This mess of a year, who was not what anyone expected. In all fronts, really, because I ended up reading 90 books this year, when I totally did not even think I was going to get to 50.
In the midst of all its craziness, I read a few great titles I am excited to share with you guys. I’ll be keeping the same format of last year, except with different categories this time.
OUTSIDE OF MY COMFORT ZONE
I thought I wouldn’t understand a single thing in this book, and here it is, in my list of favorites of the year. Maybe I do have braincells after all. If We Were Villains is a cult-classic dark academia book, and follows a group of friends who study theatre and get caught up on the mysterious death of one of their members.
I spent a lot of the book waiting for our main character to catch up on thoughts we, as readers, had already predicted. But the twist at the very end left my jaw on the floor.
I loved the way the author built the characterization throughout the narration, and the pacing was absolutely perfect. I also was able to (surprisingly) follow along the way the Shakespeare plays they’re acting also mirror their own circumstances, and I feel like it was done in an incredibly smart way.
I had such low expectations to Aurora Rising, due to a few mediocre reviews, that I was left shook by how much I actually loved it.
This new sci-fi series by the same authors of The Illuminae Files follows a similar formula: band of misfits on space, full of twists and turns and incredibly action packed. I didn’t think I’d get as attached to the characters as I did, but I *loved* especially Finian, Kal and Auri.
It was quite different from The Illuminae Files, but in a very positive way. One thing I loved was the presence of the alien species, and the development of their culture and dynamic, which was not present at all in the first series, and that was incredibly fun to read about in this one.
I really need to continue on to book #2, and I am incredibly excited to do so, and looking forward to have a new favorite series.
I don’t think there would be any other answer for this, but Furia. This one is set entirely in the city of Rosario, Argentina, and it follows a girl named Camila who lives a double life: in the field, she’s la Furia, an amazing footballer; in her house, she has to play the perfect daughter and her parents are not even aware of her passion about football.
This book was important to me for a number of reasons. First, it was the first ARC I ever received and I was so excited to read this one earlier, as one of my most anticipated releases. It was also a story that felt so relatable, in every single aspect: the story, the dynamics, the characters. I felt like I could be watching this take place in my hometown.
It was brilliant to read a South-American story, that also had so much drive and strength to it. Camila was a powerful protagonist, whom I absolutely adored; it was disturbing, but also important to read about the different ways women have been failed by Argentinian society; and I loved the football aspect that was the background for so many of the interpersonal relationships. This book was everything I wanted it to be and I’m so thankful I read it.
MY FAVORITE ADULT ROMANCE
I’ve been reading books in the adult romance genre for quite some time, but I had never found one that *truly* made me feel all the things.
The Bromance Book Club was amazing and hilarious. First, it contains my favorite romance tropes: the failed marriage one. Then, it also had a laugh-out-loud cast of side characters who made me so fucking happy to read about. The protagonists were also amazing, and it was a lot of fun reading the “book inside the book”.
I was so stocked to finish this book and realize, apart from a few minor complaints, I had mostly had an amazing time with this novel. I loved the pacing and I didn’t finish it exhausted from the melodrama. I rooted for the couple until the very end and the writing was super engaging. This book basically challenged everything I thought I knew about romances and I am so glad it did.
MY FAVORITE NOVELLA
I’m not sure if Sinner is considered a novella, because of its length, but I still think it is. It was an add-on to The Wolves of Mercy Falls, that I absolutely did not think I was going to love as much as I did.
The best way I’ve found to describe it is: “Where She Went’s L.A. cousin”. Set in California, this one follows Cole and Isabel, as Cole has now returned home to record a new album and a reality show, but mostly to win Isabel back. They were my favorite dysfunctional couple in the original trilogy, and I loved reading more about them here.
The reason why I say this is Where She Went’s L.A. cousin is because absolutely everything I love about that book is in Sinner as well. The discussions of music, the intense protagonist, the angsty relationship, the celebrity expectations…
Even after days of finishing my read, I couldn’t stop thinking about this book, and it’s now December, and I’m still thinking about it. It really was that amazing.
