Seriously Sci-Fi

Friday Book Flick: Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Hunger Games fans will definitely want to check out Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi:
A gritty, high-stakes adventure set in a futuristic world where oil is scarce, but loyalty is scarcer. In America's Gulf Coast region, grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts by crews of young people. Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota-and hopefully live to see another day. But when, by luck or by chance, he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of his life: Strip the ship for all it's worth or rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life....

If you like James Patterson's Maximum Ride series

James Patterson's Maximum Ride series

This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading  recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. See our other Book Matches.

Maxiumum Ride: The Angel Experiment
Max, 14, and her adopted family-Fang and Iggy, both 13, Nudge, 11, Gazzy, 8, and Angel, 6-were all created as experiments in a lab called the School. Jeb, a sympathetic scientist, helped them escape and, since then, they've been living on their own. The Erasers have orders to kill them so the world will never find out they exist. Max's old childhood friend, Ari, now an Eraser leader, tracks them down, kidnaps Angel, and transports her back to the School to live like a lab rat again. The youngsters are forced to use their special talents to rescue her as they attempt to learn about their pasts and their destinies. (School Library Journal Review)

If you liked James Patterson's Maximum Ride series, you might try one of these fast-paced books:

Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Among the Hidden
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
In a future where the Population Police enforce the law limiting a family to only two children, Luke has lived all his twelve years in isolation and fear on his family's farm, until another "third" convinces him that the government is wrong. (Book one in a series)


 

Chasing the Falconers by Gordon Korman
Chasing the Falconers
by Gordon Korman
Aidan and Meg Falconer are their parents' only hope. The Falconers are facing life in prison -- unless Aidan and Meg can follow a trail of clues to prove their innocence. The problem? Right now they're trapped in a juvenile detention center. Until they escape one night -- and find themselves on the run, both from the authorities and from a sinister attacker t who has his own reason to stop them. The Falconers must use their wits to make it across the country ... with plenty of tests along the way. (Book one in a series)
 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins
In a future North America, where the rulers of Panem maintain control through an annual televised survival competition pitting young people from each of the twelve districts against one another, sixteen-year-old Katniss's skills are put to the test when she voluntarily takes her younger sister's place. (Book one in a series)

If you like Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading  recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. See our other Book Matches.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Huxley's story shows a futuristic World State where all emotion, love, art, and human individuality have been replaced by social stability. An ominous warning to the world's population, this literary classic is a must-read.

 

1984 by George Orwell
1984
by George Orwell
Portrays a terrifying vision of life in the future when a totalitarian government, considered a "Negative Utopia," watches over all citizens and directs all activities, becoming more powerful as time goes by.

 

 

Erewhon by Samuel Butler
Erewhon
by Samuel Butler
Erewhon (an anagram for "nowhere") is a faraway land where machinery is forbidden, sickness is a punishable crime, and criminals receive compassionate medical treatment.

 

 

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 451
by Ray Bradbury
A totalitarian regime has ordered all books to be destroyed, but one of the book burners suddenly realizes their merit.

 

 

Brain Jack by Brian Falkner

Brain Jack by Brian Falkner

Sam Wilson is 14 years old, lives in New York City, and is a computer genius.  It is not unusual for Sam and his friends to hack into computer systems and fool around.   In fact, computer gaming and use has reached a whole new level in Brain Jack, by Brian Falkner.  In Sam's world, being addicted to computer gaming has moved from the basement to gaming lounges.  There are individuals who spend their entire days hooked to gaming systems and do nothing else.  This book begs the question ...is this a possible future?

Sam likes to hack into systems for fun and to see if he can shut them down and then get out without his identity being detected.  One day he decides to disrupt the structure of one of the country's largest  telecommunications systems.  He is able to move through the system undetected for a while using his computer hacking skills.  However, unusual activity is noted by the web security team working for the large company.  Sam realizes that he has been spotted and decides to get out quickly.  There is a flurry of activity that follows as Sam scrambles to finish the job and remove any evidence that could link this security breach back to him.

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

In Across the Universe by Beth Revis, Amy leaves all she’s ever known behind and is cryogenically frozen to follow her parents as they set out on a 300-year journey to colonize a new planet only to be awakened early and alone.

Elder, the designated next leader of the ship’s crew, has been born years ahead of the rest of his generation, he is alone in a society with no room for difference. He admits to liking a little chaos, so how could he resist a girl his own age who appears in every way different from all he’s ever known.

But being different in an enclosed world means being an outcast, a challenge to the existing order of things, and perhaps even a threat. Eldest, the current leader and Elder’s mentor, states that the greatest threat to the ship is mutiny and the first cause of discord is difference. The other causes in his mind are lack of a strong central leader and individual thought. But is absolute control really the same as strong leadership? On a ship where every function is based on lies, Amy’s difference and Elder’s tendency toward independent thought threaten both their lives.

