“New year, new me,” we all love to say as 2021 rolls in and we gallantly pledge to read all the books we own before we buy more this time. Except, let’s be real, that promise lasts exactly 35 seconds. A new year means new books are being announced, cover reveals are here, and your heartbeat just picked up speed when your favorite author announced their next book is coming out.
So how about you rearrange your pledge to: “new year, new…books.”
Happy 2021, everyone! I love to start off the new year by writing lists of upcoming books I’m beyond excited for. My heart belongs to Young Adult fiction books so my self-control (shelf-control?!) is continually lost in the face of all these exceptional covers, intricate and sharply-paced plots, and characters you can’t help but love. Maybe some of these upcoming books will make it onto our best books of all time list.
Below I’m listing 20 of the best books for teens releasing in 2020!
1. Infinity Son by Adam Silvera
Releases January 14th 2020
A new series about phoenixes and kids with superpowers has sparked to life with the release of Infinity Son! Silvera is best to know for his speculative contemporaries like More Happy Than Not and the bestselling What If It’s Us, and this is his first exciting foray into urban fantasy.
Infinity Son is set in New York and features Puerto Rican twins, Emil and Brighton, who’ve always dreamed about having powers like the vigilante Spell Walkers… until they get caught in a fight and Emil develops powers and, with them, complicated secrets he can barely handle. It’s about the love-and-hate relationship of brothers, and it’s so powerful to see brown queer kids saving the day in YA literature.
2. Chain Of Gold by Cassandra Clare
Releases March 3rd 2020
The queen of YA returns with a brand new series set in the infamous Shadowhunter world! This book follows Cordelia Carstairs who refuses to be married off and instead is entranced by the supernatural half of London, full of warlocks and glittering ballrooms and… demons to hunt.
The book will be about the dark side of being a hero and I absolutely can’t wait. Shadowhunter books always have such solid and captivating themes of friendship, family, and loyalty. These stories prove again and again that it’s better to face your demons (literal or figurative) with friends at your back.
3. All The Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace
Releases February 4th 2020
This debut follows Amora who puts everything into proving her mastery of soul magic but ends up having to flee and strike a deal with a pirate named Bastian. It promises vengeful mermaids, a high sea adventure, and the fate of the crown hanging in the balance. Exciting fantasies with high stakes and sharp characters always make up some of the best books for teens on the shelves.
4. Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed
Releases February 4th 2020
2020 will most likely be a year of political upheaval, and we do an injustice to teens if we assume they aren’t interested in what’s happening in the world. This story follows two teens (Jamie Goldberg and Maya Rehman) who end up volunteering for the local senate and going from door to door asking people to vote.
But Jamie is crushingly shy and Maya’s family life is disintegrating – so maybe this is what they need to draw closer together too. I feel this one will balance the wholesome cuteness of a typical Albertalli romcom (she’s the author of the famous Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda!), with discussions on why it’s important to vote. Definitely the kind of applicable book we need to see on YA shelves.
5. Of Curses And Kisses by Sandhya Menon
Releases February 18th 2020
It’s time for Beauty and the Beast…but with a new twist! This time we explore this favorite old fairy tale in the modern setting of a boarding school. It’s about Jaya Rao who decides to make her mortal enemy fall in love with her so she can break his heart – except she’s kind of falling in love with him for real.
And she has no idea he’s doomed to fall to a curse once he turns 18. One thing I love about Menon’s stories is the humor, the incredibly cute couples, and her easy and addictive storytelling. This is sure to feature more #ownvoices Indian representation, which is so exciting. YA is made infinitely better by more diversity in every genre.
6. The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski
Releases March 3rd 2020
As a huge fan of the author’s previous trilogy (The Winner’s Curse), I may have softly screamed into my coffee when I saw she’s releasing a new epic fantasy series with a queer heroine that’s all about learning to free ourselves from the lies of others.
It’s set in a grim world where our heroine, Nirrim, has a dark secret that could end her. She ends up falling into the company with a sly stranger as they seek magic. Everything about this screams intrigue, politics, and dangerous daring.
7. A Phoenix First Must Burn (anthology edited by Patrice Caldwell)
Releases March 10th 2020
This YA anthology features sixteen stories of Black Girl magic, resistance, and hope. It’s #ownvoices and has an incredible line up of contributing award-winning authors like Elizabeth Acevedo, Dhonielle Clayton, Ibi Zoboi, Somaiya Daud, and more!
These short stories are about challenging gender stereotypes and society, and it’s also full of love and betrayal, witches and scientists, and heroines who won’t be silenced. I feel this one will really empower teen girls.
8. Bonds of Brass by Emily Skrutskie
Releases April 7th 2020
It’s already gathering epic endorsements from famous authors, so I’m pretty sure this will be an epic sci-fi soap opera not to be missed!
If you loved Star Wars and Finn and Poe, it’s time to try this book where a young pilot risks everything to save his best friend… only to discover his friend is secretly heir to a brutal galactic empire. It’s queer, it’s got plot twists, and there’s intergalactic rebellion.
9. Please Don’t Hug Me by Kay Kerr
Releases April 28th 2020
A book cover with donuts is an immediate sign it’s going to be good! This is about Erin who’s just finished school and is frustrated and anxious about her collapsing life. She doesn’t understand why everything is a mess until she gets a diagnosis of autism.
