The genre of science fiction is both wide and deep. It encompasses everything from hard science fiction that focuses on technology and strictly adheres to the rules of physics and chemistry to space operas set in the imaginative worlds of other planets. Most dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels also fall under this umbrella term, but so do some alternate histories and time travel stories.
Even readers who claim to not enjoy the genre most likely have just not met the right sci-fi book to suit their tastes. What makes book clubs fun is pushing yourself outside of your reading comfort zone and trying books you might not have otherwise given a chance. Even if your book club usually reads historical fiction or romances, I guarantee there is a YA sci-fi title to add to your club’s reading list. One of the sci-fi titles on this list is guaranteed to suit any reader’s taste.
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (2010 Best Books for Young Adults, 2011 Amazing Audiobooks, 2011 Popular Paperbacks)
This re-imagining of WWI pits the Darwinists, with their genetically modified beasts, against the Clankers and their armored war tanks. It’s a great introduction to steampunk and will thrill history fans. The comparison with real historical events make for lively discussion. Bonus: it’s illustrated.
Feed by M. T. Anderson (2003 Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults, 2010 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, 2004 Selected Audiobooks for Young Adults)
This sci-fi satire captures the voice of teens with realistic yet futuristic lingo and teenage slang and portrays a world that seems eerily possible. We may not have an Internet connection implanted in our brain, but how many people do you know who can hardly tear their eyes away from their cell phone?
Beta by Rachel Cohn
A sci-fi list list wouldn’t be complete without at least one story about cloning. Set in a dystopian world where the elite live on a idyllic island where human clones without souls act as servants is though-provoking and will prompt discussion on human nature and the limits of technology and the ethics of science.
Cinder by Marissa Meyer (2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2013 Teens’ Top Ten)
Can’t get enough of fairy tale retellings, but want something that isn’t historical or contemporary? Cinder is a clever reinterpretation of the classic Cinderella that features a cyborg as the heroine whose world is threatened by a virus as the Lunar Queen attempts to gain control of Earth.
Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
How about a sci-fi thriller set in the afterlife? Felicia has died and is forced to relive her memories, until she becomes aware of rebellion brewing on Level 2. An action-packed debut with just enough romance, this is a fresh science fiction series.
As fun as it is to try the hot new trend of a major award winner, sometimes it’s great to revisit a classic. Adults and teens alike will enjoy the satire of Kurt Vonnegut or the humor of The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. There are also several YA sci-fi titles on the horizon to keep your eyes on; Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave and Phoebe North’s Starglass top my list, and both are due out this summer.
If sci-fi truly isn’t your thing, you can always check out fantasy or contemporary picks for book clubs, but at least for me, the fun of a book club is pushing myself out of my normal reading comfort zone and generating great discussion.
What science fiction titles top your list of books to discuss?
— Molly Wetta, currently reading Game by Barry Lyga
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