So Your Kids Want to Read Science Fiction, Part 5: Popular Young Adult Science Fiction

Maximum Ride

Maximum Ride

Last week we continued our series on science fiction for younger readers just approaching the genre, but we are returning to it again with a slightly new theme this week.  Before, the focus had been on books that many outside science fiction fandom may not have heard of, either due to not having escaped the genre ghetto, or due to time having erased some of its impact on the general reading public.

Yet that isn’t always the case for works of science fiction for younger readers.  More and more, young adult science fiction is taking best seller lists by storm, and are well worth checking out, for readers of all ages, including those who are the focus of this series of articles.  So, without further delay: Popular Young Adult Science Fiction!

13) Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson

James Patterson began his career writing mystery novels, expanded into thrillers, and now, with a host of co-authors, has books coming out seemingly every month in almost every genre.  One of Patterson’s more recent successes, writing without co-author, was Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment.  Spawning from ideas originally presented in Patterson’s novel When the Wind Blows, and its sequel The Lake House, The Angel Experiment follows Max, a girl who is part bird, along with her “flock,” as they fight the laboratory that created them, and the monster that are unleashed upon them, as well as global issues such as global warming and pollution.  The success of the first novel has spawned a continued series, with the novels Maximum Ride: School’s Out—Forever, Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports, Maximum Ride: The Final Warning, MAX: A Maximum Ride Novel, Fang: A Maximum Ride Novel, Angel: A Maximum Ride Novel, and the upcoming Nevermore: A Maximum Ride Novel following on from the first book, as well as a manga adaption (imaginatively titled Maximum Ride: The Manga).  Fast paced and exciting, if a little preachy at times in the later books, the Maximum Ride series will appeal to younger readers who enjoy both science fiction and thrillers, and is a great series to dive into.

14) The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Thomas becomes conscious on an elevator that rises up into a small village populated entirely with kids his own age.  This village is centered in a gigantic labyrinth, and no one can find a way out.  The maze is full of traps and beasts, yet Thomas knows that something needs to be done.  From this continues James Dashner’s The Maze Runner, an effective, suspenseful, and action packed story in the vein of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, as the kids create a society among themselves, and begin to create their own culture as they live and sear4ch for an exit from the maze.  The first in a trilogy (followed by The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure), Dashner’s novel starts slow but builds to an incredibly satisfying conclusion that will have readers dying to get their hands on the next books.  Due to the release times, this was an excellent companion read for The Hunger Games and its sequels, picking different but complimentary themes to explore in exciting, fascinating fashion.  Very highly recommended.

15) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Suzanne Collins really hit a homerun when she came out with The Hunger Games.  Far darker than her earlier works, The Hunger Games fluidly mixes themes of Lord of the Flies and Kōshun Takami’s Battle Royale into a very modern take on violence, innocence, and the power of the state.  The Hunger Games is the first in a trilogy, followed by Catching Fire and Mockingjay, with each novel being very different from the one before it, as the series evolves in a complex and satisfying fashion.  The end of the trilogy seems to polarize many readers, with some saying that it effectively illustrates Collins’ themes and intentions, while others say it is simply disappointing and unsatisfying; regardless, the ride alone is worth it, and the ending, likeable or not, is thought-provoking at the very least, which is certainly a quality worth having in good science fiction.

16) I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

Published as by Pittacus Lore, a pseudonym for James Frey and one of his writers-for-hire, Jobie Hughes (Frey’s literary history alone is cause for controversy, let alone the apparently disastrous way in which he treats his writers; however, we won’t go there here), I Am Number Four is the first book in the Lorien Legacies, a series following a group of aliens transplanted to Earth after the destruction of their planet.  The aliens, the last of their race, are being hunted down by a rival species from a third planet.  While the storyline isn’t dramatically original nor substantial well founded, it is fun, well-written, and fast paced, creating the book form of the summer science fiction blockbusters.  The Lorien Legacies is planned to be six novels, with The Power of Six and the upcoming The Rise of Nine as books two and three, with novellas appearing between each of the novels, available only digitally (the first being I Am Number Four: The Lost Files: Six’s Legacy, and the second, as-yet-unpublished novella titled simply I Am Number Four: The Lost Files 2, likely to be changed later).  After a dispute between the two authors led to Hughes leaving after finishing The Power of Six, it has yet to be announced who will be writing the third novel, although it likely will be another of Frey’s assistant writers, with Frey performing minor editing and re-writing, as in the first two books.  The series is a lot of fun, with plenty to keep readers of all ages engaged.

Get Maximum Ride through the Digital Science Fiction store today.

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