5 best books for young adult readers in 2020
Whether it’s an action-packed dystopia or a contemporary romance, there’s a book out there waiting for every young adult
In the eventful year of 2020, information is constantly being published and pushed at audiences through all different mediums. The constant news stream can sometimes make it feel hard, or even impossible, to simply sit down with a good book and immerse oneself in a world of writing and imagination. But whether young adult readers are looking for an action-packed escape from reality, a heartwarming tale of the strength of family bonds or an endearing romance to read while curled up under some blankets, there’s a little bit of everything in the YA genre of literature. With so many books to choose from, it can feel next to impossible to find where to start or which books to try.
No need to fear though; this can be a starting guide on where to start.
“Scythe” (“Arc of a Scythe” trilogy) by Neal Shusterman
If you’re unsure of where to start in the world of young adult literature, “Scythe” is here to lend a helping hand. Published in 2016, “Scythe” is set in a futuristic world where humanity has become advanced to the point of defeating death itself. “Scythes” are characters who are assigned the job of killing to keep the population under control. Under the observant eye of an all-powerful AI who watches over society, the Thunderhead, main characters Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova are chosen as apprentices for the infamous Scythe Faraday. The novel follows the two in their moral and physical challenges of apprenticing for and eventually competing to be ordained scythes themselves.
Innovative in its third-person storytelling and multiple POVs, exciting in its action and plot twists, and heartwarming in its character development and relationships, “Scythe” is a staple within the dystopian genre and a must-read.
“I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy Nelson
Sometimes, a more relaxing story is needed. If you’re looking for a contemporary piece with a focus on sibling relationships, “I’ll Give You the Sun” should be the next book on your list. Published in September 2014, the novel follows main characters and fraternal twins Jude and Noah. With the early years of their relationship narrated by Noah and the later years narrated by Jude, the novel takes you on a journey of identity, heartbreak, family and love, all wrapped up into a whirlwind story just under four hundred pages. The novel is realistic, sensational and, at the end of the day, will leave you marveling at the sheer power of sibling relationships.
“The Sun is Also a Star” by Nicola Yoon
We can’t talk about YA books without talking about any romances though, and if a dramatic love story is what you’re looking for, “The Sun is Also a Star” is the novel for you. The plot follows two main protagonists: Daniel, an aspiring and seemingly perfect student on his way to a college interview, and Natasha, a fact-driven and determined young girl fighting to keep her and her family from being deported to Jamaica on their last day in New York City. When their paths collide, they can’t help but feel drawn to each other and decide to test if two people can fall in love with each other in just one day. Detailed, heartbreaking and impossible to put down, “The Sun is Also a Star” is everything a good YA romance should be, and it will leave you believing at least a little more in love than before.
“A Little Something Different” by Sandy Hall
How about a book that’s quite literally “a little different?” The novel “A Little Something Different” follows the love story of two young college students, Lea and Gabe. After meeting in a creative writing course and realizing they may have more in common than they thought, the two can’t stop their growing feelings for each other. This sounds like a typical love story, right? Well, it is, except their story is told from almost every perspective other than their own. Whether it’s their creative writing teacher, their classmates, the bench they sit on, or the squirrel who lives on campus (yes, really, there is an entire POV dedicated to a squirrel), Gabe and Lea fall in love from every other person’s view but their own. A lighthearted and endearing read, “A Little Something Different” is the exact kind of different young adult readers should be looking for.
“Far From the Tree” by Robin Benway
There’s quite possibly nothing that YA literature achieves better than portraying familial relationships. Whether that’s a biological family, adoptive family or a found one, family is a central theme in most young adult fiction, and it just so happens to be the focus of the 2017 novel “Far From the Tree.” The story begins when the main character Grace becomes pregnant and gives her baby up for adoption. After making this decision, Grace then decides she wants to learn more about her own biological mother since she was also adopted as a baby. While looking into finding her birth mom, Grace is surprised to discover that she has two biological siblings,; an introverted older brother named Joaquin, and a vibrant younger sister named Maya. Together, the three go on a journey of identity, self-discovery, and find out what it means to be a family. Though “Far From the Tree” may not be what typically comes to mind when one thinks of YA literature, it will warm your heart and captivate your mind all the same.
In the world of young adult fiction, there are countless stories and worlds that readers can immerse themselves into. A little fiction and imagination may be just what young readers are looking for.