Fantasy and sci-fi for teens
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Reminiscent of Star Wars and Ender’s Game, Skyward is a rollicking tale that will keep teens turning pages. The plot follows Spensa, a brash, aspiring fighter pilot, as she seeks to redeem her father’s legacy and save her planet from an evil alien race. But to succeed, she’ll have to overcome her own fears and the prejudice of others in her community. Sanderson’s Mormon background guides his clean storytelling, and both boys and girls can enjoy the skillful world-building, the authentic camaraderie of Spensa’s classmates, and several characters’ snarky quips. Overall, a strong beginning to a new sci-fi series. (Ages 12 & up)
A Touch of Gold
In this updated tale of King Midas, Princess Kora must embrace her hidden magical powers to save her father and secure their kingdom against foreign pirates and domestic saboteurs. Sullivan’s plot offers well-paced storytelling, likable characters, and several entertaining plot twists. Parents will appreciate the clean language and lack of explicit sexual content but should note that sensual language (related to mild kissing and touching) is used to describe several romances throughout the book. A Touch of Gold is an improvement on most modern fairy tales written for this age group, but Christian families should still proceed with caution. (Ages 13 & up)
The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm: Tales from Alagaësia
Fans of Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle series will likely devour his most recent release featuring the return of main character Eragon. The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm includes two short stories and a novella set within Paolini’s entertaining (if unoriginal) world of elves, dwarves, humans, and dragons. Although the author’s evolutionary worldview plays a role in the plot, Christian teens can appreciate the book’s imaginative storytelling, clean language, and action without graphic violence. These shorter tales don’t reach the dramatic power of Paolini’s earlier work, but they merit further installments in this Tales from Alagaësia series. (Ages 12 & up)
Snow & Rose
Emily Winfield Martin
Artist and author Emily Winfield Martin, best known for the picture book The Wonderful Things You Will Be, shifts gears in Snow & Rose to offer tweens and teens a satisfying retelling of the Grimm brothers’ fairy tale “Snow-White and Rose-Red.” When their father disappears, Rose and Snow must unlock the secrets of the enchanted forest to restore their family and friends. This whimsical tale explores natural, everyday delights (keeping a nature journal, cuddling kittens, helping their mother make gooseberry jam) all while unfolding a fantastic tale of magic and redemption. Delicate paintings throughout add to the cozy, artistic feel. (Ages 10-14)
In Growing in Godliness (Crossway, 2019) Lindsey Carlson offers teen girls a guide to maturing in their faith. Carlson doesn’t shy away from challenging words like sanctification, but she serves them up in short chapters and incorporates quotes and stories teens are likely to find inspiring. Covering topics like prayer and emotions, Carlson equips teens to seek spiritual maturity and, quoting Ephesians 4:15, to “grow up in every way … into Christ.”
Pressure Points (New Growth Press, 2019) by Shelby Abbott offers young adults straightforward, relatable advice on issues like dating, social media use, church membership, and more. Abbott spent nearly two decades ministering to college students through Cru, and in Pressure Points he encourages young adults to apply Biblical wisdom while navigating the stresses they face. Although geared for college students, this thin book could also serve as a good conversation starter with older high-school students. —E.W.
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