There can be no doubt that 2020 has been a strange and challenging year, and for many, life will never be quite the same. As always during difficult times, I’ve found escape and comfort in stories. I’ve discovered some fantastic novels this year, spanning multiple genres and featuring characters across the LGBT+ spectrum. As 2020 draws to a close, I’ve rounded up my top seven queer YA titles of the past twelve months in the order I reviewed them. I’m always on the lookout for something new to read, so if you’d like to share your own favourites in the comments, I’d love to hear them!
- Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde – I loved everything about this book, and am only sorry I left it sitting on my TBR pile for as long as I did. I loved the pure, unashamed geekiness of the SupaCon setting and the whole atmosphere of fandom and cosplay. I loved both romantic storylines, which were so sweet and genuine they transported me back to those precious moments of new love. Most of all, I fell completely in love with the characters and their own personal journeys.
- The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen – It’s hard for me to put into words just how in love with this book I am! I have such a soft spot for nerd/jock romances and this certainly ranks among my favourites, albeit a nerd/jock romance with a twist, one of the heroes being an empath able to sense the emotions of everyone around him. There are a lot of elements to this story—friendship, coming out, Caleb’s battle to cope with his ability—all of which I loved, but my favourite part was the romance between the two boys.
- Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand – This book was a surprise in the best possible way. I don’t tend to read horror, being a bit of a wuss. Yet, the blurb for this book compelled me to pick it up, and there are so many things I found to love about it, I’m immensely glad I did. Though the story is undeniably grizzly in places, the author combines stunning prose and a spine-chilling atmosphere with poignant romance and three unforgettable heroines in a way that is utterly magical.
- We Contain Multitudes by Sarah Henstra – Ever since I read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, I’ve been searching for a novel that would have that same profound effect on me, and now, at last, I have. We Contain Multitudes is a perfect title for a story which holds so much within its pages—so much richness, so much gorgeous prose, so much heartrending, all-consuming emotion. It’s also one of the most beautiful romances I’ve read for a long time.
- Camp by L.C. Rosen – If I was forced to choose just one book to champion this year, it would have to be this one. It’s a long time since a novel either made me laugh so hard or reduced me to a blubbering mess, but despite the humour, this novel tackles some incredibly deep issues. Camp is a glorious celebration of queerness in all its varied forms. It’s a story about being true to yourself, and I only wish every LGBTQ+ teenager could have a refuge like Outland where they can be themselves.
- Loveless by Alice Oseman – I’m a huge fan of all this author’s books, but perhaps because of its experiential nature, there’s something special about this one. Loveless follows an introverted English Literature student on a quest to find love and herself during her first year at Durham University. The story is equal parts funny and touching, and narrated in a voice that’s as believable as it is engaging. It also portrays what it means to be asexual with poignancy and authenticity.
- Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell – In this sequel to the brilliant Carry On, Rainbow Rowell weaves together humour and tenderness, adventure and romance with a skill that blew me away. This novel has all the feels and complex dynamics I’ve come to love in this author’s work, plus the magic and monsters you’d expect from a Simon Snow novel. Add in the fast pace of the plot and a race against time, and it’s no surprise I found this book impossible to put down.