Picture this: you’re five pages from the end of an amazing book. You’ve been reading all night, and you’re almost at the end. Then you realize – this story isn’t wrapping up any time soon. There’s going to be a sequel. So now you’re going to be lying awake at night contemplating the dubious fates of your new favorite characters.
If this has ever been you, then you’ll know what I mean when I say that the standalone novel is the unsung hero of YA. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting sucked into a good series, but I don’t always have the time or energy to fully commit to one. Sometimes I want the magic, the romance, the intricate world-building, and the (hopefully) satisfying ending – all in one book.
These books will give you all the feels you’re looking for, all within the pages of a single novel.
13 Standalone Novels You Can Read in One Sitting
1. Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
The books in Elisabeth’s world are not normal. Books of magic are dangerous and can transform into terrible monsters, and she’s spent her entire live protecting the kingdom from their power. When the library’s most dangerous book is released, Elisabeth finds herself framed for the crime. Now the only person she can turn to for help is her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn.
2. Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells
Raised among the ruins of a conquered mountain nation, Maren dreams only of sharing a quiet life with her girlfriend Kaia—until the day Kaia is abducted by the Aurati, prophetic agents of the emperor, and forced to join their ranks. Desperate to save her, Maren hatches a plan to steal one of the emperor’s coveted dragons and storm the Aurati stronghold. If Maren is to have any hope of succeeding, she must become an apprentice to the Aromatory—the emperor’s mysterious dragon trainer. But Maren is unprepared for the dangerous secrets she will uncover.
3. Cursed by Thomas Wheeler and Illustrated by Frank Miller
Whosoever wields the Sword of Power shall be the one true King.
But what if the Sword has chosen a Queen? Nimue has grown up as an outcast of her Druid village. But when her entire village is slaughtered by the Red Palladins, her mother tasks her with bring the Sword of Power to the legendary sorcerer, Merlin. Teaming up with a charming mercenary named Arthur and refugee Fey Folk from across England. She wields a sword meant for the one true king and discovers the truth about her destiny. But perhaps the one thing that can change Destiny itself is found at the edge of a blade.
4. Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera
Set in the near future, Dealing in Dreams is about sixteen-year-old Nalah who leads the fiercest all-girl crew in Mega City. Her dream is to give up her questionable lifestyle and move the the exclusive Mega Towers. Now Nalah must prove her loyalty to the city’s benevolent founder for a chance to live in the Mega Towers. She must cross the border in a search of the mysterious gang the Ashé Riders. But the closer she gets to her goal the more she loses sight of everything—and everyone—she cares about.
5. Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott
Can you love someone you can never touch?
In this moving story that’s perfect for fans of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, two teens fall in love with just one minor complication—they can’t get within a few feet of each other without risking their lives. Stella Grant likes to be in control—even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Yet, as the two start to fall in love, distance is harder than it has ever been for either one of them. Now a major motion picture starring Cole Sprouse and Haley Lu Richardson!
6. Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
The chapters of Afterworlds alternate between Darcy, a young woman whose teen novel is finally being published, and Lizzie, the protagonist of Darcy’s novel, who guides spirits to the afterworld after surviving a devastating attack. Even though the stories are so different, the fun is watching the way they intertwine. And you’re essentially getting two books in one, which is a huge win.
7. An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
Beautifully written world of faeries? Check. Headstrong heroine? Check. Star-crossed romance between the said heroine and a faerie prince? You bet. All of this in one gorgeous standalone novel? It’s basically a dream come true.
8. The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw
Sparrow is a cursed town where every year, three witches seek revenge on the town by possessing the bodies of three girls in order to lure boys into the harbor and drown them. For Penny, this is just the way things are, but when Bo comes to town, clueless to their curse, Penny may be the only one who can help him.
9. Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
Sometimes when a series includes a romance, it can take several books for your OTP to get together. And sometimes that’s just too long to wait. In Starry Eyes, two teens – former friends turned enemies – are forced to reconcile during a camping trip gone wrong. It’s hugely entertaining and completely satisfying.
10. Feeder by Patrick Weekes
Lori hunts dangerous aliens alongside an inter-dimensional creature whose massive jaws can bring the monsters into another dimension. But when she finds a group of mutant teenagers being held captive, she quickly goes from hunter to hunted. Feeder is a high-concept adventure with a diverse cast of characters and a rapid-fire pace that will keep you hooked.
11. Freefall by Joshua David Bellin
In this dual narrative that jumps between present and future, Cam and his friends prepare to leave a dying Earth behind for a new planet, while 1,000 years later he wakes to find that their ship is far off course. Social commentary combines with sci-fi adventure as Cam races to discover what went wrong – and if he had anything to do with it.
12. The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
A year after a classmate is forced from school in the aftermath of her sexual assault, three outcasts join forces to overturn the damaging rape culture at their school. The Nowhere Girls is a personal favorite of mine, with nuanced characters that feel unbelievably real, and a deeply affecting story about healing and the power of female camaraderie.
13. The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale
When Alys was a young girl, two soul eaters killed all the adults in her village, feeding off their souls. Raised in the fearful but devout neighboring village, Alys dares not speak of the connection she feels with the soul eaters or the beast that is said to control them. This is a mesmerizing, gripping tale with a wholly original legend that is easy to get lost in.