YA Friday: Cli-Fi

It's Getting Hot In Here

Climate change is here, folks. The heat wave this past week reached record highs in the bay area and were definitely the hottest days so far this year. Because it's their future, teens are feeling the pressing importance of halting rising atmospheric temperatures before unexpected or catastrophic results ensue. And with the release of major scientific reports making it clear that new policy is necessary to avoid unpredictable global climate change, it has become a golden age for excellent YA Climate Fiction, aka Cli-Fi or Eco-Fiction, to give perspective in to a possibly detrimental future world.

Cli-Fi doesn’t always deal directly with climate change as a subject; often, climate change is usually part of the plot in which the characters struggle to survive. A lot of dystopian and apocalyptic novels are Cli-Fi books because the breakdown of society is attributed to a catastrophic event like a pandemic, extreme disaster, or nuclear war that was precipitated on a lack of natural resources that ultimately affects the climate.

Scientists have been trying to warn us about climate change’s most devastating effects for decades. Now YA fiction writers are helping their cause, writing stories like the ones below that help readers imagine glacier melt, sea level rise, drought, and other climate-related scenarios where the characters in these stories must weather devastating changes to the natural world as access to food and land are are impacted.

Dry book cover

Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

The drought-or the Tap-Out, as everyone calls it-has been going on for a while now. Everyone's lives have become an endless list of don'ts : don't water the lawn, don't fill up your pool, don't take long showers. Until the taps run dry. Suddenly, Alyssa's quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation; neighbours and families turned against each other on the hunt for water. And when her parents don't return and her life-and the life of her brother-is threatened, Alyssa has to make impossible choices if she's going to survive.

Unnatural Disasters book cover

Unnatural Disasters by Jeff Hirsch

Lucy Weaver has her future all figured out. Make an appearance at prom, ditch graduation, and then head out on an epic road trip with her boyfriend, Luke. But when everyone's phones start to ring halfway through the dance, Lucy knows something terrible has happened--something big. Decades of climate change have left the world teetering on the brink--entire cities drowned, violent extremism on the rise, millions of refugees with nowhere to turn. Is this the night it finally slips over the edge?

The Marrow Thieves book coverThe Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

In a world where most people have lost the ability to dream, a fifteen-year-old Indigenous boy who is still able to dream struggles for survival against an army of "recruiters" who seek to steal his marrow and return dreams to the rest of the world.

The Wild Lands book cover

The Wild Lands by Paul Greci

When their family makes the fateful decision not to evacuate when a collapsing U.S. government abandons an Alaska ravaged by earthquakes and wildfires, Travis, his younger sister and their friends are forced to trek hundreds of miles south over life-threatening terrain in search of what remains of civilization.

Not a Drop to Drink book cover

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

When a cholera epidemic reduces quality of life to times not unlike the wild frontier days—filled with isolation and self-reliance—Lynn and her mother work hard days purifying water from their pond. It’s a life-giving resource that they protect day and night in shifts, shooting any bold strangers who might stumble across it, while tending to other chores like chopping wood and growing crops. When her mother is killed by coyotes, Lynn is truly alone. With the threat of dangerous men to the south and families to the east, Lynn is forced to reach out and find people she can rely on.

Salvage book cover

Salvage by Alexandra Duncan

Ava, a teenage girl living aboard the male-dominated, conservative deep space merchant ship Parastrata, faces betrayal, banishment, and death. Taking her fate into her own hands, she flees to the Gyre, a floating continent of garbage and scrap in the Pacific Ocean. How will she build a future on an Earth ravaged by climate change?

Further Reading

The Rule of One book coverShip Breaker book coverThe Drowned Cities book coverFrozen book coverLife As We Knew It book coverEmpty book cover