Ever wonder what would happen if…the American colonies never won independence from the British?…women were drafted to fight alongside men in World War II? Or some other major turning point in history turned the other way? Luckily, so have a bunch of young adult authors. And they’ve created these alternate histories to help you imagine what life might be like if…
Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine (2015)
We all love libraries. But what if the library wasn’t just a place to check out books, game, and meet up with friends? It’s 2025. The Great Library of Alexandria has not only survived, it controls all knowledge and information. Personal book ownership is outlawed. Speaking out against the library and/or disseminating information contrary to its directives is illegal. Books are smuggled on the black market. Jess, the son of a smuggler, has a rare opportunity to gain inside access to the library, training for a coveted position. What he discovers puts his life – and others – in danger.
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (2009)
1914. The world is on the verge of war. Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife have been assassinated and alliances are formed. This time, however, the battle is between different enemies: machines and nature. On one side are the Clankers, with their steam-powered metal machines. On the other side are the Darwinists, who have genetically engineered animals to create living weaponry and defenses. Against this backdrop, two young people from opposite sides of the battle meet, and the lines between friend and enemy are blurred.
Front Lines by Michael Grant (2016)
1942. Hitler’s troops have stormed across Europe, defeating everything in their path. America is entering the war. Forget about Rosie the Riveter. Rosie won’t be building planes; she’ll be piloting them in battle. A court decision has just made women eligible for the draft. For the first time in American history, women will fight alongside men. Follow three women, each with her own reasons for entering the fray, as they serve on the front lines.
The Year of the Hangman by Gary Blackwood (2002)
1777. Britain’s redcoat army has successfully put down the Colonists’ revolution. George Washington is going to hang for treason. Arrogant and ill-mannered British teen Creighton Brown has been sent to live with his uncle in the Colonies when the ship he is traveling aboard is captured by privateer Benedict Arnold. Arnold arranges for Creighton to live with Benjamin Franklin – and to spy on Franklin for the British. What he discovers challenges his preconceptions, tests his loyalty, and puts him in great peril.
The Only Thing To Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond (2014)
It’s the near future, but with a different past. Almost 80 years ago, Hitler’s army attacked the United States from the East, while Japan’s army attacked from the West. After being defeated on both coasts, the former USA has been divided between the victors. Zara, the illegitimate daughter of a Japanese soldier, lives in Virginia just miles from where Hitler’s great-grandson rules the White House. During the war, medical experiments were performed on prisoners and the victors now utilize genetically enhanced soldiers to maintain order. Though long defeated with no central organization, the resistance continues, and Zara hopes to be their next recruit. She carries in her the secret of her lineage, a secret that could destroy the Axis powers once and for all.
Thirteenth Child by Patricia Wrede (2009)
Westward Expansion. With magic! Eff is the unlucky thirteenth child in her family. Her twin brother, Lan (#14), is the seventh son of a seventh son. Lucky. Desperate to escape the superstitions of their neighbors, the family packs up the wagon and heads west in hopes of building a new life. They settle just east of the barrier, hoping to escape the dangers of the native population. Not native people. (Those don’t exist in this reality.) Native magical species: mammoth, woolly rhinoceri and the like. As these creatures begin to overwhelm settlers, unlucky Eff might be their only hope.
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin (2015)
1956. The Axis powers won the war. America never even got involved. The landmass that contains Europe and Asia has been divided between Germany and Japan. Each year, in commemoration of their shared victory, the superpowers host a cross-continental motorcycle race. Yael was just a child during the war. Held in a concentration camp, she was subjected to medical experimentation which gave her the ability to shape-shift and escape. Now a teenaged member of the resistance, she is the key to a plan to infiltrate the race, come face to face with Hitler, and kill him.
What If? The World’s Foremost Military Historians Imagine What Might Have Been edited by Robert Cowley (1999)
For the teen reader who is ready to move on from popular fiction comes this book of essays. This, the first of three What If? books edited by Robert Cowley, brings together writings from notable military historians including Stephen Ambrose, David McCullough and James McPherson. Spanning from 701 B.C. to the 20th century, and covering events around the globe, each essay looks at a specific counterfactual to some of the most important turning points in history.