Diverse YA Science Fiction Books to Read this Sci-fi Month

We’re almost halfway through Sci-Fi Month, how is everyone faring so far? I’m celebrating my favorite genre this month with book list recommendations in between my sci-fi reviews, and today I want to shout about diverse science fiction stories.

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One of the reasons that I love reading is that I can escape the real world and go on an adventure. Science fiction – especially space opera – enables me to live the astronaut life I dreamed of as a child before I realized math would keep me grounded. It’s a genre of innovation and problem solving; the sky is the limit in terms of technologies.

But my favorite reason of all? We can travel to new, more inclusive worlds or times in the future. Today I’m bringing you some diverse YA science fiction stories that have left a mark on me as a reader, ones that I encourage everyone read. This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but six of the books that make my heart swell when I see them on my shelves.

🌌 Diverse YA Sci-fi You Should Read

Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor
Young Adult, Science Fiction
Debut author

The Lunar Chronicles meets Rook in this queer #OwnVoices science-fantasy novel, perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer and Sharon Cameron.

A secret beats inside Anna Thatcher’s chest: an illegal clockwork heart. Anna works cog by cog — donning the moniker Technician — to supply black market medical technology to the sick and injured, against the Commissioner’s tyrannical laws.

Nathaniel Fremont, the Commissioner’s son, has never had to fear the law. Determined to earn his father’s respect, Nathaniel sets out to capture the Technician. But the more he learns about the outlaw, the more he questions whether his father’s elusive affection is worth chasing at all.

Their game of cat and mouse takes an abrupt turn when Eliza, a skilled assassin and spy, arrives. Her mission is to learn the Commissioner’s secrets at any cost — even if it means betraying her own heart.

When these uneasy allies discover the most dangerous secret of all, they must work together despite their differences and put an end to a deadly epidemic — before the Commissioner ends them first.

Interview with Rosiee  ARC Review to Come

I just finished this book a couple of days ago, and friends? This book is special. It’s set in a future where Earth has been destroyed by technology and humanity has taken to the stars to make Earth-Adjacent home. But tech of all forms is banished to avoid humanity’s past mistakes… at the cost of lives.

I loved the characters that Rosiee brought to life in the pages, each of whom have their own goals and ambitions which are at odds of one another. But I also appreciated the space given to finding your identity and the amount of understanding between the characters. It’s own-voices for the aro-ace representation, and there is also a f/f relationship.

✨✨✨

The Fever King (Feverwake #1) by Victoria Lee
Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia
Debut author

The Fever King by Victoria Lee coverIn the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

Read my spoiler-free review 

I read this book in February and think about it at least once a week. This book offers a nuanced conversation about activism, nonviolent and violent protest, and how the line becomes blurred between acts of terror and revolution depending on who wins. The book has impossibly high stakes and characters who are simply trying to do the right thing, and I felt for them so much. The book features a m/m romance, but Noam is bisexual and I appreciated the on-page discussion of bisexuality not being erased when in a same-sex relationship.

✨✨✨

A Spark of White Fire (Celestial Trilogy #1) by Sangu Mandanna
Young Adult, Science Fiction, Space Opera

A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna coverIn a universe of capricious gods, dark moons, and kingdoms built on the backs of spaceships, a cursed queen sends her infant daughter away, a jealous uncle steals the throne of Kali from his nephew, and an exiled prince vows to take his crown back.

Raised alone and far away from her home on Kali, Esmae longs to return to her family. When the King of Wychstar offers to gift the unbeatable, sentient warship Titania to a warrior that can win his competition, she sees her way home: she’ll enter the competition, reveal her true identity to the world, and help her famous brother win back the crown of Kali.

It’s a great plan. Until it falls apart.

Inspired by the Mahabharata and other ancient Indian stories, A Spark of White Fire is a lush, sweeping space opera about family, curses, and the endless battle between jealousy and love.

ARC Review for SPARK Read my review for RAGE 

Inspired by the Mahabharata, The Celestial Trilogy is an amazing science fiction story full of capricious gods, destiny versus free will, and one of my favorite friendships. The world is vast, as are the characters within it, and I absolutely cherish this trilogy: A House of Rage and Sorrow rended my heart a couple of months ago and I have yet to recover. The main character may be Esmae, but Titania rules my heart! This story is own-voices for the Indian representation.

✨✨✨

Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda
Young Adult, Science Fiction, Horror

Lost to time, Tuck Morgan and his crew have slept in stasis aboard the USS John Muir for centuries. Their ship harbors a chunk of Earth, which unbeknownst to them, is the last hope for the failing human race.

Laura Cruz is a shipraider searching the galaxy for the history that was scattered to the stars. Once her family locates the John Muir and its precious cargo, they are certain human civilization is saved.

