If you and your teens have lost countless hours devouring book series from the Hunger Games to Divergent to the Maze Runner – and many more weekends seeing the movies based on the books – you might be feeling a little hungry about now. The final installment of Mockingjay ends a satisfying run of dystopian/fantasy/sci-fi blockbusters inspired by deliciously addictive book series. And it’s high time to find your next binge-read. Here are 10 fabulous book series that are totally un-put-downable (one of which is already slated for the big screen!). The best part? With all these books already on the shelves, you won’t need to wait for the author to hurry up and write that next installment to get your teen-lit fix.
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, age 12+
Carson’s award-winning fantasy trilogy has one of the most unique protagonists in all of young adult (YA) fare. Elisa is a plus-size princess who doesn’t shy away from her love of food. She’s wicked smart, funny, clever, and deeply faithful (since birth she has been known as someone chosen to fulfill a prophecy), and she has just been married off to a king. Struggling to figure out what her destined act of service is and how to be a good wife and queen to a man and people she barely knows, Elisa has a story that’s beautifully written and continues with two sequels that up the stakes as she fully comes into her power.
Legend by Marie Lu, age 12+
The first book in Marie Lu’s best-selling trilogy was inspired by the dramatic tension between prisoner Valjean and inspector Javert in Les Miserables. In the future, the west coast has turned into the Republic, a sovereign nation that’s constantly at war. Fifteen-year-old June is a military prodigy born to one of the Republic’s most elite families, while 15-year-old Day is a parkour prodigy and a petty criminal from one of its poorest neighborhoods. When Day is suspected of murdering June’s brother, their high-stakes game of cat and mouse turns into the uncovering of the totalitarian government’s sinister secrets and, naturally, a little sprinkling of romance.
The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, age 12+
We’ll admit it’s not necessarily easy to binge-read six titles, but Clare finally finished her mammoth urban fantasy about plucky redhead Clary, who evolves from just another mundane New York high schooler to part of a supernatural cadre of demon hunters called Shadowhunters. Throughout the action-packed six books, Clary and her love interest Jace (and their family and friends) have to deal with an assortment of obstacles that keep them apart and, of course, threaten the future of mankind.
Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne, age 13+
Even the book’s catchy tagline is gripping: “Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong.” In this trilogy, it’s the end of the world as they knew it, and readers won’t stop until they know what happens. On their way to school one morning, 14 Colorado school kids of all ages end up locked inside a Costco-like superstore while disasters ranging from storms to biological agents wreak havoc outside. Without adult supervision, the kids and teens must battle with everything from how to care for the littlest among them to jealousy over how each of them responds to exposure to biological agents.
Shadow and Bone: The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, age 13+
Bardugo’s best-selling trilogy is a vivid fantasy set in the fictional Ravka, which she based on czarist Russia but with a class of superhuman characters who can manipulate elements. The story’s main character is orphan Alina Starkov, who goes from mousy and shy to a force of nature like no one has ever seen before – as bright, powerful, and potentially dangerous as the sun. And naturally there’s a compelling supervillain called the Darkling, who wants to mold Alina into his own personal weapon, as well as a handsome, charismatic best friend, Mal, who wants to remind Alina that she’s more than her powers.
Unwind Dystology by Neal Shusterman, age 13+
Shusterman’s dystopian quartet is set in a world where the pro-life and pro-choice movements have come up with a compromise – there is no abortion, but parents have the right to “unwind” (have all their organs harvested so the kids don’t technically “die” under the letter of the law) their children between the ages of 13 and 18. The book follows three kids scheduled to be “unwound” for vastly different reasons, but they manage to escape, threatening the System and making people question their society’s rules.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, age 14+
This fantasy trilogy has everything an adult fan of YA appreciates about reading teen books: lyrical writing, a fierce and fascinating heroine, exotic locales (Prague, Paris, Morocco, and mystical supernatural places as well), and, naturally, a forbidden love story. Main character Karou isn’t just a Prague art student with a brooding boyfriend; she’s the goddaughter of a chimaera “demon” whose natural-born enemy is her new love interest’s “angel” kind.
His Fair Assassin by Robin LaFevers, age 14+
These three books follow three assassin nuns (these definitely aren’t like the nuns we grew up with, such as Maria or the Flying Nun) from a convent in service of St. Mortain, the patron saint of death. Sent on a sacred mission, these young novices must think for themselves and decide whether to obey their orders or their hearts. Best for mature teens, the series boasts beautiful prose, intricate plot lines, and romances that are more substantial than the usual insta-love.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, age 14+
Read it before the adaptation hits screens next year! Tim Burton is directing this dark tale following a teenager who’s transported to a secret island where he encounters a frightening old orphanage, kids with special powers, time loops, and creatures. The three-book thriller follows 16-year-old Jacob Portman, who travels to Wales after the death of his grandfather and meets a time-traveling girl who takes him back to 1940 to meet Miss Peregrine, who lives with a group of mysterious orphans with supernatural abilities.
The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta, age 15+
Author Melina Marchetta is best known for her award-winning realistic novels (Jellicoe Road, Saving Francesca, The Piper’s Son), but this medieval fantasy trilogy is just as breathtakingly rich and sophisticated as her relationship-drama contemporaries. Each of the three installments features a central epic romance, starting with one between the mysterious novice Evanjalin and the titular warrior diplomat Finnikin, both of whom just want to return from exile to their homeland Lumatere, which has been cursed for more than a decade. There’s a huge cast of characters, but Marchetta weaves their stories together expertly, and some readers will finish Froi of the Exiles and Quintana of Charyn and want to start all over again. —Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
(Photo: Corbis Images)
Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at www.commonsense.org