BY A NEW FAVORITE AUTHOR
I have to hype up You Should See Me in a Crown once again because this book really did blow me away. And I need to hype it up as much as I can until it gets turned into a NETFLIX film. Thank you.
This prom-com follows Liz, who’s recently gotten the news she was denied financial aid for her dream school, and decides she’ll be running for prom queen, as the winner gets a college scholarship. Liz is not popular, though, so she’s essentially climbing an uphill battle and getting through a lot of crazy shenenigans as she does so.
I feel like Leah Johnson was able to discuss several different topics, without it ever feeling “too much” or like she was not giving enough time to each one of them. This book talks about friendship, family, disability, anxiety, sexuality and being a woman of color, and the author nailed every. single. aspect, while still keeping it a fun light-hearted read that made me giggle out loud.
This book just really proved me that YA fiction tropes are not “dead” and are not “boring” – they just need to be done right, and they can still work.
Only Mostly Devastated was a *gift*. I need to re-read this book ASAP because it really had no business being as good as it was.
In this Grease retelling, we follow our main character Ollie, having a whirl-wind romance with this boy named Will, and then breaking up as he’ll be going back to his hometown. However, due to family circumstances, Ollie ends up moving permanently to the city he’d been spendng the summer in, and bumping into Will again in his first day of school. Except, Will is now behaving completely different. *Angst ensues*.
I absolutely adored this novel. From the characters, to the writing. I loved the way the author wrote teenagers that felt *real*: the dialogues were well written, and most importantly, the dynamics between Ollie and his new group of friends felt very accurate to the way I see teenagers interacting. It was definitely a bit awkward and it wasn’t instant friendship, but the development payed off.
The romance was also adorable and Ollie was 100% a chaotic and relatable narrator. I was also surprised by this book’s discussions of grief & family, and I appreciated so much the author for adding such layer.
DESERVING OF MORE HYPE
Not to trigger anyone by using the word “underhyped”, but Camp was a 2020 queer release that I feel like mostly flew down the radar of a lot of people. And it absolutely should not, because this was one of the most original and well-crafted stories I’ve read in a while.
Our protagonist here is Randy, but this summer, he’s Del. After going to this queer camp for several summers in a row, Randy has developed a massive crush on Hudson, but Hudson only ever dates masculine, butch guys. So Randy decides to “play a character” in order to get Hudson’s attention, and become Del. I was already stocked to read this synopsis and realize the author was probably going to make a critique of toxic masculinity within the queer community, and I pretty much could predict where the story was going to take us.
Except L.C Rosen did *so* much more than my tiny brain could’ve ever seen coming. This book challenges so many different queer stereotypes and, ultimately, sends off an incredibly positive and uplifting message that there is no point getting caught up in boxes, because queer-ness can mean whatever it means to you.
I loved pretty much all the characters, the theatre shenenigans, the camp’s queer history lessons, the sex positivity… Overall, this book delivered SO much, I really need more people to read it.
BEST BOOK OF 2020
I don’t think this will come as a surprise if you’ve been following me at all, but my favorite book of the year was one I read back in February, and that is Call It What You Want.
I’ve since picked up every single other contemporary by Brigid Kemmerer, but none held up to the awesome-ness of this book. Following the perspectives of two high school social pariahs, Meg and Rob, this book introduces us to a complex and rich cast of characters who all kinda suck, but in a way that just makes you like them even more.
When I say I like morally grey characters, this is what I mean, and this is what I want to see more of. Not the same badboy with daddy issues type of guy. But characters who are incredibly complex, and who make bad decisions in name of human emotions, but also learn from their mistakes and work to be better.
It’s hard for me to convince people to read this book, because the premise in its core may not seem that interesting. I just hope y’all trust me when I say that this book made it practically impossible for me to give any other 5 star this year and it pretty much ruined my standards. I love him for it, though.
Let me know: what was the best book you read in 2020? Have you read any of these titles? If so, what are your thoughts? Let’s chat in the comments!