Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling—My 5th grade teacher first read this to us when the series was so new, no one even knew what it was. I was instantly hooked. What I like most about this series is the multiple layers it has—on the one hand, it’s about witches and wizards. On the other, you could make a case on how it’s a parallel on WW2. I also love how all the details. Rowling really is a master at crafting an entire world.
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins—I really enjoyed this series, although the first one by far was my favorite. Like Harry Potter, I enjoy the multiple layers in this book. I also love how it has a strong female lead without the shallowness of a love story. (I know, Katniss and Peeta fall in love, but if that’s all you’re taking away from this book then you’re missing the bigger storyline.)
Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie—This is a dystopian YA novel, about a society intent on living forever and controlling all people and situations in order to achieve the goal of immortality. Amidst all of this, Cassia, fights to gain independence from the Society and gain her personal identity. It’s got two strong storylines—the fall of the Society and the love triangle of Cassia, Ky, and Xander—and the writing is borderline poetic. A beautiful trilogy, although the second one tends toward the slow side.
The Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater—It’s rare that I come across a YA writer that has a knack for telling a compelling story in a very lyrical and graceful way. But Stiefvater does both with great skill. It’s about a girl who falls in love with a werewolf intent on staying human. The two fight to stay together against all science-fiction odds. Like Matched, this series centers around finding your identity.
Peaches by Jodi Anderson—Unlike the rest of the series on this list, this is not dystopian or science fiction. It’s about three girls, unlikely to be friends in any normal situation, who find themselves picking peaches during the Georgia summer. They become close friends and go through several life-altering situations together. The first book can be slow, but the powerful storyline will often swell up and hit you in the face. It’s full of nostalgia, melancholy, and wishes for a better future.
What are your favorite YA series?