25 All-Time Best Book Series for Teens
Get sucked into new worlds with these standout book series for teens
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The best young adult book series
Pop into any bookstore, and you’ll quickly see that series reign supreme. And there’s a good reason book series for teens and adults are such huge hits: Readers find comfort in living with their favorite characters for another few books (or more!) and exploring new corners of a world they thought they’d left behind.
Some of the most iconic series, launching expansive franchises and fandoms, have been books for teens. So we’re rounding up some of the best book series written for young adults, from crowd-pleasing fantasy books and iconic sci-fi books to award-winning nonfiction and some of the best books of all time.
It wasn’t easy narrowing down the list of the best book series for teens, and we’ve done a whole lot of reading. (It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it!) We picked book series that are critically acclaimed, beloved by teens, award-winning or simply worthwhile reads. For the most part, the series below are fully complete or close to it, so some newer and brilliant books (such as Legendborn) don’t appear just yet.
1. Graceling Realm by Kristin Cashore
Series starter: Graceling
What you’re in for: Immersive world-building and an iconic romance
Set in a world in which some people are born “graced” (gifted with a particular skill, as noted by their different-colored eyes), this incredible fantasy series follows Katsa, a king’s niece and enforcer who’s graced with the ability to expertly kill. She joins forces with graceling prince Po to keep his cousin, Princess Bitterblue, safe. In the four books that follow—the latest released on Nov. 1—the world expands beyond 2008’s Graceling and the narrative shifts. Readers who fell in love with the lived-in world of the first book will get swept away as the story heads across the mountains, into the past and eight years into the future, introducing new narrators along the way.
2. Brooklyn Brujas by Zoraida Córdova
Series starter: Labyrinth Lost
What you’re in for: Inventive takes on familiar magical beings and three powerful Latinx sisters
In 2016, Zoraida Córdova gave readers their first bite of what has become an intricately crafted family saga. The Brooklyn Brujas trilogy introduces readers to oldest sister Alex, a bruja (witch) destined for great power. But destiny and Alex aren’t on the same page—she’s desperate to rid herself of the power that lives inside her. When a spell goes wrong and her family disappears instead of her magic, she must team up with a mysterious boy and journey to the in-between land of Los Lagos to rescue them. Each of the next two books centers on Alex’s sisters, one worrying about zombies in Brooklyn and the other journeying to a fairy realm.
3. Shadowshaper Cypher by Daniel José Older
Series starter: Shadowshaper
What you’re in for: Magic-infused art and wicked suspense
A corpse crashing a party isn’t the only strange occurrence in Sierra Santiago’s life. There’s the constant apologizing from her practically comatose grandfather. And the neighborhood murals seem to be … crying. As she launches into the magical world of shadowshaping (which infuses ancestral spirits into art), she also finds herself in a fight against a killer who’s taking down shadowshapers one by one. Beginning in 2016 and spanning three novels and two novellas, this is one of the most imaginative book series for teens. For more must-read novels, check out these fiction books everyone should read.
4. March by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin
Series starter: March: Book One
What you’re in for: Stunning art, crucial history and good trouble
Late congressman John Lewis co-created this trilogy of nonfiction graphic novels for teens beginning in 2013, detailing his account of his experiences in the Civil Rights Movement. From his childhood in Alabama to meeting Martin Luther King Jr. to the Selma-to-Montgomery March, key moments of Lewis’s life come to life on the pages of this book and chronicle his growth into the iconic figure he was. Need more evidence that this trilogy is a modern classic and one of the most stunning young adult book series ever created? The third book in the series won the National Book Award, Coretta Scott King Author Award, Michael L. Printz Award, Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal, YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction and Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children’s Literature.
5. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Series starter: The Star-Touched Queen
What you’re in for: Sparkling magic and lush romance
In her 2016 debut novel, Roshani Chokshi opened a world full of magic and lush prose. Follow Maya as she’s married off to the king of Akaran and saddled with a horoscope promise of death and destruction. Akaran holds within it unknown magic, gardens of glass and endless locked doors—a forbidding place that ends up surprising Maya. There, she finally finds her own voice outside the world she’d always known. The duology closes with A Crown of Wishes, but you can stay a bit longer in this lush, fantastical world by picking up The Star-Touched Stories, one of the finest collections of short stories within an established world. Disney+ is turning A Crown of Wishes into a TV series, so you’ll want to read these books before the adaptation comes out.
6. Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa
Series starter: Shadow of the Fox
What you’re in for: Japanese mythology and expansive world-building
Julie Kagawa is no stranger to great fantasy (in fact, it was difficult to decide which of her novels to include here), but this book series for teens, which kicks off with 2018’s Shadow of the Fox, is among the finest. Half-kitsune Yumeko holds one piece of the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, an ancient scroll with the power to call the great Kami Dragon, which will grant the one who holds it a wish. After demons kill her adopted family, Yumeko goes on the run with the segment of the scroll. She lands in the path of Kage Tatsumi, a samurai who has been ordered to retrieve all the pieces of the scroll, and the two form a hesitant alliance. The series is a must for anyone looking for fantasy inspired by Japanese mythology. And for those interested in getting great books on the regular, sign up for a book subscription box.
7. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Series starter: The Hunger Games
What you’re in for: A dystopian world, a rebellious main character and thought-provoking themes
This series needs little introduction. Nearly 15 years after the first book launched to massive acclaim, this book series for teens is still wildly popular. A modern classic and the defining dystopian book trilogy of the mid-2000s, The Hunger Games transports readers to the world of Panem, composed of 12 districts that each send two teens to battle to the death for the entertainment of the masses. Commenting on everything from power, inequality and social class to reality TV, the novels are page-turning reads full of thought-provoking themes. Though the trilogy launched in 2008 and had wrapped up by 2010, a prequel novel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, came out in 2020.
8. The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Series starter: The Young Elites
What you’re in for: A villain origin story and a Renaissance Italy–inspired fantasy world
Expected to see a different Marie Lu series on this list? We’ll agree that the Legend trilogy is wonderful, but this series takes the cake. The first installment, 2014’s The Young Elites, takes place a decade after a blood fever swept the nation and killed most of the infected. Among the survivors is Adelina, who like other Young Elites has developed mysterious powers. A secret group among them, the Dagger Society, works to grab those like Adelina before the Inquisition Axis can find and eliminate them. As Adelina, Enzo (a member of the Dagger Society) and Teren (leader of the Inquisition Axis) crash into one another’s lives, Adelina steps closer to darkness in a book made for anyone who loves rooting for the antihero. When you’re done, check out more books by Asian authors.
9. The Witchlands by Susan Dennard
Series starter: Truthwitch
What you’re in for: Elemental magic, a strong female friendship and intricate world-building
Safiya is a Truthwitch, wielder of rare and coveted magic that allows her to differentiate truth from lie. Iseult is a threadwitch who can see the ties that bind the people around her. They’re an odd pair—one bold and hotheaded, the other careful and shy—but their friendship is more solid than the Witchlands, which are on the cusp of war. Forced to go on the run, the pair have to rely on their powerful bond to keep themselves safe. This series, which began in 2016, currently includes four full-length novels and a novella; the fifth novel is bound to make your list of the most-anticipated books.
10. Zodiac by Romina Russell
Series starter: Zodiac
What you’re in for: An imaginative blend of science fiction and fantasy, and a zodiac-inspired world
If astrology books are your nonfiction faves, you’re going to want to binge-read Romina Russell’s Zodiac series. Beginning with 2014’s Zodiac, the series follows Rhoma, a member of House Cancer, one of 12 houses in the Zodiac Galaxy, who is as shocked as anyone when she’s appointed leader following a blast that killed the house’s guardian and thousands of citizens. As a student, she never possessed the same skills for reading the stars as her classmates, so no one takes her seriously when she claims that Ophiuchus, an exiled guardian from the 13th house, is returning for revenge.
11. Unwind Dystology by Neal Shusterman
Series starter: Unwind
What you’re in for: Heart-racing thrills and captivating leads
Neal Shusterman’s 2007 novel, Unwind, presented a terrifying world: Parents can choose to “unwind” children between the ages of 13 and 18, using their organs to save others. As their lives come to a crossroads, Rita (a ward of the state being unwound to save money), Curtis (a rebellious teen whose parents submitted him for unwinding) and Lev (the 10th child in a family using his unwinding as a religious tithe) will have to band together to avoid a fate that seems inescapable.
12. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Series starter: An Ember in the Ashes
What you’re in for: A brutal fantasy empire, resilient leads and awe-inspiring plots
One of the best book series for teens began in 2015 with an explosive debut from Sabaa Tahir (who went on to win the 2022 National Book Award for her novel All My Rage). An Ember in the Ashes has since expanded into a four-book series and a graphic novel prequel trilogy (the third of which has not yet been released). At the start of the series, Laia has become a spy, but not by choice. After her brother’s arrest for treason against the Martial Empire, she agrees to spy for the rebels in exchange for information from the heart of the empire’s military academy. There, she meets the commander’s son, the best soldier of them all and a boy secretly dreaming of escape. Inspired by ancient Rome, this story of a brutal world offers hope in the face of oppression.
