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17 Magical and Mind-Bending Sci-Fi & Fantasy Titles for Teens | Summer Reading 2020

From alternate histories to dystopian futures, these teen genre selections offer up magic, mermaids, mechsuits, and more.

From alternate histories to dystopian futures, these genre selections offer up magic, mermaids, mechsuits, and more.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert. Flatiron. ISBN 9781250147905.

The path to the Hazel Wood leads Alice straight into the story of her family's mysterious past. Albert's fantasy debut has a narration in the vein of a world-weary noir detective who happens to be a teenage girl.

The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad. Scholastic. May 2019. ISBN 9781338306040.

Eighteen-year-old Fatima is a human who carries the fire of the djinn within her.

Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron. HarperTeen. ISBN 9780062870957.

Arrah is the daughter of two powerful witchdoctors. Her father continues to practice the old magic, while her mother renounced her tribe to serve as Ka-Priestess to the ruler of the Kingdom. Shamefully, Arrah’s abilities haven’t appeared, but when children start disappearing and her mother turns to darkness, she is the only one who can save the world. This exhilarating fantasy debut, rooted in West African lore, boasts vivid action and delicious family intrigue.

The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis. Tor Teen. ISBN 9781250299703.

Two sisters were sold at a young age to a “Welcome House” and were destined for a life of sex work. But after the younger sister accidentally kills a customer, the girls take off with three other “Good Luck Girls.” Pursued by law enforcement and supernatural forces, they must survive at all costs.

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal. (Sands of Arawiya: Bk. 1). Farrar. ISBN 9780374311544.

Zafira lives her life on the fringes as The Hunter of the Arz, a terrifying forest no one would dare to penetrate. She must hunt to feed her village, and if she is discovered as a woman, her life will be over.

My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. ISBN 9780062652775.

This standalone alternate history novel inserts teenaged aspiring author Charlotte Brontë into the world of her own making (with the addition of ghosts) as she chronicles the life of her best friend at Lowood, Jane Eyre, as inspiration for her first novel.

The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska. Sourcebooks/Fire. ISBN 9781728209982.

Lina Kirk and her brother, Finley, live in Caldella, an island city in danger of being swallowed by the rising inky tide waters. Every year the queen chooses an islander boy to sacrifice to keep the waters calm for another year.

Goddess in the Machine by Lora Beth Johnson. Razorbill. ISBN 9781984835925.

When Andra awakes after 1,000 years of cryonic sleep, she has a lot of catching up to do. She was supposed to end up with her family on an Earth-like planet orbiting Andromeda; instead, she awakes to a desert planet awash with dust, corrupted nanobots, and a rogue prince named Zhade who’s willing to use her to reclaim a throne that is rightfully his.

Reverie by Ryan La Sala. Sourcebooks/Fire. ISBN 9781492682660.

La Sala’s debut novel captures the magical, enthralling, and sometimes unsettling feelings that can come when our dreamworlds consume us.

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The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu. Putnam. ISBN 9781524739010.

Sci-fi/fantasy heavy-hitter Lu brings her talents to historical fiction in this magic-infused telling of the lives of the young Mozart siblings.

Once & Future by Cori McCarthy & Amy Rose Capetta. Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316449274.

An interstellar science fiction/fantasy adventure story that offers readers a futuristic plot-driven King Arthur retelling.

Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore. Feiwel & Friends. ISBN 9781250162748.

The story begins in the present day describing Rosella Oliva’s fifth-generation shoe-making family during their town’s yearly “glimmer”: a time of magical happenings one week every October. This time of year the shoes they craft overtake their wearers resulting in impulsive acts of love and desire.

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. ISBN 9780062691316.

In a Latinx-inspired dystopian setting, young women are trained to be paired as sister wives to a single husband. When Dani is paired with Carmen, her school rival, to one of the most powerful men in Media, she is surprised to find herself falling in love with her former enemy. The queer themes and tough characters make this novel rise above other dystopian offerings.

A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow. Tor Teen. ISBN 9781250315328.

Tavia is sickened by the knowledge of what could happen to her if she ever affirms her siren identity in a society where sirens are persecuted and silenced—but wants to proclaim who she is, much to the dismay of her father.

War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi. Razorbill. ISBN 9780451481672.

Sisters Onyii and Ify find themselves on opposing sides of a brutal civil war in this Afrofuturist adventure set in 2172 Nigeria.

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall. Candlewick. ISBN 9781536204315.

Not just mermaids, a witch, and the sea, Tokuda-Hall also covers pirates, double agents, and the lure of forgetting.

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee. Abrams/Amulet. ISBN 9781419725487.

Genie Lo lives in Silicon Valley, but not the nice part. All she wants is to get into the Ivy League so she can escape. But then Quentin, the weird new kid at school, tells her that he’s really the Monkey King and she is the human reincarnation of his weapon, the Ruyi Jingu Bang.

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