Building a SciFi/Fantasy Library discussion

Science Fiction for YA

Comments Showing 1-50 of 65 (65 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1

message 1: by Dan (last edited Jan 24, 2008 06:16AM) (new)

Dan (dannytheinfidel) | 32 comments How young is young adult? I was reading the "hard" Sci-Fi age 14 or so.
What do you NOT want in the books? Violence, graphically described sex, frightening or scary stuff or just the books to be easy to read?

However Heinlein's "Have Space Suit-Will Travel", "Citizen of the Galaxy" and "
Between Planets" are rather friendly.

I have always loved Harry Harrison's books about James Bolivar diGriz aka The Stainless Steel Rat is funny to. (Kaj la Ŝtalrato de tempo al tempo parolas Esperanton).

I read both Heinlein and Harrison as young, and it didn't made me weird. It was A.C. Clark, Dennis Lindbohm and people like that who screwed up my brain.

Andre Norton's "Sargasso of Space" and the sequel "Plague Ship" was good. I have not read the rest of the Solar Queen series, they are hard to come by here.

Catherine Webb's books about Horatio Lyle is good to, but are they really Sci-fi?

message 2: by Allison (new)

Allison | 15 comments Hollie,

I, too, was reading regular sci-fi as a young adult. (I distinctly remember reading the first 6 of the Dragonlance series when I was 12.) However, I would recommend the following sci-fi for the typical young adult:

A Swiftly Tilting Planet, A Foot in the Door and A Wrinkle in Time - all by Madeline L'Ender


message 3: by Dan (new)

Dan (dannytheinfidel) | 32 comments I think I remember Stanislaw Lem's books, especially the ones about Pirx the Pilot to be good, as long as you avoid Solaris of course. That one could damaged a young brain for life.

Eoin Colfer - The Supernaturalist, a book for the younger, maybe around 12 - 14.

message 4: by Carl (last edited Jan 24, 2008 01:00PM) (new)

Carl | 38 comments If this is for a religious magazine, I guess I could recommend my friend John Olson's cowritten book "Oxygen" and it's sequel "The Fifth Man"-- written for the Christian market (a market I'm a bit ambivilant about, though I've got a lot of friend published there) and not as YA, but the first one was listed in some major library's YA reading list (I think it was New York Public library?) and won a Christy award-- I think it's pretty appropriate for YA level, though you'd have to read it yourself to decide. About a trip to Mars with a lot of Apollo 13 problems thrown in. Really good science (both authors have PhD's, one in computational physics and the other in biochemistry), and also really suspenseful and entertaining, likable characters. John's also got a "female Indiana Jones" type novel coming out this year called "Fossil Hunter", also science-heavy, but I don't know if that fits what you want.
I also like Stephen Lawhead's work-- his earlier stuff isn't as good (I like his late 80s-early 90s work best), but his book Dreamthief is sci-fi and I think marketed as YA-- but it's been years since I've read it and I can't remember how adult the themes are. His Empyrion duology is great, in my opinion, but does have some stuff in it that, for many conservative religious parents, would be too "adult" for their children.
Oh, and another author-- Kathy Tyers. I actually like the first editions of her works best, and my favorite book (Shivering World) is not really YA (maybe it could work as it-- I'm not sure), but her Firebird trilogy was originally two YA books, before being reworked for the CBA. Very Star Wars-ish, and in fact, I recommend her Star Wars novel Truce at Bakura for YA reading. Sharon Hinck's The Restorer has aspects of scifi, but is basically a fantasy, and it's been so long since I read a complete draft of it (and that was an early draft) that I don't know how suitable it would be for YA.
Don't think I know of anything else-- the little YA reading I've done has been in fantasy (like LeGuine's Earthsea novels).
Do you mind saying what magazine it's for? I've got some friends who would like to check it out (including some of those listed above)

message 5: by Tracey (new)

Tracey | 4 comments David Gerrold - Jumping off the Planet - felt very like a Heinlein juvie to me; kids with divorced parents may find this speaks to them.

