It’s mid-May, and summer reading recommendation lists have already begun to appear. While I always appreciate them—I love finding titles I’ve either forgotten about or missed entirely—I tend to enjoy themed booklists more. So I’m going to split the difference here and take a look at some Deserted(ish) Island Reads, some that I’ve read, some that I’m planning to read.

Reality Television Roughs It:

Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens and Sloane Tanen’s Are You Going to Kiss Me Now?

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In Beauty Queens, a plane full of beauty pageant contestants crash lands on what seems to be a deserted island, and lots of shenanigans and soul-searching ensue. It’s hilarious, it’s thoughtful and thought-provoking, and while it may cause some mild sensory overload, it’s a hugely enjoyable read. Oddly enough, Are You Going to Kiss Me Now?—ANOTHER book that deals with celebrity, the media, and a plane crash onto a deserted island—actually came out the same month. It looks like a pretty straightforward romantic comedy, and as I’m always on the lookout for those, I’m planning on tracking it down ASAP.

Paging Doctor Moreau:

Megan Shepherd’s The MadKiss Me Nowman’s Daughter and Ann Halam’s Dr. Franklin’s Island

I’ve gone on and on about my love for the lush, harsh Madman’s Daughter, so I’ll try to keep my gushing to a minimum. If you like your Gothic literature to make you squirm, don’t miss this one: Shepherd strikes the perfect balance between grotesque and beautiful, between true romance and pure chemistry. Dr. Franklin’s Island, an older title, is new to me. It’s a loose retelling of The Island of Doctor Moreau set in modern day Ecuador, and while it doesn’t look like Kirkus covered it, it got stars from PW and Voya. (Semi-related: Purely due to the mention of The Oracle Prophesies, I just added this other Halam title to my TBR list as well.) 

Before the Island:

Elizabeth Fama’s Overboard, S.A. Bodeen’s The Raft, and Michael Northrop’s Surrounded by Sharks

Survival stories set on (and in) the water, far from laThe Raftnd. Fama’s is about the aftermath of a ferry accident off the coast of Sumatra, Bodeen’s is about a girl stuck in a raft off of the Pacific Islands, and Northrop’s is about a boy who gets swept out to sea and…yeah, the title pretty much says it all! I want to read all three, but for different reasons: Fama’s looks like it has the strongest emotional core, Bodeen’s is apparently chock-full of real-life survival facts, and Northrop’s is, well, by Northrop.

Shipwreck Survivor Changes Everything:

Gordon Dahlquist’s The Different Girl

And finally, a book from the perspective of the folks who ALREADY LIVE on the deserted(ish) island! Four girls, identical except for hair color, live on a small island with their two teachers. Their days are quiet and calm and predictable…until a fifth—and very different—girl washes ashore. The strength in this one is less about the plotting and more about the ideas, as well as the narrator’s voice, which is original, believable and oddly heartbreaking.

If she isn't writing Bookshelves of Doom or running the show at her local library, Leila Roy might be making stuff for her Etsy shop while rewatching Veronica Mars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Babylon 5, Black Books or Twin Peaks. Well, that or she’s hanging out on Twitter. Or both.