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25 Sci-Fi Books For People Who Don’t Like Science

I’ve always been intrigued by sci-fi books because they often involve space travel, creative alien creatures, and new ways of looking at the world. But the fact that it’s called science fiction intimidates me because I’m not that good at science (I almost failed physics in high school 😬).

Can you relate?

Well, as it turns out, there are many subgenres of sci-fi just like in fantasy, and many of them don’t feature all the technical details found in the more commonly known sci-fi book.

The two main categories in sci-fi are hard science fiction and soft science fiction. And the good news is, soft sci-fi is better for people like those of us who want all the adventure of science fiction but not all of the science.

If you’re participating in our 2024 Fantasy/Sci-Fi Reading Challenge (and it’s never too late to join!), June’s theme is to read a sci-fi book.

Elements of Hard Sci-Fi Books

  • Explores the “hard” sciences: chemistry, biology, physics
  • The science is accurate, logical, credible, and/or plausible based on our current knowledge
  • Problems and solutions in the plot are rooted in the hard sciences

Hard Sci-Fi Book Examples

Elements of Soft Sci-Fi Books

  • Explores the “soft” sciences: history, sociology, economics, politics, psychology
  • The science doesn’t necessarily have to be accurate, logical, and credible
  • Problems and solutions in the plot are rooted in the soft science

Now, let’s get to the fun part: book recs! I hope at least one of these books tantalizes you enough to earn a spot on your TBR list!

Young Adult Soft Sci-Fi Books

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

The master of fantasy has written some pretty exceptional sci-fi books as well. This one is about Spin, a young woman determined to beat all the odds and become a fighter pilot.

Not much science in this one, just an intense flight school, mysteries, and aliens.

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

This is a unique twist on superheroes, as all the people with superpowers turn into villains. David, on a quest to exact revenge on Steelheart, needs the rebels known at the Reckoners.

World Diver by Haylie Hanson

Robots, surfing, and interdimensional phantoms. What more could you want?

This book falls into the specific science-fantasy genre because of the elements of magic woven into the plot, so it’s a great choice if you’re loathe to leave behind fantasy. With this book, you can have epic robots, space travel, and magic!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Yes, dystopian books are a sub-genre of sci-fi. And it falls into the soft sci-fi category because it often deals much more with psychology and sociology.

In fact, I don’t think there’s any science in this series except for the futuristic world.

See? You can have sci-fi without science! 😊

Skyhunter by Marie Lu

The first of a dystopian duology, this sci-fi book deals with politics and the hope Talin refuses to give up even amidst the worst of circumstances.

They are some of the most emotionally-intense books I’ve ever read, but well worth the dark journey. There is light on the other side!

Enhanced by Marie Lu

A cyberpunk novel that takes place in a futuristic Asia in which Lee Urban’s DNA lacks the fancy enhancements that everyone else’s does. And if anyone finds out, she could be killed.

Enhanced does have some science in it, but not enough to bog you down in the technical details.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Yep. This popular fairy-tale retelling series is more science than fantasy. There are talking spaceships, gutsy cyborg mechanics, and an evil moon queen, all while keeping the most important elements of the Cinderella story.

A must-read for anyone eager for a new take on an old classic!

Matched by Ally Condie

This was one of the first dystopian books I ever read (even before The Hunger Games!), and I loved the entire trilogy. Cassia lives in a world where her choices are made for her, but she’s always trusted them.

Until, that is, there’s a mistake during her Matching ceremony, and she must decide whether to choose the safe and easy path or the much harder path that leads to the truth.

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

More superheroes!

This book revolves around Nova, a normal human longing to overthrow the Renegades out of revenge. Until she meets a young Renegade boy who believes in her and justice. Will he be able to change her mind?

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

In a world where no one dies, how do you control the population?

Scythes–people tasked with taking life.

You will wrestle with some deep, complex moral dilemmas along with the characters in this series that reflects the emotional depth of The Hunger Games.

