Adventure — fast-paced action, challenges, quests, battles and heroes. Quite literally… adventures.
I love adventure novels because they keep you invested the entire way with well-crafted stories and great characters. Plus, it’s hard to leave mid-adventure because you want to learn how it ends. Adventure novels can fall into or overlap several other genres, so some of these could also be considered “members” of other genres. But I’ll be highlighting them here.
Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo
I know I’ve already raved about Leigh Bardugo (see my fantasy books post where I talked about her trilogy Shadow and Bone), but I guess here I am to do it again… for a different series.
Six of Crows (SOC) and its sequel Crooked Kingdom are just as wonderful as the Shadow and Bone (SAB) trilogy, and they take place in the same world. So if you’ve already read SAB, then you’re going to love SOC because you’re going to recognize a lot of the places. And because it takes place in the same world, it’s just as incredibly well-crafted. Unlike SAB, which takes place mainly in Ravka and Fjerda, SOC takes place mainly in Ketterdam and Fjerda.
If you like con movies and plots or plans that are always one step ahead of everyone else, then you’re gonna love SOC and Kaz Brekker. Kaz is so brilliant, constantly unfolding his plans in ways you never could’ve guessed or expected. I don’t know how Bardugo continually comes up with such incredible schemes (and such wild plot twists), but she clearly has an incredible mind, and that shows through her clever characters.
SOC will keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat the entire time you read. But not only that, you will fall in love with her characters. The Crows are some of my favorite book characters, and they are by far one of my favorite found families in literature. Kaz and Inej, Jesper and Wylan, Nina and Matthias (ahhhh, don’t get me started…!). Or, as Bardugo alludes to them in the synopsis for SOC:
“A convict with a thirst for revenge. A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager. A runaway with a privileged past. A spy known as the Wraith. A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums. A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.” As for who is who… well, you’ll have to read the book(s) to find out! (Please, seriously, read the books!!)
The Nordiaho Files: Voyage to Nordiaho by Summer Ryland
This book is a diamond in the rough – a fantastic first book self-published by a young author… at the age of 16. The book itself was written when the author was thirteen (so there may be a couple bumps in the story writing-wise, but given the author’s age I think it’s excusable), and published when she was 16. Just as with S.E. Hinton (see my previous blog post about her book The Outsiders), that’s inspiring to me.
And the book itself is wonderful. Engaging characters, a well-written plot full of several wild twists, risks, rewards and a final battle that’s remarkably gripping. Throughout the story, you fall more in love with the characters, laughing with them, struggling with them, worrying and hoping and fearing and fighting with them. You’re transported to a new world, one full of adventures and escapes and powers and secrets. You find yourself biting your lip and crossing your fingers through battles. Your imagination soars as the characters discover new and different places across this already new world.
Ryland takes the reader on an epic journey that I enjoyed from beginning to end. The book, being self-published, can be a little harder to find (although it is on Amazon and in some libraries) so I’ve put the synopsis in here for ease:
“Two planets. Eleven heroes. An evil, corrupt government. A powerful weapon designed to steal superpowers. And the entire universe hanging in the balance!
“On Earth, there is no such thing as superheroes, or superpowers, and the government would deny any existence of aliens. On Nordiaho, superpowers are common, but heroes are few; and the government is made up of corrupt men who long to rule the universe.
“It will take three ordinary, ‘Earthling’ college students, three Nordiahoans on the run, the heir to the Nordiahoan throne, and a few brave helpers, to change the fate of the universe and become what everyone secretly longs to be… superheroes.”
I highly recommend this book, both because it’s a great read and because I’m a huge fan of supporting both indie (self-published) authors and young authors! (Also, this is the first book in the series, and the second is scheduled to be released really soon, so if you read this book and like it, then there’s that to look forward to!)
The Robyn Hoodlum series by Kekla Magoon
This book series (scroll down a little to get to the first one from the link) could technically fall under the dystopian umbrella, but since it’s also definitely an adventure series, I’m going to talk about it here.
I know there’s sort of a stigma among “older” readers against what is considered “middle-grade fiction,” but I want to blast that out of the water with this series. Though it is technically middle-grade fiction, it is still really good and I really enjoy it. The books are the length of teen and young adult novels (if not longer than some) and they’re not “stupid” either. Really the only thing that sets this series apart from teen and young adult novels is the age of some of the characters, the main heroine – Robyn – especially (She starts out at 12 years old, in the beginning of the series. And admittedly she does some things that are a little absurd for a twelve-year-old to be able to do/pull off and it’s easy to forget she’s 12 – goodness knows I did, repeatedly – but whatever…).
These books are based off of… you guessed it, Robin Hood. Set in the future (more or less) and mainly revolving around Nott City and the outlying “slums” of Sherwood, Robyn Loxley (so many Robin Hood parallels in this series if you know where to look!) and her ragtag band of friends do far more than survive. You’ll follow them as they evade capture, pull off heists, search for clues, escape, bond, solve mysteries and make wild discoveries. It’s definitely a crazy ride.
Magoon creates a unique world, full of its own lore, history and mysteries. From the cathedral towers to the moon garden, there are many hidden secrets throughout Sherwood especially, and discovering them alongside Robyn and her friends is a lot of fun. Not to mention the heists and thefts that Robyn and her gang pull off are wild and exciting, and the community’s response to (and love for) their beloved rebel and provider are at times rousing, at times touching.
The characters aren’t perfect cookie-cutter heroes either. They’re a found family of outlaws, on the run from an overpowering government and they’re funny, smart, brave, witty. But they’re real too. They don’t get along all the time and they fight with each other quite a bit (occasionally leading to scenarios where I’d like to smack some sense into some of them, but those happen sometimes). It’s raw, which makes it relatable, which makes it more enjoyable.
I definitely recommend not just the first book, but all of them!
Though adventure novels may not be for everyone, if you love fast-paced action, daring escapes and wild rides (and heists, which two of these book “series” focus on) then I highly recommend you give the adventure genre a try! I hope these reviews and recommendations were helpful (and that you found a new adventure and place and set of characters to fall in love with)! Stay tuned for a dive into dystopian books next!