I'm a big fan of James Dashner, so I decided to begin the year with his series The 13th Reality. The series is four books: The Journal of Curious Letters, The Hunt for Dark Infinity, The Blade of Shattered Hope, and The Void of Mist and Thunder.
Atticus "Tick" Higginbottom is launched on an adventure when he receives a mysterious letter from a stranger in Alaska. This and future letters lead Tick to join a group of scientists called the Realitants whose mission it is to understand quantum physics and the new realities created by our decisions. Reality Prime has other realities branching off it, each of which contain "alterants" of people who live in the main reality. In one of the realities, the 13th, the power behind everything, chi'karda has mutated and is being used by the crazy Mistress Jane, who wants to destroy all realities but her own.
Dashner often breaks the rules of children's fiction, the main one being that you get rid of the adults so the kids can solve the problems. Tick's family is alive and well and often helps him accomplish his mission. Dashner also requires great sacrifice from his heroes, considerably beyond what is typical for a kid's book.
One of the best things about these books is that they make science cool. The Realitants are a group of scientists who must save all the realities from destruction. Tick and his friends (Sofia, Paul, Sato, Master George, Mothball, and Rutger) must use both science and love to save the world. That's a pretty good message.
James Dashner has delivered a story that kids will find fun and entertaining while possibly learning a little something, too.