For those who don’t know, Young Adult Literature (or YA Lit) has undergone a major Renaissance over the past decade. When I was growing up, there really weren’t many series to choose from (there was Babysitters Club, Sweet Valley, Goosebumps, and Fear Street), and those series really didn’t take into account how savvy teens can be, and they didn’t realize that many adults could and would find YA Lit entertaining. However, when JK Rowling started producing books for the Harry Potter series, all of a sudden, it seemed as those authors started realizing that this was a potentially huge untapped market! It dawned on them that teens WOULD read, if they were given something engaging. Therefore, I wanted to dedicate this blog to some of my favorite YA Lit series!
The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
Set in modern day New York, the Mortal Instruments series is about the Shadowhunters. They are the decedents of Angels, and their mission is to fight the demons and rogue Downworlders (vampires, werewolves, warlocks, etc) that threaten the mundane (human) world. Clary Fray had no idea she was one of them until one night she witnesses three of them, Jace Wayland, Isabelle Lightwood, and Alec Lightwood, dispatching of some demons at a local nightclub. From there, she is thrust into their often violent world. She must learn how to fight demons if she is to help protect the world from her own father, Valentine Morgenstern. She also finds herself falling for Jace—a boy with the face of an Angel, but a tendency towards snarky sarcasm.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians and the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordon
As anyone who ever studied Greek Mythology in school knows, the Greek Gods and Goddess loved to have dalliances with mortals. The resulting offspring were called demi-gods, or half Gods. Percy Jackson believes himself to be typical teenager, except for the fact that he suffers from ADHD and dyslexia. He finds out, however, that he is anything but normal. He is a son of Poseidon, the God of the Sea. His so-called “disabilities” are really innate battle reflexes and a brain more suited for reading Ancient Greek. He is soon whisked away to Camp Half Blood to be protected and trained to be a hero. He finds himself up against Kronos, who desperately wants his powers back. He also discovers Annabeth, a daughter of Athena, who he grows to love so much he will follow anywhere—even into Tartarus.
Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
Most people are familiar with the series; if you have not read them, you are probably at least acquainted with the film adaptations. Harry Potter was orphaned as a young boy and raised by his horrible Aunt and Uncle. When he turns 11, however, everything changes. He becomes aware of the fact that he is a wizard with magical abilities. Throughout the course of the series, he discovers that he is not just ANY wizard; he is the boy who lived. He is the only one to survive an attack by the dark wizard, Lord Voldemort. As a result, he is the only one with the power to defeat him and prevent him from destroying the world as everyone knows it. Along with his friends Ron and Hermoine, he sets out to do just that, even though it will mean great sacrifice.
The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games trilogy of books is just one of many dystopian series that have come out in the last several years. North America as we know it is gone—destroyed by natural disaster, war, etc. As a result of an uprising against the Capital over 70 years before, every year the 12 Districts must send 1 girl and 1 boy between the ages of 12-18 to participate in The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is a battle until the death—until there is only 1 victor. The victor receives a lifetime supply of food, a new home, and everything else they or their family could ever need. Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take the place of her younger sister, Prim, in the 74th Hunger Games because she knows her knowledge of hunting and skill with the bow and arrow will give her a better chance of survival. Her refusal to capitulate to the Capital turns her into the Mockingjay, a symbol of the rebellion the people of Panem are planning in order to regain their freedom. In the midst of all of this, she must also decide who will have her heart—Gale, her childhood friend, or Peeta, her fellow Hunger Games tribute.
The Divergent series by Veronica Roth
The Divergent series also falls into the category of dystopian literature. In a post –apocalyptic, everyone belongs to 1 faction: Abnegation, which focuses on charity; Candor, which focuses on honesty; Erudite, which focuses on intelligence; Amity, which focuses on peace; and Dauntless, which focuses on bravery. When someone turns 16, they are given an aptitude test which tells them which faction they are best suited for. They may either remain with their own, or change. However, if they change factions, they must give up all ties to family because “Faction First.” Beatrice “Tris” Prior discovers during her aptitude test that her own faction, Abnegation, may not be her only choice. Actually, she shows an almost equal aptitude for most of the factions. She chooses Dauntless, and finds herself in a world as different from Abnegation as one can get. She also meets Four, a boy who both intrigues and somewhat intimidates her (at least at first). She also discovers she may be Divergent, which is a dangerous thing to be in a society that likes people to focus on one virtue—to the exclusion of all others.