31 Days, 31 Lists: 2019 Science Fiction
It never gets the attention of Fantasy and, too often, is lumped in alongside it. Science Fiction, man. It’s one of my favorite genres for kids, but like Mysteries it can be hard to find a whole slew of them in a given year. To combat that problem, for today’s list I’m pulling equally from the comics as I am the middle grade fiction. We’ll leave picture books out of the mix this time around. Maybe in the future I’ll put them in.
2019 Science Fiction
Apocalypse Taco by Nathan Hale
Technically, this is science fiction. Horror science fiction, sure, but science fiction.
Now I cannot praise this book enough. I keep saying that we’re in the thick of a new Golden Age of Children’s Literature, but sometimes I forget that we’re just at the beginning of that Golden Age. As such, where’s all the good horror comics for older kid readers? Nine times out of ten you have to go to the YA section, and that’s just not fair. Now Nathan Hale apparently has been holding out on us. His One-Trick Pony kind of hinted at the levels of weirdness he was capable of, but I had no idea that this was percolating at the back of his mind. It’s nighmarish, grotesque, surreal, and wonderful. Don’t hand it to a five-year-old or anything, but for the right eleven-year-old this is going to feed a weirdo need they didn’t even know they had. Just be prepared for when they ask you, “That was great! What do you have that’s just like it?”
Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee
We’ve all heard that kids don’t read science fiction, so it takes an extra bit of chutzpah to not only set your middle grade novel in space but to also mix it up with some Korean mythology for spice. Space foxes! Space tigers! Space dragons and goblins and ghosts! I gotta tell you, I really dug this book. Lee gets a little wrapped up in world building sometimes, but on the whole the storytelling is quick, slick, and fun. I’m amazed he managed to combine the two very different types of tales into a coherent story. Best of all, this may be the first in a series but it stands alone if you want it that way. Woot!
Glitch by Sarah Graley
Oh, I like this! We’ve seen the old sucked-into-a-video-game motif since the days of The Last Starfighter and Ender’s Game, right? What makes Graley’s book a little different is that its heart is really based on the idea of what it means to be a good friend. I liked how the book embraced its own logic without hesitation. And sure, you never really find out WHY the game has the powers that it does (or if other players of it are in trouble) but unless Graley is gearing up for a sequel (which she could, if she wanted to) it’s unimportant. Very fun.
Maximillian Fly by Angie Sage
Dead parents got you down? Then join me in this dystopian nightmarish ROMP! The name “Angie Sage” might sound familiar to you since she wrote the Septimus Heap series. Now she’s crafted this crazy detailed post-apocalyptic burg where the imprisoned society is populated with normal humans and human/cockroach hybrids called Roaches. Max is our hero and he is adorable. I admit I was very very tense reading this book because I was so invested in its heroes, but all told very few good guys bite the bullet. Tense and terribly exciting!
Stanislaw Lem’s The Seventh Voyage by Jon J. Muth
Muth adapts an old Stanislaw Lem short story into a comic. The end result is a wackadoodle treatise on time travel and how we are our own worst enemies. If you’re not confused while reading it, you’re doing it wrong. The question here is not whether or not this book is amazing. It is. Completely. No, I guess the question is whether or not it’s for kids or teens. Not because it’s inappropriate or anything. It’s just ruddy complicated. In the end, I think it’s for kids because you are SUPPOSED to be confused by it. That’s actually the fun. And I love that Muth modeled the hero on Stan Laurel of Laurel & Hardy fame.
We’re Not From Here by Geoff Rodkey
If 2019 typified anything for me, it was middle grade novels that don’t waste time and get right to the point. Eventown was a good example of this, and so was We’re Not From Here. Funny post-apocalyptic space opera stuff? Baby, that’s my jam. Told by Lan (no gender mentioned or particularly needed, thanks) it discusses how humor saves humanity. Well, humor and singing, but essentially humanity is rescued by America’s Funniest Home Movies type stuff. The book itself utilizes a wide range of different kinds of humor, and is just a joy to read. I sped through it with delight. Of course, I knew I was in safe hands. Geoff Rodkey’s one of the middle grade funny greats. You ever read his Chronicles of Egg series? If not, you’re missing out.
Interested in the other lists? Here’s the schedule of everything being covered this month. Enjoy!
December 1 – Great Board Books
December 2 – Board Book Reprints & Adaptations
December 3 – Transcendent Holiday Picture Books
December 4 – Picture Book Readalouds
December 5 – Rhyming Picture Books
December 6 – Funny Picture Books
December 7 – CaldeNotts
December 8 – Picture Book Reprints
December 9 – Math Books for Kids
December 10 – Bilingual Books
December 11 – Books with a Message
December 12 – Fabulous Photography
December 13 – Translated Picture Books
December 14 – Fairy Tales / Folktales / Religious Tales
December 15 – Wordless Picture Books
December 16 – Poetry Books
December 17 – Easy Books
December 18 – Early Chapter Books
December 19 – Comics & Graphic Novels
December 20 – Older Funny Books
December 21 – Science Fiction Books
December 22 – Informational Fiction
December 23 – American History
December 24 – Science & Nature Books
December 25 – Unconventional Children’s Books
December 26 – Unique Biographies
December 27 – Nonfiction Picture Books
December 28 – Nonfiction Books for Older Readers
December 29 – Older Reprints
December 30 – Middle Grade Novels
December 31 – Picture Books
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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