Middle grade science fiction or sci-fi as it’s called is an electric genre that often combines mystery, action and adventure. As someone who tends to enjoy books featuring strong female protagonists, this is one genre that sure features a lot of boys! Still, it was fun to see that more and more girls are gracing the covers of middle grade sc-fi stories.
For this list, I’ve stuck to the classic definition of sci-fi, especially in terms of “relating to science” and being “futuristic.” If you like books with plenty of action and adventure on the background of solid science, you’ll love these middle grade science fiction books.
Best Middle Grade Science Fiction Books
Here are the best middle grade science fiction books:
Published: January 15, 2019
Rick Riordan Presents Yoon Ha Lee’s space opera about thirteen-year-old Min, who comes from a long line of fox spirits. But you’d never know it by looking at her. To keep the family safe, Min’s mother insists that none of them use any fox-magic, such as Charm or shape-shifting. They must appear human at all times.Min feels hemmed in by the household rules and resents the endless chores, the cousins who crowd her, and the aunties who judge her. She would like nothing more than to escape Jinju, her neglected, dust-ridden, and impoverished planet. She’s counting the days until she can follow her older brother, Jun, into the Space Forces and see more of the Thousand Worlds.
When word arrives that Jun is suspected of leaving his post to go in search of the Dragon Pearl, Min knows that something is wrong. Jun would never desert his battle cruiser, even for a mystical object rumored to have tremendous power. She decides to run away to find him and clear his name.Min’s quest will have her meeting gamblers, pirates, and vengeful ghosts. It will involve deception, lies, and sabotage. She will be forced to use more fox-magic than ever before, and to rely on all of her cleverness and bravery. The outcome may not be what she had hoped, but it has the potential to exceed her wildest dreams.This sci-fi adventure with the underpinnings of Korean mythology will transport you to a world far beyond your imagination.
Sal and Gabi Break the Universe
Published: March 5, 2019
How did a raw chicken get inside Yasmany’s locker?
When Sal Vidon meets Gabi Real for the first time, it isn’t under the best of circumstances. Sal is in the principal’s office for the third time in three days, and it’s still the first week of school. Gabi, student council president and editor of the school paper, is there to support her friend Yasmany, who just picked a fight with Sal. She is determined to prove that somehow, Sal planted a raw chicken in Yasmany’s locker, even though nobody saw him do it and the bloody poultry has since mysteriously disappeared.Sal prides himself on being an excellent magician, but for this sleight of hand, he relied on a talent no one would guess . . . except maybe Gabi, whose sharp eyes never miss a trick. When Gabi learns that he’s capable of conjuring things much bigger than a chicken–including his dead mother–and she takes it all in stride, Sal knows that she is someone he can work with. There’s only one slight problem: their manipulation of time and space could put the entire universe at risk.
The Fourteenth Goldfish
Published: August 26, 2014
Galileo. Newton. Salk. Oppenheimer.
Science can change the world . . . but can it go too far?
Eleven-year-old Ellie has never liked change. She misses fifth grade. She misses her old best friend. She even misses her dearly departed goldfish. Then one day a strange boy shows up. He’s bossy. He’s cranky. And weirdly enough . . . he looks a lot like Ellie’s grandfather, a scientist who’s always been slightly obsessed with immortality. Could this pimply boy really be Grandpa Melvin? Has he finally found the secret to eternal youth?
With a lighthearted touch and plenty of humor, Jennifer Holm celebrates the wonder of science and explores fascinating questions about life and death, family and friendship, immortality . . . and possibility.
When You Reach Me
Published: July 14, 2009
Shortly after a fall-out with her best friend, sixth grader Miranda starts receiving mysterious notes, and she doesn’t know what to do. The notes tell her that she must write a letter—a true story, and that she can’t share her mission with anyone.
It would be easy to ignore the strange messages, except that whoever is leaving them has an uncanny ability to predict the future. If that is the case, then Miranda has a big problem—because the notes tell her that someone is going to die, and she might be too late to stop it.
Last Gate of the Emperor
From Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel David Makonnen comes an Afrofuturist adventure about a mythical Ethiopian empire. Sci-fi and fantasy combine in this epic journey to the stars.
Yared Heywat lives an isolated life in Addis Prime — a hardscrabble city with rundown tech, lots of rules, and not much to do. His worrywart Uncle Moti and bionic lioness Besa are his only family… and his only friends.
Often in trouble for his thrill-seeking antics and smart mouth, those same qualities make Yared a star player of the underground augmented reality game, The Hunt for Kaleb’s Obelisk. But when a change in the game rules prompts Yared to log in with his real name, it triggers an attack that rocks the city. In the chaos, Uncle Moti disappears.
