A Fleet of New Science Fiction

Lynn:  Huzzah!  This has been a terrific year for YA science fiction.  The publishing gods have been smiling on those of us begging for  more REAL science fiction and please please something besides dystopias!  Well, as I said, Huzzah!  Here’s some highly entertaining titles that docked in my sector recently.

A Confusion of Princes (Harper 2012) by Garth Nix is plain old-fashioned  high-flying space opera and reading it was like channeling the Eric Frank Russell, Poul Anderson or early Heinlein books I enjoyed as a teen.  Prince Candidate Khemri has looked forward to the 16th anniversary of his selection all through his childhood training.  He knows exactly what he will do after his investiture.   It involves orgies, a sleek little space yacht and a little light exploring while he waits to take over the Empire.  So it is a terrible shock when his new Master of Assassins informs him that he is only one of millions of Princes, all of whom are intent on assassinating him and each other and becoming Emperor themselves.  Not only is there no space yacht but Khemri has to join the navy, watch for danger every minute and actually work hard!  It is downright appalling and Khemri doesn’t even know the half of it!  Battles, duels, narrow escapes and wheels-within-wheels intrigue keep the pace breathless and the dialog snappy.  There’s plenty of humor and along the way as Khermi grows from a spoiled brat to a thoroughly likeable human being – well, sort of a human being.  Skillful writing, a dandy plot and great characters makes this fresh and engaging.

Mothership (S&S 2012) by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal is the first in the Ever Expanding Universe series and a total hoot.  Could things get any worse?  Elvie Nara is preggers, her hot but dim boyfriend vanished when he heard the news, her father shipped her (literally) off to the Hanover School for Expecting Teen Mothers located in a refitted low-level orbiting cruise ship AND her arch-nemesis, the wicked cheerleader Britta McVicker is now a knocked-up classmate!  But hold onto your expandable maternity pants because before you can practice your Lamaze, aliens attack the school!  Fortunately Elvie is smart, resourceful and tech savvy and even with her baby bump she is more than capable of thwarting the sinister plans.  But stay tuned, that last page turns everything upside down.

 

And last but not least is The Drowned Cites (Little, Brown 2012), Paolo Bacigalupi’s sequel to the Printz Award winner, Ship Breaker (Little, Brown 2010).  OK, this one IS dystopian but so brilliantly written that I had to mention it.  I wrote the Booklist review so I won’t repeat what I said there. Just click on the link to read my thoughts on a sequel that grabs hold and never lets go.  This one should be in the running for something shiny – at least if I had my way!

Cindy: Lynn is the Bookends go-to-gal for science fiction. Years ago she enticed me to the genre I neglected most when I listened to her booktalk to our students. I don’t get to hear her booktalk nearly enough now that we are not working at school together, but these descriptions are going to have me firing up my own jet pack to get to the library to find the first two. The Bacigalupi was already on my radar (and my towering to read stack). Can someone build me a reading nook where time stops outside so I can hunker down and power through my towering to-read stack? I’m still waiting for the hovercraft that I was promised by the Jetsons when I was a kid, too! Just sayin’.

 

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees.

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