Lockdown or no lockdown, winter nights are perfect for one thing: curling up somewhere cosy with a hot chocolate and a new book.
Reading something that isn’t a textbook or set of revision notes is the perfect way to unwind in the evenings, and experts recommend reading before bed to those who struggle to fall asleep at night.
Reading improves your vocabulary, concentration and writing skills – so it’s a really important activity for all GCSE English, IGCSE English and A Level English students. What’s more, if you’re feeling a little lonely or stressed at the moment, getting lost in an alternative fictional world is a great antidote.
One of the most common obstacles to reading is not being able to pick a good book from the endless options. Well, we’re here to solve that problem! The following list has been hand-picked by the Save My Exams team, and it features the very best young adult books released in 2020.
So whether you get them from a library, a local bookstore, an online order or even from Santa himself, prepare to (re)discover your love for reading with these great novels.
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin, by Roseanne A. Brown
In a world inspired by West and North African mythology, where magic and spirits lurk behind every corner, two teens on opposite sides of a thousand-year-old conflict must kill each other to save the ones they love —even if it means fighting the blossoming connection that ties them together.
This Young Adult Fantasy novel is guaranteed to captivate your attention and transport you far away from the worries of your everyday life.
The Gravity of Us, by Phil Stamper
As a successful social media journalist with half a million followers, seventeen-year-old Cal is used to sharing his life online. But when his pilot father is selected for a highly publicized NASA mission to Mars, Cal and his family relocate from Brooklyn to Houston and are thrust into a media circus.
Amidst the chaos, Cal meets sensitive and mysterious Leon, another “Astrokid,” and finds himself falling head over heels—fast. As the frenzy around the mission grows, so does their connection. But when secrets about the program are uncovered, Cal must find a way to reveal the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.
This story explores the themes of relationships and growing up through a compelling plot line.
Find Layla, by Meg Elison
Underprivileged and keenly self-aware, fourteen-year-old Layla Bailey isn’t used to being noticed. Except by mean girls who tweet about her ragged appearance. All she wants to do is indulge in her love of science, protect her vulnerable younger brother, and steer clear of her unstable mother.
A neglected girl’s chaotic coming-of-age becomes a trending new hashtag in a novel about growing up and getting away.
Furia, by Yamile Saied Méndez
This powerful novel, set in Argentina, follows the journey of a rising football star Camila.
At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father. On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. Furia is the story of a girl’s journey to make her life her own.
Chameleon: Does it have to cost the Earth to find out who we really are? by Sarah Holding
Shortly before the fall of Atlantis, genetic engineers create three new prototypes, Kam, Mel and Leon, the first humans to have blue eyes and shapeshifting capabilities.
With climatic conditions on Earth spinning rapidly out of control, it seems the future of Atlantean civilization depends entirely on whether the three test subjects can find a way to work together to solve the deepening crisis.
A powerful new addition to the growing cli-fi genre, this story questions our current climate predicament by imagining how humankind might have endured a previous climate catastrophe 12,000 years ago.
The Last Paper Crane, by Kerry Drewery
When Japanese teenager Mizuki asks her Grandad to share his story of surviving the Hiroshima nuclear bomb blast in 1945, the reader is transported back to the horrific event.
The story traces the moving and human story of how Mizuki’s grandad and his brother tried to rebuild their lives and search for their family in the aftermath of the tragedy.
A powerful novel that, despite its harrowing subject matter, has hope at its heart.
Clap When You Land, by Elizabeth Acevedo
Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…
In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash. Separated by distance – and Papi’s secrets – the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.
In a dual narrative novel in verse that brims with both grief and love, award-winning and bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.
Wonderland, By Juno Dawson
Alice lives in a world of stifling privilege and luxury – but none of it means anything when your own head plays tricks on your reality. When her troubled friend Bunny goes missing, Alice becomes obsessed with finding her. On the trail of her last movements, Alice discovers a mysterious invitation to ‘Wonderland’: the party to end all parties – three days of hedonistic excess to which only the elite are welcome.
Will she find Bunny there? Or is this really a case of finding herself? Once you’ve picked up this thrilling roller coaster of a novel, you won’t want to put it down until you’ve finished it.
Punching the Air, by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam
One fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighbourhood escalates into tragedy. ‘Boys just being boys’ turns out to be true only when those boys are white.
Suddenly, at just sixteen years old, Amal Shahid’s bright future is upended: he is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it?
From bestselling author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam comes this powerful YA novel in verse. Perfect for fans of the Noughts & Crosses series and The Hate U Give.
Have you read and enjoyed any of these books? Did we miss your favourite 2020 book off the list? Let us know by sending us a DM or comment on social media (@SaveMyExams).
Looking for more reading inspiration? Check out our ultimate list of books every teen should read.