Do you ever just find yourself wishing that everything in YA right now wasn't part of a series? Do you ever just want to read one book and be completely done with the story? I do. Don't get me wrong, I also love series. But reading series can be such an endeavor. Oh, this book sounds awesome, let's read it! Aw crap, it has four more books?! Don't even get me started when the rest of the series isn't even published yet! What am I supposed to do with that? Wait? No, thank you. In honor of my (current) disillusionment with series, here are my favorite YA standalones!
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Genre: YA Science Fiction
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.
One of my all-time favorite novels. If you haven't had a chance to give Ready Player One a read yet, I highly highly recommend it.
I am the Messengery by Markus Zusak
Published Year: 2002
Genre: YA Mystery
Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He's pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery. That's when the first ace arrives in the mail. That's when Ed becomes the messenger.
I am the Messenger will keep you on the edge of your seat the entire time you're reading. I know I was so wrapped up in MZ's character's and plot turns that I couldn't put it down.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Published Year: 2011
Genre: Historical Fantasy
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called "Le Cirque des Reves," and it is only open at night.
The Night Circus is another one of my all-time favorite books. EM's writing style is one of the most beautiful and eloquent. The storyline is fantastic and I never wanted it to end. Even though this is on my list of standalones, I wouldn't hate for this to be part of a series if just to experience more of this world.
Easy by Tammara Webber
Published Year: 2012
Genre: New Adult
Subtitle: Good, but not Great
When Jacqueline follows her longtime boyfriend to the college of his choice, the last thing she expects is a breakup two months into sophomore year. After two weeks in shock, she wakes up to her new reality: she's single, attending a state university instead of a music conservatory, ignored by her former circle of friends, and failing a class for the first time in her life. Leaving a party alone, Jacqueline is assaulted by her ex's frat brother. Rescued by a stranger who seems to be in the right place at the right time, she wants nothing more than to forget the attack and that night. When her attacker turns stalker, Jacqueline has a choice: crumple in defeat or learn to fight back.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Published Year: 2013
Now that twins Cath and Wren are going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
Love, love, love. I don't know how else to explain how much this book just speaks to me. Cath was so me that it's scary!
Helper12 by Jack Blaine
Published Year: 2011
Genre: YA Fantasy
Helper12 works as a Baby Helper in Pre Ward, the place where babies spend their first six months of life before they’re tracked for vocations and sent to training. She does her job well, and she stays out of trouble. But one day, the Sloanes, Society members who enjoy all the privileges of their station—family unit clearance, a private dwelling, access to good food and good schools—come to “adopt” one of the Pre Ward babies. The Director makes a deal and the Sloanes walk out with a brand new child. They also walk out owning Helper12—the Director sells her to them, and there’s nothing she can do but go.
Probably the first every dystopian fantasy book that I've read that was written as a standalone and not as a trilogy. This is, in all honesty, probably why it made this list. Not that it wasn't good -- I did enjoy the story, but would I have enjoyed it as much if it wasn't one book? I don't know. The fact was, JB did write it was one book, which proves that it can be done. These stories don't have to be stretched out into trilogies and series!!
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Published Year: 2003
Genre: Fairy Tale Retelling
Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life under her aunt's guidance learning to communicate with animals. As she grows up Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but is never comfortable speaking with people, so when her silver-tongued lady-in-waiting leads a mutiny during Ani's journey to be married in a foreign land, Ani is helpless and cannot persuade anyone to assist her. Becoming a goose girl for the king, Ani eventually uses her own special, nearly magical powers to find her way to her true destiny.
In the retelling of the classic tale, Ani has a little magic that will help guide her to her true destiny, that's true. But it may also help her find happiness, and with a little luck, some love...
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Published Year: 1883
Following the demise of bloodthirsty buccaneer Captain Flint, young Jim Hawkins finds himself with the key to a fortune. For he has discovered a map that will lead him to the fabled Treasure Island. But a host of villains, wild beasts and deadly savages stand between him and the stash of gold. Not to mention the most infamous pirate ever to sail the high seas . . .
An excellent tale of adventure and intrigue and swashbuckling rogues! Treasure Island was the first class I ever read before I even know what classics actually were.
The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal
Published Year: 2010
Genre: YA Fantasy
Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia's led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when it's revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she's ever known.
The False Princess is a great pick for younger readers just bridging into the fantasy realm. It brings up lots of questions and can be a great segue for them. It's also just a great story in general. I personally love it.
Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Published Year: 2016
Genre: YA Fantasy
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.
At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king's marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.
Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
I can't actually recommend Heartless because I haven't read it yet, but I love the Lunar Chronicles by MM. I'm expecting Heartless to be fantastic based on those grounds. And set in Wonderland?? I have high expectations!