Elizabeth Briggs | The Children’s Book Review | April 16, 2016
When I was asked to pick the five best young adult books I completely panicked, because there are way more than five I could pick. In fact, I could tell you about my favorite YA books all day long and they’d probably number in the hundreds! To narrow it to only five, I decided I’d focus on the same genre as my own novel, Future Shock, and highlight some of the best non-dystopian YA sci-fi books that have come out in the last few years. From time travel to space travel and beyond, these five books can bring us to different worlds yet still manage to be relatable to today’s teens.
Written by Beth Revis
This was one of the first YA books set in space I ever read, and it’s still one of the best. The series starts out with a murder mystery and expands into an epic sci-fi adventure across three books. The alternating points of view from Elder and Amy give two different views of the ship they’re living on, and as they unravel all the lies they’ve been told, they manage to both find themselves and come together in the process. It’s a wonderful coming-of-age story but it’s also packed with sci-fi action, plenty of twists and turns, and a touch of romance.
Ages 14+ | Publisher: Razorbill | 2011 | ISBN-13: 978-1595143976
Written by Karen Akins
There are a lot of time travel books out there, but this one is unique because it’s about a girl from the future who attends a school for time travelers. She travels back to our present-day world and meets a boy who she accidentally brings forward to the future with her. Together they have to find a way to get him back while also uncovering a bigger mystery. Loop is both incredibly fun and super romantic, and is filled with first loves, futuristic technology, and thought-provoking time travel complexities. The story wraps up nicely, but the sequel Twist is also not to be missed!
Ages 12+ | Publisher: St. Martins Griffin | 2014 | ISBN-13: 978-1-250-03098-6
Written by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
This book has been described as “Titanic in space,” but it’s really about what happens after the spaceship crashes and how the two survivors manage to endure on a planet that is trying to kill them. With characters you’ll want to root for, a unique world full of danger and beauty, and a plot that has you turning pages as fast as you can, this book is hard to put down. Even though the book has a satisfying conclusion, the universe’s overall story continues with new characters in the next books in the series.
Ages 14+ | Publisher: Disney-Hyperion | 2013 | ISBN-13: 978-1423171218
Written by Emily Skrutskie
Set in a futuristic world where genetically-engineered sea monsters are the only defense against pirates, this book has effortless diversity, complex moral choices, and characters you can’t help but love even if they’re doing questionable things. It’s fun, fast-paced, and action-packed, but also has a great romance between the main character and one of the pirates who has taken her captive. If you love books with complicated gray areas and villains who might actually be the heroes (or are they?), add this to your list. Plus, giant sea monsters! Who doesn’t love those?
Ages 14+ | Publisher: Flux | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0738746913
Written by Rachel Searles
This one is technically Middle Grade, but it’s geared toward the older kids in that age group, and I think a lot of YA readers would love it too. Featuring two boys—one with strange powers and no memory of his past, and another with a sarcastic wit and a skill for hacking—who are forced to work together after their planet is destroyed, this one is full of action, cool sci-fi technology, spaceships, strange aliens, and unique planets. It’s smart, it’s funny, it’s unputdownable, and the best news is, the sequel is just as good!
Ages 9-13 | Publisher: Feiwel & Friends | 2014 | ISBN-13: 978-1250056887
About Elizabeth Briggs
Elizabeth Briggs graduated from UCLA with a degree in sociology. She mentors teens in writing and is the author of the new adult series Chasing the Dream. She lives in LA with her husband and a pack of fluffy dogs. This is her first young adult novel.
Written by Elizabeth Briggs
Publisher’s Synopsis: Elena Martinez has hidden her eidetic memory all her life—or so she thinks. When powerful tech giant Aether Corporation selects her for a top-secret project, she can’t say no. All she has to do is participate in a trip to the future to bring back data, and she’ll be set for life.
Elena joins a team of four other teens with special skills, including Adam, a science prodigy with his own reason for being there. But when the time travelers arrive in the future, something goes wrong and they break the only rule they were given: do not look into their own fates.
Now they have twenty-four hours to get back to the present and find a way to stop a seemingly inevitable future from unfolding. With time running out and deadly secrets uncovered, Elena must use her eidetic memory, street smarts, and a growing trust in Adam to save her new friends and herself.
Ages 14+ | Publisher: AW Teen | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0807526828
Elizabeth Briggs, author of Future Shock, selected these five young adult books. Discover more articles on The Children’s Book Review tagged with Best YA, Science Fiction, Time Travel, and Young Adult Fiction