Some books are staples in the YA community, ones that last forever.
Some are books that boom and blossom for a few months, only to be left to gather dust on shelves and forgotten about.
Today I’ll be discussing “out of date” YA series that have had their time in the lime light but have now fallen behind the big voices of today, and a few reasons why I think they’ve died.
Hint: its diversity. Or lack thereof.
Series 1: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Okay: hear me out. I know what you are thinking “but these books recently got new special edition covers!” That’s right, they did. But they didn’t really sell well. Compared to the mass purchase of this trilogy the entire world was going through – the Hunger Games is barely moving off shelves anymore. Sure, it paved the way for some of the dystopian YA books that are still thriving today, but it’s not thriving itself anymore. My own copies have been left untouched for years.
Series 2: Divergent by Veronica Roth
You can’t deny that this one has taken a slow and steady death. The movies bombed, the book sales were only marginally better and now I rarely see Divergent in book stores anymore. It was exciting back in the day – but it’s being replaced by newer, shiny books (see: Four Dead Queens) who also divide populations into segments and Divergent just can’t compete anymore.
Series 3: The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
This is definitely one of the most controversial on this list. Sure, sales are still pretty good but only from people who are mass buying 20,000 editions of the same book. (Please understand this is not an insult, I too have multiple copies).
I’m going to be honest and say that TMI’s worst problem is that it’s too long now. Young readers are too intimidated to start, faced by huge books with never ending series. No one knows where to start, no one knows how to go about reading these books and without extensive research, it’s definitely not clear.
I also think Cassandra’s writing has developed so much since City of Bones – and it’s evident. Nobody’s favourite series is TMI, we’re all about TDI or TDA.
Series 4: Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan
This one barely makes it on the list. Sales are still great, Rick Riordan is still king – but Percy Jackson isn’t selling to YA audiences anymore. It’s transitioned back to its rightful home in the middle grade category, along with Harry Potter. Loyalists will always commit to a reread (*cough* me *cough), but people over 13 just aren’t picking this up in stores anymore. Percy Jackson will always reign supreme, but his time in the YA community has come to a solid end.
Series 5: Uglies by Scott Westerfield
I’ll be honest – I was never a fan, so I’m relatively glad Uglies has fallen off the YA cliff. Uglies tried to benefit from the path The Hunger Games and Divergent created, and it succeeded… for a time. But no one has talked about it for years – I haven’t seen a single mention of it for as long as I can remember. This book has well and truly expired.
Series 6: Fallen by Lauren Kate
Remember the obsession with hot fallen angels? I do! I haven’t seen them succeed in months though, no new books are entering the market and Fallen has all but been forgotten about it. Even the movie struggled to give it the CPR it desperately needed.
Series 7: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Another one I’m glad to see having fallen off the rails that is the YA train. The Raven Boys is still conquering hearts galore, but Shiver has fallen off the tracks and been left in the dust. Werewolves have been killed off along with fallen angels, and I’m still a little torn up. But vampires and werewolves are welcome to make a come back any time they want… Renee Ahdieh’s Beautiful anyone?
Series 8: Gone by Michael Grant
Remember this one? I do, but only because I see it being sold in every second hand book store ever. I was absolutely obsessed with this series in my prime and I would be glad to see it making a come back but bottom line is: it’s not. A new book in the series hasn’t saved it, and I can’t imagine anything else will. Although I’m now tempted for a reread…
Series 9: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Oh look – another fallen angel book that plummeted from the skies and landed with a KAPUT. I can remember little to nothing about this series apart from the fact it used to be on every shelf back in the day. Now I only see it in donation centres and it seems to have lost its wings and taken the fall to earth.
Series 10: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
This spoopy book was groundbreaking and like nothing else – until Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children came and stole the limelight. Mara Dyer has been lain to rest, with sales of the new Noah Shaw books at a devastatingly low level and buzz lower even than that. RIP Mara Dyer, you will be missed.
HONORARY MENTION: Eragon by Christopher Paolini
I know, I know: it hurts to say it.
How could dragons ever be out of fashion? (Hint: they aren’t. Priory of the Orange Tree’s success proves that). But Eragon just is. It’s a harsh truth that hurts – but I’m here to spill the tea, not keep your precious hearts from shattering completely. These ferocious hunky books have seen a gradual decline into a shallow grave.
Although I’m VERY willing to band together and give it the resuscitation it deserves.
And do you want to know the tea?
All of these books are written by white authors, featuring white casts. There’s little to no disability rep, no LGBTQ+ characters and nothing of real life substance that we could expect from a whole host of characters that survive several wars.
Not having any of the above both doesn’t make sense and makes all of these series outdated in the eyes of the YA market.
We want to see characters that represent us, that we can connect to!
Anything without that reality will slowly see its long walk off a short pier.
It will go out of date, real fast.
My next post will be a discussion on which YA building blocks are still going strong, and I’ll give you a hint: there’s a lot more diversity in that one.