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An amazing homage to 80's pop culture and video games, Ready Player One is an incredibly dystopian science fiction mixed with an explosion of nerdy trivia. In short, it's awesome. Set in the year 2044, most of the world is in dire straits, and everyone finds solace in the virtual world, OASIS, created by techno-genius and geek god, James Halliday.
Halliday has died, leaving a scavenger hunt through his virtual world as his last will and testament. Throughout OASIS, groups called gunters amasses the knowledge of geeky 80's minutiae that will allow them to acquire Halliday's vast fortune and control over OASIS. Enter Wade Watts, a teenage gunter who has just discovered his first clue. Ready Player One follows Wade both in the virtual and real world as he solves the riddles and puzzles of Halliday's quest, but he's not alone.
He's joined by his friends, a group known as High Five as they are the top five gunters that are not a part of the evil corporation IOI that will stop at nothing to gain control over OASIS. Winner of both the Alex and Prometheus Award in 2012, Ready Player One invites a lot of comparison to classic fantasy and sci-fi stories, particularly since many of them are referenced in the book. For those unfamiliar with the culture, this novel is a great introduction to sci-fi and gaming set in a high stakes adventure. For the gaming and pop culture nerds, this book is a love story.
The first in the Ender Quintet, Ender's Game has garnered a lot of accolades since it was first published in 1985. It won the Nebula Award in 1985, and the Hugo Award in 1986. Its sequel, Speaker for the Dead also won both awards, making Orson Scott card the only author to win both of these awards in consecutive years. Recently, it has been adapted into a movie starring Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, and Asa Butterfield.
Ender's Game is the story of Ender Wiggins, who is sent into space to attend Battle School at six years old. Earth is preparing for a third invasion of hive-minded aliens popularly known as buggers. Ender is a bit of an anomaly,, and as such, he's greeted with bullying at Battle School. He quickly shows aptitude for the battle games and rises in the estimation of his fellow students and teachers. Soon, he is taken under the wing of Commander Graff who has his own reasons for taking an interest in the talented young Ender.
This is a fast-paced read that examines some heavy themes, war, manipulation, and innocence, but it tackles these themes in such a way that it's never heavy-handed. You're right there with Ender as he discovers the truth about the Battle School and feel the same profound weight of all that is dropped on him. Ender is a character that you care for thrown into impossible circumstances. You'll be rooting for him from start to finish.
This list would be remiss not to include Frank Herbert's Dune. The first in the long-running and often adapted Dune Chronicles, Dune is a winner of both the Hugo and Nebula Awards. At it's heart, Dune is the story of the wealthy, young Paul Atreides whose family moves to the desert planet of Arrakis to harvest melange, a spice that is the most coveted thing in the universe.
Through a betrayal of his family, Paul and his mother are forced to hide out among the native people of the planet, the Fremen. Throughout the story, Paul grows up among the Fremen people, learning their ways and becoming a part of their culture. This is over-simplifying the plot greatly, Dune is pretty epic. It's filled with adventure and political drama.
The whole reason that Paul ends up among the Fremen is due to a large-scale plot to eliminate his family, and he even owes his existence to political machinations. There are giant sandworms and battles, and a cast of characters big enough to make your head-spin. Herbert treads the line between hard sci-fi and space opera, and it's not hard to see why Dune is a classic work of sci-fi literature.
A venture capitalist with a brain-damaged mother. A technology that can transform the world. A ruthless enemy with a dark agenda.
A venture capitalist with a brain-damaged mother. A technology that can transform the world. A ruthless enemy with a dark agenda.
Packed to the brim with non-stop action and thought-provoking science, Mind Machines is an intensely complex sci-fi thriller you don’t want to miss. The unpredictable plot hooks you immediately, and the snarky narration lightens even the darkest scenes. The inventive Brainocyte technology will appeal to die-hard fans of the genre as well as casual readers.
The characters are well-developed and the relationships are realistic. As entertaining as it is clever, Mind Machines is a story you won’t soon forget. Get the Kindle ebook copy here, paperback here or audiobook here.
