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Archive for the ‘Senior Fiction’ Category

DRY by Neal Shusterman & Jarrod Shusterman.

October 14, 2018 Comments off

dryDRY by Neal Shusterman & Jarrod Shusterman. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.

One of the most readible, action packed and futuristic novels I have read for some time. It is about survival when the water runs dry and human beings have a melt down causing the total disintegration of society.

William Golding in Lord of the Flies wrote about the thin veneer of civilisation that covers mankind and how quickly it erodes under pressure. When the Governor of Arizona cuts the flow of the Colorado river into Southern California and stops the water supply to everybody, all hell breaks loose.

Teenager Alyssa and her younger brother Garrett are as under prepared as everybody. When their parents go missing while looking for water they team up reluctantly with the boy next door, Kelton whose father has prepared for this moment all of his life. Kelton has too and he is one tough customer.

As rioting and looting pervade in every community, it becomes dog eat dog with people doing anything for water. The kids meet up with a street wise hell cat Jacqui and a mercenary capitalist, Henry, who sees opportunity for money in the whole scenario and would sell his grandmother if there was a profit in it. The snappy dialogue between the characters excels when Henry is on board.

The group travel through the wasteland of bone dry, lawless, California as authorities grapple with the catastrophe that is around them. For the group tomorrow has to wait a while and yesterday is irrelevant. Survival is the only game in town.

I couldn’t put it down. Brilliantly written and conceived. Totally believable. Miss this and you will kick yourself. For teenagers and young adults.

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.

 

The Quest Series Pt1. How to set the World on Fire by T.K. Riggins.

October 2, 2018 Comments off

world on fireThe Quest Series Pt1. How to set the World on Fire by T.K. Riggins. Pub. Franchise Publishing Vancouver, 2017.

After reading literally hundreds of fantasy novels it is refreshing to read a really good one. For fantasy to be successful with me it must have  a number of things -firstly mythical dragon like creature or a unicorn. This novel has both. A half lion half dragon beast called a langara which is the guardian of the Forest of Morais and two unicorns one white one black.

Secondly it must have magic. There must be magicians who can do wonderous things, and thirdly there has to be bad things and bad people that need to be overcome to return a troubled land or society to peace and harmony.

This novel has them all, and there is the sage mirror. Find out what it is.

Kase wants to be a warrior and him and his elder sister Cali, who is a scholar, go to a school called the Academy. The Academy caters for warriors, scholars and wizards but never the twain shall meet until now.

Every year the Academy has the Quest for older students before they leave school and teams of all scholars, all warriors, all wizards are the norm. This year is different. Kase Cali, Lena and Talen are not in their final year, not all from one class and they form a team called Liberati to contest the Q. Their first task is to bring hot lava back in it’s natural condition without it solidifying. Tough stuff.

How will they do against older teams? What about school bad boy Niveous? What about the unicorns and the langara? I am not going to tell you any more, you will have to read it yourself. And it is very good.

Great introduction to fantasy for kids from 8-15 years. Good values too. Friendship, families, teamwork, leadership and selflessness are themes. Lots of science and problem solving.

The second book in the series Money Jane is already out.

Scared to Death by Anthony Horowitz

September 28, 2018 Comments off

scared to deathScared to Death by Anthony Horowitz Pub. Walker books, 2018.

This book came to me on a day in which I received 14 other books to read. I checked them all out but there was no doubt that this was the one I would read first and I was not disappointed.

The cover boasts “read this at your peril” and it was not wrong. Ten stunning short stories, eleven really if you read the Note from the Chairman of Walker Books at the end. Each of the stories pushes boundaries and the endings of all of them are particularly satisfying.

Bet your life pushes the TV quiz show to deadly heights. You Have Arrived is what you wish would happen to those thugs out there. The Cobra challenges the cynic in the lovely city of Marrakech. Robo Nanny takes child care to a new level. My Bloody French Exchange brings the vampire into reckoning.

If you want to know about any of the other five you will have to read it yourself but Power was most satisfying and the J Train awoke my new York experience.

Each story is wonderfully constructed and told. Every story will surprise you. Anthony Horowitz is a master story teller.

Short stories evoke the imagination and will attract the most reluctant of readers. One of the best collections I have read and apart from Juniors they are for all reading levels.

Fire Stallion by Stacy Gregg.

September 18, 2018 Comments off

fire stallionFire Stallion by Stacy Gregg. Pub. HarperCollins, 2018.