Goddess in the Machine by Lora Beth Johnson

What do you do when you wake up from a cryonic sleep in the wrong century? That’s what Andra has to figure out in this sci-fi book.

Impostors by Scott Westerfeld

No one knows that Frey exists. She is her twin sister, Rafi’s, body double. Frey exists to protect her sister. At all costs.

Then, their father sends her as Rafi to their enemy’s palace, and as Frey gets to know the son of their rival, her secret becomes more difficult to keep.

Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Andrews

A clone of a famed alien commander, fancy spaceships, evil aliens bent on destroying the main character, and science to me that doesn’t even seem realistic: this is the perfect match if you want all the intergalactic space travel without all the boring technical details!

Dangerous by Shannon Hale

Despite taking place at a NASA boot camp, this book doesn’t have many scientific details.

The story’s more about how the MC, Maisie, discovers a conspiracy, what love is, and all the other ups and downs of being a teenager who has to save the world.

Warcross by Marie Lu

More about video games than science, this book is about Emika Chen and how she is thrown into the game of Warcross by the founder himself.

Get ready for a wild ride and plenty of surprises with this one!

The Nightmare Virus by Nadine Brandes

This book releases in July, so I haven’t read this book and can’t be 100% sure that this book is a good fit for those who don’t like science.

However, after reading Wishtress by Nadine Brandes and hearing about her other books, I’d be surprised if she stuffed much into this book.

But there is dream technology that goes wrong, which sounds epic and terrifying!

The Dividing Sky by Jill Tew

This book also doesn’t release until October, so I can’t be certain that it doesn’t contain lots of sci-fi.

But it sounds like the technology focuses on neurochips, selling memories (that sounds interesting!), and, of course, enemies-to-lovers.

Can’t wait to read this one!

Adult Soft Sci-Fi Books

Hunt the Stars by Jessie Mihalik

My favorite part of this book was the adorable fox-like creature that the MC, Octavia, has. And the way the two races must learn to let go of past trauma and prejudices to work together to defeat a common enemy.

*Please note that this book contains explicit sex.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

One of the most famous soft sci-fi books, Ready Player One is more about gaming, besting others, and survival more than science.

A fast-paced, dystopian-like novel that will keep you flipping pages.

We Could Be Heroes by Mike Chen

A fun and lighthearted look at superheroes who might not necessarily want to be heroes.

It’s got to be funny when the two main characters, who are also archrivals, meet each other at a memory-loss support group.

The lack of romance and a focus just on friendship was a nice twist.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

One of my favorite sci-fi books (granted, I haven’t read that many), The Host is all about aliens taking over planet earth. And what happens if the alien falls in love with their human’s host.

It’s Stephenie Meyer, so there’s lots of romance (that’s pretty clean) and emotional drama.

Check this out if you want a sci-fi romance! 💖

Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor

In a near-future African country, a young girl acquires the ability to kill from something that fell from the sky. She must try not to accidentally harm people as she journeys across the land with a fox to seek the object that changed her life.

For being about death, this book wasn’t that dark! And I kept forgetting that it was science until something like a drone or self-driving car was mentioned.

Other than that and the fact that the object fell from the sky, there weren’t many sci-fi elements.

The Book of M by Peng Shepherd

A post-apocalyptic book that feels at times like Peter Pan. A very weird, disturbing Peter Pan.

When people’s shadows disappear in this story, it means they will gain new powers but lose all their memories.

There’s no Captain Hook to fight, just this odd plague of sorts, bandits, and a dangerous cult.

Camp Zero by Michelle Min Sterling

Another apocalyptic book in which Canada is the place to be (despite how cold it is!).

Mystery and character development lead this story more than anything else.

The Deep Sky by Yume Kitasei

This book is basically a mystery that takes place on a spaceship that hold’s humanity’s last hope: eighty graduates of a competitive program who will give birth to children.

The MC, a half-Japanese girl raised in America, must find the culprit before they all die.

Which of these books look the most interesting to you?

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