9 books to read if you like Pokémon

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You don’t have to look far to find books to read if you love Pokémon. Pokémon was created in 1996 in Japan and has spread internationally. Gaming has been around my entire life, and my personal interest comes as no surprise given the overwhelming popularity of the franchise. The world of Pokémon is one in which Pokémon, or pocket monsters, can fit in your pocket in things called “poké balls”, and will help you achieve your goals and become your friends. What more could you want? These pocket monsters have endless versatility. In each generation of the game, trainers sought to find new Pokémon with different skills and abilities detailed in their individualized Pokédex profiles. There’s something for everyone, as newer, less serious gamers can enjoy the adorable content and more advanced fans can develop an in-depth knowledge of the game. Endless creative possibility and levels of investment have given the property longevity and broad appeal.

In my opinion, Pokémon is the ultimate expression of the fantasy animal companion in modern media. At this point, Pikachu gained notoriety from some of the mythical creatures of legend. People know that phoenixes are reborn from fire and ash, and Pikachu is a yellow creature with lightning powers.

Now the TV show and movies are legendary, the cards are iconic, and the countless merchandise is great. (I should know that as a fan who loves them all.) I decided to focus on reading for young adults and adults, capturing the energy of certain Pokémon games. One thing is for sure, these are the books to read if you like Pokémon.

Catching them is my real test: YA Books To Read

A snake falls to earth by Darcie Little Badger

Game: Pokemon Go

Content Warning: Death

Lipan Apache’s storytelling brings together the lives of a Lipan girl Nina from our world and a cotton-mouthed shapeshifter Oli from the world of legend as tragedy intertwines their fates. Finding, capturing, and training Pokemon in augmented reality mimics the way Nina believes legends live in the world. Nina believes in her great-grandmother’s stories of shape-shifting animals, even though it will take more than one dictionary to fully translate them. So when Oli shows up with his friends, she’s ready to help him uncover the climate threat to their lives.

Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore Cover

Winter Guard by Kristin Cashore

Game: Detective Pikachu

Content Warnings: Death, Death of Animals, Torture, Imprisonment

Will the mystery of Winterkeep be uncovered before the rot infects the democratic republic? Lovisa, the daughter of two opposing ruling parties in Winterkeep, has always been aware of political unrest and what people will do to hold on to power. But when she discovers something strange involving telepathic sea creatures and foxes, the missing Queen Bitterblue and her envoys, and her family, she begins to question everything she thought she knew. The fourth book of Graceling Series has a Detective Pikachu-level mystery, where telepathic creatures aid our lead investigators.

Cover of Warcross by Marie Lu

Military Cross by Marie Lu

Game: Pokemon Battle Revolution

Content Warning: Death

The Warcross video game has become an international way of life, and Emika Chen is one of the many bounty hunters who hunt down illegal players in the game. It’s not easy to make a living jumping from bounty to bounty. Desperate to find additional funds, she hacks into the International Warcross Championships and attracts worldwide attention. She finds herself invited to spy on the game’s wealthy young creator, Hideo Tanaka, as one of the players in the tournament. I couldn’t compile this list without including at least one video game in the book to pair with Pokémon Battle Revolution’s Coliseum battles.

Cover of Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray

beasts of prey by Ayana Gray

Game: Pokemon Sun and Moon

Content warnings: death, imprisonment, sexism, indentured servitude

The Night Zoo is home to magical creatures in a dark version of Pokémon Sun and Moon where Koffi is hired there to pay off the family debt. To save her family from the master of the zoo, she wields a power thought lost to the city, forcing her to flee. Meanwhile, Ekon should join the ranks of elite warriors who protect the city from the creatures. When he encounters a fearsome monster and lets go of the girl taming it, he loses his chance. Now Ekon must hunt down the monster if he wants to become a warrior and Koffi must sell the creature if she wants to buy her family’s freedom. Working together should keep them alive, but will that be enough?

Cover of Master of One by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett

Master of a by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett

Game: Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire

Content Warnings: Death, Torture

Rags is the best thief in town, but even the best can get caught. His arresting guards ask him to break into a fae dungeon and retrieve an ancient treasure. When the ancient Treasure Fae awakens, they transform into Pokémon-like creatures that aid their chosen masters. Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire’s iconic mystical orb that awakens sleeping Pokémon and the crime syndicates that want to use them bears a striking resemblance to the government wanting to control fae magic for itself. Ultimately, a rogue, fae prince, human prince, rebel, former guard, and disgraced nobleman must work with their magical animal companions to outsmart a brutal government.

Training Them Is My Cause: Adult Book Recommendations

Cover of Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee

Extravagant Phoenix by Yoon Ha Lee

Game: Pokemon Ranger

Content Warnings: Racism, Death, Imprisonment, Torture

Gyen is a non-binary artist who found himself working for the government occupying his country after a long period of unemployment. Painting mystical sigils on automations was easy until they noticed the corrupted source of the sigil’s power. Gyen steals the Ministry’s dragon automation and embarks on a fantastical journey to a world inspired by Japanese-occupied Korea. Similarly, Pokémon Ranger features challenges with Dragon Pokémon as well as an evil group looking to take over using a wicked energy source. Gyen and their dragon can help spark a revolution, but it will be up to the people to win the fight.

Kingdom of Exiles by Maxym M. Martineau Cover

kingdom of exiles by Maxym M. Martineau

Game: Pokemon Red and Blue

Content Warnings: Death, Torture, Enslavement

When we meet Leena, she severs her sacred bond between charmer and beast, selling them on the black market to survive her exile. Just like the first versions of Pokémon, it must charm wild beasts to ask for their help in battle or in daily life and add them to its bestiary at the Pokédex. When someone hits her, Leena can negotiate her life with her killer. He gets beasts and she keeps her life. So the stakes are a bit higher than Team Rocket but the Pokemon/Beast comparison is impossible to miss.

Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst Cover

Race on the sands by Sarah Beth Durst

Game: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon

Content Warnings: Imprisonment, Parental Abuse, Death

Much like Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, one of the main characters is transformed from human into Pokémon, or kehok, at the start of the adventure. Traditionally, kehok riding has brought fame and glory to talented riders and death to the untrained. Tamara is a professional trainer who meets a talented girl who wants to be the best. Raia knows that running away from her fiancé is her only chance to survive his cruelty and she’s willing to ride a kehok to do it. It helps that the kehok in question isn’t your average monster.

Capture the Crown by Jennifer Estep Cover

Capture the Crown by Jennifer Estep

Game: Pokemon Legends: Arceus

Content Warning: Torture

In days gone by, bonds between humans and gargoyles were as rare as the bond between humans and Pokémon in Pokémon Legends: Arceus. Princess Gemma’s bond with Grimley helps her escape danger in her secret life. Although publicly her vanity is well known, she secretly practices international espionage aided by her powers as a mind magician. When Gemma discovers that her kingdom is in danger, she will do anything to save them. Even if it means trusting his nemesis, Prince Leonidas. She’ll need all the help she can get from Grimley, Leo and her animal companion if she’s to save her kingdom and make it out alive.

Catch ’em all, Pokemon!

Pokémon is a marvelous property with epic world building. Catching all possible book recommendations or game pairings was not possible. Instead, I hope this selection gives you the courage to pull through. Pokémon and books like this are filled with epic destiny, endless understanding, and noble causes. Here are a few.

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