Scott Westerfeld is one of the most inventive sci-fi writers writing for teens right now. His book Uglies helped lay the groundwork for the dystopian trend that would take hold in a few years with The Hunger Games. With a new co-authored series in the works, a movie adaptation of Uglies in development, and a new multi-platform middle grade series launch later this year, Scott Westerfeld is definitely an author you should know.
Not sure where to start with so many series, standalones, and sub-genres to choose from? Don’t sweat it, this post has you covered!
If You want a Space Opera:
- The Risen Empire: Captain Laurent Zai of the Imperial Frigate Lynx is tasked with rescuing the immortal Child Empress when she is kidnapped by machine-augmented humans threatening the empire. This story, originally packaged as one book called Succession, begins in The Risen Empire and concludes The Killing of Worlds.
If You Want to Read a Standalone (Mostly Contemporary) Novel:
- Afterworlds (2015 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults): Chapters alternate between Darcy Patel’s journey as a debut author of what promises to be the next Big YA Novel and excerpts from Darcy’s novel about a girl named Lizzie who slips into the “Afterworld”–a place between life and death–during a terrorist attack.
- So Yesterday: Hunter Braque moves through New York searching for Innovators–people who create the latest trends before they’re cool. Then he sells the ideas to clients who disseminate the ideas (via trendsetters) until each new fashion innovation becomes mainstream. When Hunter teams up with an Innovator to get to the bottom of his best client’s disappearance, he finds himself at the center of a far-reaching mystery involving trends, innovations, and the coolest sneakers he’s ever seen.
If You Like Urban Fantasy:
- Peeps (2006 Teens’ Top Ten): A parasite called Toxoplasma causes vampirism and it’s been infecting more and more people. Recruited by a secret government organization, Cal has to track down all of the girlfriends he has infected since he became a carrier. Be sure to pick up the sequel The Last Days to read the rest of the story as Toxoplasma begins spreading at a rapid rate and all hell starts breaking loose in New York City.
- The Secret Hour: Time stops every night at midnight in Bixby, Oklahoma. For that one hour no one moves in Bixby except for the few Midnighters who travel freely and have extraordinary powers. When Jessica Day arrives in town, she finds out that she is a Midnighter. And the creatures who move through Bixby after dark are hunting her. First in a series. The story continues in Touching Darkness and Blue Noon.
If You Want a Dystopian Story:
- Uglies (2016 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults): In a world where everyone is movie-star-gorgeous, regular people are ugly. Tally Youngblood has spent most of her life looking forward to when she will turn 16 and can become a surgically-enhanced Pretty. But when her friend Shay introduces Tally to The Smoke, Tally begins to wonder if there might be another way. Tally’s story continues in Pretties and Specials.
- Extras (2008 Teens’ Top Ten): This companion novel set in Japan follows Aya Fuse. In Aya’s world, fame is the only currency that matters. Hoping to raise her rank and achieve true fame, Aya begins investigating a sensational clique called the Sly Girls. As she learns more about the clique, Aya realizes that her story is big–maybe the biggest story since Tally Youngblood changed the world.
- Uglies: Shay’s Story (2013 Great Graphic Novels): This graphic novel companion presents the events of the Uglies trilogy from Shay’s perspective as she rebels against life in Prettytown and finds herself at the center of a revolution. Shay’s story concludes in Uglies: Cutters
- Bonus Non-Fiction Companion Book: Bogus to Bubbly: An Insider’s Guide to the World of Uglies: Westerfeld provides readers with a detailed history of the world of Uglies, a glossary of slang used in the series (and his inspiration for it), detailed breakdowns of the various cliques found throughout the series, and more.
If You Want Some Steampunk:
- Leviathan (2010 Best Books for Young Adults, 2011 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults): Alek–heir to the clanker Austro-Hungarian Empire–and Deryn–a girl disguising herself as a boy to serve as a Darwinist airman–have to form an uneasy alliance if they hope to stave off the coming World War. Which begs the question: Do you oil your war machines? Or do you feed them? Alek and Deryn’s story continues in Behemoth and Goliath. All books include illustrations by Keith Thompson
- Bonus Non-Fiction Companion Book: The Manual of Aeronautics: An Illustrated Guide to the Leviathan Series: Westerfeld teams up with illustrator Keith Thompson to delve into the steampunk world of the Leviathan series with descriptions and illustrations of Darwinist beasties, Clanker walkers, weapons, uniforms and more.
If You Want Heroes, Super or Otherwise:
- Zeroes: Scam, Crash, Flicker, Anonymous, Bellwether, and Kelsie all have superhuman powers that help them to unbelievable–and usually not heroic–things. When the Zeroes are reluctantly brought back together to help Scam after his latest disaster, the teens soon realize they are in over their heads. Again. (Co-written Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti.) The trilogy continues with Swarm.
If You Prefer Middle Grade:
- Horizon: Westerfeld’s new multi-platform series will launch this December. The seven book middle grade series begins with Westerfeld’s novel following kids who survive a plane crash only to find themselves stranded and forced to deal with each other and dangerous creatures. Westerfeld developed the plot arc for the entire series but the subsequent books will be written by other authors. This book will release in December.
Thus concludes your crash course intro to all of Scott Westerfeld’s books. Where will you start? Which ones have you read already?
–Emma Carbone, currently reading Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira