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Archive for the ‘Senior Fiction’ Category

Katipo Joe: Blitzkrieg by Brian Falkner.

March 31, 2020 Comments off

katipoKatipo Joe: Blitzkrieg by Brian Falkner. Pub. Scholastic, 2020.

This action filled war story of World war 2 is a novel to rival the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz. I make this comparison because it is totally world class writing from, in my opinion the best action writer in New Zealand.

Based on true events it is set in Berlin in 1938 as the Nazi machine was taunting the world with threats and it’s anti Jewish programe. Joe is 12 years old and his parents work as diplomats and also spy on the Nazis. Joe goes to school in Berlin and mixes with Martin Borman’s nephew Klaus. Joe is a blue eyed blond youth and speaks fluent German , a fact that makes him a target for espionage.

When his father is arrested by the gestapo, Joe and his mother escape from berlin in a thrilling piece of action.

The scene shifts to London during the Blitz with Joe living in the ruins of the city looking for his mother. he meets friends on the street and the tragedy of wartime Britain. He gets involved in a Nazi spy ring that involves his mother and when his mother is allegedly  killed in a Nazi bomb plot, Joe is seconded by MI6 special forces and trained to be a spy.

The scene then shifts to occupied Paris with Joe flown into France to infiltrate the Hitlerjugend or Hitler Youth movement to effect an assassination of a prominent Nazi general. The action is thrilling.

Splendidly written by Brian Falkner who is at the top of his game. The action is astonishing and tragic. War is like this. Don’t miss this one it is superb.

For readers between 12 years and 16 years. Adults will love it too. Photographs in the back plus a glossary giving all the aircraft, guns and Nazi terms. Easy to read and compelling.

Burn by Patrick Ness

March 24, 2020 Comments off

burnBurn by Patrick Ness. Pub. Walker Books, 2020.

RELEASED MAY 2020

This is a Young Adult novel out of the top draw. It is a novel of parallel worlds, of dragons, of the human condition, of action and ultimately a love story.

It is the year 1957 and the Cold War is heating up so to speak. The Russians are on the verge of putting a satellite into space and the Americans are worried about the spying implications of such a satellite.

This is real history but there is an additional element -DRAGONS. Yes dragons inhabit this planet living in the waste lands of Russia of Asia of Europe and the Americas. Humans and dragons rarely meet. They have lived a peaceful but uneasy existence for centuries but that is all about to change with the launch of the Russian satellite.

There is a prophecy that nuclear war will break out between men and rid the planet of humans thus allowing dragons who are immune from radiation to fly free. The satellite launch is going to be used to trigger the war.

Enter a religious cult of dragon worshipers called Believers in the person of Malcolm a ruthless 17 year old, gay killer whose job is to assassinate a teenage girl called Sarah Dewhurst as she is prophesised to stop the dragons.

The action and plot turns are staggering. Written in two parts the end of the first part seeming to be the end of the world. After a torrid conflict a claw of a dragon known as The Spur is used to transfer all the action into a parallel world where every character in the first part has a different life in the second world.

This is a brilliant transition but will the prophecy be true in this second world and is there hope for human kind and dragons?

Superbly told, totally compelling. If you miss this you will miss the best book of the year.

Nightshade by Anthony Horowitz.

March 10, 2020 Comments off

alex rider (2)Nightshade by Anthony Horowitz. Pub. Walker books, 2020.

Released 2 April

This is book number 13 in the Alex Rider series and this time it is serious. Alex is a little out of his depth as he tackles a secret organisation called Nightshade which uses children who have been kidnapped at age 4 or 5 years.

These children have been brainwashed into forgetting their past and trained to be ruthless and efficient killers. One of their number known to MI6 as Freddy is captured while assassinating an agent in Brazil but shuts down and cannot be broken. MI6 know that there is a secret plan to destroy London and that Nightshade are the culprits.

Freddy who is a heartless killer is locked away in a secret high security prison on Gibraltar and Alex is given the identity of another villain from the past called Julius Grief with the job of befriending Freddy in order to find out when and how the destruction of London is to be achieved.

How Alex attempts this is astonishing and beggars the question is he finally out of his depth. To make things personal Mrs Jones, Alex’s master at MI6, had her two children kidnapped at ages 5 &6. Could they now be members of Nightshade? Alex also has his doubters in MI6.

Brilliantly conceived story, action packed and thrilling to read. I can tell you no more but if you are a fan you will relish this novel and if you are discovering Alex for the first time live long and prosper.

The best action novel you will read this year.

 

 

A Trio of Sophies by Eileen Merriman.

March 2, 2020 Comments off

trioA Trio of Sophies by Eileen Merriman. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2020.

This is a page turner make no bones about that. It is about friendship between three girls, all called Sophie, all 16 years old, all at the same school and what happens when boyfriends and sexual relations enter their lives.

Sophie A is very attractive with hair that doesn’t go frizzy on the most humid of Auckland days. Sophie T is sporty but not so academically gifted as the other two, and Sophie M is academically gifted and wants to become a forensic scientist. They have been friends since they were 9 years old but the hormones are buzzing around and this is going to shatter all their lives.

During the summer holidays Sophie M, who narrates this story, falls while running at Muriwai and is tended to by James Bacon. He tells her he is 19 and their romance blossoms with him being very much the leader and Sophie a willing participant. It is a dream come true for her and she is in love. She tells no-one but he is not being honest.

