My Favorite Books of 2020

Happy 2021, one and all! And good riddance to 2020, I say. But if there's one good thing to come out of 2020, I did read some pretty amazing books this year!

I've done a "best books of the year" post every year since 2016 (you can check out my favorite books of 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 at these links). This year, instead of doing it in categories that I basically make up as I go along, I'm going to give myself a challenge -- out of all the great books I read this year, can I pick five favorites?

To be clear, I gave five stars to more than five books, so it was pretty challenging to narrow them all down to the best of the best. But I did it, and here are the results in order of the date I read them!

1. Warcross by Marie Lu

Genre: YA Science Fiction
Publisher/Year: Putnam, 2017
Number of Pages: 366

I love science fiction that deals with cool gadgetry but doesn't require any technical knowledge, and Warcross definitely falls into that category. But hands-down my favorite thing about this book is THE HEAPINGS OF MORAL GRAYNESS! Emika is the morally-gray protagonist of my dreams, and though throughout the book she gains a greater sense of right and wrong, she’s still a little tempted by the dark side.

The ethical dilemmas become more and more salient throughout the book, and the twist at the end made me squeal with joy at the sheer moral conflict. Also, HIDEO. I can’t say much because of spoilers, but HIDEO!!!

2. Goddess in the Machine by Lora Beth Johnson

Genre: YA Science Fiction
Publisher/Year: Razorbill, 2020
Number of Pages: 400

This story was a straight-up rollercoaster of plot twists, especially in the latter half. Andra’s character took a little time for me to warm up to, but her character arc ended up resonating with me a lot as she tried to navigate the responsibility of being declared a “goddess” against her will.

Also, I just wanna take a moment to appreciate Zhade, my new book boyfriend <3 He gave me serious Captain Carswell Thorne vibes, but with more ambition and bad jokes. Perfection! I can't wait to see more of him and Andra in the sequel, Devil in the Device (also pictured here using my Photoshop trickery, though sadly I don't have a copy of my own yet WAH).

3. A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher/Year: Balzer + Bray, 2020
Number of Pages: 480

This book might be one of the best-executed fantasy novels I’ve ever read. The world of Ziran felt so lush and real, but the rollercoaster of a plot kept me turning pages like lightning! I find that a lot of books tend to lean a little too far toward description or plot, but ASOWAR is beautiful balanced perfection.

One thing that TOTALLY blew my mind was how delicious the character motivations and stakes were. Karina and Malik have such well-defined goals, and it just so happens that Malik’s goal involves killing Karina, and Karina’s goal might involve killing Malik. Nothing personal, you understand. (or is it...?)

4. These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

Genre: YA Historical Fantasy
Publisher/Year: Margaret K. McElderry, 2020
Number of Pages: 464

Y’all, this book hit the spot for me on almost every aspect of the story, from the cast to the plot to the themes. Not to mention the GORGEOUS writing!

I love retellings that feel reminiscent of the original, but are inspired by it rather than following most of the plot points. These Violent Delights did this perfectly -- the plot felt original in its own right, but there were still enough nods to the original Romeo and Juliet that my Shakespeare nerd heart rejoiced. Also, a monster terrorizing the city and a mystery about who's responsible?? Yes PLEASE!

Overall, this was a truly stunning read, and I think I'm going to be dealing with this book hangover until the sequel arrives! Never mind -- it's a small price to pay for the brilliant rollercoaster Chloe Gong just took me on.

5. Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher/Year: Margaret K. McElderry, 2020
Number of Pages: 512

Legendborn is a MASTERCLASS in pacing. It's over 500 pages long, but I devoured it in the space of eight hours because every plot point and mind-blowing twist was perfectly engineered to keep me turning pages. I haven’t read many 500+ page YA fantasies that needed all those words, but Tracy Deonn used every inch of space on the page to stab me in the feels. Seriously, ma'am, well played.

I go into more detail on the magic system and why this book's premise is so awesome in my full review. But long story short, if you love mythology and want something with a unique spin on well-loved tropes, then WHAT ARE YOU STILL HERE FOR? GO PICK UP THIS BOOK YOU COWARD

The Other Books I Rated Five Stars in 2020

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