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Keyword: ‘When we Wake’

When We Awake by Karen Healey.

May 15, 2014 Comments off

when we wakeWhen We Awake by Karen Healey. Pub. Allen & Unwin, 2013.

Some things never change. This was what hit me at the end of this novel which is another finalist in the NZ Post Children and Young Adults Book Awards.

Tegan Oglietti is a teenage girl living in the year 2027 who cares about the planet and global warming. She attends a protest meeting at which the Prime Minister attends and  mistakenly catches the snipers bullet meant for the PM.

That same day she was basking in her newly found love for Muslim boy Dalmar and the last thing she remembers is his lips on her earlobe.

She awakes  in the year 2128 and discovers she has been cryogenically preserved and brought back to life. She is the only successful revival and is a celebrity although not everyone thinks so. The fanatical Christians  say she has given her soul to God and is a soulless person who should give her life back to god.

The experiment was conducted by the Army and they want to use her in the best possible way to promote their own goals and this leads to conflict that  the rebellious Tegan cannot turn away from.

Karen Healey prersents a future world that is the same old same old except much worse than it is now. Muslims still hate Christians and vice versa and the climatic changes brought on by global warming are devastating. Australians still hate boat people and corruption and drugs still pervade the general population.

I will leave it to you to find out the rest. Good action and nice girlie talk with a new slang. There is a bonus for Beatles fans, each chapter is named after a Beatles song or album. It’s good to know they are still around in 2128. I wonder if they find MH370?

Meant for high school students and much to contemplate for them.


While we Run by Karen Healey.

January 10, 2015 Comments off

while we runWhile we Run by Karen Healey. Pub. Allen & Unwin, 2014. This YA novel is sequel to When We Wake the story of Tegan who was cryonically preserved after being shot in 2027 only to wake up in a different Australia 100 years later.

In the earlier book Tegan and some others including Abdi the handsome boy from Djibouti who narrates this novel, expose the Ark Project, a Government scheme to cryonically freeze refugees and ship them off to another planet with the promise of a better life.

After being caught the Government control Tegan and Abdi by torture and make them put a positive spin on the Ark Project and as we found in NZ with the Nicky Hagar book Dirty Politics, people are prepared to abandon truth in favour of a comforting falsehood. This is one of the themes in this novel.

The second major theme is the role of violence in achieving political ends even when it is for the right reasons. Tegan, Abdi and the group of rebels who want to expose the evils of the government agonise with some relish the collateral damage associated with getting the truth out. Does the end justify the means?

Tegan and Abdi have been tortured and need to get over this and also sort their feelings out for each other. I will let you decide how well they do this, but things are resolved and all the loose ends tied up and I guess some will think it is well done others may not be so sure.

I found the book a serious work on serious issues. The question of cryonics is handled well although I am not sure of the science. Karen Healey maintains the action, including the all Australian bushfire, to keep the reader interested and of course the Tegan/Abdi romance provides another sideline. Read it and see if you agree.

Refugees and global warming are other important issues. Its worth a read.

Awakening by Natalie King.

January 5, 2015 Comments off

awakeningAwakening by Natalie King. Pub. Penguin, 2014.

better known as romance writer Natalie Anderson this is Natalie King’s first young adult novel and it is an original idea. My first book of the new year and it took me a while to get into it but once I became atuned to Natalie King’s style I couldn’t put it down.

Tamas is a 17 year old French boy trapped by Witchery in a solid metal pendant for over 100 years. Similarly aged Zelie is trapped into rescuing the pendant from the cold waters of Lake Tekapo by emaciated and sickly Kate. Once she puts it round her neck she cannot remove it and finds that the boy Tamas is now inside her and can see through her eyes.

No more looking in the mirror after a shower for Zelie. Tamas talks to Zelie and he tells her he will leave her body once he gets stronger, but will this happen? Meantime Zelie who is a newcomer to New Zealand with her doctor father and 8 year old brother meets boy hunk Otis who surprisingly takes notice of her and invites her for toast after school. Then he invites her to the school ball where all hell is going to break loose.

Very descriptively written in the pristine setting of Lake Tekapo in the coldest winter. You can feel the cold coming out of the pages. Great to read in bed on these hot sticky nights.

I could describe this novel with several phrases like a psychological drama, a magical mystery, a witchy romance or a dark magic tale. They are all correct but there is something else there and you the reader can find out for yourself.

I will say i don’t think it is the end of the story. There is at least one sequel inherent in this story.

Faraway Girl by Fleur Beale. Pub. Penguin Books, 2022

May 12, 2022 Comments off

I am so glad to have read another Fleur Beale novel for intermediate readers and above. It is a time slip novel contrasting Victorian values about women and girls and today’s specimens. It makes for humour and drama that will keep the most discerning of readers in the book.

17 year old Etta wakes feeling rough but not as bad as her younger brother Jamie who has a condition that is wearing him away with no reason that the doctors can find. As the book opens Jamie is a “limp lump of paleness”. I love the way Fleur Beale uses language.

As the family gather around the limp Jamie a vision appears and solidifies before their eyes. It is Constance, a 17 year old girl from 1869 England dressed in her wedding dress. She has traveled through time while having her wedding picture painted by a creep of an artist. The painting is to be complete before the wedding of Constance to a swine of a man called Mr Smeaton. He is an entitled mill owner who holds sway over Constance’s parents.

Constance is awed and horrified by the way Etta talks and behaves “all the belief’s she had drummed into her everyday of her life made no sense in the modern world of today”.

Etta and Constance bond as friends then both girls are whisked back in time to Constance’s Victorian home and boy what an impact Etta makes.

