5 Millennial-Approved Young Adult Book Series That Are Still Going Strong
Nostalgia has become a staple of Millennial culture. From Spotify playlists full of NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys to live-action remakes of our favorite Disney films and TV reboots of golden oldies (who else was sad about the failed Lizzie McGuire revival?), we can’t help reaching back to the early aughts. Fewer may have realized that our old favorites can be rediscovered not just on the screen and the airwaves, but on the page as well. A number of Millennials’ favorite YA book series are still going or about to enjoy a reboot; here are five familiar titles to look out for.
1. The Twilight Saga // Stephanie Meyer
To anyone who toted Stephanie Meyer’s hefty Twilight Saga tomes in their backpacks in middle school, it will be both unsurprising and welcome news that she’s hard at work behind the scenes. Meyer wrapped the original Twilight Saga in 2008 with Breaking Dawn, but she couldn’t seem to walk away from the story of Bella and Edward: Meyer went on to supplement the series with graphic novels, an illustrated guide, a gender-swapped version of Twilight, and even a novella from the point of view of a newborn vampire featured in Eclipse.
Then, in August 2020, Meyer published Midnight Sun, a retelling of the first Twilight book from Edward’s perspective. She was working on the project as far back as 2008, but put it on hold for more than a decade after chapters of the manuscript leaked online. Meyer said there were difficulties in flipping the script on the same narrative and dialogue, noting that the best part of writing Midnight Sun was “the fourth act where Edward and Bella are separated, so then I’m free to do whatever I want.”
And it seems there’s potentially more to come from the Twilight-verse. At a Books-A-Million event in 2020, Meyer said that “There are two more books I think in the world that I want to write. I have got them outlined and a chapter written I think of the first one, so I know it’s there.” But it’s not coming immediately: Meyer said she wants “to do something brand new … I really want to do a new world and new rules and new mythology.”
2. The Book of Dust // Philip Pullman
Pullman’s His Dark Materials series put a new spin on John Milton’s 17th-century epic poem Paradise Lost, substituting a young girl’s defiance of an enfeebled, god-like patriarchy for Milton’s tale of Adam and Eve’s fall at the hands of an all-powerful God. Pullman has christened his Book of Dust series neither prequel nor sequel, but an “equel” to the original His Dark Materials trilogy. The first two volumes in this new trilogy, La Belle Sauvage (2017) and The Secret Commonwealth (2019), bookend the timeline of the original series, spanning from heroine Lyra’s infancy to the period following her return to Jordan College.
Although Pullman’s brush with COVID-19 posed a setback to completing the third installment of The Book of Dust, he released The Imagination Chamber in April 2022. Fans who still can’t get enough have the final season HBO’s mesmerizing adaptation of His Dark Materials, starring Dafne Keen, Ruth Wilson, James McAvoy, and Lin-Manuel Miranda to look forward to; it premieres in December 2022.
3. The Inkworld Series // Cornelia Funke
From its first installment, Inkheart (2003), Cornelia Funke’s three-volume series Inkworld (originally published in German) captured the magic of reading for children around the world. The novels follow the adventures of Meggie and Mo—a father and daughter who can literally make books come alive by reading them aloud—and their friends: Elinor the bookworm, Dustfinger the fire-eater, and Fenoglio, the author of a novel-within-the-novel called Inkheart. Meggie and Mo’s world repeatedly collides with Fenoglio’s spellbinding words, as they read themselves and others into and out of the dark fantasy of Inkheart.
The first novel was made into a standalone movie in 2008 starring Brendan Fraser, who Funke says was her original inspiration for the character of Mo. Fraser even went on to narrate audiobooks of the second Inkworld novel, Inkspell (2005), as well as one of Funke’s other popular children’s novels, Dragon Rider (2000).
Now, there are whispers of a fourth novel. It even has a Goodreads page, which attributes to it the title The Colour of Revenge. But specifics about the release of the next book in the Inkworld series are still pretty murky. An eager reader’s question on the guestbook of Funke’s website yielded the information that Inkworld #4 will be released in the original German in October 2023, with translations into other languages at undetermined dates thereafter.
4. The Princess Diaries // Meg Cabot
Many Millennials associate The Princess Diaries with the hit films directed by Garry Marshall, starring Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews. (Didn’t we all grow up secretly wishing that Julie Andrews would swoop into our awkward high school years and give us princess lessons before whisking us off to Genovia?) The second film premiered in 2004; recent cast interviews and Marshall’s death in 2016 have seemingly extinguished hopes of a third. But the books have had a longer lifespan.
Cabot published more than a dozen Princess Diaries books between 2000 and 2015 before she revived the series in 2020, when she posted entries from Princess Mia’s COVID diary for free on her blog. She has since taken those postings down and replaced them with an announcement that The Quarantine Princess Diaries, the latest installment in the series, will be released in March 2023. Get your tiaras ready!
5. The Nancy Drew Mysteries // Various Authors
It’s hard to believe that Nancy Drew has been a staple of children’s fiction—particularly for young girls—for nearly a century, but it’s true.
Children’s author (and adventurer) Mildred Benson (1905-2002) was one of the initial team of ghostwriters who worked for the publisher Stratemeyer Syndicate to create Nancy Drew. Benson, in particular, was instrumental in shaping the character’s personality. However, the identities of Benson and her co-writers were subsumed under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene.
The Nancy Drew series has gone through many iterations since it entertained girl readers during the Great Depression and World War II. Most recently, it was rebooted in 2013 as the Nancy Drew Diaries—still under the pen name Carolyn Keene. This latest series tells the stories of Nancy’s adventures through her journal entries for a generation of new readers to discover. The identity of “Carolyn Keene,” on the other hand, has once again been shrouded in mystery.