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Rosie, the Canton Public Library's resident YA librarian, has thoughts about everything. Here are some of them. 

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Jan 02

New Year, New Series

Posted on January 2, 2016 at 5:06 PM by Rosie Moore

It's almost a new year, which means it's time to set some reading goals for 2016! Series are a perfect way to kick off your year of reading for a bunch of reasons. First, many of them come with built in read-alikes! There's no guessing or Googling or asking for advice to find more books like the one you just read when it has a bunch of sequels! Also, stories that unfold over multiple books have a lot of time and space to really develop the characters, settings, and plots. It's easy to experience real feelings for people or worlds that you've spent books reading over the course of five years. The worst thing about reading series is that they all have to end sometime, and often closing the last page of a last book feels like a good friend has moved away. Here are some suggestions for some series starters to try this year. 

Finished Series 
The first book in a finished series is a great way to start your reading year! Even if they or some of their sequels end in massive cliffhangers, you'll only have to wait as long as it takes to pick up the next book to start finding out what happens next! 

Legend, by Marie Lu
Cover image for Legend

This series takes place in future in The Republic, which is the western half of what was once was the United States and is perpetually at war with its eastern neighbor. The point of view alternates between 15 year-olds June, who is a prodigy expected to go far in the Republic's military, and Day, the country's most wanted criminal. When June's brother is murdered, Day is the prime suspect, and June is determined to do whatever it takes to finally take him down. But there is more to Day's story than June ever expected, and the Republic has secrets that have changed both of their lives--secrets that, when investigated, provide three books worth of action, explosions, and opportunities for both of these characters to display their intelligence, loyalty, senses of humor, bravery, and general awesomeness. These books have everything that makes post-apocalyptic dystopian action stories great--high stakes, bloodshed, secret government conspiracies, skilled heroes, action, excitement, romance--and still feels fresh and original. 

The first book in this British series about a teenage spy was published for the first time more than 15 years ago, but readers will still get swept up in the adventures of Alex Rider. Similar to the Harry Potter series, the books follow main character Alex as he works as a spy to solve various mysteries. Each book is dedicated to one case until a larger, overarching threat is discovered.  A great thing about this series is how much there is to read. There are 11 base books, as well as 4 graphic novels, a series of companion books and stories, and even a movie. Alex Rider will keep readers for a while.
Alex Rider, by Anthony Horowitz 
Cover image for Stormbreaker

Almost Anything by Tamora Pierce, by Tamora Pierce
Cover image for Alanna : the first adventure

Tamora Pierce has been writing fantasy novels and series for 30 years, and they are some of the most in depth worlds and memorable characters out there. She's a great choice for all kinds of fantasy lovers--whether you are looking for one quick quartet to take your mind off the real world for a few weeks or are really ready to devote yourself to one world through multiple conflicts and generations, Tamora is your girl. She specializes in layering series upon series to create full, fleshed out fantasy worlds with real history. The Tortall Universe, for example, has more than 25 works, including 21 full length novels in 5 different series. None of the series require reading the others in order to understand or appreciate what's happening, but they do add levels of depth and connection. With 85 books published so far, most of which are part of at least one series, Tamora Pierce has the potential to keep readers busy for years. 

Series in Progress
These series are at least a few books in, which means there's plenty of world to see and characters to get to know. But they're not done yet, so there're still parts of the story left to wonder about and look forward to. 

The first book in the series Red Rising (which is also called Red Rising), is as Ender's Game meets Hunger Games meets Game of Thrones as it is possible to be. It is definitely true that the first 100 pages or so of this book are overly complicated, melodramatic, derivative, and usually I am a firm believer in abandoning books that you just can't get into. But somehow I pushed past Red Rising's lukewarm beginning and I am SO glad I did. The second book, Golden Son, was head and shoulders above the first, and I have been impatiently waiting for the 3rd and final installment since the moment I finished it. 

Definitely, definitely worth the effort it took to get through the slow beginning and I have nothing but hope that the last one will be absolutely amazing. 
Red Rising, by Pierce Brown
Cover image for Red Rising

Embassy Row, by Ally Carter
Cover image for All Fall Down

This is a contemporary thriller series centering on Grace, an Army brat daredevil and grandchild of one of the most powerful ambassadors in the world. Now 16 years old, she comes to live on Embassy Row to try to solve the mystery of her mother's murder--even though she seems to be the only person who believes that her mother's death was not an accident. Of course, during her investigations she uncovers an international conspiracy that puts herself and the world at risk. 

Author Ally Carter is already well-known for her other real world mystery series, Gallagher Girls and Heist Society. Embassy Row currently has 2 installments and at least one more on the way, but it wouldn't be surprising Grace's story were to continue with more books. 

Part historical fiction, party mystery, part paranormal thriller, this series has something to please a wide range of readers. Set in a fictional New England town in the year 1891, it's narrated by recent English immigrant Abigail Rook. Abigail tells the story of how she started working with Jackaby, a skilled detective who specializes in solving supernatural crimes.

