Top Ten Gateway Books If You’re New To Sci-Fi and/or Fantasy

Posted August 5, 2014 by Debby in Uncategorized

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This is a really cool topic, actually! There are just SO MANY directions you can go in. I was first thinking of doing an ode to fluffy books, because people write off fluffy books as being dumb and average and whatever and WELL THEY SHOULDN’T – but I quickly realized that that would be mostly a repeat of my list of top ten beach reads. If you are skeptical about fluffy books, then check out that list and GO FORTH.

But anyway, I decided rather to focus on both sci-fi and fantasy reads, because both genres can be tough to break into if you’re not already familiar with them. So let me give you some sampler platters of easy reads for both genres!


Throne of Glass Poison (2) shadow_bone_sketch_both3 The Burning Sky The Lightning Thief

1. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
If you’re in the book world, you’ll probably have heard about this series because people RAVE about it, myself included. But yeah, if you’re new to fantasy, this is a great place to start. The plot of the first book resembles The Hunger Games a little bit, there’s a romance in the series that will get you swooning, there’s great character development and depth, there’s just a hint of political intrigue, and the world building is not too complex – growing as the series progresses. Plus, the main character, a kick ass assassin, will get you hooked.

2. Poison by Bridget Zinn
This is a GREAT place to start because – hey – it’s a standalone! Too often fantasies are always series, which can be extremely daunting, because what are you getting yourself into? This one is clean and simple in one book. There’s an assassin, some potion making, a cute romance, and an even cuter pet pig. (Srs selling point.) Overall, the tone of the book is really light as well, so it’s a read that will breeze on by.

3. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Back to a trilogy, but this one has been completed, so you could binge it if you wanted to. Shadow and Bone is a great way to get you familiarized with some elemental magic and class systems in a beautifully depicted Russian-inspired setting. The book itself is beautiful design wise as well (a little eye candy can never hurt!) and though there is a bit of a love triangle, or square even, it’s well done indeed. (Well, I haven’t read the ending yet, so I can’t say anything about that.)

4. The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
I think this is a GREAT read if you’re just dipping your toe in the fantasy waters for the first time. This is another book that will get you into some elemental magic, which is always fun, and if you ship the romance (which you probably will) it will be addictive as hell. It has two distinct POVs which show great character development over the course of the first book, and a plot that will keep you turning the pages as well. (Also: dragons!)

5. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Obviously, this is a bit different from the rest, as it’s a middle grade (technically) – but I would argue it’s for all ages. I digress, if you’re JUST starting out with fantasy, this would be a great starting point because the tone is light and the series is just SO MUCH FUN. It has the added bonus of Greek mythology, and all five books in the Percy Jackson series are quick reads with tons of fun characters, magic, prophecies, and classic great adventures. After that, you can move on to The Heroes of Olympus which is more young adult and has some darker moments.

(Obviously, Harry Potter could be on this list, but that was implied, right? If you want to read fantasy but HAVEN’T read Harry Potter yet, what are you even doing here?)


Pivot Point (2) allouryesterdays Cinder Uninvited Pawn

1. Pivot Point by Kasie West
Okay, I call this sci-fi for the parallel universes, but one could argue it’s more of a paranormal story – or even just contemporary. All genres mashed up here! But I love it for the parallel universes, because that’s one sci-fi concept that just always fascinates me. This series has a great romance, great characters and relationships, and an awesome overall premise. Particularly the first book is addictive as hell, and the ending is intense and heartbreaking. If you like feeling things, read this.

2. All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
TIME TRAVEL. That is all– nah, I’m kidding. But seriously: time travel. I looove it, and All Our Yesterdays is so action packed and engaging, it will keep you up at night. There’s a bit of a romance as well – but it doesn’t take dominance of the story. Overall this is just such a well rounded adventure, with a bit of science that would do well to welcome you to the genre. And it’s a standalone, so you’re not making a big commitment!

3. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
If you’re a reader, you’ve probably heard of The Lunar Chronicles series, but in any case, this is great sci-fi, even if you’re skeptical. They’re fairy tale retellings, but it’s set in the future, with a fair bit of technology (cyborgs! androids! space travel!), in a post-apocalyptic world. There’s some politics, some romance, but any fan of fairy tales will find it easy to connect with this book. Also, Sailor Moon fans. Yup. Go forth! I cannot praise this series enough.

4. Uninvited by Sophie Jordan
If you’re interested in getting into more psychological dystopias, I would highly recommend Uninvited. The premise (that humans are born with a “kill” gene) is one that is not to hard to imagine, and the book does a good job of dissecting what it would do to a person to be diagnosed with the so-called Homicidal Tendency Syndrome. There’s a lot of fear and self-doubt involved, and the argument of nature vs. nurture comes into play as well. I really enjoyed this one!

