100 books like Last Day on Mars

By Kevin Emerson,

Here are 100 books that Last Day on Mars fans have personally recommended if you like Last Day on Mars. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Giver

Jesse Maas Author Of Not for the Faint of Heart

From my list on fiction books that capture the meaning of simply being human.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am passionate about writing books that put good into the world and highlight meaningful and inspiring themes, which, in turn, means I am also passionate about reading books that do the same. I love to write and read books that leave the reader feeling like there is still good in the world, even when it seems to be very dark around us. If people read my books or any on this list, I sincerely hope they feel encouraged and inspired and enjoy them as much as I do.

Jesse's book list on fiction books that capture the meaning of simply being human

Jesse Maas Why did Jesse love this book?

While I don’t always love mainstream classics, The Giver is a classic for a reason, and, in my opinion, it rightfully deserves its place on the shelf.

I love the emotional draw of this book and the invitation to think deeper about the meaning of life and the burden it can take on us. I love books that challenge us to think about the bigger concepts of life and all they entail: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

By Lois Lowry,

Why should I read it?

21 authors picked The Giver as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

THE GIVER is soon to be a major motion picture starring Jeff Bridges, Katie Holmes and Taylor Swift.

Now available for the first time in the UK, THE GIVER QUARTET is the complete four-novel collection.

THE GIVER: It is the future. There is no war, no hunger, no pain. No one in the community wants for anything. Everything needed is provided. And at twelve years old, each member of the community has their profession carefully chosen for them by the Committee of Elders.

Jonas has never thought there was anything wrong with his world. But from the moment he is…


Book cover of The Girl Who Owned a City

Rebecca Thorne Author Of The Secrets of Star Whales

From my list on about loss.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a children’s novelist, I believe there’s nothing more important than showing kids it’s okay to experience emotion. Nothing is more powerful than watching someone rise to the occasion, and showing vulnerability in the process. Plus, middle-grade books are just fun—they let us create these fantastical ways to show very grounded, human needs. Rockets become friendships? Jellyfish offer understanding? Sign me up! It’s my pleasure to recommend these novels to kids everywhere (even the adult ones)!

Rebecca's book list on about loss

Rebecca Thorne Why did Rebecca love this book?

This book was my childhood favorite, by far. The Girl Who Owned a City is an exploration of life after adults: when every adult suddenly dies, the world is left to their kids… and not everyone will survive. Determined to keep her younger brother alive and the memory of their parents close, Lisa somehow creates a community that becomes a safe haven for miles around. As a main character, Lisa absolutely steals the show; her resourcefulness and grit are unmatched, and stuck with me for years after reading this book. There’s also a graphic novel version, for anyone who prefers that format! 

By O. T. Nelson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Girl Who Owned a City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

A deadly plague has devastated Earth, killing all the adults.

Lisa and her younger brother Todd are struggling to stay alive in a world where no one is safe. Other children along Grand Avenue need help as well. They band together to find food, shelter, and protection from dangerous gangs invading their neighborhood.

When Tom Logan and his army start making threats, Lisa comes up with a plan and leads her group to a safer place. But how far is she willing to go to protect what's hers?


Book cover of The Thing About Jellyfish

Maura Jortner Author Of 102 Days of Lying About Lauren

From my list on kids who make it through tough times.

Why am I passionate about this?

I went through major surgery when I was in eighth grade. The physical pain was bad, but what hurt more was the emotional side. When I returned to school, the friend groups had shifted, shutting me out because of my extended absence. I had to face that time in life alone. Perhaps that’s why I’m drawn to works about kids who have to face challenges on their own. When we go through hard times, our true selves come out. They have to; we have no one else. We can’t pretend. We can only try to make it. The books I like show characters that shine through their hardships.

Maura's book list on kids who make it through tough times

Maura Jortner Why did Maura love this book?

This book features a girl named Suzi, who is convinced her friend drowned because of a jellyfish sting. She’s so affected by her friend’s death that she stops talking. I loved seeing Suzi research jellyfish through this book.

