Three Series to Binge Read

Today, I want to talk about some of the series that made me feel like that. I’m talking about those series I have read and reread and yet still cause me to hold my breath with each turn of the page even now. I’m talking about the series with staying power.

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The series is at the centre of obsessive book behaviour. We’ve all had that throw the book across the room moment because we have to wait an ENTIRE FREAKING YEAR for the next one.

Today, I want to talk about some of the series that made me feel like that. I’m talking about those series I have read and reread and yet still cause me to hold my breath with each turn of the page even now. I’m talking about the series with staying power.

The best thing about this list is that these series are finished already. There is no throw the book across the room moment, there is only buying the next one!

The Missing series – Meg Cabot

MISSING

Jess Mastriani has a temper. She spends a lot of her life in detention for beating up the football team. Other than that she’s pretty normal. She’s crushing on the boy who sits behind her in detention. She worries about her family. She can’t wait to get the hell out of high school.

One day Jess gets hit by lightning. She survives. But when she recovers, she finds that she somehow knows the whereabouts of people reported missing. It isn’t long before the FBI are onto her to work with them.

Obviously Meg Cabot is like a YA deity. I always felt that these books were a departure for her. They’re darker. Jess’ home life isn’t easy. Her brother Douglas has recently come home from university after he developed schizophrenia and attempted suicide. It’s a tense time. And that’s without even addressing the core subject of the series which is, of course, that Jess can find missing people. Sometimes she finds missing dead people. Sometimes she finds people she probably shouldn’t have. Her talent means that control of her life is removed from her by the FBI, who need her.

Missing is a really great series from a wonderful writer. I read through it in a couple months.

Gemma Doyle trilogy – Libba Bray

a great and terrible beauty

Gemma Doyle is sent from India to Spence Academy in England after the death of her mother. As far as the world is concerned she died of Cholera, but Gemma knows different. Gemma witnessed her mother kill herself in a vision. She killed herself so as not to be consumed by a beastly creature Gemma cannot explain.

These books are set in 1895 and in addition to the magical and creepy elements, explore the realities of being female in that time. We witness the restrictions suffered by all the girls: Gemma’s frustration at her lack of freedom, Pippa’s need to hide her epilepsy, as it would make her unmarriageable, Anna’s inheritance-less future, Felicity’s bleak present of abandonment and abuse.

Much of the series is set in an alternative realm, and it isn’t difficult to see why it is the girls want to escape this world all together, despite the danger that comes with that. You’ll read through these fast.

Darkest Powers series – Kelley Armstrong

the summoning

This is a go-to series for me whenever I’m feeling down. Kelley Armstrong’s world envelopes, atmospheric in equal parts frightening and intriguing.

One day Chloe wakes up seeing ghosts. She’s attacked by a dead custodian at school. The doctors say it’s schizophrenia, but she’s not so sure. Incarcerated at Lyle House with other ‘troubled teens’, Chloe begins to discover the grim truth after another inmate, Liz, who had always claimed to possess uncontrollable telekinetic powers, is transferred only to return as… a ghost. Who killed her? Why? Is Chloe next?

I love everything about these books. I think it’s very empowering to read about young people taking back control over their lives from an overarching evil. What I like most about the series is how amateur the whole operation is. In the end, they are simply a group of kids on the run from an organisation that holds all the cards, and throughout there is no escaping that fact. Over and over, Chloe and co are forced to confront the fact that most of the adults, those in whom they have always placed their trust have been lying to them.

Honestly, the only criticism I have of these books is that there were only three of them. I definitely wasn’t done with Chloe yet.

IMPORTANT NOTE: All of these books contain men so hot it’s actually ridiculous.

I’ll Give You The Sun

I’ll Give You the Sun is the book for anyone with a difficult relationship with their sibling (read: anyone who has a sibling). It is a book about the way that siblings can do the best and the worst things to each other. Nelson is unashamed in her character study of these two people and the destructive power of their combined insecurities. She shows unconditional love as a journey. The novel is Noah and Jude’s path back to each other.

I remember when I began seeing The Sky is Everywhere, Jandy Nelson’s first novel, around bookshops. I had no idea what it was about, but I wanted it. Badly. The first edition was this beautiful notebook looking thing. It had pages that were drawn on and pages with handwriting scrawled across them. The book itself was representative of the beautiful mess inside. It was about a girl who had recently lost her older sister, and in the aftermath of it, in jarring opposition to the all-consuming grief she was experiencing at the time, found herself falling in love. I was probably about seventeen when I read that book. It’s been a while.

In fact I’d almost forgotten about Jandy Nelson until I started to see her name crop up in blogs again in relation to the book I’m going to talk about today: I’ll Give You The Sun. It won the Printz award this year. I knew the name sounded familiar but it wasn’t until I was home from university for the Easter holiday and I caught sight of The Sky is Everywhere in my bookshelf that I made the connection.

i'll give you the sun

My edition of I’ll Give You the Sun is much more toned down than The Sky is Everywhere, but it’s kept some of the same ‘homemade’ elements that I liked so much. Both the protagonists of the story, twins Noah and Jude are artists so there are pages where the book is paint splattered. Sometimes important quotes are reiterated on a page by themselves in the swooping strokes of a paint brush.

The story happens across two separate time lines. Noah at age thirteen and Jude, age sixteen. The story follows the time before and after the death of their mother in a car accident.

At age thirteen, Noah is a shy kid, a weird kid who gets bullied. He is disconnected from his father and in awe of his mother. He’s an artist and he can’t help but create constant portraits in his mind. He’s utterly in love with a boy called Brian. He’s jealous of his pretty, popular sister and her effortless relationship with their father.

Sixteen year old Jude wants to hide from everyone. Especially boys. She will not go near boys. She carries around a lot of guilt. She thinks her mother’s ghost is angry at her. She is a massive hypochondriac with an encyclopaedic knowledge of disease. She lives by the rules left to her in her grandmother’s ‘bible’ (advice inc: ‘it is very unlucky to fall on your face’ and ‘Nothing curdles love in the heart like a lemon on the tongue.’) She misses her brother who has changed from an artistic boy who loves boys to a popular kid who jumps off cliffs and hasn’t picked up a paintbrush in years.

I’ll Give You the Sun is the book for anyone with a difficult relationship with their sibling (read: anyone who has a sibling). It is a book about the way that siblings can do the best and the worst things to each other. Nelson is unashamed in her character study of these two people and the destructive power of their combined insecurities. She shows unconditional love as a journey. The novel is Noah and Jude’s path back to each other.

When I’m reading young adult fiction as a twenty-two-year-old girl-woman, I can’t help but think about the relationship between myself at the age of the intended audience of this book, and myself now. I could particularly indulge in this in I’ll Give You the Sun because it is so much about the making, breaking and re-making of people. It is about how we are formed through experience, tragedy, art and survival.

It’s pretty great.