John Varley's Red Thunder was also a ripping good yarn, tho I can't remember for sure how G-PG it was.

message 6: by Tom (last edited Jan 25, 2008 09:57AM) (new)

Tom (atomicus) | 3 comments I fully support Seth's recommendation for Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. To me, it is the definitive science fiction classic for young adult readers. It's a very clever tale that has won numerous rewards, and relates to young adults. It's a science fiction Harry Potter written well before Rowling penned Hogwarts in which young prodigies attend a special academy that trains leaders for the future. Like Harry Potter, I believe that Ender is capable of converting youngsters from television to reading. Written in 1985, it is eerily prophetic of how video games have been used as military simulations twenty years later.

Although she adjusted her standards to marry me, my wife is the opposite of a geek. Nonetheless, she considers Ender's Game one of her all-time favorites. The book will appeal to teens even if they think they are too cool for Star Trek.

I liked Ender's Shadow even more than its predecessor. It covers the exact same events as Ender's Game but from the perspective of a different student and surprisingly brings a great deal of fresh ideas to the table. It does have a few elements that are more mature than those found in Ender's Game.

message 7: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Sammis (caligula03) | 4 comments I second the vote for the Stainless Steel Rat series. I started reading them in 8th grade and from there went through reading everything by Harry Harrison I could get my hands on.

message 8: by Carl (new)

Carl | 38 comments I also loved and recommend Ender's Game, but I've got a friend who said that he was really depressed by the book because of what they did to these little kids, forcing them to be soldiers and all that-- but just because it is a bit "grown up" in that way doesn't mean kids can't handle it.

message 9: by Dan (new)

Dan (dannytheinfidel) | 32 comments How about C.S. Lewis Sci-fi trilogy; Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra and That Hideous Strength.
I don't remember them much, just that they was a bit odd, but he have written good fantasy books, so they can't be all wrong.

message 10: by Carl (new)

Carl | 38 comments Good point, the first two should be fairly accessible for YA age readers, though I can't remember how well THS would work-- it was never my favorite for some reason. And depending on the perspective of the magazine these reviews are being written for, Perelandra could be considered a bit risque, what with a naked woman running around. Not that I minded it too much when I was in Jr Hi.

message 11: by Michele (new)

Michele You can't go wrong with the classics - the "Grand Old Men" of SF. Clifford Simak (Our Children's Children, No Blade of Grass, City) is fabulous. Robert Heinlein's short stories are excellent and not as daunting (or adult) as his novels. Isaac Asimov's short stories.

For more recent writers, all of Sylvia Louise Engdahl's stuff is great (start with Enchantress from the Stars, then try This Star Shall Abide.) Also Octavia Butler -- recently died, a bad loss as she was so talented and one of the only African American women I ever heard of who wrote SF. I think someone mentioned Madeleine L'Engle (Wrinkle in Time, A Wind at the Door, Swiftly Tilting Planet) though I don't consider them "hard" SF.

Let's see...The Last Unicorn, by Cohen (not fantasy despite the title, but no spaceships -- a dystopia). The Power of Stars by Louise somebody (not by any means a new book but remarkably pertinent today with the humungous increase in the use of technology, deserves to be revived). Star Dog, can't recall the author.

Also The Last Book in the Universe (Philbrick). This one caused an interesting brouhaha at a California library, see - might make for an interesting topic :)


message 12: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn (carolynanne) | 1 comments I just wanted to second the recommendation for C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy, or rather, the first two of the trilogy- Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra (Perelandra is actually one of my favorite books of all time).

Madeleine L'Engle's space trilogy is wonderful too.

