These reads aren’t child’s play.
Everyone’s talking about Squid Game, and for good reason: it’s utterly impossible to stop watching. The K-thriller, which creator Hwang Dong-hyuk says was inspired by Japanese manga and anime, expertly combines essential storyline ingredients like suspense, social commentary, and characters you can’t help but root for — and it’s a formula that’s made millions marathon the whole thing until the end. If you’re looking for more similar material once you’re done, check out these books to read like Squid Game.
There are a couple of elements that have kept us all enraptured by Squid Game, including its extremely high stakes. Every episode of the show leaves you on the edge of your seat, wondering how the characters are going to get out of this — and shocked when some of them don’t, like in the brutal Red Light, Green Light game in the first episode.
These books for fans of Squid Game play on the same shocking twists. Whether the characters are exploring an eerie small town with plenty of secrets, or trying to stay alive in the midst of a murderer in a prep school, these books grip you with some seemingly insurmountable challenges that the characters need to figure out how to overcome. Add to that the sense of of a ticking clock and some extreme consequences if they should fail, and you know your heart is going to be in your throat the whole time you’re reading.
Thanks to Squid Game’s critique of modern society and countless jaw-dropping twists, you couldn’t help but tell Netflix that, yes, you were still watching, until you got to the end. So, as soon as you finish Squid Game, fill the void by picking up one of these thrilling books that are sure to keep you up all night.
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Like Squid Game, this best-selling thriller is a heart-pounding ride from the first scene until the conclusion. Battle Royale is set in a dystopian Japan where high school students are dropped on a deserted island with weapons, and then forced to fight to the death. The battle ends when there’s only one left standing.
Another book about exile, The Grace Year follows teenage girls who are banished for a year starting on their 16th birthdays. They’re set into the wild and forced to release their magic so they’re ready to live a docile life as wives and mothers when they return. Filled with heart-pounding suspense as the girls navigate poachers, survival, and each other, this book is a can’t-miss.
It would be remiss to mention Squid Game without giving a shout-out to Hunger Games. Teen tributes from each of the deadly Panem districts are forced to enter an arena and fight to the death, all for the entertainment of the citizens. Deadly games, high-stakes, and characters you can root for? Check, check, and check.
Amber Prescott and her friends must choose one of them to die to save the rest in All Your Twisted Secrets. The classmates are invited to a scholarship dinner, only to discover that they’ve been locked in a room with a syringe of poison and a bomb. Either they choose one of their own to die before the clock ticks to zero, or they all die.
In the marathon-worthy #MurderTrending, teenaged Dee wakes up in Alcatraz 2.0, where hardened criminals go to die while people watch on an app called The Postman. Now, Dee must fight against her false charges to prove her innocence before she’s wrongfully murdered in front of the world.
When one of Sinclair Prep’s top students winds up dead, Nancy Luo and her classmates are forced to reckon with their deepest secrets in How We Fall Apart. And with “The Proctor” anonymously incriminating Nancy and her friends, the clock is ticking to figure out who the real murderer is before all of them lose everything.
The Long Walk by Stephen King has all the best of Squid Game, making it a completely compelling choice. In a future dystopian America, one hundred boys are forced to partake in an annual competition where they walk at a certain speed until there’s only one player left standing. Stop, or fall below the set speed too many times? Instant death.
When Avery’s best friend winds up dead, everyone in their tight-knit community thinks she had something to do with it in The Last House Guest. This suspense thriller is chock-full of eeriness as Avery starts to unravel horrifying secrets and hidden motivations about her community. The clock is ticking to figure out what really happened the night Sadie died before they come after Avery, too.
When Devon and Chiamaka are chosen to be their school’s top prefects, they think the school year is off to a good start. But in Ace of Spades, nothing is as it seems. Someone who goes by the name “Aces” begins to blackmail them with anonymous texts revealing their darkest secrets. With the game taking a deadly turn, Devon and Chiamaka have to stop Aces before their futures fall apart.
On the island of Nil, you have only two choices: escape within 365 days or die. When Charley wakes up in the middle of a field on Nil, she finds no other people until she runs into charismatic Thad, a leader of teenage refugees. Together, they discover that leaving the island is so much harder than they thought.
These reads aren’t child’s play.