Teens In Space
As a child, I fantasized about being an astronaut, or even just going to space camp. In my adult years, this prospect sounds absolutely terrifying, especially after seeing Gravity and The Martian. Plus, why would I want to be away from my cats for that long? Regardless, I find books that are set in space to be highly entertaining, full of action, drama, romance, life, death, and sometimes highly alarming artificial intelligence systems. If you, like me, are a big fan of young adult books, these are some fantastic choices that are set in space.
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Lilac LaRoux, daughter of the richest man in the universe, and Tarver Merendsen, a war hero, are both aboard the luxury spaceship the Icarus when it crashes. During the crash, Lila hotwires an escape pod and she and Tarver crash land on an uninhabited terraformed planet, where they learn that their pod is so damaged that they have no hope of communicating with potential rescuers. Lilac and Tarver decide that making their way to and exploring the Icarus are their best chances for survival. Along the way, Tarver finds another crashed escape pod, this time with no survivors, and decides to bury the bodies without telling Lilac. As the pair start to become friends and Tarver tells Lilac about his desire to return to his family, Lilac starts hearing whispers. Will Lilac and Tarver uncover the secrets of this strange new place before it’s too late? Told with snippets of Lilac and Tarver being interrogated between each chapter, These Broken Stars is the perfect choice for science fiction readers who love Titanic and Lost.
Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Amy and her parents are aboard the Godspeed, where they have been cryogenically frozen and are headed for a new planet. Under mysterious circumstances, Amy wakes up fifty years before the ship is supposed to land, but her parents do not. Instead, Amy meets Elder, whose father leads the ship, and discovers that being Earthen makes her highly unusual among the ship's passengers. Even though the society aboard the Godspeed seems organized with its recycled air, farming aboard the ship, and a breeding system, Amy realizes that her awakening was not a mere accident, but a sign of something far more sinister. Readers seeking a mysterious novel set in space should pick up Across the Universe.
Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci
Aboard the colony Prairie Rose, Tula is ready to go to a new planet to start a new life. When her ship unexpectedly makes a stop at the remote space station Yertina Feray and Tula questions a decision of the colonist's leader, Brother Blue, she is severely beaten and left aboard the space station. Tula is befriended by Heckleck, an alien who teaches her about life on the space station. Eventually, three new humans arrive, and although Tula's desire for companionship is satiated, her desire to escape is not, and she starts forming a plan to murder Brother Blue. Tin Star is the perfect choice for anyone seeking quirky science fiction with lots of aliens and evil plotting.
Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan
Waverly and her boyfriend Kieran Alderan were both born aboard the space ship the Empyrean and are destined to be pioneers of New Earth. As a woman, Waverly knows she should have children to carry on the mission, and she should be grateful when her boyfriend, who is also captain-to-be, proposes to her. However, a part of Waverly wants to be more than a mother, and she finds herself intrigued by Seth, another boy on the ship. When the Empyeran is attacked by its sister ship, the New Horizon, the young girls are taken aboard, and everyone is separated from their parents. Waverly must try and make sense of a ship where there is a strong sense of religion and the girls are wanted for childbearing, and Kieran must try and lead the boys in getting the girls and their parents back. Glow is perfect for readers who want a novel that is action-packed science fiction while still juggling questions of religion and morality.
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
It’s the year 2575 and Kady and Ezra have a breakup to remember because the afternoon after it happens, their planet, Kerenza, is invaded. Despite barely being on speaking terms, Kady and Ezra must fight their way onto an evacuating fleet as two mega-corporations go to war over their small, ice-covered planet. Once it's in the air, that fleet encounters more problems, including people in charge who won't reveal what’s happening, an artificial intelligence system that may be trying to kill everyone, and a horrific plague that's broken out. Kady uses her hacking skills to get into the fleet’s data and she realizes Ezra may be the only person who can help her discover the truth. Told using, emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, Illuminae is the perfect fast-paced novel for anyone who wants an entirely new reading experience.
Salvage by Alexandra Duncan
Aboard the Parastrata, Ava and the other women on the ship are expected to complete domestic tasks and have babies while the men do any work that involves intellect or politics. Ava is engaged to marry Luck, who is the son of another ship’s captain. When she and Luck are caught in an intimate position before their wedding day, Ava finds herself faced with banishment from the ship by being pushed out into open space. Ava manages to outrun death and get to Earth, and soon finds herself caring for an orphan girl named Miyole. Even as Ava works to keep herself and Miyole alive, she still wonders what happened to Luck. Will Ava and Miyole learn to survive on her own? And will she ever be reunited with Luck? Salvage is the perfect science fiction novel if you want an intergalactic story filled with gender politics.
Starglass by Phoebe North
The only life that sixteen-year-old Terra has ever known is aboard the Asherah, a spaceship full of passengers with largely secular Jewish heritage, whose ancestors left Earth five hundred years ago after an asteroid strike. Today, Terra struggles with a grieving father who suffers from alcoholism, a distant older brother, and the Council, which regulates life aboard the ship, going so far as to sterilize all boys at a young age and grow infants in an onboard hatchery. Not only has the Council chosen Terra’s profession in botany, even though she’s passionate about art, but they will choose a spouse for her if she doesn’t find one. When Terra inadvertently witnesses a murder, she also uncovers a plot to overthrow the Council, and she starts to realize that the circumstances surrounding her mother’s death are not what they seem. As Terra makes her decisions about who to marry and who to trust, she realizes that she has the power to affect the lives of everyone aboard the ship. Readers who want a novel that ties together elements of science fiction, dystopia, and Jewish culture will enjoy Starglass.