13. Jackaby by William Ritter
Series starter: Jackaby
What you’re in for: Supernatural Sherlock Holmes vibes and historical mystery
In 1892, Abigail arrives in the New England town of New Fiddleham, having left her home in England in search of a new start. Hired as an assistant to R.F. Jackaby, a detective who investigates crimes of a supernatural nature, she finds herself in the midst of an investigation into a serial killer. This quartet, which begins with 2014’s Jackaby, wrapped up a few years ago, but there’s good news for fans of William Ritter’s mystery novels: A stand-alone adventure following Abigail will hit shelves in 2023.
14. Flyy Girls by Ashley Woodfolk
Series starter: Lux: The New Girl
What you’re in for: Compact contemporary stories and budding friendships
The Augusta Savage School of the Arts is the last chance for Lux, a final opportunity before she’s sent to military school. To keep from repeating old mistakes, she focuses on her photography and shies away from fights and boyfriends. Luckily, there are three girls who might be just what she needs to keep out of trouble—so-called Flyy Girls Micah, Noelle and Tobyn. Each gets her own chance to shine in these compelling, extremely accessible and short novels, all published in 2021 and 2022.
15. Heartstopper by Alice Oseman
Series starter: Heartstopper, Volume 1
What you’re in for: A budding romance, LGBTQ+ characters and a realistic exploration of mental health
Sure, you could read a book similar to your favorite TV show, but if you’re one of the millions of Netflix members who binge-watched the feel-good series Heartstopper this year, pick up the graphic novels that started it all. What began as an online comic in 2016 was published as Heartstopper, Volume 1 in 2020 and completely took the world by storm. The heartwarming book centers on the love story between shy student Charlie Spring and popular rugby player Nick Nelson. From meet-cute to friendship to budding romance, each beat of the boys’ relationship unfolds with tenderness and understanding. Alice Oseman never shies from tough topics, like coming out of the closet and dealing with mental health issues. To date, there are four volumes in this graphic novel series, plus a coloring book and a yearbook. A fifth volume is due next year, as is the U.S. release of the novella Nick and Charlie.
16. For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig
Series starter: For a Muse of Fire
What you’re in for: Shadow magic and a fantasy world acknowledging mental health and vivid worlds
Kicking off with 2018’s For a Muse of Fire, this YA series presents a world inspired by Asian cultures and French colonialism. Jetta is part of a troupe of shadow players, and it’s thanks to her talent that her family may earn a spot aboard the royal ship to Aquitan. But she’s keeping a secret: It’s not the magic of the stage that gives their puppetry performances life; it’s Jetta’s forbidden ability to bind the spirits of the recently departed to puppets. Should she get to Aquitan, she might just find the legendary spring of the Mad King, said to cure ills, which may help her with her bipolar disorder.
17. Charlotte Holmes by Brittany Cavallaro
Series starter: A Study in Charlotte
What you’re in for: Boarding school mysteries and a reimagined Sherlock Holmes
This deeply compelling series, which began in 2016, is one of the best mystery book series for teens. Watson and Holmes are as closely associated as peanut butter and jelly, but the friendship of generations past doesn’t extend into today. Jamie, a descendant of John Watson, and Charlotte, a descendant of Sherlock Holmes, haven’t had a whole lot of contact since the families split apart. Now at the same boarding school, the pair is framed for the murder of a classmate. They have to put the past aside in order to clear both their names.
18. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Series starter: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
What you’re in for: A sweet romance and an iconic main character
You may recognize this title from the delightful Netflix films based on the books. But as good as those films are, the books are even better. Never heard of this romance book trilogy? It starts with an adorable (and somewhat horrifying) premise: Lara Jean wrote a letter to every boy she’s ever loved—a way of putting her crushes to bed. The missives aren’t meant for anyone else’s eyes, so when they find their way into the boys’ hands, she’s mortified. And with her past crushes ranging from childhood friends to her sister’s ex-boyfriend, things are bound to get messy.
