Speculative fiction book guide


Simon & Schuster

“The Diabolic” by S.J. Kincaid deals with complex themes and has a unique writing style.

Ruby Kotok, Reporter

In the heart of the school year, life can feel overwhelming. With so many assignments and the ever-present worry of finals looming over students, many are just looking for a way to escape, if even for a moment. Surfing one of the many social media platforms available on phones is almost always the route taken, but I urge you to consider picking up a book. Not a novel you were forced to read for school, or one that feels a bit too real, but one that lets you leave the crushing confines of high school and take a break.

Welcome to the world of speculative fiction, a genre overflowing with intricate worlds, gripping adventures and heart-shattering conflicts. Here are five books that encapsulate creativity and provide a reprieve from the stressors of Semester two.

“The Diabolic” by S.J. Kincaid

S.J. Kincaid presents a beautifully written dystopian trilogy with an uncommon style. The sophisticated nature of the books makes them hard to crack into but irresistible once inside. “The Diabolic” and its sequels feature a genetically engineered superhuman, a “diabolic” named Nemesis, whose sole purpose is to defend her owner. Nemesis grapples with her humanity as she struggles to make human connections. While working to tear down the controlling intergalactic regime she lives under, she fights for the rights of diabolics to be treated as humans. The books are jam-packed with intense and surprising plot twists, each more shocking than the last. “The Diabolic” is layered with adventure and philosophy, love and loss, strength and femininity and it will leave readers satisfied yet also eager for more. 

“The Lunar Chronicles” by Marissa Meyer

With an exciting and fresh rendition similar to many classic fairy tales like Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood, author Marissa Meyer inserts the reader into a dystopian world filled with conflict, control and rebellion in her series, “The Lunar Chronicles.” This adaptation stars a ragtag coterie of cyborgs, werewolves, royalty and distressed maidens as they embark on a celestial scheme to overthrow an evil queen. Evil queen, maidens, werewolves… Ring any bells? Not only does this series give readers an avant-garde view into the original stories, it also establishes an entirely separate plot with imaginative characters and deep friendships while still retaining its fairy tale roots.

“This Mortal Coil” by Emily Suvada

In the post-apocalyptic world of “This Mortal Coil” by Emily Suvada, millions have perished from a deadly and highly contagious virus. Filled with the futuristic concept of technology being integrated with the human body, the book, as well as the two other novels in the trilogy, features many present-day fears of what the future could look like. The dangers, benefits and potential misuses of technology combine to create a lethal situation, one that leaves readers hooked, albeit with churning stomachs. Combat, alliances and adventures as well as a few gory confrontations keep the story interesting while the theme of the dangers of technology plays out in the background. Suvada focuses on writing a great novel with incredible world building and the ever constant theme is able to speak for itself. 

“Disney Villain” series by Serena Valentino

“Disney Villain series” by Serena Valentino, features the background stories of various Disney villains. The familiarity of the stories ensures readers are comfortable, although the plot drastically differs from what we know and pushes readers to reinterpret some of their favorite stories. While each tale is its own story, they all take place in the same universe and are connected in one way or another. Surprising plot twists and tragic origins force readers to look at villains they’ve been taught to hate through a different lens. The series embodies the value of ‘two sides to every story’ and adds a new dimension to infamous characters that wasn’t previously there.

“The Young Elites” by Marie Lu

I’ve re-read this series twice. “The Young Elites” by Marie Lu follows the story of Adelina Amouteru, a teenage girl left with magical abilities after suffering from a disease that ravaged this story’s universe. She joins a group of other super-powered teens called “The Young Elites.” Adelina endures heartbreaking tragedies and soon, readers see a darker side to Adelina. Lu confronts Adelina with a series of impossible decisions, with the protagonist’s choices weaving a villain story in place of what began as that of a heroine. A story of good and bad, Adelina blurs the line between the two and leaves readers in a sort of limbo. She toes borders that many never dare to cross, and her questionable leadership translates to modern-day political themes, leaving us to wonder: When have we gone too far?

Honorable mentions: “Renegades” by Marissa Meyer, “Shatter Me” by Tahereh Mafi, “Caraval” by Stephanie Garber, and “Girl of Fire and Thorns” by Rae Carson.

I am currently reading: “These Infinite Threads” by Tahereh Mafi (she is an incredible author!).