The young adult genre has gained plenty of traction in the publishing world, thanks in part to popular book adaptations like The Giver, The Maze Runner and our personal favorite, The Hunger Games. But as much as we do enjoy coming-of-age books that take us straight back to our 20s, we’re always on the lookout for compelling book series for adults, whether it’s a charming contemporary romance or a nightmare-worthy thriller that’ll keep us up at night.
From Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series to James Islington’s Licanius trilogy, keep reading for all the book series that should be on your radar.
1. The MaddAddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood
Genre: Science Fiction
Books in series: Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, MaddAddam
While Atwood is best known for her feminist masterpiece, The Handmaid's Tale, MaddAddam is just as relevant and thought-provoking—and you’ll see that Atwood truly has a knack for weaving in symbolism and social commentary. The series takes place in the near future, when genetic engineering and a global plague wipe out most of humanity. But aside from examining a broken world, the series also focuses on human survival and efforts to rebuild a better world in the wake of a devastating tragedy. (P.S., if you’ve read Octavia Butler's Parable of Sower, you will absolutely love Oryx and Crake.)
2. Dublin Murder Squad by Tana French
Genre: Mystery Thriller
Books in series: In the Woods, The Likeness, Faithful Place, Broken Harbour, Secret Place, The Trespasser
The TV adaptation of this slow-burn mystery series was met with mixed reactions, but if you’re into creepy, edge-of-your-seat tales that tackle deep themes like trauma and family conflict, you don’t want to overlook these books. Each book follows a different Irish detective as they investigate an unsettling case, from a mysterious disappearance to the brutal murder of a father and his children. Although they are interconnected, each protagonist offers a fresh perspective with their own experiences and set of beliefs—except their expertise can only get them so far.
3. Beartown by Fredrik Backman
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Books in series: Beartown, Us Against You, The Winners
If you loved Friday Night Lights, then you’re in for a treat with this heartfelt series. The trilogy follows a community of small-town residents who are beyond devoted to their local high school hockey team—and eager to see them win the national semi-finals. The character-driven series taps into thought-provoking themes like loyalty, parental control and the impact of community. But more importantly, the books are a love letter to those who are fiercely passionate about something that others might call an unhealthy obsession. In his interview with Audible, Backman said, “All of Beartown comes from that core of people who just love something more than they should.”
4. Newsflesh by Mira Grant
Genre: Dystopian Fiction
Books in series: Feed, Deadline, Blackout, Feedback
They may not include all the gory zombie action that you’ve seen on countless episodes of The Walking Dead, but these books offer something even better: the combination of zombies, politics and investigative journalism. The dystopian novels, which essentially double as smart political thrillers, follow a group of journalists who seek to uncover a major government conspiracy that’s connected to the zombie virus. In a refreshing spin, society has adapted to this strange new world, and there are so many other aspects (Clones! Zombie bears!) that makes it stand out from your typical zombie story.
5. The Loyal League Series by Alyssa Cole
Genre: Historical Romance
Books in series: An Extraordinary Union, A Hope Divided, An Unconditional Freedom
Set during the American Civil War, the series follows two Union spies who develop an unlikely romance while collaborating on their missions. Elle, who’s a former slave, trades in her freedom to do the job, while Malcolm goes undercover as a detective by infiltrating a Rebel group. The Loyal League is definitely a binge-worthy read, thanks to the suspense, the action, the swoon-worthy romance and, more importantly, the lesser-known details you might’ve missed out on in your American history class.
6. Wolf Hall Trilogy by Hilary Mantel
Genre: Historical fiction
Books in series: Wolf Hall, Bring Up the Bodies, The Mirror and the Light
The historical saga follows the fascinating journey of Thomas Cromwell, who rose to power and became one of the most influential men in the court of Henry VIII. Rather than painting the famous figure as greedy and calculating, Mantel breathes new life into the character by humanizing him. From the sharp prose and layered characters to the core themes (including the dangers of ambition, dogmatism, violence and heresy, to name a few), this series will pull you right in. Although we should warn you, it’s not a light read that you can easily fly through in a matter of days.
7. The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer
Books in series: Annihilation, Authority, Acceptance
For starters, this series is not like anything you've ever read. It’s equal parts weird and horrifying, but fascinating enough to keep you reading from start to finish—even if you’re not quite sure what’s going on. Simply put, the series revolves around The Southern Reach, which is a secret government agency that studies “Area X,” an abandoned part of the United States that is uninhabitable. Our relationship with technology, our ability to deal with the unknown, and the corruption of organizations are just a few themes you’ll run into.
8. Bollywood Series by Sonali Dev
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Books in series: A Bollywood Affair, The Bollywood Bride, A Change of Heart, A Distant Heart
The series tells four stories, about four different Indian women—Mili, Ria, Dr. Nikhil and Kimaya—as they find love and navigate certain challenges, whether it be an arranged marriage or infidelity. You’ll appreciate the detailed descriptions of Indian culture, the witty prose and the heartwarming romantic moments. (FYI, the books can be read as standalone novels and in any order, but we recommend reading them all to get the full experience and context.)
