Children's and YA
Science Fiction Novels

AdorationTHE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX by Mary E. Pearson (Henry Holt, 2008). Long after the accident, Jenna finally wakes from a coma with no memories. Who is she now, and how can she begin again? Does she have a right to? A compelling near-future story that will haunt readers long after the last page. Masterful. Ages 12-up. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION. Read The Story Behind The Story from Mary E. Pearson.

Alien InvasionALIEN INVASION AND OTHER INCONVENIENCES by Brian Yansky (Candlewick, 2010). High-schooler Jesse thinks he's just a typical teen-ager, bored in class and trying to figure out his life. But then, ten seconds after the Sanginians arrive, most of mankind are dead. A handful, like Jesse, have latent telepathic abilities and survive as slaves with no hope of manumission for themselves or the earth. But then Jesse and his friends discover that the Sanginians just might not be as omnipotent as they appear... Quirky, thought-provoking, and insightful, ALIEN INVASION AND OTHER INCONVENIENCES offers an engaging protagonist, a thrilling plot, and wry humor. Perhaps the most dryly funny post-apocalyptic YA novel ever. Ages 12-up. Publisher copy. Recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith.

Aliens on VacationALIENS ON VACATION by Clete Barrett Smith (Disney/Hyperion, 2011). First in a series. When thirteen-year-old Scrub is sent to live with his grandmother in a small town in the Pacific Northwest, he soon comes to realize there's more to her than just an aging hippie. Instead, her house is an intergalactic bed and breakfast, sort of a rustic vacation spot for advanced aliens who want to get away from it all. To his chagrin, Scrub is immediately sent to work helping the aliens blend in as humans and generally keep out of the way of the suspicious sheriff... ALIENS ON VACATION is a light and funny romp, with quirky characters and an even quirkier situation.  Scrub and his travails will engage and entertain the extraterrestrial in everyone. Ages 8-up. Recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith.

AMONG THE HIDDEN by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Simon & Schuster, 1998). In the not-too-distant future, Luke has to spend his days in hiding because he's the third child in his family. Why? The government only allows two. But then Luke catches a glimpse of an young face in a new neighboring house that he knows to be already home to two other kids. An unusually compelling and memorable read that takes a look at totalitarianism, the concept of population control, and the risky but sometimes important need to try to fight back. Accessible to young readers but still thought-provoking for older ones. Excellent for fans of darker fantasy. Ages 9-up. AMONG THE HIDDEN has seemingly kicked off a series of literary trade books (each labeled A SHADOW CHILDREN BOOK).

Attack of the Fluffy BunniesATTACK OF THE FLUFFY BUNNIES by Andrea Beaty (Amulet, 2010). Eleven-year-old twins Kevin and Joules Rockman have been dropped off at Campwhatsitooya by their parents, who are on their way to an international Spam festival. But instead of a summer of campfires and hiking and ghost stories, they find themselves in the middle of an invasion by big, giant bunnies from outer space! Can they save the earth from the leporine pestilence? ATTACK OF THE FLUFFY BUNNIES is a hilarious parody, offering a unique take on the tropes of both horror and summer camp movies. In brief, ATTACK OF THE FLUFFY BUNNIES is the funniest story of attack by giant rabbits since NIGHT OF THE LEPUS. Ages 7-up. Publisher copy. Recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith.

Black Hole SunBLACK HOLE SUN by David Macinnis Gill (Greenwillow, 2010). For seventeen-year-old (in earth years) mercenary chief Durango, things keep getting worse. Once a member of an elite military corps, now he's just trying to get by. It was one thing to attempt (for hire, of course) to thwart the bizarre kidnapping of the children of a noblewoman, but now he's taken a job protecting a group of reclusive miners from humanoid cannibals in the antipodes of an anarchic Mars. But the miners are harboring a secret, and even the cannibals are not quite what they seem. Can Durango and his group hold it together, overcome their past, protect the miners, and still get paid? Plot is well-wrought, fast-paced, with an intriguing back-story; Durango, his AI implant Mimi, and Vienne (Durango's number two) are intense, sarcastic, and sometimes brutal in a society whose law has deteriorated into "kill or be killed." In sum, in BLACK HOLE SUN, Gill offers an exciting, action-packed read on a Mars that is red in tooth and claw. Ages 12-up. Publisher copy. Recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith. See also a recommendation for the sequel, INVISIBLE SUN.

