Best books I read in 2020 part two | Relatable AIs, a non-binary space hero, and a trans love story

Helloooo my lovely lemons! How have you been? I hope you had a wonderful Christmas (if you celebrate it) and that you were blessed with many books to entertain you throughout the new year. I’m back with the second half of my ‘best books of the year’ list! If you haven’t seen the first half, go check it out! It’s got sapphic fantasy, a bisexual superhero, and a series that made me cry. At the sake of my own dignity I even shared photographic evidence of me bawling over a book. You don’t want to miss it. πŸ˜‚

This list though – it could just be because I read these more recently, but I really feel like it’s even better. I’m calling 2020 the year I finally figured out that sci-fi is my favourite genre, and two of the books on this list are really up there as the best sci-fi I’ve ever read. Not to mention this list just happens to contain the story that I think wins above all others, that I have crowned my number one Best Book of 2020.

Are you ready to dive in? Here’s my little code for important information about each book:

🌈 LGBTQ+ rep
πŸ“¬ 2020 release
πŸ—£οΈ OwnVoices
πŸ“š Part of a series
πŸ‘‘ Best book of the year

The First Sister by Linden A. Lewis (Trilogy #1) πŸŒˆπŸ“¬πŸ—£οΈπŸ“š I actually got invited to read an ARC of this on NetGalley, something which has never happened to me before. The email only had to say non-binary space hero and I was sold. But I was not expecting the way this book amazed me, wrecked me, shocked me, broke my heart. It’s the most diverse sci-fi I’ve read to date, and also the most emotional. As the blurb puts it “this epic space opera follows a comfort woman as she claims her agency, a soldier questioning his allegiances, and a non-binary hero out to save the solar system.” It does have quite a few trigger warnings, which are all in my full review here.

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton πŸ“¬ This is another book I was lucky enough to get as an ARC! Stuart Turton was the author of one of my favourite books of 2018, so when I found out he was releasing a new one I wanted it as early as possible. Now, I’m not a mystery reader in any sense, but Turton really can write, and his books are definitely outside the scope of your standard mystery novel. Take a detective duo, put them on a ship at sea where passengers are being hunted by a devil (is it really a devil?), then put the “Sherlock” in chains, leaving the “Watson” to unravel the mystery alone. Sound good? It is.

Cemtery Boys by Aiden Thomas πŸŒˆπŸ“¬πŸ—£οΈπŸ‘‘ 2020 has been a year of great books, but this is the best of them. Seriously, this story was PERFECT. I’m utterly in love with Aiden Thomas and the story they created. The plot, the characters, the representation, everything was so spot-on. Entertaining, emotional, romantic, beautiful, vibrant, inspirational, groundbreaking, heartwarming, powerful… I could keep going forever just spouting words that describe this book. I listened to the audiobook, which I highly recommend doing if you get the chance. The voice acting is spot-on.

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam πŸ“¬πŸ—£οΈ So 2020 turned out the also be the year I discovered my love for novels in verse. I’ve slowly been growing to like poetry over the years (after a terrible experience with it throughout high school) and this felt like a very natural next step. It’s a very emotional storytelling medium, and this novel and the heartbreaking story of institutionalised racism it tells was like a punch in the gut. Knowing it was inspired by the real life experiences of one of the authors was even worse. If you can, I really encourage you to learn about Yusef Salaam and The Exonerated Five. This was a hard read, but a vital one. I certainly won’t forget it.

Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills | So, this is quite a change in tone. This was, without a doubt, the sweetest, warmest, funniest contemporary I read all year. The banter is absolutely spot-on, and all the interactions between characters feel so realistic. There’s a cute romance, best friends, summer plans, and all the lovely coming-of-age tropes you expect from a book like this. This was my first time reading something by Emma Mills, and it definitely won’t be the last.

