Click here to see all of the current Quick Picks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
Bloom: The Overthrow: Book 1 by Kenneth Oppel
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: February 4, 2020
First came the rains, then the vines grew and grew until they took over. The vines pose a triple threat to the inhabitants of a small island. They crowd out plant life and encase roads and buildings, they cause bizarre allergic reactions, and they can trap and eat people. Three teens discover that they are immune to the allergens and then discover each other. Will they band together and will they be able to defeat the plant invasion?
The story begins with alternating POV among the three teens – each struggling with their own fantastical, but still relatable, issues. After this brief set-up, the action ramps up with lots of peril and suspense. There are plenty of “ick factor” elements and enough snark to entertain reluctant readers.The novel is written at a middle school level, however the plot and the cover are sufficiently creepy to attract older teens.
Give this to readers who like sci-fi thrillers with elements of horror like The Wilder Girls by Rory Power, The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey, or movies like Ridley Scott’s Alien.
#NoEscape by Gretchen McNeil
FreeForm/Disney Publishing Worldwide
Publication Date: September 15, 2020
#NoEscape by Gretchen McNeil is book three in her #MurderTrending series. A prequel that can be read as a stand-alone. The story is about seventeen-year-old Persey who feels like a disappointment to her family especially compared to her smarter brother, but when it comes to escape rooms she is great at them. After beating an unbeatable escape room, Persey is invited to an escape room competition with seven other contestants. As Persey and the other contestants move through the rooms they realize that the danger is real and they need to try to make it out of the escape rooms alive.
#NoEscape is a suspenseful YA contemporary novel that moves at a fast pace as the characters move from room to room. Plot-driven, reluctant readers will be pulled into the story and by the different riddles and puzzles described within the novel. Not to mention the mystery of who is behind the escape room and who the killer is.
Fans of One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus, Rebecca Schaeffer’s Market of Monsters series, or fans of escape rooms will like Gretchen McNeil’s #NoEscape.
The Invention of Sophie Carter by Samantha Hastings
Publication Date: July 14, 2020
The Invention of Sophie Carter by Samantha Hastings is a historical YA novel set in Victorian London. The story is about a pair of orphaned identical twins, Sophie and Mariah Carter, who after getting passed from one relation to another, get the opportunity to stay with their aunt, Lady Bentley, in London. The only catch is that she only invites Sophie. Not willing to leave one behind and either miss the opportunity of finding a better life for themselves, the twins decide to both go to London and pretend to be the same person.
Each sister gets to go out and experience London and pursue their dreams as they both pretend to be Sophie Carter. Along the way they also make new friends, family, and even find love.
The Invention of Sophie Carter is an enjoyable YA historical romance and easy read. With quick chapters and relatable characters in that the twins, Sophie and Mariah, are both trying to follow their dreams and find their identity separate from their twin. Reluctant readers hopefully will enjoy the antics the sisters get into as they keep switching places as well as the glimpses into Victorian London.
Fans of YA romance or rom-coms like Sandhya Menon, David Yoon, and Sophie Jordan will enjoy Samantha Hastings’ The Invention of Sophie Carter.