It’s that time of year again, when students everywhere are stressing out about finals and looking forward to curling up with the best YA books when the chaos is over. The promise of a good book can get me through anything, so today I’m going to give you some of the best YA novels to read when finals week is done and you’re ready to celebrate in the spirit of the holidays.
This novel is such a great read to transport you from the chaos of finals into the relaxation of a well-deserved break. At more than 400 pages, it’s just long enough to sink your teeth into, even if you’re fully intending to tear through it. For those of you who haven’t read Fangirl yet, Rainbow Rowell (Eleanor & Park, Carry On) uses fandom as a way to frame a coming of age. Aspiring professional writer, Cath, who is also a secret fan fiction author phenom, starts her freshman year of college at the University of Nebraska. Her twin sister and best friend, Wren, goes her own way, and Cath makes friends with a pair of misfits, one of whom, the adorkable Levi, helps her out of her shell in a swoon-worthy first romance. The novel is fun and filled with so many underline-able moments. Plus you can relive the great parts about school without having to actually do any work. Talk about a detox!
Okay, if you’ve been following along with this blog this year, you know I’m obsessed with A Study in Charlotte, the first novel in Brittany Cavallaro’s Charlotte Holmes mystery series. This book is such a wildly interesting take on the Holmes mythos. James, or Jamie, Watson is an English newcomer at a prestigious boarding school in America. There he meets the elusive and insanely attractive Charlotte Holmes. Both are fish out of water, and yet destined to be partners, if not friends, if not, maybe, lovers. In this version of the canon, Charlotte and her family (the Holmes) are raised to be analytical, logical, eccentric, and a bit clueless. Jamie is a Watson, which means that since time immortal (or the original Sherlock Holmes and John Watson’s era) they are forced to look after the Holmeses and be their partner in crime (literally). I loved this novel for the chemistry, but for any Sherlock fan prepping for the fourth season to premiere in January, this is a great novel to devour over winter break.
Are you ready to check out a stack of comics and graphic novels from the library, put them next to you on the couch, and burn through a day of detoxing from finals? Let me introduce you to Noelle Stevenson, a brilliant comics artist and writer. If auto-request were an actual thing at my library, I would put her Lumberjanes girl-power, bursting-with-color YA series down in a heartbeat. But it is Stevenson’s entertaining and endearing Nimona, a standalone graphic novel, that I love the best. The titular character, Nimona, is an almost manic-happy assistant to an evil overlord, Lord Ballister Blackheart. Nimona has a sort of dark past that eventually becomes revealed, but she is loyal to a fault and will use her powers to help Blackheart at whatever cost. This novel is fun and, just like Lumberjanes, visually stunning. If your semester required a lot of schoolwork, Nimona is a great way to take your eyes off the good old black and white page of prose and be swept up in the troubles of this formidable sidekick.
Are you ready to dive into a series, maybe of the supernatural, sci-fi, historical fiction buddy comedy variety? Well, I’ve got a great recommendation for all you binge-readers out there. William Ritter’s delightful Jackaby series, which I’ve talked up here before, is up to three published novels now with a fourth and final novel being released next summer. The series follows an English woman, Abigail, who moves to America and finds a tiny city in New England…and a befuddling, bewildering, and enigmatic employer in Jackaby, a supernatural detective. If you like ghosts, cryptozoology, and romantic tension (and who doesn’t!) you will love this addictive series that has been described quite accurately by the publisher and fans alike as “Doctor Who meets Sherlock.” I highly recommend having all three books in the series at the ready to get lost in fiction that will erase your memories of icky final assignments and dreaded final exams.
Almost immediately upon its release, Neal Shusterman’s Scythe was lavished with gushing reviews. This dystopian sci-fi novel, the first in a series, follows two young apprentices to a grim reaper. In this futuristic (and horrifying) version of society, the world is facing immense overpopulation. How best to control that than sending modern-day grim reapers to knock off an unlucky human and get us down under civilization’s threshold? Shusterman examines that concept as Citra and Rowan learn the ways of reapers. They have to, because failure equals death. Their rivalry turns to friendship that turns to something more? You know I had to sneak a dystopian in there, and this is my choice for anyone willing to submerge themselves into a gritty world that will make that all-night study session a dim memory of the past. Although I won’t blame you can’t put this novel down, even at 2 a.m.
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