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Science Fiction and Dystopian Books
for Middle Grade (4th-6th) and Young Adult Readers

Many books listed for 9 and up are also good for young adult readers. These days there is quite a bit of crossover between the two levels of fiction. The Harry Potter books are good example of books enjoyed both by a 10-yr-old and a 15-yr-old.



Adventure books for kids



Ages 12 and up

Blood Red Road (1st of a series) by Moira Young, 480 pages 
"Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That's fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when four cloaked horsemen capture Lugh, Saba's world is shattered, and she embarks on a quest to get him back. 

Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the outside world, Saba discovers she is a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba’s unrelenting search for Lugh stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization." Margaret K. McElderry Books, first U.S. publication, 2012

Ages 9 and up

Above World by Jenn Reese, 356 pages
"Thirteen-year-old Aluna has lived her entire life under the ocean with the Coral Kampii in the City of Shifting Tides. But after centuries spent hidden from the Above World, her colony’s survival is at risk. The Kampii’s breathing necklaces are failing, but the elders are unwilling to venture above water to seek answers. Only headstrong Aluna and her friend Hoku are stubborn and bold enough to face the terrors of land to search for way to save their people. But can Aluna’s fierce determination and fighting skills and Hoku’s tech-savvy keep them safe? Set in a world where overcrowding has led humans to adapt — growing tails to live under the ocean or wings to live on mountains — here is a ride through a future where greed and cruelty have gone unchecked, but the loyalty of friends remains true."
Candlewick Press, 2012

Ages 9 and up

Z. Apocalypse Steve Cole, 240 pages
It's the end of the world as we know it . . .The stakes are higher than ever for Adam Adler, and he will be put to the test in a way he never imagined. Taken by a flying reptile with wings as big as a bus to the farthest reaches of Siberia, Adam once again finds himself at the center of a plot to take down the evil organization Geneflow, who plan to create an apocalypse, ending life on earth as we know it, in order to create a world of hyper-evolved beings. Adam will have to join forces with a deadly pterosaur named Keera, and with the help of his old friend Zed, they'll need to risk everything to stop Geneflow once and for all and restore order to the world.
Philomel, 2012


Books for reluctant readers



Adventure books for kids



Ages 12 and up

Skyship Academy (1st of series) Nick James, 376 pages
“A devastated Earth’s last hope is found in Pearls: small, mysterious orbs that fall from space and are capable of supplying enough energy to power entire cities. Battling to control the Pearls are the Skyship dwellers—political dissidents who live in massive ships in the Earth’s stratosphere—and the corrupt Surface government.

Jess Fisher, a Skyship slacker, and Cassius Stevenson, a young Surface operative, cross paths when they both venture into forbidden territory in pursuit of Pearls. Their chance encounter triggers an unexpected reaction, endowing each boy with remarkable—and dangerous—abilities that their respective governments would stop at nothing to possess.”

Back cover excerpt, Flux, 2011

Ages 12 and up

Larkstorm Dawn Rae Miller, 318 pages
In the years following the destructive Long Winter, when half the world’s population perished, the State remains locked in battle against the Sensitives: humans born with extra abilities. As one of the last descendants of the State’s Founders, seventeen-year-old Lark Greene knows her place: study hard and be a model citizen so she can follow in her family’s footsteps. Her life’s been set since birth, and she’s looking forward to graduating and settling down with Beck, the boy she’s loved longer than she can remember.

However, after Beck is accused of being Sensitive and organizing an attack against Lark, he disappears. Heartbroken and convinced the State made a mistake, Lark sets out to find him and clear his name. But what she discovers is more dangerous and frightening than Sensitives: She must kill the boy she loves, unless he kills her first.

Product description, FinnStar Publishing, 2011


Books for reluctant readers


Ages 9 and up

Adventure books for kids


Museum of Thieves by Lian Tanner
"Welcome to the tyrannical city of Jewel, where impatience is a sin and boldness is a crime. Goldie Roth has lived in Jewel all her life. Like every child in the city, she wears a silver guardchain and is forced to obey the dreaded Blessed Guardians. She has never done anything by herself and won't be allowed out on the streets unchained until Separation Day.

When Separation Day is canceled, Goldie, who has always been both impatient and bold, runs away, risking not only her own life but also the lives of those she has left behind. In the chaos that follows, she is lured to the mysterious Museum of Dunt, where she meets the boy Toadspit and discovers terrible secrets. Only the cunning mind of  a thief can understand the museum's strange, shifting rooms. Fortunately, Goldie has a talent for thieving. Which is just as well, because the leader of the Blessed Guardians has his own plans for the museum-plans that threaten the lives of everyone Goldie loves. And it will take a daring thief to stop him." Jacket cover excerpt, Delacorte Press, Random House, 2010

Ages 12 and up

Black Hole Sun David Macinnis Gill, 340 pages
“The sins of his father weigh heavily on Durango, an outcast teen mercenary who’s trying to eke out a living on Tomorrow’s gritty, trigger-happy Mars. Fortunately, he is armed with an AI implant, a crew of colorful misfits, and an unshakable sense of humor.” Back cover excerpt, HarperTeen, 2010

Ages 12 and up

Pathfinder Orson Scott Card, 657 pages

“Rigg is well trained at keeping secrets. Only his father knows the truth about Rigg’s strange talent for seeing the paths of people’s pasts. But when his father dies, Rigg is stunned to learn just how many secrets Father had kept from him – secrets about Rigg’s own past, his identity, and his destiny. And when Rigg discovers that he has the power not only to see the past, but also to change it, his future suddenly becomes anything but certain.

