Solara and Dylan have always hated each other. Rivals at their elite school, Dylan comes from one of the richest families in the Galaxy while Solara is a scholarship student from the orphanage. But when Dylan’s family is caught up in an inter-galactic scandal, they end up on the run together, booking passage on a pirate ship. In deep space, no one will be able to find them as long as they don’t blow their cover with the crew. But they also have nowhere to escape when things go wrong.
This is a classic sci-fi story with a bunch of quirky misfits hurtling through space trying to avoid a corrupt government. It's a fun adventure for fans of the genre.
Izzy and Jules were inseparable as children, running all over the small farming village on Batuu where they lived. Then one day, Izzy's family left without warning. Thirteen years have passed and Jules is living in the same small town while Izzy is traveling the galaxy in her own ship, getting by on smuggling work. When she's betrayed by her old crew, a job takes her back to Batuu. When her path literally collides with Jules's she is surprised by the undeniable spark between them. By the end of the day both of their lives will be completely different, if they manage to survive.
This was a romance with Star Wars serving as the background. It's a solid story; the tension between the characters is palpable and the plot full of dangerous situations that keep you turning the pages.
A Crash of Fate by Zoraida Cordova Erica's Picks Grades 6th - 8th Tags: adventure, crime caper, people of color, romance, science fiction
“The heavy blade hung high above the prisoners, glinting against the stars, and then the Razor came down, a wedge of falling darkness cutting through the torchlight. One solid thump, and four more heads had been shaved from their bodies.” In a post-technological age where the past is all but forgotten, a rebellion is stirring. The nobility are being captured and executed. Their only hope is the mysterious red rook who keeps sneaking into prisons and freeing people, leaving a red-tipped feather behind.
I adored this re-imagining of The Scarlet Pimpernel! The dystopian setting provides a perfect background and gender-swapping the main character creates a more modern feeling. There's the perfect mix of action, world-building, and romance.
When the UN gave responsibility for world peace over to an artificial intelligence, it came up with a solution that no one anticipated. Instead of using atomic bombs for deterrence it works on a smaller, more personal scale. Every world leader is required to give a child over to be raised and taught in the prefecture. All of their needs are seen to, they get a wonderful education among the elite, and if their parents declare war on another country, they are executed. Those in power have always been willing to send other people's children off to die in wars, but they are far more hesitant to sacrifice their own. The system worked. Until the sacrificed children decide to fight back.
This book has a lot of meaty moral questions to dig your teeth into, but the pace is never slowed by them. The diverse cast was created with care and they each shine in their own way. The AI running the place is perhaps the most interesting character of all. I absolutely adored this.
The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
Erica's Picks 8th & up Tags: dystopian, fast-paced, science fiction
The Oyster has been sailing for 300 years without any contact from the outside world. If they had a purpose once, no one can remember it. The ship has broken down into three warring factions with parents passing their prejudices onto their children for generations. Petrel is the only one without a faction or a family. Her parents committed a great crime and were thrown overboard. She survives by knowing the ship and all its hiding places better than anyone else. She sneaks down secret passageways and steals to survive. Everything changes when they find a half-frozen boy abandoned on an iceberg. How he got out there is a mystery, but he will surely die if they don't take him aboard. Many want to leave this outsider to freeze. But not Petrel. If anyone knows how to survive and evade capture on the ship, it's her. This mysterious boy will put all her talents and her courage to the test.
I liked the hints at the dystopian world and how it came to be instead of a lengthy exposition that explains everything. The world of the ship is fascinating and has a gritty sense of something that's carried on long past its time and is hanging on by sheer force of will. The boy's inner conflict is well-portrayed and Petrel is an endearing character reminiscent of a scrappy, Dickensian street urchin. I love sailing stories and the ship is a great background for the twisting plot. There's a lot of meaty themes explored from identity to friendship to faith. The story takes a bit of time to really get going, but I'm looking forward to how it will unfold in the sequel.
This book stands out from the rest for its unique structure and creative vision of the future. The first part of the book takes place just one year from now and revolves around a boy with the ability to cross into a parallel universe, a talent that others dismiss as him hanging on to childish fantasies. The consequences of this one boy's actions play out over the years at different intervals. Each story takes place farther into the future and revolves around different characters, although their stories are clearly related and have rippling effects on the others. The futures are both absurd and scarily prescient as society's obsession with social media and refusal to take responsibility reach their logical extremes. A science-fiction dystopia you won't soon forget!
Avani doesn't fit in with the flower scouts as they talk about boys and make -up tips. But an accidental alien abduction leads to her true scout calling: star scouts. This inter-galactic troupe of kids may not be the most skilled or organized, but they love being together and embrace their quirkiness. Where can I sign up?
Star Scouts by Mike Lawrence
Erica's Picks 3rd - 5th Tags: adventure, comics, humor, people of color, science fiction
Death can be cured and aging reversed. The need for politics and politicians has been erased by a benevolent, all-seeing artificial intelligence dubbed the Thunderhead. The only thing humanity won't let the Thunderhead dictate is who dies. So how do you ensure the population doesn't surpass what Earth can provide? Scythes. These elite arbiters of death are apprenticed in adolescence and trained in how to kill from martial arts to poison. No one is entirely sure what methods they use to select who they glean and everyone is eager to get in their good graces. But in a world beyond politics, factions are rising within the Scythe ranks and radical splinter groups are forming that enjoy the art of killing a bit too much. They are orchestrating tragedies on a scale that hasn't been seen for centuries. In the midst of this chaos two rival apprentices appear who are destined to change everything.
Scythe by Neal Shusterman Erica's Picks 7th & up Tags: Dystopian, Fast-Paced, Science Fiction
Seth feels the impact of a rock against his head as the waters close in around him and he drowns. He dies in America, but he wakes up again in his childhood home in England. His neighbors' houses are exactly how he remembers them, except that nobody's home. He ventures into town for supplies and finds that nature has begun to reclaim the town with wild plants and animals. It's like nobody has lived there for years. He thinks he's in his own personal afterlife until he finds two others like him and a mysterious enemy that is hunting them all down. I always go into Patrick Ness novels expecting death, so I was actually a bit relieved when it came at the very beginning. I had hoped that would remove some of the suspense and eventual emotional devastation--oh how wrong I was! I think talking too much about the plot will just ruin it for people who haven't read it yet so I'll just say that I love the the characters and the mind-trip that was the ever-twisting plot.
More Than This by Patrick Ness
Erica's Picks 8th Tags: Adventure, Character Driven, Dystopian, LGBTQ, People of Color, Science Fiction, Tear Jerker
Ava dreams of Earth, but she has never set foot on solid land. She lives on a Crewe ship where everyone has a place and a job. She longs to learn how to fix things or go down to Earth, but that's men's work. Women have their own work like cooking and laundry. The other women tell her that the longing for Earth and other things she can't have will go away once she gets married and has children. As the captain's daughter the odds are good she'll make a fine match--maybe even as a first wife. But just when everything seems to be coming together, disaster strikes and she has to flee everything she has ever known for the perils of a life on land.
Reading about the Crewe ship society with its mythology and social constructs is fascinating and that's just the beginning of the fully developed settings Ava lives in. The characters are as richly layered and diverse as the settings and had a way of staying with me. If you like reading about gritty, dystopian futures and well developed characters overcoming trials and tribulations, then this is the book for you.
Erica's Picks 8th Grade Tags: Character Driven, Dystopian, People of Color, Science Fiction