The best books with parallel worlds

Who am I?

I’m a history instructor and often think about alternate historical outcomes, but you don’t get to choose those. Wish the Spanish Armada hadn’t sunk? Tough luck. But you can take a novel in any direction—kill a character, bring them back, let them fall in love, make them eat an egg salad sandwich… When the book itself is about parallel worlds, it increases those possibilities exponentially. In What Goes Up, Rosa and Eddie have very different backgrounds—Earth is two different worlds for them. What happens when there’s another world out there and they meet themselves in a different place? As one character asks, how much do you trust yourself?

I wrote...

What Goes Up

By Katie Kennedy,

Book cover of What Goes Up

What is my book about?

Rosa and Eddie are among hundreds of teens applying to NASA's mysterious Interworlds Agency. They're not exactly sure what the top-secret program entails, but they know they want in. Rosa has her brilliant parents' legacies to live up to, and Eddie has nowhere else to gohe's certainly not going to stick around and wait for his violent father to get out of jail. Even if they are selected, they have no idea what lies in store. But first, they have to make it through round after round of crazy-competitive testing.

And then something happens that even NASA's scientists couldn't predict...

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Ten Thousand Doors of January

Why did I love this book?

Alix Harrow’s writing in The Ten Thousand Doors of January is as beautiful as the cover. This book was a finalist for several awards, including the Hugo and Nebula, and for good reason. The main character’s name is January–hence the title. January struggles against an antagonist who wants to prevent her from opening the magical doors she finds, undermines her confidence, and eventually has her committed to an institution. This will resonate with many young readers struggling to find their identity and take control of their own powers–and lives. The different worlds beyond January’s doors will delight the imagination and the resolution is satisfying. 

By Alix E. Harrow,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Ten Thousand Doors of January as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A gorgeous, aching love letter to stories, storytellers, and the doors they lead us through...absolutely enchanting."—Christina Henry, bestselling author of Alice and Lost Boys

LOS ANGELES TIMES BESTSELLER! Finalist for the 2020 Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Awards. 

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely…

A Darker Shade of Magic

By V. E. Schwab,

Book cover of A Darker Shade of Magic

Why did I love this book?

A Darker Shade of Magic by the ever-popular V.E. Schwab is the first in the Shades of Magic trilogy. Schwab always writes well, and this book is no exception. The premise is that there are four versions of London, which are color-coded so we can keep them straight (Red London, Grey London, etc.). The world building is solid and the storytelling is fluid. There isn’t much romance, which probably pleases some people. I generally enjoy having a romance subplot, but don’t think people who share my opinion will be disappointed.

By V. E. Schwab,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked A Darker Shade of Magic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A stunning collector's edition of the acclaimed novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author V.E. Schwab.

With an exclusive metallic ink cover, this edition will feature:

* End papers of London
* Fan art
* A glossary of Arnesian and Antari terms
* An interview between author and editor
* Original (never before seen!) tales from within the Shades of Magic world

Kell is one of the last Antari-magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons. There is Red London, where life and magic are revered, Grey London, without magic and ruled by mad King…

Jane, Unlimited

By Kristin Cashore,

Book cover of Jane, Unlimited

Why did I love this book?

Jane, Unlimited is a marvelously constructed book that focuses on Jane, a girl grieving her aunt and making umbrellas, who gets an invitation to a mysterious island mansion. I am here for all mysterious island mansion books. This estate is named Tu Reviens–"You come back” in French. That is, of course, a clue to the premise. There are a couple of possible love interests, but it’s not a love triangle and I don’t think it would annoy the people who are dead set against triangles.

By Kristin Cashore,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jane, Unlimited as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An instant New York Times bestseller—from the award-winning author of the Graceling Realm series—about adventure, grief, storytelling, and finding yourself in a world of seemingly infinite choices.

"A wild gift for readers who like books that take them to unexpected places."—Melissa Albert, author of The Hazel Wood

Jane has lived a mostly ordinary life, raised by her recently deceased aunt Magnolia, whom she counted on to turn life into an adventure. Without Aunt Magnolia, Jane is lost. So she's easily swept away when a glamorous, capricious, and wealthy acquaintance from years ago asks Jane to accompany her to a gala…

Mirror in the Sky

By Aditi Khorana,

Book cover of Mirror in the Sky

Why did I love this book?

Mirror in the Sky is about what happens to a girl who’s just trying to navigate through high school and family situations when a planet incredibly similar to Earth is discovered–and news spreads that people may have doubles on the new planet, called Terra Nova. (The main character’s name is Tara, so there’s a play on words, and a riff on the theme, here.) Mirror in the Sky is more about reactions on Earth to news of the new planet and less a sci-fi adventure.

Readers wanting hard sci-fi–tentacled aliens with ray guns–may be disappointed, but readers who want a contemporary with another world as a backdrop might take a look.

By Aditi Khorana,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mirror in the Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Another Earth meets Perks of Being a Wallflower in this thoughtful, mesemerizing debut and subject of a TedX talk about the discovery of a mirror planet to Earth and how it dramatically changes the course of one Indian-American girl's junior year.

“[O]ne of the most powerful reads of the year. A novel about family, race, and discovering who you are, Mirror in the Sky promises a unique read that blends YA contemporary struggles with imaginative science fiction."
—Paste Magazine

For Tara Krishnan, navigating Brierly, the academically rigorous prep school she attends on scholarship, feels overwhelming and impossible. Her junior year…


By Ryan Graudin,

Book cover of Invictus

Why did I love this book?

I enjoy a good adventure, and Graudin delivers here. This book starts with time travel and shifts to parallel worlds. (The main character was born outside of time, but I won’t explain that so I don’t spoil things.) He captains a crew of merry thieves who travel back to save important relics that are about to be lost in historic disasters like the sinking of the Titanic. This is a smart, quick read–and a fun one.

By Ryan Graudin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Invictus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A heart-stopping adventure that defies time and space--New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu calls it "an incredibly intricate, brilliantly paced, masterfully written journey."
Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time traveler from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in ancient Rome, Far's very existence defies the laws of nature. All he's ever wanted was to explore history for himself, but after failing his entrance exam into the government program, Far will have to settle for a position on the black market-captaining a time-traveling crew to steal valuables from the past.
During a routine…

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