Monday, May 21, 2018

Top Science Fiction Picks

Top Science Fiction Picks

As any seasoned reader will tell you, one of the hardest parts of looking for science fiction books is finding one that is actually good. Most of them are full of jargon; some of them have no plot, and some never mention cake not even once, which is of course a travesty and a disgrace. My favourites kind of fall under the fantasy label, are romantic, and sometimes have murder. Science fiction is a tricky genre because it’s either really good or really bad. Without further ado, here are my top picks for the best young adult science fiction. (Fair warning: These books will hurt your heart, soul, and brain. I do not apologize.)

THE ILLUMINAE TRILOGY by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman
These books are actually some of my favourites. I have not read the third one, so don’t quote me on any opinions. (Don’t spoil it for me in the comments. I will destroy you with my dragon army. I definitely have one.) However, the first two books, Illuminae and Gemina, are testaments to the power of good storytelling. They keep you on the edge of your seat from the first page to the last. Note, do not read them before you go to bed, because they are very scary books and you will not sleep. Both of the books (and Obsidio, the third installment) are told in the form of documents, which I found really interesting. I’ve heard of epistolary novels, but I’d never read any until these. Quick side note: my favourite character is the psychopath sentient computer who tries to kill everyone. I’m sure this is very normal - don’t call the police.

THE STARBOUND TRILOGY by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Okay, so apparently trilogies are a thing in science fiction. Sue me. But the Starbound trilogy is actually pretty good. Each book focuses on a romance, but it doesn’t feel contrived. I will note that the first book is quite romance heavy; the second more even keeled;, and the third has a ton of action and violence. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the third one is my favourite. The first one is easily the weakest, but you should stick it out because not only is it a) still good, but also b) you need to read it to understand the glory that is the last book, Their Fractured Light. Interestingly enough, this trilogy is written by one of the same people that wrote Illuminae! The writing style doesn’t really cross over, so I was as shocked as you probably are. Side note: all three books have covers that are prettier than I am and this is 99% of the reason I started reading this series. 

The third book in the trilogy of trilogy mentions! Yes, I do think I’m funny. No, keep your comments to yourself. Anyway, the Shatter Me trilogy is a very good trilogy. I would lay down my life for the eyeball covers (it’s prettier than it sounds) and the writing is absolutely phenomenal. If Tahereh Mafi could write 400 more books I’d be absolutely okay with that and I’d probably read every single one. The humor is great throughout the series although I think that the first book has the best plot. Some people say it rips off X-Men, but I hate Marvel so… make of that what you will. It’s also kind of a dystopian trilogy, so if you’re still missing the six month rise and fall of dystopia, you should probably check this trilogy out. Three more books are being added to the series, which I think is great because the third book is not enough resolution for me. So technically it’s not a trilogy! Go me for being creative!

ARTEMIS FOWL by Eoin Colfer
THIS IS ADVERTISED AS SCIENCE FICTION FANTASY GIVE ME A BREAK. Honestly, Artemis Fowl is Harry Potter with science. It’s that iconic. Every single character is a gift to our world and the series finale left me sobbing. It also has eight (not very long) books, so it’s perfect if you love to read but have a short attention span. It also somehow magically manages to actually have a time travel plot that makes sense. A miracle. And the main characters! Holly is badass but loveable, and Artemis is evil but loveable, and as the most iconic main characters they’re loveable and loveable. (Yes, that’s a Brooklyn Nine Nine reference. They’re on hiatus until 2019, I have to let it out somehow.) Another cool thing about Holly and Artemis is that there’s never the forced romantic plotline. They’re just partners in crime, which is so refreshing. Basically, you should read Artemis Fowl. (Have you noticed this is the first current non trilogy I’ve mentioned in this post and it’s also counted as fantasy? I’m useless.)

If you haven’t read these books yet, we’re not friends. Yes, the first 30 or so pages of Cinder are a little dry, but it picks up really quickly and gives you great worldbuilding so you understand everything properly later. Each book is a science fiction retelling of a fairytale, which was really cool! The books have so many clever references that you feel smart every time you pick up on one. It is a four book series, so props to me for not mentioning another trilogy. On the other hand, I’ve mentioned another romance series. As in the fairytales, each retelling centers around a romance, but each one is well developed and never becomes more important than the main murder plot. Also, the retellings are decidedly more feminist than the original versions, and the protagonist of each story is a girl. The foreshadowing for these books is also brilliant. We’re introduced to things that will be relevant in the third book in the first. If you decide to start any series off this post, start the Lunar Chronicles!

In conclusion, science fiction is a pretty hard genre to do well, and most of it relies on trilogies, which can be problematic. But there are very well executed science fiction novels, and my post details only my absolute favourites. Also, this is only YA fiction, so books like Foundation and Gameboard of the Gods aren’t here. I strongly recommend these books to anyone looking to read more science fiction, or anyone who just wants to branch out from their typical genre of reading. Happy reading!

Minna Potter
Her Crooked Shelf

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