I love learning and studying and how she went about it was cool. She was determined and strong. I also appreciated how the plot moves from the present to the past and showed the truth about Suzi’s friendship in the end.

By Ali Benjamin,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Thing About Jellyfish as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

It's peculiar how no-words can be better than words. How silence can say more than noise, or a person's absence can occupy even more space than their presence did.

Suzy is twelve when her best friend, Franny, drowns one summer at the beach. It takes two days for the news to reach Suzy, and it's not something that she can accept: Franny has always been a strong swimmer, from the day they met in swim class when they were just five. How can someone all of a sudden, just no longer be there?

Suzy realizes that they must have got…


Book cover of Clues to the Universe

Rebecca Thorne Author Of The Secrets of Star Whales

From my list on about loss.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a children’s novelist, I believe there’s nothing more important than showing kids it’s okay to experience emotion. Nothing is more powerful than watching someone rise to the occasion, and showing vulnerability in the process. Plus, middle-grade books are just fun—they let us create these fantastical ways to show very grounded, human needs. Rockets become friendships? Jellyfish offer understanding? Sign me up! It’s my pleasure to recommend these novels to kids everywhere (even the adult ones)!

Rebecca's book list on about loss

Rebecca Thorne Why did Rebecca love this book?

I finished this novel in a day, simply because of its incredible portrayal of emotion. Clues to the Universe follows Ro and Benji, two kids who couldn’t be more different. And yet, through circumstances of loss (and a class partnership), they find solace in a new friendship. Although it’s set firmly on the ground—based in the 1980s, on the heels of the Space Race—this book would appeal to the dreamers everywhere, the scientists and artists alike. Ro and Benji have a great dynamic, and while they lost their dads in very different ways, the grief is shared. A truly wonderful read!   

By Christina Li,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Clues to the Universe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

This stellar debut about losing and finding family, forging unlikely friendships, and searching for answers to big questions will resonate with fans of Erin Entrada Kelly and Rebecca Stead.

The only thing Rosalind Ling Geraghty loves more than watching NASA launches with her dad is building rockets with him. When he dies unexpectedly, all Ro has left of him is an unfinished model rocket they had been working on together.

Benjamin Burns doesn’t like science, but he can’t get enough of Spacebound, a popular comic book series. When he finds a sketch that suggests that his dad created the comics,…


Book cover of The Worst-Case Scenario: Mars

Andrea Menotti Author Of How Many Jelly Beans?

From my list on math and science.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a deeply curious person who has always loved the intersections of science and art, and the related intersection of the humanities and technology. I also have a passion for children’s books and have worked as both a writer and an editor, and as a developer of interactive apps and games based on children’s books. My latest book is a collaboration with one of my favorite childhood (and teenage) writing partners, Hena Khan. It’s an adventure where you get to make choices that turn you into a hero or a villain. It’s called Super You: The Power of Flight. I hope you’ll check it out!

Andrea's book list on math and science

Andrea Menotti Why did Andrea love this book?

For the oldest kids, I find this whole Worst-Case Scenario series to be so excellent! This one was developed with an expert consultant on Martian exploration, so it takes kids through the real choices they would have to make if they traveled to Mars. There is nothing like being in the driver’s seat, making life or death choices, to help someone really learn about a subject. This book will have them so stepped in Mars as they read, their fingertips will be covered in red dust! Well, almost!

By Hena Khan, David Borgenicht, Robert Zubrin , Yancey Labat (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Worst-Case Scenario as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this ultimate adventure, join the youngest crew of astronauts ever to make the trip to Mars! You'll be faced with real dangers and decisions, and your choices will determine your fate on the Red Planet. Will you achieve your mission and return home to Earth safely, successfully earning the title of the youngest astronaut to make it to Mars? Or will you be forced to turn back early? Only you can determine your own fate. There are twenty-two endings to this adventure, but just one will lead to the ultimate success.