This paranormal twist is an excellent addition to an otherwise pretty traditional Sherlock Holmes inspired series. There are two books so far, with plenty of opportunity for multiple future installments. Still, for readers who hate the often unsatisfying nature of most cliffhangers, there's little to worry about here. So far, both mysteries have been solved and the stories nicely resolved. 
Jackaby, by William Ritter
Cover image for Jackaby

Just Started
These series only have one book so far. This can be super frustrating, because  
it means having to wait months or even years for the story to be complete. But some books are just so awesome and tell stories with such great potential that they're worth reading right away. And then again right before the sequel comes out. And again when the third, or fourth, or fifth follow over the next handful of years. 

An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir
Cover image for An ember in the ashes : a novel

This is the story of two people, one a soldier and the other a slave, living in a vicious fantasy world inspired by ancient Rome. While neither has the freedom to live their lives how they would choose, both are determined to change their fates. This is an exciting, original, vividly described world with complex characters, engaging story, and palpable emotions. 

I thought this book sounded interesting the very first time I read a little blurb about it, and I was looking forward to reading it. I was not disappointed. This was definitely one of my favorite books published in 2015. I cannot wait for the sequel, A Torch Against the Night, which is expected to published at the end of August, 2016. I know she's only written one book and that it might be a little early in her career to declare this, but if all the books in this series are as good as the first, Sabaa Tahir has earned herself a lifelong fan. I can't wait to see what she comes out with next. 

This book isn't for readers looking for nonstop action or epic battles against an oppressive dystopian society, but it is definitely not boring. Greta, as a duchess and crown princess of a world power in a future where it looked like humans were going to completely kill each other off with wars. That is, until the Artificial Intelligence known as Talis stepped in, took control of the world, and put a stop to war. In order to do this, he requires that every ruler of every single nation hand over one of their children as hostages--hostages that will be killed if their country ever engages in war. 

This book is more political than action packed, more thought provoking than adventurous, more suspenseful than violent (although there definitely is a fair amount of violence). The best thing about it is how clear everyone's motivations are, and how much sense they all make. This is no black and white battle of good and evil, but rather a thoughtful consideration of all the shades of gray that are balancing freedom and peace, preserving individual rights while working for the greater good, and all the aspects of what it means to be human. The first book sets up these questions wonderfully--I looking forward to seeing how future installments delve deeper into the discussions.  
The Prisoners of Peace, by Erin Bow 
Cover image for The Scorpion Rules

The Great Library, by Rachel Caine
Cover image for Ink and bone : the Great Library

First, imagine a world where the Library of Alexandria never burned. For a lot of readers, it sounds like an amazing opportunity to live in a world with that much more scholarship, academia, and cultural knowledge being curated and shared for hundreds of years. Sounds pretty awesome, right?

Ink and Bone is the first book in the series called The Great Library, which takes place in the near future but in a very different world with the Library still standing. Unfortunately for book-lovers, scholars, and academics, the main goal of the Library seems to be more controlling information and progress than promoting it. Jess, whose family have been smuggling books on the black market for as long as he can remember, is sent to work for the Library by his father so he can act as a spy for the family business. It doesn't take Jess long to realize that this job is much more dangerous than he originally anticipated. The Library is willing to go to extraordinary lengths to prevent its secrets from coming life and protect the power of its collection. 

Short Series
Do you like the idea of the depth and complexity of a series but just don't feel ready to commit to a ten (or seven or even three) book series? Try one or two of these duologies, which tell the whole story in only two books. 

Most of the characters in this series have died and come back to life. In the world of the books, this is called Rebooting, and Wren was dead longer than anyone else before waking up again. This makes her emotionless and very difficult to kill, which means she is an ideal soldier. She has never considered disobeying orders until she meets Callum (dead a mere 22 minutes before Rebooting), who is still practically human. 

Just when zombie stories were starting to feel old and overdone, along comes Reboot. What I love so much about these zombies is that they're not they villains. They grow and talk and change and feel and live, and that's very interesting. 
Reboot, by Amy Tintera
Cover image for Reboot

Just One Day, by Gayle Forman
Cover image for Just one day

The two books in this series have been described as "a sweepingly romantic duet of novels." The first, Just One Day, is told from American Allyson's point of view while she's taking a tour of Europe. She is all about order and planning, but all that goes out the window when she meets Willem, and he convinces her to abandon her plans and go with him to Paris for a day. The second book, Just One Year, is Willem's. Both are filled with romance, adventure, hope, and travel that will give even the biggest homebodies wanderlust.

And if these two short books are just too short, there's a bonus 40-page ebook to tie everything up nicely together.  

If you enjoy reading almost any kind of book, you will enjoy reading this series. Fantasy/science fiction mashups? Yes. Historical Fiction? Yes. Mysteries and suspense? Yes. Romance? Yes. Violence? Yes. Interesting setting, characters, society, mythology, science, magic, and music? A thousand times yes. 

But especially dragons. Yes. This is a really incredible dragon series for readers who can't get enough of the scaly beasts as well as novice fantasy readers. Definitely, definitely give Seraphina and its one sequel Shadow Scale a shot. 
Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman 
Cover image for Seraphina : a novel