I’ve recently been reminded of a couple book series that I read as a youth and would highly recommend. They are all aimed at the young adult market, but I think that’s more because they use simple vocabulary and are easy reads, not because they only appeal to that age group. Point is, they aren’t Ulysses or anything, but they are enjoyable.
- The Harper Hall Trilogy
This science fiction/fantasy trilogy takes place in the Pern world, where dragons protect a pre-industrial society by searing flesh-eating thread as it falls from the sky. But most of the action here doesn’t concern itself with dragons. Rather, we follow fisherman’s daughter Menolly as she learns to be a harper (a musician/diplomat).
That doesn’t sound particularly exciting as I write it, but (A) Pern is a delightfully well-developed fictional world and (B) Menolly is so endearing you find yourself really wanting her to succeed. I devoured these as a kid and went on to read all the Pern novels.
- The Tripod Trilogy
The White Mountains, The City of Gold and Lead, The Pool of Fire, and a prequel, When the Tripods Came; written by Samuel Youd (using the pen name John Christopher).
This science fiction trilogy takes place in an Earth already enslaved by an alien power. The action follows a few friends as they join the small resistance force and try to fight against the Masters.
One thing I really liked about this series is how epic it all is. The very fate of humanity rests in the hands of a few kids and they have to figure out a way to infiltrate and outsmart these much more technically-advanced aliens.
I’d also recommend the works of William Sleator as good teen science fiction fare. He deals more with bizarre things that occur rather than exotic locales in space. My favorite book was Interstellar Pig, but I also have fond memories of The Boy Who Reversed Himself and The Duplicate. I’ve heard that The House of Stairs is also pretty bitchin’.