This is the best Stacy Gregg book about girls and horses yet. It has everything – action, two horses, history in a wonderful place, a film set, romance, transmogrification and the line “she swept into the stable like she was walking onto a yacht”. You can’t beat that Carly Simon.

Set in Iceland where the horses are pure bred and been untainted for more than 1000 years. No other horses are allowed in Iceland and if an Icelandic horse leaves the county it can’t get back in again.

Brunhilda is an Icelandic legendary warrior Queen and 14 year old Hilly and her mother are on a Hollywood film set in Iceland making a film of her life. A Hollywood starlet named Jamisen has the part of Brunhilda and Hilly is her stunt double doing all the horse riding scenes. Jamisen is true brat pack and her male lead man is a Justin Bieber double named Anders Mortenson. Romance looms and there is a wedding but between whom?

Hilly is advised by a cultural adviser in Norse affairs named Gudrun who has the power to send Hilly back in time into the body of the real Brunhilda.

The action is stunning and the horse talk endless. Strong girls confront the male opinion of “a man should be in control, it’s the natural order of things”

A wonderful story, spellbinding in parts which takes fans of Stacy Gregg forward in age a little into the puberty thing. Intermediate and junior high school kids will love it and I suspect younger girl readers will prise it out of your hands given a chance. Boys should give it a crack too the action is brilliant

Slice of Heaven by Des O’Leary.

September 12, 2018 Comments off

slice heavenSlice of Heaven by Des O’Leary. Pub. Makaro Press, 2018.

This is a terrific novel about kids going to High School in South Auckland and the lives they live in this multi cultural community.

Many people will refer to South Auckland as “the Hood” and in many ways that is exactly what it is. The rap culture and the Gangsta model have to a certain extent captured the psyche of the kids in South Auckland and it is more than just pretence. It is their lives.

Sione & TJ, Deepak & Raj, Nigel &Junior, Jordan, Hieu, Oko, and Redemption are all on detention at school when they are press-ganged into joining the school softball team for a game against a visiting school. They all have crap attitudes, have no interest in school or softball but hey it is better than detention. The real team never showed up because they couldn’t pay the $20.00 for travel and use of the gear.

From this beginning they become a team but heaps happens in their home lives as well. Sione has hard working parents who came to New Zealand so their kids could have a better future not running wild with the gangs. Sione does some dumb things and takes a beating from his father. Other characters have bad family problems and live in poverty stricken over crowded homes.What hope do they have?

Superbly written and told by Des O’Leary who was a teacher in Aorere College  South Auckland and certainly knows what is what with kids culture. His characters are Samoan, Tongan, Maori, Indian Fijian, Vietnamese and others and the strongest feature is the dialogue between the characters. They talk to each other in an aggressive manner with embarrassment and the put down major weapons but there is an underlying sense of humour about how they talk that will captivate readers. One thing you don’t do is call a Vietnamese, Chinese. Read it and find out why.

The social and economic depravity of the area is also a theme “the old man shuffled past the kids looking for cigarette butts on the ground”. The gangsta stuff with the coloured bandanas and the attachment to “our turf’ is a factor and most characters are pretending to be people they aren’t.

The point is will the softball connection change their lives?

Excellent novel for teenagers about an area with attitude that has some mystique in New Zealand culture. Great cover, says it all.

Athena. The Story of a Goddess by Imogen and Isabel Greenberg.

August 25, 2018 Comments off

AthenaAthena. The Story of a Goddess by Imogen and Isabel Greenberg. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2018.

The Greek legends were the true beginning of Western storytelling and literature but always the complication was, who was what god or goddess and how were they related.

Athena who was to become Goddess of wisdom, war and courage was born from one of her father Zeus’s headaches. Her sister was the Goddess of love Aphrodite, her stepmother was the wife of Zeus, Hera and she had great competition with her uncle, Poseidon, God of the sea.

Athena loved to interfere in the lives of the mortals on Earth and this book recounts some of those famous stories that we all know. The story of the Trojan Wars and Helen of Troy and the subsequent 20 year journey of Odysseus which was part of Athena’s battle with Poseidon. Then there is the story of Arachne. Guess what Athena turned her into?

This is a picture book size work of brilliance. Text has handwritten font and the illustrations are classic. Greek Legends don’t get better than this.

Aimed at the junior and intermediate reader but well worth a look from older readers.