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Find more Top 10 SF/Fantasy & Horror for Youth
It may come as no surprise that viruses feature prominently in this year’s selection of best sf/fantasy & horror novels for youth (mostly the horror). But among these titles, all reviewed in Booklist between August 2020 and July 2021, you can also find books that run the gamut from bitingly satirical to cozy fantasies about found family. New this year, we’re also bringing you our Top 10 SF/Fantasy & Horror Debuts for Youth.
The Darkness outside Us. By Eliot Schrefer. 2021. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, $17.99 (9780062888280). Gr. 9–12.
On an interplanetary mission to rescue his missing sister from the moons of Saturn, Ambrose finds himself deeply drawn to a boy who, though he shares his mission, is also his enemy.
Eat Your Heart Out. By Kelly deVos. 2021. Razorbill, $17.99 (9780593204825). Gr. 8–11.
At a weight-loss camp in Arizona, six teenagers face down a horde of hungry zombies in a high-stakes adventure that unpicks genre conventions and tackles fatphobia head-on.
The Electric Kingdom. By David Arnold. 2021. Viking, $18.99 (9780593202227). Gr. 8–12.
In an intricately built, high-concept piece of sf, Arnold follows 18-year-old Nico and 12-year-old Kit as their journeys intersect in a postapocalyptic New England decimated by “Flu-flies” and illness.
A Glasshouse of Stars. By Shirley Marr. 2021. Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (9781534488830). Gr. 4–7.
When Meixing and her parents arrive in the disorienting New Land, they discover that their house grows bigger or smaller as they need. Dreamily told in second person, this is a gorgeous meditation on the nebulous idea of home.
The Lion of Mars. By Jennifer L. Holm. 2021. Random, $16.99 (9780593121818). Gr. 3–6.
In 2091, 11-year-old Bell lives a cozy and collaborative life in America’s underground settlement on Mars, until a virus infects all American adults and forces the kids to seek aid from neighboring settlements.
The Mirror Season. By Anna-Marie McLemore. 2021. Feiwel and Friends, $18.99 (9781250624123). Gr. 9–12.
After they’re both sexually assaulted, Ciela helps an unconscious boy to the hospital. Then her magical power, to know exactly which pan dulce customers need, disappears. In a story inspired by “The Snow Queen,” McLemore weaves an empowering tale of healing.
Skunk and Badger. By Amy Timberlake. Illus. by Jon Klassen. 2020. Algonquin, $18.95 (9781643750057). Gr. 2–4.
Badger lives a solitary, tidy life in his aunt Lula’s brownstone. This is exactly how he likes things, so it’s a shock when Skunk appears with the news that he is to be Badger’s new housemate.
Once upon a Camel. By Kathi Appelt. Illus. by Eric Rohmann. 2021. Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (9781534406438). Gr. 4–7.
After a desert sandstorm sweeps a pair of kestrel parents away, Zada, an elderly camel, calms their anxious babies by spinning yarns of her extraordinary life. Soft oil paintings add to the fantastical proceedings.
Sisters of the Neversea. By Cynthia Leitich Smith. 2021. HarperCollins/Heartdrum, $16.99 (9780062869975). Gr. 3–6.
In this fresh rebuttal of Peter & Wendy, Peter Pan sweeps best-friends/stepsisters Wendy (white) and Lily (Muscogee Creek) away to Neverland, but he soon reveals his dark side, forcing Lily to rescue her sister from his violent games.
The Snow Fell Three Graves Deep: Voices from the Donner Party. By Allan Wolf. 2020. Candlewick, $21.99 (9780763663247). Gr. 8–12.
In a mixture of poetry and prose and through multiple narrators—including, chillingly, Hunger—Wolf excavates the experiences of the Donner Party. Though historical fiction, this book is truly slow-burn horror that sees loyalties fractured and minds shattered.
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