Best young adult books of 2020 so far

Seira Wilson on July 15, 2020
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Best young adult books of 2020 so far

Several big young adult books were moved out of May and June and will now release in the fall, but it was still an outstanding first half of the year for YA. The biggest book of the spring didn't move (thank you, Scholastic!) and turned out to be worth the hype—we chose Suzanne Collins' The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes as our number one pick of the year so far.

On our top 20 list, you'll find contemporary fiction and fantasy along with notable nonfiction, exciting new installments of favorite series, and debuts from new voices that we're excited to see more from in the coming years.

Here are the top five books from our list, and you'll find more fantastic reads on the full list of the Best Young Adult Books of 2020 So Far.


The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

Our editors' pick for the No. 1 Best Young Adult Book of the Year So Far

This spring was buzzing with excitement over Suzanne Collins' return to Panem in her prequel to The Hunger Games. Set long before Katniss arrives on the scene, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes gives readers the backstory of President Snow, who in this novel is an 18-year-old student hoping for a spot at the university and a chance at greatness as a mentor in the 10th annual Hunger Games. Collins continues to write in fast-paced chapters, giving an exciting read heft with themes of choice and the consequences of war.


Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

Award-winning author and the current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Jason Reynolds, presents teens with a version of Ibram X. Kendi's book Stamped from the Beginning that speaks directly to them. Reynolds engages readers with a conversational tone, identifying the through line of racism that exists today and showing just how deeply embedded it remains in our society. An important and necessary book that will give readers the knowledge and encouragement to recognize racist ideas and thoughts and to do away with them.


The Conference of the Birds by Ransom Riggs

By adding new twists, characters, and locations to his best-selling Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series, Ransom Riggs has managed to give each new book something fresh and compelling while keeping the eerie feel and vintage photographs that fans love and expect. In this latest installment, Jacob and his friends are searching for an agent—the last connection between Jacob and his grandfather—who doesn't want to be found, and for answers to a prophecy that foretells doom for all Peculiars unless they can stop it. Can't wait for book six...


Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Pepper and Jack go to the same high school and know of each other peripherally but it is a very special grilled cheese that brings them together through—of all things—a snark war on Twitter between their competing family restaurants. This debut novel is fun and lighthearted but still has meat on its bones, as the characters deal with the pressures of familial duty and expectations. Surprises are plentiful and Tweet Cute is the perfect summer read or whenever readers want a feel-good novel that will make them laugh.


One of Us Is Next by Karen M. McManus

Best-selling author Karen M. McManus returns to Bayview High with a sequel to her blockbuster thriller, One of Us Is Lying.  McManus gives readers a new cast of characters, but there are ghosts from the past that still haunt Bayview and a dangerous new game is afoot. While this is, of course, perfect for existing fans, One of Us Is Next can also be read on its own. Twists and secrets are everywhere in this novel, and McManus is quickly making a name for herself as a top-notch author of young adult thrillers.


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