The Most Anticipated Books of 2021

Posted by Cybil on January 1, 2021
big books of spring 2020

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 will be long remembered as a Dumpster fire of a year. But the nice thing about time is that it keeps moving forward. For those of us with a serious reading habit, the new year means that a flotilla of new books is just now coming round the bend. Jane Harper! Kazuo Ishiguro! Walter Isaacson! Angie Thomas! And that’s just the beginning…
 
At the end of each calendar year, the Goodreads Editorial team takes a look at the upcoming books that are being published in the U.S. We also track early reviews and crunch the numbers on how many readers are adding these books to their Want to Read shelves. All of that information ultimately fuels our curated list of the Most Anticipated new releases of the coming year.
 
Be sure to add anything that catches your eye to your Want to Read shelf, and let us know what you're reading and recommending in the comments.
 
FICTION


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Recently divorced therapist Tallie Clark is driving home from work one night when she spots a man, Emmett, about to jump to his death from the side of a bridge. When Tallie interrupts the would-be suicide, she doesn’t yet know that the encounter will change both of their lives forever. Author Leesa Cross-Smith (Whiskey & Ribbons) shares a powerful story about one random act of kindness.

Release date: February 2


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From the author of The Nightingale and The Great Alone, Kristin Hannah’s The Four Winds brings readers back to America’s days of true desperation—the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl era. The book follows one woman’s fate in the winds of change. Those in the market for top-shelf historical fiction will want to keep a bookmark handy for this one.

Release date: February 2


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In Paris, 1939, young Odile Souchet is enjoying her dream job at the American Library in Paris. But when the Nazis roll in, things get real dark, real fast. Odile and her fellow librarians join the Resistance. Forty-some years later, a lonely teenager in Montana befriends her elderly neighbor, who has a story to tell.

Release date: February 9


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In the publishing world of 2021, it’s safe to say that The Committed is Kind of a Big Deal. Nguyen’s debut novel, The Sympathizer, won a Pulitzer Prize, along with a dozen other major literary awards, and Nguyen is widely acknowledged as a major new voice. This follow-up novel is billed as a “literary thriller” and tracks the anonymous narrator of the first book, now a refugee in Paris.

Release date: March 2


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Serious fans of WWII thrillers will want to crack The Rose Code, which follows three women from Britain’s famed Bletchley Park, where Allied code breakers thwarted the Nazis with superior brainpower. Reunited after the war, the three women must collaborate again to fight off a deadly traitor from their covert espionage days. Author Kate Quinn (The Huntress, The Alice Network) is a marquee name in this realm of historical fiction.

Release date: March 9


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Set in the fictional African village of Kosawa, this wrenching novel from author Imbolo Mbue (Behold the Dreamers) details the seemingly hopeless struggle of poor villagers against an enormous and rapacious American oil company. With their farmlands ruined and their children poisoned, the people of Kosawa decide to fight back the only way they can. It’s a struggle that will last for decades.

Release date: March 9


 
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In a sprawling narrative that spans 19th-century Cuban cigar factories and modern-day ICE detention centers in Miami, Gabriela Garcia’s debut novel follows several generations of women within and around the Cuban diaspora. The youngest of the women, Jeanette, must navigate the future and the past in a story about mothers and daughters, community and displacement, people and poisons.

Release date: April 6


   
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Ever been to one of those parties that gets seriously out of control? Yeah, that’s what’s about to happen to the wealthy and troubled Riva family, whose annual end-of-summer party is the talk of Malibu in the long, hot August of 1983. Nina, surfer and supermodel, has just been publicly dumped by her famous tennis pro husband. Her various siblings are about to introduce still more drama. Just add alcohol and mix…

Release date: June 1


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This highly anticipated debut thriller is described as a cross between Get Out meets The Devil Wears Prada, and that sounds pretty good, right? Twenty-six-year-old Nella Rogers is sick of being the only Black employee at her publishing house. So she’s happy when newcomer Hazel joins the team. She’s less happy when the threatening notes appear. And she’s entirely unhappy when the real nightmare begins.

Release date: June 1


MYSTERY & THRILLER


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An inspired riff on the gothic classic Jane Eyre, Rachel Hawkins’ twisty update moves the action to a creepy One Percenter hive in the gated communities of the new South. Poor Jane keeps busy by walking the dogs and occasionally lifting the jewelry of her wealthy clients. Enter Eddie Rochester, a widower whose wife died under dubious circumstances. Or did she? Troubletown!

