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    26 YA Science Fiction Books For Any Type Of Reader

    All of these books are (figuratively) out of this world...and some are literally.

    If you haven't really read sci-fi before, or mostly read realistic books rather than speculative ones, here are some picks for you that are highly focused on character journeys with just a smidge of speculativeness!

    1. The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum (2019)

    Macmillan, Jasemine Denise / Via kancrum.com

    Ryann Bird dreams of traveling across the stars. Alexandria dreams of catching radio signals from the edge of the solar system. After an accident leaves Alexandria with a broken arm, the two girls are brought together, and Ryann realizes the reason Alexandria sits on the roof every night is that her mother is an astronaut who volunteered for a one-way trip. Ancrum's writing is the kind you only stumble on once in a lifetime, so make sure you get your hands on this one.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

    2. I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi (2019)

    HarperTeen, farahnazrishi.com

    There are seven days left until the world ends. That's what is being reported, at least — that in seven days a planet named Alma will hit the kill switch on Earth. Three teens react to this news in very different ways. Cate wants to use the last week to track down the father she never met. Adeem is deciding whether he can forgive his sister for leaving. And Jesse isn't even sure if he cares what happens to the world. If you love emotional stories about humanity when it feels like the end of the world, this is your book.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

    3. Slay by Brittney Morris (2019)

    Simon Pulse, Kariba Jack / Via authorbrittneymorris.com

    Brittney Morris's remarkable, innovative, heart-pounding debut follows honors student Kiera Johnson, who is one of the only Black kids at her school. She's also the developer of a secret online multiplayer role-playing card game called SLAY, where Black gamers can duel as Nubian personas. But this is a secret no one knows — not her family, not her friends, and especially not her video game–hating boyfriend. When a dispute in the SLAY world enters the real world, ending in a murder, the game enters the mainstream media, labelled as exclusionist, racist, and violent. Kiera also has to deal with a troll who infiltrates the game anonymously, threatening to sue Kiera for "anti-white discrimination." Can she protect her game without losing herself in the process?

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

    4. Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland (2020)

    Simon & Schuster, raquelvasquezgilliland.com

    Every new moon, Sia Martinez drives into the Arizona desert and lights San Anthony and La Guadalupe candles, hoping they will guide her mom's soul home after her deportation and assumed death three years prior. But one night, her mom reappears — alive and in a spacecraft that crashes in front of Sia's car. Gilliland weaves sci-fi and magic into a stunning contemporary story that sticks with you long after the first time you read it.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

    If you love superhero stuff that treads the line of sci-fi/fantasy, these superbooks are for you!

    5. Miles Morales: Spider-Man by Jason Reynolds (2017)

    Marvel Press, jasonwritesbooks.com

    Miles Morales' spidey-sense has been on the fritz. After a suspension from school due to a misunderstanding, Miles questions his abilities. But his spidey-sense goes off every day in history class, and vivid nightmares haunt his nights. And when he uncovers a chilling plot, he'll need to suit up to save his friends and his neighborhood. Reynolds' portrayal of Miles is superb, and the book never forgets that there are real life consequences to zipping through the streets, and to missing school or schoolwork because of your secret superpowers.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

    6. Collateral Damage by Taylor Simonds (2019)

    The Parliament House, taylorsimonds.com

    If you love the vibes from Spider-Man: Homecoming, and want a book with absolutely no romance, then do I have the book for you! In a world full of superheroes, one girl (and a rat named Trashface) will do whatever it takes... to not get killed. Meg lives in Lunar City, where the near-daily battles among superhumans has led her to adopt a "background citizen" existence. But her entire strategy falls to pieces when she stumbles across the dead body of one of the supers, and his girlfriend coerces her into tracking down who killed him.

    Get it from Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

    7. Not Your Sidekick by C. B. Lee (2016)

    Duet, Caroline Tran / Via cb-lee.com

    We're venturing from Spider-Man: Homecoming vibes over to one of the best superhero movies ever, Sky High. Jess Tran lives in Andover, where she's the superpower-less daughter of two of the town's superheroes, and is just trying to find an internship to beef up her college applications. When she finally lands one (that is paid), it turns out to be for the town's most heinous supervillain. And it's not only a welcome chance to spite her superhero parents, but it's also an opportunity to work with Abby, her longtime crush.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

    8. Faith: Taking Flight by Julie Murphy (2020)

    Balzer + Bray, Christy Archibald / Christy Archibald Photography (http://www.christyarchibald.com) / Via imjuliemurphy.com

    Faith Herbert can usually be found hanging with Matt and Ches, her two best friends, volunteering at the local animal shelter, obsessing over teen drama The Grove, or flying. That last one is new. When The Grove production relocates to her town, and the star Dakota Ash takes romantic interest in her, it's almost enough to distract her from a troubling conundrum: People have begun to vanish from the town, and only Faith can figure out why.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

    If you're a reader who loves anything that's just wildly enjoyable — but you've maybe been worried that sci-fi would be too dark for you — here are some delightful books to check out.

