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YA fantasy and science fiction (for wtyclf)


Terrasola
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In the "10 things" thread in QFC, wtyclf asked for recommendations of YA fantasy and science fiction because she and I both like this genre. We think it's fun to escape from all the academic literature and professional documents we are required to read and devour some fun stuff.

 

My oldest niece and I are currently reading the "Mortal Instruments" series by Cassandra Clare. Are any of you reading books in this genre? Do you have any recommendations for us?

 

Embarrassing admission: I started to read "50 Shades of Grey." Hubby brought it home to me because someone had left it in a shopping cart in the Costco parking lot and after reading a few chapters I realized why it had been abandoned. The book sits unfinished in my bookcase. I will take it to the reading exchange at work for some other sucker ... er ... reader.

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In the "10 things" thread in QFC, wtyclf asked for recommendations of YA fantasy and science fiction because she and I both like this genre. We think it's fun to escape from all the academic literature and professional documents we are required to read and devour some fun stuff.

My oldest niece and I are currently reading the "Mortal Instruments" series by Cassandra Clare. Are any of you reading books in this genre? Do you have any recommendations for us?

Embarrassing admission: I started to read "50 Shades of Grey." Hubby brought it home to me because someone had left it in a shopping cart in the Costco parking lot and after reading a few chapters I realized why it had been abandoned. The book sits unfinished in my bookcase. I will take it to the reading exchange at work for some other sucker ... er ... reader.

YA Sci-fi and fantasy seems to be my niche somehow, so I can come up with a lot of recommendations. :)

- Any of Tamora Pierce's books, she's got multiple series, mostly in the same "universe". There are the Beka Cooper books, the Alanna series, the Keladry series, the Daine series, and then two Circle of Magic series - mostly all quartets (quartologies?) of books, but the Beka books I think there were only three. Fantasy, set in more of a medieval period, but with magics.

- Diane Duane's Wizard series, starting with So You Want to Be a Wizard? There are 9 books now, set in mostly-present-day times but with magic, although the magic has rules so it leans a bit sci-fi. (She's re-releasing the earlier books with updated technology, cell phones etc. I've only read the originals.)

- Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books, also fantasy, with magic and telepathic horses. Although, don't start with the more recent books (they're okay, but kind of padded, and the other books are better IMO). I'd suggest you start with the Arrows of the Queen trilogy, then the Vanyel books, then move on to the others. Those two trilogies were written first, and I think they give a good introduction to Valdemar and the surrounding areas. After that, you can probably read any of the series in almost any order. The Arrows books and the Owl books were (I think) written for a younger audience. Not sure about the Vanyel books. The Mage Wars trilogy is probably for older teens, just based on length.

- Lackey's other books; there's a whole inter-related bunch about elves in modern-day times, with some prequels in 16th century (I think) England. A couple of the books do deal with child abuse, so be aware of that (they're in the SERRAted Edge bunch, I can find the titles if you need them).

Anne McCaffrey's Harper Hall trilogy is written more for early teens; the other Pern books would probably be okay for older teens, as far as I can recall. (Just, again, skip the recent ones with her son Todd as co-writer; they're confusing as anything and not that great IMO). Her Acorna books are aimed at younger readers but I've never read most of them; the first one didn't grab me and I gave up on the series.

For more science-leaning reading, a lot of Asimov's books would probably work. (How old is your niece?) He wrote some books for younger readers, but most of them are probably long out of print. He also did a lot of short stories, especially relating to his positronic-brained robots (I, Robot is one famous one, and better than the movie from what I've heard). Heinlein also wrote some books for the teen audience of the time - Starman Jones, the Star Beast, Rocket Ship Galileo, Have Space Suit Will Travel, etc. Not a lot of female characters, though.

More recently, I've been reading a couple of series by Margaret Peterson Haddix - one is the Shadow Children series, the other is the Missing series, which I've only read one of so far. Shadow Children is another dystopian thing (my last, they're too depressing), families are limited to 2 children, but there are some third-children who are in hiding. The Missing series has a lot of time travel, and I need to re-read the first before I start again, because time travel tends to give me a headache (hence my warning about the recent Pern books).

