12 Feral Books Every Yellowjackets Character Is Reading
What are the cannibals of Yellowjackets reading as teens and adults?
Yellowjackets asks the age-old question: If you were stranded on a deserted mountainside, which of your friends would you eat first? Part of the show’s allure is how it tips the balance between the pristine potential of teen girlhood with the savage ferocity lurking beneath that surface. These girls were college-bound athletes, high school royalty, and teen dreams. Now they’re mystics and monsters; nightmares of their former selves — and they didn’t need a plane crash or 18 months stranded in a wilderness to do that to them. Never has cannibalism seemed so delicious. Bon appetit.
Season 2 continues building the mystery: How does a high school girls soccer team cope with making Home Chef meals out of their besties? Is Lottie some sort of soothsayer or does she just look phenomenal in those flowing nightgowns? And who really killed present-day Travis? All important questions, but I have one of my own I’d like answered: What are these girls reading to pass the time? Which books are they binging (in addition to each other)? From campy horrors like Bunny to sapphic romances like Tryst Six Venom, find out what the ravenous women of Yellowjackets are reading, below.
Misty: A Certain Hunger by Chelsea G. Summers
Present-day Misty is reading this book and taking notes. A delightfully deranged novel with an equally twisted heroine, A Certain Hunger follows Dorothy Daniels, a successful, middle-aged food critic, who has spent her life Eat Pray Love-ing her way toward eternal happiness — you know, if that ritual included serial murder. Instead of discovering inner peace through bread-making in Italy, Dorothy finds that disemboweling her Italian lover makes for a life-altering brisket. Namaste. Like Misty, Dorothy is funny and endearing in a Fatal Attraction kind of way. God help us if Misty starts surpassing Dorothy’s body count.
Natalie: Bunny by Mona Awad
Like teen Natalie, the subject of Mona Awad’s Bunny, Samantha Heather Mackey, is also dealing with bunny hunting, supernatural conjurings, and being a part of a clique that may or may not be a cult. No contemporary writer does magical realism quite like Awad and Bunny is a testament to her skill. Samantha, an outsider in her MFA program, both hates and loves the Bunnies, the mean girl clique of literary fiction. She thought she wasn’t fitting in because she didn't subscribe to their Urban Outfitters brand of witchcraft, but what if it's actually… real? At least the Yellowjackets are only conjuring tree spirits and eating each other. The bunnies are eating mini food and conjuring boyfriends out of scraps from the literary canon and their own butchered prose. It could always be worse, Natalie.
Taissa: Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder
Present-day Taissa will probably find a kindred spirit in Nightbitch’s narrator. Known only as the mother, she is losing a lot of things: her profession as an artist, sleep, intimacy with her husband, any vocabulary too advanced for a 2-year-old, and, most recently, her ability to not turn into a wild dog. Part magical realism, part dark satire, you never know what exactly to believe in Nightbitch. Is the mother actually turning into a dog? Is she losing her mind? Or is she something in between: a stay-at-home mom, overworked, overtired, and giving in to her baser instincts? If Taissa needs something to sink her teeth into (besides the family dog), then Nightbitch is the perfect read.
Jackie: Tryst Six Venom by Penelope Douglas
Am I the only one who, everytime Jackie and Shauna shared charged looks at each other on-screen, whispered “kiss, kiss, kiss, KISS!” as if I could manifest molten sapphic energy just by chanting it? The eye contact between those two alone! If you exist in that alternate reality with me (and an alternate reality where Jackie is, um, alive) then it’s not hard to imagine Jackie reading Tryst Six Venom, a dark, bully romance between the Jackie-esq high school queen bee Clay Collins and quiet, smart, from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks Olivia Jaeger. Told through alternating POVs, it reads like a volatile, angsty confession ripped straight from the pages of a diary. Clay and Olivia can’t decide if they hate each other, love each other, or want to be each other. Trust me, Jackie is reading this and quietly burning as she does.
