Massive sales and lucrative film adaptations mean teen fiction is more popular than ever, but which books should you start with?
Teen fiction is fast becoming one the most prolific and lucrative literary genres, perhaps second only to crime, with authors like JK Rowling and Stephanie Meyer earning millions every year for their “talents”. Some series have even made the voyage to the big screen, earning boatloads of money despite questionable quality (exemplified by the irrational earnings of the Twilight saga). However, the reputation of a book can sink if its movie outing does not hold water. That is not to say that all teen fiction series are merit-less pulp that do not warrant the loss of the trees used to create them, many are, in fact, very well written and engaging. The following five series each have that special something about them that separates them from the crap heaps that litter the genre.
1) The Hunger Games By Suzanne Collins
If you can get past the Twishite-esque love triangle, then Suzanne Collins’ trilogy is a stunning exception to the aforementioned pulp rule. This is one of those few teen fiction series that has made it big due to quality, rather than an obscene amount of promotion directed at the seemingly bottomless pockets of teenage girls.
The Hunger Games is set in a dystopian future and provokes cerebration about government corruption and what might be in store for us down the line. In addition to this, all three books are totally unputdownable, so make sure you have plenty of spare hours before beginning your journey into the world of Panem. The Hunger Games also surprisingly survived its transition to cinema, with the first film staying very true to the book and benefiting from fantastic casting, particularly the selection of 2013 Oscar-Winner Jennifer Lawrence as protagonist Katniss Everdeen. Let’s hope that the second instalment, Catching Fire, is equally as successful when it is released this November.
2) Percy Jackson By Rick Riordan
American author Rick Riordan first made a name for himself writing the Percy Jackson series, a fantastic five-part saga that follows a modern-day demigod as he immerses himself in Greek Mythology (which is, of course, alive and kicking in New York). Not only do these series put an original twist on the legends that many children read about at school, the beautiful writing and cleverly formed mysteries (the Oracle of Delphi recites at least one prophecy per book that is delicately untangled throughout the quest) make for very good reading. In terms of conversion to film, this series has been less successful. The first movie, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, did not live up to its hype, and I’m not holding out much hope for the sequel, to be released in August.
3) The Cherub Series By Robert Muchamore
An author who seems to be able to perfectly form a book far quicker than any other, Robert Muchamore releases about three teen fiction novels a year in multiple different series. Whilst he has just begun a new Cherub series with the book People’s Republic, it is the original that has earned its place on this list, for the time being. The stories tell of a troubled boy who joins a secret organisation and becomes a spy.
Whilst the story may sound similar to the famous Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz, this one tops its predecessor due to the inspiration it has given to many boys to take up reading. While Alex Rider is aimed towards younger teenagers, Cherub tackles adult themes which older teenage boys may relate to. Cherub has not reached the big screen yet, and perhaps it would be best if it remained that way, as I don’t want to see another brilliant series ruined by sub-par film-making.
4) Artemis Fowl By Eoin Colfer
After about four “final” books, the Artemis Fowl series has now reached its conclusion. It is by far the funniest series on the list, with Irish author Colfer’s wit being one of its stand-out features. Not only is this series funny, there is also something about it that appeals to an audience of all ages. Perhaps it is the genius of the eponymous character that gives this series such a wide appeal. Perhaps it is the juxtaposition of fairies with guns. Or perhaps it is just the banter between the farting dwarf , Mulch, and the technology-obsessed centaur, Foaly. Whatever the reason, this series is already very popular, and with a rumoured film adaptation on the horizon, it looks set to gain even more popularity.
5) The Gone Series By Michael Grant
The final series on the list, whilst not as well known as some of the others, is my personal favourite. This is mostly down to the author, Michael Grant, who’s tantalising descriptions are the best I have ever come across. The plot is also fantastic: all the adults miraculously disappear from a small American town and the children are left to fight for survival inside a giant dome. It is hard not to think about what you would do in that situation and this is the part which really grips me – would I be able to survive under the tough conditions that these children face.
The novels do get quite brutal at times, which makes this series unsuitable for younger children or the faint-hearted. With the conclusion to the series arriving this month, it is the perfect opportunity for you to try this series out for yourself. Also look out for the new series by Michael Grant as the books Bzrk and Eve and Adam suggest that these series will be just as good.
So, there is my list of the best modern teen fiction series. I hope it inspires you to try some of these as they really are great reads, even for those who say they don’t like reading. Go on, pick up one of these books – see where it takes you…