Badlands Book Tag (from Antari Reads)


School has been so stressful that I just wanted to have fun for today's post. I stumbled upon the Badlands Book Tag on Twitter made by Alison from Antari Reads and knew I had to do it. I get so excited every time I meet another Halsey fan/YA book lover. Halsey has been at the top of my mind lately, so this tag felt like bringing this Badlands era revival full circle. If you really want to get into the music with me, I made a reaction to Badlands for the 5th anniversary of the album. You can click the link here or watch it embedded down below. I'll also leave links to all my recent Halsey related posts so you can read about my Manic book pairings, Halsey's new role in a YA book adaption TV series, and her life Badlands album. I've also included links to Bookshop in this post. Just click Get a Copy to visit the book's affiliate page and grab one. Shopping these links means I might get a small commission, and part of the sale goes to benefit indie bookstores. It's the best way to give a little extra support to the blog without any extra cost/effort from you! Also, if you want to learn more about each book, click the book title to read my past reviews of every book.
If you also love Badlands or Halsey, let me know down in the comments, and let me know if you've done this tag too. 

castle – a fantasy book featuring a royal family
I don't read much fantasy, so I'm going to fudge this and use Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins because it's about a modern day royal family from Scotland. Millie is going to steal the crown. 
"Castle" is such a powerful opening track. While I don't listen to it a ton, I think it has every element of what makes Halsey such an amazing artist. 

hold me down – a book you think deserves more hype
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This has to go to War and Speech. I haven't seen a ton of talk about the book, but Sydney is an A+ main character. She's sarcastic and resilient while also being completely relatable. This is a book that will pick you up and cocoon you in its world in the best way. Also, there's cutthroat debate to add to the allure. 
"Hole Me Down" deserves more love and attention always. Clearly, the creator of the tag thought so too. I love how commanding her voice is on the track and how dynamic the production is. 


new americana – a book with LGBTQIA+ representation
Get I'll Be The One! Get The Gravity of Us
There are way too many options here, and they all deserve so much love. I have to work really hard to make sure I'm not just sharing the same five books. I'll Be The One is bursting with so much joy. It's Kpop themed and features two bi main characters, which I absolutely love. I also want to mention The Gravity of Us because this book about two boys falling in love feels very "New Americana" as it's set during the revival of the the classic space race/moon landing era. There's a lot of musing on what was so great about that period of time captured so throughly by Life magazine. 
I remember being fascinated by "New Americana" when I was younger and it would play on the radio, well before I knew anything about Halsey. It sounded so different from everything else playing at the time, and it definitely left an impression. The way she says "What kind of bubble gum have you been blowing lately" is just irresistible. 

drive – a book featuring a road trip or a lot of traveling
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I'm going to go random here and pick Layoverland for this spot because even though Bea doesn't go on a traditional road trip, she takes the ultimate journey traveling to the airport terminal that is purgatory after dying in a car wreck. While that sounds dark, this book is laugh out loud funny while still being thoughtful. 
"Drive" might be the most captivating song on the album. There are so many fascinating layers to the production to make you feel like you're really out on the road with Halsey.

hurricane – a book with a strong female main character
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This is such a common prompt that it's hard to keep picking new books for it! This time around, I'm going to give it to Mariana from Running. Over the course of the book, Mariana learns about some of her presidential candidate dad's sinister policies and finds her voice to stand against him. The book deals with finding your own voice, getting support from allies and the community, and climate change in a really great way. This book feels so important going into the election. We all have our own voices. It's time we use them. 
"Hurricane" is always one of my favorite to watch live versions of because Halsey always shouts in the bridge, "This is a reminder that you don't belong to anyone but yourself". It's always such a powerful and empowering moment between Halsey and the audience that I always love "Hurricane". 


roman holiday – a book featuring a canon ship you love
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I ship Neil and Rowan from Today, Tonight, Tomorrow so hard! They're probably my favorite ship I've read all year. In the book, they're academic rivals, but when they're forced to team up for a senior year scavenger hunt, they realize there might have always been more underneath the surface. As an extremely cynical person, I have a hard time rooting for YA relationships to last, but I love Rowan and Neil way too much. I also think the book fits the song well because it's centered around this one magical night that's an escape from all of their problems. 
"Roman Holiday" is such a dreamy escape and hits all the right notes, just like this book. 

ghost – an anticipated read that ended up being disappointing
I debated hard about whether to answer this question or not because I try not to be negative on here at all, but I couldn't drop ghost off the list. If I"m being honest, Not Your #Lovestory didn't live up to my expectations. I loved Have a Little Faith in Me so much, and the synopsis sounded so good, that my hype level was up 1 million percent. Unfortunately, it felt so out of touch with the internet culture it was trying to direct and the romance just never hit the right notes. 
I don't know if the person who liked this really wasn't a fan of "Ghost" given the prompt, but this is probably my least favorite on the album. Somehow, it was the breakout hit from the Room 93 EP, and I respect it for what it did, but it wasn't even close to the best part of the EP (or this album). 