Release date: January 5


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Dedicated mystery fans can tell you: Australian writer Jane Harper (The Dry, The Lost Man) is ridiculously good at what she does. Her books elevate the whodunit to another level entirely. Details are scant as of yet with her latest mystery, The Survivors, but apparently we can expect the following: a missing brother, a body on the beach, a sunken wreck, and the sudden disclosure of several long-held secrets. That’ll do nicely.  

Release date: February 2


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In recent years, the true-crime genre has exploded in popularity–films, podcasts, TV shows. Alex Finlay’s new psychological thriller explores the collateral damage of all the cultural ghoulishness. NYU student Matt Pine has returned home to bury his family, previously traumatized by a true-crime doc on his imprisoned brother Danny. Now the media is in a frenzy and Matt’s own life is on the line.

Release date: March 2


 
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From the author of The Mother-In-Law comes another familial thriller about the ties that bind…and cut and tear. Rose and Fern seem as close as sisters can be. But years ago, Fern did something Very Bad, and sister Rose has never told a soul. Complicating matters, the sisters’ mom had a streak of true madness in her. Family drama, right? It’s a killer.  

Release date: April 13


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Details are scarce on the new novel from Alex Michaelides, author of last year’s massively successful The Silent Patient, winner of the 2019 Goodreads Choice Award for Mystery & Thriller. But expectations are high. Michaelides’ debut was a critical and commercial smash, the bestselling debut novel of the year by some metrics. No pressure, though, Alex. You do you.

Release date: June 1


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The new thriller from pseudonymous superstar Riley Sager (Final Girls), Survive the Night is set in the early 1990s, back before smartphones could resolve plot points instantly. College student Charlie Jordan is sharing a ride back to Ohio with a guy who may or may not be a serial killer. Calling for help would require a pay phone. Running away would require a cruising speed less than 55 mph. It’s a pickle, all right.

Release date: July 6


FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION

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Nnedi Okorafor is one of the brightest stars in the sci-fi skyline, winner of the most coveted awards in the business. So when Okorafor drops a new book, it’s a good day. Advance details on Remote Control are hard to come by, but that’s OK. It’s usually best to go fresh into Okarafor’s worlds, anyway. We do have one clue: The book features the adopted daughter of the Angel of Death. Sold!

Release date: January 19


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Recommended for fans of Big Little Lies, Killing Eve, and, um, Westworld, Sarah Gailey’s frankly bananas new story poses a question: What would you do if your husband were having an affair with a clone? Important detail: What if the clone was a replica of you? It conjures some complicated feelings, doesn’t it? This is why science fiction is the best.

Release date: February 16


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Nobel laureate and Booker Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro (Never Let Me Go, The Remains of the Day) returns to science fiction with some big questions on his mind. Advance word is that Klara and the Sun features mystery and suspense elements and engages some of the more difficult ethical issues concerning artificial intelligence. What is life? What is love? What is real?

Release date: March 2


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Author Jeff VanderMeer (Annihilation) has staked out a unique chunk of territory in the literary world with his hyper-imaginative brand of weird fiction and ecological sci-fi. Hummingbird Salamander is being billed as a “speculative thriller” concerning climate change and endangered species, but with the added bonus of VanderMeer’s restless imagination. Expect twists, turns, conspiracies, mysteries, and taxidermy.

Release date: April 6


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How great does this sound? Andy Weir, author of The Martian, returns to space with the story of a last-ditch, fat-chance effort to save Earth from an extinction-level event. Astronaut Ryland Grace is on his own, millions of miles from home, having just awoken from a looong cryogenic sleep. Using a patchwork spaceship, two corpses, and his very fuzzy memory, he’s going to have to improvise...

Release date: May 4


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Set in the Jazz Age milieu of 1920s New York City, Nghi Vo’s novel transposes The Great Gatsby into new realms of alternate history, fantasy, and practical magic. Jordan Baker is rich, beautiful, and connected. She’s also Asian, queer, and largely dismissed by her social circles. Rethinking F. Scott Fitzgerald is a crazy, bold flex, and early reviews on this one are absolutely ecstatic.

