First, Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends in the U.S. I hope your holiday was full of laughter with good company and lots of great food. Second, next week, there will be a very special guest post here…I can’t say more yet, but be on the lookout December 2!
So, here we are at week 3 of my favorite YA reads. This week I’m taking a look my faves in the dystopian and Science Fiction space. Now, during the my review of the classics, I noted Ender’s Game, which also totally belongs here as the Mack Daddy of YA SciFi, at least in my opinion. Aliens, precocious kids, scheming adults, big politics–it has it all. But what about newer fare? Well, we have to start with the big one….
The Hunger Games Trilogy
Suzanne Collins nailed it. Bleak, dark, violent, this YA took the country by storm, and why not? With Katniss Everdeen, girls had a kickass heroine who fought as hard as the guys to protect those she loved. But Katniss also maintained vulnerability and, let’s face it, naivety. But this bow-wielding, braid-wearing defiant was willing to go up against the system in her own way…only to be used for a bigger cause. Underneath the story, lurks a beautifully, wickedly crafted satire about 1st world greed, Reality TV culture, and how governments hide suffering through entertainment. In fact, “Panem” means “bread” in Latin–and the Romans used “bread and games” as a way to pacify the masses. By keeping the Capitol sated with everything they desire, from fashion to gourmet, overabundant food, the citizens have less chance of worrying about the enslaved masses working to keep them entertained. All in all, it’s a heart-stopping story that makes you ask yourself some hard questions.
The Across the Universe Trilogy.
Part science-fiction, part dystopian, this trilogy focuses on the unlikely love story (and the perils of that love) between the newly awoken Amy, the child of two scientists who are cryogenically frozen for long distance space travel to a new Earth, and Elder, the leader in training of the “Shipper” population–the working class who keeps the Godspeed running as they travel the hundreds of years from home (Sol-Earth) to Centauri-Earth. There’s murder, genetic manipulation, class warfare and double crosses galore across this series. It isn’t hard SciFi, but definitely more SciFi than most YA novels out there. Very entertaining, and unusual, stuff. Warning–there are a few scenes that aren’t for the faint-hearted (and some sexual content).
The Courier’s Daughter series
Two books in and I’m really enjoying this post-apocalyptic YA by C. J. Redwine. Rachel, the heroine, is a tough-hearted, strong-willed girl in a society that forces women to be under the “protection” of a man at all times–either their father/guardian, or the man who’s claimed them for mate. Led by a cruel dictator, people don’t look to change their fate because he keeps them safe from the “Cursed One” who won’t dare enter the city walls. I won’t blow any secrets about the Cursed One, but it was a unique premise and I enjoyed it. There’s also a lovely, vulnerable, uncertain romance between Rachel and Logan, her father’s apprentice who becomes her guardian after her father’s is proclaimed dead, which is really uncomfortable because Logan’s about Rachel’s age. The world building is lovely, and while the Commander is kind of one-note in his cruelty and lust for revenge, I found the wider story a really good read.
You want noir? I’ll give you noir! This series might be my favorite of the lot. I’m known for liking my villians a little bit good and my heroes more than a little dark…and boy, does this trilogy by the master Holly Black deliver. Holy. Crap. In fact, I’m not even sure where to start. ::flails:: Okay, so imagine an alternate timeline in which some people have a genetic trait that allows them to work curses. They can only deliver them through the hands, so in this society, everyone wears gloves. Coming at someone with bare hands is like coming at them with a gun. (And the idea of blowback…let’s just say I wish I could think of something like that!) Now, imagine Cassel , one of the best, darkest YA heroes I’ve ever met, who is part of a curse-working crime family who works for the mob. And he’s the only one of them who can’t work curses, but is an exceptional conman on his own, running Book at his private school and scamming the people who think they know him. Oh, and he killed his best friend and is drowning in guilt over it. Yeah. Except…nothing is what it seems and once Cassel figures it out, everyone is after him, from the mob, to his family, to the Feds. Dirty, gritty, edgy–those are the perfect words for this read. But it is SO worth it. If you like hard-boiled mysteries, this is the series for you.
(My guilty pleasure from this list would be the Lux series by Jennifer Armentrout. Kind of soapy/campy with lots of cliffhangers, but darn if I’m not completely addicted. )
So that’s the list! What about you? What are your favorites?
I strongly suggest reading Robinson Wells (Feedback & Variant — a two book series). His newest book, blackout just came out and looks good. Also, Veronica Roth (Insurgent, Divergent and Allegiant) make a great dystopian trilogy.