My Top Ten YA Trilogies and Duologies by Paige Martin
Almost every YA book (it seems like) these days has a sequel and if there is a sequel it is really likely that in the near future there is going to be another sequel, especially if that YA book has anything to do with a teenager growing up, the world changing, or magic. That means there are a lot of YA trilogies to sort though. So, I have done my part in piecing together a few YA trilogies/duologies as a starting point for anyone overwhelmed by series-mania or wanting a few recommendations of where to begin. Although trilogies and duologies can be formulaic, the books that I have selected for this list include books that I thought had very engaging characters or had excellent plot twists that deserved a nod of recognition.
1. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
…Because I couldn’t create a Top 10 List about trilogies without including this mega-blockbuster. To summarize the plot, Katniss Everdeen, the Girl on Fire, challenges the entire way of life for citizens of Panem through her clever and compassionate acts–a definite do not miss.
2. The Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu
If you liked The Hunger Games then this trilogy might be a great place to start for you. Marie Lu does a wonderful job creating another futuristic United States that has had tragedy strike and needs saving. Legend begins with Day, a character full of uplifting morals and a desire to fix governmental corruption by taking matters into his own hands. Enter other protagonist June, who is tasked with finding the elusive Day and bringing him into custody.
3. Tankborn Trilogy by Karen Sandler
This is a great trilogy that has some interesting discussions on class, sexuality, and race as well as delving a little into bioethics. Sandler touches on a ton of hard topics and gives multiple different perspectives into how they should be viewed. This series focuses on Kayla, who is a genetically modified human or GEN, and GENs are considered to be at the bottom of the class structure in this new world. Through her GEN assignment, Kayla meets Devak, a trueborn, the highest class on the totem pole. She begins to challenge his world views and ever so slightly she begins to shift the balance of power, which will have bigger ramifications than even she knows.
4. Partials Trilogy by Dan Wells
The Partials Trilogy deals with the complete collapse of human civilization. This series takes place on futuristic Long Island, where the only people who survived the previous war have a genetic anomaly that makes them immune to the virus that has wiped out the rest of North America. Kira is hoping to find a solution to this disaster. The Partials series is a great sci-fi and survivalist trilogy that is also asks some big questions about the purpose of humanity.
5. Red Rising by Pierce Brown
This has been one of my favorite series of the past two years. I absolutely loved the first book and the second, and I am patiently waiting on the edge of my seat for the third installment. Author Pierce Brown, has great surprises, shocks, and twists that I never even saw coming, and I am an experienced trilogy reader. In this story, the human race has begun to conquer other planets, and on Mars, the main character Darrow is on the bottom of the social ladder. He is a Red. Reds mine for the Golds, the top of the social ladder. Reds rarely get enough food to eat and have little hope for change. Uprisings begin to take place throughout the solar system that challenge the perceived social order, and Darrow ends up secretly leading the charge.
6. The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutokoski
Yikes! Another trilogy series that has a book due out next year that I haven’t read yet, but I will have to endorse this series anyway because of how much I liked the first two. Although the covers seem type-casted (girls in big fancy dresses) for a certain demographic, this trilogy broke a lot of great traditional roles, and I loved it. The difference for me is made in the main character, Kestrel. The Winner’s Trilogy is set in another world, full of wars, slavery, and deception, and Kestrel is a woman living in a culture that prizes itself on its military aptitude and strength. She is the daughter of a military general, lives life in luxury, attending balls and galas, watching the tides slowly start to change around her, moving towards war. Her character depth and quick wit, make this trilogy worth attending to.
7. Curse Workers Trilogy by Holly Black
How can you have a YA list without including one of Holly Black’s books? The Curse Worker’s trilogy is the story set in the current world, with the addition of magic in the form of curse workers–people who can put curses on other people through skin-to-skin contact. This story follows around Cassell, who comes from a family of curse workers who are also con-artists and tricksters. Cassell does not seem to fit in anywhere, his family, his school, or with his few friends. Upon its completion, this trilogy all out WOW’d me. The complex weave of all three stories made this undeniably one of the best series I have ever read.
8. Seraphina series by Rachel Hartman
Now onto the duologies! How can I begin to describe how much I loved Rachel Hartman’s wonderfully crafted tale about dragons, magic, families, and not fitting in, and finally, finding your own inner power. What a great tale marked by action and adventure, along with exploration into complex feelings and hard-won friendships. Seraphina is a heart-warming tale with a wonderful main character who stretches you to think about people in your life who may be different, while encouraging you to accept them for who they are.
9. Earthseed series by Octavia Butler
Octavia Butler, master of all things sci-fi, creates these a fantastic pair of stories about the reality of a changing climate and the future of the human race. This series, set in Southern California, is about Lauren and her family as they struggle to survive through the continuing drought and food shortages. Waves of violence begin to hit the community that she and her family live in. How will she chose to survive in this time, and what will she do when catastrophe finally hits her community and there is no turning back?
10. Code Name Verity series by Elizabeth Wein
Last but not least in my Top 10 list, this intense historical fiction duology taught me a lot about history and held my emotions captive throughout the entire ride. In Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein created a masterful story about two women, Maddie and Queenie, who are British pilots during WWII and become wonderful friends.They undertake a secret mission behind enemy lines for the sake of country. Rose Under Fire follows a similar story line about a female pilot who gets caught by the Germans and sent to a female concentration camp. This series relies on bravery and friendship, as well as hope for the future, as these women who are faced with the horrors of war, fight to retain their humanity and regain peace.
What are your favorite YA trilogies/duologies? I would love to read them!
Paige Martin lives in Southern Vermont where she works as a librarian by day and a librarian by night. She loves to read (obviously), bike around on flat terrain, and learn about new things. She serves on the Green Mountain Book Award Committee for Vermont, which is the state’s reader’s choice award for teens.