Release date: June 1


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“When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead.” That’s a pretty good teaser and a quick glimpse of T.J. Klune’s warm, wry, and quirky approach to fantasy storytelling. A tale of grief and hope, Under the Whispering Door features a reluctant dead man, a curious romance, a mysterious ferryboat ride, and a powerful being called The Manager.

Release date: September 21





 
NONFICTION


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Maybe the year’s most intriguing autobiography, Michael Leviton’s book details his unusual childhood in a family that demanded absolute honesty in all things. As such, Leviton never learned to tell those little lies—in job interviews, on dates—and the consequences tended to be severe. By the time he was 29 years old, Leviton had told exactly three lies in his entire life. Is honesty always the best policy?

Release date: January 5


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Mixing personal memoir with cultural history and contemporary resonance, Nadia Owusu’s autobiographical coming-of-age story is a singular kind of book. Abandoned by her mother when she was a toddler, Owusu traveled with her father all over the world—Rome, London, Kampala. Then her father died when she was just 13. Owusu’s achingly honest memoir traces the fault lines of emotional trauma into adulthood.

Release date: January 12


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There’s a certain undeniable timeliness to the topic at hand in Think Again, the new book from author and organizational psychologist Adam M. Grant. The quick gist: Rethinking long-held opinions is a good habit to adopt in a world that moves as fast as ours does. Holding on too tightly to old ideas can lead to real trouble, on both personal and societal levels. Think Again is a book about the benefit of doubt.   

Release date: February 2


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Biochemist Jennifer Doudna and her collaborators pioneered the world-changing genetic engineering technology known as CRISPR, which opens up an entirely new universe of medical miracles—and serious ethical questions. Biographer Walter Isaacson, author of previous tomes on Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, and Steve Jobs, turns his gaze to the world of life science and 21st-century genetics.

Release date: March 9


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This harrowing true-crime narrative tells the story of the Last Call Killer, a vicious psychopath who preyed upon gay men in New York City in the 1980s and 1990s. At the time, the murders were largely overlooked amid the chaos of NYC’s crime rates and the AIDS epidemic. Author and journalist Elon Green details the decades-long chase to find the killer.

Release date: March 9


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Author Judy Batalion—the granddaughter of Polish Holocaust survivors—uncovers the lost stories of courageous Jewish women who fought their own guerrilla war against the Nazi regime in World War II. The so-called ghetto girls ambushed Gestapo officers and bombed German trains while at the same time caring for the sick and spiriting refugees out of danger. Batalion’s book was recently optioned by Steven Spielberg for a motion picture adaptation.

Release date: April 6 


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This collection of autobiographical essays and remembrances promises to be one of the most flat-out fascinating memoirs of the year. Author Lauren Hough was raised in the infamous Children of God cult, which took her from Germany to Ecuador, Japan to Texas. Breaking free of the cult was just the beginning. Frank, courageous, and often very funny, Hough’s book details “notions of ecstasy, queerness, and what it means to live freely.”

Release date: April 13


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Michelle Zauner, leader of the experimental indie pop project known as Japanese Breakfast, looks back on her upbringing as a Korean American kid trying to find her way in the ever-changing rhythms of the 21st century. Zauner’s incredible story details the heartbreak of losing her mom to cancer and subsequent explorations into her Korean heritage—and especially Korean food.

Release date: April 20 




 
YOUNG ADULT


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When reluctant drug dealer Maverick Carter discovers that he’s going to be a father, he tries making a break for the straight life. But walking away from the street isn’t as simple as it appears. Author and former teenage rapper Angie Thomas (The Hate U Give) is back with another story set in her Garden Heights neighborhood.

Release date: January 12


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From the author of the 2019 Edgar Award winner Sadie, this buzzy YA thriller spotlights rookie journalist Lo Denham and her efforts to uncover the truth about a dangerous religious cult. The tricky part: Lo grew up in the cult herself, and now the group’s dangerous leader has Lo—and her sister—back on his radar. Kirkus calls it "a powerful, suspenseful, and heartbreaking thriller about identity, sisterhood, and belonging."