Winner of the 2002 National book award as well as a Printz and Newbery Honor book in 2003, House of the Scorpion has a lot of literary acclaim for a sci-fi novel. This futuristic, coming-of-age adventure tackles some heavy moral issues, but it never comes off as didactic. Matt Alarcan has lived in seclusion on the estate of the drug lord of El Patron, knowing nothing of the outside world until he meets Maria.
When she leaves, Matt worries that she might be devoured by a mythical creature and goes out in search of her, only to find out some terrible secrets about himself and the world in which he lives. Matt is a clone, whom the aging El Patron has created in order to harvest his organs. The book brings up interesting issues about cloning and human rights through the story of Matt's plight and of El Patron's family.
While the premise is similar to the 2005 movie, The Island, this book packs a much bigger punch by also exploring the concept of eejits, people with a brain chip implanted that basically makes them mindless drones. Farmer paints a grim future in Matt's world, but she does raise a lot of interesting questions as well as your pulse as you follow Matt's adventure.
The dystopia that started them all... well, not exactly, but Collin's Golden Duck award-winning, wildly popular trilogy did spark a renewed interest in the dystopian subgenre of sci-fi, particularly among young adults. The trilogy is in the process of being adapted for the big screen, having two successful movies out already.
Similar to stories such as Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" children of the dystopian world of Panem must participate in an annual tradition known as "the reaping" in which one boy and one girl from each of the twelve districts of Panem are chosen to compete in the annual Hunger Games, a broadcasted fight to the death. When Katniss's sister, Primrose is chosen to participate in the Hunger Games, Katniss volunteers to go in her place, and it will take all her wits and survivals skills to emerge from the arena alive.
Though there are only a few sci-fi nods thrown in, this dystopian adventure set the framework for many other more sci-fi related dystopias such as Legend and Divergent. Not to mention that this is an adventure book that is taut with tension. You will be on the edge of your seat as you read, wondering if Katniss will be able to survive her time in the Hunger Games.
Newbery Award winning, The Giver, the first of The Giver quartet, is a dystopian coming of age story that is soon to be adapted into a major motion picture. In Jonas's ordered world, everyone is given a job at age 12, and Jonas is given the prominent position of Receiver of Memory. When he begins his training with the former Receiver of Memory, now the Giver, Jonas gradually gains the collective memories of his society, and learns of emotions and experiences that he's never experienced in his carefully maintained society.
It's a lot for any twelve-year old to bear, especially a twelve year old who has been brought up in a community that shuns these things and puts value on "sameness" over all. It only gets worse as he learns the truth behind the utopian facade. Soon, Jonas must decide if he can live in his world or if he would be better off taking his chances in the Elsewhere.
While it may not be action-packed, this book is filled with intense emotion and raises a lot of interesting questions about what it means to be human and the price of living in a perfect world. This slim novel packs a lot of intense emotion into its less than 200 pages, but it doesn't try to hit you over the head with its message. Instead, you are pulled into Jonas's head and feelings as he struggles to come to grips with the truth of his world.
A near-future dystopia that has been compared to ground-breaking books such as 1984 and Fahrenheit 451, Little Brother is part coming-of-age story and part political treatise. Marcus Yallow and his friends skip school one day, tricking the cameras that track their gait and disabling the RFID chip in a school library book, to play an online game with real-life challenges and puzzles called Harajuku Fun Madness.
While searching for clues to the game, the group is caught up in a terrorist attack on the Oakland Bridge and arrested by the Department of Homeland Security. They face horrific treatment at the hands of the DHS, and when they return home, they find that things are no better there. Their every move is watched, and Marcus's every attempt to discover what happened to their missing friend Darryl is met with opposition. Using his computer-savvy, Marcus decides that it's time to fight back. Little Brother was a winner of the 2009 White Pine, Prometheus, and John W. Campbell Memorial awards, and it was a finalist for the 2009 Hugo Award. It's easy to see why.
Marcus's voice is engaging and witty and completely believable for a teenage boy, and his story hits close to home to anyone who uses technology, which, is pretty much everyone. While the book can get a bit messagey at times, the message is important: Know your technology and make it work for you, not against you. Peppered with lots of hacktivist tidbits and history, Little Brother helps the reader do just that and all in the form on an incredibly entertaining and timely story.