Shauna: Dare Me by Megan Abbott
Toxic, intense female friendships? Murder? Cheer-core? I hope teen Shauna is reading this and finding solace in the fact that she’s not the first girl to be sucked into a BFF’s noxious orbit. Abbott writes about girlhood with rawness and intensity; these girls aren’t just best friends, they're in each other’s skin; they want to make each other bleed. Part coming-of-age story, part friendship post-mortem, part crime investigation, Dare Me is guaranteed to have Shauna on the edge of her seat.
Lottie: Shit Cassandra Saw by Gwen Kirby
Lottie might be dangerously unmedicated, but I see her as someone who is into quietly angry, yet super whimsical, short fiction. Gwen Kirby’s Shit Cassandra Saw certainly fits that bill. Hailed as Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Margarate Atwood, Kirby spins end-of-days tales that are as funny as they are furious. Lottie might relate best to the short story for which the collection is named, “Shit Cassandra Saw That She Didn’t Tell the Trojans Because at That Point F*ck Them Anyways.” I think you can guess why.
Misty: It Ended Badly by Jennifer Wright
Teen Misty makes being an unhinged nerd seem endearing. She’s always one to do her research (see: using psychedelic mushrooms as a makeshift aphrodisiac), which is why she’s reading It Ended Badly, a nonfiction essay collection about the 13 worst breakups throughout history. These essays are as wild and as gruesome as you’d imagine, but Wright writes them in a way that makes you feel like you’re reading a Deux Moi thread, not a history book. If Misty’s obsession with her gay soccer coach Ben doesn’t work out, then she is absolutely taking notes on how to dispose of the body.
Taissa: She Is a Haunting by Trang Thanh Tran
She Is Haunting, a gothic horror about a house possessed and the family it’s haunting, might resonate with teen Taissa. In the novel, Jade makes a deal with her father to help restore an old French colonial house in Vietnam, only to become haunted by the Vietnamese wife of the white colonist who originally owned it. Like Taissa, Jade is also plagued by disturbing dreams and psychic breaks. Maybe Tai can learn a thing or two from this slow-burn horror and banish her own demons.
Shauna: Motherthing by Ainslie Hogarth
One of the things I love most about present-day Shauna is how her quiet anger bubbles over into scathing comebacks (who can forget the iconic line “my daughter’s an asshole” from Season 1?), which is why Shauna’s binging Motherthing, if only to feel inspired by the narrator’s barbs. The novel follows Abby Lamb, who is married to the world’s nicest guy — and the son of the most hellish mother. When Abby’s mother-in-law slits her wrists, they both start being haunted by her ghost. This is campy horror at its best, but Shauna will be especially drawn to the narrator’s demented brand of humor. It’s not for everyone, but it’s probably for people who have eaten a human ear or two.
Van: Wilder Girls by Rory Power
Dubbed a feminist Lord of the Flies, Wilder Girls has Van written all over it. Headstrong and loyal to a fault, Van goes through hell (and gets ravaged by wolves in the process) to help her people. Similarly, the main character in Wilder Girls, Hetty, will break quarantine and face apocalyptic viruses to find her friend Byatt. Part survival thriller, part post-apocalyptic romance, Van is definitely reading and asking herself, “Wait, is this f*cking play about us?”
Natalie: Things We Do in the Dark by Jennifer Hillier
Why would present-day Natalie be reading Things We Do in the Dark? I think this opening line pretty much sums it up: “There’s a time and a place for erect nipples, but the back of a Seattle police car definitely isn’t it.” Natalie might be a damn mess, but Paris Peralta, the character at the center of Things We Do in the Dark, is messier. When she’s found in her Seattle home holding a bloody razor over the body of her dead comedian husband, it’s the tip of the iceberg with her problems. Like Natalie, Paris can’t seem to shake her past. If she’s not careful, she might be next.
Lottie: Cultish by Amanda Montell
Large, devoted followings don’t just happen overnight, no matter how many tree spirits you channel! Present-day Lottie is a cult leader, sure, but she’s also a capital-G “girlboss,” which is why she’s reading Cultish by Amanda Montell. A nonfiction examination, Cultish analyzes the social science of cult influence and the linguistic power of cultish communities. While some might be reading to understand why people join cults, Lottie is reading to perfect her recruiting methods. That’s called professional development, people!