Click here to see all of the current Best Fiction for Young Adults nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
Girls Save the World in This One by Ash Parsons
Publication Date: April 14, 2020
Fangirl June Blue and her besties Imani and Siggy will let NOTHING stand in the way of a good time at ZombieCon–not the end of high school looming in the very near future, not ex-BFF Blair with her VIP badge that gets her to the front of every line, not over-enthusiastic cosplayers, not strangers rushing through the crowds in hazmat suits, not even–wait a minute!–the real actual zombie apocalypse itself! As the zombie hoard grows in numbers and survivors are trapped in the convention center, June and her friends know one thing for sure: They’re going to kick ass and save the world.
The convention setting allows author Ash Parsons to explore communities of fandom, the ways in which those same fans can act as gate-keepers to those deemed less deserving, and how women and people of color have to fight for the right to be included in the very genres they’re supporting as fans. Female friendships are celebrated, horror tropes both are indulged and turned on their heads, and even though the ending is right there in the title–the girls slay and save the day–it’s a helluva fun adventure getting there.
Give to fans of “The Walking Dead” TV series and the “Zombieland” movies, and to teens who enjoy other female-led supernatural Scooby gang shows like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” Also add Girls Save the World in This One to the growing subgenre of YA fan convention lit, which includes titles like The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love, Queens of Geek, Geekerella, and Ship It.
Parachutes by Kelly Yang
Katherine Tegan Books / HarperCollins
Publication Date: May 26, 2020
Parachutes are teenagers dropped off to live in private homes and study in the United States while their wealthy parents remain in Asia. Claire Wang grew up in the privileged society of Shanghai until her parents decided to send her to attend school in California. Dani De La Cruz is a scholarship student who works as a maid cleaning the houses of her rich classmates. The two are forced into living together after Dani’s mom rents out one of their rooms to host Claire. Even though they live together and attend the same school, each is set on her own path to their ultimate idea of happiness, not realizing how much their experiences of friendship, family, relationships, and trauma overlap.
This is contemporary realistic fiction focusing on immigrant students drawing from Kelly Yang’s own experiences and research. The narrative alternates between Claire and Dani, giving readers a look into how people cope differently to similar or shared experiences. It’s issue-oriented and highlights wealth dynamics, family, and sexual assault/harassment. The story is fast-paced, bittersweet, and thought-provoking.
This is a good pick to add to other YA #MeToo titles like E.K. Johnston’s Exit, Pursued by a Bear or Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak. Fans of the lavish world and complicated families in Gossip Girl or Crazy Rich Asians will be interested in the lives of parachutes.