Dancing With An Alien by Mary LogueDANCING WITH AN ALIEN by Mary Logue (HarperCollins, 2000). Branko's mission is to find a woman to take home to his female-starved home planet so they can help repopulate. Tonia is a simultaneously extraordinary and ordinary Earth girl in the midst of first love. What she doesn't know is that if she agrees to go with Branko, she'll essentially become a breeding machine—a far life from the happily ever after she imagines. Romantic. Fans of TV's Roswell will love this story. Ages 12-up.

THE DARK SIDE OF NOWHERE by Neal Shusterman (Little Brown, 1997). Jason, 14, is living one nice, dull life in Billington. At least until his friend Ethan dies (or does he?) of appendicitis, the girl-of-his-dreams Paula becomes his girlfriend, and Jason discovers there's something surprising in his heritage. Before he knows it, Jason and his parents are standing between the invasion of his new world by their old one. Kind of romantic but mostly action packed with a strong voice and some hard questions about being caught up in a racist, elitist, or group-thought mentality. Ages 12-up.

The Death CureTHE DEATH CURE by James Dashner (Delacorte, 2011).  In this follow-up to THE MAZE RUNNER and THE SCORCH TRIALS, Thomas and the Gladers, having survived the challenges of the Maze and the gauntlet of the Scorch Trials, are now confronted directly with those behind WICKED itself. Although told their trials are over, Thomas doesn't know whom he can trust.  When some of his memories begin to come back and when he learns that WICKED is planning another set of trials with another set of Immunes, he knows he has to do everything in his power to destroy WICKED.  But what can a handful of Gladers do to take down the most powerful organization on the planet? THE DEATH CURE offers edge-of-your-seat excitement and dystopian chills, while providing a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy and Thomas's story. Recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith.

DOWNSIDERS by Neal Shusterman (Simon & Schuster, 1999). Journey with Linsay into Talon's world, the world of the Downsiders, built far beneath the city streets. A sometimes dark, surprisingly affecting update on young people from very different worlds and what happens when one world threatens to destroy the other. Ages 12-up.

ENDER'S SHADOW by Orson Scott Card (Tor, 1999). A companion book to ENDER'S GAME, ENDER'S SHADOW tells the parallel story of Bean, the cadet-trainee picked on by Ender in GAME. Turns out that Bean is even more brilliant than Ender himself. . . Ages 10-up.

Hunchback AssignmentsTHE HUNCHBACK ASSIGNMENTS by Arthur Slade (Wendy Lamb/Random House, 2009). In Victorian London, fourteen year-old Modo — a shape-changing hunchback — has been raised in seclusion since he was an infant by a Mr. Socrates, leader of a secret society determined to protect the British Empire. His first assignment: to determine what has caused a group of young men -- Britain's finest -- to turn on their fathers with murderous intent, and figure out if it relates to the kidnapping of scores of orphans. Ages-10-up. Look for In THE DARK DEEPS: THE HUNCHBACK ASSIGNMENTS 2 (Wendy Lamb/Random House 2010). Recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith.

LarklightLARKLIGHT by Philip Reeve (Bloomsbury, 2006). In this steampunkish space fantasy, in the 19th Century, the British Empire has spread across the aether, and has established colonies as far out as Jupiter. Arthur Mumby and his sister Myrtle live in a rambling house called Larklight orbiting the Moon.  Their lives are turned upside down when they are kidnapped by giant spiders and rescued by the fearsome pirate Jack Havock himself.  And things get really complicated when they uncover a plot to destroy the very heart of the Empire, London itself.... A swashbuckling romp through a fantastically envisioned British Empire aboard ships reminiscent of those from TREASURE PLANET.  Art and Myrtle are engaging and dryly funny as they tell the story of how they traveled the solar system and defeated the evildoers...  Ages 8-up. Recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith.

