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5 YA Space Operas + Free Display Poster

This week, we’re featuring YA space operas for our 5 Books post!

Last week’s 5 Books post came from a news story about “de-extincting” the woolly mammoth. That was such a fun premise that I’m continuing with another news story today!

This week’s news story comes from NASA’s and the European Space Agency’s recent discovery of a new solar system! This new solar system is about 100 light years from Earth, and it contains six planets orbiting a star.

The truly remarkable thing about this solar system is that the planets’ orbits are perfectly in-sync!

Other fun facts about the new solar system:

  • There may be more than 6 planets.
  • The 6 planets are all gas giants, like Jupiter and Neptune.
  • The 6 planets are all 2-3 times larger than Earth.
  • The planets are all closer to their star than Venus is to ours. This means they are all very hot!
  • The synchronicity of this new solar system is very rare. Many outside forces can disrupt the synchronicity.

This is such a fun and interesting story to share with your students! Since I focused on elementary books last week, today’s 5 books are all for teen readers. We’re going with YA space operas this week!

Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction. As its name implies, all or most of the story is set in outer space. Characters may live full-time on a spaceship, or they may hop from planet to planet. The stories can range from light-hearted rom-coms to full-scale galactic wars to serious commentaries on today’s world.

Popular examples of space opera films include: Star Wars, Star Trek, and Guardians of the Galaxy.

This is a free book display poster for Space Operas. It can be used for kids or teens.
(click to enlarge)

Want to use the Space Opera display poster above? It works for all grade levels, not just YA. Download the higher-quality poster here:

FIVE YA SPACE OPERAS

Get your display started with these fabulous YA space opera recommendations! All these titles received at least two positive professional reviews on Titlewave. Some also received starred reviews, as noted.

 

Space Opera
Aetherbound

Author: E. K. Johnston

Copyright: 2021

Genre: science fiction, space opera, dystopia

Setting: Harland, a space freighter

Recommended for: Grades 8-12

Themes: life on a spaceship, freedom, unwanted children, rebellion, forced to have children for repopulation purposes, familial abuse, found families

Protagonist: female, age 18, white; another major character is trans

Starred reviews: Kirkus

Pages: 256



See it on Amazon

Publisher’s Summary of Aetherbound:

Pendt Harland’s family sees her as a waste of food on their long-haul space cruiser when her genes reveal an undesirable mutation.

But if she plays her cards right she might have a chance to do much more than survive.

During a space-station layover, Pendt escapes and forms a lucky bond with the Brannick twins, the teenage heirs of the powerful family that owns the station. Against all odds, the trio hatches a long-shot scheme to take over the station and thwart the destinies they never wished for.


Space Opera
Stars, Hide Your Fires

Author: Jessica Mary Best

Copyright: 2023

Genre: science fiction, space opera, mystery

Setting: imperial palace space station on the planet Ouris

Recommended for: Grades 8-12

Themes: chronically ill parent, thieves, royalty, murder, framed for murder, royal balls, worldbuilding, LGBT+

Protagonist: female, age 18, white; secondary characters have varied skin tones; a friend is nonbinary

Starred reviews: Publishers Weekly

Pages: 301


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Publisher’s Summary of Stars, Hide Your Fires:

As an expert thief from a minor moon, Cass knows a good mark when she sees one. The emperor’s ball is her chance to steal a fortune for herself, her ailing father, and her scrappy crew of thieves and market vendors.

Her plan is simple:
1. Hitch a ride to the planet of Ouris, the dazzling heart of the empire.
2. Sneak onto the imperial palace station to attend the emperor’s ball.
3. Steal from the rich, the royal, and the insufferable.

But on the station, things quickly go awry. When the emperor is found dead, everyone in the palace is a suspect—and someone is setting Cass up to take the fall.

To clear her name, Cass must work with an unlikely ally: a gorgeous and mysterious rebel with her own reasons for being on the station. Together, they unravel a secret that could change the fate of the empire.


