Superpowers, Trauma, and Best Friends: Books for When You’ve Finished Season 1 of Jessica Jones

When I was five, I went as Batgirl for Halloween. Not Batman–Batgirl. As a redheaded ass-kicker, she was the ideal superhero for Kindergarten Annie. Unfortunately, the store only sold Batman costumes, so that’s what I wore, even though it obviously wasn’t the same costume.

I’m still a big fan of female superheroes. (Seriously, Buffy was a major part of my middle/high school experience.) So of course I binge-watched the recent Jessica Jones series, and there was a lot to love–female ass-kicking superhero, lots of action and mystery, and also a fascinating look at trauma and recovery and a fantastic central female friendship.

Of course, all of that reminded me of the amazing YA novels I would recommend as follow-ups to fans of Jessica Jones. Here are a few titles to add to your reading list in your post-binge-watch life:

If you liked Jessica Jones for its depiction of trauma/abuse survivors:

  • Fault Line by Christa Desir: I kept thinking, “Wait, is Christa on the JJ writing staff?” Her debut novel is a powerful take on sexual assault, survival, and anger.
  • All the Rage by Courtney Summers: also about sexual assault, a great look at the idea of who ‘deserves’ to be saved.
  • And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard: quiet but compelling story about surviving a relationship turned abusive, with some excellent poetry.
  • Far From You by Tess Sharpe: with their losses, addictions, sharp wit, and detective skills, I think Jessica and Sophie would get along really well.
  • Pointe by Brandy Colbert: Theo reminds me a little of Malcolm–dealing with abuse and self-harm, and I want to give both of them big hugs.
  • Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein: Rose and the Rabbits survive Nazi medical experimentation in a concentration camp; a very intense story of trauma and survival.
  • Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen: Scarlet carries a lot of guilt associated with her previous abuse/loss.
  • Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly: fantasy, but the theme of being used as a weapon in an abusive relationship is powerful here.

If you liked Jessica Jones for its strong female friendships:

  • Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler: Ally and Vanessa have been best friends forever, and Vanessa’s a real celebrity–this is totally Jessica and Trish!
  • Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy: Willowdean and Ellen’s friendship goes through some rocky patches as they grow up, but they always have each other’s backs.
  • Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma: without other family support, these are sisters who would do anything for each other.
  • Open Road Summer by Emery Lord: another famous/not-famous pair, Reagan and Lilah’s friendship is so similar to Jessica/Trish’s in its strength between two seemingly very different people.
  • Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke A. Allen, Maarta Laiho: friendship to the max, indeed, even when facing some seriously weird supernatural stuff.
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein: even thinking about Julie and Maddie’s friendship guts me.

If you liked Jessica Jones for its irreverent girls with super powers:

  • Croak by Gina Damico: Lex and Jessica would totally hang out in the reaper cafeteria.
  • Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor: a supernatural world lurking behind a contemporary urban setting, with great quips from Karou and questions of whose side is ‘good.’
  • Hexed by Michelle Krys: lots of narrative twists and turns, and no one in Indie’s life is safe.
  • Sekret by Lindsay Smith: even as a psychic spy in the Cold War, Yulia struggles against government control and to understand her own abilities.

Any other reading suggestions for post-Jessica Jones life? Share them in the comments!

4 thoughts on “Superpowers, Trauma, and Best Friends: Books for When You’ve Finished Season 1 of Jessica Jones

  1. Thank you for making such a great list. Jessica Jones has sent me into a reading binge as I try to find books that match the tone of the show. I was looking for books about trauma/abuse survivors facing their demons and exploring that process of overcoming it.
    You certainly delivered! Thank you!

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