Another idea is Scott Westerfield's trilogy, Uglies, Pretties, and Specials- they're more of a dtstopian future than sci-fi, so I'm not sure if that's what you're looking for. Lois Lowry's The Giver (although it's more of a gradeschool reading level) is another fantastic book in that genre.

message 13: by Carl (new)

Carl | 38 comments Interesting article about "The Last Book in the Universe"-- I'll have to try to read it myself sometime. One of my friends says he hopes someone condemns or even burns his own books one day, because there is no better way to get people interested!

message 14: by Jday (new)

Jday | 1 comments Anne McCaffrey's "Dragon Riders of Pern" is one of my favorite series of all time. Very clean from what I can remember and very engaging. I remember reading them the first time when I was around 12 or 13.


message 15: by Michele (new)

Michele > Anne McCaffrey's "Dragon Riders of Pern"
> is one of my favorite series of all time.
> Very clean from what I can remember

As long as you avoid the books that have the dragons' mating flights and how the Weyrleaders are chosen LOL!! No, I jest -- actually, even in those there's nothing graphic (emotion, but no actual sex) so a younger child would likely read right through those scenes without getting much out of it (one of the benefits of books over movies: no visuals! So if the reader doesn't mentally "get" what's going on the book, there's no harm no foul and it goes right over her head...)


message 16: by J-Lynn Van Pelt (new)

J-Lynn Van Pelt | 19 comments Glad to see everyone is on the Ender's Game bandwagon. I have taught that book for several years to 9th graders and it is always a big hit.

Neal Shusterman's books should be added to any YA scifi list. My favorites are The Downsiders, The Dark Side of Nowhere, and Scorpion Shards.

Also, the Young Jedi Knights series is a blast.

message 17: by Christopher (last edited Feb 12, 2008 06:27PM) (new)

Christopher (mahoney) | 1 comments I read a lot of Card, Asimov, and was addicted to Herbert's DUNE books as a kid. All good reads. (Whoa, that was unintentionally eponymous to this site.) I wasn't as much a fan of "Have Space Suit-Will Travel", but maybe that's because I listened to the book on tape and the reader used an eerily deranged voice for the Mother Thing. Scarred me for life.

Without trying to sound too self-promotional, a lot of these books and the ones mentioned in the comments influenced me when I wrote my own sci-fi YA book, which I'd be happy to send anyone interested in reviewing the galley. (Just add me as a friend or click "send message" from my profile.)

It's the sci-fi/adventure book I would have wanted to read as a kid, and I guess I'm looking for people like you to help me judge if I hit the mark. :)

message 18: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandikal) I have to admit that I like the idea of mainstream but clean. I think so many authors put material (especially sexual material) into books that does nothing to propel the story or the characters. It can be jarring and disruptive, especially when poorly written. It's almost as if every book has to have sex in it these days. As far as violence goes, it usually is necessary to the plot in many sci-fi/fantasy books. I rarely find it to be as graphic as the sex though. Violence in most books is pretty sanitized and leans towards a good vs. evil scenario. There are exceptions, of course, but not a whole lot.

message 19: by Werner (last edited Jun 03, 2008 05:41AM) (new)

Werner One suggestion that hasn't been made so far is Terry Pratchett's Bromeliad trilogy: Trucks, Diggers, and Wings. (The whole trilogy was later published as an omnibus edition for the Science Fiction Book Club.) It's intended for younger readers, and has no sex or violence, though it can be appreciated by adults, too --some parts are laugh-aloud funny. And the message has clear religious implications that would lend themselves very well to discussion in a religious magazine --it's about being open to expanding horizons in our perceptions of, and our thinking about, our physical and social universe. (Too often, I think, YAs are given the impression that this kind of openness is something Christianity is against, when it's actually an essential part of our spiritual growth!)

message 20: by Tom (new)

Tom (atomicus) | 3 comments I agree with Sandi's comments about sex in literature generally being jarring and disruptive to the more important elements of a book (George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice & Fire Series comes to mind. Great read, but the sex is more disruptive than a local used car commercial during an episode of Lost.) To me, sex in literature, especially scifi/fantasy, is rarely sexy--although I hear women feel differently about this. I find a correlation between how graphic a sex scene is to how irrelevent it is.

Because of this, YA is often a breath of fresh air.

message 21: by Heather (new)

Heather (bigheather) | 1 comments I really enjoyed Arthur C. Clarke as a teenager -- Childhood's End, the Rendezvous with Rama series, 2001, 2010.

