Discover more from Overthinker
Every YA novel by an Asian Australian author coming out in 2023
Monsters, video games and love stories
There are so many excellent young adult novels written by Asian Australian authors and I’m always on the lookout for new ones.
I have scoured the internet to identify every YA novel by an Asian Australian author coming out from a traditional publisher in 2023.
Two Can Play That Game by Leanne Yong
Release Date: 31 January 2023
Sam Khoo has one goal in life: create cool indie games. She's willing to do anything to make her dream come true – even throw away a scholarship to university. All she needs is a super-rare ticket to a game design workshop and she can kickstart her career.
So when Jaysen Chua, otherwise known as Jerky McJerkface, sneakily grabs the last ticket for himself, Sam is left with no choice. It's war. Knowing all too well how their Australian-Malaysian community works, she issues him an ultimatum: put the ticket on the line in a 1v1 competition of classic video games, or she'll broadcast his duplicity to everyone. Thank you, Asian Gossip Network.
Meeting in neutral locations, away from the eyes and ears of nosy aunties and uncles, Sam and Jay connect despite themselves. It's a puzzle that Sam's not sure she wants to solve. But when her dream is under threat, will she discover that there is more than one way to win?
Two Can Play That Game was hot off the press to start 2023 and is already in bookstores waiting to be read! I am so excited to pick up my copy of this exciting debut. I think there is a real lack of Southeast Asian voices in Australian YA and I was so thrilled when Allen & Unwin announced that they were publishing Yong’s book.
This Time It’s Real by Ann Liang
Release Date: 7 February 2023
When seventeen-year-old Eliza Lin’s essay about meeting the love of her life unexpectedly goes viral, her entire life changes overnight. Now she has the approval of her classmates at her new international school in Beijing, a career-launching internship opportunity at her favorite magazine…and a massive secret to keep.
Eliza made her essay up. She’s never been in a relationship before, let alone in love. All good writing is lying, right?
Desperate to hide the truth, Eliza strikes a deal with the famous actor in her class, the charming but aloof Caz Song. She’ll help him write his college applications if he poses as her boyfriend. Caz is a dream boyfriend – he passes handwritten notes to her in class, makes her little sister laugh, and takes her out on motorcycle rides to the best snack stalls around the city.
But when her relationship with Caz starts feeling a little too convincing, all of Eliza’s carefully laid plans are threatened. Can she still follow her dreams if it means breaking her own heart?
The premise of This Time It’s Real sounds like so much fun. I love fake dating. I love the resistance against the practice that teenagers should be expected to write intensely personal essays about their lives for their classmates and teachers to read. This is Liang’s second novel, following If You Could See the Sun which came out last year.
The Spider and Her Demons by sydney khoo
Release Date: 15 August 2023
Between surviving high school and working at her aunt’s dumpling shop, all Zhi wants is to find time for her friends… and make sure no one finds out she’s half spider-demon. But when she accidentally kills and eats a man in front of the most popular girl in school, she discovers she might not be the scariest thing in the shadows.
The Spider and Her Demons is khoo’s debut YA novel and the premise of a second-generation immigrant coming of age story with an urban fantasy twist sounds so intriguing. I can’t wait to read it! Following Yong’s book, I’m so pleased to add another Southeast Asian story to this list.
Never a Hero by Vanessa Len
Release Date: 29 August 2023
This is the second book in Len’s ‘Monsters’ trilogy and the sequel to Only a Monster so read the blurb at your own risk!
Despite all of the odds, Joan achieved the impossible. She reset the timeline, saved her family – and destroyed the hero, Nick.
But her success has come at a terrible cost. She alone remembers what happened. Now, Aaron, her hard-won friend – and maybe more – is an enemy, trying to kill her. And Nick, the boy she loved, is a stranger who doesn’t even know her name. Only Joan remembers that there is a ruthless and dangerous enemy still out there.
When a deadly attack forces Joan back into the monster world as a fugitive, she finds herself on the run with Nick – as Aaron closes in. As the danger rises – and Nick gets perilously closer to discovering the truth of what Joan did to him – Joan discovers a secret of her own. One that threatens everyone she loves.
Torn between love and family and monstrous choices, Joan must find a way to re-gather her old allies to face down the deadliest of enemies, and to save the timeline itself.
I just recently finished the first book in Len’s ‘Monsters’ trilogy and I am absolutely dying to read the sequel! I can’t wait to learn more about Joan and her universe. It’s currently slated for release in the UK on 8 June 2023 and the US on 29 August 2023 so I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’ll get it in Australia around the same time.
And… that’s it!
These are the four novels I’ve found so far.
There is also An Unexpected Party, a YA anthology of short stories by emerging LGBTQIA+ writers, coming out later this year and includes stories by Lian Low and Lin Blythe.
Update July 2023: Added The Spider and Her Demons to the list and included the release date for Never a Hero.