Scientifically Modified Food for Thought

Or, I like My Speculative Fiction with a Side of Social Commentary, Please.

I made a reading list based on feedback from the teens I booktalked to!

Several of them mentioned their appreciation for science fiction. Some teens also indicated a strong interest in social justice. For a recommended reading list I created for my Teen Materials in a Digital Age class, I decided to blend the two and create a list of science fiction with heavy social commentary. I hope this list provides teens the opportunity to explore these imaginative worlds, think critically of the situations presented in the novels, and consider the possible parallels to their own lives. Speculative fiction presents readers with contemporary social issues in a controlled situation that is no less powerful than realistic fiction. A teen reader may be challenged through these books leading to an affirmation or alteration of their values and identity. My list is directed at older teens aged 14 and up.

Feed by M.T. Anderson, 2002

In a future where computer chips feed humans access to unlimited information and targeted advertising, a girl tries to challenge the system.

Diverse EnergiesDiverse Energies edited by Tobias S. Buckell and Joe Monti, 2012

This diverse anthology includes 11 stories of teens against governments, society, and sometimes each other, all by popular sci-fi authors.

Enders GameEnder’s Game by Orson Scott Card, 1985

Placed in a military training program at a young age, Ender shows tactical genius in alien war games that soon grow suspiciously realistic.

Summer PrinceThe Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson, 2013

June falls for the Summer King and plans her most socially provocative art installation yet in a technologically advanced Brazilian city.

ProxyProxy by Alexander London, 2013

This fast-paced, sci-fi update of “The Whipping Boy” puts Knox against those in power who forced him to become a proxy to pay off his debts.

Knife of Never Letter GoThe Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, narrated by Nick Podehl, 2011

On a planet where animals and men can hear each other’s thoughts, Todd must flee to keep a dark secret. The audio won an Odyssey honor.

TankbornTankborn by Karen Sandler, 2011

Genetically engineered Kayla challenges the uncomfortable truths of her oppressive society in this page-turner about race and class.