Ten YA books you should read before the end of 2020

Listen, August is basically done and dusted, and you know that time flies, so here is your friendly public service announcement: read as much YA as you can before the year is over!


Because it’s good to know you’re not the only one feeling directionless…

Loner by Georgina Young

Lona spends her days sneaking into the dark room of the art school she dropped out of, and her nights DJ-ing the roller disco at Planet Skate. She is in comfortable, platonic love with her best friend Tab. When Lona’s grandfather moves into her home, she finds herself bonding with him even as she watches his health decline. When she is promoted to manager of checkout three at Coles, she argues for a demotion to trolley-girl. This funny, deadpan and sweet adult/YA crossover novel perfectly depicts the itchy, awkward space between the teenage years and adulthood, when everything is changing against your will, and absolutely nothing feels right.


Because you need some top-notch brainy thrills…

The Erasure Initiative by Lili Wilkinson

A girl wakes up on a self-driving bus. She has no memory of how she got there or who she is. Her nametag reads CECILY. The six other people on the bus are in the same predicament. A series of tests begin - the passengers are asked to vote on outcomes, starting with the classic Trolley Problem. But as the testing progresses, deadly secrets are revealed, and the stakes get higher and higher. Soon Cecily is no longer just fighting for her freedom – she’s fighting for her life. Is there a better time to read about how humans respond to pressure, and weighing up what’s best for yourself and others? We think not.


Because family and friends are the most important things in the world…

The F Team by Rawah Arja

If you’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of community, then read this amazing debut novel. Tariq Nader has been commanded by the new principal of beleaguered Punchbowl High to join a football competition with his mates Ibby, PJ and Huss. But there’s a catch – half of the team is made up of white boys from Cronulla. Add a crush on outspoken slam poet Jamila and conflict with his older sister to his already complicated life, and Tariq has to dig deep to control his anger, and find what it takes to be a leader. Tariq’s relationships with his extended Lebanese family and his friends are tested like never before in this extremely funny and touching story.

Available 1 September 2020


Because there’s a big election coming up…

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli & Aisha Saeed

Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local Democrat state candidate –- as long as he’s behind the scenes. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes … until he meets Maya. Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is cancelled, her parents are separating and now her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing – with some awkward guy she hardly knows. This sweet cross-cultural romance will give you a much-needed injection of hope in these politically troubled times.


Because Readings booksellers have impeccable taste…

Ghost Bird by Lisa Fuller

If you haven’t already, you really must read this year’s winner of the Readings Young Adult Book Prize. Stacey and Laney are twins, yet they could not be more different from one another. Stacey follows the rules and works hard at school; Laney rebels and skips school. But when Laney disappears one night, Stacey refuses to believe, as most of the townsfolk do, that Laney has just run away with her boyfriend. There are darker forces at work and when Stacey starts to dream of terrifying monsters, she knows she must find out what has happened to her sister –- before it’s too late. This is a page-turning thriller set in an Australian country town and featuring Indigenous Australian spirits who play an unexpected role in Stacey’s quest to save Laney.


Because sleep is overrated…

None Shall Sleep by Ellie Marney

In 1982, in the USA, the innovative FBI Behavioral Science division is breaking new ground, and two teenagers with traumatic pasts – Emma Lewis and Travis Bell – are recruited to interview convicted juvenile killers for information on cold cases. Over Travis’s objections, Emma becomes the conduit between the FBI and Simon Gutmunsson – a super-intelligent, nineteen-year-old sociopath. And although Simon seems to be giving them the information they need to save lives, he’s also an expert manipulator playing a very long game. Beloved Australian crime writer Marney has penned a chilling story of two teens working against the clock to stop a serial killer, putting themselves in the gravest of dangers.

Available 1 September 2020


Because you believe in love and magic…

The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Aboard the pirate ship Dove, Flora the girl takes on the identity of Florian the man to earn the respect and protection of the crew. For orphans Flora and her brother Alfie, the brutal life of a pirate is about survival: don’t trust, don’t stick out, and don’t feel. But when the Lady Evelyn Hasegawa boards the Dove, on the way to an arranged marriage, Florian and Evelyn form a deep bond. Soon the two young people set off on a wild escape that will involve a captured mermaid (coveted for her blood), the mysterious Pirate Supreme, an opportunistic witch, double agents, and the all-encompassing Sea herself. Set in a rich and fantastical world, the heady romance and action of this story provides the perfect escape.

Available 2 September 2020


Because you need to escape into a whole other world…

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix

Eighteen-year-old art student Susan Arkshaw arrives in London in search of her father. But before she can question crime boss Frank Thringley he’s turned to dust by the prick of a silver hatpin in the hands of the outrageously attractive Merlin. Merlin is one of the youngest members of a secret society of magical booksellers who police the mythic Old World wherever it accidentally seeps into the modern world – in addition to running several bookshops, of course Merlin also has a quest of his own: to find the Old World entity who arranged the murder of his mother. Acclaimed fantasy author Nix (Angel Mage) will transport you to a magical 1980s London with his impeccable world-building, and entertain you thoroughly with romance, action, conspiracies and mysteries galore.

Available 29 September 2020


Because you’ve been dreaming of overseas travel…

This One Is Ours by Kate O'Donnell

When sixteen-year-old Sofie goes on exchange to Paris, she is expecting magnificent adventures of the heart and mind. Yet France isn’t what she imagined. It’s cold and grey, and speaking another language is exhausting. But then her host sister, Delphine, and fellow artist Olivier show her a different side of Paris, and Sofie starts to question her ideas of art, beauty and meaning. When a catastrophe strikes close to home, Sofie realises she needs to act. Untidy Towns author Kate O'Donnell’s second novel is a call to action for anyone who feels helpless about the state of society, as well as an ode to all the tiny beautifuls that make our world worth saving.

Available 29 September 2020


Because you care about the safety of young women…

Grown by Tiffany D Jackson

When legendary R&B artist Korey Fields spots seventeen-year-old Enchanted Jones at a singing competition, her dreams of being a famous singer take flight. Until Enchanted wakes up with blood on her hands and zero memory of the previous night. Who killed Korey Fields? Before there was a dead body, Enchanted’s dreams had turned into a nightmare. Because behind Korey’s charm and star power was a controlling dark side. This compelling and hard-hitting book follows a talented young woman’s struggles to escape a controlling and powerful older man; some reviewers have pointed to similarities with the R. Kelly cases. Jackson is a writer who never turns away from difficult social issues.

Available 7 October 2020

Leanne Hall is the children’s specialist for Readings online. She also writes books for children and young adults.

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Georgina Young

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