I know there are more, but those are what I came up with off the top of my head.

And,do you really want to inflict 50 Shades on some other unsuspecting person? ;) I tried to read it, but I couldn't do it. I'm reading Jennifer Armintrout's recaps instead - much, much funnier.

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- The Troll King trilogy by John Vornholt really fascinated me when I was younger. They have sort of a warped fantasy story vibe going on, and really interesting characters.

-I really liked a lot of Kenneth Oppel books, but I feel like his series tend to start off really strong and end on a slightly weaker note. I'd definitely say they're still worth a read, though. He has a series about anthropomorphic bats with sonic powers, and one about an alternate universe where a new element allowed airships to become the dominant mode of transportation.

-Goblin Secrets just came out last year and the author someone I know personally and admire as one of few role models in my life. That man is one of the kindest, gentlest, most knowledgable and feminist people I have ever met AND his first book won the National Book award. :D Fangirling done, the setting is extremely interesting, though I feel like the book itself is a little bit rushed. There is very little resemblance to a more stereotypical fantasy story, so that's interesting.

- The Foundling trilogy (older printings go by Monster Blood Tattoo, though I think you can only find the first two under that title) by D.M. Cornish is a good, alternative fantasy. It pretty much relies on NONE of the common fantasy tropes, so it's pretty interesting, and it features a powerful female character to boot.

If I think of anything else off the top of my head, I'll report back.

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For YA sci fi, I'd say "Ender's Game". It's the first book in a series, which later takes less of a sci-fi and more of a political turn, but the first book is great.

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I really enjoyed the Wizard in Rhyme series by Christopher Stasheff. The series starts with 'Her Majesty's Wizard' and it's about a grad student who, instead of working on his looming thesis, is caught up in struggling to translate a bit of parchment and accidentally triggers a spell that sends him to an alternate Universe (whose history is presently at about our Middle Ages) and where his knowledge of poetry (and tv commercial jingles) makes him a magic worker. Unfortunately the land is torn by civil war and he has to decide whether to align himself with the side of light or the powers of darkness, to be either a wizard or a warlock.

My actual favorite book, though, is 'The Witch Doctor' (Book #3) where a college buddy of his comes looking for the friend he hasn't seen in days. And dropped into a universe where all that's good comes from God and where all that's evil comes from the Devil, he's determined to cleave to no side, but to be his own man.

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Not last Christmas but the one before I picked up Zahrah the Windseeker as a gift, and promptly decided not to give it after all. It really is a great book.

I always adore books by Hilari Bell, of course. You could start with the Farsala trilogy and work your way through the rest of them.

Recently I've also fallen in love with Frances Hardinge. Fly by Night is kinda awesome in and of itself, even without the sequel.

And you cannot go wrong with books by Shannon Hale. The books of Bayern are on a constant reread when I see them. My niece, no joke, organized a daily read aloud of Rapunzel's Revenge when she was in the second grade, at lunch time. It was a REALLY BIG DEAL if she forgot to bring it that day. That's a little young for YA, but still worth reading.

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Patricia Wrede's "Enchanted Forrest Chronicles" is a great way to spend an afternoon. Wrede tells the tale of Cimorene, a princess who does not want to be married off to a prince from a neighboring kingdom. Message is completely opposed to anything published by the Botkin family.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Enchanted-For ... icia+wrede

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Not last Christmas but the one before I picked up Zahrah the Windseeker as a gift, and promptly decided not to give it after all. It really is a great book.

I always adore books by Hilari Bell, of course. You could start with the Farsala trilogy and work your way through the rest of them.

Recently I've also fallen in love with Frances Hardinge. Fly by Night is kinda awesome in and of itself, even without the sequel.

