Great Reads: Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Now I’m not very well versed in Science Fiction and Fantasy, unless you count The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter, both of which I am experts in! So particularly this year, I tried to branch out of my comfort zone and read up on those genres that I’m lacking. Here are my favourites so far!

These books are in no particular order.

1

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

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Audrey Niffenegger’s dazzling debut is the story of Clare, a beautiful, strong-minded art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry thirty-one. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: his genetic clock randomly resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity from his life, past and future. – from Goodreads.com

As debut novels go, Audrey Niffenegger pretty much hit the big time with this one. A stunningly unique account of time travel, packed in with a heavy load of romance and spanning across Clare’s lifetime, including her ups and her downs. This story is truly unforgettable and one of a kind.

2

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

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If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be at home in New Jersey with her sweet British boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing him in the library stacks. She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English. But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead. – from Goodreads.com

The therapeutic boarding school is reminiscent of many young adult novels, but this one goes a step further, introducing Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar into it’s reading list. The students are encouraged to write a journal and from there the (literal) magic unfolds.

3

Fly on the Wall by E. Lockhart

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At the Manhattan School for Art and Music, where everyone is “different” and everyone is “special,” Gretchen Yee feels ordinary. She’s the kind of girl who sits alone at lunch, drawing pictures of Spider-Man, so she won’t have to talk to anyone; who has a crush on Titus but won’t do anything about it; who has no one to hang out with when her best (and only real) friend Katya is busy. One day, Gretchen wishes that she could be a fly on the wall in the boys’ locker room–just to learn more about guys. What are they really like? What do they really talk about? Are they really cretins most of the time? Fly on the Wall is the story of how that wish comes true. – from Goodreads.com

E Lockhart’s novels are always different, but when I read the synopsis of this book I thought: “surely not. Surely she doesn’t actually turn into a fly”. But, as always, E Lockhart manages to pull it off with style. I suppose in my younger years, I had probably wished to be a fly on the wall, although in some ways I’m glad I didn’t get my wish. I can’t imagine the feeling is very pleasant.

4

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

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Andrew “Ender” Wiggin thinks he is playing computer simulated war games; he is, in fact, engaged in something far more desperate. The result of genetic experimentation, Ender may be the military genius Earth desperately needs in a war against an alien enemy seeking to destroy all human life. The only way to find out is to throw Ender into ever harsher training, to chip away and find the diamond inside, or destroy him utterly. Ender Wiggin is six years old when it begins. He will grow up fast. – from Goodreads.com

I was once given a copy of Ender’s Game as a present because it was “the corner stone of Science Fiction” and I can’t argue with that. It’s wonderfully simple and yet so rich in it’s world building that it’s hard to believe the whole book starts from a six year old’s perspective. I would definitely recommend it to people wanting to get more acquainted with the genre.

5

Never Let Me Go by Kauzo Ishiguro

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As children Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life. And for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special–and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together. – from Goodreads.com

This was one of the first Science Fiction books I read, and of course being the heathen that I am, I saw the film first. I spent a lot of time being VERY confused as to what was happening. Was Ruth searching for her mother? If they were made from prostitutes and tramps I just figured Hailsham was some kind of foster boarding school. Anyway, once I realised OH THEY’RE CLONES, I got much more understanding of the story, and really, really would recommend it.

So these are my top five recommendations on the Science Fiction and Fantasy genre. Do you think I’ve missed anything out? Or have I included your absolute favourite? Are there any you can recommend to me? Let me know in the comments.

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