By Lili Feinberg
Water. Earth. Fire. Air. Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony. Then, everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked…
Tragically, Avatar: The Last Airbender is over, but if you’re anything like me you will always have a soft spot for Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Appa, you’ll always root for underdogs like Toph, and you will never get over arguably one of the greatest character redemption arcs of all time found in Zuko. Let’s be honest, all I want out of life is a villain that I can get behind.
So, without further ado, I present to you 5 books to read if you’re a fellow Avatar: The Last Airbender fangirl or fanboy, much like myself.
The Witchlands Series by Susan Dennard
Susan has been vocal about how Avatar: The Last Airbender has helped to inspire the magic system in this series, and after reading book one any fan can totally understand why. Dennard emulates Avatar outside of her magic system, though. Safi and Iseult’s quest to save their world, on the edge of war, as the final hope for peace and unity is analogous with Aang’s quest to bring peace to his world. The strong female friendship found in Safi and Iseult is really similar to the sister-like bond found in Katara and Toph’s warring attitudes that benefit each other and the travelling group really well. Plus, I can’t help but point out there is total Zuko inspiration in a certain character *ahem* who has a book coming out rather soon.
Roar by Cora Carmack
Cora Carmack’s YA fantasy debut is all about storm magic. Storm hunting, stormy destruction, stormy relationships that make you flip the pages at lightning fast speeds… Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Her family rules because of their ability to control the violent storms that threaten her people’s safety, but Aurora shows no sign of such magic as the sole heir. She runs away, stumbling into a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic—sold by, of all people, storm hunters. It’s a completely new take on harvesting elemental magic that still harkens back to the Avatar fandom, but explores it in new ways!
The Grishaverse by Leigh Bardugo
I just really love elemental magic systems, okay?! Leigh Bardugo delivers on this front by weaving Eastern European-like lore into her magic wielders, also known as the Grisha. The Grisha come in various types and subtypes, but the main three are Corporalki (manipulation of the human body), Etherealki (manipulation of elements like air, fire and water) and Materialki (manipulation of materials like metal, glass, and gunpowder). They operate as an elite magical unit beneath their mysterious commander, The Darkling. Not much is known about him, or the creatures that come out of the Shadow Fold that wrenched Ravka into two, but his character arc is one for the YA history books! Alina Starkov, our Aang if you will, must train to help save the world with a power that separates her from even the strongest Grisha ranks. This series takes beloved themes from Avatar and twists and turns them into something deliciously darker.
The Elemental Series by Brigid Kemmerer
This series follows the bad boy Merrick brothers who fascinate the town because they’re so mysterious and may or may not have secret powers that correlate with the elements. The Merrick brothers, of which each gets their own books, are powerful, dangerous, marked for death, and perfect for future boyfriend brackets (Team Gabriel!). The same basic elements are represented in the brothers as are in Avatar: The Last Airbender. However, instead of warring factions, the brothers struggle to control their powers and co-exist together. Highly recommend if you want Avatar: Book Boyfriends edition.
The Shades of Magic Series by V. E. Schwab
So traveling through walls may not be what you would automatically connect to Avatar, but hear me out. Bloodbending. In Avatar, it’s a heavily sought after sub-skill of waterbending that only the most advanced masters can accomplish. Bloodbending, while connected to an element faction that isn’t necessarily deemed evil, is often used to further evil agendas (see Legend of Korra). Schwab’s series features blood magic that can be manipulated to benefit either good or evil exclusively by powerful Antari… and more traditional elemental magic for other magic users. While the concept of bloodbending or blood magic is absolutely terrifying, it is so cool to read about!