Science fiction is one of the most popular genres in fiction. However, it can be tricky to know where to begin, considering there are so many great science fiction books out there.
Here are 5 YA book recommendations for sci-fi beginners:
- Scythe by Neal Shusterman
- The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- Capsule by Mel Torrefranca
- Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
The rest of this article will tell you everything you need to know about these titles (without spoilers, of course), so you can find your next read and decide whether or not sci-fi is a genre you want to explore further.
1. Scythe by Neal Shusterman
Scythe by Neal Shusterman follows the story of two teens in a society that has overcome mortality. Because illness and injury are no longer applicable, the task is left to the scythes– a highly-esteemed career of grim reapers who must kill people to make corrections and meet quotas.
When Citra and Rowan are asked to become apprentices to a noble scythe, they must leave their lives behind and train to become government assassins. However, they soon learn that their society isn’t as perfect as it seems.
As stakes grow higher and higher, the two are forced to do things they would never dream of. Citra and Rowan must make impossible decisions, all for the sake of their own survival.
2. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
The 5th Wave is an apocalyptic young adult series that follows a young girl navigating solitude after a series of alien invasions, or “waves.” Cassie has been separated from her younger brother. She survives solely for the sake of finding him, facing both crippling loneliness and grieving the loss of her parents. Narrated through multiple perspectives and with a jumping timeline, the novel explores what it means to be human and criticizes the things we often get wrong about society and ourselves.
3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games might seem like an obvious choice, but if you haven’t read the trilogy yet, it’s definitely a perfect segue into the science fiction genre.
Katniss Everdeen is a sixteen-year-old girl living in a totalitarian United States, where children are randomly selected to participate in a nationally televised game and forced to fight to the death for their own survival.
When Katniss’ younger sister Prim is selected for the next airing of the Hunger Games, Katniss volunteers to take her place alongside Peeta Mellark, the local baker and her secret admirer. Katniss is determined to make it out of the Hunger Games alone— and alive. But as the Hunger Games progress, she realizes that forming an alliance with Peeta could turn the “odds in her favor.” This trilogy is great for fans of love triangles and anti-capitalist commentary. It explores the importance of the individual and what happens when we stop valuing human life.
4. Capsule by Mel Torrefranca
Capsule by Mel Torrefranca is a young adult science fiction novel about loss, overcoming adversity, and the value of human relationships.
Jackie would rather spend time gaming in solitude than engaging with fellow students at her high school. But when students Peter and Kat go missing, a mysterious app called Capsule downloads itself onto her phone, threatening to take their lives unless Jackie wins the game in time. Having no other choice, Jackie agrees to play.
In this fast-paced thriller, the three students realize their lives are more intertwined than they initially thought. As the game forces them to dive deeper into their own realities, they uncover secrets darker than they could have ever imagined. Capsule’s clock is ticking, and losing the game has deadly consequences.
5. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard is a science fantasy series following a teenage girl in a futuristic society where people are segregated by blood type.
While Silvers have special abilities and endless wealth, Reds are powerless and forced to serve the higher class. When Mare Barrow is unexpectedly brought to the palace as a Red servant, she discovers powers that should only belong to a person with Silver blood. To maintain order and hide this anomaly from the public, Mare is disguised as a long-lost Silver noble and forced into an arranged marriage with the king’s youngest son, Maven, against her own wishes.
But Mare has other plans. With ties to the Red rebellion, she agrees to provide the rebels with information to help put an end to the Silver tyranny. However, as much as Mare wants to hate every Silver, she finds herself unwillingly falling for both the prince and his brother. She begins to doubt her sense of right and wrong and wonders whether or not she’s making the virtuous decisions.
As tension grows between the two brothers and stakes rise, Mare soon realizes that betrayal is imminent— and the cost of betrayal could be fatal.
Why Start With YA?
Starting with YA is a good way to ease yourself into any genre. Since YA is specifically designed for the “young adult” audience, which typically means readers from ages 12-18, the prose is usually fluid and easy to read. This makes them perfect for beginners to specific genres such as sci-fi.
Of course, YA is enjoyable for older readers as well. You don’t have to fall into the YA age range to read a young adult novel and genuinely enjoy it. Think of these books as ages 12+ instead.
Science fiction isn’t for everyone, but there’s a reason why so many people fall in love with reading because of science fiction.
If you think you have the potential to be a sci-fi enthusiast, these acclaimed YA titles are great introductory reads to help you ease your way into the genre. Hopefully, this list has helped you in your search.
Happy reading, and good luck!