10 Must-Read YA Duologies

Alison Doherty

Senior Contributor

Alison Doherty is a writing teacher and part time assistant professor living in Brooklyn, New York. She has an MFA from The New School in writing for children and teenagers. She loves writing about books on the Internet, listening to audiobooks on the subway, and reading anything with a twisty plot or a happily ever after.

The Prisoner's Throne

An imprisoned prince. A vengeful queen. And a battle that will determine the future of Elfhame. From #1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black comes the stunning blood-soaked conclusion to the Stolen Heir duology.

YA duologies tell complex stories over two books. YA trilogies might be more widespread and well-known because of big, flashy book series. But a well-written duology has the ability to extend a story without going on and on. And at least to me, it seems to me like duologies have become more popular over the last 10 years.

Duologies are especially popular in YA fantasy, but I tried to include a little bit of everything in this list. From a Regency period historical novel to a contemporary teenage love story, and from fantasy worlds inspired by diverse mythology to modern-day Japan, there is a YA duology for every kind of reader. And the best thing about a duology is that when you love the first book, there is still more to read, but they aren’t as big a commitment as longer series.

There are lots of YA duologies to choose from. Here are 10 pairs of teenage stories that I think you will fall in love with if you give them a try. Get ready to laugh, cry, love, learn, and more with these amazing books. And the good news is that if you become a duology lover, there’s a lot more beyond this list for you to choose from.

Book cover of Anatomy: A Love Story

Anatomy: A Love Story & Immortality: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz

These books take readers back in time to Great Britain in 1817. Hazel is a lady who wants to throw expectations to the wind and become a surgeon. Jack digs up dead bodies and sells them to doctors and medical schools. Together, they uncover a secret that will bring them from the dangerous streets of Edinburgh to the royal castles of King George III throughout the duology. This gothic tale is full of strong characters, historical intrigue, and gripping mysteries. I can easily see why just one book was not enough!

The Sunbearer Trials by Aiden Thomas Book Cover

The Sunbearer Trials & Celestial Monsters (out September 3, 2024) by Aiden Thomas

Every 10 years, there is a competition to see who among the 10 teens chosen by Sol will replenish the sun’s power. The winner travels to each of the temples to light the sunstones, and the loser is sacrificed in order to keep fueling them. Usually, all the competitors in this very dangerous competition are Golds. But two outsiders, both trans boys, Teo and Xio were selected this year. They must compete against teens who’ve been training for this competition their entire lives, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Once you read the first book, you’ll be more than ready to continue the story. But you’ll have to wait until September for the second book!

cover of six of crows

Six of Crows & Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

I can’t write a list of YA duologies without including this pair from YA fantasy legend Leigh Bardugo. In fact, I would argue this pair of books paved the way for more duologies in young adult books—especially YA fantasy. If you love YA fantasy books and thrilling heist stories and you somehow haven’t already read these two books, pick them up immediately. If you have read them, maybe it’s time for a reread or watch of the Netflix adaptation?

A River of Royal Blood book cover

A River of Royal Blood & A Queen of Gilded Horns by Amanda Joy

This duology brings us to a rich North-African-inspired fantasy world. Sisters and princesses Eva and Isa must fight to the death in order for one of them to become Queen. Eva was raised with the knowledge that she possesses a rare and powerful magic that hasn’t been seen in generations. But her fear of her own abilities combined with a questioning of the status quo leads to the future of her people being unknown. A twist at the end of book one will make readers very, very glad there is a sequel.

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1) by Renee Ahdieh cover

The Wrath & the Dawn & The Rose & the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh

I first read this One Thousand and One Nights retelling almost nine years ago, but these books have remained one of my all-time favorite YA duologies. Shahrzad volunteers to be the next bride of the monstrous boy king, Khalid, after he marries and murders her best friend—just like he does every night with his new bride of the day. But Shahrzad tells him a story that keeps him engrossed enough to put off killing her. She plans to keep spinning her tale and wait for the perfect time to murder Khalid and end his reign of terror. But with each night, the two begin to fall in love, and Shahrzad begins to unravel a secret curse haunting both the king and their kingdom that leads to all sorts of intrigue in book two.

Book cover of What If It's Us by Albertalli and Silvera

What If It’s Us & Here’s To Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

YA duologies are overwhelmingly fantasy stories, but this pair of contemporary novels work so well together. Arthur is in NYC for a summer internship and hoping for a Broadway-worthy love story to unfold. He has the perfect meet-cute with NYC local Ben. But despite a lot of chances and off-the-charts chemistry, they just can’t seem to get a real-life romance off the ground. Until, maybe, they can? I won’t spoil more, but both of these books are the definition of adorable.

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton book cover

Tiny Pretty Things & Shiny Broken Pieces Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton

Here is another contemporary pair of books that is also written by two authors, but it’s more of a sharp and twisty thriller than a sweet and adorable summer romance. In the cut-throat world of an elite Manhattan ballet boarding school, acts of bullying, harassment, and even violence begin when newcomer Gigi threatens to overturn the status quo of the students’ dancing hierarchies. Gigi has always wanted an opportunity like this, but sticking around just might end up killing her. The story of Gigi and her classmates is told through multiple perspectives, and it’s impossible to put down.

Cover of These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

These Violent Delights & Our Violent End by Chloe Gong

This pair of books weaves together a rich fantasy story combined with a Romeo and Juliet retelling set against the backdrop of 1920s Shanghai. Juliette and Roma are leaders of rival gangs and each other’s first loves (and first heartbreaks). When something starts causing both of their members to start hurting themselves, they must put their differences and history aside in order to stop who (or what) is causing this new and catastrophic violence.

book cover of Faith: Taking Flight by Julie Murphy

Faith: Taking Flight & Faith: Greater Heights by Julie Murphy

Faith thinks she’s a regular teenager just trying to enjoy her favorite TV show, The Grove, and get through senior year. But then she discovers she can fly. Her favorite TV heroine comes to her town and seems to have a crush on her, and lots of animals and then people have started disappearing from her town. It looks like she isn’t just a regular teen; instead, she must become a superhero that no one expects, but everyone needs.

Book cover of Tokyo Ever After

Tokyo Ever After & Tokyo Dreaming by Emiko Jean

This duology feels like an updated version of The Princess Diaries set in Japan. Izumi’s whole life changes when she discovers the identity of her father and he is the Crown Prince of Japan. She travels from the small California town where she’s always lived with her single mother to the bustling city of Tokyo, dreaming of ball gowns and tiaras. But what she finds is a dubious press, some not-so-friendly cousins, and a handsome but broody bodyguard. As her story continues, Izzy tries to uncover who she really is and where in the world she can fit in.

If you do become a YA duology superfan after reading one or more of the books from this list, next take a look at this list of 50 YA duologies from a few years ago. That will keep you busy for a while!