    9. The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow (2020)

    Inkyard Press, Nadine Rodler / Via alechiadow.com

    Two years ago, one-third of the population of Earth was wiped out after a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori. Ellie lives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City, where humanity's emotional expressions like art and books and music are all grounds for execution. M0Rr1S is a young Ilori commander who finds a secret library of books that Ellie keeps, and he knows he should turn her in. But as he himself is drawn to human music, he offers another idea: The two band together to travel thousands of miles to try and save them both.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

    10. The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah (2019)

    Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, London Shah / Via londonshah.com

    One of my favorite books of last year, The Light at the Bottom of the World is set in the last days of the 21st century, and London is underwater. When Leyla McQueen, a 16-year-old submersible racer, gets the chance to participate in the annual marathon, she knows it's her opportunity to save her father, who was arrested on false charges. But during the race, something unexpected occurs, leaving Leyla to defy a corrupt government determined to keep its secrets, and set off to rescue her father herself.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

    11. Invictus by Ryan Graudin (2017)

    Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, ryangraudin.com

    In this standalone, which feels sort of like if you mashed Doctor Who with Guardians of the Galaxy, Farway is the son of a time traveler from 2354 AD and a gladiator from ancient Rome. He's always dreamed of being a time traveler himself, but after he fails his entrance exam, he takes up a captain position on a ship that steals valuables from the past and sells them on the black market. While on the sinking Titanic, a mysterious girl appears — and she holds secrets that can affect all of time.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

    If you're obsessed with cool technology, all of these books feature intriguing premises complete with virtual reality, cybernetics, and action.

    12. Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh (2017)

    Tu Books, axieoh.com

    East Asia, 2199. Lee Jaewon, an ex-gang member living in Neo Seoul, is rising through the ranks as a pilot. Recruited into a weapons development division, he's given secret orders to spy on Tera, a test subject in a supersoldier project. Her purpose is to pilot a massive robot called a God Machine. And as time goes on and Jaewon's feelings for Tera grow, so does his unease in serving an oppressive regime.

    Get it from Bookshop, Barnes and Noble, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

    13. Rebelwing by Andrea Tang (2020)

    Razorbill, andreatangwrites.com

    After a routine smuggling deal goes wrong, Prudence Wu is saved by Rebelwing, a sentient cybernetic dragon. If it hadn't been for the dragon, she'd be in jail, and now it has returned to her side. With enforcers onto her, and the knowledge that Rebelwing is a weapon the government needs in a brewing war, Pru needs to learn how to pilot a dragon — and quickly.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

    14. War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi (2019)

    Razorbill, tochionyebuchi.com

    In 2172, much of the Earth is unlivable, and those rich enough and lucky enough to escape have abandoned the planet for colonies in the sky. Sisters Onyii and Ify live in war-torn Nigeria, where soldiers are outfitted with bionic limbs and artificial organs so they might be protected from the radiation-heavy climate. Survival is the only way of life, but Onyii and Ify dream of a peaceful future — even if they must fight a war to get to it.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

    15. Warcross by Marie Lu (2017)

    Penguin, Primo Gallanosa / Via penguinrandomhouse.com

    Emika Chen is a hacker, working as a bounty hunter in the virtual reality game Warcross. When she hacks into the opening game of the international tournament, and accidentally glitches into the action, she assumes she'll be arrested. Instead, Hideo, the game's creator, offers her another option. There's a security problem in the game, and he wants Emika to spy for him on the inside.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

    If you go through large phases of only reading dystopian literature, or just really love heart-pounding adventure books, these are the ones for you!

    16. This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada (2018)

    Simon Pulse, emilysuvada.com

    In Catarina's world, people are implanted with technology that allows them to recode their DNA. And Cat is a genius when it comes to gene-hacking, thanks in part to the fact that her father, Lachlan, is a legendary geneticist. But two years ago, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, and Cat's been on her own since. When one of Cartaxus's soldiers, Cole, brings news that her father has been killed, he also tells her that before his death, her father created a vaccine for the plague that brought humanity to the brink of extinction. And they need to find it before it is too late.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

    17. All These Monsters by Amy Tintera (2020)

    Houghton Mifflin, David Heisler (photographer) / Via amytintera.com

    Clara is desperate to fight back against her abusive father, but also against the monsters (called scrabs) that are currently ravaging the earth. So when she gets the chance to join a crew that fight the scrabs, she takes it. And while scrabs are violent and unpredictable, there might be bigger evils in her world. Tintera knows how to keep you hooked, and this action packed series starter leaves you desperate for book two.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