Winner of the Golden Duck Award and nominated for an Aurealis, Shade's Children is a grim dystopian tale that is high on mystery and action. Earth has been taken over by evil Overlords who harvest anyone over the age of 14 and use their organs to create genetically mutated soldiers and beasts. Only a small group of teens has escaped, living on an abandoned submarine, following the last adult consciousness left on the planet, an entity known as Shade who cares for them and educates them.
Though Shade tells the teens that their mission is to take down the Overlord and return life to normal, when one of the team is in danger, his motives become less clear. Fans of The Matrix will find a lot to appreciate in Shade's Children, as the grim world of the novel is similar to the post-apocalyptic world of The Matrix.
The teens must face all kinds of monsters in their missions, and they never know if they will survive or end up harvested. Video reports done by the characters at the end of each chapter help you to connect with each of the four protagonists and to care for them. The tension is ratcheted up in this story, and you will be on the edge of your seat.
The 2011 Printz-award winning Ship Breaker is a dystopian thrill ride. Severe climate change has rendered coastal areas into wastelands; corporations have free reign to do whatever they'd like, and the world has been severely divided into the haves and the have-nots. Nailer is a have-not, a ship breaker who lives with his drug addicted and abusive father and who scavenges ships for copper wiring and spare parts and dreams of the day a Lucky Strike will change his life.
Nailer's luck turns when a huge storm blows in a clipper ship with the wealthy Nita onboard. Now, Nailer must decide whether to leave her to her own fate, to ransom her, or to defy all odds and help her. Ship Breaker is a tightly woven, edge of your seat adventure. Nailer's world is incredibly grim, and also incredibly relatable as it deals with the results of climate change and social stratification, but the reader is never bogged down with the details of it.
Though this book also deals with some hard-hitting and timely social and political issues, these, too, never come across as teaching points or messages. Instead, they are woven into the complex plot as Nailer and Nita put aside their differences and become unlikely friends.
Leviathan, is the Aurealis award-winning first book in the Leviathan trilogy, an alternate history, dieselpunk adventure. Set at the beginning of World War I, in a world where the battle lines are drawn around the way different countries embrace technology, Leviathan tells the story of two teens, Deryn Sharpe and Prince Aleksander, heir to the Austrian throne.
Deryn is a girl who has always dreamt of flying, but since the military is restricted to only males, she disguises herself as a boy and earns herself a post as a midshipman aboard the HMS Leviathan, an actual flying whale. When the Leviathan is in distress, it lands in the Swiss Alps where Deryn encounters Prince Alek and the two men trying to save him from an assassination plot.
The two become unlikely friends and their adventures shape the course of World War I. Westerfeld has built an incredibly rich and detailed world in Leviathan. The Allied powers are Darwinists who have used DNA to genetically engineer all manner of weapons and vehicles, like the Leviathan. The Axis powers are Clankers, who rely on technologically advanced machinery.
The book comes with some fantastic illustrations of these devices, but don't get stuck on all the pretty scenery because this is an adventure story that doesn't let up. Deryn and Alek go through countless scrapes and near-misses during their time together. There's plenty of high-flying heroics, too, mostly courtesy of Deryn. This book is great for fans of mech, alternate history, and adventure.
The Knife of Never Letting Go is a dystopian sci-fi thriller that will knock your socks off. Shortlisted for the Carnegie medal, the novel is the story of Todd Hewitt, the last child in the settlement of Prentisstown in the New World, as he is on the verge of becoming a man in his society with all that that entails.
Todd has grown up with the Noise, the constant barrage of thoughts from the men in the town, and so, he is shocked when he comes across a patch of silence as he is exploring the swamp with his dog. He is equally shocked to discover a girl. The Noise was a by-product of an attack by the alien race known as Spackle that also killed all the females on the planet.
Todd's guardians urge him to flee into the swamps, and so, Todd, the girl, and the dog flee with all of the men of Prentisstown following close on their heels.The first in the Chaos Walking trilogy, the book travels at a breakneck pace. Todd's journey to find out about himself and his world is a riveting one, and in his head, you're pulled along for the ride. While at first the Noise can be a bit distracting to the reader, it is an ingenious way of pulling the reader into Todd's world and his thoughts. Be sure to pick this up with its sequels because this is a story you won't want to let go of.
