Now that the new calendar year is underway, I’ve found myself reflecting on some of my favorite young adult science fiction and fantasy series. If you are a diehard fan of speculative young adult fiction, you know there is a bevy of great novels and series to choose from. Here are my picks for the best young adult science fiction and fantasy series of the last five years.
Marissa Mayer’s breathtaking science fiction fantasy, The Lunar Chronicles, stands tall as one of the best young adult science fiction and fantasy series. Starting with Cinder and stretching over four books and several spinoffs, The Lunar Chronicles updates classic fairy tales like Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel and situates them in a futuristic space opera setting. Romance, war, revolution… they are all part of this fantastic series you won’t want to put down.
Any YA dystopian die-hard like me knows the legacy of Veronica Roth’s Divergent series and its hand in bringing my favorite genre to readers, both young adult and adult. From the highly readable books that grab you from the first page to the thrilling movies starring the amazing Shailene Woodley, the Divergent series is a nonstop adventure series with everything; romance, rebellion, and life and death. Following Tris as she upends a dystopian society where people are segmented into rigid castes is inspiring and addictive. If you haven’t read them yet and you’ve got a weekend to spare, pick up the Divergent novels.
One of the most influential young adult dystopian novels in recent years is James Dashner’s The Maze Runner. Dashner writes with a totally gripping style, and you can’t help but fall in love with his everyman hero, Thomas, who navigates a brutal science fiction landscape in a post-apocalyptic version of America. Inspired by a young woman who brings a prophetic message to the members of the Glade, Thomas tries to break free not only of the limitations of the maze but of an oppressive society itself. Friendship and romance pull him through over the course of five books and a movie adaptation. Will you join him?
The Seraphina series is comparatively new on the scene, but I still consider it one of the best young adult science fiction and fantasy series in recent years. Rachel Hartman’s lavish fantasy series starts with Seraphina, in which the titular main character, gifted musician Seraphina, becomes caught in court intrigue in the royal palace in the kingdom of Goredd. Seraphina harbors secrets of her own—like the fact that she is actually part dragon—and a confusing yet passionate relationship with Prince Lucien. When they team up to try to subvert a plot that would destroy the kingdom’s fragile peace, neither Seraphina nor Prince Lucien can risk holding secrets. With the fate of their country at stake, these two friends must overcome their differences to save their land. The sequel, Shadow Scale, raises the stakes to another level. Readers, if you’re a dragon fan or someone who is swept away by exquisite worldbuilding, get on the Seraphina series train!
I remember when Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was first released. It seemed completely unreal, unlike anything I had ever read before, probably because Ransom Rigg’s mixed-media novel is totally original. The eerie genrebending series combines the best of horror and fantasy in a story about a young man who discovers a magical chapter of his grandfather’s past, launching him on a cross-country journey to confirm that monsters are real. This series definitely ranks among the quirkiest of the best young adult science fiction and fantasy series, but it is a trip like no other, one that will stay with you forever.
Talk about a novel that grabs you right from the cover! Laini Taylor’s explosive Daughter of Smoke and Bone sucks you in with that seductive blue. The best part is, the novel is just as edgy, mysterious, and captivating as you’d expect. In Taylor’s vivid universe, angels and shapeshifters are on edge around the world. Bewitching, gifted Karou tests her drawings—are her visions real or imagined? But plaguing Karou even more is the not-so-simple question of who she is? This search for her identity carries Karou across several books that can only be described as epic. This is definitely one of my picks for the best young adult science fiction and fantasy series of the last few years.
I’m fiercely proud of my young adult dystopian books, the Undergrounders series, and yes, I’m including it in my list of the best young adult science fiction and fantasy series. Picture yourself in 2069. What would America look like? In my trilogy, our post-apocalyptic country is overrun with thugs, thieves, and danger everywhere you look. Sixteen year-old Derry knows the only way she can save her younger brother after he mysteriously disappears is to run headfirst into danger, confronting cutthroat Rogues, the ominous Sweepers and one very corrupt Supreme Leader!