Sometimes what you need is an ‘escapist’ book. There’s no way around the fact, especially right after a stressful semester at graduate school. I’ve been noticing that lately escapism has started to mean something akin to ‘easy to dismiss’ or ‘not worthwhile’, and it tends to be uttered with a sarcastic, overly-intellectual tone, as if people who are serious about reading don’t read to merely ‘escape’. I, of course, disagree with this uppity sentiment. Every book deserves its reader, and every reader has a time when they want to read a book where the driving question is simply: ‘what happens next’?
Although they don’t have much else in common, this collection of YA lit can each properly be termed ‘escapist’: The Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard, Ten Cents a Dance by Christin Fletcher, Hikaru No Go, and Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. They lead you along at a fast clip, pulling the reader from one plot arch to the next with ease. The Pretty Little Liars series is pure mind candy: the suspense, mystery, and glamor of it captivated me entirely for an entire weekend while I read each book, one right after another, like brightly colored M&Ms lined up on my bedside table. Ten Cents a Dance, a historical romance set in the 40’s, is just as glamorous as The Pretty Little Liars, but the reader gets a little more insight into the main character’s thought process and the plot isn’t as mystery driven.
Hikaru No Go, an exceptional manga series about the game ‘go’, pulls the reader through a series of battles held over the board. While the change from glamor and mystery may seem sudden, wondering whether Hikaru will succeed at his next match keeps the pages turning just as quickly as any high-fashion thriller. Jellicoe Road is the only book I hesitate to include here, given my personal dislike for it, but in many ways it does fit the bill perfectly, as its driving thrust at least intends to be: ‘what happens next’?