DiscoverMiddle Grade



Loved it! 😍

Fun, tender-hearted, and eye-opening, kids will have a blast devouring this end-of-the-world caper.

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.

There are some moments of dialogue that feel too humorous during serious, usually deadly, situations, like Thew rambling about police department acronyms. There’s also sometimes too much sympathy shown for characters who I didn't feel deserve it. But it’s very clear that all in all, Ben Spies is a fresh new author who has real intelligence and passion about the world. He deserves to go far.

Reviewed by

I'm an entertainment critic from Canada. I've been blogging about movies of all genres and books of all shapes and sizes since 2014. Meanwhile, I'm also an aspiring author and actor, so you could say I have big dreams on both sides of the table. I really love the world of storytelling.

Susan Dawes

About the author

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. His fourth book and first science-fiction '2020', has just been published. view profile

Published on December 18, 2019

Published by

20000 words

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Middle Grade

Reviewed by