colors – a book with a lot of character development
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Recommended For You immediately came to mind. While characters usually learn new things about themselves, I've never seen anyone learn more about the world than Shoshanna over the course of this book. She starts very naive and self centered to a degree where I almost put down the book. While I know people like her, I just couldn't relate to a lot of her choices at all. Luckily, as the book goes on, her eyes are opened to how limited her view of the world was and the challenges that presents. She's a new person by the end of the book. 
"Colors" was my original favorite from Badlands. It sounds like poetry because it started as a poem Halsey wrote when she was seventeen. "Colors" is an amazing portrait of a person.

strange love – a book you consider as a guilty pleasure
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Tweet Cute was such a guilty pleasure book even though I don't really believe in feeling guilty about things that make you happy! This book just has so much joy. It features a restaurant war, Twitter feuds (and flirting), and lots of grilled cheese. 
I just said I didn't believe in guilty pleasures, but "Strange Love" is such a guilty pleasure song. It sounds so indulgent, and it's really Halsey just having a "you want to be me" but also "leave me alone" moment. The book is much cuter than the song, though. 

coming down – a book that has emotionally destroyed you
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I say this all the time, but How to Make Friends With the Dark is never going to stop being my answer. I love the book, but it had me pulling out the tissues chapter 2. Kathleen Glasgow is the master of emotional destruction in the best way possible. Tiger goes through so much, and I still think about her a lot, even a few years later. 
"Coming Down" is such an emotionally intense song. This is also Halsey's ultimate foray into religious imagery. 

haunting – a paranormal book that gave you the chills
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I've never read a paranormal book, so this prompt is impossible. I was going to sub out paranormal for thriller, but then I had a different idea. We Are Okay has paranormal vibes even though it's not actually a ghost story. Marin stays in the dorms over winter break to process a lot of loss. Her best friend Mabel comes to visit to help her process and to talk about their relationship. Through lots of flashbacks, the story comes together. It's so natural that Nina LaCour's new book is an actual ghost story.
"Haunting" is full of so much longing and has a desperate undertow. I feel like it fits the book well because Marin is so desperate to hold on to the past that the accepts the haunting. 

gasoline – a book that you want to re-read
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I rarely reread, so it's hard for me to answer this, but my pick is Look because I am going to reread it! I want to use Look as the basis of one of my upcoming papers, so I'm going to go back through an annotate the book. I love it so much, I'm happy to jump back in. 
"Gasoline" is just the song. There is no doubt about it. I will listen to it on repeat till the end of time. It's powerful yet relatable. There's something about it that's undeniable. 

control – a book with an antihero or a morally grey main character
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The Best Lies is full of unreliable narrators and characters you're not sure if you can trust. Toxic relationships (mostly friendships) abound, and you're never quite sure where you stand. 
"Control" is all about fighting your inner demons for control and is a super relatable song for anyone who has ever struggled with mental illness. It always hits me hard. 

young god – a fantasy book featuring deities
I don't read fantasy, really, anymore, so I had to go way back into my reading history for this. The Percy Jackson series is really the only answer considering that the books actually inspired the "sitting at the bottom of the swimming pool" line. It's one of my favorite lyrics on the albums, and those books defined my entire personality as a child. 

i walk the line – a retelling you like better than the original work
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Verona Comics has to be my pick here because, while Romeo and Juliet is my favorite Shakespeare play, I like every adaption I've seen of it better than the original. In Verona Comics, we get a happy/sad ending without the infuriating death scene along with lots of comic book store antics and a bi and questioning pair of main character. I feel like it's a superior update. Sorry Shakespeare. 
It took me way longer than I'd like to admit to realize this was just Halsey singing Johnny Cash. She totally reimagined the song to perfectly fit the Badlands. 

bonus: is there somewhere – a book that makes you feel nostalgic
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It's so hard to figure out which book to choose here. I thought about ones I read as a little kid, but I wanted to keep it to YA books. I decided on Turtles All The Way Down because that felt like one of my peak YA moments. I spent the entire summer before it came out in 2017 reading John Green's entire collection from the library. I'd get giant stacks of books and plop down on the couch to read from the time I got up to the time I went to bed. It was the last summer where I really felt like I had no other obligations, and I miss that sometimes. Turtles makes me reflect on that period. I also got to take a trip with my dad to see John Green on his book tour which was really cool. 
"Is There Somewhere" could be my favorite Halsey song of that early era. Maybe. It's impossible to choose. But this song is so powerful and has such an unconventional structure.

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