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8 Young Adult Sci-Fi and Fantasy Series You Should Try

If the young adult in your life needs a new series to help them procrastinate on their homework, try one of these fantastic speculative options.

this collage of ya fantasy and sci-fi series includes red rising and illuminae

Science fiction and fantasy stories are all about the journey. Unlikely heroes can come from any background and origin as they grow and develop their skills. That’s why young-adult series are a perfect match for speculative fiction. Not only does a series allow characters to learn through experience, training, and wisdom, but readers can grow up with their heroes. 

While kids and young adults are all heading back to school, these series are a lot more fun than a textbook. Try one of them to set out on a satisfying adventure through space, myth, and more.

Great YA Sci-Fi and Fantasy Series

The Ascenders Saga by C. L. Gaber

Ascenders by C. L. Gaber


By C. L. Gaber

Remember when we talked about how a sci-fi/fantasy series lets the heroes grow up with its readers? Well, a little thing like death isn’t going to stop Walker Callaghan, the heroine of C.L. Gaber’s Ascenders Saga, of doing just that. When Walker dies at the age of 17, she arrives at a place called The Academy. The only thing the people there share in common is that they all were on the morning announcements of their local high schools because they died young. 

Now, Walker must navigate not only the realm of the dead, but also the strangely familiar dynamics of high school. There might not be any tests or SATs, but there are still cliques, classes, and of course crushes. 

The story only evolves from there, and Walker learns more about The Academy, The Other, the Mist, and all sorts of imaginary afterlifes while she searches for a place she can truly call home. 

Legacy of Orïsha by Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Blood and Bone

Children of Blood and Bone

By Tomi Adeyemi

The Legacy of Orïsha isn't just a classic fantasy for young adults … it's also written by a young adult. Author Tomi Adeyemi made her debut with Children of Blood and Bone when she was just 24 years old, and the book was an instant hit, debuting at #1 on the New York Times bestsellers list. 

The story follows the teenage Zélie Adebola in the fictional land of Orïsha (influenced by West African culture and lore) as she looks to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. To do it, Zélie will need the help of a rogue princess and the resilience to outrun destructive princes, to survive vengeful spirits, and to control both per powers and her feelings for the enemy. 

Both Children of Blood and Bone and its sequel, Children of Virtue and Vengeance, were selected by TIME as among the 100 best fantasy novels of all time. The conclusion to the trilogy, Children of Anguish and Anarchy, is set for publication on June 25.

The Fever Crumb Trilogy by Philip Reeve

Fever Crumb

Fever Crumb

By Philip Reeve

The Fever Crumb Trilogy begins with London on the brink of the apocalypse and follows orphan Fever Crumb. Fever’s engineering mind might just be able to save humanity, but only if she can figure out who to trust and how to survive the threats all around her. 

If you love Fever’s saga and want to continue to read more books in the same world, you can always move on to Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines series, which was eventually turned into a Peter Jackson film. The Fever Crumb Trilogy takes place in the same world but acts as a prequel series (though it’s set many, many years before). 

Red Rising by Pierce Brown


Red Rising

By Pierce Brown

If you’re a fan of The Hunger Games, you’ll love this series by Pierce Brown (the latest installment of which, Light Bringer, published earlier this year). While some would argue the book is stylistically more like an adult novel, the tropes within read more like YA in our opinion. Not only does the story begin with a battle royale, but that battle serves a second function as a school for battle, where the elites learn to fight against one another.

In this sci-fi series, the cosmos have been stratified by castes marked with colors. Red is the lowest caste, while Gold is the highest. When Darrow, a Red in search of revenge, manages to infiltrate the Gold’s highest rungs, his deceit and cunning cause all sorts of problems for his enemies, his friends, and especially Darrow himself. 

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

books like Hunger Games


By Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson might be best-known for his work in the epic fantasy space, but with Skyward, he displays his talent for science fiction. The plot revolves around 17-year-old Spensa, or Spin, who longs to be a pilot and stumbles upon a broken-down, ancient ship in a world beaten down by alien starfighters. 

If she can fix up the ship, there's a chance to achieve both her dream and her freedom. But being a pilot—being a hero—isn't all that it seems. Grappling with expectations and navigating difficult choices, the Skyward series includes four primary books with all sort of other adventures stuffed in-between, so you can read as much about Spin and Sanderson's created world as your heart desires.

Everlife by Gena Showalter



By Gena Showalter

Gena Showalter might be better-known for her romantasy stories, but she’s no stranger to the YA space, either. Her White Rabbit Chronicles offer a zombified retelling of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland books, while the Everlife trilogy takes a look at life after death. In Showalter’s world, death is only the beginning, for a first life is followed by what’s known as the “everlife,” where two factions war against each other for dominance. The series follows 17-year-old Tenley as she decides not only where she wants to go in the afterlife, but how she wants to contribute to what feels like a never-ending war. 

The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files Book 1)

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files Book 1)

By Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

If you think breakups are hard, try doing it during an alien invasion. In the year 2575, Kady and Ezra must evacuate their home and face down a mutating plague. They'll have to work together if they want to survive … too bad they can hardly stand to look at each other. 

A series of epistolary novels, the three books in The Illuminae Files are told through a fascinating collection of emails, instant messages, transcripts, and more fascinating documents that maintain an air of mystique and a sense of discovery perfect for science fiction.

The Witches of London by Alyxandra Harvey

The Witches of London Trilogy

The Witches of London Trilogy

By Alyxandra Harvey

Where the Fever Crumb Trilogy takes place in a future version of London, Alexandra Harvey takes readers back to the past of 1814 London society. When three cousins (Emma, Gretchen, and Penelope) are gifted with powers of witchcraft, they find new strength. They also find themselves the target of a coven whose members gain power from killing young witches. 

Each of the three cousins get a chance to shine in this trilogy, as each book places a spotlight on one book. The first in the series, The Secret Witch, it’s Emma who takes center stage. Next is Gretchen in The Whisper Witch, followed by Penelope’s turn in The Bone Witch. So, regardless of which of the three cousins you find yourself relating to, there’s definitely a book for you.