Thanks to popular YA novels like Twilight, Beautiful Creatures, and The Hunger Games succeeding as International wide release screen hits, plus other series gracing television this season, like Shadowhunters (The Mortal Instruments), and The Magicians, readers of all ages have turned to young adult literature for great read-alikes. Here are ten series that are not on the big or small screen….yet.
- Leigh Bardugo, Six of Crows series. A young criminal mastermind, a city of bustling international trade, a convict out for revenge, a sharpshooter and a privileged runaway throw in their lots to score a deadly heist that could make them rich beyond their wildest dreams. But capturing the maker of the creator of jurda parem – a highly addictive drug that enhances paranormal power, is going to take the best of each of the six of them in order to survive.
- Kristin Cashore, Graceling , Fire, and Bitterblue. In a world where selected people are given “grace” – special gifts, anything from dancing to swimming. Kasta’s Grace is – killing. As niece to the King she is forced to act as her uncle’s thug, while she searches for a deeper meaning and better use for her gift. Action packed with some steamy romance. But don’t take just my word for it. Graceling won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature, the SIBA Book Award/YA, Indies Choice Book Award Honor Book, ALA Best Book for Young Adults, 2008 Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, 2008 School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, Amazon.com’s Best Books of 2008, 2008
Booklist Editors’ Choice, Booklist’s 2008 Top Ten First Novels for Youth, 2009 Amelia Bloomer List and BCCB 2009 Blue Ribbon List.
- Lia Habel, Dearly, Departed, and Dearly, Beloved. You have Steampunk Victorian espionage, marriage marts and….zombies. But not the kind of shambling deranged masses we’re familiar with. Nora Dearly’s family wants her out of their hair and married off to some rich anybody. Nobody much cares, except Nora, who really wants to get involved in the country’s crumbling politics. Then she is kidnapped by a band of zombies, and well, you can see how that would be a problem. She is rescued by the dashing, heroic, noble Bram. But there’s another problem. He too is undead. What a fun romp and a great romance! The opening, which tells of Bram’s turning, will have you holding your breath.
- Erika Johansen, The Queen of the Tearling and Invasion of the Tearling. More books are expected. Secret heirs, mysterious legacies, slave traders, a warring neighbor – Kelsea, who at 19 had been hidden from the world until it was safe for her to take the throne – has to deal with all of this and more (including the intriguing bodyguard named Mace, and a well-known foreign outlaw). At first you think you are reading another medieval saga – but it turns out Kelsea is dealing with a post apocalyptic future. It’s well and subtly done, and keeps you turning pages. I read this in one sitting.
- Maureen Johnson, The Shades of London series. Starting with The Name of the Star, we meet Rory DeVeaux heading off to boarding school in London and none too happy about it. On the day she arrives, there is a gruesome murder, similar to the Ripper killings of Victorian England. Rippermania grips London, but only Rory can see the man who is the prime suspect. Rory finds out there is a secret force of ghost police, and that there is something special about her too. Maureen Johnson is wry and witty, wonderful at building suspense and touching first romance. As an aside, her stand alone novel, Devilish, is absolutely wonderful and hilarious as we discover what we’ve all believed is true – high school is HELL.
- Julie Kagawa, The Iron Fey novels. The Iron King begins the saga of Meghan Chance, who has an unusual destiny, one she could never have imagined –she is the daughter of the mystical Faery King. Suddenly everyone wants a piece of Meghan, and her best friend is suddenly her bodyguard. This series is so well done and so popular – I’m stealing my daughter’s copy as I write this, that I can’t imagine this not hitting a big or little screen. So far there are six books in the series plus three e-book novellas, so prepare yourself for total immersion! Once you are done with The Iron Fey, try Kagawa’s other series, Blood of Eden.
- John Maberry, Rot and Ruin series (Rot and Ruin, Dust and Decay, Flesh and Bone, and Fire and Ash. Maberry’s take on the zombie apocalypse is fresh and intriguing, and as emotionally intense as The Walking Dead. But it’s more than just zombies – the young people live in an isolated world, believing there is no one over the other side of the mountains. There’s a mysterious mountain girl known for rescuing children from the gaming pits (you’ll have to find out about that on your own!), two brothers on a life saving mission, and of course the baddies out to stop them. Rot and Ruin is nonstop, so make sure you have book two on hand as soon as you’re done.
- D.J. MacHale, The Pendragon Chronicles. The Merchant of Death introduces us to Bobby Pendragon, who finally gets the girl….and then finds out that everything that he thought was his life was all an illusion. Bobby is a Traveler; he can “flume” through time and space into different worlds and different times. He enters a universe on the edge of war, and has to stop arch-villain Saint Dane, from destroying both Denduron and Earth. Rip-roaring, imaginative, and fast paced, this ten volume series will suck you right in!
- Melissa Marr, Wicked Lovely series. Aislinn has the “sight” and has been able to see faeries since she was a child. The rules though were: don’t stare at invisible faeries and never ever speak to one. But when Keenan, an intense young faerie starts stalking Aislinn, all of the rules are going to change. These faeries are not cute little Tinkerbells but are often dark and twisted. The writing is lyrical, and you’ll want to have a box of tissues on hand by the end. The series is up to six books now, and each one is as ethereal and gothic as the rest.
- Marissa Meyer, The Lunar Chronicles. Starting with Cinder, Meyer takes us to a dystopian future where young Cinder, ace mechanic and half cyborg, is racing to save her own life and free herself from the oppression of her stepmother. Meyer does such wonderful things with her science fiction fairy tales, blending and borrowing bits and pieces from other tales, space opera, and of course, romance. The final book in the series (Winter) was just released. These need to be movies, soon!!
If you have read any of these, or are going to be reading any of these, please let me know what you think. If you have other series for consideration, let me know as well, and I’ll do a second feature. Please make sure the novels are geared from 13- to adult for this particular article.