Updated: Mar 4
If you ask Facebook, Bookstagram, or BookTok, YA fantasy is all the rage. Fae, mermaids, sexy vampires, and conflicted angels are more popular than ever.
But what if I told you there was another genre out there that can transport you to fantastical worlds? One that combines futurism, technology, and fantasy elements into a single majestic, innovative genre?
Enter YA science fiction. If you're a newbie to this genre, here are my 16 essential reads I think you need to try!
As the oceans rise higher, Vikings and pirates battle for dominance.
Middle-class Viking Margot is stuck in a dead-end job, working for a powerful, thankless boss. When a sudden workday storm leaves Margot shipwrecked and floating in the raging sea, she's ecstatic to be rescued—until she discovers her rescuer is a mafia pirate.
Margot is shaken to the core to learn her boss—one of the community enforcers appointed to drive criminals away—is working hand in hand with the highly illegal mafia. But after Margot is thrown into her enemy’s world, she realizes her life could have a greater purpose than endless servitude.
Will she break away from her rescuer and return to a demanding, fruitless job beside her beloved boyfriend...or leave it all behind to become an outlaw herself?
No matter what Margot decides, hearts—and bones—will be broken.
If you're craving the danger of The Hunger Games and the morally grey dystopia of Neal Shusterman's Arc of a Scythe, then you'll be addicted to Nicole Adrianne's thrilling new tale of survival.
Download Survivors of the Rising Sea to start the emotionally gripping adventure today!
Every life has a price in this sci-fi thriller—the first in a trilogy—that has the nonstop action of The Maze Runner and the high-stakes space setting of Illuminae.
What would you be willing to risk for a lifetime of fortune?
Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.
Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.
But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.
A crown is dangerous. A crown split seven ways is deadly.
Sixteen-year-old Ana is far from royalty. She’s a foster kid with a dead mom and a deadbeat dad. The only thing she wants is to escape—her hometown and her grief.
Ana’s plans are derailed when a dangerous family secret is revealed. She is the sole heir to a fallen dynasty on a world where seven families share the crown. Her family was murdered one by one, leaving six families to rule. Now, someone knows Ana’s location. With assassins closing in, Ana’s life and the crown are at stake.
With the help of a handsome hobo, Ana escapes to the place where it all began—a faraway world where magic and technology coexist. Ana must navigate a tangled web of friends and foes to unmask her would-be assassin before it's too late.
Travel to a glittering, dangerous world with political alliances and ballgowns, perfect for fans of The Hunger Games and Cinder.
Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
From the New York Times and internationally bestselling authors of the Illuminae Files comes a new science fiction epic...
The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the academy would touch...
A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass tech whiz with the galaxy's biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger-management issues
A tomboy pilot who's totally not into him, in case you were wondering
And Ty's squad isn't even his biggest problem--that'd be Aurora Jie-Lin O'Malley, the girl he's just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler's squad of losers, discipline cases, and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.
Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
For fans of Marie Lu comes the first book in an epic series that bends the sci-fi genre into a new dimension.
“A truly beautiful novel that redefines the form." —Victoria Aveyard, bestselling author of Red Queen
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.
Mistaken for her imperiled, notorious genius scientist alter ego, Laney's accidental trip to a parallel world could very quickly turn very deadly.
Dr. Laney Carter is a Nobel-prize-winning physicist, awarded for her groundbreaking experimental research on string theory and quantum universes, and then led her team to successfully develop the first working prototype allowing safe, stable and educational inter-dimension travel.
Two months ago, she disappeared. So did the prototype.
So, why are there government trackers hunting down seventeen-year-old average high school student Laney Carter in this parallel universe?
She's totally not a genius, but maybe with the help of one tall, hot, and brooding Noah Donovan, she'll figure it out in time. Before all the worlds end. Or before they manage to delete her from existence...
“Enchanting . . . Willy Wonka meets The Matrix.”—USA Today •
“As one adventure leads expertly to the next, time simply evaporates.”—Entertainment Weekly
A world at stake. A quest for the ultimate prize. Are you ready?
In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the OASIS, a vast virtual world where most of humanity spends their days.
