So You Want to “Do Revenge”, Revenge Fantasies in YA Lit for Fans of the Netflix Film
Most of us have had a good revenge fantasy in our life; that moment where we wanted to get back the ex-best friend who told our deepest secret or that ex-boyfriend who broke our hearts. Right now streaming on Netflix is a revenge fantasy teen comedy called Do Revenge that pays tribute to some of the best teen films ever while also paying homage to Strangers on the Train by Hitchcock. In it, two teens – played by Maya Hawke from Stranger Things and Camila Mendes from Riverdale – make a pact to exact revenge on the other person’s archnemesis. In the spirit of Do Revenge, here are some of the best YA revenge fantasies to share with teens.
Dig Two Graves by Gretchen McNeil
Gretchen McNeil is a fantastic source of YA horror. Here 2022 release, Dig Two Graves, also happens to be based on the Hitchcock classic Strangers on a Train. In this version, two teens at summer camp make a pact to kill each other’s arch-nemesis, except one of them thinks it’s a joke and it turns out, it may very well not be a joke at all to the other teen. From there, things get complicated . . . and deadly. I read a ton of McNeil thrillers recently and they’re all good, so definitely check this one out.
The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson
This is another recent YA release based on a classic, in this case Carrie by Stephen King. Carrie is the ultimate revenge fantasy, and you will not be disappointed in The Weight of Blood. Here, Jackson mixes in discussions about things like racism to add new layers to the King classic. Jackson never disappoints and I highly recommend this thriller. Also a great read for podcast lovers, as it contains podcast elements.
Revenge Fantasies That Are Actual Fantasies
These YA fantasies are also great revenge fantasies. So if you like to read fantasy AND want some good cathartic revenge, try these . . .
Revenge for Sexual Assault
The topic of sexual assault is not one to be taken lightly, and these authors address the very real issues while also highlighting the various ways that we can smash the patriarchy and help dismantle the culture that protects sexual assault offenders while leaving victims/survivors on their own. Moxie and The Nowhere Girls show teens standing up and speaking out. Sadie and The Female of the Species are a revenge fantasy in the truest sense in that it invites readers to get an emotional catharsis while its main character exacts a very deadly revenge on offenders. These titles all come with a trigger warning, but they are informative, cathartic, and often inspiring.
A handful of contemporary titles take on revenge in a variety of ways, some of them quite deadly. Gretchen McNeil makes another appearance in her book Ten, inspired by the classic And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. Julie Murphy, the author of Dumplin’, introduces us to a teen who thinks she is dying of cancer who sets out to exact revenge on all those who have wronged her, only to find out afterwards that she is in remission. Thriller author Diana Urban also takes us on journeys of revenge, a topic she touches on often in her works. Jenny Han and Shiobhan Vivian begin their revenge thriller set on an island with the book Burn for Burn. And Mindy Mcginnis takes you to very dark places, as she always does, with her vengeful dulogy of The Initial Insult and The Last Laugh.
And here are some links to some other YA lists about Revenge
Epic Reads Revenge AND Romance https://www.epicreads.com/blog/romance-and-revenge/
Jen Ryland Reviews YA and Revenge https://www.jenryland.com/ya-books-about-revenge/
I’m not here to advocate for revenge, but I am here to advocate for some cathartic revenge by reading YA revenge fantasies.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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