Rigg’s birthright sets him on a path that leaves him caught between two factions, , one that wants him crowned and one that wants him dead. He will be forced to question everything he thinks he knows, choose who to trust, and push the limits of his talent … or forfeit control of his destiny.” Jacket cover excerpt, Simon Pulse, 2010


Books for reluctant readers


Ages 12 and up

Incarceron (1st of series) Catherine Fisher, 442 pages
"Incarceron is a prison unlike any other: Its inmates live not only in cells, but also in metal forests, dilapidated cities, and unbounded wilderness. The prison has been sealed for centuries, and only one man, legend says, has ever escaped. Finn, a seventeen-year-old prisoner, can't remember his childhood and believes he came from Outside Incarceron. He's going to escape, even though most inmates don't believe that Outside even exists. And then Finn finds a crystal key and through it, a girl named Claudia.

Claudia claims to live Outside-her father is the Warden of Incarceron and she’s doomed to an arranged marriage. If she helps Finn escape, she will need his help in return. But the don’t realize that there is more to Incarceron than meets the eye. Escape will take their greatest courage and cost far more than they know." Jacket cover excerpt, Dial books, first published in the U.S. in 2010

Ages 9 and up

Dark Life (1st of series) Kat Falls, 297 pages
“Ty has spent his whole life living deep undersea, helping his family farm the ocean floor. But when outlaws attack his homestead, Ty finds himself in a fight to save the only home he has ever known. Joined by Gemma, girl from the Topside who has come subsea to look for her brother, Ty ventures into the frontier’s rough underworld and discovers some dark secrets to Dark Life…secrets that threaten to destroy everything.” Jacket cover excerpt, Scholastic, 2010



Ages 12 and up

The Tomorrow Code by Brian Falkner, 347 pages
“Tane and Rebecca aren’t sure what to make of it. A sequence of 1s and 0s, the message looks like nothing more than a random collection of alternating digits. Working to decode it, however, Tane and Rebecca discover that the message contains lottery numbers…lottery numbers that win the next random draw! Suddenly Tan and Rebecca are rich, but who sent the numbers? And why? More message follow and slowly it becomes clear-the messages are being sent back in time from Tan and Rebecca’s future. Something there has gone horribly wrong, and it’s up to them to prevent if from happening. As they follow the messages’ cryptic instructions, Tane and Rebecca begin to suspect the worst-that the very survival of the human race may be at stake.” Jacket cover excerpt, Random House, 2008


Ages 9 and up

Rebel Force Target (Star Wars series) Alex Wheeler, 186 pages

“The Death Star has been destroyed. But back at the Rebel base, the celebration is over. The Alliance has intercepted a coded transmission, indicating that the Empire is determined to discover which pilot was responsible for the destruction of the Death Star. New security protocol is in effect: The details of the Death Star mission are now top secret, and no one is to know that Luke fired the decisive shot. But that’s hardly the Alliance’s only problem. Almost all their finances were lost with the destruction of Alderaan-and they are out of money.

Their last hope is to access the secret accounts on Muuilinst, the former home of the InterGalactic Banking Clan, and the financial heart of the galaxy. So Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, and the droids head for Muuilinst. The Empire’s top assassin will be waiting for them.”

Back cover excerpt, Scholastic, 2008

 *If you haven’t seen the early Star Wars movies or read the books based on them, they are a good place to start before immersing yourself in the Star Wars fiction universe.


Ages 12 and up

The Comet’s Curse (series) Dom Testa, 230 pages
"When the tail of the comet Bhaktul flicks through Earth’s atmosphere, deadly particles are left in its wake. Suddenly, mankind is confronted with a virus that devastates the adult population. Only those under the age of eighteen seem to be immune. Desperate to save humanity, a renowned scientist proposes a bold plan: to create a ship that will carry a crew of 251 teenagers to a home in a distant solar system.

