Recommended Standalone Novels

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

In my opinion, the standalone novel is a phenomena in book culture that is entirely underappreciated. As much as I love a good series, there is something immensely rewarding about a standalone novel, a book that wraps itself up inside of its own two covers, that leaves no important strings hanging about in the breeze, waiting to be snatched up by a sequel.

I'll be writing a post fairly soon about my favorite series, but these are some wonderful and entertaining standalone novels that won't leave you attached to a huge series for months.

1. The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
This is a gripping thriller novel following a kidnapping gone awry. It takes on multiple perspectives and multiple timelines, and will keep you on the edge of your seat. It's also very psychologically deep, with complex, fascinating characters and dramatic action. The ending made me cry pretty aggressively, I won't deny it.
Pages: 352
My Rating: 5/5

2. The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman
This is a gorgeous, poetic book, centered on a "museum" of sorts that at times seems more like a circus/freak show/gallery of perplexities. It's a tumultuous and beautiful love story, with mysteries, familial turmoil, history and beautiful writing.
Pages: 368
My rating: 4.5/5

3. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Another highly poetic and captivating story, this features a young protagonist, Ava, born with the wings of a bird, into a highly unusual family. It's a magical realism piece about finding a place in the world, a mythological and romantic work of art.
Pages: 301
My Rating: 5/5

4. Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher
This book is a chilling story of a young girl named Gemma, who is stalked around the world and finally abducted and taken to the remote Australian outback by her kidnapper. It is written as a letter from Gemma to the man, Ty, who stole her, and follows their tumultuous relationship and experiences in this terrifying landscape. It also incorporates more psychological issues, and concepts like Stockholm Syndrome. The character of Ty is startling, complex and often unexpected. He is in love with Gemma, so much that he feels his only option is to take her and "protect" her in the desert. This is not a "typical" kidnapping story and it has a way of making you question your own opinions and judgments as you read it.

Pages: 304
My Rating: 4/5

5. My Name Is Memory by Ann Brashares
I no longer remember many details of this book, as it's been several years since I read it. However, I do know that it follows two characters, Daniel and Sophia, and their epic love story, which spans many centuries. Daniel is able to remember each of his lives, and spends the entirety of every one in love with the same woman, who doesn't have the memories that he does. Their love crosses centuries and continents and it's completely magical and often painful, as they are drawn together time after time, and then tragically pulled apart.
Pages: 324
My Rating: 4.5/5

6. The Future of Us by Jay Asher
This book is ingenuous in concept. It follows two friends in 1996 who turn on a new computer, only to find themselves looking at their Facebook pages 15 years in the future. Of course, Facebook hasn't been invented yet, and the two are confused to see their decisions in 1996 affecting and shaping their future lives. It's a great book, with equal parts humor and drama.

My Rating: 4/5

7. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Another enchanting novel with beautiful prose, this follows dueling illusionists in a circus that appears and disappears without warning. It's a magical, fascinating story with so much to offer. It is at times playful and romantic, at other times dark and intense.
Pages: 387
My Rating: 5/5

8. I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
Markus Zusak's writing has among my favorites; his talent is abundantly apparent. The Book Thief is incredible, but I also adore this less famous book by him. It's full of riddles, mysteries, fascinating characters and tons of intrigue. The protagonist, Ed, is a normal guy with a boring, typical life, until he accidentally stops a bank robbery. After this, he is chosen as a "messenger", traveling around his town fulfilling tasks, without knowing who or what is behind it.
Pages: 360
My Rating: 5/5 

9. Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
This is a book that I definitely need to reread, as it's been several years and I've forgotten many of the plot points. It's based off of a lesser-known Grimm's fairy tale story, and opens with two women, Dashti and Lady Saren, who are trapped together in a tower after Saren refused to marry a man she hated. Later on, two new suitors arrive, and dangerous choices must be made if they're to ever be released. It's an adventurous, romantic tale with an uncommon setting in the steppes of central Asian.

Pages: 306
My Rating: 4.5/5

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