A Novel Escape: YA Adventures Across the Universe

Eugenia Alabasinis

The capacity of YA sci-fi novels to entrench readers between pages, reaches beyond a fantastical glance into what may be possible in a few generations time. The greatest strength of these stories is their reminder that in any time or place, human nature remains largely unchanged. In this first edition of ‘A Novel Escape’ I’ll be voyaging through hyperspace to take you through a couple of my recent favourites in the genre.

‘Illuminae’ by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff is a space opera which has received glowing praise since first landing on the shelves, and for good reason. What makes this book so uniquely compelling is its narrative structure defying literary convention. The series of mission reports, military files and surveillance transcripts forge a plot that is out of this world. The main protagonist Kady is at the helm of this exhilarating novel, as two corrupt corporations are hurtling towards a planet at the brink of the galaxy, placing its inhabitants at risk. Her sharp wit and courage in the face of almost inevitable peril is what makes this such a gripping book. With the artificial intelligence system beginning to think for itself, and a disease turning crew members into zombie-like creatures, there are certainly enough twists to create wow-factor. In all, ‘Illuminae’ is a high-octane, dynamic release that raises questions about both morality and mortality in the face of impossible odds.

Another novel which excels at both worldbuilding and character development is ‘The Diabolic’ by S.J. Kincaid. Pitched as “Star Wars meets The Hunger Games”; this action-packed story explores the bounds of unwavering loyalty and questions what it really means to be human. Nemesis may not technically be human as a Diabolic, as her sole purpose to kill those who threaten her master Sidonia’s life could not allow her to be. Kincaid’s novel deftly entwines issues surrounding class divisions, belief systems and political agendas in her universe imbued with allusions to ancient hierarchies. When Nemesis decides to protect Sidonia by masquerading as her when she is summoned to the royal court, the precarious state of the Empire under a mad emperor and his malevolent family begins to unravel. What follows is an enthralling turn of events which makes this a book you won’t be able to put down.

When whole other dimensions are available for authors to construct these storylines with vividly imagined scenarios and characters, the possibilities are endless. Other titles which are free from the constraints of being earth-bound include:

  • ‘The Rosie Black Chronicles’ by Lara Morgan
  • ‘Across the Universe’ by Beth Revis
  • ‘A Thousand Pieces of You’ by Claudia Gray
  • ‘The Lunar Chronicles’ by Marissa Meyer
  • ‘Earth Girl’ by Janet Edwards
  • ‘These Broken Stars’ by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
  • ‘Salvage’ by Alexandra Duncan
  • ‘Carve the Mark’ by Veronica Roth


For more of Eugenia’s bookish musings and reviews, you can visit her blog ‘Genie in a Book’ at genie-inabook.blogspot.com