This is an #ownvoices story, which always makes a book more authentic when it’s from someone who truly knows what it’s like. It will be so important for teens to read to either see themselves or understand more about what autism is.
10. Burn by Patrick Ness
Releases May 7th 2020
I absolutely maintain books don’t have enough dragons in them, so thank you to Patrick Ness for clearly seeing and filling this need. This story follows Sarah Dewhurst who lives in a tiny town where her father is about to hire a dragon to work their farm.
The fact that this book carves a world where hiring dragons is normal has me instantly intrigued. My wallet just up and left to preorder this without asking. I also am drawn to Patrick Ness books for their intriguing premises, but also because they give quiet teens a voice. Infinitely important.
11. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
Releases May 19th 2020
This might just be the biggest and best teen YA release of the year, because… LOOK! Suzanne Collins is back with a Hunger Games prequel about President Snow.
It’s set back when he was known as Coriolanus and is vying for position as a mentor for the Games. Except he’s given District 12, the lowest of shames…and then he starts to feel something for his tribute. It’s intensely intriguing that we’re getting a villain origin story, and I trust Collins to deliver a very poignant and sharp critique of society as she did with the original trilogy.
12. Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
Releases June 9th 2020
As soon as I heard this book was about a trans boy having to prove himself to his Latinx family and ending up summoning a ghost he can’t get rid of… I knew I had to have it!
Yadriel accidentally summons the ghost of his school’s resident bad boy, but the longer they spend together, the less they want to part. This story not only looks fun, but I feel it’ll give much-needed hope and love to trans kids looking to see themselves on the page having epic adventures.
13. I’ll Be The One by Lyla Lee
Releases June 16th 2020
If you’re more in the mood for a fun and shiny YA rom-com, this one needs to be on your Wish List. Body positivity is a conversation we need more of in books since it’s especially hard to be a teen and be confident and happy in your skin.
So meet Skye Shin, who is a K-Pop fan, and loves dancing and bright colors and being vibrantly alive. But she’s fat, so the world doesn’t think she’ll ever get through auditions to be a K-Pop star. Guess she has to prove them wrong. Honestly, this book just looks fun and glamourous, but also soundly important.
14. Loveless by Alice Oseman
Releases July 9th 2020
One thing I love about Alice Oseman’s books is how authentic they always feel. They capture how it is to be a teen, the confusion and the messy romances, or the complex friendships, and the discovery of identity. Her latest contemporary is all about being asexual, featuring Georgia who doesn’t understand why she’s never had a crush.
While more LGBT YA books are filling our shelves, we still have so many underrepresented identities. Being asexual is one of them! Also, this is a rare YA set in a university, so it’s going to fill a lot of older teens’ hearts.
15. The Princess Will Save You by Sarah Henning
Releases July 7th 2020
Damsels in distress are long gone from teen books and are anyone sad? A very firm nope.
This title (and the epic cover!) immediately caught my eye and I knew I’d need this one. Princess Amarande is being forced into an arranged marriage, but when her beloved stable boy Luca is captured, she takes off to save him.
It sounds like a fun take on old classic fantasy tropes and if there’s anything we need, it’s for books to shake up the known and give us something fresh!
16. Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
Releases July 7th 2020
What did we just say about shaking up old tropes?! I’m totally captivated by this title. It’s set in a world where Cinderella finding a prince at a ball has become the norm for teen girls everywhere.
It’s about girls teaming up to bring down the king and it twists the old Cinderella tale in ways we’ve never seen before. Fairy tales remade and reimagined are so fun, I can never resist.
17. Ghost Wood Song
Releases July 21st 2020
Do you know what we haven’t talked about yet? YA horror! The delicious creepy and chillingly addictive kind.
This novel is set in a world where the boundary between reality and nightmare is as thin as the veil between the living and dead. Shady Grove has her father’s ability to call ghosts with fiddle music, but when her brother is accused of murder, she’s going to have to force the ghosts to reveal the truth. It sounds haunting and ethereal, definitely, the perfect book to cozy up with.
18. Set Fire To The Gods by Sarah Raasch and Kristen Simmons
Releases August 4th 2020
It’s time for books about gladiators and gods! This one follows Ash, the descendant of a long line of glorious gladiators, and she’s made a vow to overthrow the fire god.
It’s about gods thrown into conflict, boys pretending they have supernatural powers when they don’t, and two teens ready to fight with everything they have to defend their families. Books about family pride and love will never grow old and I think we always need more.
19. Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar
Releases August 11th 2020
Sheetal is the daughter of a star and a moral and ends up on a quest to find her mother in the celestial court of shining wonders and dark shadows. If the premise alone isn’t enough to capture our eyes, then the background of Hindu mythology should make this glittering YA fantasy absolutely leap into our “desperately need” basket.
20. Kingdom Of The Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco
The incredible author of the Stalking Jack the Ripper series is BACK, with a brand new series with a darkly intoxicating premise of a young witch, a trouble demon, and their epic romance. It also has a 19th-century Italian setting, so we’re pretty much all just lusting after this book by this point.
Emilia is a strega who sets off to avenge her murdered twin by using forbidden dark magic. She teams up with a demon who’s solving a case of murders and their fates entwine irreversibly.
About the Author
CG Drews is a YA book blogger with the goal to read every book in existence. She’s aiming for immortality for this. When not reading, she writes novels and blogs at paperfury.com.