Many adventure books fit nicely into distinct genres of literature. Listed below are adventure series that have bits of several genres.
Suzanne Collins – Gregor the Overlander and many more
Part animal fantasy, part adventure, part a study of war, Gregor the Overlander is the first in a five book series. The story opens with Gregor’s father gone missing for months. Gregor and his toddler sister are pulled through the laundry grate of their apartment building to a secret underground world. It’s rats versus bats! The animals are huge – the people sync up with the bats and ride them. Can Gregor help his new friends and perhaps find his father? Fantastic series. Collins wrote this series before Hunger Games.
Zizou Corder – Lionboy, The Chase, The Truth
What an odd and delightful series. It was very popular the year it was on our reading list. From CIP: In the near future, a boy with the ability to speak the language of cats sets out from London to seek his kidnapped parents and finds himself on a Paris-bound circus ship learning to train lions.
Joseph Delaney – Revenge of the Witch, Curse of the Bane, and many more
Alrighty, this could be considered a horror series, but it has comedic elements and it is not blood and guts horror. As I write this, there are eight books in the series. I have only read the first two and I quite enjoyed them. Tom is the seventh son of a seventh son. That’s a big theme in plenty of fantasy novels. He is an apprentice with the village spook who keeps evil creatures away from the community. Can’t have witches and ghosts running amuck. The writing style is so readable that these are popular with students who don’t typically stay up late reading. They are witty and clever and difficult to put down. When I retire and have time, I’ll catch up on the series. Fun tinged with horror, tinged with adventure.
John Flanagan – The Ranger’s Apprentice series: The Ruins of Gorlan, and more
Adventure fantasy. I did not put this under fantasy. There are huge fans of this series that proclaim they HATE fantasy. Fine then, not fantasy, but adventure. Flanagan is another Australian author that I follow to make certain I am up to date on his books. The first book is called The Ruins of Gorlan and is about a ward of the castle whose father was killed in service to the crown. When they come of age, each boy within the castle is apprenticed. Will desperately wants to be selected for battleschool but that is not meant to be. He is assigned to the mysterious ranger, Halt to be his apprentice. Halt is a scout and spy for the kingdom and much more. Protecting the kingdom is dangerous work. Every time they turn around, there is another threat to the kingdom. The series has plenty of wars, action, adventure, and suspense. Flanagan began this series for his son. I have had the pleasure of listening to him speak at a conference. Didn’t matter what he said as I was enamored with his Australian accent. There are ten books in the first series. Then he began the Brotherband Chronicles. There is much more to come.
Mary Hoffman – Stravaganza series: City of Masks and many others
Severely ill Lucien can travel back and forth between our time and an alternate version of 16th century Venice. He feels alive in Venice and ill fighting cancer in London. Lucien is a stravagante, someone who can travel between worlds. Evil is out to destroy the delicate balance. Sounds odd, but it works. These are fantastic books.
Derek Landy – Skulduggery Pleasant, Playing with Fire, The Faceless Ones
Adventure, good vs. evil, fantasy. When young Stephanie inherits her odd uncle’s estate, she faces thugs who break in and ransack the place obviously looking for something. A rather unusual detective comes to her aide. Skulduggery Pleasant is a skeleton detective mage/wizard who was a friend of her uncle and believes he was murdered and that Stephanie is next. Stephanie begins her work with a secret society that fights the forces of evil. The witty banter, fast pace and clever premise make this a fun but violent read. After all, fighting evil tends to be a bit intense. Quite popular.
L. A. Meyer – The Bloody Jack Adventures: Bloody Jack, Curse of the Blue Tattoo and many more
These could be considered historical fiction because the first book is set in 1797. However, the nine books have evolved into more of a pure swashbuckling adventure series. Jacky Faber is a street-wise girl fighting for survival on the streets of London. She hears of a British Naval warship needing ship’s boys so she disguises herself and gets on the crew. After she shoots a pirate point blank in the chest, she earns the nickname Bloody Jack. Much attention is spent during the first book watching her blend in as a ship’s boy and not be caught as a girl and her budding involvement with shipmate, Jaimie. Bloody Jack is a fun, clever, witty, plucky heroine with amazing adventures.
Gerald Morris – The Squire’s Tale and many more
For anyone interested in King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, try these books. The series began in 1998 and ends with The Legend of the King published in 2010. Brilliantly written, Morris introduces the knights and their wild adventures/quests. This could be put under fantasy/quest but the series will do nicely here since the knights do so many adventures. Extremely well done and best read in order. He has another Arthurian legend series for the younger set, Knight’s Tales, that are targeted for upper elementary.