Book cover of The Martian

Adam Gaffen Author Of The Road to the Stars

From my list on to learn about hopepunk SF and why we need it.

Why am I passionate about this?

Why hopepunk, and why me? Look, it’s no surprise that you can look around today and find all sorts of indicators that we are entering Heinlein’s “Crazy Years.” Imagining a dystopian or grimdark future isn’t difficult; all you have to do is read the news. But I think that we are writing the history of the future right now, by the choices we make every day. Writing stories that present that optimistic view of the future is not just the right thing to do but necessary, at least to me. As Heinlein said, “A pessimist is correct oftener than an optimist, but an optimist has more fun…”

Adam's book list on to learn about hopepunk SF and why we need it

Adam Gaffen Why did Adam love this book?

Andy Weir has. In my opinion, come to define hopepunk: pushing towards a goal through difficulties, even if the goal doesn’t personally benefit the character.

His depiction of the plight of Mark Watney, the impacts Watney’s plight have on a global scale, and the hard science behind it all combine to create a compelling story. The sacrifices his crewmates and NASA officials make to push his rescue forward exemplify the “community over self” attitude common in hopepunk.

By Andy Weir,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked The Martian as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive--and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old human error are…


Book cover of Planetfall

Andrew Sweet Author Of Southern Highlands: Obi of Mars

From my list on sci-fi featuring world-changing female badasses.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved science fiction. My father was an Asimov junkie, and our house was packed with science fiction novels and stories from Azimov to Heinlein to Wyndham and Wilhelm. I began writing science fiction in high school, yet only recently published my first 4 novels (one of which won a Bookfest award). I hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science (bioinformatics), and I stay on top of science to inform my writing. It’s through this background that I select novels, seeking out new tropes and ideas in technological advancement. Each of these novels I mention exceeded my expectations and then some. Pick one up today—you won’t be disappointed!

Andrew's book list on sci-fi featuring world-changing female badasses

Andrew Sweet Why did Andrew love this book?

Emma Watson firmly places herself in the mind of the protagonist Renata Ghali. Through this semi-reliable narrator, we learn that in this perfect planned society, a lot is happening beneath the still surface. This novel unfolds slowly, layering the pieces on scene by scene until something startling (which I don’t want to ruin for you) happens to the main character. Often in sci-fi, you see the character make some monumental decision, and then they win, and everything’s happy. This book doesn’t do that. Instead, it looks at the very real-feeling impact of said “monumental decision” on those who made it. And despite all of the character depth, Emma Watson manages to deliver a juicy, thick alien world that will leave you salivating for more! 

By Emma Newman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Planetfall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Emma Newman, the award-nominated author of Between Two Thorns, comes a novel of how one secret withheld to protect humanity's future might be its undoing...

Renata Ghali believed in Lee Suh-Mi's vision of a world far beyond Earth, calling to humanity. A planet promising to reveal the truth about our place in the cosmos, untainted by overpopulation, pollution, and war. Ren believed in that vision enough to give up everything to follow Suh-Mi into the unknown.

More than twenty-two years have passed since Ren and the rest of the faithful braved the starry abyss and established a colony at…


Book cover of The Big Empty

L.J. Thomas Author Of We Survivors: A Story from After the End

From my list on post-apocalyptic by female authors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve found myself drawn to post-apocalyptic worlds in movies, books, and songs for as long as I can remember. I love the high stakes, found families, and glimmers of hope even in a ravaged world, as well as the questions these stories ask: “How would I survive?” “What would I preserve from my old life, and what would I discard?” “What’s really important?” Whether the end comes from climate change, viruses, zombies, or aliens, I’ll never tire of reading new ones. Male writers dominate the genre, but there are also many female and non-binary authors exploring post-apocalyptic worlds. I hope this list gives you a jumping-off point for further explorations!

L.J.'s book list on post-apocalyptic by female authors

L.J. Thomas Why did L.J. love this book?