Meanwhile, someone is killing the frozen colonists.

The Gardener by S.A. Bodeen

The Gardener

High-school junior Mason suffered severe facial scarring from a dog attack as a child. People tend to avoid the intimidating six feet three, 230-pound football player. But Mason’s gruff exterior hides a character that is a smart, quiet hero in S.A. Bodeen’s latest bestseller, The Gardener.

Having grown up never knowing his father – except for a DVD of the faceless man reading a children’s book – Mason longs for answers. When he plays the video for a group of comatose teens at the nursing home where his mother works, the inexplicable happens–a beautiful girl wakes up. Mason learns that the teens are part of a hideous experiment designed to create autotrophs—genetically engineered, self-sustaining life-forms who don’t need food or water to survive. The discovery sparks Mason’s heroism, sending him and Laila on the run for their lives as they try to learn who the mastermind behind the gruesome plan is.

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

What, another dystopian YA novel? Yes, but Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi is so fresh and involving that even the most jaded reader is sure to enjoy it. 

Teenaged Nailer is a ship breaker, one of the poorest of the poor who eke out a living dismantling rusting oil tankers along the Gulf. He’s still small enough to crawl through the ducts in search of copper wire, which he retrieves and turns over to his crew boss. His drug-addicted father is an unpredictable force, and Nailer considers his friend Pima and her mother the closest thing he has to a real family. 
 
After a hurricane sweeps over the coast, Nailer and Pima discover the wreck of a high-tech clipper ship hidden in an inlet. As they scavenge for food, money and anything else that can turn their luck, they discover the body of a beautiful and clearly rich young woman. Just as Nailer contemplates cutting off her finger to steal her rings, her eyes open.

Philip K. Dick and History Unrealized

The late Philip K. Dick's works were one of the strongest influences on science fiction writers in the first decade of the 21st century, including the fields of alternate history and paranoid thrillers.

12 Weeks of Hot Summer Reads: Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve

This is Week 7 of a 12-Week series of blog posts reviewing new young adult books. Check back each Monday for a new review.

Fever Crumb, heroine of Philip Reeve’s Fever Crumb, is a 14 year-old girl with an unusual appearance. First of all, she’s bald. Second, she has two differently-colored eyes – one blue, the other brown. And third, she’s absolutely beautiful. But she doesn’t know that. She has been raised by Dr. Crumb and the Order of Engineers since she was a baby, and they’re not in the habit of telling her that she’s beautiful. Her upbringing has been rather dry and very self-composed, with both emotion and beauty being looked down upon.

Fever lives in London, but it’s not like any London that we know of. London is recovering from being occupied by “the Scriven,” a different species with speckled skin and long lives. The Scriven were overthrowed by the Skinners, and the New Council now rules the land. No one is as hated in London as the Scriven are, for being different and for being harsh rulers.
 
Fever is called out on her first official Engineer assignment, to assist archeologist Kit Solvent on a dig. While traveling to her job, Fever’s eyes attract some unwanted attention, and she is quickly branded “a Patchskin” or Scriven. A renowned Patchskin hunter follows her, determined to find out if she is human or Scriven.  Events occur that lead to rioting in London, even while barbarians are approaching the city to conquer it.

First Light by Rebecca Stead

First Light by Rebecca Stead is a compelling story told by two different narrators. First there is Peter, the only child of two talented scientist parents. His father, a glaciologist, receives a grant to travel to Greenland and study global warming. He takes along Peter and Peter's mother, a molecular biologist, who is writing a book about mitochondrial DNA. Peter, like any normal 7th grader, is excited to leave behind New York City for 6 weeks, but he's worried about his increasingly frequent headaches. Is he going to end up like his mother, whose headaches cause her to simply "check out" for days at a time?

Second, there is Thea, a 14 year-old girl who lives in Gracehope, a community entirely hidden under Greenland's ice. Thea's ancestors fled here a long time ago to escape persecution. Thea has never seen the sun. Her people's population has expanded to the point where resources must be severely rationed and births are limited. Thea feels that her people were meant to return to the surface, but her grandmother, who leads Gracehope, is set against expansion.

Peter and Thea's tales alternate as the plot's tension increases, and they eventually come together in this exciting story that mixes adventure with science and fantasy. Both characters are strong and independent thinkers, trying to make the best decisions with their limited knowledge. The adults in this novel seem strangely paralyzed by the past in many respects, unlike Peter and Thea, who are constantly looking forward to and advocating for the future.

You can read an excerpt from the book here and explore the world of First Light in its own Web site. A similar read is The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau. The library owns both the book and audiobook, which our family enjoyed listening to. Recommended for ages 10-14.