A lot of my parental unit friends have asked me about books suitable for their pre-teen, teenager or young adult. Usually, my answer depends on what I am reading at the time and how much it has captivated my imagination. From Sci-fi and Fantasy to super spies and sweet friends, there is a series for every type of reader. As much as I would like to claim I have read them all, my time is very limited to formally review or research every available title. Therefore, my list will include my favorites as a starting point and will provide alternates in the editorial.
Isaac Asimov wrote many books on artificial intelligence and robotics before the subject was even cool! His three laws of robotics were adopted globally and scientists and engineers make sure they code a variant of the rules into every robot or AI. The stories follow a police detective who answers to cases where robots have turned against humans, murdering or hurting them. These series is a classic and has enough companion stories and discussions to entertain you for a lifetime.
J.K Rowling created a magical world where wizards and witches live hidden in plain sight of the muggles or non-magical beings. The story chronicles the rise and fall of Lord Voldermort through the eyes of a young child that thwarted his effort to dominate humankind. The books became so popular that amusement parks and companion titles popped up everywhere in the world. Visit King Cross station and you will know what I mean. Adults and children fell in love with Harry in almost every language imaginable; you can’t go wrong with this game changer.
Lord of The Rings + The Hobbit
Written as a children’s book, The Hobbit preceded The Lord of the Rings trilogy and introduced its hero Bilbo Baggins. Guided by Gandalf the Grey, he uncovers the One Ring that Sauron misplaced during his fall of grace. The ring, made to rule over all creatures, people and land of Middle Earth, is a powerful magical item that needs to be destroyed to ensure Sauron never wins. The story of Bilbo later spirals into The Lord of the Rings where a band of ragtag strangers must band together to save their world. The books opened up a whole new realm of fantasy that has influenced everything from Star Trek to Dungeons and Dragons. A must read for fantasy enthusiasts. (Still considered one of the best book series of the category.)
Like Harry, Percy must fight an evil powerful villain to save his magical world with the main difference being that the latter is then son of Poseidon, Lord of the Sea. Together with his friends, sons and daughters of the Olympian Gods, they fight those who want to take power away from Zeus and his family. The series has 10 books total in two different titles; either can be read without the other but are best read in order. Fun for the whole family!
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Ann Brashares penned a story about girls who were all born to a group of prenatal class mothers who raised them as best friends. With birth dates so close to one another, they grow up as sisters, supporting each other in the goods times and the bad. Once they hit puberty, they find a pair of jeans that magically fit each body type perfectly! The four tomes are hilarious and very beautifully written. Must read for sister pairs and groups. My sister and I enjoyed discussing it very much. ♡
The Hunger Games
Katniss Everdeen vows that she will never bring children into the dystopic society she lives in. Divided by districts, the people of Panem are slaves of an oligarchy that controls the government and the Republic’s resources. The young girl ends up in the middle of a full blown insurrection after volunteering to participate in The Hunger Games, an annual celebration that pits boy and girl tributes from each district against each other in a death match. Even though death is a central subject, the book is not overly violent or gruesome. The lesson on life, love and justice is superb. This series will become an instant classic.
Young Ender is the galaxy’s only hope but first, he must train and prove he is the leader and commander that we need. Past the title book, there are many companion tomes and stories that enhance the story and add more behind the scenes looks at the enemy and hero. Read the Ender’s Game and Philosophy book to better understand how deep this rabbit hole goes.
Francine Pascal recently updated this classic series where our heroine, Gaia Moore, is pretty much Jason Bourne in a teenager’s body. Dealing with family issues and criminals is never easy, but she manages to take care of business without breaking a sweat. Must be her good genes. Wink. Wink. I really enjoyed how real and relateble the characters are, believable yet totally fictitious. A very different path than the Sweet Valley High books, who are also one of my favorite reads from my pre-teen years.
Four books full of magic and dragons are an ideal candidate for those seeking a fantasy adventure. Unlike Game of Thrones, the series keeps it PG-13 and chronicles the story of a young dragon and her rider. Twists, multiple plot lines and excellent character development make this title series a very fun and exciting journey. Don’t judge this book by its movie. Eragon was so bad it is getting relaunched! Hopefully the franchise fares better the second time around.
Although these are just a few of my favorites, other YA series I highly recommend with parental supervision are The Mortal Instruments, Delirium, Uglies, Matched, Divergent and The Giver. Some of the subjects can be touchy or explicit so these books are better suited for older kids (for modern day standards). I haven’t read The Maze Runner or The 5th Wave but they come highly recommended. Don’t feel bad if you fall in love with these stories; your inner child will thank you!