Best science fiction and fantasy of May

Adrian Liang on May 21, 2020

Three books on a shelf

A number of highly anticipated books in the SF and fantasy realm were moved from April and May into June, July, or later, so as to avoid sales drop-offs due to closed bookshops. But that doesn’t mean May is a wasteland. Oh, no.

Three action-packed series get new additions to them, while a debut fantasy author sparks rebellion in a new world. And if these books don’t stir your interest, check out the rest of our picks for the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of the month.

Get ready to read.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

This surprise Hunger Games prequel book was under strict lock and key (or the digital equivalent) before publication, so only one person on our editorial team got to read it early, and she named it one of our best books of the month. Set during the tenth annual Hunger Games, this novel stars 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow, whom readers met in The Hunger Games—set decades later—as President Snow. Senior editor Seira Wilson says, “Clever Suzanne Collins takes a character we've disliked or even despised through all three books, and shows us a side of him we'd never imagined existed. A brilliant surprise for the reader who realizes that, much like Coriolanus Snow himself, we have made assumptions because we never saw the whole picture.” 

Critical Point by S. L. Huang

Cas Russell is back—but just as she appears again in readers’ lives, her close friend Arthur disappears. Enemies from her past—as well as a brand-new bunch of enemies—keep things lively, but the best part about this hard-hitting series is Russell herself. A math genius with attitude dialed up to 11 and a penchant for guns, safe houses, and things that go boom, Russell struggles not just with staying alive but with learning how to be a good(ish) person. Fun through and through.

The Kingdom of Liars by Nick Martell

Michael Kingman has grown up the son of a traitor. But though he was much younger when his father was put to death, Michael knows secrets shroud the truth of what happened. When Michael gets the opportunity to find out if his father did commit the crime he was accused of, Michael seizes his chance. But as rebels approach the city, danger threatens him and his remaining family both inside the walls and out. A fast-paced and often surprising series starter that delivers a new fantasy world and an engaging hero.

Network Effect by Martha Wells

It’s felt like forever since Martha Wells released her last Murderbot novella, and indeed it was way back in October 2018. Now everyone’s favorite part-human, part-machine security unit is back in the fray with a full-length novel, accompanied once more by ART, a “research vessel” that carries a remarkable assortment of armaments. Murderbot’s parenthesis-within-parenthesis thought processes feel a bit unruly in the beginning, but soon the action fires up and Murderbot does what it does best: delivers a rip-roaring adventure punctuated with humor and explosions. More Murderbot novels, please, Ms. Wells.

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