the first post i did in this vein was way way back in october of 2018, so i figured it was about time i do another one! i’ve read a helluva lot since 2018, figured out some tropes and themes i enjoy in what i read, so i have a lot more to recommend.
1: if you like wilder girls, you might like the promised neverland
rory power’s wilder girls is a ya horror novel, following a group of girls isolated on an island after being overcome by the ‘tox’, a toxin that has changed their bodies.
the promised neverland by kaiu shirai is a manga following a group of orphans living in an isolated house waiting to be adopted. one night, the eldest girl in the orphanage sneaks out after curfew to return a toy dropped by a younger girl being adopted, and uncovers a horrible secret.
secrets, violence, body horror: they have it all! the uncertainty of the extent to which the outside world is aware of what goes on behind closed doors is very much a prominent part of the mystery in both of these narratives.
2: if you like heavy vinyl, you might like hunger makes me a modern girl
heavy vinyl by carly usdin follows chris, music obsessed and very much gay, as she starts working at vinyl mayhem, her favourite record store. she’s drawn in by her mysterious coworkers, and uncovers a big secret.
hunger makes me a modern girl is the memoir of carrie brownstein, one of the founders of rock trio sleater-kinney. she recounts how her life led her to music, and what it was like to come-of-age and feature heavily in the riot grrrl movement.
both of these place an emphasis on being a woman in a space that is controlled in so many ways by men, and the important of women’s unity in the rock scene to overcome that oppression. heavy vinyl is a much softer take on it, while hunger makes me a modern girl is delves deeper into the weight on a person’s shoulders when they are constantly being scrutinised.
3: if you like the hazel wood, you might like beautiful darkness
fabien vehlmann’s beautiful darkness is a sinister anti-fairy tale graphic novel about a group of small beings who live off the body of a dead girl.
the hazel wood, melissa albert’s debut novel, follows a teenage girl searching for her missing mother, who has been abducted by characters from fairytales her grandmother wrote years before.
dark fairy tales are one of my favourite things ever, and i think the tone of both of these fit so well. there’s a dark humour to beautiful darkness that i feel the hazel wood doesn’t have as much of, but both look at trauma in really interesting ways.
4: if you like station eleven, you might like yokohama shopping blog
emily st john mandel’s station eleven is a literary pandemic novel. it follows the before, during, and after of a fictional swine flu that wipes out most of the world’s population, and how those left alive continue living after devastation.
yokohama shopping blog, written and illustrated by mangaka hitoshi ashinanano, depicts the daily life of a robot after the collapse of the world’s ecology, and the lives of the people she meets.
there’s something very understated about the way each of these books show civilisation after such devastation. while there are moments of hardship and pain for characters, there’s an ingrained kindness in their stories, and that’s why i think they pair well together.
5: if you like meddling kids, you might like in the shadow of spindrift house
meddling kids by edgar cantero follows what is essentially the mystery gang, all grown up. the four of them reunite- since their fifth is now a ghost- to return to the town that tanked their careers to figure out what, exactly, has been going on there all these years.
mira grant’s own take on the mystery gang in in the shadow of spindrift house doesn’t lean as much into humour. our main character brings her friends to a mysterious house currently in the shadow of a vicious battle of ownership they have to solve. to get a massive sum of money, all they have to figure out is who built this house, and, more importantly: why was it built?
other than the obvious connections between the two, what really has me pairing them together is that i felt spindrift did everything meddling kids did, only better.
similar themes, similar character types and flaws, just treated with more care and grace. there’s a strange sensitivity to the way grant treats her characters, while elements of cantero’s story felt exploitative and, at times, cruel. even though spindrift has a more bittersweet ending, with a lot more tragedy, it still felt like the characters were treated with love.
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