The best young adult books of 2020

Every year our staff vote for their favourite books and music of the past 12 months. Here are our top 10 young adult books of the year, voted for by Readings’ staff, and displayed in no particular order.

(You can find all our best picks for books and music here.)

The End of the World Is Bigger Than Love by Davina Bell

Twin sisters Summer and Winter live on a remote island, hiding from a destroyed world and living on stockpiled rations and classic literature. When mysterious stranger Edward arrives, the sister’s equilibrium is rocked, setting loose family secrets and threatening the very ground under their feet. Davina Bell’s debut novel for young adults is an extraordinary work, with staggeringly beautiful writing and surprises around every corner. For ages 13+

The Erasure Initiative by Lili Wilkinson

Cecily wakes up on a self-driving bus with no memory of how she got there or who she is. The six other passengers are in the same predicament. When a series of tests begin, based on the classic Trolley Problem, tensions mount quickly. This compelling thriller is the very definition of a page-turner, but also works as a nuanced exploration of bias, prejudice, identity and self. For ages 14+

Loner by Georgina Young

Art school dropout Lona works at the local supermarket, DJs at a roller disco, crushes on several people, leans heavily on her best friend Tab and tries to rediscover her lost creativity and sense of purpose. Young’s debut novel navigates the bewildering small dramas of life as a backdrop to the big decisions that young adults face, and does it with an impeccable voice and dry humour. For ages 14+

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix

Susan Arkshaw arrives in London to look for her father, crossing paths and quests with Merlin, one of the youngest members of a secret society of magical booksellers who are tasked with policing the mythic Old World. Nix’s rollicking and inclusive fantasy adventure transports the reader to an alternate 1980s London replete with supernatural beasts and magical abilities. For ages 12+

None Shall Sleep by Ellie Marney

Two teenagers - both with first-hand experiences of violent crimes – are hired as part of a special FBI program and drawn into a dangerous dialogue with a young and manipulative serial killer. Marney’s chilling and tightly plotted psychological thriller features complex heroes and employs an intelligent touch around the ongoing effects of trauma. For ages 16+

This One Is Ours by Kate O'Donnell

A much-anticipated exchange trip to Paris causes dreamy and artistic sixteen-year-old Sofie to consider the possibilities of using art and activism to face the problems of the world. This sensitive coming-of-age story transports the reader to contemporary Paris, showing the beautiful and the mundane, with a perfect balance of romance, friendship, politics and big new ideas. For ages 12+

Future Girl by Asphyxia

Piper has been brought up by her mother to hide her deafness and pass as ‘normal’. When she meets Marley, a charming CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) who teaches her Auslan and introduces her to his remarkable Deaf mother, her world changes dramatically. This unique full-colour visual journal depicts a realistic near-future story and champions art, activism and community. For ages 12+

The Other Side of the Sky by Amie Kaufman

Prince North fights to save his sinking island city of the sky. The living goddess Nimh is also fighting, to discover her powers and save the surface below from a plague. When North and Nimh are thrown together romance blooms, and religion and science collide. This highly imaginative fantasy weaves an enthralling tale of star-crossed destiny with utterly surprising plot twists. For ages 12+

Taking Down Evelyn Tait by Poppy Nwosu

Natural born rebel and heavy metal fan Lottie is unimpressed when her best friend Grace tells her she is dating holier-than-thou Evelyn Tait. Evelyn is Lottie’s nemesis (and newish stepsister), so Lottie embarks on an elaborate plan to beat Evelyn at her own good-girl game. Nwosu has created an unforgettable and witty protagonist in this engaging high school comedy of manners. For ages 12+

The F Team by Rawah Arja

When Tariq and his friends Ibby, PJ and Huss are strong-armed by the new school principal into being on a football team with boys from Cronulla, the resulting culture clash forces them all to change, grow and be vulnerable. Arja’s debut novel paints a lively and hilarious portrait of Tariq’s Lebanese–Australian Muslim family and a group of teenage boys who are headstrong and big-hearted. For ages 13+