There seems to be some discourse going on over on Twitter about YA SF and how it’s lacking. I’ve seen takes dissuading from trying to write and market it and I’ve seen takes urging writers to write it.
As some whose Book Baby is a YA SF story, some of these takes are quite disheartening, and on one hand, make me want to work on my book more than ever, but on the other, it’s hard not feeling disheartened. I want to go the traditional publishing route with this book – it’s kind of my dream, and to hear so many people in the industry issuing warnings…well, it doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence.
I know publishing is cyclical, and I’m not writing my WIP to any possible trends – I’ve been working on this story for 10 or so years now. But publishing is cyclical and eventually SF will flood the shelves again, so if you’re like me, and love SF – make sure you’re writing your book!
But in the meantime, there are a lot of good SF books already out. Most are more dystopian – i.e. The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Maze Runner, etc. – but there are a few that are more alien, space…more akin to Star Wars or Farscape.
So, I’ve done one of these posts before, I’ll link it – here – and now I’m going to give you 5 new SF recs that should be on your radar. Plus, there will be a bonus rec!
*These are in no particular order.
Article 5 Series – Kristen Simmons
Article 5 Synopsis:
New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.
The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.
There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don’t come back.
Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren’t always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it’s hard for her to forget that people weren’t always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It’s hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.
Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow.
That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings—the only boy Ember has ever loved.
If you were a fan of the OG’s, Hunger Games, Divergent, Maze Runner, Uglies – or even just a dystopia fan in general, you’ll definitely enjoy this trilogy. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve read it, but I remember being so happy that I had the whole trilogy, because I inhaled it. I didn’t care about schoolwork (I was in college at the time) I put it off just so I could read. And if you saw me around campus…well, sitting in the English Department on campus, I had one of the three books in my hand.
Unknown Trilogy – Wendy Higgins
Amber Tate believes the worst thing she’ll suffer in life is dealing with the unrequited love she feels for her brother’s best friend, Rylen Fite. She also believes war is something unfortunate that happens places far, far away from her rural Nevada town. She’s wrong on both counts.
When an unknown organization meticulously bombs major cities in the United States and across the globe, a trickle-down effect spreads to remaining towns at an alarming speed-everything from food and water sources to technology and communications are compromised. Without leadership, the nation is split between paralysis and panic, but Amber isn’t one to hide or watch helplessly. She’s determined to put her nursing skills to use, despite the danger, even if it means working alongside the man she can never have.
These are recent reads for me, and kind of reignited my need for SF. These aren’t YA, or at least they’re Upper YA, or New Adult. But they are so good, and kind of exactly what I needed to read. With so much fantasy out there – and it being the majority of what I read, these were like a breath of fresh air, and I fell back in love with SF and dystopian novels. So, if you’re a fan of Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Lux Series, then you’ll want to check this trilogy out.
Unearthed Duology – Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying’s advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.
For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study… as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don’t loot everything first. Mia and Jules’ different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.
In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race’s secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race…
I will read anything Amie and Meagan write – especially if it’s SF. Their Starbound Trilogy is one of my favorites, and this duology does not disappoint. Think, Lara Croft meets Indian Jones, but in space. Basically, these books were written for me. So, if you’re a fan of amazing SF, Amie and Meagan, then you’ll want to check this duology out.
Sky Chasers – Amy Kathleen Ryan
If a violent battle destroyed the only world you’ve ever known, would you be brave enough to save who was left? Would love be strong enough to survive the fight? Either way, there’s no turning back.
The Empyrean is the only home 15-year-old Waverly has ever known. Part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space, she and her boyfriend Kieran will be pioneers of New Earth. Waverly knows she must marry young in order to have children who can carry on the mission, and Kieran, the handsome captain-to-be, has everything Waverly could want in a husband. Everyone is sure he’s the best choice. Still, there’s a part of Waverly that wants more from life than marriage, and she is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.
Suddenly, Waverly’s dreams are interrupted by the inconceivable – a violent betrayal by the Empyrean’s sister ship, the New Horizon. The New Horizon’s leaders are desperate to populate the new planet first, and will do anything to get what they need: young girls. In one pivotal moment, Waverly and Kieran are separated, and find themselves at the helm of dangerous missions, where every move has potentially devastating consequences, and decisions of the heart may lead to disaster.
Now, it’s been basically forever since I read these books, but I do remember loving them – though not so much how the trilogy ended as a whole…maybe I shouldn’t be telling you that. This trilogy is pretty much everything I love in a SF, takes place in space, on a spaceship and drama. I wouldn’t be surprised if this trilogy, in some way, ignited my desire to write my own Space SF story. If you’re a fan of Stargate, or Farscape (which I really cannot recommend enough, seriously, watch it) then you’ll like this trilogy.
The Uglies Series – Scott Westerfeld
Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. In just a few weeks she’ll have the operation that will turn her from a repellent ugly into a stunning pretty. And as a pretty, she’ll be catapulted into a high-tech paradise where her only job is to have fun.
But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to become a pretty. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world– and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally a choice: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. Tally’s choice will change her world forever…
Let’s talk about OG YA SF. Wow, acronyms galore. Anyways, Uglies was probably my first true introduction into the YA genre as we would consider it today. I remember a family friend had read it, and enjoyed it, but thought I’d like it more. She was right! Again, it’s been a few years since I’ve read this series, and now with the new books, it might be time to revisit the original three books (I don’t touch the fourth one). These books should just be on your radar, because they’re that good. Go read them! Maybe one day we’ll get the Netflix series these books deserve.
And finally Bonus Rec time!
Whereas I’ve read all the books I’ve listed above, I haven’t actually read this trilogy yet. So, this Bonus Rec, is for me as much as it’s for you. It’s been on my TBR an embarrassingly long time, and simply because I don’t have a hardcover of the first book. I KNOW such a dumb reason to not have read this trilogy.
Partials Sequence – Dan Wells
Humanity is all but extinguished after a war with Partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island. But sixteen-year-old Kira is determined to find a solution. As she tries desperately to save what is left of her race, she discovers that that the survival of both humans and Partials rests in her attempts to answer questions about the war’s origin that she never knew to ask.
Playing on our curiosity of and fascination with the complete collapse of civilization, Partials is, at its heart, a story of survival, one that explores the individual narratives and complex relationships of those left behind, both humans and Partials alike—and of the way in which the concept of what is right and wrong in this world is greatly dependent on one’s own point of view.
Let me know what your favorite YA SF books are – I always need and want more in my life. I’m inundated with fantasy and I want more SF in my life.