Recommended YA books & news for February
The YA reading year is off to a great start. In February, we’ve got a sweet political rom-com, a playlist of love stories, gripping sci-fi adventures, and unique fantasy reads that span from gentle to sinister.
Find our February picks for kids books here.
YA BOOK OF THE MONTH
Two big-name authors come together in Yes No Maybe So, a heartwarming cross-cultural political rom-com that uses alternating first-person narratives to great effect. Sixteen-year-old Jamie Goldberg prefers to support his local democratic Senate candidate behind the scenes, but when his mum signs him up to door knock he get to reconnect with his childhood friend Maya Rehman. Maya is similarly reluctant to spend her summer campaigning, and is distracted by her parents separation and the departure of her best friend for college.
Despite that, the two teens grow closer and closer during a summer where the political becomes truly personal. Our reviewer Ngaire describes this must-read new release as ‘not only a story of hope and resistance in the face of adversity, but also one of the cutest and most truthful teenage romances in recent YA.’ You can read her full review here.
YA BOOKS TO READ THIS MONTH
I’m sorry to inform you that your TBR piles are about to get out of control.
Adam Silvera goes full fantasy with a gripping adventure that sees two brothers caught up in a magical war between Celestials and Specters that spans generations. Our reviewer Joe summarised Infinity Son in quite a wonderful way: ‘If you took the magic and mystery of the Harry Potter world and combined it with the powers and social commentary of the X-Men, with a dash of the end-ofthe-world adventure you’d find in a Skulduggery Pleasant novel, you’d have something approximating the captivating world created in Adam Silvera’s new novel, Infinity Son.“ You can read Joe’s full review here.
Alison Evans’ Highway Bodies was one of the highlights of our 2019 reading year (it was shortlisted for the Readings Young Adult Book Prize) so we are delighted about their next novel, Euphoria Kids. Babs is a child of fire, and Iris sprouted from a seed in the ground. The two new friends connect over magic, then bring the new boy at school - a boy who hasn’t yet found his real name - into their spellwork circle. But magic, witches and fae prove to be dangerous, and the three friends must support each other to come into their own power. Our reviewer Angela loved this ‘gorgeous character-driven book that shows positive trans and queer identities, diverse families, and loving, supportive parents.’ You can read Angela’s full review here.
Other #LoveOzYA releases that have captured our attention this month are Prime Minister’s Literary Awards winner Richard Yaxley’s gritty family drama, A New Kind of Everything, Katya de Becerra’s atmospheric and sinister fantasy set on an archaeological dig in the desert, Oasis, and Lisa Walker’s The Girl with the Gold Bikini, a snappy Queensland-set mystery with a teen private investigator.
We’re always excited for a new book from David Levithan. 19 Love Songs operates as a playlist of nineteen love-themed "tracks”, with familiar characters from Levithan’s previous works (Every Day, Two Boys Kissing) and new characters exploring love in all its forms. The collection is the result of Levithan’s charming tradition of writing a short story for his friends every Valentine’s Day – everyone needs a friend like that!
I’m always hungry for more YA stories featuring serious young sportspeople, and Jennifer Iacopelli’s Break The Fall is a particularly timely novel. Elite teenage gymnast Audrey Lee is fully focussed on her goal of winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics, when her team is broken apart by allegations of sexual harassment. Friendship, the physical and mental rigours of training and competition, and female solidarity all come into play in this thoughtful novel. This novel will be of particular interest for fans of the new Netflix documentary series, Cheer.
If mind-bending multi-verse sci-fi adventures are your kind of thing, David Hofmeyr’s The Between will please. Ana Moon witnesses her best friend Bea being abducted from a train and wakes up in a version of London that is not-quite-right. Ana is rescued by Malik, who inducts her into the ways and methods of the Pathfinders, world-hoppers and guardians of the gateways between worlds. Ana must travel through seven parallel and increasingly perilous worlds to rescue Bea in this dystopic rollercoaster.
Finally, two new releases in beloved series come out this month. Melissa Albert’s The Hazel Wood gave us great contemporary fairytale chills in 2018, and Alice Prosperine and Ellery Finch’s story continues in The Night Country. The Diviners series by Libba Bray is full of Jazz Age supernatural thrills, and the finale, The King of Crows (The Diviners, Book 4) is certain to be epic.
NEWS & RECOMMENDATIONS
We’re still in denial about it being February already, but we’re also pumped about the reading year ahead. To see what’s in store, check out our highlights list of exciting YA books to look out for in 2020. IOr, if you’d like to take an astrological approach to your reading, please also peruse our guide to your next YA read, based on the Zodiac.
The winners of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2020 were recently announced. Hearty congratulations go to Helena Fox, winner of the Prize for Writing for Young Adults with How It Feels to Float, and congratulations also to shortlisted authors Holden Sheppard (Invisible Boys) and Vikki Wakefield (This Is How We Change The Ending).
In the US the winners of the 2020 Caldecott, Newbery & Printz awards were announced, and A.S. King’s satirical and surreal novel Dig took out the Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults.
The Readings Teen Advisory Board have been very busy, both last year and this year. They recently gave some sage advice in response to our literary anxieties, shared their favourite comfort reads, and also had a blast talking to author Will Kostakis.You can listen to our Readings kids podcast interview with Will here.