YA Books with Unique Formatting

There’s nothing that makes me nerd out more than novels that have unique formats. Okay, except maybe when hardcovers have cool designs under the dust jackets. But I can’t help but get all heart-eyes over books with illustrations or different formats from the traditional paragraphs of prose. And I’m sure you’ll agree that reading over a hundred books a year makes those novels that are a little different from the rest really stand out.

So today I’m going to share some of my favourite books with unique formatting with you! If you’re looking for something that stands out from the rest, here are eight of my favourite ones to add to your enormous TBR!


THIS SERIES IS INCREDIBLE. Honestly, it’s not only changed the way I read sci-fi, but it’s broken down my expectations of what novels have to be and dared to do something unseen in YA before. I didn’t read sci-fi before picking up Illuminae, but the way it was made so accessible and easy to read through the documents and chat logs and surveillance footage made it something I instantly fell in love with. If you haven’t had a chance to pick up Illuminae, you won’t be able to fully comprehend just how stunning the formatting and typed illustrations are in this series just from my words. SO TRUST ME. This is a series not to be missed out on.

The Wicker King

WOW. This book is utterly beautiful. I didn’t know that this was a book with unique formatting, with staining on the pages that slowly transformed this book from the typical white pages to white text on black ink… and IT WAS SUCH A GOOD SURPRISE. I loved how the darkness crept in from the margins to mirror the slowly deteriorating mental state of the main characters, and it was just so well done. But that’s not all — there was also a few documents and reports scattered throughout the narrative and I LOVED how these provided more information into what was going on and provided more background knowledge that was integral to understanding the two protagonists.

Stalking Jack the Ripper

HOW CAN I PROPERLY EXPRESS MY LOVE FOR THIS SERIES?! I mean, I love it mostly because of Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell, but I also adored how there were letters and documents throughout both Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula that added so much to the story. It was almost like we were solving the crimes right alongside Audrey Rose. IT WAS JUST A PERFECT ADDITION TO AN ALREADY PERFECT NOVEL AND I ADORED IT. If you haven’t had a chance to pick this series up yet, please do so! I can’t wait to get my hands on the third instalment.

Nice Try, Jane Sinner

Although I didn’t love this book as much as I hoped I would, undoubtably one of my favourite things about it was how it was told through a journal format with text-style speech. I’ve always loved books that incorporate instant messaging and texts and whatnot, so it was interesting to see how so much use of this style of storytelling changed the whole vibe of the novel. It also meant that while this is quite a big book, I also flew through it really fast as there wasn’t a lot of text on each page. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for a unique novel with a college setting.

Radio Silence

AJSKFWKDFNW THIS NOVEL IS PERFECTION. I’m sorry, I just can’t help myself. I know I fangirl a lot about this book, but if you haven’t picked it up yet, you might not know that it’s not just told in common prose. There are also snippets of the podcast transcripts in it (which GIVE ME ALL THE FEELS, as well as being referenced to in later chapters) and there are Facebook messages and this book is just a work of art. PLEASE PICK IT UP AND FANGIRL WITH ME.

The Leaving

I just… HOW. HOW DO THEY MAKE THE WORDS GO LIKE THAT?! <— literally what I ask every author ever. I’m honestly just so impressed by how the words mimicked what the characters were feeling or thinking, and it helped me understand them and really get inside their thought processes more. IT WAS JUST AMAZING. I’m stunned. Please resurrect me. Even though this was only a three-star read for me, the unique formatting was definitely what saved this book from being completely lost in the Mediocre Books Pile.

Eliza and Her Monsters

Speaking of works of art… THIS BOOK, PEOPLE. It’s about a girl who creates a webcomic, so there’s snippets of the comic inserted between some of the chapters and they’re gorgeous. I feel like this book wouldn’t be the same if it talked about the protagonist’s art and her webcomic and never showed it. IT WAS JUST SUCH A GREAT ADDITION. Seriously, if you love Radio Silence, there’s no question about whether you’ll enjoy Eliza and Her Monsters.

Shatter Me

I’m currently rereading this series in preparation of Restore Me, and I’ve forgotten how much I loved the way it’s written! There are strikethroughs that show that the protagonist, Juliette, is really thinking as opposed to what she should be thinking or saying, and I felt like that allowed me to connect and understand her a lot more than I would have ordinarily. And even though I hadn’t read this book since I was probably 13 until now, the first thing I recalled about this series was loving the unique way it was written. THAT PROVES THAT UNIQUE FORMATTING MATTERS. It makes books memorable, even six years after I first picked it up.

