YA Sci Fi and Fantasy
By Rhonna Hargett, Adult Services Manager
There is one aspect of being a teen that has really improved over the last few decades. Fiction for teens/young adults has come a long way since I was that age. I recently found myself on a binge-read of young adult science fiction and fantasy and, apparently, I’m in good company. An article from The Atlantic by Caroline Kitchener, “Why So Many Adults Love Young-Adult Literature” shares that about 55% of today’s YA readers are actually adults. Kitchener suggests several reasons for this trend, but the one that fit my experience best is that YA books are really good books. J.K. Rowling taught us with Harry Potter that it doesn’t really matter what age a book is intended for if it’s a great story.
I first picked up Inherit the Stars by Tessa Elwood because she came to our library to lead a teen writing workshop. I didn’t have to get far into it, though, before I was reading it because I had to find out what happened next. Asa is the youngest daughter of the ruler of several planets that are experiencing a food shortage. She’s a dedicated sister and citizen, but also impetuous and willing to bend the rules for a good cause. In order to save her sister, she disguises herself to enter into an arranged marriage with Eagle, the heir of a nearby kingdom. The bride and groom have to decide if they can trust each other enough to protect the alliance that may be the only way their kingdoms can be saved. Packed with adventure, royal intrigue, and a great story of a strong young woman coming into her own, Inherit the Stars is a binge-worthy read.
In Miles Morales: Spider-Man, Jason Reynolds has filled us in on the back-story of Marvel’s critically acclaimed black & Puerto Rican successor to Peter Parker. Miles is a typical kid in a Brooklyn neighborhood, trying to navigate the world around him and grow up into someone his parents can be proud of. He goes to a boarding school, hangs how with his friends, secretly crushes on the school poet, and sometimes puts on a spider suit and saves people’s lives. Miles was bitten by a very curious spider a few years back and ever since, has abilities and senses that he is still learning to control. He also struggles with a family history that makes him question if he is really able to always be the “good guy.” It seems that his spidey-sense isn’t working right lately, and he’s been having the strangest dreams. It doesn’t help that his history teacher is feeding his classmates a version of slavery that rewrites the ugly past. Through the novel, Reynolds explores themes of growing up, race, and identity with humor and a thrilling story-line.
In Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older, Brooklyn teen Sierra Santiago is looking forward to a summer of hanging out with her friends and painting a mural on a neighborhood abandoned building, but things start to go downhill when nearby murals start to fade and shift. She has been a confident young woman that enjoys the loving surroundings of a good family and a supportive neighborhood, but now she isn’t sure whom to trust. Meanwhile her abuelo periodically seems to become more aware of his surroundings while saying things that are frightening and confusing about shadowcatchers and murals and how very sorry he is. His words cause her to rally her friends to help her find the answers to the puzzle and learn more about herself along the way.
Check out the young adult section at the library for exciting reads that can deliver you to another place or another time in your own life.