So, it’s plenty reasonable to assume that if you’re going to edit a fantasy novel, you have to have some experience with fantasy books, right?
I thought so too.
Which is why I’m making this post! (Yes mom, I’m looking at you. Yes, everyone else, I’m working on a fantasy novel and my mom wants to edit for me without any prior YA fantasy experience. SCANDAL!)
So here we are, with *ahem* get ready for it folks…. *drumroll*
Leah’s Guide to (mostly) YA Fantasy!!!
(Imagine if that was read in like a crazy low-pitched announcer voice. Bam. Epic.)
(OKAY SORRY GOTTA FREAK OUT REAL QUICK!!! AS I WRITE THIS, MY MOM IS STARTING HER FIRST YA NOVEL. (It’s Shadow and Bone, if you were wondering! 🙂 ))
When you first get into fantasy, you want something easy to get into. You want something with compelling characters. You want something that has an intricate, yet easy to understand, world. You want something that you know you’ll love, because you want your first venture into fantasy to be successful. So, what do you choose? (Should be pretty easy at this point….)
That’s right, folks!
If you haven’t read Harry Potter at this point, I don’t even know why you’re here. And I don’t mean that in a rude way, I simply mean this:
“If you haven’t read Harry Potter then why are you reading a post about an intro to fantasy? READ IT. LOVE IT. Then come back for more.” ~Me
Harry Potter is considered ‘middle grade,’ but don’t let that fool or intimidate you, all you YA folks. It’s easy to get into, the characters are phenomenal, the world easy to understand yet complex… Harry Potter is the epitome of fantasy, the perfect starter to any fantasy newbie.
Fantasy Reader Level: Beginner
Easiness to Get Into: Super duper easy. (I promise!)
Complexity: Pretty complex, but super duper easy to understand. (Learning along with the main character.)
So, let’s say you’ve finished up Harry Potter, and you’re wanting to dive into the vast, scary waters of Young Adult Fantasy. Where do you start? What do you do? THERE’S JUST SO MANY BOOKS??!!!?!?! And this is what I’m here for, dear readers. So, I’d say jump into
The Grisha Trilogy.
This is the series my mom is currently using to kick-start her future YA reading obsession. (What can I say mom, a girl can dream, can’t she?)
The Grisha trilogy is extremely easy to understand. While the world does have a lot of detail, the writing is extremely simple and easy to get into. Descriptive and detailed, with a wide array of characters, the Grisha trilogy is a perfect introduction into the Young Adult Fantasy genre.
Fantasy Reader Level: Beginner
Easiness to Get Into: Once you get past the prologue, very easy.
Complexity: Very easy to understand, but sometimes difficult to remember all the categories of magic.
So, you’ve decided that yes, Young Adult Fantasy is for you. Welcome! Enjoy your stay. But where to go next….
The Shadowhunter Chronicles.
Okay so, you may be thinking, ‘Shadowhunter Chronicles?? Whaaaaa??’ Well, my friends, the Shadowhunter Chronicles consists of (so far! There’s more to come!), The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices, and now, The Dark Artifices, which take place in different time periods and different characters, but in the same fantasy world. The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices are what pulled me back into loving reading as much as I used to after a loooooong (we’re talking months here) reading slump, and led me to discovering the Bookstagram community, and has led to me becoming friends with many fantastic people and co-running this blog. (hugs, my dear <3) So, you can see why I’d recommend these series’.
The characters are crazy compelling, and Cassandra Clare’s writing just gets better and better with every book! They can be a bit hard to get into, however, just depending on the person reading them. There’s been confusion over what order to read these series’ due to the crossovers and such, so here’s the order I read them in, and always tell people to read them in:
City of Bones (TMI), City of Ashes, City of Glass, City of Fallen Angels, City of Lost Souls, Clockwork Angel (TID), Clockwork Prince, Clockwork Princess, City of Heavenly Fire (TMI).
Fantasy Reader Level: Beginner
Easiness to Get Into: The first book (City of Bones) can be difficult to get into, it took me personally about 1/4 of the book to really get into, some people struggled with City of Ashes too (I didn’t though! It really just depends on the person.), but everyone agrees that once you hit City of Glass it’s all awesomeness all the time!
Complexity: An in-depth world, but super easy to understand.
I’m betting that at this point, you’re here to stay in the Young Adult Fantasy genre. You’re hooked. YAY! So why not celebrate this with recommending some series’ by my favorite author?
Throne of Glass.
Sarah J. Maas, author of Throne of Glass (and A Court of Thorns and Roses, but we’ll get to that later) is amazing. I love her and her books so freaking much!! *shrieking noises* Okay, I’m good. I just ADORE this series. I know there’s controversy around certain aspects/characters, but I personally love ALL the characters (except for those I’m supposed to despise, because man, those I do indeed despise.), and think that the character development is fantastic. I am a medieval-fantasy-aholic and this series is absolutely perfect for me. The setting, the world, the plot, the premise, the characters… Just, yes. A thousand times yes! (If you got that reference, can we be best friends?) Some people have said they have trouble getting into it, and it is on the more complex side, but I believe it is absolute perfection.
