Do you remember absolutely devouring THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER for the first time? Sure, we’ll admit, part of that is due to the incredible, timeless story told between its covers, but we also think that it comes from the way in which it’s told. As it’s written through letters from Charlie, it gave us such a close, personal, unique look into his head—and it’s not the only novel to do so.
Novels told in unique formats are some of our very favorites! They’re ambitious, intriguing, and usually told in such a way that we can’t help but turn the page… and then the next one… and the next. We just have to know what happens! So from PERKS to ILLUMINAE and everything in between, here are some of our (and your!) fave books told in unique formats!
These Unique Format Books Will Hook You!
1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Like we said, PERKS gets intimate by presenting Charlie’s story through the letters he writes. There’s a reason its reputation is what it is, and if you haven’t read this iconic story, you better make sure it’s the next one on your TBR.
The critically acclaimed debut novel from Stephen Chbosky, Perks follows observant “wallflower” Charlie as he charts a course through the strange world between adolescence and adulthood. First dates, family drama, and new friends. Sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Devastating loss, young love, and life on the fringes. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie must learn to navigate those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.
2. All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor
ALL OF THIS IS TRUE has the gaspworthy drama we love to devour, and it’s all anchored in the YA scene. We mean, can you imagine befriending your fave author, only to be betrayed by them?! But one of the reasons we REALLY ate up this book was the way it’s told—in a series of radio interviews, published diary pages, and excerpts from the book-within-a-book.
In this genre-defying page-turner from Lygia Day Peñaflor, four teens befriend their favorite YA novelist, only to find their deepest, darkest secrets in the pages of her next book—with devastating consequences.
Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to hear the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her. Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, she couldn’t believe their luck. And Penny Panzarella was more than the materialist party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was.
Jonah Nicholls had more to hide than any of them. And now that Fatima’s next book is out in the world, he’s the one who is paying the price…
3. The Memory Book by Lara Avery
In a similar vein to parts of the above, THE MEMORY BOOK is told in a series of journal entries—only this time, the main character writes notes to her future self. She writes about everything from her longtime crush to her best friends, and even includes guest posts.
Sammie was always a girl with a plan: graduate at the top of her class and get out of her small town as soon as humanly possible. Nothing will stand in her way–not even a rare genetic disorder the doctors say will slowly start to steal her memories and then her health. What she needs is a new plan.
So the Memory Book is born: Sammie’s notes to her future self, a document of moments great and small. It’s where she’ll record every perfect detail of her first date with longtime crush, Stuart–a brilliant young writer who is home for the summer. And where she’ll admit how much she’s missed her childhood best friend, Cooper, and even take some of the blame for the fight that ended their friendship.
4. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
This heart-pounding series throws you into its world by being told through hacked documents, emails, military and medical files, interviews… the list goes on. Reading this books is such a one-of-a-kind experience that we’re not even sure we can explain ILLUMINAE… you just have to read it.
This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.
But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.
5. Replica by Lauren Oliver
This twisty title is told from alternate points of view. Okay, we know, that’s nothing special. But, in REPLICA, Lauren Oliver tells the story separately, and you can read one and then the other, both at the same time, or in any sort of mashed up pattern you want. Just flip the book!
Lyra’s story begins in the Haven Institute, a building tucked away on a private island off the coast of Florida that from a distance looks serene and even beautiful. But up close the locked doors, military guards, and biohazard suits tell a different story. In truth, Haven is a clandestine research facility where thousands of replicas, or human models, are born, raised, and observed. When a surprise attack is launched on Haven, two of its young experimental subjects—Lyra, or 24, and the boy known only as 72—manage to escape.
Gemma has been in and out of hospitals for as long as she can remember. A lonely teen, her life is circumscribed by home, school, and her best friend, April. But after she is nearly abducted by a stranger claiming to know her, Gemma starts to investigate her family’s past and discovers her father’s mysterious connection to the secretive Haven research facility. Hungry for answers, she travels to Florida, only to stumble upon two replicas and a completely new set of questions.
6. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
One of the things that makes this story so hard to put down despite being totally disturbing in moments is the way it’s told. MISS PEREGRINE’S mixes fiction and photography, and really takes us on the journey with Jacob as he explores his strange new life.
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow-impossible though it seems-they may still be alive. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.
7. TTYL by Lauren Myracle
It all goes down with these girls in the IM! This is a friendship story at its heart, and it’s so relatable because all the drama unfolds through instant messages. TTYL takes all our DMing fears and turns them into high school nightmares.
On the first day of tenth grade, best friends Maddie (mad maddie), Angela (SnowAngel), and Zoe (zoegirl) vow not to let school stupidness get them down… or split them apart. But as the weeks pass and the instant messages accumulate, it’s clear that tenth grade will be a roller coaster ride of boy temptation, math torture, donut emergenices, and Queen Bee encounters.
Then a jerky boy sends peppy Angela into the dumps, tough Maddie makes a mistake that has the whole school talking, and good girl Zoe gets in over her head with a flirty teacher. Will the winsome threesome make it through the year?
8. The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
Shall we turn things up a notch with this thriller? THE DEAD HOUSE is told through Kaitlyn’s diary, the mysterious twin sister of a girl who disappeared years ago. Re-opened police records, psychiatric reports, it’s all there. Get ready for violence, murder, and mysteries made all the more intense because of the way the story is told.
Twenty-five years ago, Elmbridge High burned down. Three people were killed and one pupil, Carly Johnson, disappeared. Now a diary has been found in the ruins of the school. The diary belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, Carly’s identical twin sister. But Carly didn’t have a twin…
Re-opened police records, psychiatric reports, transcripts of video footage and fragments of diary reveal a web of deceit and intrigue, violence and murder, raising a whole lot more questions than it answers.
Who was Kaitlyn and why did she only appear at night? Did she really exist or was she a figment of a disturbed mind? What were the illicit rituals taking place at the school? And just what did happen at Elmbridge in the events leading up to ‘the Johnson Incident’?
9. Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke
With chapters that remind us of a snappy dark fairy tale and characters who behave both well and wicked, WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT ups the stakes by promising the roles they’ll play: a hero, a villain, and a liar. Wink introduces the other two characters in a way that imply a certain casting, but the twists in this novel will keep you on your toes as much as the writing.
Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.
Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.
What really happened?
Someone is lying.
10. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
SHATTER ME is the ultimate stream of consciousness novel. Juliette tells her stories with cross-outs to reflect her actual thought process, and as she grows, so does the stability of her narrative. But that doesn’t mean the story dulls—do we need to talk about the pages full of ellipses in RESTORE ME?
One touch is all it takes. One touch, and Juliette Ferrars can leave a fully grown man gasping for air. One touch, and she can kill.
No one knows why Juliette has such incredible power. It feels like a curse, a burden that one person alone could never bear. But The Reestablishment sees it as a gift, sees her as an opportunity. An opportunity for a deadly weapon.
Juliette has never fought for herself before. But when she’s reunited with the one person who ever cared about her, she finds a strength she never knew she had.
What are some of your fave novels with unique formats? Let us know in the comments!