This was my first foray into post-apocalyptic fiction as a preteen, and one of the first books I remember being unable to put down! In this first book of a series, seven teenagers enter “the Big Empty”, or what was once the central region of the United States. I love the different personalities of each POV character and the struggle each endures to find safety and a sense of normalcy after a virus devastates their world. The mysteries surrounding the Strain 7 virus, the Novo Mundum community, and the dangers of the Big Empty are sure to keep you turning pages!

By J.B. Stephens,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Big Empty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After half of the world's population is killed by a plague, seven teenagers seek a better life in a nightmarish future by deciphering coded messages and trying to avoid the Slashers. Original.


Book cover of The Tempest

Nicola Rose O'Hara Author Of Girl With Two Fingers

From my list on taking you where you can’t go.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve chosen these books because they take me to times and places I can’t go (although I did serendipitously get to Kerala, and am hoping to go to the West Coast of America one day). Girl with Two Fingers takes you into the studio, hopefully as if you could have been there yourself. I want readers to be able to share something of the experience I was so lucky to have. And to be able to see perhaps more questioningly when they look at art.

Nicola's book list on taking you where you can’t go

Nicola Rose O'Hara Why did Nicola love this book?

I read this play first aged sixteen, and connected strongly with it, because of the young motherless shipwrecked heroine. 

I spent significant periods of time with my grandfathers when I was growing up, and I read Prospero more as a grandfather figure than a father one.

When Freud and I were in the studio for days and weeks and months together, I felt like Miranda on Prospero’s island. The same created world. The same isolation. 

With Lucian as the Prospero figure, summoning a few other characters that came and went to his studio.

No one can go to a fictional island of course, but yet Shakespeare takes us there.

By William Shakespeare,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Tempest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Performed variously as escapist fantasy, celebratory fiction, and political allegory, The Tempest is one of the plays in which Shakespeare's genius as a poetic dramatist found its fullest expression. Significantly, it was placed first when published in the First Folio of 1623, and is now generally seen as the playwright's most penetrating statement about his art.

Stephen Orgel's wide-ranging introduction examines changing attitudes to The Tempest, and reassesses the evidence behind the various readings. He focuses on key characters and their roles and relationships, as well as on the dramatic, historical, and political context, finding the play to be both…


Book cover of Down the Long Hills

Allison M. Azulay Author Of The Ghost of the Highlands

From my list on historical fiction those born in the wrong century.

Why am I passionate about this?

A psychic once told me I was born in the wrong century, and I can believe it. I have always been drawn to tales of the past, feeling a kinship for the men and women of whom I read―whether they are real or born of someone's imagination―and longing for a life not digitalized or controlled and one in which self-reliance and community are not at odds. Am I a romantic? You bet, and happy to be.

Allison's book list on historical fiction those born in the wrong century

Allison M. Azulay Why did Allison love this book?

There is a reason Louis L'Amour books remain popular. I wish I had the whole collection, and I read every one I can get my hands on. One I particularly recommend is Down the Long Hills, which is a slight departure from his usual tales. In this one, two children find themselves alone and pitted against weather, wilderness, warriors, and their own worry that they are too little for this journey. I could not help measuring my own knowledge and ingenuity against that of a seven-year-old boy and finding it wanting. Nor could I help admiring the resolve and sense of responsibility that would put most adults to shame. I'll be reading this one again, too.

By Louis L'Amour,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Down the Long Hills as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As part of the Louis L’Amour’s Lost Treasures series, this edition contains exclusive bonus materials!

Everyone was dead. Indian raiders massacred the entire wagon train. Only seven-year-old Hardy Collins and three-year-old Betty Sue Powell, managed to survive. With a knife, a faithful stallion, and the survival lessons his father taught him, Hardy must face the challenges of the open prairie as they head west in search of help. Using ingenuity and common sense, Hardy builds shelters, forages for food, and learns to care for Betty Sue. But their journey through this hostile wilderness is being tracked by even more hostile…


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