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When I was about 10, I read a fantasy/sci-fi book involving a male protagonist and his struggle against giant (alien-race?) bugs. Being 24 now, I barely remember anything about the book, but I know I enjoyed it immensely. I don't have much to give, but here is what I know:

  • I read it around or before 2003. I think it's very likely it was published in the 90's
  • It was a standard size (about 5" x 8") paper back book, probably about 150-200 pages in length
  • The cover was mostly yellow, and the front cover featured a man in a white helmet with laser gun, back to us, looking onward toward one or two giant bugs flying in front of him. My memory of it is hazy, but I know I would recognize the cover instantly if I saw it.
  • The target audience was probably preteen to mid-teen.
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  • 1
    This is hugely vague. Can you add any more details? Character names, anything about the technology used?
    – Möoz
    Sep 5, 2016 at 22:40
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    This question is not too broad, due to the very specific cover. However, answers should probably include that aspect, otherwise there are far too many possibilities.
    – Adamant
    Sep 5, 2016 at 22:52

8 Answers 8

24

With appropriate credit to @Merc Measley for suggesting Starship Troopers first...

Reading the OP's description of the cover (mostly yellow, man with laser gun, flying bugs), I immediately thought of the cover below. This is the edition I have - it's currently in a box in the garage.

It differs from the OP's description in a couple of ways: helmet is not white, soldier is facing the reader rather than facing away, but otherwise matches pretty well.

Starship Troopers Cover, yellow background with purple smoke, a man in armour and a stormtrooper-like helmet wields a large gun walking forwards, bugs are seen in the background as well as a large one at the bottom

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    Nice. Could you maybe edit this so it stands alone as an answer, though?
    – Adamant
    Sep 6, 2016 at 3:54
  • The question clearly stated that the helmet was white, but that could just as easily be the OP's memory betraying him. There is a white bug, after all and the cover fits the description well enough! Also the length of roughly 250 pages fits the description. +1 for findig this! Sep 6, 2016 at 6:44
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    Even if not the exact book looked for, Starship Troopers is definitely a classic worth the read.
    – Delioth
    Sep 6, 2016 at 14:12
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The description is still quite vague, however I have a strong feeling you're referring to Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.

Here's an image of one of its covers:

Image of Ender's Game book cover: a male character aboard a spaceship looks out into space from a window; his hands pressed up against the glass
[src: http://www.sfreviews.net/large_covers/enders_game_ya.jpg]

Matching Points:

  • Male protagonist
  • "Struggles" against giant bugs (Alien race called the Buggers or Formics)
  • Published pre 90s
  • Audience is young-adult, however it has had a movie adaptation of the same name
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  • Were you able to find a cover that matches?
    – Adamant
    Sep 5, 2016 at 22:53
  • @Adamant No, however, the tone of all of the covers is very similar to the OP's description.
    – Möoz
    Sep 5, 2016 at 23:00
  • I think Starship Troopers is the more likely match, however Ender's Game is definitely the better read.
    – aroth
    Sep 6, 2016 at 14:00
  • I disagree. While his opponent is giant bugs he never really fights them as bugs--it's ship to ship combat. Starship troopers is mostly infantry combat. Sep 6, 2016 at 19:35
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I was looking for a similar book and I finally found it. Hopefully this is what you were looking for too. It was Rodomonte's Revenge (1994) by Gary Paulsen, the second book in the World of Adventure series.

Brett and Tom are crazy about video games. In fact, they became best friends when they discovered that they could beat all their opponents. Now they’re ready to take on the best one of all—Rodomonte’s Revenge—a new virtual reality game that just opened in the mall. Fire rivers, enormous buzz-bugs, impossible cliffs, and a treasure-filled castle are all exciting parts of the skill levels. But when the game begins to take over Brett and Tom’s minds, they fear that they might become a permanent part of the action. In a terrifying virtual landscape, the two boys must conquer the program, or suffer very real consequences. The Gary Paulsen World of Adventure series whirls reluctant readers into the joys of reading. Filled with believable characters and deftly narrated by Jeff Woodman, each adventure delivers nonstop excitement. Rodomonte’s Revenge also includes a useful guide to video game survival.

Audible, Rodomonte's Revenge

Rodomonte's Revenge front cover showing two people wielding swords against a giant fly coming towards them

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6

In addition to the other two answers, there's also David Gerold's A Matter For Men, the first book in his The War Against the Chtorr series.

It's from 1983, so definitely early enough; and does feature a male protagonist fighting against giant alien bugs. I also found this cover:

A Matter for Men front cover showing a smokey landscape from a fire and a man wielding a flamethrower and using it in a giant bugs face

Which does seem to have a man in a space helmet, though I believe he's got a flamethrower rather than a laser gun. There's also this one, ably located by Dijkgraaf:

Alternate book cover showing an astronaut firing a handheld laser gun at a giant bug

The book is also not targeted for a pre- or mid-teen audience, though.

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5

Another possibility is Armor, by John Steakley (1984). The cover does not match the description, and the bugs are not flying, though. It is also geared towards a grown-up audience (or at least, late teen) given the highly violent and revolted tone of the book. It does however provide a good amount of struggling-with-bugs action (possibly even more so than Starship Trooper).

Armor cover showing a man in cyborg like armour, holding the helmet under one arm and holding a matching oversized pistol in the other 1st edition cover for Armor showing two characters fighting: one human in armour wielding a machine gun like a bat over his head and one humanoid alien-insect creature; a large moon is seen in the background

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I am not positive but this may be Starship Troopers.

It was published in 1959, not the 90's, but the story does revolve around a war between Earth and alien bugs.

There was a movie based of the novel released in 1997.

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    Would you like to know more?
    – rickster
    Sep 6, 2016 at 7:25
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    I'm sorry but there was no movie based on Heinlein's Starship Troopers. Rather like there were no sequels to The Matrix.
    – bknights
    Sep 20, 2016 at 23:42
3

This is an older book but it fits with much of your description: Red Planet (1949) by Robert A. Heinlein.

Red Planet front cover showing two men in astronaut like suits with one wielding a pistol against a giant ant-like creature coming towards them with huge pincers

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    although the cover is a reasonable match (but the bug isn't flying ...), I think there's too much here that doesn't match. According to my memory and the Wikipedia description, there's not much correspondence between the Heinlein novel and the description above. The Martians aren't bug-like, and the struggle in the novel is mostly among humans, with the Martians involved mostly as a deus ex machina ... (Cover illustration also corresponds poorly with the novel ...)
    – Ben Bolker
    Sep 6, 2016 at 14:51
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Rats, Vats, and Bats along with it's sequel were late 90s/early 2000s books that had cover like that in foreign markets

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    Hi, welcome to the site. You could improve this answer by editing it to include an image of the cover and tell us a bit about the plot, so as to make it easier for users who aren't familiar with these books to determine how likely this is to be the correct answer. Naming the author of the series would be nice as well. Sure, we can look it up, but a good answer shouldn't require us to go look up information as basic as the name of the author. Sep 26, 2023 at 4:00
  • 1
    All the covers appear to feature a rat and a bat, no humans and no bugs.
    – DavidW
    Sep 26, 2023 at 5:13

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