Suddenly, all the stories Yared’s uncle told him as a young boy are coming to life, of kingdoms in the sky and city-razing monsters. And somehow Yared is at the center of them.
Together with Besa and the Ibis — a game rival turned reluctant ally — Yared must search for his uncle… and answers to his place in a forgotten, galaxy-spanning war.
A Problematic Paradox
Published: January 23, 2018
Nikola Kross has given up on living in harmony with classmates and exasperated teachers: she prefers dabbling in experimental chemistry to fitting in. But when her life is axially inverted by a gang of extraterrestrials who kidnap her dad and attempt to recruit her into their service, she discovers he’s been keeping a world of secrets from her–including the school for geniuses where she’s sent for refuge, a place where classes like Practical Quantum Mechanics are the norm and where students use wormholes to commute to class. For Nikola, the hard part isn’t school, it’s making friends, especially when the student body isn’t (entirely) human. But the most puzzling paradox of all is Nikola herself, who has certain abilities that no one understands–abilities that put her whole school in greater danger than she could have imagined.
At the Bottom of the World: Jack and the Geniuses #1
Published: April 4, 2017
Jack and his foster siblings, Ava and Matt, are not your typical kids—they’re geniuses. Well, Ava and Matt are. Ava speaks multiple languages and builds robots for fun, and Matt is an expert astronomer and math whiz. As for Jack, it’s hard to stand out when surrounded by geniuses all the time.
Things get more complicated when the trio starts working for Dr. Hank Witherspoon, one of the world’s leading scientists. They travel to Antarctica with Hank for a prestigious award ceremony—but they quickly find that not all is as it seems: A scientist has gone missing. It’s up to Jack, Ava, and Matt to find her . . . and discover who’s behind it all.
In the Jack and the Geniuses series, readers join Jack, Ava and Matt on adventures around the world to tackle some of science’s biggest challenges, including new ways to create clean drinking water, to generate clean and renewable energy, and to extend information access to the entire planet. Each book in the series includes cool facts about the real-life science found in the story and a fun DIY project.
Last Day on Mars
Published: February 14, 2017
It is Earth year 2213—but, of course, there is no Earth anymore. Not since it was burned to a cinder by the sun, which has mysteriously begun the process of going supernova. The human race has fled to Mars, but this was only a temporary solution while we have prepared for a second trip: a one-hundred-fifty-year journey to a distant star, our best guess at where we might find a new home.
Liam Saunders-Chang is one of the last humans left on Mars. The son of two scientists who have been racing against time to create technology vital to humanity’s survival, Liam, along with his friend Phoebe, will be on the last starliner to depart before Mars, like Earth before it, is destroyed.
Or so he thinks. Because before this day is over, Liam and Phoebe will make a series of profound discoveries about the nature of time and space and find out that the human race is just one of many in our universe locked in a dangerous struggle for survival.
The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day
Published: April 9, 2019
It’s the morning of Maisie’s tenth birthday, and she can’t wait to open her presents. Maisie is not a typical kid. What she wants most for her birthday are the things she needs to build her own nuclear reactor. But she wakes to an empty house, and outside the front door is nothing but an unsettling, all-consuming blackness–a shifted reality. Even for super-smart Maisie, these puzzling circumstances seem out of her control . . . or are they?
The Flinkwater Factor
Published: September 1, 2015
Welcome to Flinkwater, Iowa, home of the largest manufacturer of Articulated Computerized Peripheral Devices in the world. If you own a robot, it probably came from Flinkwater.
Meet Ginger Crump, the plucky, precocious (and somewhat sarcastic) genius who finds herself in the middle of a national emergency when Flinkwater’s computers start turning people into vegetables. Mental vegetables, that is. In Ginger’s words, they’ve been “bonked.”
When Ginger’s father is bonked, she recruits her self-declared future husband, boy genius Billy George, to help her find the source of the bonkings. Soon they’re up against a talking dog, a sasquatch, and a zombie, while Flinkwater is invaded by an army of black SUVs led by the witless-but-dangerous Agent Ffelps from Homeland Security. Can Ginger get to the bottom of the bonkings, or will computer chaos reign forever?
The Wild Robot
Published: April 5, 2016
Can a robot survive in the wilderness?
When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is all alone on a remote, wild island. She has no idea how she got there or what her purpose is–but she knows she needs to survive. After battling a violent storm and escaping a vicious bear attack, she realizes that her only hope for survival is to adapt to her surroundings and learn from the island’s unwelcoming animal inhabitants.
