This week’s list is my favorite kind of list. Why? I get to draw attention to awesome books that have been overlooked or underrated (at least, I think they’ve been overlooked – I am not infallible, though). Young adult science fiction is a hot commodity right now, but it hasn’t always been, and I think that’s why some of these titles have languished: pure timing. Others are more character-driven than plot-driven, and perhaps that made a difference. I can only guess really, because I think they’re great. This list is my attempt to sway you to the dark side (my side!). So, pick one up! These are great books and they deserve great readers.
Top Ten Underrated Books in Young Adult Science Fiction
1. Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci – Not ready to commit to reading a whole novel just yet? Check out Castellucci's short story for Tor.com, We Have Always Lived on Mars. Should give you a feel for how awesome her sci-fi is. (the answer = VERY. very #awesome.)
2. Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve – Perfect for upper middle grade as well as the young adult crowd, with steampunk flavor. It’s high-stakes mystery featuring a memorable heroine.
3. A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix – Garth Nix isn’t exactly an unknown – his Abhorsen series is big in fantasy, after all. However, buzz for this standalone sci-fi title faded almost as soon as it was released in 2012. I really liked the character development and travel-across-the-universe plot. And if you’re into early dystopian YA, another Nix standalone, Shade’s Children, is the way to go.
4. Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde – Video gaming, ethics, future tech, fantasy role playing and a deadly accident combine in this old favorite of mine. I need to read the rest of the books in the series, like, yesterday.
5. Pills and Starships by Lydia Millet – A huge favorite of mine from this year, and a pharmacological and ecological take on the dystopian trend.
6. Extras by Scott Westerfeld – I liked the Uglies series, but I never got farther than ‘liked’ until this, the fourth book. Extras was the only one that didn’t feature Tally as the main character (go figure), and I really enjoyed it. I thought it had a lot to say about our current celebrity- and tech-obsessed culture, and what it means for society’s future. Plus it was just FUN, you know?
7. Epic by Conor Kostick – Another video game/sci-fi/fantasy mash-up sort of book, with added dystopia! And dragons! Stellar older (and by older I mean published before I began blogging) YA sci-fi, and on my re-read list for sure.
8. InterWorld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves – Yes, I put a Neil Gaiman title on this list. Yes, I realize that Neil Gaiman is pretty much the opposite of underrated these days. But have you read this book? Because I’m betting you haven’t, and I thought it was an interesting take on parallel worlds.
9. Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund – One of the first genuinely sci-fi young adult books I ever read, and also a satisfying romance. Will please fans of These Broken Stars and Diana Peterfreund’s YA sci-fi romances.
10. Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry – If you’re only going to read one YA zombie novel, this is the one to pick. It’s good, features diverse characters, and its pulse-pounding pace is spot-on.
Would you add any books to this list?