Teen SF

I’m finally reading–and two thirds of the way through, so far loving–The Adoration of Jenna Fox. Not that stories like this one haven’t been told before, but this one is told so well, in such an up-close and human way.

And I find myself boggling yet again about how, when I go to SF cons, I hear always hear adults complaining that teens don’t read SF. Because some of the best YA books being published are SF, though–as others have pointed out–they’re not often labeled or packaged as such.

Books I think of when I think of YA SF:
– Ann Halam’s Siberia and Taylor Five
– M.T. Anderson’s Feed
– Neal Shusterman’s Unwind
– Scott Westerfeld’s Peeps and Uglies books
– Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life As We Knew It
– Mary Pearson’s The Admiration of Jenna Fox

Though none of these are space-travel-based SF, and all but one of them are biosciences SF, and–and this made be the big thing for adults who want teens to read SF like they used to–all of them are highly dystopic. I don’t think they’re not saying one can’t use technology to make the world better, but they are saying: Be careful. Applied science is no better than the humans doing the applying. It makes no promises.

Maybe readers who think kids don’t read SF and miss the Heinlein “juveniles” are actually missing that optimism instead?

Only–this is where I realize I’ve only read some of Heinlein’s adult books, not his YA. Based on those adult books (in which female characters have limited personalities beyond being female; in which male characters have those female characters doting on them for no reason; in which a general aura of datedness somehow coats all the story), I’ve been getting increasingly irked with people who say teens should start with Heinlein–why would they want to, in a world where they can be reading Ann Halam and Scott Westerfeld?

But if I were going to read a Heinlein juvenile, so that I could have a better idea of what I’m talking about, and maybe even come to some appreciation of what was there then that some adult readers wish was still here now–what would you all recommend I start with?

And, as a corollary, what fabulous teen SF that I haven’t mentioned above do you think I should be reading, to get to know the best of what’s being written now?

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