Happy September! With the start of this month comes the last of my SFF extravaganza posts! I have loved bringing you all these new books each week and it has really reminded me of how amazing a genre we have – and you don’t have to read a single book by a cishet white man to enjoy it! For the last week, we’ve got a genre which I feel doesn’t get as much hype as other areas of SFF: YA science fiction! It’s definitely a smaller sector than YA fantasy but there are some absolutely amazing gems in this list and I hope you can find some books you’d like to read!
Why I’m doing this
You may have heard of the mass abuse and harassment revelations in the SFF community over the past few months, from very well-known and very well protected cishet male authors. I’ve already pretty much given up reading books by cishet men, particularly in SFF where there is such a history of misogyny, racism, homophobia and abuse. So I decided now would be a great time to celebrate the lesser-heard voices in the community, namely from marginalised authors of colour, authors in the LGBTIQA+ community, or from disabled or neurodivergent authors. So for the next 5 weeks, I will be posting a list every Thursday celebrating 5 different segments of the SFF community: adult fantasy, adult sci-fi, horror (combined adult + YA), YA fantasy, and YA sci-fi.
This series also seems rather timely (completely a coincidence) after the absolute disaster of the recent Hugo Awards, where some old white men decided to be horrifically rude and racist, spending the whole evening praising racist old white dudes from years ago instead of pronouncing the names of the winners and nominees (aka their fucking job) correctly.
If you’re interested, do check out the other posts in this series!
- 63 adult fantasy books you can read instead of books by old, white racists
- 81 young adult fantasy books you can read instead of books by old, white racists
- 48 horror books you can read instead of books by old, white racists
- 49 adult science fiction books you can read instead of books by old, white racists
I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi
This is one of my favourite YA scifis. It’s definitely more of a quiet, slice of life scifi, following three teens at the end of the world who just want to find their families. It’s just such a peaceful and hopeful book, which sounds odd given it’s a book about the world ending in 7 days, but it works so well and it just made me really happy!
Seven days. Seven days. The Earth might end in seven days.
When news stations start reporting that Earth has been contacted by a planet named Alma, the world is abuzz with rumors that the alien entity is giving mankind only few days to live before they hit the kill switch on civilization.
For high school truant Jesse Hewitt, though, nothing has ever felt permanent. Not the guys he hooks up with. Not the jobs his underpaid mom works so hard to hold down. Life has dealt him one bad blow after another — so what does it matter if it all ends now? Cate Collins, on the other hand, is desperate to use this time to find the father she’s never met, the man she grew up hearing wild stories about, most of which she didn’t believe. And then there’s Adeem Khan. While coding and computer programming have always come easily to him, forgiveness doesn’t. He can’t seem to forgive his sister for leaving, even though it’s his last chance.
With only seven days to face their truths and right their wrongs, Jesse, Cate, and Adeem’s paths collide even as their worlds are pulled apart.
The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow
I’m definitely starting this list off very hopefully, because here is another very hopeful, totally cheesy alien invasion scifi! Aliens invaded earth and have outlawed creative expression. When a music-loving alien catches Ellie with her secret library, he blackmails her to help find him music (and then save the world)! This is a cute and hopeful scifi as an alien and a human work together to save humanity.
Can a girl who risks her life for books and an alien who loves forbidden pop music work together to save humanity?
Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population.
Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. Deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, humanity’s emotional transgressions are now grounds for execution. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her.
Born in a lab, M0Rr1S (Morris) was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does.
Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while making a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.
The Fever King by Victoria Lee
MY FAVOURITE BOOK EVER EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. I cannot express how much I adore this book. It’s set in a world ravaged by a virus where if you survive, you wake up with strange powers. This book is just so tremendously powerful. It wrecks me every time I read it. Very heavy content warnings though, which you can read in full on Lee’s website here.
In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.
The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.
Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.
The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah
This scifi has such an amazing setting – well, amazing in that the author describes it incredibly well, not amazing in knowing that the earth flooded and London is now underwater because humanity sucks. But this starts with a subversible race and then takes you on an adventure underwater across the UK on the hunt for the main character’s father, who was arrested several years ago for a crime he didn’t commit.
In the last days of the twenty-first century, sea creatures swim through the ruins of London. Trapped in the abyss, humankind wavers between fear and hope–fear of what lurks in the depths around them, and hope that they might one day find a way back to the surface.
When sixteen-year-old submersible racer Leyla McQueen is chosen to participate in the prestigious annual marathon, she sees an opportunity to save her father, who has been arrested on false charges. The Prime Minister promises the champion whatever their heart desires. But the race takes an unexpected turn, forcing Leyla to make an impossible choice.
Now she must brave unfathomable waters and defy a corrupt government determined to keep its secrets, all the while dealing with a guarded, hotheaded companion she never asked for in the first place. If Leyla fails to discover the truths at the heart of her world, or falls prey to her own fears, she risks capture–or worse. And her father will be lost to her forever.
A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna
I can’t believe I let this book languish on my shelf for 8 months before reading it, because it’s so fantastic!! This is a scifi inspired by the Mahabharata and set in space! There’s just so much excellent betrayal in this book, which causes so much pain and heartbreak but I loved every second!
