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Young Adult Sci-Fi Books

Many children might not be drawn to the complex narratives that sci-fi books often spin, so start small with young adult sci-fi books.

Young Adult Sci-Fi Books

Science fiction has been a favorite genre for a very loyal group of fans, old and new, for an incredibly long time. And while you may have started reading it young, many children might not be drawn to the complex narratives that sci-fi books often spin. So how can you best introduce your child to science fiction novels? By seeking out the best young adult sci-fi books for them to begin delving into the genre.

Written by Allyson Baithwaite Condie, Matched is one of the best and most unique young adult sci-fi books, telling a tale of romance in a dystopian universe.

The characters live in a society where young adults are matched with their partners for life at only seventeen years of age. The government controls the population directly, causing plenty of problems like food being utterly tasteless and distributed in rations. In a world where the government has all the say, the choice might just mean giving up perfection for control.

Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness is an incredibly unique story following a diplomat in a culture entirely foreign to his own. Genly Ai struggles immensely, negotiating Gethen’s joining of the Ekumen as he tries to understand this culture and life, one defying gender identity, or “ambisexual.”

While this is a fairly complex work, young adults who can tackle Guin’s universe will benefit greatly from it, learning and considering gender in a pivotal time to do so.

Neal Shusterman’s Unwind is a story particularly interesting and engaging in relation to stem cells in an evolving society.

Unwind tells the story of a post-war society in which parents can send children of the right age range to camps in order to be harvested. Beyond this, there are many other ways in which this society disposes and mistreats its children in an engaging and layered universe and populace around it. There are few young adult sci-fi books more relevant in relation to timing as the abortion debate continues to rage.

Have Space Suit – Will Travel is a novel from Robert A. Heinlein from all the way back in the late 1950s.

Despite its age, its quality keeps its spot as a pivotal piece of young adult science fiction and this story of disposable youth remains a pillar of the genre so many years later.

While Cinder was only Marissa Meyer’s debut, the novel and its ensuing series The Lunar Chronicles takes the Cinderella outline we all know and love to new heights (and mood-wise new lows) altogether.

In terms of young adult sci-fi books, Cinder is one of the newest entries to earn such a significant spot, but the novel has earned significant praise across the board from organizations like the LA Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Horn Book Magazine since its 2012 publication. It’s certainly well deserved.

Ender’s Game might be one of (if not the) most recognizable names in the science fiction genre, and Orson Scott Card’s masterpiece has deserved every second of it.

Ender’s Game paints a military-based society raising its young for warfare in its ongoing wars with an insectoid alien race called buggers.

Children are raised through rigorous training their entire lives to prepare them for battle. Will it be enough?

Starting off the famed Divergent trilogy, Veronica Roth’s original Divergent is most certainly an important pillar for young adult sci-fi books.

Despite the book being Roth’s debut, she painted a wonderfully dynamic universe that limits its culture and society to five factions in order to limit variables. But romance might blossom in this brutally dystopian world.

Divergent has also inspired a film by the same name if you want a good place to start for visualizing the universe, but we certainly recommend reading the books first.

Divergent certainly isn’t the only book and series inspiring movies, however.

James Dashner put together The Maze Runner in 2009, and it quickly started a very influential series for young adult science fiction by the same name.

The reader may be dropped into this world with plenty to learn, but so are many of the characters as a new person is added to this dystopian society without any previous knowledge of even their name once a month.

This means that The Maze Runner tells a story of constant confusion and plenty of searching for inner purpose in a world with plenty of questions and answers to find alike.

Groups are formed and evaluated by increasingly dangerous methods, and failure means much more than a bad mark.

Scott Westerfield’s masterpiece trilogy Uglies was started off by a novel of the same name, one that released in 2005 and became a classic and pivotal set of young adult sci-fi books for the genre moving forward.

Uglies is the story of a universe set 300 years in the future where young adults are pushed into extreme and dangerous cosmetic surgery after turning sixteen. The books explore what this type of change means and how it effects humanity.

It is almost impossible to talk about young adult science fiction or even dystopian universes at all in the modern day without mentioning Suzzane Collins’ masterpiece The Hunger Games and its ensuing series.

Following Katniss Everdeen through a dystopian society divided by area and class by enforced districts, we see a world in which towns become resource centric production centers where citizens are often poor and mistreated by the upper class from The Capitol.

The Hunger Games also triggered a majorly successful series of films.

In terms of young adult sci-fi books look no further than these as pillars of the genre and wonderful segues into the expanding other areas of science fiction.

Whether you need it to help your child explore the genre or just want a place to explore it yourself, this list in order is a wonderful way to start, as well as finishing the involved series.

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James Lizowski
James Lizowski
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James Lizowski

Spends his days making his own Star Wars figurines. His craft has driven him to look towards the future, drawing inspiration from past technological advances.

See all posts by James Lizowski