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Our guest contributor, Erinn Bentley, a professor of English education at Columbus State University in Georgia, continues October Weekend Picks. Thank you, Erinn, for another suggestion!
I like to think I am well-read in a variety of YA genres; however, I will admit – I have never been a huge fan of sci-fi. That is, until recently. The following novels, set in outer space, captivated my imagination. For this weekend’s picks, fasten your seatbelt and get ready to be transported to some weird and wonderful worlds.
Let’s start with Illuminae Files series by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. This trilogy, set in the future, chronicles the adventures of six teens as they race across the universe battling the murderous villains, BeiTech. Each novel focuses on two teens (a boy and a girl), who navigate the physical dangers of intergalactic war, biological hazards, and some incredibly creepy AI. Amid these dangers, the teens also face emotional struggles - grieving the loss of family, friends, and homes as well as navigating romantic relationships. Though the setting may be “out there,” the themes in the novel are relatable, and the characters are well developed.
My love for Kaufman’s work led me to another of her novels, Unearthed, co-authored with Meagan Spooner. Like The Illuminae Files, this novel takes place in the future on the distant planet of Gaia. The ancient alien culture who lived on this planet has sent a message to Earth, promising technology to save our ravaged planet. With various space explorers eager to find this technology, two teenage protagonists take the lead: Jules (an academic prodigy who can translate the ancient writings) and Mia (a scavenger who has the street-smarts to survive on this planet). The unlikely pair teams up to decode ancient clues and death traps in the sacred temples, while running for their lives from all sorts of bad people.