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YA Escapist Reads We Need Right Now

Hi friends! Though our current circumstances may feel a little uncertain and overwhelming right now, there’s one thing we can likely all agree on: books are a force of good in our world, and reading will always be here to bring us comfort when we need it. Whether you’re flying off into a sweeping, high-fantasy adventure or snuggling up with a heart-warming romantic comedy, escaping into a good book is our recommended form of self-care. The Tor Teen team has been escaping into a lot of great books these past couple of weeks, and we wanted to share them with you. Here are the YA escapist reads that are bringing us joy right now!


The Princess Will Save You by Sarah Henning

“This YA fantasy adventure inspired by The Princess Bride is the perfect stay-at-home read. When her warrior father, King Sendoa, mysteriously dies, Princess Amarande is given a choice to marry a stranger at sixteen from a neighboring kingdom, or lose control of her family’s crown. So when her true love Luca is kidnapped by the neighboring kingdom to coerce her into marriage, she does what any good warrior princess would do – she escapes from the castle, determined to rescue her true love. Princess Amarande is the bad-ass feminist character we all need right now. It’s the perfect book to escape into for political intrigue, dueling kingdoms, and a fierce heroine you can’t help but root for.”

—Anthony Parisi, Associate Director of Marketing

Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi

“This LGBTQ+ romantic comedy has been the perfect read while we’ve been stuck at home. It’s an enemies-to-lovers story that follows Sana Khan, a cheerleader who is struggling to figure out what path she wants to take after high school, as she is roped into starring in film buff Rachel Recht’s film project. With heavy Gilmore Girls vibes and lots of classic movie references, this book is swoon-worthy, witty, and very worthwhile escapism (with lots of diverse representation too)!”

—Sarah Pannenberg, Digital Marketing Coordinator

Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway and Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan 

“If you are a sucker for warring kingdoms, political games, and forbidden slow-burn romances, you should definitely check out Joanna Hathaway’s Glass Alliance series, beginning with book one, Dark of the West. Told in dual perspectives, you will get swept up in the enthralling epic tale that unfolds between Aurelia (a princess) and Athan (a pilot) as their growing affection for one another poses an unforeseeable threat to their parents’ constant thirst for revenge and power. With every turning page, Aurelia and Athan’s desire for one another dances along the brim while the chaos brought on by their feuding families grows, culminating in an all-consuming reading experience you won’t soon forget.

When quarantine is over, one of the very first things I am going to do is visit some of my fave indie bookstores. I’m sure many of you book nerds out there are like: SAME! It is no wonder that I have decided to revisit one of my favorite YA rom-coms that centers on one of the most iconic NYC indies around, The Strand. Sweet and lovable Lily leaves a notebook filled with fun dares in the stacks of The Strand for a possible suitor with a taste for adventure to find. When Dash stumbles on Lily’s notebook in the bookstore, he is instantly charmed and decides to play along. Set during Christmastime, you will have an absolute blast running around the city with Dash and Lily as each dare draws them closer together. Your heart will smile and cheer as the story draws near to the long-awaited moment when Dash and Lily’s notebook romance finally leads to an in-person meet-up. If you are someone who indulges in multiple re-watches of films like You’ve Got Mail and Serendipity as I do, this love story is made for you.”

—Isa Caban, Marketing Manager

The House in the Cerulean Sea and The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune

“Linus Baker is a hardworking caseworker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth and also the protagonist of TJ Klune’s wonderful book (and my personal go-to for escapism), The House in the Cerulean Sea. By-the-book and unflinchingly so, Linus’s entire world is shaken when he receives a Top Secret assignment to determine if the magical youth of an orphanage on a sunny island far away from the humdrum rains of London are likely to bring about the end of the world. Sure, the Antichrist might be one of those kids, but is he still a danger if he loves cooking, playing with his found family, and crooning to Bobby Darin and other “Dead People Music?” I love this gooey, amazing book because of how compassionate it is–how hopeful. Life on the island feels like a dream to Linus, and what happens after a good dream? You wake up. But what if you don’t have to? The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the dust-shaking realization that you don’t have to continue living the life you have been. That you can live something vibrant and new, even if you never thought something like that could ever be for you. It’s an evergreen escape and one of the sweetest books I’ve ever read. 

Speaking of the sweetest books I’ve ever read, The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune comes out July 14th, 2020. It’s a fantastic YA novel about a super gay fanfiction writer and the superhero he loves. Come for the queer superheroes and stay for them too, but also stay for the intense and heartfelt father-son relationship and so many other things too.”

—Andrew King, Marketing Assistant

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

“In which we all need to spend quality time inside of a moving castle owned by an unreliable, heart-eating wizard. What better place to escape to? Sophie Hatter is the oldest of three sisters, and she knows according to the rules of fairy tales her fate will be mediocre at best. What she doesn’t expect is to be transformed into an old woman. With no other choice, Sophie leaves behind her mundane life to try to break the curse. This book contains a demon in a fireplace (very fond of bacon), a whole lot of cleaning, and a cast of heartwarming and hilarious characters.”

—Becky Yeager, Ad/Promo Manager

Every Reason We Shouldn’t by Sara Fujimura and Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

“With all the craziness going on in the world, nothing seems more ideal than curling up at home with a sweet, warm-fuzzy read. And what better way to do that than to escape into Every Reason We Shouldn’t—A fun and endearing story about a fifteen-year-old biracial figure skater, Olivia Kennedy, whose Olympic dreams have ended. She’s upset about it, but she’s trying to focus more on enjoying her life as a regular teen than her aspirations of being an athlete—that is, until Jonah Choi starts training at her family’s struggling rink. Jonah’s driven, talented, and going for the Olympics in speed skating. As the story unfolds, Jonah and Olivia grow closer, but find themselves facing many personal obstacles that threaten to tear them apart. Overall, this is a captivating and feel-good book that’ll help brighten up any quarantine blues!

But if you’re someone who’d rather get lost in a fantastical world of danger, powers, witches, and an enemies-to-lovers kind of romance, then Serpent & Dove would be a fantastic choice for you. Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. Sworn to the Church as a righteous Chasseur, Reid Diggory has one mantra: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. But when their paths cross, a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony. In order to stay alive, Lou and Reid must learn how to tolerate one and make their unlikely marriage work…but that’s easier said than done when all forces are working against them. Serpent & Dove is an easy book to get lost in and will keep you thoroughly entertained from start to finish.”

—Ariana Carpentieri, Assistant to VP. Marketing & Publicity

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