    18. The Last 8 by Laura Pohl (2019)

    Sourcebooks, onlybylaura.com

    Laura Pohl's thrilling duology begins after an alien invasion and stars Clover Martinez, who thinks she is Earth's lone survivor — that is, until she hears a voice on the radio telling her to go to the former Area 51. There she finds other teens who survived, and hopes that they'll join with her to fight back. But when the other seven hesitate, and when Clover finds a hidden spaceship in the compound, she doesn't know who or what to believe.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

    19. Proxy by Alex London (2013)

    Speak, calexanderlondon.com

    If you're rich, you don't take any punishments for your actions. Instead, you have a proxy, who is poor/in debt, who takes your punishments for you. After rich boy Knox gets into a car accident that kills the girl he's with, Syd, his proxy, is sentenced to death. But before his execution, he escapes and runs into Knox — and Knox finds out that the accident might have been planned.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

    20. Want by Cindy Pon (2017)

    Simon Pulse, cindypon.com

    In futuristic Taipei, the rich are able to buy specialty suits that protect them from pollution and the viruses in the city. Jason Zhou is grieving his mother, who died as a result of the city's corruption, and he's determined to change things. Since the Jin Corporation manufactures the suits, Zhou decides to infiltrate it and attempt to destroy it from within. After all, they make the suits — but they also might be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary. Want has action, espionage, romance, friendship, technology, and more, and it is certainly among the best YA sci-fi of all time.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

    21. The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline (2017)

    DCB, Wenzdae Brewster / Via penguinrandomhouse.ca

    After decimating the world via global warming, most of humanity has lost the ability to dream. The Indigenous people of North America are being hunted and harvested for their bone marrow, as it is the only thing that recovers this ability. Frenchie just wants to survive, struggling to stay hidden in the north. But among him and his companions lies one who holds the secret to defeating the marrow thieves.

    Get it from Bookshop, Barnes and Noble, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

    If you love space, or once listed astronaut as your dream job, you're going to be obsessed with these.

    22. A Conspiracy of Stars by Olivia A. Cole (2018)

    Katherine Tegen Books, oliviaacole.com

    When the usually secretive labs run by N'Terra scientists are opened to students, Octavia jumps at the chance. After all, she has dreamed of becoming one of the scientists who study the natural wonders of Faloiv. But once she's behind the scenes, she realizes that the experiments the scientists have been running could upset the fragile peace with the Faloii, the indigenous people of Faloiv. And uncovering the mysteries of the lies she's been taught could lead to everything she knows being destroyed.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

    23. Toxic by Lydia Kang (2018)

    Entangled Publishing, lydiakang.com

    Hana has grown up in the bioship Cyclo, hidden in a secret room by her mother. One day, her mother — along with every member of the crew — vanishes. Cyclo tells her that she was abandoned, but she knows her mom wouldn't just leave her there. Worse still, Cyclo is growing sicker by the day, and a crew of mercenaries, including a boy named Fenn, are on a one way trip to monitor the ship's expiration. And if Hana and Fenn fall for each other, it could kill them both.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

    24. Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (2018)

    Little, Brown, amiekaufman.com, meaganspooner.com

    If you want an Indiana Jones-esque story, but in space, this sci-fi adventure is for you. Amelia Radcliffe is a scavenger, searching the planet Gaia for any treasures it may hold. Jules Addison is a scholar, seeking to study the ancient alien culture of the Undying, long-extinct residents of Gaia and owners of incredibly advanced technology. When the two meet, they form a fragile alliance, and race to uncode secret messages as they make their way through the Undying temples.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

    25. A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna (2018)

    Sky Pony, Via sangumandanna.com

    Inspired by the Mahabharata and other ancient Indian stories, A Spark of White Fire follows Esmae, who was sent away by her mother, the queen, as an infant. Determined to make it back to her family, and to help her brother reclaim the throne stolen by their uncle, she enters a competition to win the unbeatable, sentient warship Titania — a great plan, until it all falls apart. This gorgeous space opera concludes next summer, so now is the perfect time to read the first two books.

    Get it from Barnes and Noble, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

    26. Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston (2018)

    Balzer + Bray, ashposton.com

    In this Anastasia-inspired space story, Ana was found as a child, drifting through space with a sentient robot called D09, by a space captain and crew. Ana is desperately searching for a way to save D09, who is glitching, and she finds herself on a quest to steal the coordinates to a lost ship. But before she gets there, a spoiled Ironblood boy beats her there. And when they both end up as fugitives on the run, the entire kingdom will come after them.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

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