If you’re a fan of sci-fi, horror, and fantasy YA content, you know how difficult it can be to find quality books and movies that fit these categories while also incorporating much-needed diversity. Many of the most popular YA franchises, from Harry Potter to Twilight to The Hunger Games are lacking in gender and racial diversity, not to mention diversity of sexual orientation. Here are some of our favorite YA books and movies that will satisfy your craving for sci-fi, fantasy, and horror while also incorporating a diverse cast of characters that represent a wide variety of real demographics!
The Sword of Summer: If the name Rick Riordan sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because he’s responsible for the Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus, and Kane Chronicles series. His newest series, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, begins with The Sword of Summer. It follows Magnus Chase, a homeless orphan who learns that his father was a Norse god. This series takes place in the same universe as the Percy Jackson series. Magnus is Annabeth Chase’s (a major protagonist in the Percy Jackson series) cousin, a relationship that gets explored further as the series progresses.
The City of Bones: The Mortal Instruments series has evolved into a YA cultural phenomenon, but it all began with Cassandra Clare’s first novel, The City of Bones. It stars Clary Fray, who discovers that she’s a Shadowhunter, or a half-angel tasked with protecting the human world from demonic predators. She meets Jace, Alec Lightwood, Isabel Lightwood, and Magnus Bane, members of a world completely invisible to the regular human eye. The City of Bones has been adapted twice, into a movie starring Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower, and into a TV show starring Katherine MacNamara and Dominic Sherwood.
The Maze Runner: The Maze Runner series by James Dashner is one of the most iconic YA sci-fi series ever written. It centers around Thomas, who wakes up one day in a mysterious society called The Glade with no memory of his past. He quickly learns that The Glade is composed of amnesiac teenage boys just like him, and that their sanctuary is surrounded by a dangerous maze filled with deadly mutant creatures. In 2014, The Maze Runner was adapted into a film series starring Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Aml Ameen, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ki Hong Lee, and Will Poulter.
The Raven Boys: The Raven Boys is the first in a four-book series, The Raven Cycle, by Maggie Stiefvater. Its plot centers around Blue Sargent, the only non-psychic in a family of clairvoyants. She finds her destiny inextricably tied to Richard Gansey III, Ronan Lynch, Adam Parrish, and Noah Czerny, a group of schoolmates on a mythical quest to find the burial place of the ancient Welsh king Owen Glendower. Each member of this group of friends finds his or her life growing increasingly complicated as the search ensues. Word is that The Raven Cycle is in the production phases for a TV adaptation directed by Catherine Hardwicke, who also directed the first of the Twilight films.
A Wrinkle in Time: This adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s iconic series was directed by one of the most talented directors of our time, Ava DuVernay. It stars Storm Reid as Meg Murray, a shy teenage girl who finds herself reluctantly dragged into an interdimensional adventure to save her father, and the world, from an all-powerful force of evil. Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling, and Reese Witherspoon also star as Mrs. Which, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Whatsit, three benevolent forces who help Meg find the strength to believe in herself and save the world. A Wrinkle in Time was recently uploaded onto Netflix, so you can watch it anytime and anywhere you want!
Black Panther: If you haven’t heard of Black Panther yet, you must have been living under a rock for the past year. This is Marvel’s most innovative, creative, and groundbreaking film yet. It follows T’Challa, the new king of Wakanda, who was first introduced in Captain America: Civil War. He must find his place as a new leader and deal with the threat of Erik Killmonger, an American ex-black ops soldier who threatens to destroy the entire Wakandan way of life. The cast features an impressive array of legendary Hollywood names and relative newcomers, like Angela Basset, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Chadwick Boseman, Letitia Wright, and Daniel Kaluuya.
Spider-Man: Homecoming: The most recent reboot of the Spider-Man film series is also the most creative and diverse yet. Tom Holland plays Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, who has to find his place at high school and in the Marvel Cinematic Universe after the events of 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. Laura Harrier, Zendaya, and Jacob Batalon fill out a cast of Peter’s high school friends. Tony Revolori plays Flash Thompson, a high school bully, bringing a fresh new perspective to a role normally played only by tall, white, blonde guys. The sequel, titled Spider-Man: Far From Home, is slated to premiere in the summer of 2019.
The Darkest Minds: If you can’t get enough of science fiction or dystopian YA content, you’ll love The Darkest Minds. In the world of The Darkest Minds, 90% of the world’s children have been killed by a mysterious disease. The remaining 10% have been imbued with mysterious superpowers, like telepathy, telekinesis, and super intelligence. Amandla Stenberg, who you might recognize from her role in The Hunger Games as Rue, plays Ruby. She leads a diverse cast of teenage newcomers, including Harris Dickinson, Skylan Brooks, and Miya Cech. It’s based on a novel by Alexandra Bracken, also called The Darkest Minds, so if you really like the movie, you can also read the book!
Bryce Bentle-Tales new LGBT Horror YA novel, The Werewolf on Lowre Few Lane, will be published this October 27, 2018.