg. This one might prove a little "hard-core". Highly recommended, but only if for somebody deep into sci-fy and having good working knowledge of Greek mythology.

La Trilogie des fourmis

By Bernard Weber. This one is a complete UFO, unlike anything else. Part scientific thriller, anticipation novel and almost documentary depiction of the ants universe.

Le Parfum d’Adam

By Jean-Christophe Ruffin. A well-made eco-thriller.