Anderson, M.T. Feed. NY: Candlewick Press, 2002. Titus lives in a futuristic society where the majority of the American population is hook up to “feeds,” transmitters implanted directly into the brain which eventually integrate themselves into nerves, muscles, etc. Feeds also tell people where to shop, how to get the best deals, how to choose the ultimate vacation spots. Titus and his friends never question the feeds...until they meet a girl who is capable of fighting the feed. Intrigued and a bit scared by Violet, Titus and his friends draw her into their world, with disastrous results. A strangely interesting read, the plot doesn’t really kick in until about halfway through the book. But when it does, it has great potential to get students in the class to talk about ways in which the future is already here, and how we all may be very much in a “feed” world. (High school.)
Bertagna, Julie. Exodus. Walker Books for Young Readers, 2008. Mara has lived on Wing her entire life and can’t imagine the world the elders have told her about that preceded Wing: a world of technology, skyscrapers, and ease in getting the normal every day goods one needs to survive. When the sea around Wing swallows up the island, it is Mara who leads her friends and family out into the unknown based on a garbled message that came to her on an antiquated computer. But when Mara and the island survivors reach one of the sky cities that was created as the ice caps began to melt, they find an inhospitable world where they are not welcome. Can Mara find the messenger who sent her the message? Can she save the islanders and help them reach safety? This is the beginning of a new series that will be a sure hit with middle and younger high school readers, especially those who are environmentally conscious.
Clements, Andrew. Things Not Seen. Penguin, 2002. Bobby Phillips has a pretty normal life until the morning he wakes up and, he’s not there. Bobby realizes that he’s invisible, and so begins his journey to finding a cure for himself and to making the best friend he could possibly hope for: Alicia, a blind girl who spends a great deal of time at the library. Alicia doesn’t realize that Bobby is invisible, so with her, he can be somewhat his normal self. But the longer Bobby is invisible, the more problems he causes for his parents with local authorities who think he’s been kidnapped, or possibly murdered. Can Bobby solve the mystery of his invisibility? Great upper elementary/middle school read.
Card, Orson Scott. Ender’s Game. NY: Tom Doherty Associates, 1986. Ender Wiggins is a manufactured child prodigy in the study of warfare. Taken from the sister who loves him, Ender finds himself fighting his peers as well as computer generated enemies in preparation for the ultimate battle. Middle/high school.
Carman, Patrick. Atherton: The House of Power (2006) and Rivers of Fire (2008). The world of Atherton was the creation of troubled genius Dr. Harding, but now, as the technology that ran it runs out of control, only Edgar and his friends seem to have the wherewithal to figure out how the people of Atherton can stem her destruction. Both books in the series have finely detailed characters who make the plot more than plausible. Edgar in particular is an interesting character that most students will respond to because of his quest for his true identity and parentage. A strong middle school series.
Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. Catching Fire, and Mockingjay. NY: Scholastic, 2008, 2009, 2010. Katniss understands exactly what will happen if she is chosen to play in the “Hunger Games”; she’ll die. Every year, one boy and one girl from each of twelve districts is chosen to hunt and kill each other—while being televised—in order to give the district the opportunity to claim championship in the games. The winner will be given money and prestige. Katniss has never been trained to this type of fighting, but she’s lived off the land, and she figures she has a shot. But as the games commence, she has to weigh common sense against loyalty, self-preservation with love, to see if she can create a chance to survive the diabolical games. The adventures continue in the new two books of the trilogy. Exciting high school reads and some of the best dystopian novels available.
Fukui, Isamu. Truancy. NY: Tor Teen, 2008. In a futuristic totalitarian world, the Mayor rules the school systems with an iron hand. Students are not taught to think critically but are expected to do well in school and are severely punished when not successful. But when a handful of teens begin to push back, calling themselves the Truancy, Tack finds himself pulled into the fighting and begins seeking revenge when his beloved sister is killed by one of the truants. When Tack infiltrates the Truancy, though, he begins to realize that he believes much of their cause. Can he do what he knows is right philosophically but still gain the revenge he desires for his sister. And interesting high school level text written by a high school-aged student.
Fuller, Kimberly. Home. New York: Tor, 1997. After Maran and her friends witness a mysterious streak blazing across they sky, they are determined to find out what it really is. What they discover is a young man known as the Traveler who convinces them that he is from this planet but was sent off into space to survive the invasion of a group of barbarian determined to obliterate his people. How Maran deals with this news and the traveler is found in this marvelous tale of “What if?s.” Middle/high school.
Gould, Steven. Jumper. NY: Tor, 1992. 17-year-old Davy uses teleportation to “jump” as a means of escaping abuse and then finds it convenient for dating, financial support, revenge, capturing terrorists, and evading government agents. Middle/high school.
Gould, Steven. Wildside. NY: Tor, 1996. Charlie finds the door to another world, a world where passenger pigeons and saber-toothed tigers still exist. A born entrepreneur, Charlie enlists his friends in a money-making scheme selling passenger pigeons and mining for gold that will make them all rich. But can they outsmart the CIA, FBI, and their parents as they pursue their goals? Middle/high school.
Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Among the Hidden. NY: Aladdin Fiction, 1998. Luke is a “third child”; his parents cannot acknowledge that he exists because if they do, he will be taken away, probably killed, and they will be fined and possibly imprisoned. But when the government opens up a housing development around his parents’ farm, Luke sees a girl’s face looking out from a window, and he begins to wonder if there are other shadow children like himself and what they can do to break into the sunlight. An excellent upper elementary/middle school read.
Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Among the Imposters. NY: Aladdin Fiction, 2002. Picking up with Luke’s life as he becomes Lee Garner, Luke finds himself begin taken to Hendricks School for Boys by his friend Jen Talbot’s father. But Hendricks isn’t what Luke expected, and he finds himself in a tension-filled situation where he still cannot trust those around him An excellent upper elementary/middle school read.
Halam, Ann. Siberia. (2005). NY: Wendy Lamb Books/Random House. When Rosita is a small child, her father disappears and she and her mother are forced to move to a detention camp in the wilderness. As time goes by, Rosita becomes Sloe, loses her mother, and is forced to confront the secrets left by her parents: the mysterious vials that can be turned into animals, the man who seems determined to track her down and bring her to…her mother? The authorities? Sloe must depend on her own strength and cunning if she is to survive in a world that seems to have lost all sense of civility and good will. An interesting dystopian view of our world in the not too distant future. High school.
Hautman, Pete. Rash. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2006. In the late 21st century, teenager Bo Marsten is charged with causing a rash in his high school. Even though everyone involved knows that Bo couldn’t have done what he was accused of, he is “sold” to the multinational company McDonalds (who have left Big Macs far behind) to make pizzas. Recruited to an unusual type of football team, Bo and his fellow prisoners can earn their freedom if they beat another team; if they don’t, they’ll be eaten by the polar bears who live outside the factory gates. As Bo works on his football skills, his artificial intelligence project—Bork—turns himself into a lawyer so that he can free Bo from his situation. A unique take on the future. High school.
Lowry, Lois. The Giver. NY: Houghton Mifflin, 1993. On Jonas’ 12thbirthday, he is chosen to be the Receiver, the one person in his world who will be given all of the memories of pleasure and pain from the Giver. But this job holds challenges that will test Jonas’ resolve and force him to make decisions that could impact not only him but the entire social structure of his world. Middle school.
Nix, Garth. Shade’s Children. NY: HarperTrophy, 1997. Absolutely phenomenal book about a futuristic city where overlords have decreed that no child live a day past her fourteenth birthday. On that day, the brain of the child is harvested and used to create creatures that kill on command. A few children lucky enough to escape are part of a daring plan to bring the overlords down, but can they really trust Shade, the once man, now hologram intelligence that leads them? High school.
Pfeffer, Susan Beth. The Dead and the Gone. NY: Harcourt Books, 2008. An asteroid hits the moon, impacting its rotation with the earth. Tidal waves, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions immediately begin to disrupt life and crop cycles. For Alex, Bri, and Julie, whose mother never comes home from her nursing job and whose father may or may not be alive in Cuba, reality sets in quickly and the three begin to work on their own survival in New York City. A heart-rending tale of family loyalty and survival. High School.
O’Brian, Caragh M. BirthMARKED. NY: Roaring Brook Press, 2010. Gaia’s mother has been a midwive to the Enclave for all of Gaia’s life, and at seventeen, Gaia is ready to take on that role herself. As the novel begins, Gaia has her first unassisted birth, and according to the protocols of the Enclave, she delivers the baby to the city, leaving a weeping new mother behind. Gaia has never questioned the correctness of delivering babies to the Enclave, at least, not until her parents are arrested by the Enclave and taken away. Determined to find out where her parents are, Gaia sneaks into the Enclave, but nothing can prepare her for the secrets/truths awaiting her. Excellent dystopian novel. High School.
Plum-Ucci, Carol. Streams of Babel. NY: Harcourt, 2008. Told in alternating narratives, this is a fast-moving, all-too-real story of bio-terrorists attempting to wipe out civilian communities by poisoning the water supply. The main characters are high school students or recent graduates who work together to make the connections as to what is hurting their family members. High school.
Rose, Malcolm. Blood Brother. NY: Kingfisher, 2008. Luke Harding, 16-year-old forensic investigator, and his loyal robot Malc are the best at solving cases in futuristic England. In this case, an excessive number of patients have been dying in hospital, and all signs look to Luke’s father as the murderer. Luke, who hasn’t spent much time with his parents in years, has to work on that relationship even as he puzzles out who the real murderer is. Solid middle school.
Sleater, William. Intersteller Pig. NY: E. P. Dutton, 1984. Barney becomes too involved with his new hid neighbors after they introduce him to a game called Interstellar Pig. When he finally realizes that this game has far-reaching repercussions for Earth and tries to get out of the game, it is too late. Middle/high school.
Vizzini, Ned. Be More Chill. NY: Hyperion, 2004. Jeremy has never been popular with the girls, but when he gets turned on to “squips,” he knows he has to have one. A squip, a supercomputer in pill form that actually talks to the brain in which it resides, can turn the typical “dork” into a superstar. But no one tells Jeremy about the dark side to the squip…an interesting read for high school students, especially young men.
Westerfeld, Scott. The Uglies and The Pretties. NY: Simon Pulse, 2005, 2006. In Tally’s society, normal-looking people are called “the Uglies” and those older than 16 who have gone through the operation become “the pretties. It is supposed to be everyone’s goal in life to become pretty, but when Tally meets Shay, who has decided to escape town to go and find her friends in “the Smoke,” she begins to question her own determination to become pretty. When Shay disappears, the Special Circumstances Captain holds Tally’s operation over her to force her to go and look for Shay and the others who have disappeared into Smoke. Tally’s journey to Smoke and her relationships with those who have not chosen to go pretty provide the tension in the first book and into the second where Tally eventually returns home to face the pretties and all they stand for. An intriguing set of reads for middle/high school.
Young, E. L. Storm: The Infinity Code. NY: Dial, 2008. A group of young scientific geniuses take on a terrorist group planning to create a weapon that could easily destroy large cities in a single attack. Little do they know that two of their parents are involved—against their will—and that their actions may directly influence the fate of their loved ones. This is an action-packed story with solid science. Middle and High School readers.