Jennifer Nielsen – The False Prince
Only those closest to the crown know that the royal family has been murdered. There will be a civil war unless the lost prince is found to claim the thrown. Four years before, the young prince was on a boat attacked by pirates and the entire crew, including the prince were believed to be killed. Conner is a nobleman with perhaps less than noble intentions. He plans to find orphans that look enough like the late prince to train and pass off as the missing heir and then control new puppet king. Sage is one of the four orphans chosen. He is mischievous and is frequently punished and beaten for his actions. His unruly nature would not make for a good puppet king but he does posses the most similarities to the late prince. The boys not chosen will surely be killed.
Kenneth Oppel – Airborn, Skybreaker, Starclimber
Pirate adventure in the air! The setting is like our world but a different version. In this world, people get around via airships, the huge dirigibles (think Hindenburg but bigger). Matt has his dream job up in the air as cabin boy, ferrying the weathly from city to city. He meets an adventurer, who before he dies, tells Matt of some amazing creatures he has discovered that live high in the air. The man’s granddaughter, Kate, convinces Matt to help her find these creatures. Of course there are bad guys after them. Plenty of action, adventure, danger and nerve-wracking escapes.
Kenneth Oppel – Silverwing, Sunwing, Firewing, Darkwing
Bats migrate. I never thought I’d be one to get excited about reading a bat story, but I did. I am a huge fan of the Silverwing series. Poor Shade is lost during his colony’s migration. Luckily, he runs into bats from other species that help him rejoin his colony while eluding the dangerous cannibalistic bats. Seriously, this is good stuff!
Michelle Paver - Chronicles of Ancient Darkness: Wolf Brother and many more
Prehistoric action adventure meets mysticism! Young Torak is the hero of this six book series fighting against an ancient darkness. His father is killed by a demon-possessed bear. Aided by a young wolf cub guide, Torak embarks on a quest to find artifacts that will aide him in the coming fight against the great evil.
Michelle Paver – Gods & Warriors
During the Bronze Age in ancient Greece, scrappy orphan Hylas, branded an outsider and banished from the village, has kept himself and his sister alive by tending goats. The story opens with Hylas running for his life after losing his sister while being pursued by warriors. He escapes to the sea. Why have these warriors come after him, an orphaned goatherd? Meanwhile, in another part of Greece, Pirra, the pampered daughter of the High Priestess learns she has been promised in marriage. During the journey to her future home, she escapes to the sea. Hylas and Pirra discover each other on an isolated island and struggle for survival. The same warriors chasing Hylas are also determined to recover Pirra.
I hope the published book contains a map! Gods and Warriors is set during the Bronze Age in ancient Greece, well before the times of classic Greek mythology. I spent time searching for a map to help me better understand the setting. When I finished the last chapter, there it was – the answer to all of my questions. Ms. Paver provides a splendid setting explanation in the Afterword. She does not give too much of the story away, so if, after reading the opening chapter, a better understanding of the setting is desired, go ahead and skim the bits about Bronze Age Greece. I am a huge fan of Paver’s Chronicles of Ancient Darkness. Gods and Warriors is even better! All of the characters – Hylas, Pirra, Chieftain’s son Telamon, and Spirit the dolphin, had better be in the next book. And what is the fate of Hylas’s lost sister?
Eleanor Updale – Montmorency and many more
Set in Victorian London, Montmorency is a criminal mastermind who manages to escape prison via the sewer system. He sets in motion an elaborate scheme. After stealing enough to set himself up in a fancy hotel, he poses as one of the wealthy elite, while creating an alter ego as his servant. His thieving and conning of the rich is eloquently told. I haven’t read anything quite like the Montmorency books. This is a four book series that follows Montmorency’s schemes and adventures and revenge. They deserve a much larger audience.
Scott Westerfeld – Leviathan, Behemoth, Goliath
This is not exactly an alternate history adventure, but well . . . it is the beginning of World War I. The Germans (Clankers) have advanced technology, like really cool tanks and the Allies (Darwinists) have genetically engineered living machines. The Leviathan is the British fleet’s whale type airship. Aleksander and Deryn are on opposite sides of the war but their paths cross. The illustrations help tell the story. Author and illustrator collaborate well.