Friday, January 13, 2012

Books for Middle School Steampunk Fans

STEAMPUNK: sub-genre of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, and speculative fiction that involves a setting where steam power is still widely used—usually Victorian era Britain or "Wild West"-era United States. Incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy and often features anachronistic technology or futuristic innovations as Victorians might have envisioned them. (excerpted from Wikipedia).

Ever since I gave my "What's Your Genre?" quiz, the number of students interested in steampunk has increased greatly. Even though most of my students still don't really "get" steampunk, a few are absolutely ravenous for it! Since I only had a handful of steampunk novels in my library, I started researching middle school-appropriate steampunk novels. I have only read four of the books on this list myself, so I rely on review journals for grade level recommendations. This is a list of the titles I currently have or are on-order.

Is steampunk popular in your middle school? I would love to hear what books you have ordered or that your students love! (scroll down for comments)


Leviathan (Scott Westerfeld)
In an alternate 1914 Europe, fifteen-year-old Austrian Prince Alek, on the run from the Clanker Powers who are attempting to take over the globe using mechanical machinery, forms an uneasy alliance with Deryn who, disguised as a boy to join the British Air Service, is learning to fly genetically-engineered beasts.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Brian Selznick)
When twelve-year-old Hugo, an orphan living and repairing clocks within the walls of a Paris train station in 1931, meets a mysterious toyseller and his goddaughter, his undercover life and his biggest secret are jeopardized.

Airborn (Kenneth Oppel)
Matt, a young cabin boy aboard an airship, and Kate, a wealthy young girl traveling with her chaperone, team up to search for the existence of mysterious winged creatures reportedly living hundreds of feet above the Earth's surface.

The Golden Compass (Philip Pullman)
Accompanied by her daemon, Lyra Belacqua sets out to prevent her best friend and other kidnapped children from becoming the subject of gruesome experiments in the Far North.

Clockwork, or All Wound Up (Philip Pullman)
Long ago in Germany, a storyteller's story and an apprentice clockwork-maker's nightmare meet in a menacing, lifelike figure created by the strange Dr. Kalmenius.

Clockwork Angel (Cassandra Clare)
Sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray travels to England in search of her brother only to be abducted by the Dark Sisters, residents of London's Downworld, home to the city's supernatural folk, and she becomes the object of much attention--both good and bad--when it is discovered she has the power to transform at will into another person.

Airman (Eoin Colfer)
In the 1890s on an island off the Irish coast, Conor Broekhart is falsely imprisoned and passes the solitary months by scratching designs of flying machines into the walls, including one for a glider with which he dreams of escape.

Fever Crumb (Philip Reeve)
Foundling Fever Crumb has been raised as an engineer although females in the future London, England, are not believed capable of rational thought, but at age fourteen she leaves her sheltered world and begins to learn startling truths about her past while facing danger in the present.

Larklight (Philip Reeve)
Myrtle and Art, living with their father in an old Victorian house that floats in Earth's orbit, are called upon to save themselves and the universe from elephant-sized white spiders and join forces with the notorious space pirate Jack Havock.

The Death Collector (Justin Richards)
Three teens and a curator of unclassified artifacts at the British Museum match wits with a madman determined to use unorthodox methods to reanimate the dead, both humans and dinosaurs.

The Hunchback Assignments (Arthur Slade)
In Victorian London, fourteen-year-old Modo, a shape-changing hunchback, becomes a secret agent for the Permanent Association, which strives to protect the world from the evil machinations of the Clockwork Guild.

The Time Machine (H.G. Wells)
The Time Traveller journeys 800,000 years into the future and discovers two bizarre races at war on the Earth, the ethereal Eloi and the subterranean Morlocks.

Worldshaker (Richard Harland)
Sixteen-year-old Col Porpentine is being groomed as the next Commander of Worldshaker, a juggernaut where elite families live on the upper decks while the Filthies toil below, but when he meets Riff, a Filthy girl on the run, he discovers how ignorant he is of his home and its residents.

The Iron Thorn (Caitlin Kittredge)
In an alternate 1950s, mechanically gifted fifteen-year-old Aoife Grayson, whose family has a history of going mad at sixteen, must leave the totalitarian city of Lovecraft and venture into the world of magic to solve the mystery of her brother's disappearance and the mysteries surrounding her father and the Land of Thorn.

Candle Man: Society of Unrelenting Vigilance (Glenn Dakin)
Thirteen-year-old Theo, who has lived in seclusion his entire life, discovers he is the descendant of the Candle Man, a Victorian vigilante with the ability to melt criminals with a single touch.

The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray (Chris Wooding)
As Thaniel, a wych-hunter, and Cathaline, his friend and mentor, try to destroy the terrible creatures that infest the alleys of London's Old Quarter, their lives become entwined with that of Alaizabel Cray, a woman who may be either mad or possessed.

Foundling (D.M. Cornish)
Rossamund Bookchild's sheltered life takes a surprising turn when he is recruited to help the Emperor, sending Rossamund on a journey across the Half-Continent that teaches him not everyone can be trusted.

Magic Under Glass (Jaclyn Dolamore)
A wealthy sorcerer's invitation to sing with his automaton leads seventeen-year-old Nimira, whose family's disgrace brought her from a palace to poverty, into political intrigue, enchantments, and a friendship with a fairy prince who needs her help.

Fullmetal Alchemist Hiromu Arakawa
Graphic novel. Edward and Alphonse Elric, physically altered by their dabblings in alchemy, become agents of the government whose demands put them in touch with a world of evil alchemists, all in search of the Philosopher's Stone.

Oceanology: The True Account of the Voyage of the Nautilus by Zoticus de Lesseps, 1863
Purports to be the journal of Zoticus de Lesseps, written on an ill-fated 1863 voyage accompanying Captain Nemo to explore the mysteries of the deep sea.

The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the Imaginary World of Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature (Jeff VanderMeer)
Traces the history of steampunk from Jules Verne and H.G. Wells to current film and arts. Includes illustrations, photographs, interviews with two leading figures, and instructions for a do-it-yourself project.

Steampunk Poe
A collection of some of the most popular works written by Edgar Allan Poe, combined with illustrations of steampunk-inspired art. One reviewer from SLJ rates this as grades 10-12. I just ordered it and will preview it before adding to my shelves.


  1. Thanks for sharing this list and glad to have found your blog!

  2. Really enjoyed reading your thoughts on Steampunk. My daughter just had her Steampunk novel publish, so I thought I would recommend it. But I would recommend it for older YA :)

  3. My fellow author friend found your site, recommended it, and I'm glad to see your list! I'm writing an historical fiction steampunk graphic novel titled "Hecock" about a relative who was a hero at Niagara Falls in 1912. The blog on which it will be released, and at present has rough drafts of the pages, is

  4. I love your list! Thanks so much!
    I did notice you have the description for Incarceron under Leviathan. :)

  5. Thank you, Anonymous, for letting me know! I just fixed it.

  6. The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson is a wonderful book that I strongly recommend. It is his steampunk book. You might also want to get them The Reckoner series by Brandon Sanderson. It is a super heroe ish book that got my daughter to fall in love with reading.


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