11 Fantasy & Superhero Books Like 'Black Panther' For Fans Who Just Can't Wait For The Movie

By Kerri Jarema

I don't go to the movies as often as I'd like to, but if there is one film that is enticing enough to get my butt into the theater, it's Marvel's Black Panther. The film, which is set to hit theaters on Feb. 16, has already set a record for the most early pre-sales of any Marvel film — just one of many ways it has already stood out from the pack. A main cast consisting entirely of black actors? Check. Multiple female characters in positions of power, with kick-butt moves and, you know, actual plot-lines that help move the story forward? Check, check and check. And not only is the film, directed by 31-year-old phenom Ryan Coogler, a total game-changer, it's visually stunning and full of edge-or-your-seat action, if the previews are any indication.

But before you descends upon you local theater, there are a few books you might want to add to your TBR pile first. If you love the idea of black-centered fantasy narratives, with characters that are fighting back against injustice and changing their worlds for the better, the 11 books below are definitely for you. While you can definitely binge read one or two before you hit the theater, this list will let you ride the wave of excitement for months to come, too.

'Black Panther: The World Of Wakanda' by Roxane Gay

Delve deep into Wakanda’s lore with a love story where tenderness is matched by brutality. You know them as the Midnight Angels, but for now they are just Ayo and Aneka — young women recruited to become Dora Milaje, an elite task force trained to protect the crown of Wakanda at all costs. But with their king shamed and their queen killed, Ayo and Aneka must take justice into their own hands. They’ve been officers. Rebels. Lovers. But can they be leaders?

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'Miles Morales: Spider-Man' by Jason Reynolds

Miles Morales is an average teenager. He has dinner every Sunday with his parents, he plays old-school video games with his best friend, Ganke. Oh yeah, and he's Spider Man. But lately, Miles's spidey-sense has been on the fritz. He can't shake the vivid nightmares that haunt him. Nor can he avoid the buzz of his spidey-sense in history class, amidst his teacher's lectures on the historical "benefits" of slavery and the modern-day prison system. But after his scholarship is threatened, Miles uncovers a chilling plot — one that puts his friends, his neighborhood, and himself at risk.

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'Parable of the Sower' by Octavia E. Butler

Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods left on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren’s father and a handful of other citizens try to salvage what remains of a culture that has been destroyed by drugs, disease, war, and chronic water shortages. When fire destroys their compound, Lauren’s family is killed and she is forced, with a handful of other refugees, to make her way north to safety. Along the way, she conceives a revolutionary idea that may mean salvation for all mankind.

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'The Belles' by Dhonielle Clayton

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace. But once Camellia arrives at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she dreamed it would be. Behind the palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie.

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'The Fifth Season' by N.K. Jemison

Essun comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Mighty Sanze, the empire whose innovations have been civilization's bedrock for a thousand years, collapses as its greatest city is destroyed by a madman's vengeance. And worst of all, across the heartland of the world's sole continent, a great red rift has been been torn which spews enough ash to darken the sky for years. But Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She will break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.

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'Akata Witch' by Nnedi Okorafor

Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, 12-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and sensitive to the sun, and all she wants to do is get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset. Together, their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. Will Sunny be able to overcome the killer with powers stronger than her own?

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'Super Black: American Pop Culture And Black Superheroes' by Adilifu Nama

Adilifu Nama examines seminal black comic book superheroes such as Black Panther, Black Lightning, Storm, Luke Cage, Blade, the Falcon, Nubia, and others, some of whom also appear on the small and large screens. Super Black explores how black superheroes are a powerful source of racial meaning, narrative, and imagination in American society that express a myriad of racial assumptions, political perspectives, and fantastic re-imaginings of black identity.

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'Brown Girl In The Ring' by Nalo Hopkinson

The rich and privileged have fled the city, barricaded it behind roadblocks, and left it to crumble. The inner city has had to rediscover old ways of farming, barter, and herb lore. But now the monied need a harvest of bodies, and so they prey upon the helpless of the streets. With nowhere to turn, a young woman must open herself to ancient truths, eternal powers, and the tragic mystery surrounding her mother and grandmother.

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'Abengoni: First Calling' by Charles R. Saunders

Matile Mala, once the most powerful empire in the black continent of Abengoni, is becoming more and more vulnerable to aggression from the nations it once dominated. In the capital, Khambawe, ancient rituals endure. As Tiyana, who is both priestess and princess, conducts one such ceremony, the rite is disrupted by the arrival of a half-wrecked ship from Fiadol, a far-distant land across the sea. As the Matile and Uloans clash, other foes of the fading empire wait on the sidelines, like vultures circling a battlefield. The newcomers from Fiadol hold the balance of destruction and Tiyana must anticipate which way the scale will tip.

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'Children Of Blood And Bone' by Tomi Adeyemi (March 6)

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy. This one comes out March 6, but you can read an excerpt now.

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'Dread Nation' by Justina Ireland (April 3)

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. Almost finished with her education Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life. This one won't hit bookstores until April, but Bustle has a sneak peek.

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