12 YA Book Series (To Introduce You To New Genres)

I remember the shift. I’d dabbled in dystopia and a bit of fantasy (well, mostly just Harry Potter), but never had I ventured into literary outer space. But all it took was one series to suck me in and have my husband saying things like, “Are you reading that cyborg fairy tale book?”—which was something I never thought I’d hear.

That series captivated me with a fun plot and characters I cared about and a span of books to feed my desire to spend more time with them. Somewhere along the way, I realized I actually liked this genre, and began picking up more books that were categorized as sci-fi/space operas (i.e. not hard science), especially if they were also YA (young adult).

The idea of adults reading books written for a teenage audience is a fairly mainstream idea by now. If you know me at all, you know that I’m a big proponent of reading what makes you happy, and YA literature is my sweet spot for a variety of reasons.

What I started realizing was that reading more YA across the board was also helping me broaden my reading genres, and I attribute that to the fact that the YA shelves are chock-full of series, no matter the genre you’re looking for. They’re also very accessible, easy to read, and easy to get into.

If you’re looking to expand your reading horizons, here are some of my favorite series that could be an entry point into a new genre that you might not have normally tried, let alone enjoyed. (And if you’re not sure if you’re ready to venture out, here’s a great set of reasons why you might want to try reading other genres).

These are listed by name of series, which is sometimes the name of the first book, and sometimes an overarching series name.

Sci-fi/Space Opera

  • The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (A uniquely formatted series that is flat-out fantastic. I haven’t listened yet, but the audio is award-winning, too.)
  • The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer (This is the above-mentioned cyborg fairy tale series. Just trust me; it sounds weird but is so good.)

Dystopian

  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (On the off-chance you haven’t read this, you should do it immediately if you have any interest in dystopian lit.)
  • Arc of a Scythe series by Neal Shusterman (If the synopsis scares you, just trust me on this; it’s SO good. But caveat: the 3rd book in the series is not yet published.)
  • Bonus rec: If you like The Bachelor, check out The Selection series by Kiera Cass.

Mystery

  • Charlotte Holmes by Brittany Cavallaro (Book 4 in the series comes out in March in this gender-swapped Sherlock Holmes retelling.)
  • Trouble series by Stephanie Tromly (This series has a great hodge-podge crew of friends and also a Sherlockian feel with a twist of Veronica Mars.)

Contemporary

  • To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (This one is very popular right now because of the adorable Netflix original movie following book 1; the sequel movie is in production now!)
  • Anna and the French Kiss series by Stephanie Perkins (Each book follows a different character’s story—with different settings—but all the characters overlap and have friend connections).

Fantasy

  • Caraval by Stephanie Garber (The 3rd book of this delightfully magic series that takes place in a carnival-game-like setting comes out this year sometime as well.)
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (Full disclosure that as I am not—yet—a big fantasy reader, I haven’t read this one yet, but I would like to! It also is a bit mature for younger YA readers, from what I’ve heard.)
  • Bonus rec: for superhero fans, Marissa Meyer’s newest series Renegades is a fun one. (Book 3 also out this year.)

This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means—I didn’t even touch on historical fiction or graphic novels!—but I hope it gets you started on at least one new genre. I’d love to hear in the comments if there was a book series (YA or not) that pulled you into loving a new genre, or if any of these are also favorites of yours

Reading Time:

3 minutes

 

 

 

23 Comments

  1. Mary

    Thanks for the list! I enjoy YA so was surprised how few of these I’ve read- which is great because I’m always watching for recommendations! I haven’t read Throne of Glass, but I did read A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas and although the writing was good, definitely had some dark, mature themes, not something I’d want my daughter to read and it didn’t bring me joy. The rest of the books in that series apparently border on “literary porn” so I decided not to finish the series. Maybe Throne of Glass is different, but just a heads up y’all.

    • Nicole Viola Bennett

      I have heard the same thing in general about SJM books. I did recently read Throne of Glass (just book 1) and it wasn’t too bad on that front, but I’m imagining the series will get steamier as it goes. I have definitely heard that A Court of X and X is even more mature as a series than Throne of Glass.

  2. Amy

    I had no idea Charlotte Holmes had a fourth book out! SO excited. That and several others added to the to-read list. Thanks Nicole!

    • Nicole Viola Bennett

      I just re-listened to books 1 & 2; they were so good on audio! Now I just have book 3 to listen to and then I’m going to read book 4. I’m excited!!

  3. Andrea Debbink

    I’d love to hear your recommendations for historical YA at some point 🙂 A friend of mine is a high school history teacher and one of her students recommended “Salt to the Sea” by Ruta Sepetys. I loved it! I’d like to read more books like it.

    • Sasha

      This isn’t a series, but you should try “Refugee” by Alan Gratz. It is fantastic. I haven’t read any in his other books yet, but if you like it, he does have a couple other books.

    • Nicole Viola Bennett

      Shoot! I should have known I would forget a genre! 😉 I don’t read much YA historical, probably in part because there doesn’t seem to be as much of it marketed widely. One I’ve read is Alex & Emma by Melissa de la Cruz which is a YA Hamilton retelling. There are 3 books now but I’ve only read the first. One I’ve come across online but haven’t read is Lovely War by Julie Berry, and I’ve also heard great things about Code Name Verity but I haven’t read it yet.
      And finally, one of my favorite books I read last year was My Lady Jane, which is a YA historical fantasy. It was hilarious. It sounds weird (it takes the protestant/catholic conflict of Europe in the time of the Tudors and makes it about people who turn into animals and people who don’t) but just trust me– so good.