The Hitchiker's Guide series was also a big hit with me and a bunch of my friends around the 15 / 16 year mark also.

message 22: by Lucianna (new)

Lucianna (lucianna77) | 2 comments Try the series Cats of the Clans Series. It is great for animal and fantasy lovers adults and teens like! It is popular in the library I work at. check it out here:

message 23: by Lucianna (new)

Lucianna (lucianna77) | 2 comments Garth Nix is also very popular and the Charlie Bone Series

message 24: by rebecca j (new)

rebecca j (technophobe) | 2 comments Interstellar Pig by William Sleator and the Aliens Ate my Homework series by Bruce Coville(?) are great for beginning sci-fi fans.

message 25: by Jason (new)

Jason | 2 comments The Madeleine L'Engle Series is great, as mentioned above.

A Wrinkle In Time
A Wind In the Door
A Swiftly Tilting Planet
Many Waters
Arm of the Starfish

This is the series that got me started on Sci-Fi, and is very friendly for early readers. I think I read Wrinkle in 5th grade when I was 9 or 10.

message 26: by Lori (new)

Lori Childhood's End is the book that started it all for me, I read it when I was 11.

message 27: by Amy (new)

Amy Wheatley (awheatley) | 2 comments What about Scott Westerfeld's Uglies, Pretties, Specials, and Extras?

message 28: by Amy (last edited Sep 30, 2008 10:37AM) (new)

Amy Wheatley (awheatley) | 2 comments Feed by M.T. Anderson

message 29: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandikal) Feed was terrific.

message 30: by Garrett (new)

Garrett (this_boy) | 6 comments Clockwork Orange was fun to read as a teenager, with the teenage angst and random acts of violence.

message 31: by Bill (new)

Bill (kernos) | 117 comments What exactly is a YA?

message 32: by Carolyn (last edited Aug 02, 2010 09:30AM) (new)

Carolyn (seeford) I'd add some others in here:

While I love her Pern series, for a 'real' scifi feel, Anne McCaffrey's Brainship series can't be beat! Start with The Ship Who Sang It can promote some really good conversations about the abled.

A book of her short stories, Get Off the Unicorn is good, many of them are the precursor to all of her series - there's a dragon story, a telepath story, etc. Her Pegasus series and Rowan series are both good for YA, as is the Dragonsinger/Dragonsong pair of books set on Pern (no reference to sex in these two at all).

Another excellent author is Julie E. Czerneda. A scientist herself, besides her Trade Pact and Web Shifters series (which I would also consider excellent YA introductions to SF), she has also written a series of books to introduce younger readers to science fiction. One is Orbiter, and there is a companion teacher guide Orbiter Teacher's Guide. There are a bunch of those, I think the series is called Tales from the Wonder Zone.

message 33: by Werner (new)

Werner Kernos, in library parlance, YA stands for "Young Adult." We (librarians) usually think of that group as the tweens/younger teens demographic --but some of the books may appeal to older readers as well.

message 34: by Bill (new)

Bill (kernos) | 117 comments Yes, but for us non-Librarians it seems a misnomer. To me a young adult is anyone under 40 and over 18.

Who decides when a book is characterized as YA (in librarian jargon) and on what basis?

A number of books mentioned here would not be understood by most YA, and require considerable maturity to really 'get'. I would suggest A Clockwork Orange, the Ender series beyond Ender's Game (though that one works on several levels); The Perelandra trilogy requires a good liberal arts education (vis à vis, Narnia which is a kid's series); Flowers for Algernon is one of the great books of the 20th century. Stanislaw Lem's books are adult, IMO. Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, not mentioned here are also adult.

I encourage my kids and grandkids to read such books, as they can be enjoyed on a tween/teen level, but hope they are re-read as they mature. They offer much different experiences as one gains experience.

I hope this doe not sound hubristic. ;-)

message 35: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn (seeford) Kernos wrote: "Yes, but for us non-Librarians it seems a misnomer. To me a young adult is anyone under 40 and over 18.

Who decides when a book is characterized as YA (in librarian jargon) and on what basis? ..."

Ah Kernos, please don't speak for all non-Librarians. Those of us who are actually under 40 (although getting closer every day), don't really appreciate the 'wise old elder' patronizing tone.

