7 YA Retellings Of Classic Stories

If it weren’t for retellings of stories from long ago that desperately need fresher takes, we wouldn’t have Disney…

Beastly cover

Do you know what’s better than reliving the classic stories we grew up loving? Retelling them with fresh new perspectives! I mean, for example, where would we be without Clueless, which is the modern-day – to the 1990s, that is – film adaptation of Jane Austin’s 1815 novel Emma? Or any of the films adapted from Shakespeare plays, such as She’s The Man, 10 Things I Hate About You, or West Side Story, the last of which first spawned a smash hit musical?!

In fact, if you really think about it, if it weren’t for retellings of stories from long ago that desperately need fresher takes, we wouldn’t have Disney… There is nothing like bringing all of the classics we’re familiar with into the present day while putting these well-known characters with a more diverse cast.

So, here are seven YA retellings of classic stories with compelling contemporary twists that we seriously can’t stop rereading ourselves!


1. The Dead Queens Club – Hannah Capin


The Dead Queens Club book cover

Image via Amazon

Have you heard of the new musical on Broadway called Six, a pop concert-ified modern retelling of the lives of Henry VIII’s six wives? Well, now we have a book for it, falling under the YA genre! Here, Henry is the “king” of Lancaster High, bearing the number 8 jersey, and the story is told by his best friend Cleves, a.k.a. girlfriend number four, who surprisingly came out on the other end with no damage at all from Henry, which is very unlike the other girls, who are all very different and who you will get to know more about by visiting this club.


2. Beastly – Alex Flinn


Beastly book cover

Image via Amazon


This one’s my personal favorite on this list, mainly because it’s the only one here I’ve read, and it retells the story of my all-time favorite Disney movie! (I can relate to this book’s Belle character Lindy so well, but considering how her father is portrayed here, not too well…)

So, if you want to see a young prince-like popular boy that’s been turned by a teen-disguised witch into a beast, an appearance to match the beast within himself, to only turn back into his princely self by learning how to love via his Belle (yes, Lindy), then I personally recommend this one!!



3. Ronit & Jamil – Pamela L. Laskin


Ronit & Jamil book cover

Image via Amazon

You can tell by the name of this book just which classic was put into it, but in this case, Ronit’s the girl and Jamil’s the boy, and here’s a much larger twist to the classic tale: Ronit, an Israeli girl, and Jamil, a Palestinian boy, both separated by a concrete blockade and generations of conflict, so forget Verona and a conflict that’s just between two grudging families!

While their fathers, both working in a distrusting yet mutual business arrangement, were the ones that brought this young pair together, they will inevitably have to choose between their lives or their loves.

So, I would say that a lot more is at stake here than the had the original R&J!


4. Geekerella – Ashley Poston


Geekerella book cover

Image via Barnes & Noble


Let’s just say that this book’s title is a no-brainer to figuring out what inspired it, and given the whole synopsis, it would be for anyone who grew up loving to read and/or watch the story of Cinderella and anyone who loved reading Rainbow Rowell’s YA novel Fangirl, as this is both of those wrapped up into one – and it’s about cosplay!

(And considering that I loved both stories, sign me up!)

If I had to give the synopsis of this in only one sentence, it would very much be like Another Cinderella Story with Selena Gomez and Drew Seeley (a Cinderella reincarnation that I also loved), but in this case, with the characters dressed in cosplay outfits at a sort-of Comic-Con and competing for a meet-and-greet with this story’s prince starring in a sci-fi series reboot, instead of them wearing dresses and suits with barely concealing masks and dancing at a high school masquerade-themed ball.


5. As I Descended – Robin Talley


As I Descended book cover

Image via Amazon

It’s not every day when you happen to come across a Macbeth retelling, especially when The Lion King is a combined retelling of Hamlet and Le Morte d’Arthur, but this is it: a story where “fair is foul and foul is fair” as power couple Lily and Maria plot to take down the legend of Acheron Academy, Delilah Dufrey, so that they don’t have to be afraid of coming out to the whole school. Also, her Cawdor Kingsley Prize, scholarship included, would go to Maria instead, locking in her dreams of going to Stanford and sharing a room with Lily.

However, as they get deeper and deeper into these “unclean” and “spotted” deeds, they soon discover that they are not the only ones with dark secrets to hide and prefer to keep hidden.

I have to say that this has to be the most unique retelling of not just Macbeth, a typical retelling of which I had never seen before (not counting any typical production of the original play), but maybe of any classic story – aside from Clueless, that is – because I don’t think I ever would’ve been able to guess this to be a story inspired by Macbeth



6. Ordinary Girls – Blair Thornburgh


Ordinary Girls book cover

Image via Amazon

This one tells the story about two sisters with polarizing personalities and ideals, as well as the struggles they’re currently facing, without their father, but with each other and with themselves, as they discover that who they are doesn’t match up with what he said they were.

Now, look at the sisters and their personalities: older sister Ginny, high-strung with a bit of a bubbly personality; and Plum, social outcast (by choice) with a bit more jaded personality, as well as an unlikely friendship with the well-known jock in her grade.

If you’ve guessed this to be a retelling of Jane Austin’s Sense & Sensibility, then you’ve guessed right! The battle of heart and mind! These sisters couldn’t be any more different from each other, yet if they learn to come together instead of break apart after dealing with their dad’s death in their own ways, then they’re not so different after all…


7. Pride – Ibi Zoboi


Pride book cover

Image via Amazon

And getting back to Jane Austin, I (along with the alphabetical order of the authors’ last names) decided that the most hyped-up modern retelling will be placed last of this list: Pride, as opposed to the original story’s title Pride & Prejudice.

(Fun fact: I read another retelling back in middle school, which is centered mainly around prom, as it was aptly called Prom & Prejudice. Not sure how I would feel about it now if I got around to rereading it, but I definitely enjoyed it at the time, and it was my official introduction to the original story!)

This one sets Austin’s most popular story in Brooklyn and centers around an Afro-Latina girl named Zuri Benitez (the Lizzie Bennet of our story here) who has pride in herself and everything she has in her life. However, when the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, this may stir up trouble, and not just for increased gentrification in her neighborhood: her older sister Janae falls head over heels for charming Ainsley and Zuri can’t stand his brother Darrius… at least at first…

And also take into account her other sisters pulling her every which way, college applications, and another cute boy who actually wants her to notice him, and all of this mayhem could make or break her.

Will all her pride be enough?


Not sure about you, but I really want to read all of the picks on this list (and even reread Beastly another time)! Which one do you want to give a try that puts another spin on a classic story?


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Featured Image via Goodreads