First in the Last Survivors Quartet, Life as We Knew It chronicles the lives of a family in rural Pennsylvania which are turned upside down when an asteroid knocks the moon out of orbit. Told through journal entries by fifteen year old, Miranda, the story tells of the family struggling to survive a harsh winter made worse by power outages, rising gas prices, and the inability to contact anyone outside their local area.
The family feels the effects of massive tidal waves and volcanic eruptions despite the fact that these events never directly affect the family. As opposed to zombies or other teens as is typical in most post-apocalyptic YA novels, the real enemy here is starvation and loss of resources as Miranda and her family try to survive with the limited resources that her mother was able to secure.
Although Miranda starts off as a typical teen, with typical teen concerns, such as wanting to go ice-skating and spend time with her boyfriend, she grows and matures in her need to help protect her family. It is Miranda's metamorphosis that makes this book a must-read. She struggles to hold on to her childhood and normal life in the face of incredible adversity, and when she realizes that she must grow up and help her family, she tries to create as normal a life as she can for her younger brother. Anyone who wants an emotional post-apocalyptic tale is sure to love Life As We Knew It.
The Adoration of Jenna Fox is a novel that raises a lot of questions. When Jenna wakes up after a year long coma, she has no idea who she is or how she got there. Her parents tell her that they're her parents and show her videos about her previous life, but Jenna feels like something is off. She begins to question what is going on and who exactly she is.
Things only get more complicated when Jenna is sent to a special school with only four students, and she begins to remember snippets of her former life, things that weren't on the videos that her parents showed her. A Norton finalist, The Adoration of Jenna Fox is thought-provoking, raising questions about what exactly it means to be human as well as some heavy ethical questions.
This tightly-woven medical mystery is set in the near future. So, the technological advances never strain credulity. Fans of Unwind by Neal Shusterman and Battlestar Galactica will love the questions posed by this book, and anyone will be drawn into the emotional tour de force of Jenna's self-discovery. Teens, especially, will resonate with Jenna's struggle to find her own identity separate to what her parents assign her.
Based on the Hugo and Nebula award-winning novella, Beggars in Spain is a novel that combines several stories in the Sleepless series and was nominated as well for both the Hugo and Nebula awards. Beggars in Spain begins with the story of Leisha Camden, genetically engineered by her father to never need sleep, and the small cadre of other Sleepless who face prejudice from the society of Sleepers.
Leisha tries to maintain that both Sleepless and Sleepers can live in harmony, but that belief is challenged, even by her fraternal twin Alice, who despises her. Because the Sleepless also age less quickly than Sleepers, Leisha is our guide through the rest of the novel as the rift between Sleepless and Sleeper grows greater.
With an interesting concept and spot on characterization, Beggars in Spain is a great story that deals with some heavy issues, such as questioning whether the haves have a responsibility to the have-nots in society, a timely topic even a decade after the book was published. Though the book does have some discussion on philosophy and politics, it never comes off as moralistic, a testament to the strength of the characters who portray these ideas and philosophies.
Robert Heinlein is a staple of sci-fi literature, and he actually created several books specifically for young adults. Have Space Suit, Will Travel is one of the last of these. Kip is a high-school soda jerk who dreams of going to the moon. When he finds a contest offering an all-expenses paid trip to the moon, he sends in entry after entry, only to win second place.
His prize is a decommissioned, non-functioning space suit. Kip fixes up the space suit, which he names Oscar, but ultimately decides to return Oscar for a cash prize that will help him pay for college. He goes for one last stroll with Oscar and something completely crazy happens: he's abducted by aliens. Along with a young girl named PeeWee, who was also abducted, Kip must outwit the evil aliens that he calls Wormfaces and find a way home.
Since the book was published in 1958, some of the references are a bit dated, such as soda jerk and soap contests, but what's not dated is Kip's enthusiasm for the technology and the way that he explains it. Nominated for the 1959 Hugo award, this is a good-old fashioned space adventure that will pull you in and have you travelling along with it at the speed of light.
A Hugo nominated debut, What's Left of Me is a provocative adventure. The first in the Hybrids Chronicles introduces us to hybrids Eva and Addie who must hide their hybrid identity because it is feared by the society in which they live. Everyone in Addie/Eva's society is born with two souls in their body.
