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Recommended Reading: Teen Fiction - Alternate Realities

Fantasy and science fiction have long been my favorite genres. What I have learned over the years is that there is a multitude of subgenres that fall under these broader genre labels. Alternate reality happens to be one of these subgenres, generally falling under the science fiction category, which means the stories are within the realm of future scientific possibility. That's what we'll be exploring in this edition of recommended reading for teens - some of the latest and greatest alternate reality novels with teenage protagonists. Most of these books include modern and advanced technology, some of them involve mystery, but all of them transport the reader into new and exciting universes.


Thanks to Ellie Epperson, Youth Services Supervisor, for choosing these titles.

This is Not the Jess Show book cover

This Is Not the Jess Show by Anna Carey (This Is Not the Jess Show Series #1)

Most people are tired of drama by the time they reach their junior year of high school, and Jess is no exception. But somehow, drama always finds its way to her, even in 1998 before smartphones, social media, and ever-pervasive technological innovations...

Jess has to deal with overbearing parents, a chronically ill younger sister, and a budding crush on her childhood best friend - easy peasy, right? Wrong. And that's not all Jess has to contend with - a mysterious illness has struck half the town, and the rest of the town's folk seem just a tad bit off as well... Jess finds herself with more questions than answers as she tries to figure out what is going on with her town and her own life.

Some readers have called This is Not the Jess Show "the teen version of The Truman Show," - what do you think? Read it and let us know!


#Murderfunding by Gretchen McNeil (MurderTrending Series #2)

Who doesn't love a good reality TV show - reality not included, right? In #Murderfunding, the latest hit reality show is Who Wants to be a Painiac? where participants hunt for big-hit serial killers. It's all fun and games until a strange girl approaches 17-year-old Becca after the sudden death of Becca's mother. The girl tells Becca that her mother was actually the infamous serial killer, Molly Mauler. Becca has a tough time believing that. She finds herself on the hit reality TV show to find out more about her mom and soon realizes that there is more murder and violence in the show than the creators let on. Suddenly, Becca finds herself fighting, not only to find the truth but to stay alive - can she survive?


Otherworld by Jason Segel (Last Reality Series #1)

Most of us wish we could step outside of our lives and experience another world for a bit. It's the reason why so many of us immerse ourselves in books, video games, and movies. But what if you could immerse yourself in a world so real you could actually taste it? Welcome to the Otherworld, a game so real, so addictive you never want to leave. The novel's protagonist, Simon, realizes too late that if it seems too good to be true, it usually is. Reality no longer exists; this is not a game - we're all in the Otherworld now.

Cover photo of The Chosen

The Chosen by Taran Matharu (Contender Series #1)

Unlike the rest of the books on this list, The Chosen is not about a video game or a show, but it does involve something like a game - an insidious game where the players are chosen without their input. In the beginning, Cade, the novel's protagonist, finds himself transported from his familiar surroundings to a completely foreign world. Some things of this world are familiar but ancient - things he's seen in museums and learned about in classrooms but no longer exist in everyday life. And Cade is not the only one who finds himself trapped in this new world; his classmates have also joined him. As they try to adjust to their surroundings, they find themselves being forced into battle - into the very game they have been carefully chosen for. Without knowing where they are or who brought them there, these teens must learn to play by a new set of rules if they have any chance of making it back home.


Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline (Ready Player One Series #2)

Warning: Mature Language

Fans of Ready Player One will not be disappointed by this long-awaited sequel. Protagonist Wade Watts and the High Five are back and ready for the next adventure - 1980s pop culture references included. As the newly-appointed owners of Gregarious Simulation Systems, the four remaining High Five members are settling into their new responsibilities and wealth. As usual, Wade has a harder time adjusting than the others. As the novel begins, Wade discovers an alternative way to access the Oasis - a technology Halliday created but never released to the public. This technology allows users to control their avatars and navigate the Oasis using a headset completely controlled with their minds. But there are ethical complexities with the technology that drives a wedge between Samantha and the other three when released. Over time, the new technology catches on, and suddenly a new challenge appears in the Oasis - finding the Seven Shards of the Siren's Soul. But there is far more at stake with this challenge than the previous one - and the High Five may not make it through alive.


We hope you enjoyed this list. Do you have a favorite book set in an alternate reality? Let us know in the comments!

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