All Systems Red & Artificial Condition by Martha Wells (The Murderbot Diaries #1 & #2) πŸŒˆπŸ“š I had actually never even heard of this series until I came across it on BookRiot’s Best of 2020 list. That list came at the right time for me, as I these are only short novellas so I decided to put the first audiobook on while wrapping Christmas presents. Well, I’ve been obsessed ever since. I adore the “grumpy AI in space” trope, and this is the best example of it I’ve ever read. It’s silly, and short, and oh-so-relatable. I really can’t sell it any better than the copywriter in charge of this brilliant blurb, so here you go:

You know that feeling when you’re at work, and you’ve had enough of people, and then the boss walks in with yet another job that needs to be done right this second or the world will end, but all you want to do is go home and binge your favorite shows? And you’re a sentient murder machine programmed for destruction? Congratulations, you’re Murderbot.

Come for the pew-pew space battles, stay for the most relatable A.I. you’ll read this century.

Okay lil’ lemons, that officially concludes my Best Books of 2020! If you haven’t read part one yet, go check it out. What were your favourite books you read in 2020? I’d love to hear in the comments, and if you’ve done a whole post then drop me a link! Have a wonderful day, and happy reading!

Side note: This post was supposed to be published while it was still December, so look out for my actual New Year post coming soon. (But since I’m late, happy new year!)

Love and lemons, Abi

14 thoughts on “Best books I read in 2020 part two | Relatable AIs, a non-binary space hero, and a trans love story

  1. Hooray for figuring out your favorite genre! πŸ˜€ The First Sister is on my TBR thanks to you, and I’m very excited to pick it up (hopefully this year)! I also really need to read Murderbot because it seems like everyone who reads it loves it ☺ I’m so glad you were able to find so many incredible books in 2020, Abi, and I hope you find many more in 2021!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah! I always thought fantasy was my favourite but I really noticed this year that sci-fi is what I gravitate towards. Ooooh, exciting! I love hearing that someone wants to read a book I recommended, so I hope it lives up to my hype for you! πŸ˜„

      Murderbot is just really good fun, truly the snarkiest character I’ve ever read (and I loooove snarky characters). Thank you, I hope 2021 brings you lots of new favourites as well! ❀


  2. I had previously read Turton’s first book and I really enjoyed it but still being scared of mystery I was sceptic about picking up his next book but you have definitely convinced me I need to get to it. I mean the use of the devil in a mystery is immediately interesting on its own. I think my library has it as well so that’s perfect.
    I’m so excited to read Cemetery Boys and I’m hoping to do it soon. I’ve heard a lot of good things and I’m glad to see it on your list too.
    I really loved checking this list out and hearing all your thoughts !! thank you for sharing πŸ’•

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you enjoyed his first book I think you’ll definitely like this one! I also usually avoid mysteries but I picked this one up purely for the author and found myself really invested in it. The devil plot definitely had me hooked because I really couldn’t tell what was real and what wasn’t.

      Cemetery Boys is sooo good, I really hope you read it! Glad you enjoyed the post!! πŸ˜„β€

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I still haven’t read Stuart Turton’s first book although I’ve been meaning to for ages πŸ˜‚ Your review of the Devil and the Dark Water makes it sound really good but I think I need to finally read 7 1/2 deaths first (finally). The murder bot diaries sound like a right laugh though so they’re definitely being added to the TBR after I loved AIDAN in illuminae so much!
    Glad you found your passion for sci-fi because honestly I need more recs! πŸ˜† I’ve got the disasters lined up which has been on my TBR for ages & I finally knuckled down & got it for christmas but I hardly read any otherwise, I have to admit it’s a bit of an intimidating genre ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you’re thinking about reading Turton I’d definitely say go for Seven Deaths first, it’s got a really cool plot with the body-swapping and day-repeating thing going on. It’s mega confusing but in a good way πŸ˜‚

      Murderbot Diaries are SUCH a laugh, it’s like a way more antisocial version of AIDAN who just wants to watch TV shows and be left alone but keeps being dragged into protecting idiot humans from getting themselves killed.

      The Disasters is a lot of fun, so I hope you enjoy it! If you find the genre intimidating I’d probably recommend YA sci-fi first, but I think Murderbot is also good! They’re only novellas so they’re quick to read and don’t involve much world building. πŸ‘

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Famous in a Small Town made me so happy too!!!! it’s not my favorite Emma Mills (that’s saved for “this adventure ends”) but it’s still adorable. Emma Mills’ writing style makes me feel at home ❀

    Liked by 1 person

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