Part 1: science fiction, fantasy and dystopia
Whether you’re looking to widen the genres you try or just want to dig deeper to find more of the kind of books you love, I hope these reading suggestions might help you to explore the science fiction, fantasy and dystopia genres. Please note, some of the books in this list may include sensitive themes and some bad language.
For readers aged 11-14
Railhead by Philip Reeve
From the author of the bestselling Mortal Engines series, which was recently turned into a film, Railhead is the first novel in a thrilling science fiction trilogy. Showcasing Reeve’s vividly imaginative world-building skills with a rip-roaring adventure that spans the universe, Railhead is a must-read for fans of intelligent and thrilling science fiction.
Where next? The Railhead trilogy continues with Black Light Express and Station Zero, but readers might also like to try stories from classic science fiction authors such as Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke.
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
An early collaboration from two giants of the fantasy genre, Good Omens is a wickedly funny fantasy about the end of the world. An angel and a demon team-up to prevent Judgement Day, which seems to be unfolding in a small village in England where Adam Thorp and his friends discover they have the power to change everything. Recently adapted for television, Good Omens gives a comedic twist to the fantasy genre.
Where next? Try Terry Pratchett’s bestselling Discworld series – Mort is a great place to start.
Deeplight by Frances Hardinge
The latest novel by the award-winning Frances Hardinge has been described as Frankenstein meets Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Telling the story of fourteen-year-old Hark, who makes his living scavenging in the island chain of the Myriad, Deeplight contains gods, monsters and scientists, the threads of this fantastical tale all woven together with Hardinge’s trademark verve and style.
Where next? Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often described as the very first science fiction novel, whilst The Good Hawk by Joseph Elliot is an exciting new fantasy novel set in a mythic Scotland.
For readers aged 14+
The Loop by Ben Oliver
For fans of Black Mirror, this twisty sci-fi thriller tells the story of Luka Kane, a teenager who’s held captive in the Loop. In this prison, which is under the control of artificial intelligence, teenage prisoners delay their death sentences by agreeing to cutting-edge surgery. There’s no chance of escape with a detonator sewn into your chest, but Luka soon finds that breaking out of the Loop might be his only chance to survive…
Where next? Internment by Samira Ahmed is a near-future dystopia, which poses some powerful questions about the world we live in today.
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
With a twist of horror, this dark fantasy tells the story of seventeen-year-old Alice, who’s drawn into a perilous quest to rescue her mother from the Hinterland. To succeed, Alice must first venture into the Hazel Wood and discovers that the boundary between fantasy and reality isn’t as clear cut as she thought. This richly woven story about the power of the imagination explores some unsettling themes.
Where next? The sequel to The Hazel Wood is entitled The Night Country and is out now, whilst Stardust by Neil Gaiman is a modern-day classic of fantasy fiction.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
An epic fantasy set in the African-inspired kingdom of Orïsha, Children of Blood and Bone tells the story of Zélie’s quest to bring magic back to her world. Marked out by her silver hair, Zélie has to protect runaway princess, Amari, who holds the key to her quest and together the two girls undertake a dangerous journey. This thrilling fantasy ends on a cliffhanger which will have readers clamouring to read the sequel, Children of Virtue and Vengeance.
Where next? Half a King is the first YA novel by Joe Abercrombie, an acclaimed fantasy author.
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