It can be difficult to narrow the selection down with so many buzzy books hitting shelves every week, which is why I’ve turned to NetGalley member reviews for recommendations. Here’s a list of upcoming 2020 young adult books that are already exciting me and NetGalley members alike! I predict you’ll be adding quite a few of these to your next indie bookstore order.
Vampires Never Get Old edited by Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker
Sucker for a vampire story? This collection features eleven tales that broaden the typical vampire experience—taking readers along for the ride on first hunts, social media vamp equities, and more. Educator Bianca C called the collection a “love letter” to readers who love vampire stories and praised the diversity of stories by saying readers who wondered “why vampirism only seemed to happen to white, straight, cis, skinny, able-bodied young women… you’re going to love this one.” The book includes stories from Samira Ahmed, Dhonielle Clayton, Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker, Tessa Gratton, Heidi Heilig, Julie Murphy, Mark Oshiro, Rebecca Roanhorse, Laura Ruby, Victoria “V. E.” Schwab, and Kayla Whaley.
We Are Not Free by Traci Chee
This work of historical fiction isn’t on shelves until September, but NetGalley media member Monica K is already calling it “instant classic” for YA readers. Traci Chee’s novel follows the bonds between a group of Japanese American teenagers who are taken from their homes and community and forced into internment camps by the American government during World War II. In a review, Monica K called We Are Not Free a “stunning and heartbreaking novel… I would love to see it taught in schools.” Readers who enjoy this book may also want to look at Displacement by Kiku Hughes.
Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
A princess with a poisonous touch seeks her freedom and along the way begins to embrace the powers she once thought to be a curse in this queer fantasy novel by Melissa Bashardoust. Bookseller Ayla W wrote “Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a completely original fairytale inspired by Persian mythology and like nothing I’ve ever read before… The typical fairytale plotline is subverted in ways that force the reader to question everything they thought they knew… I read the book in one sitting because I just had to know what happened.”
Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power
This eerie tale explores familial secrets as Margot uncovers a picture that hints at the past her mother is hiding and decides to leave home to hunt for the family she’s never met. Incredible, twisty, and delicious are just a few of the words librarian LiberianGirl R used to describe Rory Power’s thriller. Comparing the book to Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects, LiberianGirl R says, “This brilliantly crafted thriller deserves a read… It will keep you up all night, and itch at you during the day at work.”
Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz
Dragons and their riders compete in a thrilling international race in Amparo Ortiz’s debut fantasy. Rider Lana Torres is eager to represent Puerto Rico in this year’s events, until a former Blazewrath Cup star begins lashing out and threatening destruction if the games aren’t canceled. Educator Andrea A praised the book for having the “most amazingly complex dragons I’ve ever read” and added that reading about a Puerto Rican heroine was particularly exciting: “Blazewrath Games has cemented itself as my new favorite dragon book not just because it’s a great story, but because it’s one brimming with love for the island that I have spent the majority of my life in.”
Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera
NetGalley reviewer Ursula U recommends Lilliam Rivera’s latest to fans of “slow burn fantasies, urban settings, magic, and complicated relationships.” Never Look Back is a contemporary retelling of the Greek myth Orpheus and Eurydice. It follows Eury, who arrives in the Bronx from Puerto Rico after losing everything in a hurricane. When she and Pheus meet, he sees that she’s battling demons and wants to do whatever he can to help her. Ursula U’s review adds “Being a Puerto Rican who was born and raised in the Bronx, I can tell you this book felt so authentic… This is a love letter to the island of Puerto Rico, its resilient people, and an ode to growing up Latinx in the Bronx.”
This Is My America by Kim Johnson
Kim Johnson’s debut takes a look at the criminal justice system in America and the way it disproportionately incarcerates and punishes Black citizens through the eyes of a Black teenager trying to get her innocent father off of death row. In all-caps, reviewer Trelisia B declared This Is My America a “MUST-READ” writing that “this young adult book is key for informing and sparking emotions in our youth who can make positive change happen… This story packed a huge punch.”
The Summer of Everything by Julian Winters
Readers looking for a queer contemporary romance can dive into Julian Winters’ latest. Wesley Hudson and his best friend/secret crush Nico must step up to save his local used bookstore when a franchise comes in wanting to buy the property. One NetGalley bookseller called Winters’ novel a “wonderfully packaged slice of summer… Full of nerd culture, indie bookstore feels, the ups and downs of friendship, and the complicated emotions impending adulthood brings, The Summer of Everything nails everything you’d expect from a contemporary YA romance.”
This Is All Your Fault by Aminah Mae Safi
Saving bookstores is a common theme this year in YA. This Is All Your Fault follows three young women who have a single day to save Wild Nights Bookstore. Librarian Susannah G called Aminah Mae Safi “an immensely talented writer, and with every book she seems to get even better,” adding “I absolutely adored this book… [This Is All Your Fault] was a hilarious romp, while also artfully dealing with characters’ depression, anxiety, sexual assault, and very real trauma. I think will be a great pick for fans of YA contemporary, bookish readers.”
Broken Wish by Julie C. Dao
Julie C. Dao is a master when it comes to reimagining fairytales, and her latest novel about a 16-year-old who has visions of the future is already captivating NetGalley members. Reviewer Lainey B said, “the rich language and descriptions drew me in right away. I loved the way the magic was woven in throughout the story and I could never guess what was going to happen next.” Broken Wish is the first in a series that follows generations of a cursed family. Each book in the Mirror series will be written by a different author, and readers can look forward to books by Dhonielle Clayton, Jennifer Cervantes, and L. L. McKinney.