YAC HIT LIST: Young Adult Science Fiction

December 13, 2013   •   By Beth Revis

I NEVER EXPECTED to write science fiction. If you’d told me in college that one day I would be most known as an SF writer for young adults, I would have laughed you out of the room. SF, to me, was all about engines and aliens, complicated politics set across the galaxies. I was just discovering that my real love lay in YA literature — I wanted an emphasis on characters, a lightning-fast plot, and I cared much more about the story than the science.

So when I started writing Across the Universe, a murder mystery set on a generational space ship, no one was more shocked than I. My parents pointed out my early love for Star Wars, Madeleine L’Engle, and Douglas Adams. My husband reminded me that my favorite TV show of all time is Firefly, followed closely by Doctor Who. My friend laughed and told me that my manga selections were pretty evenly divided between fantasy and sci fi. But I was shocked. Science fiction? Me?

But what I discovered was that my preconceived notions of science fiction were really not the case at all. I had limited myself to this idea that all science fiction was the same, which is really rather foolish. In my head, science fiction meant hard SF, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’ll probably never truly appreciate hard SF — although I’m no longer ruling out the possibility. Science fiction is a truly broad genre, including space operas, alt history, time travel tales, steampunk, and so much more. Thinking that SF was all the same was as foolish as thinking that YA is only for teens, or that the only literature worth reading was written by old, dead, white males — two prejudices I had to learn to get over after college.

And once I did get over my prejudice, I embraced the genre — although I was a bit sad that there was so much lacking in the SF department for the YA shelf. I remember when I finished my first book, and walked into a bookstore in my hometown, and asked for a YA SF book. I was handed The Hunger Games, The Host, and Ender’s Game. That’s all that was on their shelf.

When I go there now, there’s a plethora of YA SF tales. The YA world is experiencing a boom in science fiction, and the future looks very bright. Here are a few books that are either available now or out soon that would be great to put into the hands of anyone who, like me, though SF wasn't for them.


These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Icons by Margaret Stohl

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

Black Hole Sun by David McInnis Gill

Legend by Marie Lu


Beth Revis is the NY Times bestselling author of the Across the Universe series. The complete trilogy is now available in more than 20 languages. A native of North Carolina, Beth is currently working on a new science fiction trilogy for teens.