Thursday, July 23, 2015

Fantastic Middle-Grade Fantasy Series!

Hey, y'all! So, as an avid reader who has been an avid reader since the age of 4, I've read a lot of books in my time. And, since I've always loved fantasy books, I've seen the good, bad, and the ugly of the genre, and decided to share some of my knowledge with y'all. I might make this into a series of "underrated recommendations", but the basic point of this specific post is to highlight some not-so-well-known fantasy novels aimed at the middle grade audience.

And just to get this out of the way right off the bat, if you're interested in middle-grade and have not yet read the Harry Potter series or the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, stop right here and look into those two to see if they sound like your cup of tea. I'm not going to get into either in this post, because they're some huge, well-known series. However, I do have a lot of posts about Harry Potter, which you can see by clicking here if you're interested. But seriously, if you haven't read Harry Potter yet, you really need to get on that, because DUH it's like one of the biggest series of all time.

And now, on to my actual recommendations.

The Pendragon Adventure
by DJ MacHale

I often forget that this series is a pretty underrated one, because it's been a big part of my life since junior high. This is also one that I've talked about very extensively, so I'll make sure to leave links to posts, as well as my video on the topic down below my description of the series. 

The Pendragon Series is a middle grade/ young adult fantasy series. The series begins with the main character, Bobby Pendragon, at age 14. One day, his uncle suddenly shows up at Bobby's house and tells him that he needs some help. What Bobby doesn't realize is that he's about to be taken on the biggest adventure of his life. Bobby learns that there are 10 territories (alternate dimensions) and that he is a Traveler, a person tasked with the protection of the territories. Bobby quickly learns that a guy named Saint Dane is attempting to throw the territories into chaos, and it's Bobby's job (along with the travelers from the other territories) to stop him and save all of humanity.

Our main perspective is of Bobby, told in first-person through journals which he sends to his best friend to keep a record of what is happening. The secondary perspective is of Bobby's best friend, Mark, and pseudo-girlfriend, Courtney, who receive the journals and go through their own problems on Earth. The majority of the books focus on a single territory each, as Bobby travels there to thwart the evil Saint Dane.

This series has been one of my favorites for almost as long as Harry Potter. The territories are insanely cool, and the characters are really interesting and diverse. I would especially recommend this series to people who enjoyed Harry Potter and want something similar but very unique and insanely well-crafted. Like with Harry Potter, the reader gets to watch the main character grow up and come into his own, with a finale rivaling that of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt. 2. But still not quite as good because... Harry Potter.

Series Discussion (w/links to posts on individual books)
Video discussion on the series:

The Ascendance Trilogy

by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Like with Pendragon, I have full discussions on both my blog and on my YouTube channel, both of which will be at the end of this series' section.

The Ascendance Trilogy is a middle-grade series centering around Sage, a twelve-year-old orphan boy who is very clever, snarky, and a skilled thief. Sage is collected by Conner, a nobleman with a cunning plan. He needs an impersonator of the king's long lost son, and has recruited four orphan boys to compete for the role. But Sage will soon find out that things are much more complex than he originally thought. He must succeed... his life depends on it.

This series is really excellent, regardless of the fact that it's a middle grade series. I read it for the first time five months ago (AKA as a 20 year old) and absolutely loved it. While there were definitely books in the trilogy that I preferred over others (my favorite being The Runaway King), this was overall a consistently good trilogy, which can be very hard to find. However, the series is particularly outstanding as a middle grade trilogy because of how fast-paced and engrossing it is. The False Prince is a little slower-paced compared to the other two books, but you hit the ground running in The Runaway King and are taken on a crazy ride that doesn't really let up until the end of the trilogy.

The main character, Sage, is one of my favorite aspects of the trilogy, and I think that the middle grade audience would really relate to him because he's just so cool. His snark keeps you laughing, and his cleverness keeps you constantly on your toes, because you never know what he's going to pull next. Overall, this trilogy is a complete delight and absolutely outstanding, and it isn't talked about a lot within the BookTube community.

Ascendance Trilogy Review

Video discussion on the series:

The Charlie Bone Series
by Jenny Nimmo

I actually don't think I've talked about this series at all on here, and I've only briefly mentioned it on my Youtube channel, which is really surprising to me, because I really like this series.

This is a middle grade fantasy series about a ten year old boy named Charlie. When he discovers that he has a magical ability, his aunts send him to Bloor Academy, a school for children with special gifts like Charlie. Once there, he meets a slew of interesting people, all with interesting abilities such as the one Charlie possesses. This is an 8 book long series with tons of interesting characters and twists and turns.

This is definitely aimed at the youngest audience out of the series that I've recommended so far. I first started reading it when I was 10, but I think kids either slightly older or slightly younger would also enjoy it. On the surface, based solely off of the description, it may sound like a bit of a ripoff of Harry Potter, but the two actually aren't very similar at all. The biggest difference is that the kids don't have magic powers, per se, but instead each have one single special ability. And in general, these are not your typical special abilities like flying or super strength. I don't want to spoil anything for you, so I won't tell you exactly what they are, but I will promise that they're really unique and really cool. 

Now, although I did just say that this series isn't that similar to Harry Potter, I do think that you'd enjoy this series if you like Harry Potter. One of the biggest similarities is that they both take place at a boarding school, and that seems to be an aspect of books that a lot of people get really excited about. I also think that people who have read and enjoyed A Series of Unfortunate Events will enjoy this series as well, because this has a fairly dark tone overall and is also really unique. I might even throw in fans of Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children, just due to the fact that all of the kids in this series have unique abilities and that it has a dark tone. Overall, this is a really unique middle grade series that has a pretty dark tone and is really interesting. 

So, that's it for my middle-grade fantasy series recommendations! Let me know down in the comments if there are any other genres you'd like to see recommendations for. Even though I'm a big fantasy person, I enjoy a huge range of genres and would probably have plenty of recommendations for whatever genre you toss my way!

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