As Roz slowly befriends the animals, the island starts to feel like home–until, one day, the robot’s mysterious past comes back to haunt her.
The Lion of Mars
Published: January 5, 2021
Bell has spent his whole life – all eleven years of it – on Mars. But he’s still just a regular kid – he loves cats, any kind of cake, and is curious about the secrets the adults in the US colony are keeping. Like, why don’t have contact with anyone on the other Mars colonies? Why are they so isolated? When a virus breaks out and the grown-ups all fall ill, Bell and the other children are the only ones who can help. It’s up to Bell – a regular kid in a very different world – to uncover the truth and save his family … and possibly unite an entire planet.
Seventh Grade vs. the Galaxy
Published: March 5, 2019
PSS 118 is just your typical school—except that it’s a rickety old spaceship orbiting Ganymede, a moon of Jupiter. Jack’s dad used to be the science teacher, until he got fired for tinkering with the ship. Now Jack just wants to get through the last day of school without anything else going wrong.
But when the school is mysteriously attacked, Jack discovers that his dad has built humanity’s first light-speed engine—and given Jack control of it. To save the ship, Jack catapults it hundreds of light-years away . . . and right into the clutches of the first aliens humans have ever seen. School hasn’t just gotten out: it’s gone clear across the galaxy.
And now it’s up to Jack and his friends to get everyone home.
The Strangers: The Greystone Secrets #1
Published: April 2, 2019
The Greystone kids thought they knew. Chess has always been the protector over his younger siblings, Emma loves math, and Finn does what Finn does best—acting silly and being adored. They’ve been a happy family, just the three of them and their mom.
But everything changes when reports of three kidnapped children reach the Greystone kids, and they’re shocked by the startling similarities between themselves and these complete strangers. The other kids share their same first and middle names. They’re the same ages. They even have identical birthdays. Who, exactly, are these strangers?
Before Chess, Emma, and Finn can question their mom about it, she takes off on a sudden work trip and leaves them in the care of Ms. Morales and her daughter, Natalie. But puzzling clues left behind lead to complex codes, hidden rooms, and a dangerous secret that will turn their world upside down.
Published: February 3, 2015
Eli Frieden has never left Serenity, New Mexico…why would he ever want to? Then one day, he bikes to the edge of the city limits and something so crazy and unexpected happens, it changes everything.
Eli convinces his friends to help him investigate further, and soon it becomes clear that nothing is as it seems in Serenity. The clues mount to reveal a shocking discovery, connecting their ideal crime-free community to some of the greatest criminal masterminds ever known.
The kids realize they can trust no one—least of all their own parents.
Published: June 29, 2021
Vega’s summer vacation is not going well.
When her parents decide it’s time to pack up and leave her hometown of Portland, Oregon, behind for boring Seattle, Washington, Vega is more than upset—she’s downright miserable. Forced to leave her one and only best friend, Halley, behind, Vega is convinced she’ll never make another friend again.
To help her settle into her new life in Seattle, her parents send Vega off to summer camp to make new friends. Except Vega is determined to get her old life back. But when her cellphone unexpectedly calls it quits and things at camp start getting stranger and stranger, Vega has no choice but to team up with her bunkmates to figure out what’s going on!
The Last Last Day of Summer
Published: April 2, 2019
Otto and Sheed are the local sleuths in their zany Virginia town, masters of unraveling mischief using their unmatched powers of deduction. And as the summer winds down and the first day of school looms, the boys are craving just a little bit more time for fun, even as they bicker over what kind of fun they want to have. That is, until a mysterious man appears with a camera that literally freezes time. Now, with the help of some very strange people and even stranger creatures, Otto and Sheed will have to put aside their differences to save their town—and each other—before time stops for good.
Cleo Porter and the Body Electric
Published: October 6, 2020
A woman is dying. Cleo Porter has her medicine. And no way to deliver it.
Like everyone else, twelve-year-old Cleo and her parents are sealed in an apartment without windows or doors. They never leave. They never get visitors. Their food is dropped off by drones. So they’re safe. Safe from the disease that nearly wiped humans from the earth. Safe from everything. The trade-off?
They’re alone. Thus, when they receive a package clearly meant for someone else–a package containing a substance critical for a stranger’s survival–Cleo is stuck. As a surgeon-in-training, she knows the clock is ticking. But people don’t leave their units.
Not ever. Until now.