Release date: February 2


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The Gilded Ones is the first book in a new fantasy series steeped in the legends and lore of West Africa. Sixteen-year-old Deka is preparing for solemn blood ceremony, which will determine her fate in the village. But when her blood runs gold, instead of red, a mysterious woman appears to offer her a life-altering choice. Author Namina Forna’s debut is recommended for fans of Children of Blood and Bone and Black Panther.

Release date: February 9


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From the celebrated author of Ninth House—winner of a 2019 Goodreads Choice AwardRule of Wolves returns readers to the land of Fjerda, where a king, a general, and a spy must work together to forge a new future. Bonus trivia: Several of author Leigh Bardugo’s previous works have already been optioned for film and TV. Check your local listings.

Release date: March 30



 
ROMANCE


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What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Except sometimes it doesn’t. Morgan RogersHoney Girl follows the odd adventure of astronomist and overachiever Grace Porter, who is definitely not the type to get drunk in Vegas and wind up married. Unfortunately, that’s just what she did. The upside: Grace’s new wife, Yuki Yamamoto, is kind and beautiful. Whew!
 
Release date: February 23


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Fans of Talia Hibbert’s series The Brown Sisters will be happy to hear a new story is en route, this one dedicated to Eve—invariably described as the flightiest of the sisters. The good news: Eve has found a guy. The bad news: She just hit him with her car. The weird news: He’s now her boss. It is kind of romantic, when you think about it.

Release date: March 9


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Here’s an interesting new twist on the romance thread: Author Casey McQuiston’s One Last Stop is being billed as “a queer spin on Kate & Leopold” and features a 23-year-old woman who discovers that her subway crush is displaced in time from 1970s Brooklyn. Finding love is hard enough without breaches in the time-space continuum. Why must there always be these complications?

Release date: June 1


 
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Author Helen Hoang has found remarkable success with her series The Kiss Quotient, which draws in part from the author’s own experience with autism spectrum disorder. This third installment of the series focuses on young Anna Sun, who gets the feels for business CEO Quan Diep, even as she struggles to accommodate her OCD tendencies. Love! There’s just no stopping it.

Release date: August 17


Which books are you most excited to read this season? Let us know in the comments!

Check out more recent articles, including:
36 of the Most Anticipated Mysteries and Thrillers of 2021
45 of the Most Anticipated Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novels of 2021
Meet 33 of 2021's Hottest Romances

Comments Showing 1-50 of 165 (165 new)


message 1: by Lana (new)

Lana My most anticipated releases for 2021 are Malibu Rising and Concrete Rose.


message 2: by Eva (new)

Eva I totally want to read The Project by Courtney Summers!


message 3: by SAM (new)

SAM The doors of stone? Lol


message 4: by SAM (new)

SAM The winds of winter? Bigger lol


message 5: by Eliza (new)

Eliza (view spoiler)


Sarah the Owl House Fangirl Eliza wrote: "[spoilers removed]"

Okay!


message 7: by Katie (new)

Katie I can’t wait for Endgame, the 6th and final book in the Noughts and Crosses series by Malorie Blackman. I’ve just read them and the 5th book ends with such a cliffhanger!


message 8: by Ted (new)

Ted Goldbergh My most anticipated thriller is Saving Grace by Debbie Babitt. An astonishing debut novel. Pub date March 16, 2021 by Scarlet.


message 9: by Jacob (new)

Jacob Liston No science books? Really?


message 10: by Uriel (new)

Uriel Aceves SAM wrote: "The doors of stone? Lol"

Hahahaha not on this life


message 11: by AMI (new)

AMI Very Interesting


🤎 Shawn Hunter 🤎 The Other Black Girl cover is sooo B E A U T I F U L


message 13: by Raymond (new)

Raymond Crane My two part novel, bigger, better new, due for release 2021, N/A romance. Enjoy? R


message 14: by Elentarri (new)

Elentarri Jacob wrote: "No science books? Really?"
There are never science books. When they do put something vaguely science on the lists, it is usually a history of something science related rather than an actual science book.


message 15: by A (new)

A SAM wrote: "The winds of winter? Bigger lol"R HILARIOUS!!!


message 16: by Mehrzad (new)

Mehrzad M. Elentarri wrote: "Jacob wrote: "No science books? Really?"
There are never science books. When they do put something vaguely science on the lists, it is usually a history of something science related rather than an ..."


