Young Adult (YA) fiction is a highly successful and popular genre of fiction that is primarily aimed at readers aged between 12 and 18 years of age.
These books often focus on teenage protagonists and are coming-of-age stories, but the stories they tell can vary greatly.
Whether it’s romance, horror, fantasy, science fiction, or everything in between, there is a YA book series that hits the mark.
YA fiction is also frequently enjoyed by adults and is regularly adapted into successful TV shows and movies.
They can take you on magical journeys while also being relevant to our everyday lives.
With so many amazing YA book series to choose from, it can be difficult to know which to choose.
That’s why I’ve recommended the 12 best YA book series that you must read.
Once you pick up the first book, you won’t be able to stop reading until you’ve read every book in this amazing YA series!
The Hunger Games is one of the most popular YA book series of the past couple of decades and was also adapted into a highly successful movie franchise.
Written by Suzanne Collins, there are three books in the series.
The Hunger Games trilogy is set in a dystopian future where citizens are divided into the affluent Capitol and 13 different districts.
Every year, two children from districts 1 through 12 are randomly selected to take part in the Hunger Games, a televised battle royale where the winner is the last child left alive.
The protagonist of the books is Katniss Evergreen, a teenage girl who lives in one of the more poverty-stricken districts, District 12.
When Katniss’s younger sister is selected to represent District 12 in the Hunger Games, Katniss volunteers to take her place.
Katniss must survive the Hunger Games and the deck that is stacked against her. By doing so, she just might start a revolution that will set the districts and their citizens free.
Throughout the books, Katniss and the other characters are put in horrifying situations that make them question their morals and will to survive.
The authoritarian government that runs the Hunger Games is well-fleshed out and President Snow is a worthy adversary for Katniss and the rebellion she inspires.
As the Games are televised and broadcast for the entertainment of the wealthy citizens in the Capital, the books also have plenty to say about propaganda and how the media can shape our lives and thoughts.
- Fascinating world-building and setting
- Thrilling story
- The love story doesn’t always work as well as it should
The first book in the Shadow and Bone trilogy is the debut novel by Israeli-American author Leigh Bardugo.
The series is a young adult fantasy and was highly successful when released. It has since been adapted by Netflix as a TV show.
Shadow and Bone is set in a fantasy world that consists of several different countries.
The protagonist is Alina Starkov, a teenage girl that lives in an orphanage in the Kingdom of Ravka.
During a dangerous march across a barren wasteland, Alina and her companions are attacked but Alina is able to save herself thanks to a previously unknown magical talent.
Known as Grisha, people like Alina have the ability to manipulate the elements.
Alina is especially talented and is quickly taken to the Ravka capital to begin her training.
However, Alina struggles to fit in and her exceptional skills make her a target even in the capital.
Alina must come to terms with her Grisha powers while also trying to resist the charms of the Grisha’s dangerous leader, the Darkling.
Can she learn to control and utilize her powers? Shadow and Bone deals with universal themes such as self-acceptance, identity, corruption, and power.
If you’re still eager for more stories in the Grishaverse after reading the Shadow and Bone trilogy, there are a couple of additional duologies, a standalone short story collection, a hagiography, and a journal.
This young adult series is different from many others on this list as it mixes both narrative and photography to tell the story.
It was originally planned as a picture book until the author, Ransom Riggs, was advised by an editor to add the text.
There are six books in the Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children series. The first book was adapted into a successful Hollywood movie.
- Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children
- Hollow City
- Library of Souls
- A Map of Days
- The Conference of the Birds
- The Desolation of Devil’s Acre
Jacob Magellan Portman’s childhood is spent listening to the wild stories of his grandfather Abraham.
Abraham survived World War II and tells his grandson about running from horrifying monsters and his life in a secret children’s home full of “peculiar” children.
Jacob considers the stories to be fiction until his beloved grandfather dies and Jacob gets a fleeting glimpse of one of the monsters.
Jacob begins having terrifying nightmares about the monsters and his parents send him to a psychiatrist, Dr. Golan.
On the suggestion of Dr. Golan, Jacob goes to the location of his grandfather’s childhood home in the hope of confronting his trauma and recognizing it for what it is.
While there, Jacob meets a variety of peculiar children as well as Miss Peregrine, the children’s protector.
Jacob and his new friends need to work together to protect Miss Peregrine and the children from the monsters that stalk them.
Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is a YA gothic horror series that has themes of belonging and protection.
The children at the home are a found family that works hard to protect each other. The series also deals with death and mortality, isolation, and courage.
- The use of narrative and photographs is very immersive
- A very unique atmosphere and world-building
- Individual books do not have definitive ends and the reader must read the next
Written by Marie Rutkoski, The Winner’s Trilogy features three books full of political drama and romance.