In a universe of capricious gods, dark moons, and kingdoms built on the backs of spaceships, a cursed queen sends her infant daughter away, a jealous uncle steals the throne of Kali from his nephew, and an exiled prince vows to take his crown back.
Raised alone and far away from her home on Kali, Esmae longs to return to her family. When the King of Wychstar offers to gift the unbeatable, sentient warship Titania to a warrior that can win his competition, she sees her way home: she’ll enter the competition, reveal her true identity to the world, and help her famous brother win back the crown of Kali.
It’s a great plan. Until it falls apart.
Inspired by the Mahabharata and other ancient Indian stories, A Spark of White Fire is a lush, sweeping space opera about family, curses, and the endless battle between jealousy and love.
The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna
Another series from Mandanna, this one involving clones who are created to replace someone if they ever die which just sounds so fucked up and wonderful.
Eva’s life is not her own. She is a creation, an abomination—an echo. Made by the Weavers as a copy of someone else, she is expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her “other”, if she ever died. Eva studies what Amarra does, what she eats, what it’s like to kiss her boyfriend, Ray. So when Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva should be ready.
But fifteen years of studying never prepared her for this.
Now she must abandon everything she’s ever known—the guardians who raised her, the boy she’s forbidden to love—to move to India and convince the world that Amarra is still alive.
What Eva finds is a grief-stricken family; parents unsure how to handle this echo they thought they wanted; and Ray, who knew every detail, every contour of Amarra. And when Eva is unexpectedly dealt a fatal blow that will change her existence forever, she is forced to choose: Stay and live out her years as a copy or leave and risk it all for the freedom to be an original. To be Eva.
From debut novelist Sangu Mandanna comes the dazzling story of a girl who was always told what she had to be—until she found the strength to decide for herself.
Internment by Samira Ahmed
Internment is more dystopian than scifi, but it’s just such a brilliant book I wanted to include it on this list. It’s set in a near future US where Muslim Americans are put into internment camps. This book is tense and gripping novel, and a really difficult but powerful read. It’s about rebellions and finding hope to fight back even in the darkest of places.
Rebellions are built on hope.
Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens.
With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp’s Director and his guards.
Heart-racing and emotional, Internment challenges readers to fight complicit silence that exists in our society today.
The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James
This is another more hopeful scifi, set at the end of the world with the last two teenagers on earth as they spend their days exploring the ruins of London. And oh my god, THAT TWIST.
How far would you go to save those you love?
Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on the planet after a virus caused global infertility. Closeted in a pocket of London and doted upon by a small, ageing community, the pair spend their days mudlarking for artefacts from history and looking for treasure in their once-opulent mansion.
Their idyllic life is torn apart when a secret is uncovered that threatens not only their family but humanity’s entire existence. Lowrie and Shen face an impossible choice: in the quiet at the end of the world, they must decide who to save and who to sacrifice…
The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
How cool does this sound: a ship that can sail across time!! To any place, any time, real or imagined, as long as there is a map for it. HOW COOL?!?
Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.
As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, anby place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.
But the end to it all looms closer every day.
Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.
For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.
She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.
Or she could disappear.
Agnes at the End of the World by Kelly McWilliams
Stay in an evil cult where medicine is outlawed with a diabetic brother who will die without insulin or risk the viral pandemic wiping out the population on the outside? What would you do?
The Handmaid’s Tale meets Wilder Girls in this unique, voice-driven novel from Kelly McWilliams.
Agnes loves her home of Red Creek–its quiet, sunny mornings, its dusty roads, and its God. There, she cares tirelessly for her younger siblings and follows the town’s strict laws. What she doesn’t know is that Red Creek is a cult, controlled by a madman who calls himself a prophet.
Then Agnes meets Danny, an Outsider boy, and begins to question what is and isn’t a sin. Her younger brother, Ezekiel, will die without the insulin she barters for once a month, even though medicine is considered outlawed. Is she a sinner for saving him? Is her sister, Beth, a sinner for dreaming of the world beyond Red Creek?
As the Prophet grows more dangerous, Agnes realizes she must escape with Ezekiel and leave everyone else, including Beth, behind. But it isn’t safe Outside, either: A viral pandemic is burning through the population at a terrifying rate. As Agnes ventures forth, a mysterious connection grows between her and the Virus. But in a world where faith, miracles, and cruelty have long been indistinguishable, will Agnes be able to choose between saving her family and saving the world?
Malice by Pintip Dunn
I never really noticed how many virus outbreak books there were until we were in the middle of one… This one has a bit of twist though, because it hasn’t actually happened yet because a voice from the future is warning them.
What I know: a boy in my school will one day wipe out two-thirds of the population with a virus.
What I don’t know: who he is.
In a race against the clock, I not only have to figure out his identity, but I’ll have to outwit a voice from the future telling me to kill him. Because I’m starting to realize no one is telling the truth. But how can I play chess with someone who already knows the outcome of my every move? Someone so filled with malice they’ve lost all hope in humanity? Well, I’ll just have to find a way—because now they’ve drawn a target on the only boy I’ve ever loved…
The Last 8 by Laura Pohl
The Last 8 follows, you guessed it, EIGHT teens who survive an alien attack and are now holed up in the former Area 51.