When Tuck’s and Laura’s worlds collide―literally―the two teens must outwit their enemies, evade brutal monsters that kill with sound, and work together to save the John Muir . . . and the whole human race.

Read my Spoiler-free Review 

It’s 2435 and what is left of humanity has taken to the stars after destroying Earth. Humanity has seen a lot of change since going off into space, but much of the monstrous parts of humanity – bigotry, racism – remain. An underlying theme of the book is whether or not humanity is worth saving, and what it means to be worthy of redemption. This book is a fantastic blend of science fiction/space exploration and horror, the text oozing anxiety from the first page to the last. This book is own-voices for latinx representation.

✨✨✨

Mirage (Mirage #1) by Somaiya Daud
Young Adult, Science Fiction
Debut author

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.

Read my spoiler-free Review 

Poetically written and instantly captivating, this book draws you into a new world so vivid you feel as if you could walk the streets. This is a powerful own-voices Moroccan inspired SFF tale of culture, family, oppression, and rebellion with a diverse cast of complex characters that you cannot help but adore. This story explores the measures that occupying groups employ to exert and maintain control over their conquered land.

✨✨✨✨

The Light at the Bottom of the World (Light at the Bottom of the World #1) by London Shah
Young Adult, Science Fiction
Debut author

Hope had abandoned them to the wrath of all the waters.

At the end of the twenty-first century, the world has changed dramatically, but life continues one thousand feet below the ocean’s surface. In Great Britain, sea creatures swim among the ruins of Big Ben and the Tower of London, and citizens waver between fear and hope; fear of what lurks in the abyss, and hope that humanity will soon discover a way to reclaim the Earth.

Meanwhile, sixteen-year-old Leyla McQueen has her own problems to deal with. Her father’s been arrested, accused of taking advantage of victims of the Seasickness-a debilitating malaise that consumes people,often claiming their lives. But Leyla knows he’s innocent, and all she’s interested in is getting him back so that their lives can return to normal.

When she’s picked to race in the action-packed London Submersible Marathon, Leyla gets the chance to secure his freedom; the Prime Minister promises the champion whatever their heart desires. The race takes an unexpected turn, though, and presents her with an opportunity she never wanted: Leyla must venture outside of London for the first time in her life, to find and rescue her father herself.

Now, she’ll have to brave the unfathomable waters and defy a corrupt government determined to keep its secrets, all the while dealing with a secretive, hotheaded companion she never asked for in the first place. If she fails, or falls prey to her own fears, she risks capture–and her father might be lost forever.

Read my spoiler-free Review 

The Light at the Bottom of the World is set in the year 2099, about sixty-five years after a cataclysmic climate event made the ocean’s waters rise and the surface of the Earth uninhabitable. What remains of humanity lives 1,000 feet below the ocean’s surface, stuck in the past and afraid of the unknown. The setting is absolutely unique, as typically when Earth becomes inhabitable humanity will take to the stars. But the ocean holds the same darkness and terrors of the unknown, provides the same risks to life with lack of oxygen. This book is own-voices and features the first British Muslim teenager of Afghan heritage in SFF.


What do you think of this list of diverse YA science fiction? Have you read any of these? What books would you recommend that I add to my TBR?

spacer_wLet’s go on another adventure together!

32 Comments

  1. Meeghan

    November 14, 2019 at 5:10 AM

    I have so many of these on my TBR… *halp me!!*

    1. Kal

      November 25, 2019 at 10:44 PM

      This is the biggest freaking mood, hahahaa.

  2. Evelyn

    November 14, 2019 at 5:27 AM

    I loved the Fever king! And I really want to pick up Tarnished are the stars! Great list 🙂

    (www.evelynreads.com)

    1. Kal

      November 25, 2019 at 10:44 PM

      Thank you, and isn’t The Fever King amazing?! I can’t stop thinking about it and I read it nine months ago lol

  3. Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy

    November 14, 2019 at 6:28 AM

    I love this list, Kal. I have an eARC of Light at the Bottom of the World that I haven’t read yet, and I didn’t realize it was #ownvoices😁

    1. Kal

      November 25, 2019 at 10:45 PM

      Thank you, Tammy, and I hope you enjoy The Light at the Bottom of the World when you get around to picking it up!

  4. Rameela

    November 14, 2019 at 6:48 AM

    Great recs! I really gotta pick up some of these!

    1. Kal

      November 25, 2019 at 10:46 PM

      Thank you so much for stopping by, and happy reading!

  5. Sam || Fictionally Sam

    November 14, 2019 at 10:44 AM

    enables me to live the astronaut life I dreamed of as a child before I realized math would keep me grounded

    If that isn’t a mood, than idk what is.
    I went into this post determined not to add anything to my TBR, but you can now catch me at your local Goodreads, plopping some of these into my TBR cart like it’s a half off sale of halloween candy.