Published: June 11, 2019
Maximillian Fly wants no trouble. Yet because he stands at six feet two, with beautiful indigo wings, long antennae, and more arms than you or me, many are frightened of him.
He is a gentle creature who looks like a giant cockroach. This extraordinary human wants to prove his goodness, so he opens his door to two SilverSeed children in search of a place to hide.
Instantly, Maximillian’s quiet, solitary life changes. There are dangerous powers after them and they have eyes everywhere. But in this gray city of Hope trapped under the Orb, is escape even possible?
Maximillian Fly is a masterful story brimming with suspense, plot twists, and phenomenal world building. This compelling novel delves into family dynamics and themes of prejudice, making the case for tolerance, empathy, and understanding.
Published: February 23, 2016
Darkus Cuttle’s dad mysteriously goes missing from his job as Director of Science at the Natural History Museum. Vanished without a trace! From a locked room! So Darkus moves in with his eccentric Uncle Max and next door to Humphrey and Pickering, two lunatic cousins with an enormous beetle infestation. Darkus soon discovers that the beetles are anything but ordinary. They’re an amazing, intelligent, super species and they’re in danger of being exterminated. It’s up to Darkus and his friends to save the beetles. But they’re up against an even more terrifying villain — mad scientist of fashion, haute couture villainess Lucretia Cutter. Lucretia has an alarming interest in insects and dastardly plans for the bugs. She won’t let anyone or anything stop her, including Darkus’s dad, who she has locked up in her dungeons! The beetles and kids join forces to rescue Mr. Cuttle and thwart Lucretia.
The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole
Published: September 12, 2017
When eleven-year-old Stella Rodriguez shows up at NASA to request that her recording be included in Carl Sagan’s Golden Record, something unexpected happens: A black hole follows her home, and sets out to live in her house as a pet. The black hole swallows everything he touches, which is challenging to say the least—but also turns out to be a convenient way to get rid of those items that Stella doesn’t want around. Soon the ugly sweaters her aunt has made for her all disappear within the black hole, as does the smelly class hamster she’s taking care of, and most important, all the reminders of her dead father that are just too painful to have around.
It’s not until Stella, her younger brother, Cosmo, the family puppy, and even the bathroom tub all get swallowed up by the black hole that Stella comes to realize she has been letting her own grief consume her. And that’s not the only thing she realizes as she attempts to get back home. This is an astonishingly original and funny adventure with a great big heart.
Published: July 27, 2021
Jake Wind is trying to stay under the radar. Whose radar? Anyone who might be too interested in the fact that he has shapeshifting abilities he can’t control. Or that his parents found him as a ball of goo when he was a baby.
Keeping his powers in check is crucial, though, if he wants to live a normal life and go to middle school instead of being homeschooled (and if he wants to avoid being kidnapped and experimented on, of course).
Things feel like they’re going his way when he survives his first day of school without transforming and makes a new friend. But when mysterious sinkholes start popping up around town—sinkholes filled with the same extraterrestrial substance as Jake—and his neighbors, classmates, and even his family start acting a little, well, weird, Jake will have to learn to use his powers in order to save his town.
Published: August 3, 2021
When scientists discover a rare and mysterious mineral buried in the Earth’s crust, they have no idea that it just happens to be the most valuable substance in the entire universe. It’s not long before aliens show up to our little corner of the galaxy offering a promise of protection, some fabulous new technology, and entry into their intergalactic coalition—all in exchange for this precious resource. A material so precious that other alien forces are willing to start a war over it. A war that soon makes its way to Earth.
Leo knows this all too well. His mother was killed in one such attack, and soon after, his father, a Coalition scientist, decides it would be best for them to leave Earth behind. It’s on this expedition that their ship is attacked, Leo’s father is kidnapped, and Leo and his brother are stranded in the middle of space. The only chance they have is for Leo to stow away on a strange ship of mercenary space pirates bound for who knows where and beg the captain to help him find his father.
But the road is dangerous, and pirates, of course, only look out for themselves. Leo must decide who to trust as he tries to stay alive and save his family, even as he comes to understand that there aren’t many people—human or alien—that he can count on in this brave new universe.
Ace Takes Flight
Published: November 2, 2021
Eleven-year-old Ace Wells’s dream has finally come true: he is a new cadet in the B.E.S.T. (Biological Enhancement Systems Technology) Program. Until now, he’s been living in the shadow of his superstar brother, Finn—but not for long.
This is new Ace! He knows he can make his mark on the world with SuperSoar wings, but on day one, nothing goes as planned. The antagonistic elevator AI Otis, wants to eat his belongings, the physical feats set by his tough-nut coach are impossible, and his celebrity roommates are far from welcoming.
