The best books with parallel worlds

The Books I Picked & Why

The Ten Thousand Doors of January

By Alix E. Harrow

Book cover of The Ten Thousand Doors of January

Why 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. 

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A Darker Shade of Magic

By V.E. Schwab

Book cover of A Darker Shade of Magic

Why 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.

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Jane, Unlimited

By Kristin Cashore

Book cover of Jane, Unlimited

Why 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.

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Mirror in the Sky

By Aditi Khorana

Book cover of Mirror in the Sky

Why 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.

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By Ryan Graudin

Book cover of Invictus

Why 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.

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