A high-stakes survival story about eight teenagers who outlive an alien attack—perfect for fans of The 5th Wave
Clover Martinez has always been a survivor, which is the only reason she isn’t among the dead when aliens invade and destroy Earth as she knows it.
When Clover hears an inexplicable radio message, she’s shocked to learn there are other survivors—and that they’re all at the former Area 51. When she arrives, she’s greeted by a band of misfits who call themselves The Last Teenagers on Earth.
Only they aren’t the ragtag group of heroes Clover was expecting. The group seems more interested in hiding than fighting back, and Clover starts to wonder if she was better off alone. But then she finds a hidden spaceship, and she doesn’t know what to believe…or who to trust.
Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera
This has one of my favourite covers on this list, it’s GORGEOUS! This dystopian scifi tackles issues around capitalism and class through the eyes of a matriarchal society.
At night, Las Mal Criadas own these streets.
Nalah leads the fiercest all-girl crew in Mega City. That role brings with it violent throw downs and access to the hottest boydega clubs, but the sixteen-year-old grows weary of the life. Her dream is to get off the streets and make a home in the exclusive Mega Towers, in which only a chosen few get to live. To make it to the Mega towers, Nalah must prove her loyalty to the city’s benevolent founder and cross the border in a search for a mysterious gang the Ashé Ryders. Led by a reluctant guide, Nalah battles other crews and her own doubts, but the closer she gets to her goal, the more she loses sight of everything—and everyone— she cares about.
Nalah must do the unspeakable to get what she wants—a place to call home. But is a home just where you live? Or who you choose to protect?
Rebelwing by Andrea Tang
It sounds terrifying but increasingly more likely in our world let’s be honest: BLACK-MARKET-MEDIA SMUGGLING! And then combine that with sentient cybernetic dragons and you have something amazing.
Business is booming for Prudence Wu.
A black-market-media smuggler and scholarship student at the prestigious New Columbia Preparatory Academy, Pru is lucky to live in the Barricade Coalition where she is free to study, read, watch, and listen to whatever she wants. But between essays and exams, she chooses to spend her breaks sweet-talking border patrol with her best friend, Anabel, in order to sell banned media to the less fortunate citizens of the United Continental Confederacy, Inc.
When a drop-off goes awry, Pru narrowly escapes UCC enforcers to find that her rescuer is, of all things, a sentient cybernetic dragon. On the one hand, Pru is lucky not to be in prison, or worse. On the other, the dragon seems to have imprinted on her permanently, which means she has no choice but to be its pilot.
Drawn into a revolution she has no real interest in leading, Pru, Anabel, and friends Alex and Cat become key players in a brewing conflict with the UCC as the corporate government develops advanced weaponry more terrifying and grotesque than Pru could have ever imagined.
Spellhacker by M.K England
Another plague?!? Seriously who knew how many virus novels there were. In this one, we combine science fantasy with a heist and an earthquake that releases a magical plague.
From the author of The Disasters, this genre-bending YA fantasy heist story is perfect for fans of Marie Lu and Amie Kaufman.
In Kyrkarta, magic—known as maz—was once a freely available natural resource. Then an earthquake released a magical plague, killing thousands and opening the door for a greedy corporation to make maz a commodity that’s tightly controlled—and, of course, outrageously expensive.
Which is why Diz and her three best friends run a highly lucrative, highly illegal maz siphoning gig on the side. Their next job is supposed to be their last heist ever.
But when their plan turns up a powerful new strain of maz that (literally) blows up in their faces, they’re driven to unravel a conspiracy at the very center of the spellplague—and possibly save the world.
Rebel Soul by Axie Oh
This is military science fiction is set in Neo Seoul in the aftermath of a massive war, and follows a soldier trying to prove himself to the state working on the supersoldier program, but then falls in love with the partner he’s supposed to be reporting on.
After a great war, the East Pacific is in ruins. In brutal Neo Seoul, where status comes from success in combat, ex-gang member Lee Jaewon is a talented pilot rising in the ranks of the academy. Abandoned as a kid in the slums of Old Seoul by his rebel father, Jaewon desires only to escape his past and prove himself a loyal soldier of the Neo State.
When Jaewon is recruited into the most lucrative weapons development division in Neo Seoul, he is eager to claim his best shot at military glory. But the mission becomes more complicated when he meets Tera, a test subject in the government’s supersoldier project. Tera was trained for one purpose: to pilot one of the lethal God Machines, massive robots for a never-ending war.
With secret orders to report on Tera, Jaewon becomes Tera’s partner, earning her reluctant respect. But as respect turns to love, Jaewon begins to question his loyalty to an oppressive regime that creates weapons out of humans. As the project prepares to go public amidst rumors of a rebellion, Jaewon must decide where he stands—as a soldier of the Neo State, or a rebel of the people.
Pacific Rim meets Korean action dramas in this mind-blowing, New Visions Award-winning science fiction debut.
Want by Cindy Pon
Another book I can see definitely happening in the very near future, where rich people can afford to buy suits that protect them from viruses and pollution and help them live longer. Apparently every scifi novel is officially terrifying to me WHY DOES THE WORLD FUCKING SUCK. Want follows Jason who tries to take down the company who create the special suits by infilitrating the company.
Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits that protect them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother, who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.
With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.
Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is or destroying his own heart?
Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan
The criminal mastermind wrecking havoc on the Olympus Commonwealth is actually a 17 year old girl who they’ve captured and are now forcing her to work for them to prove their might to their empire.
Everyone in the universe knows his name. Everyone in the universe fears him. But no one realizes that notorious outlaw Ia Cōcha is a seventeen-year-old girl.
A criminal mastermind and unrivaled pilot, Ia has spent her life terrorizing the Olympus Commonwealth, the imperialist nation that destroyed her home. When the Commonwealth captures her and her true identity is exposed, they see Ia’s age and talent as an opportunity: by forcing her to serve them, they will prove that no one is beyond their control.
Soon, Ia is trapped at the Commonwealth’s military academy, desperately plotting her escape. But new acquaintances—including Brinn, a seemingly average student with a closely-held secret, and their charming Flight Master, Knives—cause Ia to question her own alliances. Can she find a way to escape the Commonwealth’s clutches before these bonds deepen?
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
This university is the best in the galaxy but to go there, Binti must give up her family and live in a place with strangers who do not respect her culture. And, the deadly race at war with the university might kill her before she even gets there.
Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.
Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.
If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive.
Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson
An encounter with homeland security which ends in hospital with no memory of what happened, and suddenly there’s a deadly virus sweeping the country. And if Bird remembers what happened that night, it might unleash the biggest government scandal in US history.
Emily Bird was raised not to ask questions. She has perfect hair, the perfect boyfriend, and a perfect Ivy-League future. But a chance meeting with Roosevelt David, a homeland security agent, at a party for Washington DC’s elite leads to Bird waking up in a hospital, days later, with no memory of the end of the night.
Meanwhile, the world has fallen apart: A deadly flu virus is sweeping the nation, forcing quarantines, curfews, even martial law. And Roosevelt is certain that Bird knows something. Something about the virus–something about her parents’ top secret scientific work–something she shouldn’t know.
The only one Bird can trust is Coffee, a quiet, outsider genius who deals drugs to their classmates and is a firm believer in conspiracy theories. And he believes in Bird. But as Bird and Coffee dig deeper into what really happened that night, Bird finds that she might know more than she remembers. And what she knows could unleash the biggest government scandal in US history.
Not Your Sidekick by C.B Lee
Superhero scifi time! And in this one, the daughter of two superheros gets an internship with the town’s supervillain, what could possibly go wrong when her parents find out?
Welcome to Andover… where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef-up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, who Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.
On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis
On the Edge of Gone follows an autistic heroine preparing for a comet blast to hit Earth, who fears she won’t be allowed to stay on a ship leaving Earth. And even if she does get a spot, what about her family?
January 29, 2035.
That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one. Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter near their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found, and at the rate Denise’s drug-addicted mother is going, they’ll never reach the shelter in time.
Then a last-minute encounter leads them to something better than a temporary shelter: a generation ship that’s scheduled to leave Earth behind and colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But each passenger must have a practical skill to contribute. Denise is autistic and fears that she’ll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister?
When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?
Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee
Fonda Lee is the author of one of my favourite adult fantasy series and I can’t wait to read her YA scifi! It’s about a famous sportsperson who plays a weightless combat sport called zeroboxing!
A rising star in the weightless combat sport of zeroboxing, Carr “the Raptor” Luka dreams of winning the championship title. Recognizing his talent, the Zero Gravity Fighting Association assigns Risha, an ambitious and beautiful Martian colonist, to be his brandhelm––a personal marketing strategist. It isn’t long before she’s made Carr into a popular celebrity and stolen his heart along the way.
As his fame grows, Carr becomes an inspirational hero on Earth, a once-great planet that’s fallen into the shadow of its more prosperous colonies. But when Carr discovers a far-reaching criminal scheme, he becomes the keeper of a devastating secret. Not only will his choices place everything he cares about in jeopardy, but they may also spill the violence from the sports arena into the solar system.
War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi
This future novel is set is 2172 where climate change and nuclear disasters have destroyed most of the world. In Nigeria, a civil war rages with supersoldiers with bionic limbs and artifical organs to protect from the climate but a pair of sisters dream of peace.
The year is 2172. Climate change and nuclear disasters have rendered much of earth unlivable. Only the lucky ones have escaped to space colonies in the sky.
In a war-torn Nigeria, battles are fought using flying, deadly mechs and soldiers are outfitted with bionic limbs and artificial organs meant to protect them from the harsh, radiation-heavy climate. Across the nation, as the years-long civil war wages on, survival becomes the only way of life.
Two sisters, Onyii and Ify, dream of more. Their lives have been marked by violence and political unrest. Still, they dream of peace, of hope, of a future together.
And they’re willing to fight an entire war to get there.
Compass Rose by Anna Burke
Pirates! Ships! Set in the 26th century! With a person who has a compass inside her!