    1. Kal

      November 25, 2019 at 10:47 PM

      Math ruins dreams, Sam. DREAM RUINER!
      I’d apologize to your TBR, but I think you know me well enough to know that I’m cackling.

  6. Jess

    November 14, 2019 at 11:37 AM

    It’s embarrassing how many of these are on my list that I haven’t gotten to. I’m hiding from your scolding “you need to read this” face.

    1. Kal

      November 25, 2019 at 11:07 PM

      Girl, we all do this so I ain’t even going to give you that look. I know your TBR is doing that job for me, lol!

  7. Veronika @ Wordy and Whimsical

    November 14, 2019 at 12:28 PM

    I’m so excited for Tarnished Are the Stars! I mean, aro/ace rep and an F/F relationship? I’m ready for this!! You’ve just made me add The Fever King to my TBR – it wasn’t really on my radar, but the you “think about it at least once a week” part had me convinced I need it. 🙂 Great post!

    1. Kal

      November 25, 2019 at 11:09 PM

      Veronika, Tarnished is SO GOOD! My review is going up tomorrow evening (finally wrote it hahaha), I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did! Also, please read The Fever King as soon as possible and tell me your thoughts.

  8. Lois @ My Midnight Musing

    November 15, 2019 at 8:47 AM

    Well, I’ve been trying to cut down my tbr list but now you’ve gone and extended it once again. I love the sound of The Fever King.

    1. Kal

      November 25, 2019 at 11:15 PM

      I’d apologize to you & your TBR… but honestly, The Fever King is worth it. I hope you love the book as much as I do!

  9. Ally Memedovich

    November 15, 2019 at 1:24 PM

    I’ve heard such good things about Mirage, I really need to read it soon!

    1. Kal

      November 25, 2019 at 11:16 PM

      Ahhh yes Ally, you should read it! I am really looking forward to its sequel next year… been waiting for SO LONG!

  10. Macey @ Brine & Books

    November 15, 2019 at 5:46 PM

    What a roundup!! I don’t read very much sci-fi, but I’ll have to refer back to this post if I decide to pick a title from this genre soon xx

    1. Kal

      November 25, 2019 at 11:17 PM

      what an honor that you’ll refer back to this post if you decide to delve into scifi, thanks for stopping by!

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  12. Jess @ Jessticulates

    November 18, 2019 at 8:49 AM

    This is a great list, I love the sound of Pitch Dark. Mirage is one I really want to try! Weirdly I’m a little bored of royalty in fantasy, but I kind of love royalty in sci-fi? I dunno, blame Star Wars. I’ve seen SO MANY good reviews of The Fever King, I need to check it out. I actually just picked up a copy for my friend for Christmas, so I hope she enjoys it!

    1. Kal

      November 25, 2019 at 11:40 PM

      Pitch Dark is SO good and unique, I really adore that one! I feel you on royalty in fantasy feeling kind of tired though, I think for me this is in large part because of fairytales? IDK, but I like royal stories in fantasy that delve into science fiction themes… only. The Fever King is one of my favorite books… ever! I really can’t recommend it enough.

  13. Jayati

    November 18, 2019 at 11:33 AM

    Thanks for all the great recs! I loved A Spark of White Fire and can’t wait to see what amazing journeys the rest fo these books take me on!

    1. Kal

      November 25, 2019 at 11:41 PM

      Ahh, you are in for such amazing reads, Jayati!

  14. em||zayn.a.

    November 18, 2019 at 4:34 PM

    great list! i have about 3 of these on my tbr, but i haven’t gotten to the yet. i’ll probably read them after my exams 💗

    1. Kal

      November 25, 2019 at 11:45 PM

      Thank you, and good luck with your exams — all of these books make excellent reading rewards for getting shit done!

  15. Avada Kedavra

    November 19, 2019 at 3:29 PM

    All these books sound interesting. I have not read any of these books on your list.

    1. Kal

      November 25, 2019 at 11:49 PM

      Thanks for your comment, and I hope you enjoy any of these books if you happen to pick them up!

  16. Haley

    November 25, 2019 at 4:03 AM

    Math. The only thing that kept me from going into space. DAMN YOU NUMBERS!
    What a mood. Ugh.
    Loved most of the books on your list, I would say the only other books I’ve got to read is Want and Ruse by Cindy Pon, Ignite the Stars and Eclipse the Skies by Maura Milan

    1. Kal

      November 26, 2019 at 12:12 AM

      NUMBERS AND MATH ARE THE RUINERS OF DREAMS! Oh, I have Ignite the Stars to read too… oops

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