Seventeen-year-old Kestrel’s father is the general of an empire that takes great pride in its military might and enslaving those it conquers.
As such, Kestrel’s future life is already planned out for her. She will either follow in her father’s footsteps and join the military or she will get married.
However, Kestrel wants more from her life than either of those options offers.
When Kestrel attends a slave auction, she sees Arin, a defiant slave that is available to buy.
Kestrel sees something in his eyes that calls to her so she buys him and unexpectedly finds herself falling in love with him.
Kestrel soon discovers that there is more to Arin than she first thought.
Arin has his own secrets and Kestrel finds that buying a human’s life is more complicated and expensive than the money she paid.
The Winner’s Trilogy is a fantasy romance full of forbidden love. It deals with themes such as politics, power, privilege, and betrayal.
The power imbalance between Kestrel and Arin is an important part of the plot.
If you enjoy reading The Winner’s Trilogy, you can enjoy some other books written by the author that are set in the same world.
The Midnight Lie duology has different characters and separate stories from this trilogy.
- Deep and immersive world-building
- Introduces serious topics that are relevant in our world
- Inconsistent pacing throughout the trilogy
Written by American author Maggie Stiefvater, The Raven Cycle is a series of four books.
The series is set in contemporary Virginia and is fantasy YA.
Set in the contemporary fictional town of Henrietta, Virginia, The Raven Cycle stories follow the lives of five teenagers.
Blue Sargent is descended from a long line of clairvoyant women but has yet to show any psychic powers herself.
When she accompanies her mother on their regular walk through the churchyard to see the soon-to-be dead, Blue sees someone for the very first time.
She sees Gansey, a teenage boy that is a student at the expensive private school Aglionby.
The students at the school are known as Raven Boys and Blue has long since decided to avoid all of the Raven Boys.
However, something about Gansey draws her to him and she soon gets involved with Gansey and his three Raven Boy friends, Adam, Ronan, and Noah.
The Raven Boys are on an important quest and Blue becomes wrapped up in their mission while also falling for Gansey.
This causes a further dilemma for Blue as she has been told since she was young by her clairvoyant family that she will cause the death of her true love.
At the core of The Raven Cycle are themes of friendship and family.
Relationships are very integral to everything that happens in the books. The novels also deal with feelings of jealousy, first love, and free will.
- Varied characters in the five teenage protagonists
- Well-developed romance
- slow pace to start the series can be difficult to get through
For lovers of YA paranormal fiction, the Unearthly trilogy by Cynthia Hand is a great YA series to choose from.
The protagonist of the trilogy is Clara Gardner, a teenage girl who has just discovered that she is part angel.
Her angel blood gives her advantages over pure humans as she is stronger, smarter, and faster than the humans that inhabit the world around her.
This power also brings responsibility and purpose as Clara learns that she has a reason for her existence.
However, Clara isn’t clear on exactly what this reason and purpose are.
When Clara has visions of a terrifying forest fire and a beautiful stranger, they lead her to a new school in a new town.
She still doesn’t know her purpose, but the visions do introduce her to Christian, the very real boy that she saw in her vision.
She also meets Tucker, another alluring stranger that appeals in a way that Christian doesn’t.
Clara has to try to navigate this new world and discover her purpose, while also balancing her desire for love with her angelic duty.
Eventually, the fire from her vision ignites and it’s up to Clara both to save everyone and face her destiny.
Throughout the series, Clara has to come to terms with who she is so the trilogy can be seen as a coming-of-age story and a journey of self-discovery.
It deals with doing the right thing and both friendship and love are major driving forces behind the plot.
- The love triangle is handled well
- Angel lore is interesting and well-explained
- Lacking conflict and danger at times
The Divergent trilogy was written by Veronica Roth.
The success of the books led to the story being adapted for the big screen and three movies based on the series were released.
Set in post-apocalyptic Chicago, Divergent tells the story of Beatrice Prior.
The city is divided into five distinct factions that all have their own specialized skills and function within the society.
When children reach the age of 16, they are tested to see which of the five factions suits them best.
Anyone that has inconclusive test results is seen as “divergent” and there is no room in this society for anyone that is divergent.
When Beatrice’s test shows that she is divergent, she is advised to keep this a secret and commit herself to one of the factions.
She takes the name Tris and chooses Dauntless, the bravest and most reckless of the factions, and leaves her family behind.
As the books progress, Tris learns the true meaning of what divergence is and why the authoritarian government has tried to suppress it.
She discovers that everything she thought she knew about her world was a lie.
