Young Adult sci fi shouldn't be dismissed as somehow lesser than its older audience counterpart. Some of the best stories out there are intended for a younger audience. There are also plenty of examples of general sci fi that happens to be suited to a more millennial and Generation Z audience. If you are a young adult sci fi fan, or know someone who is, check out our choice selection of top reads below.
If you want to check out any of these titles for free, you can do so with Audible's one month free trial.
A Wrinkle In Time
A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle is a classic in the time travel subgenre of sci fi but is also the perfect sci fi story for younger readers. The book makes use of younger main characters to keep the story relatable and enjoyable for a younger audience. The story is full of mystery and intrigue as the youngsters must resolve a disappearance spanning different times and dimensions.
Ready Player One
Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One is the perfect science fiction story for high school readers. The main character is a teenager down on his luck, escaping into a virtual reality world to to solve epic quests and win incredible prizes. Ready Player One is now a major movie, but the book contains a lot of different elements from the film, making it a worthwhile read for any fans of the motion picture.
The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games has experienced incredible amounts of success as a major series of motion pictures. However, Suzanne Collins’ original series of books is well worthy of attention, providing a lot more detail than the films. The story is set in a world divided into districts, in which randomly selected young people are forced to compete in a brutal, life and death struggle for survival.
The Maze Runner
The first installment of James Dashner’s Maze Runner series introduces a mysterious world where a group of young men wake up with no memory. Even stranger, they are surrounded by an ever changing maze which has taken the life of anyone who has ever tried to escape it. The arrival of the first ever female to this world changes everything – and not for the better.
Orson Scott Card
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card focuses on a world wrapped up in a mysterious war lasting centuries. A set of siblings, including the book’s main character Ender, may hold the power to turn the tide in Earth’s favor. However, the video games Ender has been playing from a young age turn out to mean far more than they first seem. This is intelligent and gripping sci fi, perfect for a younger audience.
The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen
The League of Extraordinary Gentleman is a superb choice for young adult science fiction fans. The graphic novel format makes it appealing for people less inclined to read a full length book, and the mix of characters adds an additional level of accessibility. If you know a young adult reader who hasn’t been introduced to the pleasures of sci fi graphic novels, this is a fantastic place to start.
Arena by Holly Jennings is a sci fi book for young adults with a massive amount of thematic suitability. The story mixes in elements sure to appeal to younger readers, such as virtual reality, e-sports, reality entertainment taken to its extreme, and much more. This is an energetic and enjoyable example of science fiction, perfect for younger and older readers alike.
While many young adult readers will have come across The Hunger Games, perhaps fewer have heard of Red Rising. Pierce Brown’s tale is a daring story of rebellion, set on a segregated world where injustice reigns. As well as being a thrilling story in its own right, Red Rising has strong themes of social justice which have resonated with millennial readers. Red Rising deserves to be just as well-loved as its more famous counterparts.
Steampunk is a genre which has huge devotion among younger readers, and Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series is written just for them. This is perhaps the finest example of young adult steampunk out there. The plot line is gripping and the fantastical steampunk devices found here will immerse younger readers in Westerfeld’s fictional world.
Brave New World
Although not explicitly written for young adults, Brave New World has found many fans among this age group. It is compulsory reading for many high school and college classes, and rightly so. Huxley’s masterpiece offers fascinating social commentary coupled with a gripping storyline with memorable characters. You owe it to yourself to discover, or rediscover, the joys of reading Brave New World.
What makes a science fiction book suitable for young adults?
Young adult science fiction has been popular for as long as the genre has existed. Even sci fi not explicitly marketed as young adult has often found admiration within that age bracket. Why? Some of the earliest sci fi was released through pulp publications, affordable and enjoyable for a younger audience.
Also, the popularity of science fiction films has helped sci fi retain its following among younger people. Plenty of young adult audience members got hooked on their first taste of big screen Star Wars and went in search of more sci fi to enjoy.
Characteristics of YA Science Fiction
Given that a lot of adult sci fi is enjoyed by young adults, and vice versa, what are the particular characteristics that makes YA sci fi its own distinct genre?
Complexity. Often, young adult sci fi eschews the more complicated aspects found in styles such as hard science fiction. The focus is usually more on providing an incredible plot and engaging cast of characters. This isn’t always true, though, as plenty of young adult science fiction features a certain level of scientific detail.
Characters. As a reader, it’s typically easier to relate to characters that are similar to yourself. As a result, a lot of young adult science fiction has younger characters than found elsewhere. The Hunger Games and Ready Player One are prime examples of this idea in action.
Length. Usually, young adult science fiction books are shorter than their adult counterparts. This isn’t always the case, but it’s definitely a rule of thumb. This makes young adult sci fi easier to get into than some other genres.
Ultimately, there is no hard and fast rule of what makes a sci fi book suitable for a younger audience. After all, great science fiction transcends arbitrary categorization such as age. A great story is a great story, so don’t the year you were born hold you back from enjoying anything that grabs you here!
What styles of sci fi are suited for younger audiences?
Of course, for a genre as diverse as science fiction, there are a wide range of subgenres found within the young adult category. Some of the most popular choices for sci fi authors targeting their books at a younger crowd include:
VR sci fi. Naturally, when aiming to appeal to an audience raised on video games, a lot of young adult sci fi features concepts such as VR, video games, and similar modern concepts. Ready Player One is maybe the best-known example, but plenty of other stories such as Arena do something similar.
Survival sci fi. Without getting too deep, young adulthood is often focused on adapting and surviving in the adult world. It’s therefore metaphorically suitable that many young adult sci fi stories are of the survival subgenre. The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner are but two examples.
Steampunk. At the risk of using the h word, younger audiences are often attracted to hipster type genres. Steampunk is a fine example of this. Many steampunk stories have found traction among younger readers, and plenty have been created especially for this age range. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld is one such example.
Almost any subgenre of science fiction can work well for a younger audience. Like anything, trends come and go. However, no matter which genre is fashionable at the time, there will be young adult sci fi fans ready to devour the finest examples of it.
Get These Best Young Adult Sci Fi Books for Free!
Want to get started with the best young adult sci fi out there? You can do so without spending any money! Here's how:
1. Signup with Audible's One Month Free Trial: By signing up for Audible's free month trial you can download any two books you choose for free. If you decide you like Audible then you can pay a small monthly fee of $14.95 and get one book a month. If you decide you do not like Audible you can cancel your trial and keep your two free books.
2. If you want to try something other than Audible you could also try Playster. Playster's One Month Free Trial works with either ebooks or audiobooks. You can pay for a membership at $14.95 per month and receive unlimited books. However Playster does not offer as many book options. If you would like to listen to all of Playsters books you will need to use the premium which is $29.95. ]