After the age of five, everyone in Addie/Eva's society has settled or chosen a dominant soul. When Addie/Eva haven't settled by ten, they're subjected to rigorous government testing. Eventually, Addie fools them all, showing that she is the dominant one and that Eva has left, but the ruse only lasts so long. Addie is being relentlessly pursued by a girl at her school named Hally, a girl who may have figured out her secret. Right from the start, the concept pulls you in.
What would it be like to live with two souls in your body? What hooks you is Addie/Eva's relationship. The unfolding of Addie and Eva's almost twin-like closeness that makes this a compelling and unforgettable read.The story is told through Eva's eyes. We see her bitterness at being relegated to a secret who only communicates with Addie. When they meet Hally, Eva's willingness to risk everything just to be herself is completely understandable. Be prepared for an exciting thrill ride.
Zoe's Tale is the fourth novel in Scalzi's Old Man's War series, and although, it's not specifically marketed to young adults, it's the perfect introduction to the genre for young readers. Zoe Boutin-Perry, the protagonist of the story, is a witty, courageous young girl who will captivate readers both young and old alike. Zoe also has a bit of an odd situation.
Her biological father was seen as a savior by the alien race of Obin, and now, she is revered by them as some sort of goddess or celebrity. When Zoe's adoptive parents take positions as administers on the colony of Roanoke, Zoe goes with them. She begins to make a group of friends and establishes herself as a leader, but when Zoe's family and friends are in danger, she must discover who she truly is.
The book raises some interesting questions, particularly with Zoe's grudging relationship with the Obin, but it never falters as a thoroughly entertaining adventure. Through it all, Zoe grows and matures gaining insight into the world and her place in it. For readers who love a good adventure blended with a coming-of-age tale, this is a great introduction to the genre. Though Zoe's Tale works well as a standalone novel, be sure to pick up its prequel, The Last Colony in order to fully understand the events that unfold in Zoe's world.
Divergent is a teen dystopia that is now a major motion picture. It's an action-packed thrill ride through a post-apocalyptic version of Chicago where society has split up into five factions, based on how people felt about the apocalypse. If people thought it were due to greed, they chose to live a minimalist life. If they felt it was caused by lack of knowledge, they dedicated themselves to the pursuit of knowledge.
Those who felt it was caused by cowardice pursued bravery. When they are sixteen, children are given a chance to choose which faction that they would like to belong in. Beatrice has always tried to live a good, humble life like her parents and brother, but she feels that she would be better suited to be among the brave members of the Dauntless faction.
On her Choosing Day, Beatrice proves to fit into many different factions, making her a divergent, an anomaly. Beatrice chooses to become a member of Dauntless, but she must struggle to prove herself worthy to join the faction. Beatrice, who can, at times, be thoroughly unlikable is what makes this book stand out from the slew of post Hunger Games dystopian novels. She is a completely authentic teen girl who is struggling to find her place in a fragmented society.
Unwind, the first novel in the Unwind dystology is a truly disturbing YA blend of science fiction and horror. Set in a dystopian society after a series of civil wars dealing with abortion rights, the warring parties have reached a treaty in which parents can choose to have their children unwound at the age of 13.
Unwinding is a process in which the child becomes an organ donor, sometimes voluntary, sometimes not. Unwind follows the story of three children who have been chosen to be unwound. The first is Connor, a teen whose parents have deemed too much trouble. When he discovers that his parents have decided to have him unwound, he tries to run away. In the process, he comes across Risa, an orphan being unwound due to budget cuts, and Lev who believes that it is his religious obligation to be unwound.
The group flee police pursuit, hide out among other runaways and try to fight their fate, but eventually, they are forced to face the horrors of the harvest camps. The book grips you from the start and does not let go, Connor and his friends seem to attract trouble wherever they go. They meet some interesting characters along the way, such as CyFi, who shares his brain with an unwound. The novel raises important questions about identity and humanity as it careens through Connor's adventures.