Rose was born facing due north, with an inherent perception of cardinal points flowing through her veins. Her uncanny sense of direction earns her a coveted place among the Archipelago Fleet elite, but it also attracts the attention of Admiral Comita, who sends her on a secret mission deep into pirate territory. Accompanied by a ragtag crew of mercenaries and under the command of Miranda, a captain as bloodthirsty as she is alluring, Rose discovers the hard way that even the best sense of direction won’t be enough to keep her alive if she can’t learn to navigate something far more dangerous than the turbulent seas. Aboard the mercenary ship, Man o’ War, Rose learns quickly that trusting the wrong person can get you killed—and Miranda’s crew have no intention of making things easy for her—especially the Captain’s trusted first mate, Orca, who is as stubborn as she is brutal.
This swashbuckling 26th century adventure novel is smart, colorful and quirky, yet it manages to deliver a healthy dose of heart, humor, and humility on every single page.
The Weight of the Stars by K.Ancrum
This is a little on the light side of scifi, more contemporary with a side of scifi but I love it so much I had to put it on this list! K.Ancrum is one of my autobuy authors, she has a way of writing the most beautiful and heartbreaking novels. The Weight of the Stars is about a teen who’s mother went to space and she stays up late listening to a radio trying to hear a message; and the girl who broke her arm and now helps her listen. It has queer found family at its best!!
Ryann Bird dreams of traveling across the stars. But a career in space isn’t an option for a girl who lives in a trailer park on the wrong side of town. So Ryann becomes her circumstances and settles for acting out and skipping school to hang out with her delinquent friends.
One day she meets Alexandria: a furious loner who spurns Ryann’s offer of friendship. After a horrific accident leaves Alexandria with a broken arm, the two misfits are brought together despite themselves—and Ryann learns her secret: Alexandria’s mother is an astronaut who volunteered for a one-way trip to the edge of the solar system.
Every night without fail, Alexandria waits to catch radio signals from her mother. And its up to Ryann to lift her onto the roof day after day until the silence between them grows into friendship, and eventually something more…
In K. Ancrum’s signature poetic style, this slow-burn romance will have you savoring every page.
Mirage by Somaiya Daud
This science fantasy is set in a star system dominated by a brutal empire and the woman who is kidnapped by the regime and taken to the royal palace to act as a body double for the princess.
In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.
But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.
As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.
Convergence by Marita Smith
Marita Smith is a local Aussie author who just so happens to be very cool: her day job is as a mycologist!!! (A mushroom grower). Convergence is about a scientist searching for the gene that will allow humans to communicate with animals. And when she stumbles onto it, she has to find the individuals with the genetic mutation before a corporation turns them into lab rats.
For scientist Robyn Greene, her laboratory is a second home. Here she searches for the ancient gene that is supposed to enable humans to communicate with animals. After years of failure, she’s beginning to wonder if the gene is a myth. But when she stumbles across a strange genetic mutation, Robyn’s world turns upside down. The man posing as her boss is, in fact, an operative of the mysterious international organisation, the MRI. Worse, they have dark plans to exploit her discovery.
In a race against time, Robyn must track down the individuals with this rare gene before the MRI turns them into lab rats. But when she meets the three teenagers, she realises that protecting them from the MRI is not only about saving their lives. Fletcher, Ariana and Eli are capable of more than anyone realises; they are part of an ancient cycle designed to keep the Earth in balance. A terrible future awaits the planet if the MRI gains control of Robyn and her research before she’s figured out the kindred ties that bind these teenagers.
Dreadnought by April Daniels
OWNVOICES TRANS SUPERHERO STORY *pterodactyl screech*
Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of Dreadnought, the world’s greatest superhero.
Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, Danny was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But before he expired, Dreadnought passed his mantle to her, and those secondhand superpowers transformed Danny’s body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl.
It should be the happiest time of her life, but Danny’s first weeks finally living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined. Between her father’s dangerous obsession with “curing” her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and her fellow superheroes arguing over her place in their ranks, Danny feels like she’s in over her head.
She doesn’t have much time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer—a cyborg named Utopia—still haunts the streets of New Port City, threatening destruction. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.
Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes
This YA space opera follows the crew of a small cargo ship across the galaxy, when the sister of the captain is kidnapped by a crime syndicate that holds people hostage is cryostasis. BUT there is also something to do with PSYCHIC CATS yes you read that right, PSYCHIC CATS. Please take my money.
A hilarious, offbeat debut space opera that skewers everything from pop culture to video games and features an irresistible foul-mouthed captain and her motley crew, strange life forms, exciting twists, and a galaxy full of fun and adventure.
Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra cruise the galaxy delivering small cargo for even smaller profits. When her sister Mari is kidnapped by The Fridge, a shadowy syndicate that holds people hostage in cryostasis, Eva must undergo a series of unpleasant, dangerous missions to pay the ransom.
But Eva may lose her mind before she can raise the money. The ship’s hold is full of psychic cats, an amorous fish-faced emperor wants her dead after she rejects his advances, and her sweet engineer is giving her a pesky case of feelings. The worse things get, the more she lies, raising suspicions and testing her loyalty to her found family.
To free her sister, Eva will risk everything: her crew, her ship, and the life she’s built on the ashes of her past misdeeds. But when the dominoes start to fall and she finds the real threat is greater than she imagined, she must decide whether to play it cool or burn it all down.
