For Level 2, I am looking at very accessible books, for those who have never really gotten into science fiction or fantasy books before. This could be for middle school / high school age kids looking to try Fantasy or Science Fiction out. This could also be for adults who just never have really read the genre or tried to but read a book that just didn’t make them interested. I think there is also some overlap with the previous group. I think Harry Potter or even the Hobbit could easily be books you look to if you are trying to give a new fantasy / science fiction reader something they’ll enjoy and hopefully get more into the genre because of.
Ender’s Game- I chose this first and already have talked about it, mainly because it is the one that hooked me. I still love this book. I’ve memorized whole portions of it from all of the readings I did of the book in my youth. Ender Wiggin was a character I absolutely loved and the supporting characters quickly followed. Even before Ender’s Shadow came out the brief glimpse into Bean’s mind as Ender was graduated from Battle School and Bean given his own Army was just a wonderful bit of writing. Everyone I’ve had read the book that wasn’t big into science fiction has really enjoyed the book, even if it didn’t make them jump full on into science fiction. I personally loved Speaker for the Dead despite it being an entirely different book.
Leviathan Wakes- Two characters, two entirely different styles and stories that come together beautifully at the end. This novel is one event after another with twists and turns and suspense all over the place. I don’t think the follow-up novels lose anything either. Highly accessible, fun science fiction.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy- Light hearted, enjoyable, often laugh out loud funny. I think for certain readers this could be a perfect entry into science fiction. The opening to the novel is an all time classic.
Old Man’s War- This has everything I look for in accessible science fiction. It has a one main protagonist and an accessible, easily understood idea that immediately gets you invested in the story. The idea of older citizens getting basically a new life if they join the military is a great entry for the reader into the wider universe of Old Man’s War. Everything that follows is exciting, military science fiction centered around our protagonist. You are invested in him and his relationships, but you also get plenty of science fiction concepts and ideas to wet your appetite for more.
Red Rising- It’s dystopian science fiction, military science fiction, and a coming of age story. It follows one main character. Its ideas are interesting, it offers moments of true sadness, of excitement and suspense. It almost has an Ender’s Game meets the Hunger Games kind of feel. One of the better very accessible science fiction novels I’ve read in years.
Watership Down- A totally different type of fantasy that maybe does not fit with all the rest here, but I had to mention it. A tale about rabbits leaving their warren as it is being destroyed and searching to find a new life is not a story I ever expected to stick with me, but Watership Down has done just that. This story is very fun, the characters are well fleshed out and the action is great. It offers the kind of world building we want from fantasy that I am sure many will be able to appreciate.
Mistborn- Offers a very detailed magic system, but through the eyes of only a couple of characters. The author really walks you through the world, painting the picture in manageable chunks for you to get what is going on. It’s fun, the characters are engaging, and the Magic System works.
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