Set in post-apocalyptic Los Angeles, Legend, the first book in the Legend trilogy, tells the story of June, one of the Republic's brightest stars and Day, one its most devious criminals. The Republic, or basically the West Coast, is fighting a war against the Colonies, the East, and at age 10, all of its citizens are tested for their ability to fight in the war.
Pampered June is a genius, achieving a perfect score on her test. Day is a wanted criminal, hero of the streets, a post-apocalyptic Robin Hood. When June's brother is killed, Day is blamed. June takes it upon herself to go after him for revenge. What happens next is something neither of them expect.
Told in alternating chapters that highlight the similarities between June and Day, the unlikely relationship between these two characters unfolds. Tension is high as the characters face dangers from all sides, including a mysterious plague that keeps rearing its ugly head in the Republic.
The story is part mystery, part romance, part coming-of-age story, part dystopian adventure as both June and Day slowly learn the truth about the Republic. Fans of the Han Solo/Princess Leia relationship of Star Wars will love the dynamic between June and Day. Fans of Little Brother and the Hunger Games will flock to Legend because of its dystopian nature. There's a little bit of something in Legend for every sci-fi fan.
Tired of corrupt governments and plagues starting your apocalypse? Why not give aliens a whirl? In a concept that worked great for Independence Day, The 5th Wave features aliens who are out to destroy all of humanity. They're going about it the right way, too, in waves. The first two waves were literal: An EMP wave that took out all of Earth's technology, and the second was a tsunami that devastated coastal regions.
The third wave was a strain of bird flu that wiped out huge chunks of the population, and in the fourth, most insidious wave, the aliens started moving in. There's just one problem. They look just like everyone else. After her father is killed and her brother is kidnapped in the fourth wave, sixteen year old Cassie is determined to find him. Meanwhile, Cassie's school crush Ben is being trained as a super-soldier to fight the impending 5th wave, and no one knows when the aliens will strike next.
And can Cassie find her brother before it's too late. The 5th Wave is filled with pulse-pounding cinematic action, like Independence Day or Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Cassie is a witty, smart, girl-next-door sort of heroine that is a lot more relatable than many of the post-apocalyptic heroines of YA literature, and the alternating viewpoints through which the story is told paint a harrowing picture of her world. With a little romance thrown in, The 5th Wave is a refreshing twist in a sea of dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction.
Cinder is your classic Cinderella with cyborgs. What more could you ask for? A mysterious plague? Sounds good. Impending war with a group of mind-controlling aliens from the moon? Even better. Cinder could easily go the route of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies with the cyborgs only thrown into the fairy-tale to give it a sci-fi feel, but instead, this book is an incredibly imagined twist on the classic fairy tale.
Cinder is a cyborg, who is forced by her stepmother to use her skills as a mechanic to earn a living for her family. Luckily, Cinder has a few friends, such as the household android Iko, and one of her not so wicked stepsisters. When Cinder and Prince Kai meet, they are attracted to one another, and their relationship slowly builds even in the face of the Prince's weighty decision about whether or not to marry the Lunar Queen Levana to prevent an impending war.
No, they do not meet at a fancy ball, instead, Kai approaches Cinder needing the skills of a mechanic, but Cinder just might have everything that he needs. The first book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder has all the classic tropes from the fairy tale mashed up with Star Wars action. While that pairing could be truly awful, Cinder comes out as an action-packed, touching and even funny story. A great intro into the genre for fans of fairy tales and fantasy, and of course, a must for anyone who loves robots.
Maximum Ride:The Angel Experiment is a mad scientist story from the experiment's point of view. Max is a fourteen year-old girl, oldest of her small group of friends that are closer than family to her. Oh, and she and her friends can fly. They are avian/human hybrids who have finally found peace after escaping a secret laboratory known only as the "school".
That peace is shattered when another of the lab's successful experiments known as Erasers, human/wolf hybrids, find their sanctuary, destroy it and kidnap one of their number. Max and her friends face adventure after adventure in their quest to rescue Angel, the young girl who was taken, and Max has some difficult calls to make. The Angel Experiment is the first in the Maximum Ride series where Max and her friends must battle against the evil scientists who run the school in order to save the world.