Opposite of Always by Justin A Reynolds
This contemporary scifi is an extraodinarily fun time travel novel, which follows Jack who keeps reliving the same months over and over again from when he first meets a girl called Kate at a party to when she dies months later from a chronic illness.
Debut author Justin A. Reynolds delivers a hilarious and heartfelt novel about the choices we make, the people we choose, and the moments that make a life worth reliving.
When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack.
But then Kate dies. And their story should end there.
Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind.
Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do to save the people he loves.
Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas
This is a wonderfully soft contemporary YA about two boys who become friends through letters as they can never meet: one who has an electronic pacemaker, and the other is allergic to electricity and has seizures if in contact with it.
Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times—as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him.
A story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances, this debut is powerful, dark and humorous in equal measure. These extraordinary voices bring readers into the hearts and minds of two special boys who, like many teens, are just waiting for their moment to shine.
Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland
This book is a mesh of all the best parts of science fiction, fantasy and contemporary, following a Mexican American teen who finds her mother when an alien spacecraft crashes in front of her carrying her mother on board (after she disappeared in an ICE raid three years earlier).
Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe meets Roswell by way of Laurie Halse Anderson in this astonishing, genre-bending novel about a Mexican American teen who discovers profound connections between immigration, folklore, and alien life.
It’s been three years since ICE raids and phone calls from Mexico and an ill-fated walk across the Sonoran. Three years since Sia Martinez’s mom disappeared. Sia wants to move on, but it’s hard in her tiny Arizona town where people refer to her mom’s deportation as “an unfortunate incident.”
Sia knows that her mom must be dead, but every new moon Sia drives into the desert and lights San Anthony and la Guadalupe candles to guide her mom home.
Then one night, under a million stars, Sia’s life and the world as we know it cracks wide open. Because a blue-lit spacecraft crashes in front of Sia’s car…and it’s carrying her mom, who’s very much alive.
As Sia races to save her mom from armed-quite-possibly-alien soldiers, she uncovers secrets as profound as they are dangerous in this stunning and inventive exploration of first love, family, immigration, and our vast, limitless universe.
Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy
Arthurian legend but in SPACE!!!
I’ve been chased my whole life. As a fugitive refugee in the territory controlled by the tyrannical Mercer corporation, I’ve always had to hide who I am. Until I found Excalibur.
Now I’m done hiding.
My name is Ari Helix. I have a magic sword, a cranky wizard, and a revolution to start.
When Ari crash-lands on Old Earth and pulls a magic sword from its ancient resting place, she is revealed to be the newest reincarnation of King Arthur. Then she meets Merlin, who has aged backward over the centuries into a teenager, and together they must break the curse that keeps Arthur coming back. Their quest? Defeat the cruel, oppressive government and bring peace and equality to all humankind.
Girl Gone Viral by Arvin Ahmadi
I love a good video game book and this one is all about virtual reality and the coder who wants to win a competition to meet the foudner of the world’s biggest VR platform so she can find out if he killed her father.
For seventeen-year-old Opal Hopper, code is magic. She builds entire worlds from scratch: Mars craters, shimmering lakes, any virtual experience her heart desires.
But she can’t code her dad back into her life. When he disappeared after her tenth birthday, leaving only a cryptic note, Opal tried desperately to find him. And when he never turned up, she enrolled at a boarding school for technical prodigies and tried to forget.
Until now. Because WAVE, the world’s biggest virtual reality platform, has announced a contest where the winner gets to meet its billionaire founder. The same billionaire who worked closely with Opal’s dad. The one she always believed might know where he went. The one who maybe even murdered him.
What begins as a small data hack to win the contest spirals out of control when Opal goes viral, digging her deeper into a hole of lies, hacks, and manipulation. How far will Opal go for the answers–or is it the attention–she’s wanted for years?
Crownchasers by Rebecca Coffindaffer
This book has a pansexual main character and if that alone doesn’t make you want to read this, it also has a princess who needs to compete in a race to win the throne she doesn’t want! (Release date: 29 September)
A deadly competition for the throne will determine more than just the fate of the empire in this riveting duology opener, perfect for fans of The Hunger Games, Aurora Rising, and Three Dark Crowns.
Alyssa Farshot has spent her whole life trying to outrun her family legacy. Her mother sacrificed everything to bring peace to the quadrant, and her uncle has successfully ruled as emperor for decades. But the last thing Alyssa wants is to follow in their footsteps as the next in line for the throne. Why would she choose to be trapped in a palace when she could be having wild adventures exploring a thousand-and-one planets in her own ship?
But when Alyssa’s uncle becomes gravely ill, his dying wish surprises the entire galaxy. Instead of naming her as his successor, he calls for a crownchase, the first in seven centuries. Representatives from each of the empire’s prime families—including Alyssa—are thrown into a race to find the royal seal, which has been hidden somewhere in the empire. The first to find the seal wins the throne.
Alyssa’s experience as an explorer makes her the favorite to win the crown she never wanted. And though she doesn’t want to be empress, her duty to her uncle compels her to participate in this one last epic adventure. But when the chase turns deadly, it’s clear that more than just the fate of the empire is at stake. Alyssa is on her most important quest yet—and only time will tell if she’ll survive it.