Let's Talk

Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned? What are some of your favourite books with unique formatting? Do you have any recommendations for books I should pick up? I’d love to know!


31 thoughts on “YA Books with Unique Formatting

  1. I absolutely love the way the SHATTER ME series is set out. I think it’s brilliant. I know it annoyed a lot of readers—but I just thought it was so, so, so unique & well done. The ILLUMINAE formatting is so damn cool, too. I loved the first in the series & I just borrowed the second to read. 🙂

    • Yes, I definitely recommend getting a physical copy if you can for full effect! Also the audiobook is phenomenal. I was chatting to Amie and she said that the best way to experience it is to listen to the audiobook and read a physical copy at the same time if you have the means 👌🏼💜

  2. Oh, man. I love this post! I read a few of of the books on here but now I want to check out the rest. Happy reading!

  3. I’ve never had a hardcover with cool designs under the dust jacket. Those exist? Really? 😮

    I like books with unique formatting! They are so cool to read when you’ve been doomed to read hundreds of books with classic formatting, they shake things up. It’s like when you turn a page, and you stumble on letters or texts. You get super excited for no reason.

    Thank you for all the books I added to my reading list. 😊 They’ll be welcome when things get too expected.

  4. I just finished reading the House on Mango Street last week which is really interesting because it’s told through a series of vignettes! It was a very short read but extremely powerful! It follows a young teen named Esperanza growing up in Chicago while also shedding light on the stories of her neighbors.

    Also I loved Eliza & Her Monsters too! And I think I might have to add Radio Silence to my TBR now…

  5. I LOVE Eliza and Her Monsters and the way it shows some of her artwork! It adds so much and it’s really cool to see the art that she spends so much time talking about.
    Also, I really need to read Illuminae. Everything I hear about it makes me more eager to pick it up!

  6. Haha, I think I might be one of the only readers on this planet that hates this! Okay…hate is a strong word, but for some reason I always tend to skim things like this? It just seems to pull right out of the story, especially when long passages are written all in cursive (like to imply a hand-written letter) or a font that slows me down to read it clearer.

    • No way! That’s really interesting, but I can see how you might not be able to connect with stories written like that as much. Was there one particular book that made you dislike different formats? Have you read any that I mentioned in my post? 💕

      • I haven’t read any you specifically mentioned, but as a child I used to love reading historical fiction for children, such as diaries of young girls who lived during the pilgrimage to America and things like that. These types of books included “hand-written” letters ALL THE TIME, and I was always so frustrated because it slowed me down so much to decipher it all. I think my annoyance is still left over from that haha. Not too long ago I tried reading Wintergirls, and it was so frustrated with all the words being crossed out! I know that’s nothing major, but even that was enough to drive me bonkers!

      • Ahh that totally makes sense! Sometimes it’s really hard to read those handwritten letters. I’d love to hear your thoughts on some of the ones I’ve recommended if you choose to pick them up though! Maybe not SHATTER ME if you don’t like words crossed out though haha 💜

  7. This is a really unique post! Sometimes I find books with unique formatting more work to get into but the only one I have read from this list is Shatter Me so maybe I just haven’t been reading the right uniquely formatted books!

  8. Wow! I’ve seen Eliza and her Monsters floating around lots of blogs but I didn’t realise that they featured her comics too! Great post, unique formatting can really add to the story, even if it’s just one page in the entire book!

  9. I’ve read like half these books and quite enjoyed them. I especially found Illuminae marvellous, and I forgot how weird and cool Shatter me is. I loved the art in Night of Cake and Puppets, and the illustrations in What We See When We Read were very clever.

    • Oh and I forgot to mention some of my FAVE unique books: the Brookfield/ashbury series by Jaclyn Moriarty. They aren’t as pretty as these ones but they have lots of pieces that you have to put together, and they’re mystery novels which makes it perfect

  10. I love seeing authors experiment with the format of books. I haven’t seen as much with fantasy or sci-fi lately, but I have had fun seeing it in contemporary YA. Eliza and Her Monsters was amazing. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children uses black-and-white photographs to show off the kids. This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp uses text messaging and social media to show how the world and non-POV characters are reacting to the school shooting; and it made me feel bitter about the trolls of the internet. Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl mixes articles and fanfiction to explain what fanfiction is and help us fall in love with Simon Snow, the Harry Potter of that universe. Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda and True Letters from a Fictional Life use emails and letters to share the thoughts and develop the relationships of characters.

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