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A librarian recommends young-adult books about aliens

10/29/2013 2:05 PM

11/01/2013 4:19 PM

Halloween is the time for spooky things to come out into the open. And what’s creepier than visitors from outer space invading Earth? Here are some young-adult books that deal with aliens.

The 5th Wave

by Rick Yancey

Putnam Juvenile, 2013

For ages: 13 and up

The world has been taken over by aliens. Slowly, in wave after wave of destruction, humans are being destroyed. Cassie is dramatically separated from her family. Though always searching for her brother, she quickly realizes that being alone is safer than being with others — for no one is really who he or she seems. Countering Cassie’s story is Ben, a boy whom she crushed on in school. Ben quickly is drafted against his will into the military, where he is turned into a teen killing machine. His kill-or-be-killed mantra shows the other side of war, where young people are forced to do the dirty deeds in the absence of adults.

This story is intense, violent and full of twists. It is captivating and engaging. Though the characters in the story have very little hope, the open ending primed for a sequel gives the reader courage that there may be something more out there for these individuals.


by Malinda Lo

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2012

For ages: 13 and up

When all across the U.S., birds start dive-bombing airplanes and falling from the skies, panic spreads like wildfire. Reese and David were across the country at a debate meet and are desperate to get back home. After renting a car, witnessing the murder of a teacher, and driving through a flock of dying birds, the teens are involved in a car accident that leaves them both unconscious and hospitalized.

Once Reese awakens, that’s when the real story begins. She’s in a mysterious government facility. Doctors there admit they used experimental treatments on her, but no more details will be given. She even has to sign a waiver to never discuss the hospital or what has happened to her.

Things just get weirder from there. Reese can heal instantly. A friend is convinced she was hospitalized in Area 51. Strange dreams haunt her sleep. But once Reese meets, and crushes on, Amber, that’s when the real conspiracy comes into play.

Full of twists and turns, this is a cool take on traditional tropes. It’s a fresh look at aliens that will have readers desperate for the sequel.

Alien Invasion & Other Inconveniences

by Brian Yansky

Candlewick, 2010

For ages: 13 and up

It takes just 10 seconds for these outer-space creatures to take over Earth. Most humans are killed, but the ones with latent telepathic abilities are picked up to be slaves. Jesse is one of those survivors, and he is unsure how to react. When he begins to dream of a girl locked in a tower who needs to be rescued, he’s certain it’s reality. And he begins planning their escape.

This book is fast-paced and engaging. It packs quite a bit of story into a relatively short book. It also is full of humor and great character development. Seeing correspondence from the alien point of view is an especially nice storytelling touch.

A sequel, Homicidal Aliens & Other Disappointments, was released in September.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

by Douglas Adams

Pan Books, 1979

For ages: 16 and up

A true classic in the genre, The Hitchhiker’s Guide is a hilarious travelogue that aids travelers Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect on their adventures throughout the universe. This whimsical journey never ceases to delight and amuse, whether through hilarious situations (the president of the galaxy is too busy to be bothered), quirky characters (like Marvin the brilliant but depressed robot) or sage advice (always bring a towel!). The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a must-read for every space traveler. Even if the space traveled is just within your own neighborhood.

The Watcher in the Woods

by Florence Engel Randall

Atheneum, 1976

For ages: 10 and up

After moving to a new house, 15-year-old Jan becomes convinced that someone is watching her whenever she goes outside. At first she thinks it’s Karen, a child who disappeared from the area years ago. But as the pieces to the puzzle gradually come together, Jan realizes that in reality, an otherworldly being is trapped in the woods and needs help to get back home.

This book is dreamy and ethereal, and marks a time when a simple story was still a solid tale.

The White Mountains

by John Christopher

Collier Books, 1967

For ages: 10 and up

Huge, three-legged machines called Tripods, which are powered by unseen aliens, have descended upon and conquered Earth. On their 13th birthday, all humans are “capped” in a ceremony that allows the Tripods to control all of their thoughts and actions. (Capping humans any earlier results in their death.)

The day before his own capping, Will meets two mysterious teens who ply him with stories of a free world and a resistance movement. They set off to find the rebels — and freedom — but are dogged at every turn by Tripods attempting to find the escaped youth. Eventually they realize one of them is carrying a tracking device and that’s only the beginning.

This book is the first of four in a series.

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