Skyhunter by Marie Lu
This military scifi is set in the last free nation in the world and follows a soldier ready to fight against the mutant beast army of the Federation with the possible spy (or alternatively savior) for her country. (Release date: 29 September)
A broken world.
An overwhelming evil.
A team of warriors ready to strike back.
#1 New York Times-bestselling author Marie Lu is back with an adrenaline-laced novel about the lengths one warrior will go to fight for freedom and those she loves.
Talin is a Striker, a member of an elite fighting force that stands as the last defense for the only free nation in the world: Mara.
A refugee, Talin knows firsthand the horrors of the Federation, a world-dominating war machine responsible for destroying nation after nation with its terrifying army of mutant beasts known only as Ghosts.
But when a mysterious prisoner is brought from the front to Mara’s capital, Talin senses there’s more to him than meets the eye. Is he a spy from the Federation? What secrets is he hiding?
Only one thing is clear: Talin is ready to fight to the death alongside her fellow Strikers for the only homeland she has left…with or without the boy who might just be the weapon to save—or destroy—them all.
Loyalty is life.
White Fox by Sara Faring
I only want to read spooky, creepy books right now (apparently I’m in the Halloween mindset a little early this year), but this book is one of those and I can’t wait to read it! It’s comped to Black Mirror and I’ll read pretty much anything compared to that show. (Release date: 22 September)
After their world-famous actor mother disappeared under mysterious circumstances, Manon and Thaïs left their remote Mediterranean island home—sent away by their pharma-tech tycoon father. Opposites in every way, the sisters drifted apart in their grief. Yet their mother’s unfinished story still haunts them both, and they can’t put to rest the possibility that she is still alive.
Lured home a decade later, Manon and Thaïs discover their mother’s legendary last work, long thought lost: White Fox, a screenplay filled with enigmatic metaphors. The clues in this dark fairytale draw them deep into the island’s surreal society, into the twisted secrets hidden by their glittering family, to reveal the truth about their mother—and themselves.
Rise of the Red Hand by Olivia Chadha
This is one of my most anticipated releases of 2021!! It’s a look at the future of climate change in South Asia with a streetrat revolutionary and a hacker son of a politician, black-market robotics, cyborgs living in poverty, literally everything about this sounds amazing. (Release date: 19 January)
A rare, searing portrayal of the future of climate change in South Asia. A streetrat turned revolutionary and the disillusioned hacker son of a politician try to take down a ruthlessly technocratic government that sacrifices its poorest citizens to build its utopia.
The South Asian Province is split in two. Uplanders lead luxurious lives inside a climate-controlled biodome, dependent on technology and gene therapy to keep them healthy and youthful forever. Outside, the poor and forgotten scrape by with discarded black-market robotics, a society of poverty-stricken cyborgs struggling to survive in slums threatened by rising sea levels, unbreathable air, and deadly superbugs.
Ashiva works for the Red Hand, an underground network of revolutionaries fighting the government, which is run by a merciless computer algorithm that dictates every citizen’s fate. She’s a smuggler with the best robotic arm and cybernetic enhancements the slums can offer, and her cargo includes the most vulnerable of the city’s abandoned children.
When Ashiva crosses paths with the brilliant hacker Riz-Ali, a privileged Uplander who finds himself embroiled in the Red Hand’s dangerous activities, they uncover a horrifying conspiracy that the government will do anything to bury. From armed guardians kidnapping children to massive robots flattening the slums, to a pandemic that threatens to sweep through the city like wildfire, Ashiva and Riz-Ali will have to put aside their differences in order to fight the system and save the communities they love from destruction.
Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders
STAR WARS MEETS DOCTOR WHO I REPEAT STAR WARS MEETS DOCTOR WHO. This is the YA debut of Hugo-award winning author Charlie Jane Anders and I am so excited to read it!!
A thrilling adventure set against an intergalactic war with international bestselling author Charlie Jane Anders at the helm in her YA debut—think Star Wars meets Doctor Who, and buckle your seatbelts.
Tina has always known her destiny is outside the norm—after all, she is the human clone of the most brilliant alien commander in all the galaxies (even if the rest of the world is still deciding whether aliens exist). But she is tired of waiting for her life to begin.
And then it does—and maybe Tina should have been more prepared. At least she has a crew around her that she can trust—and her best friend at her side. Now, they just have to save the world.
From internationally bestselling author Charlie Jane Anders (All the Birds in the Sky) comes a thrilling adventure set against an intergalactic war—Anders’s long-awaited YA debut.
Yesterday is History by Kosoko Jackson
This scifi is all about a boy in need of a liver transplant, but his new liver comes with a side effect: time travel! And then he falls for the brother of his dead donor who doesn’t really want anything to do with him as he is still getting over the death of his brother. But he’s also falling for the boy he visits in 1969… (Release date: 2 February)
Weeks ago, Andre Cobb received a much-needed liver transplant.
He’s ready for his life to finally begin, until one night, when he passes out and wakes up somewhere totally unexpected…in 1969, where he connects with a magnetic boy named Michael.
And then, just as suddenly as he arrived, he slips back to present-day Boston, where the family of his donor is waiting to explain that his new liver came with a side effect—the ability to time travel. And they’ve tasked their youngest son, Blake, with teaching Andre how to use his unexpected new gift.