When the eccentric creator of the OASIS dies, he leaves behind a series of fiendish puzzles, based on his obsession with the pop culture of decades past. Whoever is first to solve them will inherit his vast fortune—and control of the OASIS itself.
Then Wade cracks the first clue. Suddenly he’s beset by rivals who’ll kill to take this prize. The race is on—and the only way to survive is to win.
Orson Scott Card
In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.
Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.
Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender's two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.
Would you choose loyalty or love?
The secretive Forever Institute towers over London. Some say it's a cult, others call it a mafia. To seventeen-year-old Fern, Forever is simply home, run by the scientists who created her. A home she’s never been allowed to leave.
Forever gave Fern everything. A body that will never age. Psychic abilities, if she can work out how to access them. A purpose... Fern will be part of a new dawn for humanity, although she’s never been told exactly how.
Then Fern is contacted by a cryptic telepath from outside the Institute, and learns some dark truths: children are being murdered, and Fern is in danger. She must sort truth from lies, and new loves from old loyalties, if she’s to survive the conspiracy surrounding her. But her new friend has secrets of his own…
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to death before-and survival, for her, is second nature. Still, if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
Watch out for your wishes.
Alana's dream is to leave the poverty-stricken, government-controlled planet where she lives with her mother. But that's impossible when she can barely manage enough to eat. Her big chance comes in a well-paid mission to retrieve a golden sphere. The problem: it's in the Ghost Ship, a mysterious alien spaceship that has been abandoned for millennia. Nobody has ever set foot on it and come out alive. How will Alana manage it?
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth's fate hinges on one girl. . . .
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She's a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai's, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world's future.
From Brandon Sanderson, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Reckoners series, Words of Radiance, and the internationally bestselling Mistborn series, comes the first book in an epic new series about a girl who dreams of becoming a pilot in a dangerous world at war for humanity's future.
Spensa's world has been under attack for decades. Now pilots are the heroes of what's left of the human race, and becoming one has always been Spensa's dream. Since she was a little girl, she has imagined soaring skyward and proving her bravery. But her fate is intertwined with her father's--a pilot himself who was killed years ago when he abruptly deserted his team, leaving Spensa's chances of attending flight school at slim to none.
No one will let Spensa forget what her father did, yet fate works in mysterious ways. Flight school might be a long shot, but she is determined to fly. And an accidental discovery in a long-forgotten cavern might just provide her with a way to claim the stars.
Two teens must learn the “art of killing” in this Printz Honor–winning book, the first in a chilling new series from Neal Shusterman, author of the New York Times bestselling Unwind dystology.
A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery: humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now Scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.
Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.
Scythe is the first novel of a thrilling new series by National Book Award–winning author Neal Shusterman in which Citra and Rowan learn that a perfect world comes only with a heavy price.
Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, didn't expect to find its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.
As Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who still lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she's never met. Reluctant allies, Wanderer and Melanie set off to search for the man they both love.
Featuring one of the most unusual love triangles in literature, THE HOST is a riveting and unforgettable novel about the persistence of love and the essence of what it means to be human.
Two students will compete. Only one can win...
After prodigy Jada Breaker’s best friend is murdered in a terrestrial terrorist attack, high school is the last thing on her mind. With a shocking piece of evidence in hand, she’s ready to launch her own investigation and find out the truth about her friend’s death: tragic accident, or cruel assassination?
When an unexpected competitor arrives from Earth to challenge Jada’s future and freedom, though, she’ll need an undivided mind to win the fight. If she continues her investigation, she’ll risk losing the future she’s always dreamed of.
But if Jada fails to learn the truth before graduation, a galaxy-wide conspiracy will grow unchecked and destroy everything she’s ever known...
If you loved the suspense of The Hunger Games and the intrigue of Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, then you’ll adore the heart and mystery of Station Alpha.
Click the button below to buy this clever YA dystopian mystery today!
This article was written by Nicole Adrianne.
Nicole Adrianne is an autistic author living in Stockholm, Sweden. She writes lush, compelling, and clean YA dystopian fiction. Check out more of her work by clicking any of the book covers below.