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The 5 Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books for Young Adults and Teen Girls
Top Five Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books/Series for Girls
Choosing books for young adult girls is tricky business. Adolescents are eager to shed their childhood identities and become teenagers, or even adults, but they are still young. Picking books that hold their interest and do not seem juvenile but also do not introduce overly adult themes, is difficult. In my experience, science fiction and fantasy books can be great choices adult young adult girls. Many of today's Sci-Fi and fantasy books feature strong young women - heroines that are worth looking up to - and present enduring themes. The fanciful worlds in these books can help girls escape from an adolescents' complex world while providing entertainment, and maybe even some important life lessons.
If the is a young lady in your life, she may enjoy reading one of these great science fiction or fantasy books. I've read all of the featured book/series, so this list lets you know what to expect from each one. The books are arranged in order by maturity level/age; the first book is the easiest, least mature read and the last book is the most mature on the list.
The Maid of the North: Feminist Folk Tales by Ethel Phelps
I distinctly remember my parents giving me this book for Christmas in 1991. Ok, so I remember getting the book, but my mom's inscription is how I know the year! This enjoyable book is filled with folk tales featuring heroines, not girls waiting to be rescued. Instead of the beautiful, meek, dutiful women in most fairy tales, these ladies are witty, resourceful, and capable of taking care of themselves. The book's 21 stories come from around the world. North American, European, and Asian stories, alike, are complemented by original illustrations. While you may have already read some of the book's better-known tales, like "East of the Sun and West of the Moon," many of them are more rare. This book is suitable for girls of all ages, from kindergarten on up.
The Circle of Magic Quartet by Tamora Pierce
Tamora Pierce has always been one of my favorite authors. I think I've read every book she's written! Most of her books feature a lead female character, but The Circle of Magic series centers on a band of four children. Two girls and two boys from various walks of life are brought together in a community called Winding Circle to learn how to control their (sometimes unnerving) magical powers.
Each book details the life of one of the four children - the first book is Sandry's Book and focuses on Sandry, a girl of noble birth who has an uncanny weaving and thread-working abilities. Each of the subsequent books in the quartet focuses on another member of the band of misfit children. These four outcasts must learn about trusting themselves and others, as well as how to work together in order to avert disaster.
The quartet deftly illustrates how people from different backgrounds can come together, stronger as a group than as individuals. These books are best suited to younger middle school-aged girls, though older girls may enjoy them, too.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games been extraordinarily popular in the past year for very good reasons. The first in a trilogy, The Hunger Games features Katniss Everdeen, a 16 year old girl in a post-United States country with cruel, totalitarian leaders. Katniss takes care of her mother and younger sister, even when it means volunteering to take her sister's place at the deadly, annual Hunger Games, a battle royale to the death.
The book and the movie are a bit different, but I enjoyed them both. After finishing the first book, I was so eager to keep reading that I downloaded the second book to my iPad because I couldn't wait for the book store to open in the morning! The book and movie both include some killing, but neither are over the top graphic.
Sabriel/The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix
Sabriel, the first in The Abhorsen Trilogy, is, without a doubt, one of the most inventive books I've ever read. Basically, a magical, wild kingdom exists inside a giant wall. Soldiers guard the wall, making sure that things don't get in or out. Outside the wall is the 'normal' world, devoid of magic, called The Charter, and a bit like post-War England (in my imagination). The heroine, Sabriel, was born inside the wall, but attends a boarding school outside the wall. When her father goes missing, she sets off inside the wall to figure out what happened to him.
The inventive part? Sabriel's father is basically a reverse necromancer, and Sabriel finds it necessary to follow in his footsteps. Sabriel uses a variety of different bells, each with a unique name and purpose, to accomplish tasks like binding the dead in death, instead of raising the dead, as a necromancer would.
I read this book for the first time in 7th grade, but older girls would enjoy it, too.
The Immortals Quartet by Tamora Pierce
Tamora Pierce, again! The first book of The Immortals quartet, Wild Magic, was the first of Pierce's books I ever read. These books center on Diane, a girl with, well, wild magic. Wild magic is different from the world's 'regular' magic, known as the Gift, and far more rare. The quartet tells her story as she rises from a wandering, scared orphan to a valued member of the King's court.
The quartet starts with Diane is young, and the books follow her as she ages. Therefor, the first book is the 'youngest' of the quartet - suitable for middle school girls. As Diane ages, the situations become slightly more adult, making the later books of the quartet more suitable for young adults in 8th, 9th, or even 10th grades.
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The Best Books for Girls
There are many more sci-fi and fantasy books with strong heroines, but these 5 books/series are my favorite. Each of them is well-written and has a powerful, but realistic, heroine. None of these girls were born with an easy road ahead, but each of them overcame internal and external difficulties to, eventually, triumph.
I firmly believe that fanciful tales with a bit of magic and a good role model are far better for girls than 'realistic' stories of teens who mope around while waiting for a prom date (I'm looking at you, California Diaries). I hope the young adult girl in your life enjoys these books as much as I did. If you're ever looking for something to read, why not give one of them a try, yourself? Sometimes it's fun to enjoy a good escape.