One of the subjects that I get to review new titles in here at Mackin is speculative fiction. These include the sub-genres of fantasy, dystopian, supernatural, and science fiction. Not only do these genres let the mind escape to a far off world filled with fairies, elves, dragons, and magic, but they also allow readers to imagine the possibilities of the dystopian world that has been created. Some of the scenarios within these titles can be a little too far-fetched to imagine actually happening, but it is still enjoyable to read through and immerse yourself into the world the author has created.
I think that one of the most important aspects of this genre is proper world building. A few important questions that go through my mind when reading these books are: How did the world end up this way? What happened in the past to create this new totalitarian government, people with super powers, etc.? And, how did certain individuals develop their new powers, become werewolves, etc. and not everyone? I always find it a little frustrating when there are too many questions left unanswered about the world created by the author. However, some books can create a great mix between answering some questions to let the reader’s mind be satisfied, but leave a few unanswered to have the reader coming back for more in the next book. Here are a few speculative titles that I think have done a great job at building their world:
Steelheart by Brian Sanderson. 2013. 9780385743563. Gr. 9-12
Ten years ago a red star, the Calamity, appeared in the night sky and granted individuals with superhuman abilities, who became known as Epics. A few months after the Calamity arrived, David’s father was killed by an Epic. Chicago is now ruled by Steelheart, an Epic with abilities that allow him to control the elements, turn anything into steel, super strength, and invulnerability, and is the same person that killed David’s father. No one defies the Epics’ control aside from the Reckoners, who search for an Epic’s weakness and assassinate them. The Reckoners haven’t been able to find Steelheart’s weakness for as long as he has been in power, but David has seen Steelheart bleed; the same day his Father was killed.
Bone Season by Samantha Shannon. 2013. 9781620401392. Gr. 10-Adult
In the year 2059, a large number of the world’s population has developed clairvoyant abilities. These individuals are hunted by their government, Scion. This book follows Paige, a Dreamwalker, a very rare and sought after ability. When Paige is captured by Scion she is sent to Oxford, which has been taken over by an invading alien race, the Rephaim, who want to build an army of clairvoyants for their own uses. While Paige tries to figure out her place within this new society, she tries to find the ultimate goal of her keepers, and rescue her fellow clairvoyants. This is the first book in a planned series of seven books.
Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay. 2013. 9780375991004. Gr. 9-12
This retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale is set on a dying, futuristic alien planet. The “Beauty” of this tale is Isra, who is a blind princess and a Smooth Skin, a tier of society that lives under protective domes. Isra has been raised since childhood knowing that she would one day sacrifice her blood to water the rose garden, which keeps the city secure. Gem, one of the Monstrous, those forced to live outside the protective domes of the city, attempts to break into the city and steal the magical roses to feed his people. When he is captured, Isra demands that he be spared his life, but kept as her prisoner. As Isra begins to learn from Gem about the Monstrous and how they are being mistreated, she begins to question the magic from the roses and the injustices of her society.
These three titles will leave readers thinking about the world and its possiblities long after they have completed the last page.
Guest Blogger: Anna, Mackin Collection Development Librarian. Anna is a recent MLIS grad. In addition to managing the speculative teen fiction lists at Mackin, she also helps create custom collection development lists for customers who want to update their collections.