"YA" in literature is not a new term, the concept was first introduced in the early 1800's and the modern usage in the 50's/60's.

YA in literature is defined as: Young-adult fiction (often abbreviated as YAdult fiction, or simply YA) is fiction written for, published for, or marketed to adolescents, roughly between the ages of 12 and 18. Source: Wikipedia

To be or not be YA, that is the question. = )
YA is a classification much in flux - many books are classified YA by their publisher, for marketing reasons, others are not marketed that way, but shelved in the YA section by librarians. Some are conceived of and written for that audience by the author. There is some movement to divide the 12-18 group into younger ('Juvenile' 11-14) and older (YA 15-18), but there is no hard and fast authority to make an arbitrary decision, that will have to evolve over time.

There are many controversies over what is considered 'acceptable' topics for YA, or what makes a book YA or adult. Basically, there is a lot of crossover in the latter (as you've noted in your list of books), and a difference in outlook in the former: should YA books continue to 'cushion' minors by shielding them from mention of terrible things and illegal activities, or should they be a venue for relevant (not gratuitous) exposure to them as a way to teach young adults, or for them to relate to such things happening in their own lives.

Jury's still out on all that, but please, don't fool yourself that teens reading Flowers for Algernon or
Speaker for the Dead "would not be understood by most YA, and require considerable maturity to really 'get'." They 'get' it all right, they just might 'get' a different take on it than you would. Not necessarily a bad thing, since as you stated, a truly good book is one that can be reread over time and offer different things to the reader each time.

message 36: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary | 7 comments My books get called "Young Adult" by and, in movie rating terms, are probably PG to PG-13 in their action. My first definitely had adult heroes (some over 300 years old) but my second book centers on a teenage heroine with typical teen problems: looking for a job, dealing with a wizard who likes her, and ghosts invading her house. Well, typical teen problems if you live in Waterdeep :)

message 37: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) When it comes to classifying YA novels, they're hitting a huge comprehension range, too large to ever do well at it. It might be 'only 6 years' but that period probably has more growth in it than any other period in our lives except the first few years after birth. It's the range from comic books to Hustler, grade school to college or the Army. Lots of firsts; jobs, loves, cars & living on our own.

Each one of those firsts is a huge change on our perceptions. Depending on environment, hormones & opportunities, the emotional age can vary way more than the chronological ages. We're not as well protected, so can make some horrible, stupid choices & take the full consequences.

I'm never happy with any classifications of books & this one less than most. Even the broadest, such as fiction-nonfiction, have gray areas. Books like philosophy & religion/mythology can go either way. I keep some historical fiction in with my 'factual' history books because they often portray the 'truth' every bit as well.

Some books that are classed as YA, I read before I was 13 & understood just fine. Others I've read as an adult, decades apart, & still get something different out of them. All Quiet on the Western Front is a good example. My attitudes when I was 15, 25 & 45 were remarkably different on that subject.

I don't think it's bad to have a YA category, but I think any adult that blindly shoves a book at a kid because it is YA should have their head examined. "Hardy Boys" worked for me at 13, but not at 18. "The Outsiders" worked for all 6 years, but that's a rarity, not the rule.

message 38: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) I took Kernos' remark about 18 - 40 being a young adult as a joking reference (young-adult vs. 'young adult' or youth) nothing to get bent about. I know I tend to think anyone under 35 or so, down to 18, is a young adult, too. Since I have a kid over 25, my perspective of 'youth' has aged...

message 39: by Marsha (new)

Marsha (earthmarsha) | 5 comments My best friend and I loved Clockwork Orange as teenagers, and went around talking in Nadsat for months. It was really helpful later in life when I was trying to learn Russian.

message 40: by Marc (new)

Marc (authorguy) | 121 comments My publisher, Echelon Press, has an imprint for YA called Quake, and the books they release have main protags who range in age from 10 to 21. I have read almost all of these books and found them quite satisfying on an adult level as well. To name a few:
True Friends
The Secret of Bailey's Chase
Pretty Pretty
Surviving Serendipity

message 41: by Mir (new)

