The science fiction genre is known for inventive worldbuilding and immersive storytelling. But it can also be very intimidating at times. (Don’t worry, friend, you’re not alone!)
My own personal foray into sci-fi literature began with YA books—specifically, the well-known Divergent series by Veronica Roth, which I read in 2012. I have expanded my repertoire since then. But even as an adult, I still wholeheartedly believe that the accessibility of young adult books make them a great entry point for readers who want to dive into this fascinating genre.
Whether you’re starting out with the genre or already knee-deep into science fiction, here are some young adult sci-fi books that just might tickle your fancy. Check them out!
After being framed for the biggest terrorism crime in the history of space colonization, these queer teens are forced on the run and must successfully execute a dangerous heist to bring the truth to light.
Teeming with fun, humor, and adventure, The Disasters promises a charming interstellar romp. With an equally lovable ragtag team of misfits to boot!
The Fever King
Born in an apocalyptic society where a terrifying virus can either grant its victims death or unparalleled magical abilities, Noam is a technopath and the sole survivor among his family. When an opportunity to take down the corrupt government and its anti-immigrant policies arises, he immediately seizes it.
The Fever King offers a riveting character-driven story that also tackles moral complexity, politics, and personal trauma. Plus, Noam and Dara are sure to have you swooning!
Honor Among Thieves
In Honor Among Thieves, an elite team of people are handpicked by the Leviathan—a race of sentient alien ships—to travel the universe as their passengers.
With a lyrical narrative interspersed with interviews, online articles, and forbidden passages, this story is both deeply intriguing and moving. I highly recommend picking this up if you prefer your space stories with dark twists and mystery.
Pitched as Pacific Rim meets The Handmaid's Tale, Xiran Jay Zhao's bestselling debut novel is set in a dangerous world of brave pilots and giant fighting mecha inspired by East Asian mythological creatures. It also follows a young, ambitious woman trying to smash the patriarchy with her own two hands.
Fiercely feminist and defiantly unique, Iron Widow is a breath of fresh air in the YA science fiction genre. This isn’t a title any reader should miss out on.
Not Your Sidekick
What if we lived in a world where superpowers were common while internships were more difficult to find?
The first of C.B. Lee’s Sidekick Squad series, Not Your Sidekick follows the mundane life of Jessica Tran, who somehow lands herself in a perfect internship for the town’s most notorious supervillain.
Set in a futuristic post-war Korea, an ex-gang member and a military-tested super soldier are thrown together.
However, as begrudging respect evolves into something deeper, Lee Jaewon begins to question his loyalty to a war-driven regime that seeks to create weapons out of humans.
Action-packed and thrillingly paced, Rebel Seoul provides a compelling plot and thoughtful exploration of humanity.
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The Ones We're Meant to Find
What do you get when you combine We Were Liars, Black Mirror, and a dash of Studio Ghibli? A heart-wrenching tale about two sisters separated by a whole ocean and worsening climate change.
Perfect for fans of sci-fi with sociopolitical and environmental themes, The Ones We’re Meant to Find is sure to be a twisty treat. Unique, bewildering, and ultimately brilliant!
The Sound of Stars
To paraphrase the cover of The Sound of Stars, can a girl who risks her life for books and an alien who loves forbidden pop music work together to save humanity?
I can't give away the answer, but I can guarantee that this book delivers a whirlwind of a human-alien romance, and the emotional rollercoaster of a lifetime.
Set in a future Nigeria decimated by climate change and nuclear apocalypse, War Girls is a brutal, impressively-written sci-fi novel that touches on the historical conflict of the Nigerian Civil War.
Told through the perspectives of two sisters dreaming of a better future, this story is deeply touching and unforgettable.
The Weight of the Stars
Set in the distant future on Earth, the story follows two teenage girls who build an unlikely friendship (and later, romance), reigniting starry-eyed Ryann's dream to travel across the universe.
The Weight of the Stars is often described as an interstellar lesbian romance. With immersive storytelling that’s almost poetic, this book will definitely tug at readers’ heartstrings.
Zeroboxing is a weightless combat sport that rises to astronomical fame in the future, and no one plays the game better than Carr "the Raptor" Luka.
Have you ever wondered what the Olympics would be like if it were set in space? Just me? In any case, Fonda Lee’s Zeroboxer offers us a glimpse of competitive sports at an intergalactic scale—and it is incredibly exhilarating!