It becomes crystal clear that Ace is not prepared to fly—in any sense of the word.
As tensions build, Ace has a sinking suspicion that there’s something more going on at B.E.S.T. than meets the eye. Will he ever make it to graduation and get the aug of his dreams? Join Ace and find out as he tests his strength and grit in this page-turning middle grade adventure!
Finn and the Intergalactic Lunchbox
Published: April 28, 2020
Finn Foley has a lunchbox, and when he opens it, weird things come out . . . like a seven-foot-tall robot and a strange, blinking device that glues itself to his chest. The lunchbox also opens wormholes–shortcuts through space–that take Finn to the farthest corners of the galaxy. Sounds awesome, right?
Not so much. Rocketing through the cosmos attracts the attention of the Plague, a race of gigantic bugs. The thing on Finn’s chest belongs to them–it’s the most dangerous weapon in the universe–and they want it back.
To fight the Plague, Finn will need the lunchbox, as well as an unlikely squad of assistants: Lincoln, the bully; Julep, the coolest girl in school; Kate, Finn’s unicorn-obsessed little sister; and Highbeam, a robot spy from another galaxy. If they can learn to work together, they just might have a chance, but the bugs are coming, and they’ll stop at nothing to get their weapon–even if it means destroying the world.
Last Gamer Standing
Published: September 21, 2021
In twelve-year-old Reyna Cheng’s world, gaming is everything. Professional esports teams are the mainstream celebrities. Kids begin training from a young age, aspiring for the big leagues.
Reyna is the up-and-coming junior amateur Dayhold gamer, competing in a VR battle royale against AI monsters and human players. But despite Reyna’s rising popularity and skills, no one knows who she is. Gaming is still a boys’ club and to protect herself against trolls and their harassment, she games the mysterious TheRuiNar.
When Reyna qualifies for the Dayhold Junior Tournament, she knows she’s got what it takes to win the championship title and the $10,000 prize. It’s a chance to make a step forward towards her professional esports dreams and to help her family with the costs of her mother’s hospital bills.
But when she’s blackmailed and threatened to be doxed by an anonymous troll, Reyna has to confront the toxic gaming community head-on.
With her dreams and the cash prize on the line, it’s game on!
Published: June 9, 2020
Regan Fitz and Elliot Mason have been enemies since they started training to become Glitchers—people who travel through time to preserve important historical events. But everything changes when they find a letter from Regan’s future self, warning them about an impending disaster that threatens them and everyone they know.
Will they be able to set aside their past in order to save the future?
Target Practice (Cleopatra in Space #1)
Published: April 29, 2014
When a young Cleopatra (yes, THAT Cleopatra) finds a mysterious tablet that zaps her to the far, REALLY far future, she learns of an ancient prophecy that says she is destined to save the galaxy from the tyrannical rule of the evil Xaius Octavian. She enrolls in Yasiro Academy, a high-tech school with classes like algebra, biology, and alien languages (which Cleo could do without), and combat training (which is more Cleo’s style). With help from her teacher Khensu, Cleo learns what it takes to be a great leader, all while trying to figure out how she’s going to get her homework done, make friends, and avoid detention! Now a TV series on NBCUniversal’s streaming service, Peacock!
We’re Not from Here
Published: March 5, 2019
The first time I heard about Planet Choom, we’d been on Mars for almost a year. But life on the Mars station was grim, and since Earth was no longer an option (we may have blown it up), it was time to find a new home.
That’s how we ended up on Choom with the Zhuri. They’re very smart. They also look like giant mosquitos. But that’s not why it’s so hard to live here. There’s a lot that the Zhuri don’t like: singing (just ask my sister, Ila), comedy (one joke got me sent to the principal’s office), or any kind of emotion. The biggest problem, though? The Zhuri don’t like us. And if humankind is going to survive, it’s up to my family to change their minds. No pressure.
Sanity & Tallulah
Published: October 16, 2018
It can get pretty dull living on a small, out-of-the-way station like Wilnick SS. Best Friends Sanity Jones and Tallulah Vega do their best to relieve the monotony of every day space life by finding adventures, solving mysteries, and taking turns getting each other into and out of trouble. But when Sanity’s latest science project-an extremely-illegal-but-impossibly-cute three-headed kitten-escapes from the lab and starts causing havoc, the girls will have to turn the station upside down to find her-before the damage becomes irreversible!
There they are: 30 of the best middle grade science fiction books! Which of these have you read? And which ones did I miss?