This is not your dire, post-apocalyptic novel. Instead, this story is set in the near future, and while the lives of Max and her brood are bleak, at times, there are distinct moments of tenderness, and not a little bit of wise-cracking. These characters will make you love them and root for them as they battle against the "school". The series is literally a thrill ride, pun definitely intended, but in the midst of all the action and adventure there is plenty of humor.
Fans of Dr. Who will be enthralled by All Our Yesterdays, a time-travel adventure, mystery, and love story. Told in alternating viewpoints between the spoiled, naive Marina who wonders if her crush and friend James will ever love her, and the tough, world-weary Em who is imprisoned in a military base and in love with the man in the cell next to her.
Marina is constantly competing with her friend Abbott for James's affection. James, genius and prodigy, is obsessed with a top-secret project, and when his brother his murdered because of the project, Marina and Abbott band together to help James unravel the mystery. Em and Finn are hunted and tortured by a man known only as the Doctor for information that they do not have. They have tried to escape repeatedly, and Em is on the verge of losing it, contemplating the drain in her cell, when she finds a note inexplicably written in her own handwriting with the instruction that she must kill the Doctor.
These two tales intertwine with explosive results. The novel brings up some interesting questions about the greater good and sacrifice, but never comes across as messagey. The time travel, while initially confusing, does not overwhelm the story with over complicated explanations. Readers will be riveted by the non-stop action, even as they are plunged into the emotional lives of the characters.
A mix of Delirium and The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Program is a vaguely dystopian novel about a society in which teens are afraid to show any emotion. Teen suicide has become a widespread epidemic and adults believe that the only answer is to treat suicidal tendencies like a disease to be eradicated, and their cure is The Program.
Any teen who displays any hint of depression or could be deemed "at risk" is forcibly entered into the Program which basically wipes their memories. Sloane and her boyfriend, James have to be especially careful not to show their grief for Sloane's brother after his suicide, lest they become targets, but as pressures mount and their support system crumbles, it gets harder and harder to suppress their emotions. First in the The Program series, The Program is at its core a love story.
Can the love of these two teens overcome their forced memory wipe? Though they are few, the speculative elements of the book raise quite a lot of provocative questions about the nature of memory as well as the ethics of how depression is treated. It's a great book for discussion, but it's also an emotional roller coaster. Read this one with a box of tissues on hand.
Our Version of the List
At a Glance
- 1 Ready Player One (Ernest Cline)
- 2 Enderâ€™s Game (Orson Scott Card)
- 3 Dune (Frank Herbert)
- 4 House Of The Scorpion (Nancy Farmer)
- 5 The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)
- 6 The Giver (Lois Lowry)
- 7 Little Brother (Cory Doctorow)
- 8 Shadeâ€™s Children (Garth Nix)
- 9 Ship Breaker (Paolo Bacigalupi)
- 10 Leviathan (Scott Westerfeld)
- 11 The Knife Of Never Letting Go (Patrick Ness)
- 12 Life As We Knew It (Susan Beth Pfeffer)
- 13 The Adoration Of Jenna Fox (Mary E. Pearson)
- 14 Beggars In Spain (Nancy Kress)
- 15 Have Space Suit Will Travel (Robert A. Heinle...
- 16 Whatâ€™s Left Of Me (Kat Zhang)
- 17 Zoe S Tale (John Scalzi)
- 18 Divergent (Veronica Roth)
- 19 Unwind (Neal Shusterman)
- 20 Legend (Marie Lu)
- 21 The 5th Wave (Rick Yancey)
- 22 Cinder (Marissa Meyer)
- 23 Maximum Ride The Angel Experiment (James Patt...
- 24 All Our Yesterdays (Cristin Terrill)
- 25 The Program (Suzanne Young)
Publicly Ranked Version of the List31 items >>
- The Giver (Lois Lowry)
- Dune (Frank Herbert)
- Divergent (Veronica Roth)
- Cinder (Marissa Meyer)
- Red Rising (Pierce Brown)
- Unwind (Neal Shusterman)
- Leviathan (Thomas Hobbes)
- Legend (Marie Lu)
- Oasis (Dima Zales)
- Wool (Hugh Howey)
- Shadeâ€™s Children ()
- Zoeâ€™s Tale (John Scalzi)
- The 5th Wave (Rick Yancey)
- The Program (Suzanne Young)