First day back at school is a massive surprise and things start deteriorating between Sophie and James. To make things worse Sophie A, the attractive one goes missing. I can tell you no more but it is riveting.

Structured in 3 parts the first of which takes up 75% of the book and the last two deal with the aftermath of what has occurred. What makes it a page turner is that it is written in diary form by Sophie M and there are hooks that make you keep reading. Also Sophie knows something that no-one else does but is it ever resolved. Read it and find out.

Teenage girls will love it, plenty of first love experiences, feelings and doubts and a male character who is as devious as a ferret. Much to enjoy in this novel. Other titles by the same author are reviewed elsewhere on this blog.

Best  New Zealand YA novel of the year so far. Don’t miss it you will kick yourself if you do. The ending will make you think. Classy cover.

Orphans of the Tide by Struan Murray.

January 31, 2020 Comments off

orphansOrphans of the Tide by Struan Murray. Pub. Puffin, 2020.

RELEASED 18 FEB. 2020

Always nice to read a children’s novel by a new author who has a great imagination.

Struan Murray creates a totally believable world that has been through the Drowning. The sea has risen enormously and the only known city left is built on a mountain and is called the City. The City is a character in it’s own right in this novel.

The plot is mysterious and action packed and it is about survival in this watery world. It begins when a whale is washed up on the roof of a house close to the waterfront. Ellie the main character knows that whales start decomposing in the stomach which produces gas and needs to be opened up before it explodes.

The opening starts a panic in the town. Ellie slices the whale open and a boy is extracted from the intestines. Ellie names him Seth and wants to protect him from the townsfolk who have judged him to be a Vessel for the main foe of the people who they call the Enemy.

The Inquisitors in the City have the job of hunting the Vessel down and killing it. Seth is the first Vessel in 23 years, but Ellie, her friend Annie and mysterious character Finn have other ideas.

Between chapters there is the story of the previous Vessel who has left the Diary of Claude Hestermeyer. Does it hold the secret to what is going on?

Ellie is a superb character. Her mother was an inventor and she herself has many skills and a respected role in the town. But she has a deadly secret which you can find out about by reading this novel. The last 50 pages are gripping.

Highly descriptive  novel for intermediate and junior high school students that will make you think. There is a map in the front to guide you. A great start to my reading year.

 

One of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus

January 20, 2020 Comments off

one of usOne of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus. Pub. penguin Books, 2020.

If you are ever in an on-line Truth or Dare scenario take the Dare. That is the message of this compelling mystery novel about the toxic danger that on-line social media Apps can have.

This novel is a sequel to One of us is Lying in which high school student Simon arranged his own death to make it look like his friends murdered him. Sick ? yes I know. These friends who include a champion gay baseball pitcher, a courting couple and a girlfriend, are in this novel but a new generation have taken over.

A Truth or Dare App has taken over the lives of the students of Bayfield High School run by an anonymous sicko called Darkestmind. He taunts the students to play truth or dare and all the memories and sick behaviour shown when Simon was around come to the surface again.

The students of Bayfield High School are mesmerised by the new game and show behaviours that no school or society should condone. The school doesn’t but the students do. All they had to do was ignore the App but they flocked to it like lambs to the slaughter.

The main characters in this are Maeve, sister of Bronwyn from the earlier novel, and a leukemia sufferer who is in remission. Knox a law student and shy boy who is treated cruel in the Truth and Dare game and Phoebe who has a fling with her sisters boyfriend and suffers the consequences in the game.

Crisis time comes when a member of the school is killed, but is it murder?

Structured in two parts this novel has much to say about teenage relationships and the dangers of on-line social media Apps. Then there is the mystery of who is behind the Truth and Dare game.

Superbly written by Karen McManus who keeps the tension flowing and gives a satisfying ending, but the human behaviour amongst the young is often appalling. One comment stands out to me. When the girls look up Knox’s website this comment is made “No selfies. What kind of weirdo is he?” Astonishing!

You just have to read it. Senior high school and young adults

Chasing the Shadows by Maria V. Snyder.

January 14, 2020 Comments off

chasing ShadowsChasing the Shadows by Maria V. Snyder. Pub. HQ. Young Adult, 2019.

This is set on a Planet called Yulin on the outer area of the Galaxy. On this Planet is a human force preparing it for civilisation and carrying out archaelogical digs which are mysterious.

All over other Planets in the Galaxy are Pits containing Terracotta Army warriors like those in modern day China. The Warriors have magical marks on them and have hearts made from a substance not known on Earth. It is suspected that the Warriors have some power that can give supremacy to anyone who can crack the unknown markings on the Terracotta Warriors.

It is suspected that alien symbols on the warriors prove the Aliens believed in demons and used the warriors to protect themselves perhaps using an as yet unknown dimension.

On Yulin, Ara who is about 18 years old and was killed in the last book Navigating the Stars by a Looter named Jarren. She is  secretly revived and learns security on Yulin while her parents work on the Warriors. But why was she killed and why was she secretly revived? Ara works on the giant Internet system called Q-Net and is able to go places no-one else can, even more so since she was brought back to life. She discovers that all communications between Yulin and DES or home base have been secretly stopped for some months probably by arch villain Jarren.

To lure Jarren out those on Yulin decide to open an as yet undisturbed pit full of Warriors to see what will happen. In the meantime Ara is having a first love affair with Niall and trying to break through the barriers on Q-Net that link Yulin to home base.

Lots of Internet type talk which is relevant to today’s world. It you are a techie you will love this Science fiction novel. I found it compelling and there is probably going to be another.