the Little Red Reviewer

Some great scifi/fantasy YA reads

Posted on: September 30, 2010


Are you a YA fan who is looking for something a little grittier, a little meatier, a little SF-ier?

Are you an adult SF/F fan looking for something a little lighter, but still with the grit and humor you’ve come to enjoy from your favorite writers?

If you answered “why yes! Yes I am!” to either of those questions, allow me to introduce you to some great SF/F YA reads by authors who are known for writing for adults.  

For the Win, by Cory Doctorow – American kids enjoy online games for fun. Asian and Indian kids play online games for money, more than just what gold farming can give them. When the undertrod, underpaid, undervalued child workers are taught the word union, only good can come of it. right?

Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow – big brother might be watching, but what happens when little brother watches back? Of every book on this list, this was the hardest book for me to read, and I don’t mean hard intellectually. I believe  Little Brother should be required reading in every high school government class, but I’m sure once it got some attention it would be banned.

Un Lun Dun by China Mieville – Part Wizard of Oz, part Alice in Wonderland, and very punny.  You just can’t not like this book!

The WWW series by Robert Sawyer – the first book in the series didn’t do much for me, but as far as YA reads go, this is a contemporary SF winner.  Blind teenager Caitlin can “see” the world wide web, and there is something there that can see her.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman – what can I say about this that hasn’t been said before? if you haven’t read it, you owe it to yourself to enjoy this book!

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – Ender’s Game as YA? really? hey, it’s what all the cool kids were reading when I was a teenager. It’s a SF classic.

Which of these have you read? Which of these look most promising?

9 Responses to "Some great scifi/fantasy YA reads"

Oh wow, I love the YA genre. “Little Brother” sounds so good. Same with Doctorow’s other book on your list. Thanks! More books for my next library shopping trip 😀


I have For the Win on my shelf and can’t wait to read it. I had someone review on my site who really enjoyed it and I look forward to reading it myself. I didn’t realize Ender’s Game would be considered YA. I haven’t read it in years and also have it in my pile of books to read soon.


Oh! I’ve read Little Brother, Coraline and Ender’s Game. Need to read the rest of these!


Oh, come on! If Ender is YA, then almost anything can be considered YA. The kids who read Ender in school also read Douglas Adams and Heinlein, not to mention Tolkien and even George Orwell. Are these all considered YA? What, then, is considered “A”?


i was one of those teenagers who was reading Douglas Adams and Heinlein, and I was probably the only nerd in 8th grade who hadn’t read Lord of the Rings a hundred times. Back then, I was more a Dragonlance kind of girl.

If the story features young adult protagonists (Ender) and or concepts that a teen would find interesting (Have Spacesuit Will Travel, the ring has power over all beings. . .), then it could be considered YA. Is there a blur between YA and A? of course there is. I’ve been getting into JOe Abercrombie lately, and would never ever say it’s appropriate for kids or teens because of the language and violence level, but Little Brother is marketed as YA and there is a graphic waterboarding torture scene.

Dirty Sexy Books, if you’re reading this, maybe this is your next roundtable discussion?


I’ve never really considered Ender’s Game to be YA. It does involve a youth protagonist, and the resolution strives mightily to keep him completely fault-free (which I always thought was kind of stupid), but the things that he is confronted with are way too complex to fit most YA frameworks.

Actually, I consider Ender’s Game to be one of the best, most subtle Freudian SF novels ever written. Consider: Ender and his older brother, Peter (phallic imagery in that name) are locked into a conflict with each other, the winner or which will get the prize, which is none other than their sister, whose name, by the way, happens to be “Valentine.” In the end Ender and Valentine ride off into the sunset together.

The war games that the kids are put through are aggressive and taught, but they are more symbolic of sexual positioning than actual combat to the death. And when the kids lose, they are shot with a ray that makes them completely helpless and unable to move, and thus completely vulnerable to the machinations of the survivors and men in the room. It reads to me like a flavor of rope binding and S&M.

More, the alien enemy in this story, a hive like insect race, are called the “Buggers.” Not “bugs,” or “insects,” or even “chitinous carapaced space freaks,” but “Buggers.” See any other symbolism in that name?

There’s more (acutally a lot more homo-erotic imagery), but you get the picture. I’ve always wondered how much of that is by design and how much was just put in subconsciously. Probably much more of the former, but still, I wonder.


ok, so apparently i’m the only person in the universe who thinks Ender’s Game is YA.

Omphalos, you are getting completely different things out that book than I am. like, wow.


Yeah, that’s going TOO far. I don’t consider Ender to be YA either, but I’m getting more sexual vibes from your id than from the entire novel (even though I know what an omphalos is).


YA really has no boundries, as long as the book has the POV of someone under the age of 18. I hear publishers are going to start putting ratings on all YA.


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FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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