If I had to pick a favorite subgenre within YA books, it would easily be “teens in space.” I mean, who among us didn’t dream of escaping to Mars or Jupiter after a particularly rough day at school? (Okay, maybe that was just me!) Seriously though, I think something magical happens when you take relatable characters who are still figuring out who they are, and plunge them into a high-stakes world that is brand-new to the reader. It’s the winning combination that you get with young adult novels set in space! I had the time of my life writing in this genre with The Final Six and The Life Below, and if you’re looking for more, I have some stellar picks for you!
Across The Universe by Beth Revis
I believe it was this amazing trilogy that helped jumpstart the “teens in space” trend, and I am thankful for it! Across The Universe is the definition of a page-turner, with an opening chapter so strong that it should be taught in all writing classes. The story of Amy, who is woken up from her cryosleep chamber 50 years too soon, and Elder, a boy groomed to be leader of the mysterious world within the ship, it’s a thriller full of epic twists and turns, plus a great romance. This trilogy definitely lives up to the hype!
Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre
This is a book unlike any you’ve ever read, and it is awesome. When teen criminal Zara Cole is chosen for the Honors, it’s like winning the lottery. She gets to leave her rough life in New Detroit behind—including the enemies on her tail—as one of the lucky passengers handpicked by the Leviathan, a race of sentient alien spaceships, to travel through space with them for a year, upon which they could be picked for the ultimate, mysterious Journey. You will be on the edge of your seat to find out what happens next—and luckily, the final book in the trilogy (Honor Lost) is about to publish!
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
One of the coolest books I’ve ever read, Illuminae makes the genre its own with a totally unique format on top of a gripping story. It’s told through a dossier of hacked transcripts, diaries, emails and more, which gives you the feeling of actually being thrown into the action, solving the mystery alongside the characters. And you will fall in love with the two leads, Kady and Ezra—all while they try to fight their own love for each other. Sigh!
Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell
“Les Mis in space.” That was all I needed to hear to be sold, and this book seriously delivers. Sprawling and epic, with richly-imagined world-building on the planet of Laterre, Sky Without Stars takes the characters and tropes you know and love from Les Mis and reimagines them in such an exciting way (some to the point where you might even prefer them over their Les Mis counterparts!). It ends on a major cliffhanger, but thankfully the sequel, Between Burning Worlds, comes out in March 2020!
Zodiac by Romina Russell
It’s a brilliant concept: the twelve zodiac signs as different planets and worlds in the Zodiac Galaxy! And there just might be a Thirteenth, one that was thought to be a myth until our heroine, Rho, discovers the truth about the Thirteenth House and its villainous, exiled Guardian. A put-upon leader, Rho is thrust on a high-stakes journey across all twelve Houses in the galaxy—and wow, does Romina Russell do an amazing job building out each zodiac House! With inventive storytelling, epic battles and a juicy romance, this book and series has it all.
Have you read any or all of these? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!