Andre splits his time bouncing between the past and future. Between Michael and Blake. Michael is everything Andre wishes he could be, and Blake, still reeling from the death of his brother, Andre’s donor, keeps him at arm’s length despite their obvious attraction to each other.
Torn between two boys, one in the past and one in the present, Andre has to figure out where he belongs—and more importantly who he wants to be—before the consequences of jumping in time catch up to him and change his future for good.
The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman
I adore Akemi Dawn Bowman so I am SO EXCITED for this scifi!! It’s about a girl who gets murdered on her way to a graduation party and wakes up in the Infinity, where human conciousness goes when their body’s die. But in the afterlife, the virtual assistant on Earth, Ophelia, is now queen and foreces humans to serve her as she served them in real life. (Release date: 6 April)
Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto is certain her life is just beginning. She has a great family, just graduated high school, and is on her way to a party where her entire class is waiting for her—including, most importantly, the boy she’s been in love with for years.
The only problem? She’s murdered before she gets there.
When Nami wakes up, she learns she’s in a place called Infinity, where human consciousness goes when physical bodies die. She quickly discovers that Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used by humans on Earth, has taken over the afterlife and is now posing as a queen, forcing humans into servitude the way she’d been forced to serve in the real world. Even worse, Ophelia is inching closer and closer to accomplishing her grand plans of eradicating human existence once and for all.
As Nami works with a team of rebels to bring down Ophelia and save the humans under her imprisonment, she is forced to reckon with her past, her future, and what it is that truly makes us human.
From award-winning author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes an incisive, action-packed tale that explores big questions about technology, grief, love, and humanity.
The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He
Joan He wrote one of the most incredible debut novels I’ve ever read (Descendant of the Crane) thus I am unbelievably excited for her second novel! This time she’s delving into the world of scifi with a sister trapped on an island with no memory except that she needs to find her sister; and the STEM prodigy in the last unpolluted place on Earth who doesn’t know if she wants to help the last of humanity. (Release date: 4 May)
One of the most twisty, surprising, engaging page-turner YAs you’ll read this year—We Were Liars with sci-fi scope, Lost with a satisfying resolution.
Cee awoke on an abandoned island three years ago. With no idea of how she was marooned, she only has a rickety house, an old android, and a single memory: she has a sister, and Cee needs to find her.
STEM prodigy Kasey wants escape from the science and home she once trusted. The Metropolis—Earth’s last unpolluted place—is meant to be sanctuary for those commited to planetary protection, but it’s populated by people willing to do anything for refuge, even lie. Now, she’ll have to decide if she’s ready to use science to help humanity, even though it failed the people who mattered most.
City of Shattered Light by Claire Winn
There’s not much info on Goodreads it, but the author’s website says this is “A queer, female-led Firefly crew meets the bass-pumping cyberpunk atmosphere of Altered Carbon.” HOW EPIC?! DOES THAT SOUND?! (Release date: October 2021)
Mari Kesselring and Kelsy Thompson at Flux have bought Claire Winn’s YA sci-fi debut, City of Shattered Light, a high-stakes adventure pitched as a queer, female-led Guardians of the Galaxy meets Escape from New York. Heiress Asa flees her controlling father to prevent her sister’s mind from being wiped—but must ally with Riven, a gunslinging smuggler bent on clawing her way up the criminal hierarchy, to outwit a monstrous AI and save Asa’s sister and their city.
No Frills by Erin Elizabeth Grammar
Fashion and blood infections and fantasy and science! WITH A BI, SOCIALLY ANXIOUS GIRL!! (Release date: 13 October)
Inspired by comic books and magical girls, debut author Erin Elizabeth Grammar’s NO FRILLS blends fantasy and science fiction with pop culture.
When eighteen-year-old bi, socially anxious Harajuku fashionista Holly Roads is infected by blood that bestows destructive strength, she strikes a deal with a trigger-happy, demoted CIA prodigy: Capture the mutant his mad scientists accidentally unleashed upon San Francisco in exchange for the cure for her powers.
Gearbreakers by Zoe Hanu Mikuta
Colossal mechas and two girls on opposite sides of a war WHO FALL FOR EACH OTHER? This sounds like the sapphic enemies to lovers of my dreams.
Zoe Hana Mikuta’s Gearbreakers is an electric YA debut novel about colossal mechas, a tyrannical regime, and two girls on opposite sides of a war who discover they’re fighting for a common purpose—and falling for each other…
WOW and that’s the series complete! There’s a mammoth 287 books across this series which is like enough books to last me for the next 3 years. I hope you have loved these lists and been able to expand your TBR!
4 thoughts on “46 young adult science fiction books you can read instead of books by old, white racists!”
What did we do to deserve you putting together so many lists??? 💕💕 I’m just going to bookmark every single one of them. THANK YOU!! ❤️ And I’m definitely sold on The Fever King now.
(Also, the sequel to Compass Rose is coming out in July 2021, so I’d better go read the first book as well.)
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Thank you so much 🥺🥺🥺 YES I need to sell more people on The Fever King, it is my favourite book! Oh yes I just saw someone tweet about the sequel the the other day, very exciting!
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