Waiting for Noise by Daniel Kahneman and Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson here.


message 17: by Minx (new)

Minx Laura Eva wrote: "I totally want to read The Project by Courtney Summers!"

me too !! : )


message 18: by Abhay (new)

Abhay Verma The wisdom of crowds maybe? It's incredible how under rated Joe Abercrombie is after releasing the best fantasy books with such consistency


message 19: by Sophia (new)

Sophia Nash Mine would be rule of wolves and a court of silver flames


message 20: by Holly (last edited Jan 04, 2021 05:37AM) (new)

Holly SAM wrote: "The winds of winter? Bigger lol"

I remember when I was dying to read that book. These days I don't care, too many years have passed and I'm no longer interested.


message 22: by Deirdre (new)

Deirdre Lohrmann damn... no science fiction?


message 23: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine I'm looking forward to Return of the Trickster.


message 24: by Thaizi (last edited Jan 04, 2021 06:21AM) (new)

Thaizi Definetly Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro, one of my favorite authors.
"What is life? What is love? What is real?" - Three questions that make me really want to read this book ;).


message 25: by Anna (new)

Anna I'm most excited for Concrete Rose and Not Your Hero by C.B. Lee. :D - But now that I've seen all of this list I'm getting excited for others.


message 26: by Reuben (new)

Reuben Wood i like books :)


message 27: by Kendall Moore (new)

Kendall Moore A Court of Silver Flames? Kingdom of Shadow and Light?


message 28: by sunnysidereviews (new)

sunnysidereviews The Project looks pretty good!


message 29: by Laura (new)

Laura Giuffrida I will repeat what Jacob Liston said: " no science books? Really?"


message 30: by Steffi (new)

Steffi I can't wait for Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells. 💕


message 31: by Alfred (new)

Alfred Weber There are many books on here I put in my TBR list (as if I needed to add more).


message 32: by Judith (new)

Judith Suz wrote: "If by "this season" you mean "winter" then


January Date unknown
Love Code by Ann Aquirre (#2 Galactic Love)

Jan 5
Persephone Station by Stina Leicht

Jan 12
Blood Heir by Ilona Andrews (#1 Aure..."


I prefer your list too.


message 33: by Parth (new)

Parth Kulkarni SAM wrote: "The doors of stone? Lol"

probably I the year 2100


☘Amanda☘ (shelf-righteous bibliophile) A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas


message 35: by Isabella (new)

Isabella Die verschwundene Schwester: Roman (Die sieben Schwestern, Band 7) von Lucinda Riley


message 36: by maddie (new)

maddie todd i’m super excited for one last stop, and once i read king of scars, i bet i’ll be excited for rule of wolves!


message 37: by Apryl (new)

Apryl Sarah Sundin’s When Twilight Breaks!


message 38: by Cortana (new)

Cortana Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare
A court of Silver Flames by SJM
???????????????????????????????????????


message 39: by Mikorin (new)

Mikorin I am holding my breath for

The Adventure Zone The Crystal Kingdom by Clint McElroy
& Mister Impossible (Dreamer Trilogy, #2) by Maggie Stiefvater


message 40: by Ariel (new)

Ariel What about a Vow So bold and deadly??


message 41: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Ha


message 42: by Rat (new)

Rat I'm excited for Detransition, Baby!!!!


message 43: by Tahlea (new)

Tahlea Hummingbird Salamander has caught my eye... and now I count down the days until April 6!


message 44: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Everytime a book on this list is set in World War 2, drink. Wait, don't do it, you'll die.


message 45: by On (new)

On A Sarah j maas book?


message 46: by Debbie (new)

Debbie I'm looking forward to Jenny Lawson's new release coming out in April. Broken (In the Best Possible Way) by Jenny Lawson


Nahal (nahalreads) SAM wrote: "The doors of stone? Lol"

I don't think that's been confirmed to come out this year yet


message 48: by Raven (new)

Raven I know it's not on this list but is anyone else waiting for "The Betrayed" to come out on November 12th? As for me, I'm ecstatic about the 2nd book of "The Betrothed" series coming out.


message 49: by Terri (new)

Terri Go Tell the Bees That I am Gone - diana gabaldon, please!


message 50: by Viktorija (new)

Viktorija B. Leviathan Falls by James S. A. Corey for sci-fi for me! Very very excited. Leviathan Falls


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