Mir | 31 comments I can see why Kernos was thinking of an older range, as in many other contexts "young adult" does mean "over 18." For instance the church near my house advertises a "young adult group" for single people ages 18-30. Even 15 or so years ago when I was a teen my library used "juvenile" and "teen" with no YA designation.

message 42: by Michael (new)

Michael | 3 comments Might I also recommend on the Short Story front Asimov's collection "Robot Dreams." There is some killing, but not graphic. Plus, it is easier to pick apart by younger readers, allowing them to examine the different segments of Science Fiction, since only about a third of the stories are on robots.

Another I would find very YA oriented would be "Fahrenheit 451" and "The Martian Chronicles" by Ray Bradbury. Easy to read and not too long.

Another interesting read, with a bit of humor, would be Adams' "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" Series. I would recommend sticking to books 1-3, however, as 4 does provide a hinting at sexuality and 5 seems to close off the series rather, well, oddly. But, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe," and "Life, the Universe, and Everything" are good YA Choices, in my opinion.

message 43: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth | 1 comments Neil Gaiman may be more Fantasy than Sci-Fi, but he has some wonderful young adult stuff that I absolutely love. "Stardust" is a wonderful story (it's what the 2007 movie was based on).

message 44: by James (new)

James (leatherneck76a) | 3 comments Vonda N. McIntyre Barbary. A good intro to Science Fiction for Young Adults. A fun book to read. Used copies all over.
From Publishers Weekly
As orphaned Barbary travels to her new home on a space station, her own problems are dwarfed by the first sighting of an alien spacecraft. The VIPs rushing out to study and possibly greet the approaching ship create enough commotion for Barbary to smuggle her pet cat Mickey on boardagainst the rules. Although this situation threatens to become cloying, McIntyre avoids potential traps as Barbary and her sister deal with being responsible for Mickey. At its best, the combination of excitement about space, living on a frontier, and the down-to-earth mechanical details of zero-G toilets recalls Robert Heinlein's excellent stories for this age group. In her first book for young readers, McIntyre displays the talent that won her acclaim for her adult SF.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

message 45: by Mir (new)

Mir | 31 comments The Warrior's Apprentice, the first of Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan series. The protagonist is about 18 when the series starts, and although it was not written for a YA audience I as a teen realy enjoyed watching Miles outwit older and more experienced men.

message 46: by Garrett (new)

Garrett (this_boy) | 6 comments I can't believe i forgot to mention, The Pendragon Series by D.J. MacHale, that was one of my favorite series as a teen.

message 47: by Celeste (new)

Celeste (celestelueck) | 4 comments I'd like to add The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, and if you would like some Juv stuff try Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer or Airborn by Kenneth Oppel, which could really by for YA or Juv readers. I'm sure as soon as I sigh off I'll think of some others.

message 48: by Julie (last edited Jun 03, 2010 08:53AM) (new)

Julie S. Some of these may have been mentioned previously but here's my:

Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow

Scott Westerfield: Uglies Pretties Specials Extras

His book Peeps also has some science fiction elements to it.

Feed by M.T. Anderson

Although 1984 is not a YA novel, I really enjoyed it reading it as a teen. I think that at least some teens would enjoy and understand it.

The Pendragon series, starting with The Merchant of Death

message 49: by Julie (new)

Julie S. I thought of another one House of Stairs.
While this is probably not straight science fiction, it has hints of dystopia with corrupt government and food shortages. I read this one recently and really liked it.

message 50: by Megan (new)

Megan Kudzia (meganmolly) | 1 comments Hi! I second the suggestion for Westerfeld's Uglies, Pretties, Specials, and Extras. Also possibly his new one, Leviathan. I can't wait to read it--it's technically in this genre called Steampunk (Wikipedia has an entry) but it looks fantastic.

Also, when I was a teen I loved Bova's "The Weathermakers," and "The Dueling Machine." There are some dated attitudes in here, but I definitely didn't notice when I first read them.

Good luck!

« previous 1
back to top