  4. Libby Gorman

    I love this! I LOVE space opera, although I need to try the Lunar Chronicles again–tried Cinder once and just didn’t get into it (crazy, I know, since I also love fairy tale retellings). Will need to try some of the mystery ones to get some more recommendations for my middle schoolers.

    • Nicole Viola Bennett

      Oh I hope you can get into the Lunar Chronicles this time around!
      Just a head’s up that the mystery series I mentioned here are definitely YA, not Middle Grade. I know the publishing industry slates YA for starting at 13 but I would caution those (especially Charlotte Holmes) as being more mature. They have sexual content (while mainly offscreen it’s definitely discussed) and some violence/drug use. Pre-reading is always a helpful for those for deciding if they’re right to recommend yet.

  5. Kim

    One series I really enjoyed not listed here is The Reckoners by Brandon Sanderson. Book one is called Steelheart. Basically a world with superpowers and how they can corrupt.

    I wanted so much to love Charlotte Holmes, but was turned off/closed the book when the language was so foul. I guess YA doesn’t always equal clean/safe.

    • Nicole Viola Bennett

      Brandon Sanderson is on my short-list for authors I need to try out and read.
      And yes, Charlotte Holmes is so good but yes the language (and implicit/discussed sexual content and drug use) definitely makes it a more mature read. YA definitely doesn’t equal clean/safe. Many of the books are for a more mature reader than I think parents realize. I wish the publishers marketed most YA to at least a 15-16 and up crowd, and not 13 like it typically says.

  6. Meghan

    These are good recommendations, and I’m glad to see Lunar Chronicles and To All The Boys on here! Here are some more diverse recommendations.
    Fantasy
    *Dhonielle Clayton’s Belles series (also dystopia)
    *Heidi Heilig’s Girl from Everywhere series
    *Roshani Chokshi’s lush Star-Touched Queen books
    *Sabaa Tahir’s Ember in the Ashes series
    *Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch books

    Dystopia
    *Marie Lu’s Legend series
    *Also her Young Elites series

    Contemporary
    *Sandhya Menon’s romcoms are super adorable, though they aren’t technically a series (When Dimple Met Rishi, From Twinkle With Love, There’s Something about Sweetie)
    *Angie Thomas’s The Hate You Give and On the Come Up

    Mystery
    *Y.S. Lee’s Agency series

    Anyone else have more recs? I’d love to add to my TBR list 🙂

    • Sasha

      Wow! This is a big list, and I haven’t read most of them. I really look forward to checking them out – thanks! Here are a few that you might like:
      Children of Blood and Bone (I think the second one comes out this year. It’s an allegory for the Black Lives Matter movement)
      the Greisha series by Leigh Bardugo (themes about appearance)
      The Dust Lands series by Moira Young

      • Nicole Viola Bennett

        I am loving the Grisha books! I read the trilogy and am on Six of Crows now. So good! She’s an amazing writer.

    • Nicole Viola Bennett

      I loved the Girl from Everywhere (I wish it was a longer series than a duology!). And yes to the contemporary stand-alones you mentioned, too! 🙂 I just read my first Marie Lu (the Wildcard duology), and that was a good one.
      Another newer one to me that has a diverse cast is Nyxia (book 3 comes out soon), a fun sci-fi series.

  7. Amy

    My daughter has enjoyed several of the series mentioned here. As one of the other commenters mentioned. My challenge with YA series for my YA/teenage daughter is that because they have become so popular with Adults. The language, subject matter and sexual content has become more R rated than PG13. I have found a couple of “clean YA” websites to refer to. But, it is very discouraging that authors of such good books are writing, in my opinion, for an adult crowd; not a their YA crowd.

    • Sasha

      I agree. I’ve started turning to the Common Sense Media website for book reviews. I find that they are pretty conservative and straightforward about content, so I know what my kids are getting into.

    • Nicole Viola Bennett

      Yes, I am always cautioning that YA should really be marketed older than it is. Publishers say 13-18 but I wouldn’t let my kids read most of these till at least 16, and sometimes later (with some exceptions of course). I’m just glad I like to read YA so much as that will make it easier for me to recommend more appropriate reads for my kids. I think part of the problem is that more and more society as a whole has become desensitized to what is “inappropriate.” The more I delve into YA writing and publishing the more I see authors supporting young readers being exposed to these themes. It’s not that they are writing to an older audience; they actually believe that these are appropriate themes for teens (the term “sex-positive” is a popular way for YA authors to describe their characters). So there’s a disconnect there for parents that want to shelter young hearts and minds a bit longer.

  8. Kelsey

    That’s such a great list of books! I’m definitely going to get my hands on some of those ASAP. I also love that you gave warnings for incomplete series. I’m always bummed after reading a book and then discovering that it’s part of a series and not all of the books are out. Always such a disappointment!

    • Nicole Viola Bennett

      Yes, that’s the worst! 😉 Still, sometimes I’m just too impatient and excited about something to wait for the series to be complete before reading it. #bookwormproblems

  9. Mary Carver

    Oh, this is a FANTASTIC list! I have read and love almost every single one of these series!!

    • Nicole

      I think we must be what Anne Bogel calls “book twins,” Mary! xo

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