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Twenty-Five of the Best Young Adult Sci-Fi Novels

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Bored out of your mind with video games? Got over 500 channels in hi-def and nothing’s on? Here’s a novel idea: read a novel! You know, the things with pages and printing and an enticing picture on the cover.

Sci-fi for Young Adults is mega-popular. In fact, Young Adult fiction is all the rage even among adults. And Hollywood has caught the virus big-time. Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games and Ender’s Game have all hit the big screen and enjoyed massive popularity.

Some guy named Shakespeare said, “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.” Fortunately for you, the poison has been filtered out of this list. This list is all meat. So if you’re looking for a good sci-fi novel, here are 25 sure bets.

Instant disclaimer: These are not – that’s a big negative – ranked in any type of order, e.g. good to bad. They’re all good!

1. Harry Potter series. This series has everything, except for explicit sex. Magic, good wizards, bad wizards, and a chick named Hermione.

2. Twilight series. Hunk-O-Rama vampires and werewolves, along with oodles of tear-jerking teen angst. Great stuff!

3. Feed, by M.T. Anderson. This novel takes today’s obsession with mobile devices to a whole new level. Instead of Girls Gone Wild, this is iPhones On Steroids Gone Wild.

4. A Wrinkle In Time, by Madeleine L’Engle. Three geeks accompanied by incarnate stars battle Universe-devouring evil. “Tesseract me up, Scottie.”

5. The Rise of Nine, by Pittacus Lore. We are a group of teenagers with super powers; they are invading aliens, really ugly aliens, that want to exterminate everybody and everything.

6. The Giver, by Lois Lowry. So you think things are getting bad in your neighborhood? This novel provides a bird’s eye view of Utopia sinking into Dystopia.

7. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card. The movie is good, but the book is hella-better. Brainy geeks playing the ultimate game.

8. Gone, by Michael Grant. Makes Lord of the Flies look like Sponge Bob Squarepants. Lots of mushy love triangles, betrayal and blood-spattered battles between morphing, mutated teens.

9. Divergent series, by Veronica Roth. Not fitting in sucks, right? Beatrice lives in a future world where there are five factions to choose from. She discovers she’s the Queen of Misfits.

10. Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld. Mandatory cosmetic surgery at age 16 transforms Uglies into Pretties in a future obsessed with physical perfection.

11. Dune, by Frank Herbert. The movie version sucked big time, but the novel is as addictive as the Spice the good guys and bad guys fight over on Planet Dune.

12. Eragon, by Christopher Paolini. A hick from the sticks finds a flying dragon and, along with a bunch of dwarfs, conquers the Dark Powers trying to enslave the world.

13. Delirium series, by Lauren Oliver. In a future where love is considered a disease, Len and Alex fight for the glory and luxury of emotions.

14. Hush, Hush, by Becca Fitzpatrick. Sappy but totally awesome! Nora falls in love with Patch, who is a fallen angel, who has lots of baggage to deal with.

15. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs. Jacob discovers an orphanage where very strange orphans reside.

16. Unwind, by Neal Shusterman. Potential teenage organ donor attempt to make it to the age of 18, without being harvested. And you thought you had problems.

17. Maze Runner, by Nicholas Dashner. Life is tricky for Thomas, who wakes up in a surreal maze that’s seemingly impossible to figure out.

18. Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor. Chick hears voices and sees monsters she conjures with her magic beads.

19. The House of the Scorpion. Futuristic tale of clones and drug lords, where Matt is the clone of the Big Cheese drug lord, El Patron. Matt escapes and that’s when things get interesting.

20. The Fifth Wave, by Rick Yancey. Swine flu? Bird flu? Better get your shots before reading this post-apocalyptic tale, wherein Cassie struggles to save her brother.

21. Reboot, by Amy Tintera. Past lives aren’t so past in this story of Amy, who is rebooted as a Universal Soldier in the Republic of Texas.

22. The End Games, by T. Michael Martin. If you liked The Hunger Games, you’ll enjoy this re-vamped spin-off, in which two brothers battle monsters in the mountains of West Virginia.

23. The Testing, by Joelle Charbonneau. Think it’s hard to get into a good college? Try passing a life and death test just to be considered to attend college.

24. Control, by Lydia Kang. Bullies are everywhere, especially in this story about Zel, whose sister has a secret code locked in her DNA that the bad guys want.

25. Acid, by Emma Pass. Teen Jenna spends two years in prison, where she learns down and dirty fighting techniques, techniques she puts to good use against ACID, the world’s ruthlessly restrictive police force. No wimps allowed.

BONUS: The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. Whatever you do, don’t miss this one! Narrated by Death, this book will not simply blow your mind; it will totally re-define and re-arrange your synapses.

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About Christopher Zoukis

Christopher Zoukis is the author of Education Behind Bars (Sunbury Press, 2012), the Directory of Federal Prisons (Middle Street Publishing, 2014), and the forthcoming College for Convicts (McFarland and Company, 2015) and United Blood Nation: The Story of the East Coast Bloods (Headpress, 2015). He can be found online at Prisoneducation.com, Prisonlawblog.com, and christopherzoukis.com.
  • Julie Tallard Johnson

    Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor is a favorite of mine. Literary fantasy! I am waiting on the 3rd one. Thanks for the list!

  • gkubrick

    Harry Potter isn’t SF and neither are Twilight or Eragon. Don’t know The Book Thief, but the movie certainly doesn’t look to be from that genre so am curious if anyone can clarify what genre the book is.