The girls find out what rogues Mr Smeaton and Constance’s father have been and learn that Jamie’s demise is related to the portrait of Constance in her wedding dress. Will he be saved? What will happen when Etta gets back to now time? what if the media find out?

If you want to know anything else you will have to read it yourself and it is compelling reading especially the last 50 pages. How is an improbable situation going to feel credible? But it does, such is the skill of Fleur Beale’s writing.

Early One Morning by Lawrence Schimel & Elina Braslina. Pub. Oratia, 2021.

September 14, 2021 Comments off

A little red head boy gets up before his two mums and his sister and makes breakfast while they are still sleeping.

The cat is awake too so both make their own breakfast.

A read aloud for juniors and pre school and hard board so that they can beat it around a bit.

Similar content to Bedtime Not Playtime with gay mothers . The strength is the normalcy of the relationships.

Colourful characters and easy text.

Whispers by Greg Howard.

January 11, 2019 Comments off

9780241367087-1-edition.default.original-1 webWhispers by Greg Howard. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2019.

This novel for gifted intermediate readers and secondary school students, is a slow burner. It takes a while to get into it, but once it takes off, you will be hooked.

Eleven year old Riley James lives with his father and older brother in a deeply religious country community in South Carolina. There is no room to be different in this community and Riley knows that he is. He has the same feeling for boys that most boys have for girls. He is by his own admission a mummy’s boy and he clashes with his gun-toting elder brother Danny and with his father.

Crisis comes when his mother disappears and the police are constantly questioning Riley about it. He says he can remember nothing but events in this story, particularly a Stand By Me type camping trip into the woods with some other boys, jog his memory.

At the beginning of the novel is a story about Whispers told to Riley by his mother. When she disappears he retreats into his imagination and creates a bizarre fantasy explanation about things in life based on the whispers story, but reality is close at hand.

Where has his mother gone? Is she still alive? and what about his awakening sexuality? Read this intense novel and find out.

The Sea Dreamer by Terry Fitzgibbon.

September 26, 2018 Comments off

sea dreamerThe Sea Dreamer by Terry Fitzgibbon. Pub. New Holland, 2018.

When Sam goes to sleep he dreams and floats away on his toy tugboat Wakato accompanied by Pania of the reef. he goes on a journey of discovery and in the process learns about the sea and all the animals who live in it and around it.

There is a strong conservation element about his discoveries which include sea life getting tangled in drastic plastic pollution. He dreams of towing the plastic back to shore for recycling.

Sam learns that the sea is our main source of oxygen and that the power of the oceans waves can help create energy for when oil supplies run out.

he learns about the giant squid, about whales about the albatross and the North and South poles. he wakes with the message that we need to look after the sea and keep it healthy.

Good message and great colourful illustrations. My favourite was Sam towing the mother polar bear and her cub to safety on a flimsy ice floe.

Well worth purchasing for the home or school library.

Missing by Sue Whiting

January 31, 2018 Comments off

MissingMissing by Sue Whiting. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.

People go missing all the time. Some mysteriously, some by design, some by accident. This is a story of how 13 year old Mackenzie deals with the disappearance of her mother in the jungle of Panama.

The novel starts 114 days after Mackenzie’s mother disappears when her father wakes her in the middle of the night with the news that they are going to Panama to search for her right now. They go to the place where Mackenzie’s mother was last seen and start their own search. Things do not go well.

The story then backtracks to the day the mother went missing and works up to the day they leave for Panama. In that time we learn something of what has gone before. There is a wiped out file titled Panama written by her mother to consider, a postcard received from UK and some erratic behaviour from Mackenzie’s  mother and father. Is there deception?

In the meantime Mackenzie’s imagination runs wild and her school life is in chaos. The answer will be found but you will have to read the novel to find out.

Well structured and written and a profile of what can happen to families in a crisis. The setting of Panama is a character on it’s own. Will appeal to middle school readers and pre-teens.

Waiting for Goliath by Antje Damn

April 5, 2017 Comments off

goliathWaiting for Goliath by Antje Damn. Pub. Gecko Press, 2017.

The surprise factor in a children’s picture book is a big plus as far as I am concerned and this book from German author Antje Dam has it.

When one considers Goliath, certain giant like images come to mind. Wait till you see him.

Bear is loyal, trusting and patient. He knows Goliath is coming and is prepared to wait a year for him to come. So bear sits on his bench, hibernates then wakes to greet Goliath. As he does so the seasons pass.

Unique diorama like illustrations with rich coloured backgrounds show the seasons passing. The written dialogue as other animals tell bear that Goliath isn’t coming is short and sharp. Bear will not be deterred.

Good read-a-loud for juniors and pleasurable for newly confident readers. Adults will have a smile or two as well. A quality publication.

AniMalcolm by David Baddiel.

November 15, 2016 Comments off

animalcolmAniMalcolm by David Baddiel. Pub HarperCollins, 2016.

This quirky novel about identity for primary and intermediate students is absurdly clever. It combines the poo bum weez humour of writers like Paul Jennings and Andy Griffith but adds a satirical dimension that will make older readers smile too.

Malcolm lives in a home loaded with animals but he cares nothing for them and doesn’t know why. Everybody else in his family loves animals why not him? Was it the fact that the chimpanzees threw poo over him when he visited the zoo, or something else?

Malcolm goes to visit Orwell Farm with his class and encounters a goat with big eyes named  K-Pax. He stares into the eyes of the guru like goat, falls asleep and when he wakes he is a turtle lying on his back. Horrors.

In turn he changes into a cat, then a sheep and other animals before becoming a pigeon. He learns that every time he goes to sleep he wakes up as the last animal he saw.

How will he become a human again.? What will he learn about being an animal? Read it and find out.

Simple to read, clever illustrations and lots of laughs.