If you’re like me, summer is a time to relax outside with a sangria or a mai tai, kick your feet up, and dive into a tale of futuristic robot takeovers or post-apocalyptic forbidden love. Summer reads are a bit lighter, which is not an insult to any author’s writing ability or any reader’s astute tastes, but there’s a time and a place for epic tales and studious immersive narratives, and perhaps that’s best when Winter is Coming.
So, grab your bathing suit and your full-body virtual-reality hardware, because we’ve got a list of must-reads this summer for you!
The Next Big Franchise:
‘The Maze Runner’ by James Dashner
This page-turner will keep you guessing throughout the entire series if you want to continue — and you will. A fresh take on the trope of waking up in a strange place with no prior memories, ‘The Maze Runner’ centers around Thomas who learns that not only is he surrounded by people in his same situation, but they’re threatened day in and day out by strangely organic looking robots that patrol the maze surrounding their enclosure. But with the maze their only way out, Thomas steps up amongst the most brave of the bunch and becomes a runner, with the hopes of surviving the obstacles, and discovering who or what is subjecting them to this strange environment. And if you’re a person who needs to read the book before the movie, this is an especially perfect grab, since the first installment comes out on the big screen on Valentine’s Day of 2014.
‘Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick’ by Philip K. Dick
A bit more cerebral than the others on the list, this one was included because the 21 individual stories are divided up perfectly for gobbling up an entire science-fiction tale in one sitting, and still having plenty of pool time left over. At least three of the short stories herein have become major motion pictures. ‘Second Variety’ came out in 1995 as the film ‘Screamers,’ ‘The Minority Report’ became (you’ll never guess it) Steven Spielberg’s ‘Minority Report’ in 2002, and the famed ‘We Can Remember It for You Wholesale’ became 1990’s — and then again in 2012 — ‘Total Recall,’ both of which I thoroughly enjoyed, as much as I usually despise unnecessary Hollywood reboots. But treat yourself to this science fiction smörgåsbord. You’ll be glad you did.
‘Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch’ by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
What do you get when you mix dark fantasy master Neil Gaiman with the hysterical whimsy of Terry Pratchett? A hilariously dark tale of an angel and a demon who have spent so long as Earth ambassadors to God and the Devil respectively, they’ve actually taken a liking to us crazy humans. So when it seems the apocalypse is upon us, these unlikely heroes set about to save the silly world they’ve grown to love so much. It’s poignant, touching, and riotously funny.
‘Legend’ by Marie Lu
Have you ever watched a stage or screen adaptation of ‘Les Mis’ and unabashedly shipped Valjean and Javert in an Alternate Reality of a dystopian futuristic society? Well, you’re in luck! June (a young lady) is a highly adept soldier for the Republic Army, and she’s hunting down her brother’s killer, Day, (a young gentleman) the most notorious criminal on the streets. When June goes undercover to catch her prey, she learns a bit more about life on the streets and the government she’s fighting for. And if you love it, the sequel, ‘Prodigy’ came out, and there’s no sophomore slump there. This tale just keeps getting better and better.
‘Ready Player One’ by Ernest Cline
In an economy-ruined future, most people spend their time on the OASIS, an Internet/video-game hybrid, where children can virtually attend school, people access any media in the world, and nerds can, of course, level up their avatars in some of the hottest nightclubs offworld. All this is done from the comfort of their home, which in our hero’s case, is a shabby vertical trailer park. When the eccentric and largely anti-social founder of OASIS dies, it’s revealed that he left behind his fortune to whoever can find a series of “easter eggs” in the OASIS itself. A wild search rages on, but after a few years of nothing, interest fizzles away for all but an elite group of egg hunters who have dedicated their lives to learning trivia on the founder, in the hopes of finding the keys in some pop culture reference. The cover review touting it as “Matrix meets Willy Wonka” doesn’t come close to describing what a joyride this novel is. If you’re a child of the ’80s and ’90s and appreciate nerd culture, you’re bound to love this book!
I couldn’t possibly list all the amazing science-fiction must-haves for your summer reading list, and I’m always on the lookout for great finds. If there’s anything you believe was left off this list, please tell us about it in the comments below!