Emo is back baby! Don’t blame me, I don’t make the rules. Emo revival has hit, despite Machine Gun Kelly’s release of “emo girl” last year (I actually like Machine Gun Kelly, so no hate, but that song… well, it’s not his best). A new Fall Out Boy album is on the way, Paramore is on tour, and Pierce the Veil just released an incredible new album. So let me say again – EMO IS BACK.
Wondering what the emo girlies were reading back in the day? Or are you looking for a new injection of emo lit? Well look no further! If you’re looking for the perfect book to read while blasting some Taking Back Sunday, I’ve got a list replete with emo classics along with some new books that fit right along with the angst cannon. Get on those Hot Topic tees, stud belts, and Converse hi-tops, and let’s jump in!
The classic. The original. Twilight was (and still is) all the rage for some very good reasons. Angsty and star-crossed, Edward and Bella are what every emo girl wanted from a relationship – a mysterious, dangerous vampire lover who is mystified and obsessed with you, an average high-school girl who actually isn’t so average once you look beyond the surface, and a love so grand and all-consuming it feels cosmic. Honestly, it wasn’t just the emo girlies who wanted that – I mean who wouldn’t? And the crazy thing is, this book is still just as gripping on the tenth read as it is on the first – take it from someone who knows!
Some of you might be thinking, “Savannah, this book is called Hopepunk. PUNK. Emo and punk are not the same.” To which I would say true but also… not true. Emo developed out of the D.C. hardcore punk scene, so while emo very much became its own thing it has its roots in basement underground DIY punk which is exactly the vibes of this book! Hope Cassidy is our main hero rebelling against her conservative Christian upbringing in the wake of her older sister running away from home. Combine Hope’s hilarious voice, a battle-of-the-bands that turns into an all-out fight for justice, and some really intense familial drama and catharsis, and you’ve got yourself the love child of Love, Simon and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World that will make you feel like you’re there at the very beginning of the emo wave!
When I tell you paranormal romance was all the rage for the emos! I mean, it makes sense. Devastating, gothic romances that take the mundane world and make it magical is compelling for everyone, but especially those among us with a penchant for darkness. And Beautiful Creatures is all three – dark, gothic, and deeply romantic! In the small Southern town of Gatlin, Lena Duchannes is the new girl with a secret. And Ethan Wate is the boy who is inextricably drawn to her. The two of them will have to face down a generations-long curse if they are to ensure they can keep their budding romance – and their very lives.
Gothic romances were/are not the only types of books for my emo brethren. A good contemporary helps scratch the emo lit itch, and there’s nothing quite like Every Last Word. With its focus on mental health and the contrast between public and private persona, this book is perfect for the repressed emos in the crowd. But that twist in the end… prepare yourself to lay on the floor for a solid 45 and put on some Hot Mulligan to really help yourself wallow in those feels.
The emo era saw the rise of another cultural icon – Criminal Minds! And so many emo kids of today and yesteryear adore that killer-of-the-week show (myself included). With its Silence of the Lambs vibes, this book is perfect if you love a good atmospheric thriller with some serial chills! In 1982, two teenagers are recruited by the FBI to interview convicted juvenile killers to help provide insight on cold cases. Until one of their cases becomes not so cold. A serial killer who exclusively targets teens has emerged, and the team must turn to the country’s most notorious teen killer, the enigmatic Simon Gutmunsson. What follows is an edge-of-your-seat hunt for a killer that crescendos into a blood-soaked showdown! Real talk, I listened to this one on audiobook and thought I was going to clean my room while I put on the ending. Foolish me! It literally knocked me off my feet – I had to lay down to listen to that finale! And good news is if you like None Shall Sleep, there’s a sequel Some Shall Break!
Star-crossed lovers, mysterious magic, and a brutal otherworldly war? Yes please and thank you! Karou is our main character. She speaks many languages (not all of them human), her hair is bright blue (naturally. Like, actually grows from her head that color), and she is prone to being sent out on errands to collect teeth by a demon. And that my friends is only the beginning. Not only do I feel strongly that Karou has an emo playlist to rival all emo playlists –you just know she’s got that Prague underground scene on her radar – her story is dark and epic in all proportions! With hidden pasts and haunting betrayals, this book goes will hit you in the feels. Combined with Laini Taylor’s prose that is a magic all its own, I dare you to put this one down!
Holly Black’s books are always filled with a glittering, enticing darkness, so you can imagine her take on vampires is absolutely prime. With an urban fantasy twist, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is everything we love about vampy thrillers brought into the internet age. What would happen if vampires were real and they were quarantined into zones known as Coldtowns? They would livestream their shenanigans for all to see, of course! Just as our elder emos earned their fame on MySpace with their high-angled selfies and racoon-eyed makeup, so too would vampires rule the web! With its noir vibes and sharp romance, this book has the aesthetics of emo and a race against the clock plot to keep you on the edge of your seat.
At the heart of emo is one thing – emotion. Thus the phrase emo, obviously. But what can sometimes get lost in the Hot Topic aesthetics of the thing is that root of emotional storytelling that drove so much of emo music and thus culture. It was about connecting with the deeper, darker side of the human psyche. And I can think of no better book to pair with that psychological exploration than Fix. The story of two best friends ripped apart by pain and addiction, this book follows Eve after her major scoliosis surgery. Telling her story in a mix of poetry and prose, Eve documents her journey of physical and emotional pain and her struggle with the prescription pain medication she’s growing ever more dependent upon. It displays an emotional rawness, the same emotional rawness that made emo music so popular in the first place and made it a cultural icon of the mid-2000’s. And the same emotional rawness that’s bringing it back!