I had trouble picking books for this challenge because I kept second-guessing how the instructions define “an author under 30.” Are we talking about someone under 30 now? Or does it just mean someone who was under 30 when their book was published? Or maybe under 30 when it was written? It’s a veritable wormhole!
Anyway, I’ve decided to just include a sampler of books from people who are still under 30 and also those from people who are now in their 30s but were under 30 when the book was published.
Incidentally, in much the same way I realized that books over 500 pages tend to come from a couple of different genres, I realized that a lot of these authors write either speculative fiction or historical fiction. Make of that what you will.
As always, if you’re interested in learning more about one of the books, just follow the link to our online catalog.
Authors Still Under 30:
Veronica Roth’s Divergent series (2011-2013):
Veronica Roth is basically the gift that keeps on giving for this category. The now 27-year-old published all 3 of the books in her popular series by the age of 25, and she is currently working on 2 more books, slated to be released in 2017 and 2018, which may give her a couple of more books to add to her résumé before she turns 30.
If you’re not already familiar with the story, this dystopian series follows teenaged Beatrice, who lives in a society where people are divided into factions based on the characteristics they possess and value. Beatrice, though, is a “divergent”–someone with characteristics from multiple factions. As you can imagine, complications ensue.
After you read the books, you can also check out the movies.
Samantha Shannon’s The Bone Season (2013):
Maybe you’ve already read the Divergent series–or you tried it and didn’t care for it. In that case, consider Shannon’s debut novel, The Bone Season, the first of a projected seven book fantasy series. Shannon is only 24, and the book was released when she was 21. It’s set in the year 2059 and tells the story of Paige, a clairvoyant or “dreamwalker.” Her abilities are illegal, so she finds herself in a secret prison, where she is simultaneously held captive and trained as a weapon. If you end up enjoying this book, you can also read the second book in the series–The Mime Order (2015)—as you wait for Shannon to finish book number 3.
Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy (2014-2016)
Red Rising was published on author Pierce Brown’s 26th birthday. Now at the age of 28, he recently published the final book in this trilogy, set on a futuristic Mars. The hero of the story–Darrow–belongs to the lowest of social classes on the Red Planet. They work tirelessly to make the planet safe for humans. In Darrow’s case, he also works quite willingly, believing his work will benefit his own descendants. That is, until he learns that humans have been living on Mars for years, and he and his fellows have been tricked into providing slave labor for them. This knowledge–and a burning desire for justice (or revenge?)–drives Darrow to attempt infiltrating the highest echelons of this society.
Katy Simpson Smith’s The Story of Land and Sea (2014)
So, maybe you’ve been reading through these books and thought, “Meh, I’m not really into fantasy or science fiction.” In that case, consider Katy Simpson Smith’s first novel, The Story of Land and Sea, a historical fiction novel set in 18th century North Carolina. A story that spans three generations, the book focuses on 10-year-old Tabitha, who lives with her widowed father and her mother’s father. Tabitha’s father is a former pirate who has stayed on land after the untimely passing of his wife, but when his daughter contracts a dangerous disease, he feels compelled to take her to sea, in the hope he can find a cure in Bermuda. His decision, though, devastates his father-in-law, who still grieves for his deceased daughter, and Moll, a slave who was friends with John’s wife when they were both children. Though some readers have noted the slow pace of the plot, Katy Simpson Smith won unanimous praise for the beauty of her prose.
Note: I know that the author was born in 1986 and that by August she will be 30, but I cannot find anything conclusive on when she turns 3o. In any event, she released this book when she was 28, and there’s a really good chance she’s still only 29. 🙂
Authors Who Used To Be Under 30:
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun (2006)
Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was 29 when her book about her country’s civil war in the late 1960s was released. The book’s focus are 3 very different characters–Ugwu, a teenaged servant for a professor; Olanna, said professor’s mistress; and Kainene, said mistress’s twin sister–and their experiences during this tumultuous period, especially once Ugwu is conscripted into the rebel army.
Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries (2013)
Or if you prefer a murder mystery with your historical fiction, try Eleanor Catton’s Man Booker Prize-winning The Luminaries, which was published when she was 27. Set during the 19th century New Zealand gold rush, the book’s protagonist is Walter Moody, who comes to the country expecting to strike it rich and instead finding a strange story that involves disappearances, mysterious fortunes, and murder.
Tea Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife (2011)
This book received a lot of praise and attention a few years ago when its then 25-year-old author released it. Her debut novel is set in an unnamed, war-torn Balkan country, where a young doctor named Natalia is working with orphans. Despite her noble work, she is distracted with the mysterious death of her grandfather, also a doctor. An extremely pragmatic and logical person, he seems to have died in the pursuit of a character from a traditional folktale, “the deathless man.” Bewildered at why her grandfather would believe in such a story, she starts to investigate, which leads her to another folk story, one her grandfather never shared with her–that of “the tiger’s wife.”
Anthony Marra ‘s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (2013)
If the basic setting of The Tiger’s Wife intrigues you but the folklore aspect of it does not appeal to you, consider instead reading Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. As with Obreht’s novel, the protagonist is a doctor in war-torn Eastern Europe (this time Chechnya). Secrets and underlying mystery also drive this plot–but not in connection to fables. Instead, the central premise is why Russian doctor Sonya is entrusted with a Chechen orphan.
Have you read any of these books? Who is your favorite author under 30? Tell us all about it in the comments!