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The Rift by Rachael Craw

November 1, 2018 Comments off

riftThe Rift by Rachael Craw, Pub. Walker books, 2018

This action/adventure/fantasy/scifi/ romance/conservation novel, because it is all of these genres, is from an author who is at the top of her game. It is for high school /young adult readers and is one of the most original novels I have read this year.

Black Water Island is a ferry ride off the coast and is controlled by Rangers whose power is hereditary and they protect the Old herd of deer that populate the island. The deer possess a special quality/panacea called Actaeone Bane which is desired by the medical world particularly by a nasty conglomerate called Nutris Pharmaceuticals. Every four years they have a cull and the company sends fortune hunters to organise the cull. It is lead by a sinister dangerous man named Jackson Spear who you will hate from the beginning.

The Island also has a special quality called Electromagnetic Interference which means nothing mechanical or digital will work on the island. Life is hard for the locals but they love it. The island also has a Rift in which dwell Rift Hounds who are powerful creatures who live off the herd. If one of these hounds should attack you and you survive you acquire a quality called Rift Sight although it is not the only way to have Rift Sight. To be a ranger you must possess Rift sight but the current leader Sargent doesn’t have it.

Cal and Meg were attacked by the Rift Hounds when they were 8 years old, now they are going on 18 both possess Rift Sight. Cal who is an outsider has stayed on the island while Meg left the island with her mother Cora and both have returned on the eve of the cull.

There is unfinished business between Cal and Meg and their feelings for each other are a powerful storyline in this novel. You can find out the rest for yourself.

Rachael Craws language is the star of this novel. Her imagery, description and metaphor are powerful weapons that drive the plot and keep the reader in the book. The action is exhilerating, the romance spine tingling and the plot totally believable. If you miss this you will kick yourself.

Only Love can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber

October 9, 2018 Comments off

only loveOnly Love can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber. Pub. Walker books, 2018.

I have always liked romance and relationship novels and I liked this one, but it drove me to distraction yet I couldn’t put it down. As Gene Pitney once sang “Only love can break a heart, only love can mend it again”. So it is with this novel.

Among other things it is a novel about control in a relationship and getting over the death of a loved one.

Reiko is a beautiful 17 year old girl with a Japanese father and an American European mother. Everybody notices Reiko wherever she goes but she has  a monkey on her back that she never talks about and needs to get it out.

When Reiko was 12 years old her 14 year old sister Mika died in an accident. Reiko feels guilt and has never grieved properly. Mika appears to Reiko in her room and they talk.  Reiko tells nobody, she should. Everybody skirts around the subject.

Then Seth appears on the scene and a relationship develops that drove me crazy. Reiko is practically perfect and Seth is a lone wolf. They get on well but Reiko keeps him secret and exerts a control over the relationship that upsets Seth. Both of them are using the other for their own purposes and sooner or later the dirt is going to hit the fan.

When it does, major change takes place for the benefit of both.

The strong parts of this novel are the friendships between Reiko and her brother Koji, her parents and her girlfriend Dre. Reiko is lucky to have them but Mika needs to be talked about.

Reiko drove me nuts with her self analysis and her secrecy and control over Seth, but I always felt Seth was out of his league with this beauty. It really enhanced the belief that women are from Venus and men from Mars. This has to change and it does.

I loved it and so will you. High school and young adult.

 

Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas by Ant Sang and Michael Bennett.

June 27, 2018 Comments off

go go ninjasHelen and the Go-Go Ninjas by Ant Sang and Michael Bennett. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2018

There is a filmic quality about this excellent graphic novel for readers as wide as intermediate to young adult. It has a lot of depth to it.

It is set around a city like Auckland and is in two time zones. In the present Helen is a protester of environmental issues while her prig of a boyfriend is a PhD student working on sound vibrations emanating from plants called paramecia. The two have all but reached the end of their relationship.

The boyfriend scientist, named Marion after John Wayne, has found that by stimulating the queen paramecia he can create sound vibrations that eliminate the need for anaesthetics and create endless possibilities for humankind.

Meanwhile Helen has been arrested for hanging a protest banner off the SkyTower and confronts Marion in his laboratory. Suddenly they are invaded by GoGo Ninjas from the year 2355 who mistakenly kidnap Helen because they felt Marion was a girls name and take her back to the future.

In the future Marion’s invention has created social chaos and the Ninjas want him to reverse the process. But  all is not as it seems. Read it and find out what happens. There is even a Stockholm Syndrome romantic relationship

Very clever, very imaginative and full on action. I was amazed how much philosophical , scientific and emotional argument can be communicated in Ant Sang’s brilliant comic illustrations. Combine this with Michael Bennett’s tight script and you have a film classic in the making. There is even a copy of a Planet of the Apes scene involving the SkyTower in the future, just as Charlton Heston finds the Statue of liberty on the Beach.

I read this very quickly in like 30 minutes, then sat down and read it again. You will two. I am off to read it again. If you miss this you will kick yourself. Very cool indeed

Eve of Man by Giovanna & Tom Fletcher

June 18, 2018 Comments off

eve of manEve of Man by Giovanna & Tom Fletcher. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2018.

