Recommended reading in the Middle School - Genre Space
In Years 10 and 11, it’s easy to lose the reading for pleasure habit. Library lessons are a thing of the past, and GCSEs are taking up way too much time. This is all understandable, but there’s much to be gained from reading – even if it’s only to get a break from social media and school textbooks.
Each week, AKS English Dept will recommend books in various genres which we hope 14 to 16-year-olds will enjoy.
First up – Space – the Final Frontier. Well, science fiction or sci-fi, at any rate. Next week we’ll do dystopian fiction a sub-set of sci-fi, but we’ll try other worlds this week, so strap in!
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
by Philip K Dick (1968)
A classic of the sci-fi genre. This novel was made into a film ‘Blade Runner’.
It’s about a world where androids called Nexus-6 become a part of the post-radiation world where animals have all been wiped out. We see rogue robots who have human emotions and are hard to distinguish from real humans - only the androids are assassins. These Nexus-6 androids have escaped Mars for Earth to wreak havoc, it seems.
The hero, Rick Deckard, is a licensed killer and goes after these rogue androids. He has tricks and equipment to test out the androids, including the ‘Empathy Box’.
There is ‘love interest’. Rick meets Rachel Rosen, who he quickly recognises as an android, but he doesn't want to ‘retire’ her. Rick’s job is made harder by Isidore, a man who is damaged by radiation and who tries to save the androids whom he believes are his friends. Things come to a head when Rick is captured after just one ‘retirement’,and accused of being an android himself.
by Frank Herbert (1965)
Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, heir to a noble family tasked with ruling an inhospitable world where the only thing of value is the “spice” melange, a drug capable of extending life and enhancing consciousness. Coveted across the known universe, melange is a prize worth killing for...
When House Atreides is betrayed, the destruction of Paul’s family will set the boy on a journey toward a destiny greater than he could ever have imagined. And as he evolves into the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib, he will bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.
by SJ Kincaid (2016)
First in a trilogy.
The Diabolic literally revolves around the Chrysanthemum, a completely artificial climate and gravity -controlled floating city inhabited by an evil ruling super-elite. Idle and spiteful, they control the surrounding galaxy through punitive laws, rigid social hierarchy, and a compulsory religion that abhors science and the pursuit of knowledge. It’s a dangerous place to be, and many of the galaxy’s more powerful inhabitants order ‘Diabolics’: genetically engineered humanoid killing machines designed to bond with one person and protect their life at any cost.
Nemesis is the heroine and narrator. A Diabolic created to protect Sidonia, the sweet-natured daughter of a powerful senator, Nemesis grows up alongside her charge, certain of her purpose and her feelings. What she does not yet know is that the senator has put his daughter’s life in danger by reading and disseminating scientific knowledge through underground galactic networks.
When his act of treachery is discovered, Sidonia is summoned to the Chrysanthemum. Her calculating mother, refusing to send her daughter to almost certain cruelty and death, disguises Nemesis and sends her in Sidonia’s place. Unleashed into the larger world and freed from the servile role she was supposed to play, Nemesis’s feelings and behaviour slowly shift from being a Diabolic to feeling more human and her purpose from protecting one person to facing threats on behalf of the whole galaxy.
Ready, Player One
by Ernest Cline (2011)
Teen protagonist Wade Watts is a games fanatic living in a slum town outside Oklahoma City, but spending most of his time in the virtual world. The death of James Halliday, the eccentric creator of Oasis, triggers a treasure hunt that revolves around Halliday’s main obsession: 1980s pop culture. Whoever solves a series of puzzles within the game becomes its new billionaire CEO. The task seems daunting, especially to a poor kid like Wade who has to access the OASIS on a cheap console issued by the school. However, sometimes intelligence is a much more powerful weapon than expensive equipment. Wade enters the hunt, kicking into gear a breathless fantasy.
by Robert Heinlein (1949)
Another old classic of the genre.
Robert A. Heinlein’s iconic ‘Red Planet’ tells the story of Jim Marlowe and Frank Sutton’s journey to the Lowe Academy boarding school on Mars, and the discoveries they make there that will impact on the future of their entire colony.
While on their way, along with Jim’s volleyball-sized native pet, Willis the Bouncer, the boys wander into the ‘forbidden’ territory where they meet a native Martian, Gekko. The Martian, who is oddly protective of Willis, becomes a “water friend” to the young boys and exposes them to the true wonders of the planet.
Once enrolled at the school, Jim and Frank rescue Willis from the authoritarian headmaster who had confiscated the “pet”, and discover the colonial administrator’s plans for Mars, which threatens the very survival of the colony in its present form. Jim and Frank now run away from the school. Can they warn the colony in time to save it from the administrator’s nefarious plans?
These Broken Stars
By Amie Kaufman (2014)
This is one of a trilogy and is part chalk-and-cheese teen love story and part quest fantasy.
It was a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury space-liner is suddenly shot out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen are the only survivors. And they seem to be alone.
Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing – he’s a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they're worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.
Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other's arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder - would they be better off staying here forever?
Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won't be the same people who landed on it.