The Blue CometON THE BLUE COMET by Rosemary Wells, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline (Candlewick, 2010).  In this young middle grade novel, eleven year old Oscar lives with his father in a small house in Cairo, Illinois.  There, they've created a world of their own: ten Lionel trains, including the Blue Comet. It all comes crashing down, though, two years into the Great Depression, when the bank takes the house and the trains, too.  Now, Oscar must move in with his aunt and cousin while his father seeks work out in California. On Christmas Eve, the trains are on display in the bank's lobby.  When bank robbers appear, the mysterious night watchman urges Oscar to flee by "jumping."  He does so, first into the train set and then ten years into the future... ON THE BLUE COMET offers a fanciful and enjoyable time travel yarn featuring cameos from famous actors and politicians and bankers of the era.  Full color illustrations add richness to the depiction of the times. Ages 8-up. Recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith.
Cover art: http://greglsblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/on-blue-comet.html

The Rise of Renegade XTHE RISE OF RENEGADE X by Chelsea M. Campbell (Egmont, 2010). Damien Locke, son of the mad scientist "Mistress of Mayhem," has his life planned. Once his powers develop, he'll attend Vilmore Academy and learn how to take his place in the front ranks of those villains opposed to the superheroes of Golden City. But at his coming-of-age ceremony on his sixteenth birthday, Damien discovers, to his horror, that his father -- whom he never knew -- was not a failed archvillain, but of all things, a superhero. Then, even worse, his mother makes him go live with his father and his half-siblings. While she's plotting to take over Golden City, Damien is stuck in a family of do-gooders, with a half-sister who hates him...Can he avoid their clutches to rendezvous with his villainous destiny? Funny and wry, THE RISE OF RENEGADE X is an exciting and engaging novel of secrets, family, sometime heroism, consequences, and free will. Ages 12-up. Publisher copy. Recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith.

SPACER AND RAT by Margaret Bechard (Roaring Brook 2005). Jack has lived his entire life at Freedom Station, a supply outpost run by the Company for those en route to the asteroid belt. His life is under control, and he has booked passage to finally meet relatives at the even more remote Liberty Station. Then he meets Kit, an "Earthie," which by definition means trouble. Worse, she carries a contraband maintenance "bot" named Waldo that the Company is seeking to get its hands on. Should he turn them in or help them and complicate his life? Margaret Bechard has created a "world" that will feel familiar and yet fresh, with engaging and compelling characters. Ages 12-up. Recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith. Read The Story Behind The Story from Margaret Bechard.

Tria And The Great Star Rescue by Rebecca Kraft RectorTRIA AND THE GREAT STAR RESCUE by Rebecca Kraft Rector (Delacorte, 2002). In this futuristic tale of the virtual and reality, Tria finds herself torn from the safety of her pod and the companionship of her hologram best friend Star. Worst of all, she's Outside. Taking refuge in a Back to Basics school, it quickly becomes clear that her mom is in trouble, too. Can this scared soul find friends and the courage in herself to save the world? A fast-paced and action-packed story of bravery and building a new way of life. Rector is a first-time author. Ages 8-up

Related Links

Booklists: Young Adult Speculative Fiction (Fantasy and Science Fiction) from Library Booklists.

Strictly Science Fiction by Diana Trixier HeraldFuturistic, Speculative, Science Fiction and Dystopian Fiction for Young Adults by Jen Robinson at Jen Robinson's Book Page.

Golden Duck Awards for Excellence in Children's Science Fiction Literature.

STRICTLY SCIENCE FICTION by Diana Tixier Herald
of Genrefluent

Young Adult Science Fiction: A Reading Guide: a bibliography from Megan Crewe at Tor.com.

YA Science Fiction is Alive and Well. Really. From Janni Lee Simner at Desert Dispatches. Peek: "...most of the YA SF out there is in fact published by the YA imprints of mainstream houses. That's a function of the way the YA genre markets itself—mysteries and romances and SF and fantasy and sometimes graphic novels all hang out side by side."