During the next few weeks, most of us will be stuck inside our homes. Introverts have taken to the internet to encourage people to use this time to read. For some of us, however, what to read is a big issue. With so much troubling change in the world, focusing on a book can be difficult. To address this problem to the best of my young-adult-novel-expert ability I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite books of all time (in no particular order) that also happen to be escapist fantasies with a ridiculous page count.
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (536 pages)
This book is weird, dark, and incredibly vivid. Laini Taylor’s writing feels palpable, her stories as full of heart as they are full of monsters. Complex but totally rewarding, Strange the Dreamer tells the story of a librarian, a blue angel, their love, and a complicated history that may take two reads for you to fully comprehend.
The Diviners by Libba Bray (496 pages)
For those who know me, this pick is no big surprise. However, with the fourth and final installment of the series having just come out, there has truly never been a better time to read The Diviners. This ensemble-driven story is as spooky as it is glitzy, following a diverse cast of teens with mysterious powers in 1920s New York City as a looming darkness threatens young America.
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (512 pages)
This novel may have the lushest world-building on this list of books with lush worldbuilding. The Starless Sea hops around in reality as it tells the peaceful and rich tale of a graduate student sent on the bookish adventure of a lifetime and the infinitely beautiful literary world he discovers along the way. Packed with love, danger, and lots of cuddly cats, this novel is perfect for a rainy quarantine afternoon.
Saga: Compendium One by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (1328 pages)
This collection contains the entire first half of the coolest comic series since superheroes. As the nerd world waits on the edge of their seats for the book to come back from hiatus, you can catch up on this massive epic that chronicles the space opera adventure of a young couple and their child during a galactic civil war that is packed with gore, goofs, and some of the most heart-wrenching plot-twists ever to grace the page.
Renegades by Marissa Meyer (592 pages)
Marissa Meyer’s go at superheroes is pure fun. She mixes what it means to be a villain or hero, as all the best cape chronicles do, while also supplying the pure joy of unique superpowers, badass costumes, teen romance, and riveting plot twists. The story follows two main characters, one hero and one villain, as they attempt to solve a mystery deeply rooted in the possible corruption of supers while surrounded by a cast of loveable and aesthetically awesome sidekicks.
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (544 pages)
The Gentleman’s Guide became an instant young adult classic as soon as it was released, but its chonkiness surprises many readers. The detail and magic in Mackenzi Lee’s novel move it from just a historical romance to a full-fledged fantasy adventure, Monty and Percy’s romance a true side plot when compared to the awesomely immersive mystery they’re set on solving. (But the romance is pretty good too).
On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden (544 pages)
While I love all of Tillie Walden’s stories, On A Sunbeam is my favorite because of its unbridled imagination and smooth flow of rich coloring. Reading this book feels like dreaming, ephemeral and pointedly real. It follows two girls falling in love across time and space, as well as touching on chosen families, galactic exploration, and the endless importance of history.
Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero (336 pages)
Even though this novel is the shortest on my list, it is packed with just as much story as any other entry. Meddling Kids is a twisted Scooby-Doo parody that checks in with the gang thirteen years after their last case. Lovecraftian, hilarious, and brilliantly written, this novel packs a punch with a side of spooky sauce.
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (528 pages)
Carry On is notorious for having what some call an exorbitant amount of build-up. In my opinion, all that description is not only a brilliant nod to the story it’s emulating (Harry Potter), but also perfectly informs the reader by the time the action arrives (The action being Baz). Set at a British school for young mages, the novel swerves from the expected to the tune of a forbidden romance, dark backstories, twisted heroes, and so much freaking fun it’s insane.
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind by Hayao Miyazaki (1104 pages)
Probably my most niche pick on this list, this manga expands on the story from the beloved Studio Ghibli film of the same name. The entire epic is richly illustrated and feels like a beacon of natural light in a world ruled by industrialism and climate change. A pure hero like Princess Nausicaa is always welcome in my book and the beautiful post-apocalyptic flora and fauna she encounters on her journey makes me want to explore my own world.