11 YA Books that Demand to Be Binge-Read

Pretty Little LiarsSome books benefit from being read in installments, whether you’re wrestling with ginormous page count, complex themes, or intricacies of plot or syntax. Others, however, require being gulped down in as close to one sitting as possible, with brief breaks for brewing more coffee and canceling all your plans. These books are the latter kind.

Pretty Little Liars, by Sara Shepard
Pretty Little Liars is the bitchy-hilarious queen bee of all the dishy, candy-colored series about cliques and killers and label-dropping and pretty mean girls with blood under their nails. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s funnier and even better than you think it’s going to be. And if you have read it, odds are good you were already ordering book two before you were 100 pages into book one. Seriously, it’s crack in paperback form. Give in, and make sure you’ve got enough time to read it in a night.

Joyride, by Anna Banks
First you’ll be sucked into the story of Carly, a girl who works impossibly hard, alongside her upstanding older brother, to save enough money to bring their undocumented parents back to the U.S. from Mexico. After intervening in what appears to be a holdup of her favorite customer at the gas station where she works, Carly discovers there’s more to popular classmate Arden, who staged the holdup in order to scare his alcoholic uncle out of driving drunk. By the time their budding, prank-powered love story evolves into a thriller involving a violently racist local cop, a coyote, and blackmail, you’ll be glued to the page.

Ms. Marvel Volume 1, No Normal, by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona
“Let’s face it,” says geeky, Avengers-obsessed Muslim teen Kamala Khan in the opening pages of No Normal, “my chances of becoming an intergalactic super hero are even slimmer than my chances of becoming blond and popular.” But after a terrigen bomb goes off when she’s snuck away from her strict parents to check out a party at the waterfront, she develops shape-shifting abilities, a sort of sixth sense that kicks off in response to stimuli like damsels in distress and…feelings of social awkwardness. You’ll race through the first volume, in which she tries to balance her nascent powers with the demands of her faith and family life.

Hold Me Closer, by David Levithan
Tiny Cooper is meant to be taken in large doses, because it’s impossible to take him any other way. And this glittery, bighearted “musical novel” takes the beloved supporting character from Will Grayson, Will Grayson and tells his story the only way it can be told: with plentiful song breaks, costume changes, and hilarious stage directions. Hold Me Closer is funny and inspiring, and much like a real musical, meant to be read in a single sitting (with one intermission for snack retrieving).

How I Live Now, by Meg Rosoff
This awesome quick read follows pissed-off American Daisy from her dad’s New York apartment to her cousins’ tumbledown house in the English countryside, where’s she’ll be spending the summer out of the way of her new stepmom. Soon after she arrives, her politically involved aunt is called away on an emergency—and right after that, England enters a state of siege, as the island is taken hostage by an unnamed terrorist force. Before the horrors reach them, Daisy and her cousins drift into a strange idyll, swimming, picnicking, and, in the case of Daisy and older cousin Edmund, falling in love. Then they’re taken from each other, and Daisy has to cross a war-torn landscape with youngest cousin Piper in tow, hoping to reunite with her love. The book is angry and beautiful and should be read all at once.

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone, by Adele Griffin
By the time Griffin weaves a skin-crawlingly creepy supernatural thread into the short, sad ballad of Addison’s life, you’ll have given up completely on going to bed at a decent hour. Addison Stone is a preternaturally talented young artist, with both a charismatic allure that wins her near-obsessive devotion, and a dark, annihilating side that ultimately, or so it seems, leads to her death. Her story, of a brief-but-bright-burning talent, is made even more addictive by the addition of a ghost story at its heart, which, for me, tipped it decidedly over into binge territory.

We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart
Even if you haven’t read this one yet, odds are good you’ve heard a lot about it. Maybe you saw cagey, devastated tweets from other readers, or had a teary-eyed friend wildly evangelize about it over coffee. Start this one on a long plane trip, or when you’ve got a whole afternoon with nowhere to go. It follows Candace Sinclair, a once-strong, now deeply damaged poor little rich girl attempting to remember the brutal summer that changed everything. She’s back for the first time since on the family island where it all went down, lazing around with her fellow “liars”—her cousins, Mirren and Johnny, and her first love, Gat—and trying to see past the headaches and memory gaps that are keeping her from the devastating truth.

Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson
Who is Nimona? This question will draw you like a hook through Stevenson’s hilarious, insanely charming, surprisingly moving graphic novel, about a shape-shifting girl who shows up one day to offer her sidekick services to Lord Ballister Blackheart, his kingdom’s resident supervillain, who has long been locked into a neverending “good” vs. “evil” battle with Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin. Unpredictable, bloodthirsty, and kinda adorable (until she’s not), Nimona shifts the balance toward the dastardly, but good and evil turn out to be relative terms. The heart of the book is the question of where Nimona came from and what happened to her before she darkened Blackheart’s door. You won’t be able to stop till you’ve read every last page.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
The correct way to read this heartrending classic: Sitting alone at a diner table drinking endless cups of bad coffee and listening to the Smiths on your headphones. Too twee for you? I’ll make the Smiths optional, but forcefully recommended. Perks is a slender, beautiful book that’s both enduringly sad and a completely uplifting celebration of being young and in love (with reading, with people, with life at large). You won’t want to break the mood once you’re in it.

Far From You

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Far From You, by Tess Sharpe
Sophie exits rehab with two goals in mind: find out who murdered her best friend, Mina, and clear herself of the suspicions that landed her in rehab in the first place—that she’d relapsed into pain-pill use, owing to the fact that the killer knew her well enough to plant drugs on her after the murder. Sophie is heartbroken, betrayed by the family that won’t believe her, and afflicted with chronic pain from a childhood accident—and you won’t be able to stop reading her story. The reveals of what happened the night Mina died, the true nature of her relationship with Sophie, and the web of lies surrounding the crime happen at a perfect pace, creating a novel with literally no good stopping point. You just have to clear your calendar and power all the way through.

The Fixer, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Tess’s semi-estranged older sister is the most notorious fixer in Washington, D.C.’s high-stakes political world. And when Tess is forced to move in with her because of her guardian grandfather’s worsening dementia, she’s quickly pulled into not only her sister’s dangerous world, but that of her new, elite prep school. When Tess’s investigations into the suspicious death of a classmate’s grandfather dovetails with her sister’s mysterious work, the action speeds up and the pages fly.


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