Science Fiction and Dystopias for MS and HS
Speculative fiction is a fairly new term that encompasses several genres that have one thing in common: their settings are not real. Not just unfamiliar, but really unreal. They take place on other planets or on worlds similar to ours that are inhabited by fantastical creatures or in a future where some evil (or good) aspect of society is skewed out of proportion. Despite the setting of the tale, however, readers find they can easily identify with the characters and their problems.
Armada by Ernest Cline. 9780804137256. 2015. Gr 9-12.
Zack fights off alien invaders every night—on his computer. He knows that gamer nerds like him don’t get to save the galaxy. Or do they? When Zack spots a flying saucer, he refuses to believe it at first—because it’s the same alien spaceship that he battles in his video games. But it IS real, and video gamers are the only ones that might be able to save the planet. Cline’s latest book is for a bit younger crowd that Ready Player One, but teens should enjoy the action and excitement.
The Beast of Cretacea by Todd Strasser. 9780763669010. 2015. Gr 7-12.
Ishmael volunteers to harvest ocean-dwelling beasts on a faraway planet. Earth has become dangerously polluted, and this is the only way that he can earn money to get his family away. His assignment on the Pequod is hard work, but Ishmael loves the fresh air, water, and sunshine. He soon starts to wonder why the Captain orders the crew to ignore the plentiful creatures nearby in order to chase after a huge beast called the Great Terrafin. Why is the Captain obsessed with this creature? I haven’t read Moby Dick, but it’s on my TBR list after reading this great re-telling of that classic tale.
Illuminae (Illuminae Files, Book 1) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff. 9780553499117. 2015. Gr 7-12.
Kady is having a bad day. First she broke up with Ezra, and then her small planet was attacked. They’ve been able to escape on a ship. Unfortunately, the ship’s artificial intelligence has gone crazy, and enemy ships are closing in to get rid of witnesses to the attack. With Ezra, Kady searches for the truth behind the attack. She is a hacking genius, and her quest is told through emails, IMs, military files, and schematics. In spite of the size of the book (600+ pages), it is a quick read.
The Leveller by Julia Durango. 9780062314000. 2015. Gr 7-10.
Kids often lose themselves in the virtual universe of MEEP, and Nixy Bauer is a bounty hunter for parents who will no longer put up with them. But when she is hired by the designer of the game to find his own son, Nixy discovers that Wyn Salvador didn’t just disappear to get out of homework of chores. He has been kidnapped, and she must help him escape from a world that is only in her mind.
The Six by Mark Alpert. 9781492615293. 2015. Gr 8-12.
An artificial intelligence program called Sigma has gone rogue and escaped into the Internet, and now it threatens to destroy mankind. Adam, who has muscular dystrophy, and five other very smart teens with less than six months to live, are asked to give up their bodies so their brains can be uploaded into superhero robots. The Six have only days to learn to work as a team if they hope to defeat Sigma.
Ink and Bone (Great Library, Book 1) by Rachel Caine. 9780451472397. 2015. Gr 9-12.
The Great Library of Alexandria controls how much knowledge is allowed to be accessed on digital devices and who may access it. It’s illegal to own a real book, so book smuggling is big business. Jess comes from a family of book smugglers, so when he gets a position in the Great Library, his father expects him to spy for the family. But what Jess finds in Alexandria could change the world—and lead to war. Exciting, examines issues of censorship and privacy, whole new breed of librarian.
MARTians by Blythe Woolston. 9780763677565. 2015. Gr 6-9.
In the near future, everything is ruled by huge retail companies, including schools. So when Zoe’s high school is closed “in the interest of efficiency,” she is forced to apply for a job at the local AllMART, where her “smile is AllMART’s welcome mat.” Her mother moves away, leaving Zoe forced to live in an abandoned strip mall with other unfortunates. Like the rest of the people who have fallen through the cracks of her society, Zoe must learn to do one thing: survive.
Stone Rider by David Hofmeyr. 9780385744737. 2015. Gr 9-12.
Adam lives in a toxic, arid, and dusty world, where his only hope for escape is to win the Blackwater Race. He owns a byke, a biomechanical machine passed down from his grandfather to his father and to himself. The Blackwater Race is a savage circuit of treacherous terrain, deadly booby-traps, and murderous competitors vying to win a place in the Sky Base, a space station with plenty of food and fresh water. Unlike his rivals, Adam plans to ride the race alone. This exciting dystopian survival novel is perfect for reluctant readers and those fans of The Hunger Games and Mad Max.
Series updates in sci-fi and dystopian fiction
Chimera (Parasitology : 3) by Mira Grant. 9780316381031. November 2015. Gr 10-Adult.
Earth Flight (Earth Girl : 3) by Janet Edwards. 9781633880924. 2015. Gr 7-10.
The Game of Lives (Mortality Doctrine : 3) by James Dashner. 9780375990038. November 2015. Gr 7-12.
The Storm (H2O : 2) by Virginia Bergin. 9781492629795. 2015. Gr 7-10.
Ten Thousand Skies Above You (Firebird Trilogy : 2) by Claudia Gray. 9780062278999. November 2015. Gr 9-12.
Unbound (Unwind : 5) by Neal Shusterman. 9781481457231. December 2015. Gr 9-12.