Wizards and demigods and sleeping kings, oh my.
From elementary school all the way to college, students everywhere dream of summer vacation, an escape from the responsibilities and obligations of academia. It’s a chance to escape from the ordinary for a few months. And, at the risk of sounding like your elementary school librarian, books can do the exact same thing (it sounds terribly cheesy, but it’s true).
So, check out the list below for YA novels and series perfect for your upcoming summer plans!
If your plans include visiting a small town: The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater
“Aglionby Academy was the number one reason Blue had developed her two rules: One, stay away from boys because they were trouble. And two, stay away from Aglionby boys, because they were bastards.”
Spoiler alert: Blue breaks her rules. Set in the teeny tiny town of Henrietta, Virginia, the four-book series is one of the most unique epics out right now. Blue Sargent meets four Aglionby boys: Richard Campbell Gansey III, Adam Parrish, Ronan Lynch, and Noah Czerny, dubbed “raven boys” because of the bird on the crest of their private school uniforms. But Gansey is on a quest to reawaken a sleeping Welsh king, something he’s spent the majority of his life doing – and Blue is drawn into his search. There are psychics, boys who can dream things into being, assassins, Camaros, and a pet raven named Chainsaw. The final book in the series, The Raven King, was recently released, so feel free to binge these addictive books the way you would your favorite Netflix series.
If road tripping or flying is in your future: The Diviners and Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray
“She was tired of being told how it was by this generation, who’d botched things so badly. They’d sold their children a pack of lies: God and country. Love your parents. All is fair…Still they lied, expecting her to mouth the words and play along. Well, she wouldn’t. She knew now that the world was a long way from fair. She knew the monsters were real.”
If Jay Gatsby had known what was coming, he would’ve left West Egg much faster. Also set in the 1920s, The Diviners follows spunky, feisty 17-year-old Evie O’Neill, who is sent to New York to live with her uncle after being a little too wild for her parents’ liking. Evie is flung into solving a string of mysterious murders, all while trying to hide her powers from the supernatural killer and mainstream society. She finds others like her: stoic Jericho, the flamboyant actress Theta and her friend Henry, and a talented trumpet player named Memphis (there’s also a cocky Russian pickpocket by name of Sam Lloyd who will steal your heart and your money). The Diviners and its sequel are pretty hefty, each around 600 pages, but they’ll make those long trips go by in a snap. Check out the book trailer for The Diviners here!
If you’re simply catching up on reality TV: Modelland by Tyra Banks
“Violation of these rules may cause serious side effects: face-aches, nausea, vomiting, blurry vision, signs of fashion-police brutality, designer knockoffs knocking you upside the head, stinging bees in your hair bonnet, biting wolves in cheap clothing.”
Like most reality TV shows, you’ll either love it or hate it. Heavily inspired by the events of her own life, Banks’ debut novel Modelland is a campy sci-fi novel set in a modeling boarding school. Protagonist Tookie De La Crème is an awkward, forgettable girl until she gets invited to attend Modelland, receiving a chance to join the elite ranks of the Intoxibellas. Though by no means new – it was published in 2011 – it’s the perfect fix for mourning the loss of ANTM. Modelland has all the iconic vocabulary of Top Model, such as the famous “smize,” and can be described as ANTM meets The Hunger Games. Check out the book trailer here.
If you’re feeling a bit nostalgic: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell or The Trials of Apollo, Book One: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
“At Watford, magic is just the air we breathe. It’s not what separates us from each other, it’s what keeps us together.”
Let’s talk wizards. Yes, Carry On has quite a few Harry Potter parallels: a character who’s the “Chosen One,” a magical boarding school in England, a mysterious villain who pursues the protagonist Simon Snow throughout his life, and Simon’s lack of living parents. But Carry On isn’t just an HP ripoff. Rowell’s fantasy novel is lighthearted, addictive, and modern, and her wizards’ magic is strikingly different from that of J.K. Rowling’s. Magical spells come through the power of modern sayings, and when the saying falls out of disuse, so does the spell (a spell used to calm someone, for example, is “Don’t worry, be happy”). It makes for some pretty whimsical and truly enjoyable moments, and the characters themselves are incredibly well-developed (Simon’s best friend Penelope Bunce is a personal favorite of mine). And, as a standalone novel, immersing yourself in the world of Watford can certainly be done between work schedules or internships.
“Also, in this mortal form, my flawless memory had become…flawed. Mortal fears and needs clouded my thoughts. I wanted to eat. I wanted to use the restroom. My body hurt. My clothes stank. I felt as if my brain had been stuffed with wet cotton. Honestly, how do you humans stand it?”
Rick Riordan is certainly one busy man. After penning the incredibly successful Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, he began to branch out to other mythologies: Egyptian for The Kane Chronicles trilogy, Roman gods were introduced in the five-book Heroes of Olympus series, and Riordan recently published the first book in Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, a trilogy centering on Norse mythology. His most recent effort, however, is the first book in the new series The Trials of Apollo. Apollo, upon angering his father Zeus, is made into a mortal 16-year-old boy and sent to Earth as punishment. The book is set to be released May 3, 2016, but you can read an excerpt here (and don’t worry, our beloved Percy will be back). You can also watch the trailer here.
–The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. Get your tissues ready, this retelling of the Iliad will make you cry like you’ve never cried at a book before.
–The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings. This bloody novel is set in a dystopian society where the murder rate is higher than the birth rate.
–The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness. If you’ve ever wondered how the best friend of the “chosen one” feels, just pick up this book to find out how.
Happy reading, collegiettes! Have a wonderful summer!
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