2020 is the fourth novel from teenage author, Ben Spies.
Ben was the bronze medal winner at the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards for the best book by youth author with his book The World of Greek Mythology.
If you like heart-pounding action, high-stakes drama, and all things alien and sci-fi, you’ll love Ben’s new book.
Review by William McGinn for Reedsy Discovery
The kind of books I liked to read when I was a child and preteen were fast-paced, not too overbearingly long or complicated, and had a story driven by relatable emotion. That’s exactly what 2020 is, sprinkled with some extra surprises along the way.
Unironically, this title is also the coronavirus commencement year, and for the first few weeks when it hit where I live, I wondered if the world was coming to an end, if this was the year I’d die, and what sort of people we’d become as the apocalypse hit. If the virus were much deadlier, or, even better, if the planet were to crash into the sun as it’s to do so in this book, I completely bought the attitude of the bad guys and their army of looters and conspiracy theory followers. (That isn’t to say I was rooting for them or anything.)
The story is also extremely convincing. Climate change is something we are aware of, but our whole way of life is built around trashing the planet and there isn’t the joined motivation from world leaders to properly tackle it, and enough “leaders” fight against it for profit. Plus there are loads of secrets out there in the world and loads of possibilities humans aren’t ready for. And the possibility of aliens from space brings in the complete unknown, and a lot of people are too terrified of what they don’t understand to give an honest, non-violent look.
Susan and Jacob are terrific main characters. What I like so much about Jacob is he has a good balance between little kid and apocalypse survivor, slowly but willingly accepting the fact his world has shattered and he has to stay strong, like Chihiro from Spirited Away. Susan is devoted, careful and honest, who may even make kids respect their parents a little more. Spies wrote this book without an exact protagonist, giving a feeling any of them could die. Not only did that keep me on my feet, but the book twists itself when we fully expect a death to happen by playing to certain norms.
Ben Spies is a fresh new author who has real intelligence and passion about the world. He deserves to go far.
2020 review from Hannah Richards, age 12 and student at Marlborough Girl’s College, for Hooked on Books
2020, a young adult science fiction book by Ben Spies, is about the journey of a mother and her son around the world.
Jacob and Susan are the main characters. Jacob is a very sweet, sometimes shy, nice boy with a very smart attitude. I found him easy to relate to, with his calm but bubbly personality. Susan is a very smart and independent lady with a very strong personality.
Susan is high up in the space organisation NASA when the US President tells the world that it only has a few months left to live. The people in Florida do not take it well. The whole world starts to riot and nowhere is safe.
Susan and Jacob fly to the mythical Area Fifty One Base but they struggle along the way and it’s an unpredictable journey. Will they make it to the bunker? Will the plants live or will they all die instead? When an unsuspecting creature saves the day, will the people of the world accept the help?
I feel the aim of this book is to open our eyes to the things happening around the world, and that if we don’t start trying to improve our environment this is what could happen, except we may not be as lucky as Susan and Jacob were.
One thing I really liked about the book was the plot. It was fantastic, and all about adventure and our climate. 2020 is a very captivating story, with a twist that really hooks in the reader.
With the characters making changes to their lives and keeping each other safe and well, and helping each other to reach their final destination, I actually found this book quite inspirational.
2020 was a very good read. I found it exciting and captivating and it sends the reader a great message. I really feel like 2020 is a book that should be on your next to-read list.
Find the eBook edition of 2020 here and preview the book with the ‘look inside’ feature.
Meet Kiwi author Ben Spies
Ben Spies is a young author living on the beautiful Kapiti Coast.
Ben’s passion for writing led him to become a published author at the young age of nine with his first book, Weirdo. The Magic Pencil followed soon after at age ten, and The World of Greek Mythology at age eleven.
Find out more about Ben and how to contact him on his author profile.