Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Young Adult Book Series Recommendations

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I have a confession: I don't like book series. I rarely find series to be worth the time it takes to read them. There are usually "filler" books or books that are just setup for something that happens later in the series. Why would I want to read those when I could read several awesome standalones?

That being said, I don't completely dismiss series! I have read a few that I adored. No regrets with these books. Here are 10 young adult and middle grade series that I highly recommend.

(I'll only give summaries of the first book in each series because spoilers!)

📚  Book Series Recommendations  📚

Arc Of A Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Young Adult Dystopia

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

Why I recommend it: Neal Shusterman is brilliant at world-building and does not shy away from difficult ethical questions. This is one of the most thought-provoking dystopias I’ve ever read. The series is packed with complicated characters. Then there’s the action and the cliff hangers. OMG, the cliff hangers. I was always desperate to know what would happen next.

The Diviners by Libba Bray

Young Adult Historical Fantasy

Evangeline O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is ecstatic. It's 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult. Evie worries he'll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far.

When the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer. As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfurl in the city that never sleeps. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

Why I recommend it: The humor! The quirky characters! The magical New York City setting! In this novel, New York is literally magical. The characters have psychic powers, and supernatural creatures stalk the streets. These books are thick, but I flew through them because I love the characters and all their adventures.

Buy it on Amazon

Creekwood by Becky Albertalli

Young Adult Romance

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Why I recommend it: This series made me (briefly) reconsider my dislike of romance books. The kids in the Creekwood series are adorable and hilarious and very relatable. Becky Albertalli really understands teenagers. These books brought back memories of the ridiculous conversations I had with my friends as a teen.

Buy it on Amazon

The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Young Adult Science Fiction

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than a speck at the edge of the universe. Now with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to evacuate with a hostile warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A plague has broken out and is mutating with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a web of data to find the truth, it’s clear the only person who can help her is the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Why I recommend it: Nonstop action! And the interpersonal drama. Imagine breaking up with your boyfriend and then becoming a refugee with him when your homes are destroyed. Then you’re both trapped on an evacuation spaceship for who knows how long. Yeah, awkward. Even though the young characters are in life-and-death danger, this series is funny. The characters have big hearts and even bigger personalities. Read it if you want to laugh.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Young Adult Fantasy

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice's life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice's grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away—by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: "Stay away from the Hazel Wood."

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother's cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

Why I recommend it: I enjoyed the heck out of this Alice in Wonderland retelling. If you like Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart A Doorway, you need to check out this series.  The Hazel Wood is a darkly compelling mystery with tons of twists. Also, it's creepy. I'm pretty sure I had a few nightmares from this one.

Buy it on Amazon

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Young Adult Dystopia

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Why I recommend it: I rarely stay awake all night to read a book, but this series kept me up way past my bedtime. It's all the dang cliffhangers! I couldn't sleep without knowing how it ended. Were you forced to read Lord Of The Flies in school? I was. The Hunger Games is like an updated version of that book. Same murderous vibes; more relevant to life in the current century.

Buy it on Amazon

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

Middle Grade Fantasy

Lyra is rushing to the cold, far North, where witch clans and armored bears rule. North, where the Gobblers take the children they steal—including her friend Roger. North, where her fearsome uncle Asriel is trying to build a bridge to a parallel world.

Can one small girl make a difference in such great and terrible endeavors? This is Lyra: a savage, a schemer, a liar, and as fierce and true a champion as Roger or Asriel could want—but what Lyra doesn't know is that to help one of them will be to betray the other.

Why I recommend it: I was obsessed with this series as a child. It may have sparked my love of parallel universe stories. I couldn't get enough of the brave characters and strange worlds. The first book, The Golden Compass, is set in a far-north land that's ruled by polar bears, ghosts, and scientists with dangerous ambitions. It's one of the most imaginative books I've ever read. The world-building is stunning. How did the author come up with all these details? It's a story you will never forget.

Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend

Middle Grade Fantasy

Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she's blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks—and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.

But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.

It's then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city's most prestigious organization: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart—an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests—or she'll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate.

Why I recommend it: It's a fun series for the whole family. Children would love the magic and humor, and there’s enough mystery to keep adults entertained. Reading this series reminded me of the excitement and joy I felt while reading Harry Potter as a kid. The books could spark some great conversations too. They subtly address everything from immigration to self-confidence.

Cassidy Blake by Victoria Schwab

Middle Grade Paranormal

Cassidy Blake's parents are The Inspectres, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.

When The Inspectres head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn't sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn't belong in her world. Cassidy's powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead.


Why I recommend it: Each book in the series takes place in a different haunted city. You'll learn the history of the cities without ever feeling like you're being educated. I’d call this series “baby horror.” There are scary moments, but most kids could probably handle it. If you know a kid who wants edgier fiction, give them this book. It’s spooky without gore or nightmare-inducing violence.