Two years later, the Galahad and its crew-none over the age of sixteen-is launched. Two years of training have prepared the crew for the challenges of space travel. But soon after departing Earth, they discover that a saboteur is hiding on the Galahad! Faced with escalating acts of vandalism and terrorized by threatening messages, sixteen-year-old Triana Martell and her council soon realize that the stowaway will do anything to ensure that the Galahad never reaches its destination. The teen must find a way to neutralize their enemy. For if their mission fails, it will mean the end of the human race." Jacket cover excerpt, Tor 2005  

Ages 9 and up

Shanghaied to the Moon Michael J. Daley, 251 pages

"Stewart Hale dreams of becoming a famous pilot like his mother and like his hero Val Thorsten, the greatest spacer who ever lived. But if he can’t get his father to approve his application for Space Academy by his thirteenth birthday, he’ll never get his chance. After his mother’s death, Stewart’s father has forbidden any talk of his going into space…A chance encounter with a washed-u[ old spacer gives Stewart an unexpected opportunity to sneak off on his own mission to the Moon. It’s just what he needs to get himself ready for the Academy…But when the old spacer’s intentions turn out to be less than honorable, and their ride to the Moon turns out to be a rickety old tub that’s more likely to get them killed then get them there, Stewart realized he hasn’t found his big break-he’s been shanghaied!”

Jacket cover excerpt, Penguin Group, 2007


Ages 12 and up

Spacer and Rat Margaret Bechard, 183 pages 

“Jack has spent his whole life on Freedom Station, providing food, shelter and ship repair to the people who live in the Asteroid Belt. He knows exactly what it means to live out in the Black. And working in the station’s pub, he sees everyone whol passes through: the geeks and the mechs, the miners and the sci guys. And the Earthies, fleeing the problems back on earth, coming out to the new colony worlds. Jack know who belongs out in Black. And who doesn’t. Until Kit comes walking into the pub. And challenges everything he believes about the Black, about the people who live there.”

Jacket cover excerpt, Roaring Brook Press, 2005


Ages 12 and up

Brain Jack by Brian Falkner, 347 pages
“Las Vegas is gone…destroyed by a terrorist attack. Black Hawk helicopters patrol the skies over New York City. And immersive online gaming is the most dangerous street drug around. In this dark near-future, technology has leapt forward once again, and neuro-headsets have replaced computer keyboards. Just slip on a headset, and it’s the Internet at the speed of thought.

For teen hacker Sam Wilson, a headset is a must. But as he becomes familiar with the new technology, he has a terrifying realization. If anything on his computer is vulnerable to a hack, what happens when his mind is linked to the system? Could consciousness itself be hijacked?”

Jacket cover excerpt, Random House, 2009


Ages 12 and up

Escape from Earth, edited by Jack Dann & Gardner Dozois, (Short story collection), 420 pages

“Imagine a place where interplanetary travel isn’t just possible-it’s commonplace. Human beings have terraformed Mars. You can reach into another dimension through a wormhole. The virtual world can be the only place where you exist, because you don’t have a body. The possibilities are endless. Escape from Earth…will take you places beyond your imagination.”

Back cover excerpt, Firebrand, Penguin Group, compilation copyright, 2006


Ages 12 and up

Red Planet by Robert A. Heinlein, 229 pages

“When Jim rescues a strange alien from certain death, he names the creature Willis, and the two become inseparable. It turns out that Willis is a Martian bouncer, a ball of fur with extraordinary powers of mimicry. When Jim brings Willis to his school on Mars, the headmaster confiscates his furry friend for scientific study, prompting Jim and his buddy Frank to launch a rescue operation, only to stumble onto a treacherous plot. Embarking on a desperate quest to war the colonists, the three friends set in motion events that will change the red planet forever.”

Back cover excerpt, Ballantine Books, 2006, original text copyright, 1949 

*A classic


Ages 9 and up

The Roar by Emma Clayton, 481 pages
“Mika lives in future London, behind The Wall, safe from The Animal Plague beyond. Or so he’s been told. But ever since Ellie vanished a year ago, he’s suspected his world may be built on secrets – and lies. When a mysterious organization starts recruiting mutant kids to compete in violent virtual reality games, Mika takes the chance to search for his twin sister – and the truth.”

Jacket cover excerpt, Scholastic, 2009

Ages 12 and up

The Forest of Hands and Teeth (series) Carrie Ryan, 308 pages

“In Mary’s world, there are simple truths. The sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village. The fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

But slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power. And, when the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. Now she must choose between her village and her future, between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded by so much death?”

Jacket cover excerpt, Delacorte Press, 2009


This site is maintained by author Dee Garretson, who writes her own adventure books. She does not get paid by the authors or the publishers to list these books. They are all her recommendations based on reading many, many books each year.


Teachers, Homeschoolers and Librarians:

Dee does complimentary 20 minute Skype visits with groups interested in talking about adventure books or writing. Contact her at deegarretson at gmail.com


Escape from Camp David:


  When disaster strikes and the security systems at Camp David go into lockdown, Luke Brockett, the President's son, and his friends must escape before it's too late.
Published by Harper, a divison of HarperCollins



  Sometimes filming a movie can go very wrong ... and turn all too real. Stefan Andris never expected his dream adventure to turn into a real-life survival story. Published by Harper, a division of HarperCollins


Art student Clary Ashton thought studying painting in Paris was a dream come true, until a murder and a royal assassination plot throw her between two dangerous men, a vicious revolutionary who will stop at nothing to carry out his plans and the young intrepid British secret agent determined to stop him.

Adventure books for kids