And you cannot go wrong with books by Shannon Hale. The books of Bayern are on a constant reread when I see them. My niece, no joke, organized a daily read aloud of Rapunzel's Revenge when she was in the second grade, at lunch time. It was a REALLY BIG DEAL if she forgot to bring it that day. That's a little young for YA, but still worth reading.

Zahrah is one of my favorites. :D I need to scrape up the money to buy an older copy of it because I don't like the new printing's cover at all.

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles is also great, that was one of my favorite series in grade school.

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Feed by M.T. Andersen is a great YA sci-fi book. It basically takes our current obsession with being "connected" 24/7 to its most intense extreme. It's a sci-fi/dystopian novel, and is super good.

Also, Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi is a great YA sci-fi/dystopian novel. (Actually, everything I've read by him is awesome--like The Windup Girl and Pump Six, but as far as I know, Ship Breaker is his only YA work so far).

ETA: the Bacigalupi recommendations.

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Feed by M.T. Andersen is a great YA sci-fi book. It basically takes our current obsession with being "connected" 24/7 to its most intense extreme. It's a sci-fi/dystopian novel, and is super good.

Also, Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi is a great YA sci-fi/dystopian novel. (Actually, everything I've read by him is awesome--like The Windup Girl and Pump Six, but as far as I know, Ship Breaker is his only YA work so far).

ETA: the Bacigalupi recommendations.

His newer book The Drowned Cities is YA as well. :)

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Oh, for those considering Enders Game and the associated series, you should be aware that the author is very anti-gay* and it is reasonable to assume he spends some of the profits on anti-gay groups.

This being books and not chicken, do what I do - by used, and save the difference! Heck, forget saving, stick it right to him and donate the difference to your favorite pro-LGBT organization.

* Weirdly, the times he writes a gay or bi character, that character will tend to be the only consistently sympathetic character in the whole work. I am of the opinion that this proves he is deeply, deeply in denial about how far into the closet he actually is. It's sad, really.

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I'm a fan of Margaret Peterson Haddix. "Turnabout" and "Double Identity" are two of her sci-fi YA books that I love. Turnabout is about a group of nursing home residents who are part of a reverse aging experiment. They receive one shot that reverses the process, and a second shot that's supposed to stop the process. But everyone who gets the second shot dies, so two of the women take off and go live on their own for decades, getting younger and younger. When they're teenagers again, they realize they'll need to find someone to take care of them when they get too young to take care of themselves, so they start searching for someone.

Double Identity is about human cloning.

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Has anyone said Unwind by Neal Shusterman? I've not read it yet (it's on my list), but I've heard really good things from friends about it. It's a near-future dystopian sci-fi novel that has at its heart the issue of abortion (and is a sort of play on the fundie belief in caring for human life all the way from conception to birth, basically).

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Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching series is aimed at young adults, although its been enjoyed by heaps of adults too. Pratchett is a special sort of fantasy all in himself, but I'd highly recommend them.

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I enjoy Garth Nix's stuff.

The Seventh Tower series is good and I've got most of the The Keys to the Kingdom series, though I haven't read it yet.

His one-off book Shade's Children is still one of my favorite books ever. It's about a dystopian future where, years ago, everyone above the age of 14 disappeared. Turns out they were taken by these weird humanoid-alien warlords, who then rounded up all children under 14 and stuck them in dorms that are essentially people-farms. On their 14th birthday, these kids are sent to a factory to have their muscle and organs, etc harvested to create creatures that fight for the warlords (the warlords have some sort of ritualistic battle-game going on between each other) The book follows a group of children who've escaped from the dorms, thanks to powers that developed due to radiation that appeared along with the warlords, and their attempt to fight back and/or survive.

I also liked Rick Riordan's Olympian series'.

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Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching series is aimed at young adults, although its been enjoyed by heaps of adults too. Pratchett is a special sort of fantasy all in himself, but I'd highly recommend them

You might also like The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, which is the other YA Discworld book.

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Also, Juliette Marrillier has a series for young adults, I think it called Wildwood. I haven't read it, but her adult novels are excellent, traditional Celtic fantasy.

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