There’s so much amazing literature being written right now from so many rich, wonderful perspectives, and I’m going to talk about a few of them right here. Five, to be exact, but if Tor.com had a regular feature called “Fifty Books About” or “Five Hundred Books About,” then trust me, we’d have no trouble coming up with a list.
For now, here are a few amazing titles everyone should be reading and talking about—and hopefully, we’ll get more great recommendations in the comments.
Diverse Energies edited by Tobias Buckell and Joe Monti
I encounter a lot of dystopian fiction that features preternaturally attractive white teens who gradually become aware of the evil underbelly of their seemingly perfect world. I get frustrated with this narrative, because there was a time in my life—with no health care and barely enough food to eat—when I would have done anything to live in one of these beautiful, not-that-awful worlds. So reading this anthology was a breath of fresh air. Fresh, gritty, despairing air. The dystopia has arrived, folks, and it’s grim as hell. Highly recommended.
Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
Summer of the Mariposas is a gorgeous retelling of The Odyssey from a Mexican-American perspective. I loved the relationships between the sisters, the food descriptions, the creepy monsters rooted in Mexican and Aztec mythology. McCall writes beautifully, and she brings to life a between-worlds culture that is experienced so often, but represented in literature too rarely. I loved this book, and I can’t wait to read it again with my nieces when they’re old enough.
Warchild by Karin Lowachee
I read Warchild when I was an aspiring novelist. It filled me with admiration, with determination to write better, and maybe a little despair that I might never be as good as I wanted to be. This story of a human boy raised by aliens to be a warrior and spy is emotionally charged and filled with characters who spring off the page. The first forty pages are in second person, which I assure you is not gimmicky but, rather, is used to powerful effect. If you end up loving Warchild as much as I did, it’s followed by two sequels.
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
Ninefox Gambit, by debut novelist Yoon Ha Lee, is the most Starship Troopers-y book since Starship Troopers. We met when he and I were both guests of honor at Sirens Con. He read from this, which was forthcoming at the time, and I was hooked. It’s filled with wry humor, great ideas, and big action. And yet the prose is careful and dense, making you want to slow down and savor every sentence. Buy it, read it, and thank me later.
Infomocracy by Malka Older
Sometimes, I want a book that’s fun. Sometimes, I want one that’s whip smart. Infomocracy, by Malka Older, is both. Last year, when I finished Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, I had a big-idea-shaped hole in my heart that was not filled until I discovered this book. But comparing the two is a slight disservice to Infomocracy, which is a lot more cinematically paced, and is particularly pertinent during the current U.S. election cycle. I couldn’t put it down, and you won’t be able to, either.
Rae Carson is the author of the New York Times–bestselling and National Book Award longlist title Walk on Earth a Stranger and the acclaimed Girl of Fire and Thorns series. Her books tend to contain adventure, magic, and smart girls who make (mostly) smart choices. Originally from California, Rae Carson now lives in Arizona with her husband.