There’s this belief that reading science fiction and fantasy books is super long and super boring. Too much information and too many characters and it all jumbles in your brain with no reprieve.
However, I beg to differ and this National Read a Book day, I encourage you to try and read a science fiction or fantasy book. There have been numerous SFF stories I’ve read over the years that grabbed my attention from page one and didn’t let go until it was done. They were immediate five-star reads for me and some of the books I recommend to this day. Don’t sleep on these SFF books because they’ll maybe change your mind about the genre.
Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko: This is the story of Tarisai, a young girl who’s been told she must head to the palace and become one of the Crown Prince’s elite council of eleven. However, there’s a caveat as her mother, The Lady, wishes her to kill the prince once she’s chosen by him. Filled with an intricate world, inclusive characters, and the will to forge your own path.
All Systems Red by Martha Wells: Never had I read a funnier science fiction novel than when I read All Systems Red. It’s the story of Murderbot, or that’s what it likes to be called. It’s a systems bot that’s main focus is to protect the people it is hired to protect. The only thing is, this bot is a little bit glitched, giving it a personality that loves to take the easy route and watch silly space dramas. You’ll definitely belly laugh at this book, but also get a taste of some hard sci-fi.
Legendborn by Tracy Deonn: If you like retellings, then you’ll love the retelling of King Arthur in Legendborn. Tracy Deonn takes the legend and puts her own spin as young Bree attends one of the most prestigious colleges in the Southeast: UNC-Chapel Hill. Filled with underground societies, mythical swords, and a destiny that only Tracy Deonn could have written!
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir: This is a book that will grab hold from the very first page and doesn’t really let go until you’ve read the entire series. An Ember in the Ashes is the first book in a four-book series about Laia, a young girl who wants to find her brother that’s been kidnapped by the Empire. She finds herself mixed up in a situation that she has no training for, scared and alone, when she comes across Elias, one of the best soldiers training in the Empirical army. He alongside some others help Laia find her brother, but also help to unearth the secrets of her family’s past.
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor: This beautifully written story will not only capture you with its gorgeous writing, but also the story of a young librarian, Lazlo, who dreams of a place called Weep. He dedicates his life to the discovery of this place and eventually finds the opportunity to go. What he finds is a city that’s shadowed by a massive angel statue that blocks out the sun and the stars. Within the statue are five beings left over from the days when gods and goddesses lived in the city. That’s where Lazlo, meets Sarai, a goddess with the ability to enter people’s dreams. It’s a sweeping tale filled with magic, love, and beauty. You’ll definitely be sucked into this one.
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir: If you wanted to read a hard science fiction novel that’s full of heart, then this might be the one for you. The story follows a middle school science teacher who goes off into the great unknown that is space to save the world from a microbe that’s slowly eating the sun. Along the way, he makes some unlikely discoveries as well as make some unlikely friends. Also, it gives you a taste of some real world physics theories including the theory of relativity.
Warcross by Marie Lu: If you’ve ever imagined a world where you basically live your life on your phone, then this is the book for you. It follows teen hacker and bounty hunter, Emika, as she accidentally enters the opening games of the international Warcross Championship. Worried that she would be arrested, she instead meets the creator of the Warcross games who propositions her to be a spy to dig up hackers against the game’s security. However, the truth is much different than Emika imagines as betrayal becomes a much more sinister game.
Cinder by Marissa Meyer: If you like a mix of fantasy and science fiction, this YA series is probably the one for you. Combining science fiction themes and fairy tale retellings, Cinder is the beginning of The Lunar Chronicles. As you can probably guess, the first book is based off of Cinderella as a cyborg who’s second-class life is completely turned around when she meets Prince Kai.
The City We Became by NK Jemisin: What if one of the most famous cities in the world came to life? That’s what NK Jemisin explores in The City We Became. It’s the story of New York City, a vibrant place that’s being invaded by a mysterious species. Once the monsters start showing up, it starts to awaken something in five inhabitants of the city; each representing a different borough. Their mission is to awaken the only thing that can save New York from the monsters and that’s New York City itself. What’s most impressive is that despite the city being a diverse and inclusive place, there’s still darkness that hides in the shadows of some of the people who live there and as their nefarious plan comes to fruition, so does the darkness that lurks within them.
Caraval by Stephanie Garber: Imagine a carnival that comes into town filled with tons of mystery and magic behind it. Now imagine yourself as a young person heading into this carnival to play the ultimate game of illusion, mystery, and magic. That’s what happens to Scarlett in Caraval.
Simone Jung is a publicist and social media strategist at Books Forward, an author publicity and book marketing firm committed to promoting voices from a diverse variety of communities. From book reviews and author events, to social media and digital marketing, we help authors find success and connect with readers.