Buy it on Amazon

The Incorrigible Children Of Ashton Place by Maryrose Wood

Middle Grade Historical Fantasy

Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander, age ten or thereabouts, keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia, perhaps four or five, has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf, age somewhere-in-the-middle, is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels.

Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. Only fifteen years old and a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Penelope embraces the challenge of her new position. Though she is eager to instruct the children in Latin verbs and the proper use of globes, first she must help them overcome their canine tendencies.

But mysteries abound at Ashton Place: Who are these three wild creatures, and how did they come to live in the vast forests of the estate? Why does Old Timothy, the coachman, lurk around every corner? Will Penelope be able to teach the Incorrigibles table manners and socially useful phrases in time for Lady Constance's holiday ball? And what on earth is a schottische?

Why I recommend it: Even though I'm a very serious grownup, I loved reading about the "wolf children" and their quirky young governess. The series is full of clever writing and mysteries to solve. Were these orphans really raised by wolves? And why did grumpy Lord Ashton agree to take them into his fancy home? And why are there rumors of a curse? This series will make you smile and keep you turning pages.

Buy it on Amazon

What's your favorite young adult or middle grade book series?


  1. Arc of a Scythe is on my list of series that I need to finish!

  2. Thank you for sharing your personal list of must-read YA series. Excellent.

  3. Wonderful recommendations! I loved Scythe, Illuminae, and Hunger Games. A lot of these are on my TBR already.

  4. AJ!!! Hallooooo!! How are you doing?

    Oh I love your list and I agree with so many. The incorrigible Children, Nevermoor, City of Ghosts...

    The Illuminae Files are still on my TBR, hope to get to them soon... No idea how many decades soon are though.

    Elza Reads

  5. Simon Vs. remains one of my favorite books ever. I've read it and listened to it multiple times. Albertalli manages to totally capture those feelings and it's like, omg I remember feeling that way!

  6. Scythe has been on my TBR list for a while, I read Dry and thought it was great. Some of these other series, Hazelwood and Incorrigible Children, also look really good.

  7. I have scythe but haven't read it. what is wrong w/ me??? Illuminae is awesome. In fact gemina is one of my fave SF books.

  8. I love how varied your selections are.

    Here is our Top Ten Tuesday. Thank you!

  9. Sounds like some exciting books. I did read The Hunger Games with my daughter when she was in high school

  10. awesome list! I'd love to try maybe THE ILLUMINAE FILES, but wo, that's a huge one!

  11. I'm a fan of reading books in a series because I like to really delve into a book's world and characters. I agree, though, that sometimes certain installments can feel like fillers. I'm a Shusterman fan, but I didn't like SCYTHE, so I haven't continued with the series. HG is a great one. I'm among its many fans.

    Happy TTT!

  12. I have the THE ILLUMINAE FILES series on my TBR. I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

  13. I also really enjoyed the Hunger Game series, almost as much as the Harry Potter books. Almost. And the Scythe books are so good! I am really looking forward to reading The Gleanings.

  14. The Illuminae Files is a favorite of mine! Like you said, the series is packed with non-stop action, but also humor and a lot of heart too. The mixed format was such a winner for me as well. These are among the few physical books I insisted on reading

  15. I loved Nevermoor and need to read the others!! I also really loved The Diviners series; I still need to read the final book though. I'm not a huge fan of series because I have a hard time keeping up, but I find myself reading more of them lately. hah

    Lauren @ www.shootingstarsmag.net

  16. So many good ones! I love The Golden Compass and Scythe (and the rest of the books in those series).

  17. Such a great selection. I see so many of my favorites here, especially Arc of a Scythe, Hunger Games, and The Illuminae Files.

  18. So much in love with your list today! I have only heard of three of them (and just read part of one - The Hunger Games).. But now, I am looking forward to reading the rest as they all look like ones I will totally enjoy.. especially Ashton Place, Nevermoor, .. well, all of them actually
    My TTT is here

  19. The Hunger Games and Scythe are both big favorites for me! I really liked Illuminae too, but the last book was a bit of a letdown for me, tbh. But I feel you with series! I used to be all about them, but somewhere along the line they lost their luster a bit for me- I think because like you said, it always just seems like a lot, and like it isn't all necessary!

  20. Like you - I'm not big into book series. And I'm bad but don't read much YA. I did read The Hunger Games series though. And sometimes I'll read only the first book in a series such as : A Wrinkle in Time and Anne of Green Gables. I'm lazy that way.

  21. I used to read series all the time but I dumped them all. Trust issues lol I pretty much read stand alones only now - or just the first book in a series and move on. But there were some good ones!

    Karen @For What It's Worth