Space Opera
Alone Out Here

Author: Riley Redgate

Copyright: 2022

Genre: science fiction, space opera, post-apocalypse

Setting: 2072, aboard the spaceship Lazarus

Recommended for: Grades 9-12

Themes: natural disasters, super-volcanoes, world-ending events, First Daughters, sole human survivors

Protagonist: female, age 18, Chinese American, daughter of the US president; secondary characters are from all over the world

Starred reviews: Booklist and Kirkus

Pages: 400


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Publisher’s Summary of Alone Out Here:

The year is 2072. Soon a volcanic eruption will trigger catastrophic devastation, and the only way out is up.

While the world’s leaders, scientists, and engineers oversee the frantic production of a space fleet meant to save humankind, their children are brought in for a weekend of touring the Lazarus, a high-tech prototype spaceship.

But when the apocalypse arrives months ahead of schedule, First Daughter Leigh Chen and a handful of teens from the tour are the only ones to escape the planet.

This is the new world: a starship loaded with a catalog of human artifacts, a frozen menagerie of animal DNA, and fifty-three terrified survivors.

From the panic arises a coalition of leaders, spearheaded by the pilot’s enigmatic daughter, Eli, who takes the wheel in their hunt for a habitable planet.

But as isolation presses in, their uneasy peace begins to fracture. The struggle for control will mean the difference between survival and oblivion, and Leigh must decide whether to stand on the side of the mission or of her own humanity.


Space Opera
Sky Without Stars

Author: Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell

Copyright: 2019

Genre: science fiction, space opera, classic retelling

Setting: planet of Laterre, one of 12 planets humans settled after the end of the First World

Recommended for: Grades 7-12

Themes: wealth and privilege, social class, poverty, wealth inequality, Les Misérables, rebellion, worldbuilding, secret identities

Protagonist: three protagonists: a female street thief, secretly passing as a male; a male officer; a guardian of a library

Starred reviews: Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)

Pages: 592


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Publisher’s Summary of Sky Without Stars:

When the Last Days came, the planet of Laterre promised hope. A new life for a wealthy French family and their descendants.

But five hundred years later, it’s now a place where an extravagant elite class reigns supreme; where the clouds hide the stars and the poor starve in the streets; where a rebel group, long thought dead, is resurfacing.

Whispers of revolution have begun—a revolution that hinges on three unlikely heroes…

Chatine is a street-savvy thief who will do anything to escape the brutal Regime, including spy on Marcellus, the grandson of the most powerful man on the planet.

Marcellus is an officer—and the son of a renowned traitor. In training to take command of the military, Marcellus begins to doubt the government he’s vowed to serve when his father dies and leaves behind a cryptic message that only one person can read: a girl named Alouette.

Alouette is living in an underground refuge, where she guards and protects the last surviving library on the planet. But a shocking murder will bring Alouette to the surface for the first time in twelve years…and plunge Laterre into chaos.

All three have a role to play in a dangerous game of revolution—and together they will shape the future of a planet.


Space Opera
Heart of Iron

Author: Ashley Poston

Copyright: 2018

Genre: science fiction, space opera

Setting: the Iron Kingdom and the starship Dossier

Recommended for: Grades 7-12

Themes: space pirates, found families, sentient androids, rebellion, missing princesses, Anastasia Romanov, android rights

Protagonist: female, age 17, brown skin with burn scars

Starred reviews: Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Pages: 480

Notes: Based on the story of Anastasia Romanov, daughter to Russian Tsar Nicholas II


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Publisher’s Summary of Heart of Iron:

Seventeen-year-old Ana is a scoundrel by nurture and an outlaw by nature. Found as a child drifting through space with a sentient android called D09, Ana was saved by a fearsome space captain and the grizzled crew she now calls family. But D09 – one of the last remaining illegal Metals – has been glitching, and Ana will stop at nothing to find a way to fix him.

Ana’s desperate effort to save D09 leads her on a quest to steal the coordinates to a lost ship that could offer all the answers. But at the last moment, a spoiled Ironblood boy beats Ana to her prize. He has his own reasons for taking the coordinates, and he doesn’t care what he’ll sacrifice to keep them.

When everything goes wrong, she and the Ironblood end up as fugitives on the run. Now their entire kingdom is after them – and the coordinates – and not everyone wants them captured alive.

What they find in a lost corner of the universe will change all their lives – and unearth dangerous secrets. But when a darkness from Ana’s past returns, she must face an impossible choice: Does she protect a kingdom that wants her dead or save the Metal boy she loves?

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