Saturday, May 26, 2012

Top 10: Favorite Kid and YA book series

Yay, it’s list time!  Today’s list is my favorite juvenile and young adult book series.  I was an AVID reader as a kid, and much of my time was taken up with series of books.  I loved knowing I would read more about the characters the next month, and my bookshelves were full of my many obsessions.  Dad was constantly trying to build me enough storage to hold them all, and never succeeded, cause the books kept coming out like clockwork.

Now, for this list, I had to set a few parameters, because otherwise the list would be massive.  My main requirements were more than five books(sorry Hunger Games!), easily expandable on the main charaters(this ruled out Harry Potter, only because the series had a definite ending point), and the books had to come first(so no Full House or Ghostwriter books).

I didn’t limit myself to only YA books either, I remember devouring even the easy reader chapter books in the early morning, awake before the alarm clock even woke me up.

Other than that, most everything was fair game.

Before we start, a few honorable mentions:
The Princess Diaries
Ramona & Friends
The Magic School Bus
Choose Your Own Adventure
Captain Underpants
The Bathroom Reader series(I know, technically not YA, but I so enjoyed it as a kid!)
Chicken Soup for the various Souls(see above)

Now that that’s out of the way, lets head out to the list proper, starting with…



This series was tons of fun.  A mystery/thriller, it hit you on all four cylinders, and never let up.  Gaia Moore, the main character, was ‘born without the fear gene.’  She felt no fear, so nothing held her back from giving it her all in anything, including the fights and things she was always getting into.  It was a good thing, then that her MIA CIA dad trained her in multiple forms of fighting and whatnot.  Anyway, like I said, this was a super fun read, and I think it would have made it higher in my list if it hadn’t petered out in the 20’s, and if the WB hadn’t made an ill-advised attempt at turning it into a TV show with Rachel Leigh Cook as the main character.  In case you were wondering, Gaia Moore looks nothing like Rachel Leigh Cook.


A Series of Unfortunate Events

Another mystery series, though aimed at a slightly younger audience.  The Baudelaire orphans are trying to secure their inheritance from an evil adversary, Count Olaf.  Olaf tries multiple ways to trick them out of their fortune in the thirteen books of the series, with the bigger mystery of their parent’s deaths being solved along the way.  I really enjoyed the writing style used in this series.  The author spoke right to the reader, and defined the larger words in a rather humorous way that didn’t feel condescending.  The length of this series, and the almost too-pat ending hurt my ratings for this series, but it is still a fantastic series for kids that want to increase the challenge level of their reading with exploding their brain.


Another mystery!  Amy, a girl with a mysterious tattoo, learns about her life, her parents, and her 20+ clones that inhabit the world.  Yeah, this one’s a bit farfetched.  I actually don’t have my copies of this one anymore, sadly, but from what I do remember, the writing was middling to slightly better than average.  However, the plot more than made up for it, you always wanted to know what exactly was going on


Sweet Valley

Holy cow, I could not get enough of these books when I was a kid.  I remember by sixth grade teacher being terribly disturbed when I gave my book report on the serial killer Margo plot.  It was glorious in it’s cheeseyness, and the fact that the plots got more and more absurd only made me want to read it more.  Looking back, I cannot believe how popular those books were.  Not only was there Sweet Valley High, but there were Kids, and Twins, and Senior Year, and College Year, and now, Sweet Valley: We’s all growd up.  This didn’t get stuck in the honorable mentions only because of the SVT mystery novels.  Those kicked butt, and I will <3 them until my dying days.


California Diaries

Dawn Shafer moves back to California, reunites with old friends, makes new ones, and deals with all the drama.  Cancer?  Best friend’s mom.  Anorexia?  Other friend.  Gay?  Not officially, but come on now...Ducky, anyone? School pressure, drepression, divorce, it was all around.  This was technically a spin-off of another series, but the tone was so different, I consider it it’s own entity.  The books were written in diary form, which got a bit old, especially with the harder to read handwriting, but lent itself well to the teenage angst that happened in every single book.  I really enjoyed these, and would have loved them even more if they had a longer run.



Three kids from different universes end up in an even more different universe, and try to figure out why as they discover their abilities that were latent in their home worlds.  This was another fun series, with interesting plot points that kept you guessing through most of the series.  There were always little mysteries to solve, and the doodles and drawings in the book really sucked you in as well.  If you do come across these, make sure to lay the covers side by side in order for a fun little surprise.


Artemis Fowl

A fun action/adventure series with a whole lot of fantasy thrown in!  Artemis Fowl is a genius that goes around causing mischief and solving mysteries and crimes, and trying to find things that the LEPrecon team don’t want him to.  Artemis is a standard anti-hero, but he through the books he really grows, and it’s fun to watch.  In researching this piece, I found out that the eight and final book is coming out in July, so, yay and boo at the same time.


So You Want To Be A Wizard

Nita and Kit are a pair of teenagers that bond over their shared outcastedness, when both discover they are wizards.  The fantasy portions of this book are played really nicely into existing beliefs and realities.  The Lone Power is the main antagonist, and fills the devil role fantastically well.  This series has been around for a while, so it’s kind of funny to do a marathon read of these books, and watch the technology advance in real time, even though the characters do the serial shuffle with their ages.  They have aged in the books, they aren’t in a time loop or anything, but in the course of one school year, they went from the actual card catalogue to having the internet as we know it today.  But beside those few time anachronisms, this is a fantastic series.  The characters are well-drawn and believable, the stories, though firmly based in fantasy, have a real world sensibility about them, and really make it seem like, if only a couple things changed, they could happen here.



This series love I am not ashamed of, unlike a certain valley a few ranks ago.  Six typical teenagers come across a dying alien, and that alien gives them the power to become any animal they can touch.  Why, you may ask?  To defeat the Yeerks, of course!  Yeerks, the parasitic mind-controlling aliens that are attempting to take over Earth as they have multiple other planets, are the bad guys, of course.  Our six intrepid heroes do everything in their power to stop them, and it is fantastic the whole time.  I *love* Tobias, and not only because his actor on the TV show was hot.  I don’t think I can even express how sad I am that all my copies have vanished in all the moving I did during school.

And now, my number one choice is…


Baby-sitter’s Club

Oh, I know none of you are surprised.  I devoured these books, and they were the main reason my shelves were full.  I had every book from 1-100 and beyond, including super specials and mysteries, and I read them over and over.  I remember a birthday party, when grandma and Auntie Terry were over, and I astounded everyone with my knowledge of the series.  “Give me a number,” I said, “between 1 and 75, and I can tell you the title of the BSC book, and a basic plot summary, too!”  So they did, and I blasted the room with my amazing memory.  I was such a nerd.  I’m pretty sure if you gave me a title even today, I could give you at least a little of the story.  These books were…not well written.  They followed a pattern every time, and never deviated from it.   Dealing with big issues was done in a terrible way(what, BSC, you can’t tell your parents anything at all about the issues and troubles you are having?) but I loved them anyway.  I knew which sitter I was like(Kristy, with a bit of Stacey thrown in for good measure), and I wanted to start a baby-sitting business of my own, though I never got past the saying I should do it phase.  These are the quintessential books of my childhood, and I love them for it.

And that’s my list!  What did you think?  Did I leave off your favorite series, or rank something too high or low?  Let me know in the comments!

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