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In my lifetime, I’ve read a lot of books, both good and bad. I love Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, but other popular series are simply not as deserving of the spotlight (Divergent, I’m looking at you). Lesser known books can get lost in the back of the library, as people gravitate towards the flashy front display. Poorly written novels end up with a movie and TV show just because everyone’s talking about them, but what if we focused on the story rather than what sells? The following are series I keep returning to, waiting for them to get their big break.

 

1.    Skinjacker by Neal Shusterman

 

Image via Amazon

The story starts when two teens are killed in a car accident, and they don’t quite get where they’re going. Allie and Nick become ghosts, traveling the country and running into Mary, who’s a leader of the lost “souls” that populate New York City. The series starts big and ends big, pondering whether it’s better to stay in limbo forever, hold onto the past, or to move forward towards the unknown.  

2. Gone by Michael Grant

 

Image via Goodreads

In the middle of a normal day, everyone over the age of fifteen disappears. No one can leave the town, and there’s no way of getting help. Leaving children in charge of a town goes about as well as you’d think it might, and the science fiction elements are fascinating, scary, and weird. Grant’s characters evoke strong emotions, whether you love them or hate them. Responsibility and community are strong themes here, and the mystery will keep you turning the pages.

3.Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

 

Image via Goodreads

Uglies was published in 2005, but it’s perhaps even more relevant now than it was then. On everyone’s sixteenth birthday, they undergo a surgery to smooth out every flaw and make them pretty. Once that happens, they have no responsibility except to enjoy themselves. The series tackles what it means to truly be beautiful, and whether it’s better to have fun and be ignorant or to stand up and do something. There’s also a reflection on the value of painful emotions that will make you appreciate every time you’ve ugly-cried.

4.The Unwind Dystology by Neal Shusterman

 

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This is the second series by Neal Shusterman on this list and for good reason. Shusterman has an engaging writing style, switching perspectives frequently so that even the most minor characters have well-developed motivations and personalities. In the Unwind world, the debate over abortion rights has been settled by allowing parents to “unwind” their children when they turn thirteen. This means that each and every part of the child’s body is dismantled, living on in other people so that technically they haven’t died. The series is compelling and also raises questions about what it means to actually be alive and to be human.

5. Gemma Doyle by Libba Bray

 

Image via Goodreads

I’ve saved the best for last because the Gemma Doyle Trilogy is my favorite of all these. I don’t generally go for historical fiction, but the four main characters drew me in and kept me reading. The story takes place in 1895 and involves magic and a protagonist that I adore. 1800s England wasn’t a great setting to be a woman, but Gemma, Pippa, Ann, and Felicity never let that hold them back. They each do horrible things, but they’re believable within the context of the story and lend the female characters a realistic development. These books will make you laugh and cry, and give you a little more encouragement to keep on resisting.

Claire Romine

Agnes Scott '21

Claire Romine was born and raised in West Palm Beach, FL. She currently attends Agnes Scott College, as an English Literature and Political Science double major. Interests include yelling about Taylor Swift and reading terrible young adult novels.
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