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Magic and machines: a list of young adult books

Hands up if, like me, you look at the intricacies of an engine and wonder how it all works without magic. Combining magic with machines doesn't feel that far of a stretch, and an outsider would probably view our world as fantastical. I also love books with a far-flung future, but it isn't what we might expect: the role of machines in creating a utopia, as co-bots helping us out, or as evil overlords, is rich and ripe for exploration!

I've searched out some of the best YA fantasy and science fiction books featuring machines! Have you read any of them yet? Take a look and tell me what you think!

Mortal Engines: Predator Cities - Philip Reeve

In the distant future, cities stalk the land, devouring other, slower moving metropolises. Tom falls from the city of London with a waif named Hester. He's a timid apprentice historian, she's a resourceful girl on a mission, and the two make a great team.

This young adult book has an unbelievable premise made believable by Reeve's masterful writing.

The Windsinger - William Nicholson

An oldie but goodie, The Windsinger sets out a society where your rank is determined by your intelligence. Twins Kestral and Bowman set out to find the Windsinger across the desolate desert, encountering underground societies, sand pirates, and a devastating magic that threatens the world.

This is one of my young adult favourites and one I keep coming back to.

Foundations: Bastion Academy - J. D. Astra

This follows Jiyong, a student hoping to get into the Bastion Academy and improve his machine magic. After a slow start, this picks up, and the imaginative weaving of machines and computers makes this a stand-out book for this category!

This young adult series is one to watch out for!

The Girl in Bearcloak Dungeon - Ben Green

A girl waits to enter her first dungeon and prove herself worthy enough to become a paladin. Inside, there are secrets to be uncovered, but will she be able to reveal Bearcloak's history?

This young adult book reminded me so much of a Zelda dungeon! Puzzles and moral choices, and a fantastically imagined machine and magic dungeon!

The Cruel Gods - Trudie Skies

The steam-powered city of Chime is the only safe place from the twelve gods, each ruling over a domain marked by an hour of time. The Godless Ones are a ragtag group of misfits trying to help people who have been abandoned by their creators, but all is not well in Chime, with a murderer on the loose.

The different races are amazingly imagined and brought to life, and I loved the dynamic between the investigator who can stop time and the "dark elf" with a rather loud inner voice...

More of an upper YA / NA book with swearing and fade-to-black situations.

About me

Hi, I'm Becky! I'm from the UK and I write sword and sorcery portal fantasy. Find me here:

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