As we anticipate the incoming new year, I’m reflecting on my favorite YA reads of 2020 which is full of teens falling in love, teens championing social-justice causes basically, teens being magical and saving the world.
An honorary shout out to books that I finished recently: Crier’s War by Nina Varela, this fantasy debut is everything I’ve ever wanted in an f/f novel; Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas, a book brimming with magic about brujx community; and The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert, is there anything Colbert couldn’t write? This story is timely with its central plot about voting and activism with a bit of romance.
My goal in 2021 is to read more inclusively and hopefully blog more about it. I’m sure by the time I click the publish button on this post, I’d remember I’ve forgotten to include a couple of titles. Without further ado, you could see nine of my favorites from this year:
There’s so many things to love about Miss Meteor. Firstly, the lyrical writing and quaint small-town setting. Everything feels majestic and magical. Secondly, the well-fleshed out characters readers will root for. Thirdly, the beautiful inclusion of Latinx community, and queer representation. Miss Meteor is uplifting and heartfelt. This is the kind of book that makes a reader feel seen and celebrated. Perfect for coming of age fans.
Shine gives me an early YA contemporary vibe, only it’s about Kpop. Jung draws from her personal experience tackling the exploitation of young women in the Kpop industry. Readers could expect some K-drama elements, mean-girl stereotype, the innocent female lead, a little bit of swoon here and then, and tear-jerking moments.
Wicked as You Wish is unapologetically political. I love it. The story follows a hidden prince, a girl descended from an ancient powerful family, a group of misfit heroes that eventually became each other’s friend. Chupeco incorporated a tight-knight community of Filipino, our vibrant culture, and mythology. It’s so refreshing to read that in the text.
Patron Saints of Nothing explores the on-going drug war in the Philippines. I love, love this book that it made me cry. The story does a spectacular job of starting a conversation about privilege and systemic injustice. I cannot talk about this book enough so feel free to read my full review here.
A coming of age and rom-com novel? I’m selective with my romance but Menon did a wonderful job at crafting the main characters’ arc. I love that the hero and heroine have their own supportive friends and family. Be prepared for a dramatic as hell ala Bollywood conclusion. I’m not complaining since it’s a happy ending. I love the heartfelt self-realization from Sweetie and the beautiful romance. You can read my mini-review here. This is the second book of Dimple and Rishi, but can be read as a standalone.
Do you want to read a book about two teens falling in love? Then, you have to pick up Love from A to Z. The main characters are endearing with their meet-cute introduction. While this book contains romance, the story also tackled hard hitting topics such as islamophobia and chronic illness. Love from A to Z has been dubbed as “unapologetically Muslim.”
Do you like found-family trope in YA? Look no more. We have an ousted heir, brilliant yet eccentric inventors, a handsome historian, a beguiling performer/baker and melodramatic bisexuals (guess how many or which one.) There’s heist involving ancient artifacts, lyrical writing, kissing and pinning for certain pairings. Readers could expect an astute story and captivating execution.
I’m in love with the mythology of Bruja Born, which stems from Latinx culture. The magic system is easy to follow as well. If you like reading books about different supernatural creatures this book is for you. It makes me feel nostalgic when I first started reading YA supernatural books when I was a preteen. The sisterly bond and family dynamics is my favorite, this hits the spot. Bruja Born is the second book in Brooklyn Brujas but can be read as a standalone.
Are you a fan of superheroes? Then you should pick up this series! I listened to the audiobook of Not Your Villain; JD Jackson did a fantastic job of narrating. The story revolves around a group of queer teenagers, who discovered they have superpowers. This a standalone book – but it’s a continuation of a series. Readers can expect an awesome squad of friends exploring their mystical abilities. There are romance and healthy family dynamics. I couldn’t ask for anything more. This is a very wholesome series.