5. Pawn by Aimée Carter
On the other hand, if you want more of an action-based dystopia, Pawn is one of the better ones to come out recently. It gets a bit violent at times, which works well to evoke the kind of fear that a dystopia should cause. There’s some political intrigue as well, but also more classic YA dystopian elements of an aptitude test and being separated from your romantic interest. With the dystopian genre so saturated with copycats, this is one I think is unique enough for me to recommend.

(It goes without saying that The Hunger Games should have been first on your list, ‘kay? ‘kay.)

That’s my list! What would you recommend to newbies to sci-fi and fantasy?

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23 responses to “Top Ten Gateway Books If You’re New To Sci-Fi and/or Fantasy

  1. Fantastic list. I have Uninvited waiting for me to read, so it’s good to know that you rate it so highly. I ordered Pivot Point too. I have yet to read Throne of Glass, but I really do need to read it soon. I need to know why everyone rates it so highly!

  2. I love Cinder and the other books in the Lunar Chronicles! I would recommend the Uglies trilogy, but I think its a dystopian. A book I know for sure is fantasy is Why I let My Hair Grow Out by Maryrose Wood.

  3. Brilliant list! ^__^ I still need to read Shadow and Bone and the Percy Jackson series, but I really want to! Cinder is one of my favourites – I love The Lunar Chronicles. 😀

  4. I love CINDER! 😀 And Rick Riordan’s books as well. I’m planning to read Shadow and Bone, and I can’t wait to get a copy! 🙂 Great list. Loved most of the books

  5. I love The Lightning Thief so much, the whole Percy Jackson series are just plainly amazing. I really want to read Throne of Glass, my friend loves that book a lot, she can’t shut up about it. When I started All Our Yesterdays I wasn’t sure if I would like it or not but it turned out to be one of the best reads of last year. The same is true for Cinder, I was so afraid to start it then I borrowed it from the library, since then the Lunar Chronicles is one of my favorite series. Unfortunately I did not like Uninvited at all, but I’m glad you did.
    Great list! :DD

  6. Marianna

    What a great list! It really helped me get some more books onto my to read list (even though it’s overflowing already). I loved Poison and I totally agree with you about the pig. The pig was the best character.Of course I love Percy Jackson, but who doesn’t?

  7. I’m happy to say that I’ve actually read most of the books on your list but I’m definitely going to have to check out the Percy Jackson series and Uninvited.

    Great list!

  8. I didn’t read Percy Jackson till I was 18, but it didn’t bother me at all! It’s like HP – “technically” they’re for younger readers, but mostly anyone can read them. I’m still holding out on Heroes of Olympus till book 5 is released so I can binge them all at once, but I’m excited to hear that they get a bit darker 😀

    I own both Uninvited and All Our Yesterdays… I really need to read them xD Poor things are just sitting on my shelf!

    • Haha, binging The Heroes of Olympus is probably a good call. I had to wait a year after this MASSIVE cliffhanger in The Mark of Athena… it was SHEER TORTURE. I can’t believe the series is ending this year though 🙁 then no more Percy 🙁 *cries*

      DEFINITELY READ ALL OUR YESTERDAYS. It was one of my absolute favorites last year – it’s SO intense. Hope you like it!

  9. I’m definitely just getting into fantasy this year but I have fallen in love with the genre since I’ev started reading it. I ADORED Shadow and Bone, now I need to get to the rest of the series. Throne of Glass and The Lightning Thief are on my TBR but I hadn’t really paid much attention to Poison and The Burning Sky. This prompted me to look them up on GR and I just added them to the TBR, they both sound AWESOME!!!

    I totally agree about Pivot Point, Cinder and Pawn. I LOVED Pawn and I can’t wait till the sequel and well Pivot Point is just my favety fave <3

    Thanks for the recs Debby 🙂

  10. Cinder and Pivot Point are two of my favorite books/series, but I admit I haven’t read any of these others! (These TTT lists always have a way of making me realize just how many books I haven’t read! :P) I did buy The Burning Sky last week, so I definitely plan on reading that back to back with The Perilous Sea. Great list, Debbie!

  11. Haha, yes, Harry Potter is something you just HAVE to read. Throne of glass, Poison and Shadow and bone are three great recommendations. I think they are perfect books for starting fantasy reader, especially Poison with it’s funny characters. I REALLY need to get to The burning sky and I might have borrowed Percy Jackson from the library *whistle*

    I’m starting Pivot Point now. *nervous* Cinder is a great sci-fi book. It was actually one of the first sci-fi’s I’ve read in a long time and it showed me that I can enjoy them. I always thought it wasn’t a genre for me, so it was also my gateway into sci-fi books 🙂 plus FAIRYTALES.


      Also yesssssss The Burning Sky is fabbbbb ♥

      I HOPE YOU LOVE PIVOT POINT. I’m a bit nervous but Kasie West will work her magic on you, I have no doubt about that.