19. A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
Series starter: A Song of Wraiths and Ruin
What you’re in for: Tension-filled romance and delicious competition
One of 2020’s finest novels launched this must-read duology, which wrapped up last year with one of the best conclusions to a series ever written. For Malik to save his kidnapped sister, he’ll need to kill Crown Princess Karina. For Karina to resurrect her beloved (and recently assassinated) mother, she’ll need the beating heart of a king. So Karina offers her hand in marriage as a prize for the winner of the Solstasia competition—once wed, she’ll have the king she needs—and Malik worms his way into the tournament to get close to Karina. But the deadly attraction simmering between them threatens to upset their goals.
20. Trouble by Stephanie Tromly
Series starter: Trouble Is a Friend of Mine
What you’re in for: A quirky mystery, witty dialogue and lots and lots of fun
This stellar series is perfect for fans of Veronica Mars and Pushing Daisies. Begin with Trouble Is a Friend of Mine, Stephanie Tromly’s 2015 series starter. Though there was certainly a list of expectations Zoe had about moving to a new place and starting over, getting pulled into Philip Digby’s orbit was not one of them. Digby, not a master of the first impression, pulls Zoe into a series of schemes, all of which tie back to a missing local girl. The more information they uncover, the deeper Zoe digs into Digby’s life—and the more she learns about the disappearance of his younger sister years prior. Love cozy mysteries? You’ll gobble up the Trouble trilogy.
21. Rise of the Empress by Julie C. Dao
Series starter: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns
What you’re in for: A brilliant reimagining of Snow White and opposing pieces of the same story
It is written in the stars that Xifeng will be the Empress of Feng Lu. But to reach her destiny, she’ll need to sacrifice much. Like the lovely guy who would do anything for her. And the hearts she’ll need to consume to feed the magic in her body. Published in 2017, the first book details Xifeng’s quest. The second follows Jade, the exiled daughter of the emperor, who’s seeking to dethrone Xifeng. The companion novel, Song of the Crimson Flower, grows the world past its initial fairy tale, introducing a cursed boy and the girl who spurned him and is now trying to save him.
22. This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron
Series starter: This Poison Heart
What you’re in for: Mythology and an LGBTQ romance
The passing of Bri’s aunt leaves her with property in rural New York, a run-down estate filled with plants. The place had once served as an apothecary, and as visitors flock to her door, Bri discovers a gift for making the elixirs they’re looking for. That’s not Bri’s only gift, though. With one touch, she can get a seed to bloom, and her family is hoping this new location will help her gain control of her ability. But things aren’t coming up roses for Bri. There’s a group hunting for an elixir of immortality. And then there’s the centuries-old curse. Add in a secretive girl who keeps visiting, and Bri is bound to be busy. If you’re looking for a magical, character-driven book series for teens, start with 2021’s This Poison Heart; you’ll speed through it and the follow-up, This Wicked Fate.
23. The Grishaverse by Leigh Bardugo
Series starter: Shadow and Bone
What you’re in for: Expansive magic systems and an unforgettable love triangle
What began in 2012 as an inventive fantasy novel launched a world that now includes three full series (with seven books between them), two collections, a graphic novel, a TV show and an endless possibility for expansion. Your entry point is Alina Starkov, a perfectly ordinary soldier—until an attack reveals a secret power she never imagined. Pulled into the world of Grisha and their leader, the magnetic Darkling, Alina has to learn how to control her magic without letting others control her. When you’ve finished the Grishaverse series, hop over to the Six of Crows and King of Scars series to stay in Leigh Bardugo’s wondrous world.
24. Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
Series starter: Raybearer
What you’re in for: A fight for destiny and Tangled vibes
Tarisai has been raised by The Lady, a mysterious figure who has brought her up for the purpose of killing the crown prince. But to her, the journey to compete for the crown prince’s Council of 11 is about more than The Lady’s desire, which she’s compelled to obey. She’s dreamed of getting close to other people her whole life. The 2020 series starter Raybearer is one of the strongest debuts in recent memory, and Jordan Ifueko’s truly masterful duology is sure to be the start of a bright writing future. Looking for a follow-up? Pick up more fantastic books by Black authors.
25. The Queen’s Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
Series starter: The Thief
What you’re in for: Crafty characters and an expertly built world
In 1996, Megan Whalen Turner’s The Thief introduced Eugenides to the world. The thief’s adventures would continue for six books (and 24 years), the series’s longevity a testament to its stellar world-building and ingenious plot. In the first book, readers meet Gen, released from the king’s prison by the magus, a scholar of the king who wants Gen’s help in stealing an ancient treasure. Thus begins a page-turning adventure with a clever protagonist you can’t help but root for.
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