With the onslaught of a global pandemic and spending an inordinate amount of time indoors, I have done a good deal of reading in 2020. As Goodreads kindly informed me earlier this month, I have already read 107 books this year. This is a staggering number -- even for an avid reader like me -- and it’s all because of the crazy whirlwind that was this year. Out of the 107 books I read this year, a good deal of them were book series. In March, when I found myself with significantly more time on my hands, I took it upon myself to finally read the book series I’d been wanting to get to for years as well as other highly popular and beloved ones.
Now that 2020 is nearing its close, I get to see that goal come to fruition and discuss the ten book series I read over the last twelve months. Out of 107 books and 10 series, which did I find to be most notable? You’ll have to keep reading to find out!
10. “The Raven Cycle” by Maggie Stiefvater
Henrietta, Virginia may appear to be a sleepy, rural town, but dark forces are afoot in Maggie Stiefvater’s beloved YA fantasy series. “The Raven Cycle” follows Blue Sargent, a teenager living with her clairvoyant family, and her unlikely friendship with privileged private school boys Gansey, Adam, Ronan and Noah. When she agrees to join the self-proclaimed “Raven Boys” on a seemingly impossible quest, the newfound crew soon find themselves face to face with ghosts, monsters and supernatural forces darker than they ever could have imagined. While at times, “The Raven Cycle” can suffer under the weight of so many overlapping plot points, its fascinating premise and mythos add a refreshing piquancy to the YA genre that is not to be missed.
9. “The Infernal Devices” by Cassandra Clare
In the much-loved prequel to Cassandra Clare’s “Mortal Instruments” series, we are brought to the Shadow World of 1870’s London. The series follows Tessa Gray, whose supernatural gifts and quest for her brother lead her to the hidden world of Shadowhunters. Joined by the mysterious Will Herondale and Jem Carstairs, Tessa must face a dangerous league of vampires, warlocks and demons seeking to overrun London. “The Infernal Devices” brings much of what was successful about the “Mortal Instruments” -- dynamic characters, nonstop action, and humor -- while adding an intoxicating period setting and a more captivating love triangle. While the overarching plot can become oversaturated with minor character dramas, it is still worth the three-book dedication.
8. “The Mortal Instruments” by Cassandra Clare
Cassandra Clare’s immensely popular “Mortal Instruments” series follows 15-year-old Clary Fray, whose world is turned upside down when her mother is mysteriously abducted and Clary is taken into the care of demon-slaying Shadowhunters. Clary soon learns that all is not as it seems, as New York City hides a bustling underworld of vampires, werewolves, warlocks, and demons. But a greater evil lurks in the shadows of the city and it’s up to Clary and her newfound friends to face this elusive force and save her mother before it’s too late. “The Mortal Instruments” is a series that has been on my radar for years, and although it suffers from many of the formulaic constraints on YA at the time, it is still an enjoyable, action-packed read. If you love fantasy, or simply want to appreciate early-2000s Young Adult books, it’s definitely a staple to consider.
7. “A Series of Unfortunate Events” by Lemony Snicket
Is there a more perfect time than 2020 to read this series? These beloved books follow the misadventures of the Baudelaire orphans as they try to evade their evil distant relative, Count Olaf, who is determined to snatch the inheritance left by the Baudelaire’s late parents. Although this series was very popular when I was growing up, the books’ eerie covers drove me away from ever reading them. In a way, I’m happy that I waited until I was older to read this series, as I can better appreciate its dark humor and subtle genius. I still lament judging a book series by its covers, but at least this is a book series that can be appreciated at any age.
6. “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” by Rick Riordan
Much like “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” this is another series that many read in their formative years. This incredibly popular series follows Percy Jackson, who upon learning he is a demigod, is sent to a fantastical summer camp for children of Greek deities. Joined by his friends Annabeth and Grover, Percy begins a series of daring quests to vanquish the Titan Kronos and protect the mortal world. As I only read the first book when I was younger, I always felt like I was missing out on something special by not finishing this series. Fortunately, I was able to rectify that this year by enjoying the series via audiobook. Although I probably would have loved this series even more if I was younger, Riordan’s blithe writing style proves you’re never too old to be captivated by this mythology-inspired world.