Divergent is a coming-of-age story that is concerned with identity and self-actualization.
Tris can only change the world by growing into herself and finding out who she really is.
Family is a big theme of the book as well and this refers to both biological families and the families we choose.
- Interesting premise
- Fun twists as the novels progress
- Plot holes in the world-building
The Young Elites is a YA fantasy series written by the Chinese-American author Marie Lu.
She has written a couple of YA series but The Young Elites is my favorite of her books.
A blood fever sweeps through the country, killing a large number of the populace.
Many of the survivors of the fever were children and a decade later, many of those survivors have strange markings.
Anyone that has visible markings is labeled a “malfetto” and when people close to malfettos start to suffer from strange accidents and deaths, society turns against them and considers the malfetto markings to be bad omens.
However, some of the malfetto children gained more than just markings. Many of them now have strange abilities and are referred to as The Young Elites.
The government of the nation considered The Young Elites to be dangerous and seeks to destroy them.
The protagonist of The Young Elites trilogy is Adelina Amouteru, a survivor of the blood fever who is also a Young Elite.
When she is captured by the government and sentenced to death she is rescued by the Dagger Society, a group of Young Elites that seek to survive and learn more about their powers.
Soon, Adelina is drawn into a wider plan to make the nation a better and safer place for the Young Elites.
She also falls in love and must come to terms with the responsibility of her powers.
- Interesting character dynamics where everyone is a shade of gray
- Intriguing twists and turns
- Worldbuilding can be a little patchy through the beginning of the trilogy
Written by Marissa Meyer, The Lunar Chronicles features four main books in the series, as well as a novella and short story collection.
The series is fantasy-science fiction and takes inspiration from several famous fairy tales.
Unlike most series on this list, The Lunar Chronicles features a different protagonist in each book.
Although there is an overarching storyline that runs throughout the entire series, each book introduces a new plot and they all tie together for the final book, Winter.
The protagonist in Cinder is Linh Cinder, a cyborg mechanic that is loosely based on the story of Cinderella.
She lives with her stepmother and two stepsisters and when her stepsister Peony comes into contact with the plague, Cinder is submitted against her will for cure testing. During the tests, many secrets about Cinder are discovered.
Scarlet is heavily influenced by Little Red Riding Hood.
Scarlet Benoit sets out to find her missing grandmother and meets the genetically-enhanced warrior, Wolf, on her journey.
Wolf’s loyalties are tested throughout their quest and eventually, Scarlet meets Cinder, and the two become allies.
The tale of Rapunzel takes center stage in Cress as Crescent Moon (or Cress for short) is imprisoned and living alone on a satellite.
She tries to sabotage the plans of the Lunar Queen and this leads her to Cinder who has a similar goal.
The final main book in the series is Winter and this is inspired by Snow White.
The protagonist Winter is the stepdaughter of the evil Lunar Queen and she suffers from visions of horrible death and destruction.
Winter teams with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress to overthrow her evil stepmother.
Although The Lunar Chronicles is set in a futuristic sci-fi world, at its core it deals with many important themes that are relevant to our world.
There is an authoritarian government and the world suffers from racism, classism, and sexism. However, relationships, love, and trust are also key themes and positive influences on the plot.
- The blend of fairy tales and futuristic sci-fi is very entertaining
- Fast and thrilling pacing
- The introduction of new characters and lack of resolution in previous books can be irritating
The Mortal Instruments is a highly-successful series of six young adult fantasy novels.
Written by American author Cassandra Clare, the series is part of the larger The Shadowhunter Chronicles but was released first and is a self-contained story.
The series has also been adapted as both a movie and a television series.
- City of Bones
- City of Ashes
- City of Glass
- City of Fallen Angels
- City of Lost Souls
- City of Heavenly Fire
The protagonist of The Mortal Instruments is 15-year-old Clary Fray.
One day, she witnesses a murder committed by a group of teenagers that are covered in strange markings and hold weapons she’s never seen before.
She becomes even more confused when the dead body just disappears into thin air.
Clary has witnessed the world of the Shadowhunters, a group of warriors that work to rid our world of demons and drive them back to their own.
When Clary’s mother disappears and Clary not survives an attack from a hideous monster but manages to kill it, she gains the attention of the Shadowhunters herself.
Humans killing monsters is unheard of but somehow, Clary managed it.
What begins is an adventure of danger and discovery that leads Clary to learn secrets about herself that she could have never expected.
She needs to find her mother while also learning about herself and discovering a whole new world that she never knew existed.
- A fun and well-developed world of monsters and demons
- Characters are likable and easy to relate to
- Some plot points are predictable
Written by American author Richelle Mead, The Vampire Academy series consists of six paranormal romance novels.