This  dystopian fiction young adult novel will blow your mind. Few novels will promote more discussion about life, survival and the human condition than this one.

It is superbly written by two writers who are in total harmony. One narrates through Eve around whom the novel is based with the other taking Bram an 18 year old boy who plays a female character called Holly who is the game breaker in this novel.

No female baby has been born on Earth for more than 50 years. Then comes Eve whose mother allegedly dies in birth and whose father is condemned as mad and hidden away.

Eve grows up in an ivory tower on top of a mountain surrounded by aging mothers, worshiped by the populace who live beneath her and befriended by Holly her constant companion. Those in power see Eve as the saviour of humankind and they are searching for a suitable male companion for her to breed with.

Holly is sixteen, inquisitive and starting to get the stirrings. Holly alias Bram is falling for Eve as a man and when suitor after suitor proves disasterous for Eve, Bram’s feelings for Holly begin to overwhelm him. When Eve finds out that Holly really is Bram she too becomes smitten. Can their love ever be?

The absence of women has turned the male population into heartless beasts. Without women to soften their animal instincts they are lost. Is there hope for humankind. Read it and find out. It is a stunning read and the first of three parts.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James.

August 16, 2017 Comments off

loneliest girlThe Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James. Pub. Walker Books, 2017.

This sci/fi, futurist, adventure romance for high school students and young adults is without doubt one of the books of the year. I was spellbound from beginning to end and you will be too.

Romy is 16 years old and is alone on a space ship called Infinity taking a 50 year journey at a tenth of the speed of light, to colonise a planet in another galaxy called Earth 2.

Romy was born on the space ship against NASA instructions. The Infinity is filled with thousands of frozen embryos and astronauts in a stasis condition until the journey is over. Things have not gone well on the Infinity and Romy now runs the whole ship on her own with communication back to Earth to a person called Molly. Messages take 2 years to reach Earth and back to Infinity.

Then Romy is told that a faster ship called The Eternity captained by J a 22 year old boy with the two ships programmed to dock in a year. They correspond and a relationship develops between them that provides the romance to the story. Then J tells Romy that war on Earth has destroyed NASA and a new government called UPR is in control and that all future communications are to go through him on the Eternity.

Is this all true? Is J who he says he is? has Earth really had a war? Why is Romy all alone?

Things become rivetting as Eternity catches up to Infinity. The ending is stunning and will keep you on the edge of your seat. You will not forget this novel in a hurry.

Beautifully written, totally believable and some of the cleverest plot lines I have ever read. If you miss this one you will kick yourself.

Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

May 21, 2017 Comments off

chemical heartsOur Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland. Pub. Hot Key Books, 2016.

There is a Japanese art form called Kintsukuroi in which you take a bowl or plate or a pot break it into pieces and stick it back together again so that it becomes more beautiful for having been broken.

This really is a metaphor for the relationship that develops between Henry Page who narrates the novel and Grace Town a beautiful, mysterious, damaged and thoroughly weird girl. Henry wonders what it will be like to fall in love and when he first sees Grace he knows he is drawn to her like a moth to a flame.

Henry struggles to get anything going with Grace, they text each other, work together on the school newspaper but one day she is hot the next cold. Then he finds out about a deep sadness that Grace is carrying around. Henry wants to care for Grace and for her to recognise that they are an item but Grace slips into the abyss and forgets the world exists. Grace tells Henry that “stories with happy endings are stories that haven’t finished yet”.

Henry finds out that this is true. The novel also asks the question do men feel romance?. Do they crush on girls and go through the same heartbreak as girls do over boys?

Brilliantly written in a style that draws on film, book and music trivia with bold dialogue and great depth on what it is like to be growing up and seeking love. I read this in two sittings I couldn’t put it down. Thank you Linley for recommending it to me.

For teenagers and young adults who like the novels of John Green and grew up with Harry Potter, The Twilight series and the music of the Strokes and the Pixies.

Don’t miss this one you will kick yourself if you do.

What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

December 28, 2015 Comments off

What we SawWhat We Saw by Aaron Hartzler. Pub. HarperTeen, 2015.

“you don’t get wasted. You don’t take off your top. You don’t flirt with raging drunks. You don’t dress like a slut. You have to play by the rules. If you don’t this is what happens”. This quote from the novel is what it is all about. A powerful theme and subject matter and a familiar scenario in this country as well.

Kate is a straight up girl. She plays sport she is a good scholar she has loyalty and a strong moral self. She has known 6ft 4 inch Ben since she was 5 years old and in a football match once she accidentally kicked him in the head and left a tell tale scar.

Set in the small Iowa town of Coral Sands where the High School has it’s best basketball team ever. Many of the players are being hunted by Colleges until one party attended by players from the Buccaneers basketball team changes everything. Not just for the school but for the whole town.

A girl is sexually abused and raped by team members while intoxicated. The incident is filmed and charges are laid. Read the rest to find out what happens.

Well told in short chapters, narrated by 17 year old Kate. I like the way the author fits in the geological history of Iowa and the musical Grease as well as a basketball game into the plot.

An unhappy ending for everyone but then what did they expect? beer and skittles!

A serious book with serious issues and attitudes for high school students.