YA Series That Adults Should Get Lost In

Photo: Courtesy of Atheneum Books for Young Readers; Photo: Courtesy of Alfred A. Knopf; Photo: Courtesy of Heritage Publishing; Photo: Courtesy of Square Fish; Photo: Courtesy of Random House; Photo: Courtesy of HarperTeen.
Sure, young-adult books come with a recommended age, but we have always been fans of breaking the rules or, better yet, creating our own. And, there is something about the struggles of youth that seem universal. Now that we are grown-up, we may not be trying to figure out how to define our new relationship, how to balance time between our school work and friends, how to get our voice heard, and how to reach our dreams anymore. Okay, scratch that, we are still trying to figure out all of those things, and that is why these books from our past are just as appealing today.
In some weird way, some part of us is still the teenager we thought we left behind, trying to find our best selves and prove to the people around us that they should take a chance on us. We just have learned some important lessons between now and then. That is one of the great things about reading young-adult series as an adult — you can connect to the characters on the big stuff, feel nostalgic as you read about their first loves and heartbreaks, and smile knowingly when the protagonist finally starts figuring it out. YA novels provide the comfort of reuniting with old high school friends, without the awkward silences, questions, and memories.
Now that you have finished all of the Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Divergent books, here are the 10 series that you should revisit (or dive into for the first time) now that you are wise enough to appreciate the age-defying wisdom. Seriously, just cancel your weekend plans now.
1 of 10
Photo: Courtesy of Square Fish.
This series is fantasy at its best, YA or otherwise. It allows us to experience both definitions of fantasy: the world of magic and a world where our desires are satisfied. In this case, we follow the "average" Alina get rejected over and over again, just to find out she is actually exceptional, talented, and needed. Seriously, who doesn't need that message once in a while?

Leigh Bardugo, Shadow And Bone (The Grisha Trilogy), $6.97, available at Amazon.
Leigh Bardugo, Seige and Storm, $8.80, available at Amazon.
Leigh Bardugo, Ruin and Rising, $12.01, available for pre-order at Amazon.
2 of 10
Photo: Courtesy of Disney-Hyperion.
A book about a 12-year-old criminal mastermind who finds out fairies are real and kidnaps a fairy for ransom may seem like a strange pick at first. But, Artemis Fowl's Sherlock-like intelligence (and cockiness) will keep you reading, and Colfer's ability to mix modern-day technology with mythology will have you grabbing the next book.

Erin Colfer, Artemis Fowl Box Set, $25.99, available at Amazon.
3 of 10
Photo: Courtesy of Square Fish.
The constantly trouble-making child ends up time traveling with her little, genius brother and her first crush in order to save her dad and all of a humanity. Seriously, what could go wrong?

(Editor's Note: This book ruined Geometry class for me once I learned the tesseract we were going to be discussing had nothing to do with time travel, but instead was a fancy cube.)

Madeline L'Engle, The Wrinkle In Time Quintet Box Set, $19.64, available at Amazon.
4 of 10
Photo: Courtesy of Heritage Publishing.
Perhaps we are a tad masochistic but we find ourselves continually reaching for Little Women to revisit one of our first fictional loves, and one of our first heartaches. Something about Jo's independence, Laurie's broken heart, and the bond of the sisters keeps this one timeless. Debate is still out about Little Men and Jo's Boys.

Louisa May Alcott, Little Men/Little Women Boxed Set, $54.65, available at Amazon.
5 of 10
Photo: Courtesy of HarperTeen.
The Dangerous Angels series successfully manage something people have been trying to do for years — create a well-written fairy tale for the modern reader. In a world of growing pains, divorce, non-traditional families, complicated pregnancies, and crushes coming out as gay, Block proves to us that we can all still make our own happy endings.

Francesca Lia Block, Dangerous Angels: The Weetzie Bat Books, $11.99, available at Barnes & Noble.
6 of 10
Photo: Courtesy of Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
This quartet has enough girl power to make Daenerys proud and is the perfect way to distract yourself until Game of Thrones returns. Alanna decides she wants to be a knight, so she disguises herself as a boy, and breaks all the rules to reach her dreams. Set in a world of magic, this journey will leave you feeling, well, a little unaccomplished.

Tamora Pierce, The Song of the Lioness Quartet, $34.58, available at Amazon.
7 of 10
Photo: Courtesy of HarperCollins.
Sure, when rereading these as an adult, there are phrases that are astonishingly not P.C. (but fitting for the time period it's set in), but at its core Laura Ingalls Wilder lets us into the world of a young girl watching the world change. These books have the same power to make history real now, as they did when we were children. And, seeing Laura survive through her Pa's follies for seven books makes us really appreciate our modern-day lifestyle.

Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Little House Collection Box Set, $27.91, available at Amazon.
8 of 10
Photo: Courtesy of Random House.
It should be mandatory that we all have to reread this series before the movie adaptation of the first book (and series' namesake), The Giver, is released this fall (starring Meryl Streep, Taylor Swift, and Katie Holmes — can we please have a selfie of this trifecta?). If not for the pre-cinema refresher, take some time to read it because it's nice to be reminded that living in a perfect world would be awful. So, cheers to all of the mistakes you made today.

Lois Lowry, The Giver Quartet 20th Anniversary Box Set, $45.39, available at Amazon.
9 of 10
Photo: Courtesy of Bantam Classics.
Anne Shirley is still our spirit animal character after all of these years. She is a bit rough around the edges, a little too talkative, quick to anger, and not so great at following rules (wearing a flower garland to church, for example). But, she is also eternally optimistic, imaginative, loving, and intelligent. She makes being an unwanted orphan almost sound appealing.

L.M. Montgomery, The Complete Anne of Green Gables Box Set, $34.49, available at Barnes & Noble.
10 of 10
Photo: Courtesy of Alfred A. Knopf.
Fans of the Harry Potter series, will also fall in love with the world Philip Pullman created in the His Dark Materials series. The fate of the world lies in the hands of a 10-year-old girl (YA fiction really made us think we could solve all of the world's problems before middle school, didn't it?). Young Lyra sets out to save her best friend and tackles class differences, religion and science, and adult attitudes toward innocence and growing up. Not too shabby for weekend reading.

Philip Pullman, His Dark Materials Trilogy, $35.00, available at Amazon.

More from Books & Art


R29 Original Series