9. Easy Rawlins Mysteries by Walter Mosley
Books in series: A Red Death, Devil in a Blue Dress, A White Butterfly, Black Betty, A Little Yellow Dog, 6 Gone Fishin', Bad Boy Brawly Brown, Six Easy Pieces, Little Scarlet, Cinnamon Kiss, Blonde Faith, Little Green, Rose Gold, Charcoal Joe, Blood Grove
Allow us to introduce you to the iconic Easy Rawlins, a Black war veteran turned private detective who takes on a number of cases in post-World War II Los Angeles. Each book addresses the racial tension and injustices faced by the Black community, seamlessly blending sharp social commentary with mystery elements. And thanks to the colorful characters and witty prose, they all make for an enjoyable and entertaining read. (Psst, as a bonus, you can see Denzel Washington play the famed detective in Devil in a Blue Dress.)
10. The Dark Tower by Stephen King
Genre: Science Fiction, Horror, Western
Books in series: The Gunslinger, The Drawing of the Three, The Waste Lands, Wizard and Glass, The Wind Through the Keyhole, Wolves of the Calla, Song of Susannah, The Dark Tower
Anyone who has read Stephen King’s work already knows that he’s a master at crafting dark tales that are unsettling enough to give you chills. In this case, however, he creates a new universe, expertly weaving together a number of different genres, from fantasy and science fiction to western, romance, mystery and horror. And while the length of the series may feel a bit daunting, you’ll find yourself deeply invested in the characters. Without giving too much detail, the books follow Roland Deschain, a gunslinger who embarks on an adventure to find the Dark Tower, a building that’s believed to be the nexus of all universes.
11. A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure
Books in series: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons, The Winds of Winter, A Dream of Spring
Whether you’ve watched the show religiously or you haven’t seen a single episode, the books are definitely worth checking out—especially if you enjoy more complex storylines with jaw-dropping plot twists and elements of mystery. The series, which takes place on the fictional islands of Westeros and Essos, contains three main storylines. First, there’s the intense war between powerful families who want control of Westeros. Then, there’s the terrifying threat of the Others (AKA White Walkers), who are led by the Night King in Westeros. And lastly, there’s the exiled daughter of Westeros’s disposed king, who’s determined to win back the Iron Throne.
12. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
Genre: Historical Romance
Books in series: The Duke and I, The Viscount Who Loved Me, An Offer From a Gentleman, Romancing Mister Bridgerton, To Sir Phillip, With Love, When He Was Wicked, It's in His Kiss, On the Way to the Wedding
It's the series that spawned Netflix's incredibly popular (and steamy) period drama of the same name. And if you’re one of the millions who flew through both seasons of Bridgerton, then you’ll appreciate Quinn’s novels for adding a bit of insight into your favorite characters. But if you’re unfamiliar, the book series, which is set during the 1800s, follows the lives of eight siblings from the well-off Bridgerton family. Each book focuses on a different Bridgerton as they try to navigate London's high society and find love.
13. Millennium by Stieg Larsson
Genre: Mystery Thriller, Crime
Books in series: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, The Girl in the Spider's Web, The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye, The Girl Who Lived Twice
The late author intended to write at least 10 installments, but with his sudden passing in 2004, he originally completed just three. Fortunately, his publisher, Norstedts Förlag, commissioned crime journalist David Lagercrantz to continue the series with the original characters, and it wound up being among the best-selling book series in history. Throughout, main characters Lisbeth Salander, a skilled computer hacker with photographic memory, and Mikael Blomkvist, an investigative journalist, team up to expose a sex trafficking ring and solve a decades-old mystery. The stories tackle themes like the abuse of power, violence and women’s oppression, so it’s not exactly a light beach read. But once you start, it’ll be hard to put these books down.
14. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Books in series: Me Before You, After You, Still Me, Lou in Lockdown
This incredibly moving series revolves around Louisa Clark, a 20-something woman who embarks on a journey of self-discovery as she navigates love, loss and big changes in her career. But before you dismiss the books as cheesy chick-lit, it's worth noting that they tackle real themes, from class differences and complicated family dynamics to dealing with mortality. Even so, there’s some comic relief to balance out the more serious moments. While speaking with The Washington Post about Louisa’s character, Clark said, “I have a quietly feminist bent as a writer. I always try to think of how my daughter would respond to what I’m writing, how it would affect how she thinks. Louisa just plopped into my lap, fully formed, with the personality she has. This made it easy to write jokes—Louisa was a joy to write.”
15. The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice
Genre: Gothic Horror
Books in series: Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, The Queen of the Damned, The Tale of the Body Thief, Memnoch the Devil, The Vampire Armand, Merrick, Blood And Gold, Blackwood Farm, Blood Canticle, Prince Lestat, Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis, Blood Communion
It’s safe to say that Anne Rice paved the way for authors like Stephenie Meyer. The famous author is the mastermind behind AMC's critically acclaimed Interview with the Vampire (where she also serves as executive producer). But in the book series, it’s just the first installment of the 13, and it follows Lestat de Lioncourt, an 18th-century nobleman who turns into a vampire. In the beginning, Louis de Pointe du Lac recalls how the Lestat created him as he speaks with a reporter. And throughout the series, more of Lestat’s backstory gets explored, along with fellow vampires Louis, Marius and Armand. Not only are the characters nuanced, but the books also tackle themes like immortality, religion, sexuality and existentialism. (Tip: After you finish the books, check out the show, which, we kid you not, is even better.)
16. The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante
Genre: Historical fiction, Contemporary
Books in series: My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, The Story of the Lost Child
Ferrante dives into the messiness and complexity of female friendships in this powerful series. Set in Naples, Italy after World War II, she brilliantly chronicles the story of a decades-long friendship between Elena her rebellious BFF, Lila. Anyone who has read the series will tell you that it's impossible to put these books down, thanks to a captivating storyline that takes you on a roller coaster of emotions.