L.J. Adlington – The Diary of Pelly D, Cherry Heaven
The story opens with a construction worker removing rubble finds a diary from Pelly D during the time of the wars. The colonists from Earth all came from one of three gene pools. For generations, this hasn’t mattered. Pelly D lives the life of the affluent, but during a political power shift, it is decided that everyone will undergo genetic testing to determine their clan. Pelly D, her mother and brother are all identified as coming from the undesirable Galrezi gene pool while her father’s is acceptable. The family is torn apart. The genetic discrimination begins slowly then builds as all Galrezi are forced to leave their homes and move to one location. This mirrors the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust. Told in journal format, the book moves swiftly. Chilling and totally believable. Cherry Heaven is companion novel, same world, but ten years after Pelly D. A family has moved to the frontier in hopes of opportunity. But all is not well in this totalitarian government.
Orson Scott Card – Pathfinder
This is one of the best books that I have read in a very long time. It is a blend of fantasy and science fiction that features two story lines woven together. Rigg has had an isolated childhood with his fur trapper father. An accident leaves his father alive long enough to tell Rigg to go into the capital city and find his sister. Hmmm. He didn’t know he had a sister. His friend, Umbo, goes with him. Thus begins the buddy/quest storyline. Both Umbo and Rigg have special abilities that make the journey a fun twisting and turning adventure. The plot is so cleverly written and the dialog is witty – charming and witty and clever. Rigg has elements of Card’s other characters – Enger Wiggins, Alvin Maker and Danny North (The Lost Gate).
The beginning of each chapter opens with the alternating story of Ram, commander of a spaceship, off to colonize a planet. Half way through the book, I cheated and read all of Ram’s story and then went back to read the rest of the novel. I had figured out the connection between Rigg and Ram, but became so engrossed in Ram’s story that I simply could not wait for each chapter beginning to pick back up with it. I put this book on my middle school reading list, see Texas Classics tab, as the challenge book. It is long and complex, best for avid readers. I can tell when they bring the book back with a grin that they got it. I have already pre-ordered the next book in the series, Ruins, due out in October 2012.
Conor Kostick – Epic, Saga, Edda
Interesting colonized world that Kostick has created. The books have detailed plots with rich characters. I often forgot if I was becoming attached to the virtual character or the real character. From CIP: On New Earth, a world based on a video role-playing game, fourteen-year-old Erik persuades his friends to aid him in some unusual gambits in order to save Erik’s father from exile and safeguard the futures of each of their families.
Anne McCaffrey – Harper Hall trilogy: Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, Dragondrums
These books are cataloged as science fiction but they have a taste of fantasy. These three books are perfect for the YA audience. The other books in the series are adult. Earthlings have colonized a planet. All is well until it is discovered that deadly thread falls from the sky in cycles when the Red Star passes near the planet. The thread incinerates all that it touches. Tiny dragons are native to the planet. Genetic engineers created a breed of huge dragon that can be paired with a human rider. When thread falls from the sky, dragonriders go into action destroying the thread before it reaches the land. Pern is a complex world, carefully created and woven together by the talented Anne McCaffrey. There are at least 20 Pern novels and I’ve only read about half of them but they are fantastic. Her son, Todd McCaffrey has taken over writing the series. The Harper Hall trilogy are great for middle school and written for the teen audience. In April 2011, it was announced that a screenwriter has been selected to bring the Dragonriders of Pern to the big screen. So all you teens, read the Harper Hall trilogy before the movie!
Beth Revis – Across the Universe, A Million Suns, Shades of Earth
An enormous spaceship designed to last for multiple generations sets out with colonists. There are two groups of colonists. One group is cryogenically encased in capsules to be awakened when the destination is reached. One group is to live and breed and die keeping the mission alive and the spaceship functioning. Amy is jolted awake when she is thawed out much too early, and faces an altered society. I felt the sense of entrapment and claustrophobia aboard the ship and got caught up in this well-paced sci-fi mystery thriller. There has been a cover change so all now match the cover for Shades of Earth. Excellent!
It is definitely worth going to the book’s website to view the diagram of the ship: www.acrosstheuniversebook.com
David Stahler – Truesight, The Seer, Otherspace
A colony is established by blind people. They have themselves genetically altered so their offspring are blind as well. This is a tightly controlled and perhaps brainwashed society. On Jacob’s thirteenth birthday, he suffers from severe headaches that take his blindness away. Does he tell anyone he can see or does he continue his life on the same path, pretending to be blind? The Seer and Otherspace are also very well written.