The series has also been adapted into both a movie and a TV series.
Rosemarie Hathaway is a student at St. Vladimir’s Academy.
The academy isn’t an ordinary school, however, as it is a boarding school for vampires and half-humans like Rose.
She is a dhampir and is working hard to become the best bodyguard for her best friend, the Moroi vampire princess Lissa.
Rose and Lissa leave the school and go on the run because of the dangers that await them at St. Vladimir’s Academy.
They can’t run forever though and after two years they’re caught and sent back to the academy and straight into a plot that puts Lissa in grave danger.
Can Rose prevent her friend from the Strigoi, the most dangerous vampires in the world?
The pair also have to contend with everything that comes from being a teenager at school as well, such as maintaining friendships and forbidden romances.
The Vampire Academy includes many themes that will be relatable to any school-aged reader.
The characters have to navigate through the complicated social circles found in any school while creating and maintaining friendships.
Rose’s duty to Lissa is another important theme, as is coming of age, transformation, and freedom.
The Selection series is a five-book series written by American author Kiera Cass.
The books are dystopian romances and following the main series, there are four novellas to read as well.
The Selection is set in a dystopian future where society is divided into strict castes, numbered from One to Eight.
Ones are at the top of society whereas Eights are the unemployable and homeless.
America Singer is classed as a Five, the caste that is reserved for artists and musicians.
Although this is one of the lower castes, America is happy with her position in life as she loves entertaining and playing the violin.
Prince Maxon Shreave decides to host the Selection, a competition where contestants compete for his hand in marriage.
America has no interest in entering the competition as she already has a secret boyfriend in Aspen, the literal boy next door.
However, Aspen is in the servant caste Six and knows he has no way of caring for America.
The combination of her heartbreak at the split with Aspen and a bribe from her mother sees America enter the Selection after all.
She quickly makes both friends and enemies among the other contestants but most surprising of all is Prince Maxon himself.
The caste system that is evident in The Selection allows the series to explore the themes of society, class, power, and poverty.
Characters are judged by their caste instead of their personality and own attributes.
America needs to use her femininity to win the Prince and the competition brings out both the best and worst of all of the contestants.
- A fun take on the Cinderella story and princess tales in general
- Good relationships between the characters
- The dystopian aspect of the world isn’t as well-developed as it should be
Before you pick the best young adult series for you, here are a few factors that you should take into consideration.
Length Of The Series
The number of books in a YA series can vary greatly.
Some series such as The Hunger Games are relatively short with only three books, whereas other series such as Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children and The Mortal Instruments have six books.
In many cases, you will have to read the entire series to get a satisfactory ending to the story that began in book one.
Think about how much time you can dedicate to reading and whether you have the time and willpower to read through the longer series just to see how the story ends!
Theme And Genre
YA fiction can cover a very wide range of genres and styles of writing. It can cover romance, science fiction, horror, dystopian futures, or epic fantasy.
YA refers to the target audience not the genre of the story so there are almost no limits to what a YA series can include.
Consider which genre of fiction appeals to you the most and choose a series that reflects that genre.
No matter what type of fiction you like there is sure to be the perfect YA series for you and it is the quickest way to narrow down your choices.
In this article, I introduced the 12 best YA book series that you must read. Young adult fiction is a wonderful genre because it covers such a wide range of different types of books.
Whether you prefer horror, science-fiction, high fantasy, or dystopian fiction, there will be a series for you.
YA fiction can also cover real-world themes that are relevant to young adults in a way that many other types of fiction can’t.
The teenage years can be a very difficult time for people to navigate but YA fiction takes those feelings of identity, self-discovery, and confusion and wraps them in thrilling stories and metaphors to help the reader without being too obvious.
Many YA stories have become popular movies and TV shows and they can appeal to all ages.
There’s no reason why only teenagers can enjoy the series on this list!
Although the protagonists may be young, their trials and obstacles can be related to by people of all ages.
I hope that you enjoy this list and have fun reading some of these YA book series.
I’m certain that as soon as you start reading the first book, you won’t stop until you’ve read them all.
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s finish by answering some of the most commonly asked questions about YA books and YA book series.
What Is YA Fiction?
YA stands for “young adults” and it refers to books that are primarily aimed at readers aged between 12 to 18 years old.
Typically, the protagonist of the book is within those age ranges as well and the books deal with themes that are relevant to readers within that age range.
Can Adults Read YA Fiction?
Of course! Although YA is aimed at teenagers, many of the stories and worlds described in YA fiction are just as exciting and enjoyable for adults as well.
Anyone can pick up and enjoy a YA novel, even if they are outside of the recommended age range.