Name: Susan Allison
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Title: The Obsidian Blade
Author: Pete Hautman
Appeal Factors: PACING: Deliberate, slow at beginning – then speeds up; CHARACTERIZATION: Likable, well-drawn characters; WRITING SYLE/LANGUAGE: Direct and somewhat dramatic; FRAME/SETTING: Detailed setting, great world-building; STORYLINE: Emotionally engaging, family centered, thought provoking
Read Alikes: L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time; Pulllman’s Golden Compass Series
Summary/Thoughts: Tucker is a 13 year-old boy, who sees his dad, the devout Rev. Feye, disappear through a hazy, disk-shaped area above the roof of his house. When his father returns a few hours later, he is much changed – and he has an odd new companion with him – a girl around Tucker’s age who is not what she seems. Suddenly everything he knows, everything he believes begins to change. The idea of time-travel is well handled, and some interesting new concepts regarding the mechanics of it are explored. Tucker is a very likable and relatable character, as are his uncle, friends and Dad. He’s trying his best to put his family back together after his Father loses his faith, his Mom loses her marbles and he reconnects with his estranged uncle – he’s trying to save them all and the world. I wouldn’t recommend this for older YA as Tucker comes off as a bit younger than his age. There is no real violence, romance or sex, which may make it boring for older teens. There is also a religious thread which runs through it which may turn off some. I felt it was a great melding of themes: Time Travel, Adventure, SciFi, Family Drama, World Building with some very interesting and engaging characters.
Name: Christine Muir
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Title: Ender’s Game
Author: Orson Scott Card
Appeal Factors: action, character development, steady pace
Summary/Thoughts: Ender’s Game reads like an adult sci-fi novel, with a child protagonist. The language and concepts are complex enough to entertain an adult, yet clear and clean enough for an advanced middle-school reader to a high school student. The plot develops at a steady pace and is both action- and character-oriented. There is a plot twist at the end that readers new to science-fiction will not expect, which is fun.
Name: Sarah Breen
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Author: Lissa Price
Appeal Factors: futuristic, rags to riches, romance, adventure, mystery
Read Alikes: Cinder, Beta, The Adoration of Jenna Fox
Summary/Thoughts: Taking place after a plague kills everyone between the ages of 20-60, 16 year old Callie and her sick little brother are homeless. To make money, Callie signs up to have a chip implanted in her brain and allow an “Ender”, elderly woman, to take over her body for a month to pretend to be young again. Soon Callie discovers that the country wants to begin permanently taking over teen bodies and having Enders take over their brains.
I really enjoyed this book. It has a sequel, Enders. It is a fun sci-fi rags to riches adventure romance story in a post apocalyptic world. It would be good for middle and high schoolers, probably girls. It is soft sci-fi with little descriptions of the technology.
Name: Liz Reed
Genre: Young Adult SF
Author: Neal Shusterman
Appeal Factors: Fast-paced, thought-provoking, high school reading level, dystopian, multiple lead characters, first in a series, near-future, award-winning
Read Alikes: Mazerunner trilogy, Hunger Games Trilogy, Eve series, Uglies series, The Declaration by Gemma Malley
Summary/Thoughts: Interesting concept, but not for the faint of heart (LJ called it “one of the scariest books published for teens [in 2007]” because of a scene near the end). Near-future science fiction where, after another civil war, abortions are now illegal in the U.S., but from ages 13-18 parents can choose to retroactively “unwind” their children. The idea is that the unwinds won’t actually die, but continue to live on in many parts instead of one whole. 100% of a person must be used for organ and tissue donation. The medical system has reformed to be less about healing a person, and instead surgeons just replace the part of you that’s going bad. The social dynamics are really the interesting part about this book, which is the first in a series. But – the writing is just “pretty good,” not great. The story just briefly mentions the new tissue grafting innovation that allows them to use all of a person for donation, and this was late in the book. They never mention it again and never give a better explanation, which I though was a weak point. Also, there’s a character introduced late in the story who makes some big choices that are just too rosy and don’t quite make sense. Finally, there was really only one female character, which is a turn off for me. I’m certainly compelled enough to want to finish the series, though. Would make for a great discussion with teens about the prochoice/prolife debate.
Name: Karen Perkins
Genre: Young Adult SciFi
Title: Jenna Starborn
Author: Sharon Shinn
Appeal Factors: Romance, class division, world building, quick paced
Read Alikes: Cinder by Marissa Meyer; Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde; For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund; From a High Tower by Mercedes Lackey.
Summary/Thoughts: A good old fashioned love story Jenna Staborn by Sharon Shinn is not so much a retelling of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre but a placing the story into a science fiction world. The characters, plots, storyline, places have all been renamed but they are the same as their original counterparts. For those who are sci’fi readers and want to know the Jane Eyre story this book is a good substitute. If you’re a Jane Eyre fan you may find the story in the future on another planet entertaining. For either reader the book is worth the time for it is well written.
Name: Pam Aghababian
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Appeal Factors: space travel, thriller, rogue Artificial Intelligence system, rage zombie-like creatures, fast-paced, survival, written in an unusual format.
Read Alikes: dissimilar to most books. Recommend to fans of Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica or videogame Portal
Summary/Thoughts: This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than a speck at the edge of the universe. Now with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra–who are barely even talking to each other–are forced to evacuate with a hostile warship in hot pursuit.
But their problems are just getting started. A plague has broken out and is mutating with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a web of data to find the truth, it’s clear the only person who can help her is the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.
Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents–including emails, maps, files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more–Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.