Fantasy Reader Level: probably Intermediate
Easiness to Get Into: I got into it immediately, but some have trouble getting into Throne of Glass at first.
Complexity: This is in a completely different time period (and world!) than we are, so it may be a tad harder for some to wrap their minds around. However, the world comes together pretty quickly as the story progresses.
Now the next series by Sarah J. Maas,
A Court of Thorns and Roses.
Now, this series was in my list of favorites, but after reading the sequel, A Court of Mist and Fury, this series has made it into my top 5 favorites. And now, we are apparently getting eight more books in this previously-thought-to-be-trilogy? SIGN ME UP! (Also, please sign yourself up. You won’t regret it.)
This series is fully of crazy plot-twists, character development, and totally lovable characters. And let me tell you, if you read ACOTAR and find yourself unsatisfied? Keep going. If you read ACOMAF and genuinely don’t like it? Well then. I don’t know what to say to you. Is it even possible to dislike ACOMAF??! There’s badassery, epicness, the best romance EVER, plot twists galore…. (sidenote: just a small warning that there are some *ahem* steamy scenes in ACOMAF, and if you’re like me, you’ll merely have to skim through those scenes, because the rest of it is fantastic.)
Fantasy Reader Level: Intermediate
Easiness to Get Into: I remember it took me a while, maybe 30ish pages to really get into ACOTAR, but once I got there, I was hooked.
Complexity: Pretty complex! The series is a bunch of very loose retellings though so that does help and make a lot of it easier to wrap your mind around, at least in my opinion.
Now, we get to a series by an author who also happens to be my queen…
Shades of Magic.
The Shades of Magic trilogy by Ms. V. E. Schwab has rapidly become one of my favorites. Ms. Schwab’s writing is incredible, her characters at once unique and fleshed out, and the story line is just incredible. The series is set in a series of parallel worlds much different from our own, so it is a little harder to get into, but that just makes me love it all the more. I highly recommend checking these books out, but only once you’ve had some prior fantasy experience, so that you’re ready to thrust yourself into this complex world.
Fantasy Reader Level: Intermediate
Easiness to Get Into: Maybe a bit on the harder side, simply because you have a lot to initially wrap your mind around in the beginning. But, once you’re in? You’re in.
Complexity: A pretty complex world! I mean, parallel universes? If you’re experienced in sic-fi and/or fantasy it shouldn’t be a problem.
Now that you’ve had quite a bit of fantasy experience, you can finally jump into some harder/more out there series’. Starting with,
Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
GAH! This trilogy is amazing. It is a very… different… and unique… story/concept, which I LOVED, but it definitely isn’t for beginner fantasy readers. You need to be prepared to wrap your mind around some crazy weird stuff before you delve into this series! However, it is one of my favorites, which great characters and relationships, an insane plotline, and a super plot-twisty and painful yet beautiful crescendo.
Fantasy Reader Level: Experienced.
Easiness to Get Into: I personally was able to get into it immediately!
Complexity: Very complex. Also very intricate and a lot is hard to wrap your mind around at first. Very much worth it though!
Okay, this next series I picked up recently and it has absolutely blown me away and taken over my life.
The Raven Cycle.
Okay, so this series didn’t really sound like something I’d enjoy, but it was being pushed onto me by so many people… that I caved. And you have no idea how much I’m glad I did. This series has jumped to be right up there with Harry Potter. Harry Potter. If that alone doesn’t convince you to read it, I don’t know what will. The writing is amazing, the plot is intriguing, and the characters are everything. PYNCH AND BLUESEY FOR LIFE. *ahem* Aaaaanyways, yeah. It is magical realism, and because of that, a lot people struggle with reading it/getting into it. It’s pretty unique/different and a lot of people have struggled with that as well However, it’s been a long time since a series sucked me in that fast. Seriously.
Fantasy Reader Level: Probably experienced.
Easiness to Get Into: I found it incredibly easy. Sucked me in from page one!
Complexity: Pretty complex man. Easy to understand, but the fantasy element is woven oh-so-perfectly into our world.
And now for the final series, the most complex and only for very experienced fantasy readers…. *drumroll*
The Bone Season.
Now, I’ve only read one of the two books published, and I’m already in love. The characters are fantastic, and the plot and world are very unique and complex. The beginning of this book is extremely hard to get into, because you’re trying to figure out this crazy complex world and it’s a bit of an info dump. It’s so worth it to get past that though!! I can’t wait to dive into the rest of the series.
Fantasy Reader Level: Very experienced.
Easiness to Get Into: Pretty difficult, but once you get past the initial 30 or so pages, everything really comes together.
Complexity: EXTREMELY complex. Probably the most complex world I’ve ever read about.
And there you have it folks! I hope that by this point, you are ready to brave the unknown and explore the Young Adult Fantasy realm. Go forth, young pupils! Explore new worlds! Read to your hearts content!
Have you read any of these series’? What did you think? Do you have any fantasy recommendations for me? I’d love to hear them!
Until next time,