Monthly Recommendations: Science Fiction

monthly-recs

Monthly Recommendations is a Goodreads group hosted by Trina from Between Chapters and Kayla from Kayla Rayne. This month’s topic is sci-fi, so Nina and I have compiled a list of some of our favourite books in the sci-fi/dystopian genre. Hopefully it’ll help you discover some new books! Please note that a couple of these are recommended by both Nina an me. Clicking on the title will lead you to our reviews (if there is one) and the picture to the respective book’s Goodreads page.

The Martian by Andy Weir

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The Martian is a book that really needs no explaining. You all know what it’s about, even if you haven’t read it or seen the movie. The story follows an astronaut named Mark Watney who gets stranded on Mars, alone and without the necessary provisions. This novel is not only survival story at its best but also incredibly exciting and fast-paced and SO funny. It’s the kind of book I would easily recommend to anyone, regardless of whether you generally enjoy sci-fi or not, because it has a bit of everything: suspense, drama, humour, great characters, social commentary. Many readers may be initially put off by all the science talk, but I found that once I got used to it, those parts actually became really enjoyable and added another layer to the story. — Chantal

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

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The epitome of geekdom, Ready Player One is a pessimistic sci-fi novel set in 2044, though most of the story takes place inside a massive 3D virtual utopia multi-player game. If this is not a fascinating setting, what is? We see the male lead alternating between his real skin and his avatar, which is both unique and exciting. I recommend Ready Player One for its relatable characters, phenomenal pacing, and detailed world-building. Though there are cases of heavy info-dump and 80’s references I didn’t understand, I still greatly enjoyed this which is a praise to the book’s otherwise hooking content. This is a must-read for geeks, gamers, and 80’s children, but also highly recommended to honestly everyone else. — Nina

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

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Flowers for Algernon was originally a short story published in 1959 and won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story in 1960. It was then extended into a novel published in 1960 and won that year’s Nebula Award for Best Novel. Having read it a couple weeks ago, I can definitely tell why this book is so highly acclaimed. It’s fantastic! It tells the story of Charlie Gordon who with an IQ of 68 cannot aspire to doing more than sweeping the floors of a bakery or be confined to an institution for the mentally disabled. This changes however, when he is invited to participate in an experiment previously only tested on animals, an experiment that aims to turn him into a genius. But, this new found intelligence comes with a price. Flowers for Algernon is cleverly written and a book full empathy and thought-provoking questions about what it is that makes us human and who we are. — Chantal

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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In this futuristic dystopia, survival, courage, and sibling love dominate a storyline which reminded me of a Gladiator version with children. The Hunger Games excites with a plot that will keep you at the edge of your seat and will make you suffer with the heroine every step of the way. Though the content is violent, it is not graphic, which also makes this a possible read for a younger audience. This has become such a praised and widely read book that I consider this a must-read for any YA reader who hasn’t had the chance to meet Katniss Everdeen, a heroine which has quickly climbed the ladder to the YA heroines hall of fame. — Nina

Saga, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

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It is no secret that I am not a big fan of graphic novels. I’ve tried to get into them and though I ended up liking some, I’m just never in love. But Saga is something else. I read the first Volume and hated myself for not having bought the others yet. The art style is gorgeous, the story cool and engaging, the characters distinctive and the world so well-constructed! I know everyone is obsessed with series and I’m sorry to contribute to that hype, but honestly, if you like SFF stories and haven’t picked up Saga yet, what are you doing?? — Chantal

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

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Red Rising is basically an uncensored version of The Hunger Games on Mars with a Greco-Roman world-building. Wrapped that around your minds yet? Good. You––the possible future reader of this sci-fi book––will not be spared, for Red Rising is brutal, gory, and intense. In this action-packed sci-fi, the hero from a lower caste infiltrates a school of nobles to tear down the oppressive government. Though I found the writing to be somewhat distanced, as in void of emotion, this didn’t stop me from devouring this book. If you love a good heist and always root for the underdog and enjoy Gladiator, I recommend you pick this one up. — Nina

1984 by George Orwell

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George Orwell is my favourite classics author and 1984 is, in my opinion, a masterpiece. It may not be a fun read, but I can honestly say that it changed the way I see the world. Sure, there are parts that drag on and on and bored me, but on the whole it is such a fascinating book and so well-written. It’s a book I feel everyone should read at least once because it lays the foundation for so many dystopians that followed. It’s also kind of frightening to see how accurate some of Orwell’s turned out be if we look at our 21st century. — Chantal

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

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Cinder is the entertaining yet somewhat predictable first instalment in the critically acclaimed series The Lunar Chronicles, which is inspired by fairytale retellings of Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White. This sci-fi novel stands and falls with its set of characters, my most cherished one being Iko, the loyal little android. This is for anyone who’s always wanted to read a Cinderella story set in a futuristic Asia with a cyborg heroine, a mind-manipulating queen, and a sassy android for a sidekick. — Nina

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

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Calling Station Eleven a science-fiction book is a bit of a stretch but I still wanted to mention it. It’s a post-apocalyptic novel that follows a number of different POVs who wander through a world where a plague has killed off 99% of the population. However, contrary to other dystopians, this book isn’t fast-paced or action-packed. It’s a quiet, literary novel that is beautifully written and contains such insights about humanity that it really touched me. I would highly recommend this book to people who want to branch out into literary fiction but don’t know where to start. — Chantal