5. “The Folk of the Air” by Holly Black
At the age of seven, Jude Duarte was stolen from the mortal world and whisked away to the lavish kingdom of Elfhame. Ten years later, Jude must fight tooth and nail to stand beside the beautiful and wicked fae of the Faerie Court. Determined to prove herself despite her mortality, Jude soon becomes entangled in palace politics, crossed alliances, and espionage while kindling a fervent hatred for her mortal enemy, Prince Cardan. Black’s intoxicating writing style reads like a dark fairytale, complete with political intrigue, captivating romance and too many twists and turns to count.
4. “A Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah J. Maas
This loose retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” follows 19-year-old Feyre Archeron, who finds herself mistakenly responsible for the death of a faerie while hunting for her starving family. In order to protect her loved ones, Feyre agrees to go with a mysterious stranger seeking retribution for her crime. Taken to the lands of Prythian, Feyre soon discovers that an ancient curse hangs over the realm and the faeries within it. It is up to Feyre to free Prythian through a series of sacrifices and trials before it’s too late. Although marketed as an adult fantasy, at its core (and its best), “A Court of Thorns and Roses” is an enthralling romance. There’s no better time to begin this lavish tale and meet its many memorable characters, as the series’ fourth installment, “A Court of Silver Flames” will be released on Feb. 16.
3. “Shadow and Bone” by Leigh Bardugo
Soon to be adapted into a Netflix original, this series follows Alina Starkov, an ordinary cartographer who discovers that she possesses an extraordinary supernatural power. When the strength of her power is revealed, she is sent to train with the Grisha, a group of magical elite under the leadership of the enigmatic Darkling. As Alina continues to train at the Little Palace, she begins to question the world around her and the authenticity of the Darkling’s enticing promises. Inspired by Tsarist Russia, Bardugo’s captivating world of Ravka offers a gripping and unique fantasy sure to enthrall you from start to finish.
2. “The Brown Sisters” by Talia Hibbert
Unlike the other titles on this list, this series of romance novels is comprised of companion novels, meaning that they do not need to be read in any particular order. Each novel follows a different Brown sister as they navigate their adult lives and romantic relationships. “Get a Life, Chloe Brown” follows the oldest Brown sister who, after a brief brush with death, employs her flat’s handyman to help her to truly start living. Its companion, “Take a Hint, Dani Brown,” follows Chloe’s sister, Dani, as she begins a fake relationship with her coworker after a video of him rescuing her from a broken elevator goes viral online. These sugary-sweet romances are the perfect antidote to quarantine-induced cabin fever and are a great place to start if you’re looking to get back into reading. There’s no time like the present to hop on the bandwagon of this series as its final installment, “Act Your Age, Eve Brown,” will be released on March 9.
1. “Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo
In the corrupt and vicious city of Ketterdam reigns Kaz Brekker, the feared criminal prodigy and leader of the notorious Dregs. When Kaz is offered a sizable fortune to pull off an impossible heist, he knows he cannot accomplish the feat alone. Joined by a team of outsiders, criminals, and thieves, Kaz and his accomplices set off to break into the impenetrable Ice Court and secure the fortune each of them needs so desperately. The “Six of Crows” duology cemented its place in the number one slot on this list almost immediately for its gripping storytelling, fascinatingly complex characters and mind-bogglingly intricate plot. I first read this series back in April, and I still find myself thinking about these books with awe and wonderment. If you find that -- like me -- two books is simply not enough to satiate your love for this series, you can take heart in knowing that Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse characters will be brought to the small screen by Netflix in the near future.
Well, there you have it, collegiettes! Although 2020 has been a challenging year, I hope you still managed to find comfort and adventure in fiction.