Like most people, I marathoned Yellowjackets and then felt sad that the story couldn’t immediately continue. The pull of the characters, with their flaws and imperfections, deeply seated traumas, and no small amount of sniping, was glorious fun to watch. Tied in with the body horror elements, the large scale conspiracy, secrets, and lies made for an excellent speedy watch. It also brought to mind a lot of different books — and the best thing about standalone books is that you don’t need to wait for a second season to find out what happens next.
In making a list of books a reader would enjoy if they liked Yellowjackets, I delved into both fiction and nonfiction. It’s not all plane crashes and cannibalism, but some of these books just scream with the same tone and vibe and I couldn’t set them aside once they popped to mind. Here we’ve got dark and twisty cults, strangers in the woods, magical realism, a subway disaster, and five sisters on the edge — and of course, there are some plane crashes with all the LOST vibes those bring. So let’s get to it, finding some new material to read while you wait to find out what happens to Shauna, Misty, and Taissa.
The Grace Year by Kim Liggett
In Tierney’s world, the girls are banished to the forest for their 16th year, to release their magic into the wilderness before returning to marry — if they survive. You’ll really root for Tierney as she tries to work out her place. Clever plotting, pacing and layering make this an easy choice for that Yellowjackets feel.
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Teen beauty queens crash land on an island! This one is a surrealist satire, loading up on humor to explore feminist self-discovery. Beauty Queens is smartly laden with sympathetic characters and it brought me back to my own teenage years (plane crash and beauty pageants were not involved).
The Troop by Nick Cutter
Three days of camping, hiking, and survival training on a scouring trip. What could possibly go wrong? When the boys of Troop 52 head out to the wilderness, they’re not expecting an emaciated man to stumble into their camp — and they’re not expecting to fight their fears, the wild, and each other along the way.
Alive by Piers Paul Read
It doesn’t seem right to leave this one out, the true story of a plane crash in the Andes in 1972. Sixteen passengers survived and camped in the fuselage in the remote, freezing wilderness. As they starved, and realized that nobody was coming to find them, they had to make impossible choices which definitely inspired Yellowjackets.
Underground by Haruki Murakami
More narrative nonfiction, this time a look inside the Tokyo gas attack, perpetrated by a doomsday cult on the Tokyo subway. Murakami looks at the incident, which killed 12, and interviews some of the thousands who were injured to establish facts. This one is about finding reasons for the actions of a group — and its devotion to its cause.
Bunny by Mona Awad
A fairytale kind of horror, Bunny follows Samantha as she falls in with a clique known as the Bunnies. A deep, dark, and hilarious look into female friendship, this one is weird and gothic and you absolutely must read it. It’s different to Yellowjackets in obvious ways — but that vibe of female friendship feels familiar.
The Hunger by Alma Katsu
A fictional take on the Donner Party, Katsu’s work looks at the choice of paths the party took, and explores the desert, the freezing winds, and the pressurizing struggle to survive. Minor disagreements become major issues and then people begin to disappear. Something, they realize, is hunting them.
We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry
In Danvers, Massachusetts, three hundred years after the accusations that led to he witch trials, the Danvers High School Falcons want to make it to state finals. Led by Abby Putnam, the team taps into some dark powers. This one is all about team sport, friendship — and one great hockey season.
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
In Grosse Pointe, Michigan, Mary Lisbon’s body awaits an ambulance. A group of adolescent boys begin to explain the series of events leading to this moment, exploring with us readers the isolating nature of the family home. Sisterhood, friendship and coming-of-age are the background to a horror.
Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
In post-apocalyptic Toronto, riots have caused the elite to flee the city, which is now ruled by criminal Rudy Sheldon. The people farm, barter, and heal with herbs. When the elite need transplant donors, one young woman needs to look back on her own history to save her city. This is a magical realism take which stays in the mind for a while.
White is for Witching by Helen Oyoyemi
In the cliffs above Dover, the Silver family mourns the loss of Lily. Her twins Eliot and Miranda and husband Luc struggle to come to terms with what’s befallen them, but Miranda is especially affected. An unusual storytelling approach makes for an unsettling and, yes, somewhat weird read.
So there we have it, plenty of reading material to get us through this difficult between-season time. For more reads that celebrate female friendship, check out some of our favorite female friendships in books.