Illuminae by Amie Kaufmann and Jay Kristoff

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Illuminae is a YA sci-fi novel set in the year 2575 with adrenaline-inducing action and a mind-blowing twist. Do not shy away from its unique format as, though this may be unusual storytelling, it is exquisite and gripping nonetheless. I myself experienced no problems getting into this and developing an attachment to the characters whose stories unfold through a dossier of hacked emails, reports, and interviews. The writing alternates between prose and colloquial slang, which is very entertaining to read. I highly recommend this to readers who think that futuristic corporate wars, artificial intelligence, and galactic mass murder might be their jam. — Nina

The Giver by Lois Lowry

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Another classic dystopian YA that everyone should read. The Giver is a short little book that really packs a punch. Reading it you can clearly see that pretty much all the YA dystopians that are currently out there took ideas from it and tried to make it their own. In my opinion however, with a couple of exceptions, the original is still the best. The Giver is clever, well thought-out and really depicts a society that many would regard as utopian but instead mutates into the opposite over the course of the book. — Chantal

The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

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I don’t usually enjoy stories featuring alien invasions but The 5th Wave is creative, gripping, and offers food for thought about the human species. Narrated with dark humour and switching points of view, The 5th Wave follows the storylines of Cassie, who’s on the search for her little brother, and Ben, who’s sucked into a human resistance, as they weave their ways through a thick web of lies. The plot alternates between the predictability of a typical YA novel and mind-blowing plot twists. Highly recommended to anyone who wants to watch how an alien invasion washes out humanity in five waves. — Nina

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

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This is one of those books that I didn’t love when I first read it, yet, I find myself still thinking about the story and characters now, one and a half years or so later. I plan on rereading it soon to see whether or not the tediousness I experienced the first time round will still bother me now that I’m more used to adult fiction. The concept is fascinating: Harry August lives is life, dies and is always reborn to the same parents in the same place. However, he can remember all of his past lives. He is reborn into the body of child, yet has the knowledge and life experience of an old man, knowledge of multiple lifetimes. The book is part science-fiction, part thriller, part literary fiction and the author does a commendable job at executing a really complex idea. Recommended to people who enjoy philosophy, science and morally grey characters and don’t mind a slower plot. — Chantal

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

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I wouldn’t call Dark Matter a fantastic or ground-breaking book, yet it was an extremely enjoyable read. After being abducted one night by a masked man, Jason is knocked unconscious and wakes in an unfamiliar place, surrounded by people he’s never seen and who all seem to think he’s somebody he isn’t. It’s a fast-paced, incredibly cinematic novel that is a thriller as much as it is sci-fi. The pages flew by and I couldn’t put it down and the concept behind everything was pretty interesting and well executed as well. A perfect book to pick up if you find yourself in a reading slump. — Chantal

So these are some of our sci-fi recommendations! Have you read any of these? Enjoyed them? Do you have any other recs for us? We’re always on the lookout for good science-fiction, so please let us know in the comments!

 

11 Comments

  1. LOVE some of these books! And really looking forward to others!

    • Hi Trina! Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting on our sci-fi recommendations! Science fiction was somewhat of a challenge for us, as we’re both native to the fantasy genre, but it was exciting to roam our shelves for some good sci-fi and/or futuristic dystopia reads 🙂

    • chantal

      September 26, 2016 at 8:52 PM

      Thank you so much, Trina! LOVED your video too, so many books in only 8 minutes😱 And thanks for creating this awesome group. Nina and I are so happy to be able to participate 🙂

  2. Thank you for all the amazing recs! I can’t wait to give them a go. I’m especially intrigued by Saga and Red Rising.

    • chantal

      September 29, 2016 at 8:28 PM

      Thank you, Amy! I hope you end up enjoying the ones you pick up! Sci-fi is usually not really my genre but I ended up having quite a few recs anyway 🙂 I’m don’t usually like graphic novels but this first volume was really great. I haven’t continued yet though, so we’ll see how I fare with the rest of the series.
      I haven’t read Red Rising yet but really want to. If Nina says it’s good that’s enough for me 😝

    • Red Rising is a gripping book but it’s also one of those especially taste-dependent books, more than mainstream books I should say. Not sure what the target audience was for this one, but it definitely struck me as adult rather than YA. The world-building is complex and the writing a little void of emotion (though the book will definitely make you feel) and the plot very violent. If this sounds like something you’d enjoy, then I definitely recommend you give this one a go 🙂

  3. Ooh, at some point I’m gonna have to read Dark Matter (LOVE Blake Crouch!). Wonderful list girls <3

    • Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting, Anna! <3
      Chantal will be able to tell you a little more about Dark Matter, since I haven't read it, but it sounds so intriguing indeed! Be on the lookout for her pending review on this one (as will I) 🙂

    • chantal

      October 2, 2016 at 7:53 PM

      I really enjoyed Dark Matter. I wouldn’t say it’s a great book (I wasn’t as blown away as many others) but it was extremely enjoyable, kind of like watching a movie. Hope you enjoy it, Anna!

  4. out of the books listed I have only read 1984…but I would love to read the others. Thank you for sharing this review!

    • chantal

      October 3, 2016 at 1:07 PM

      You’re so welcome, Ivana! Thank you for leaving a comment 🙂 1984 is a classic and one of those books I would say everyone should read (although I know many dislike it). I hadn’t realised how many sci-fi books I had read until I made this list, but I think there are some real gems here. I really hope you enjoy the ones you pick up!

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