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Archive for the ‘Senior Fiction’ Category

Arc of the Scythe bk3: The Toll by Neal Shusterman.

December 9, 2019 Comments off

The TollArc of the Scythe bk3: The Toll by Neal Shusterman. Pub. Walker Books, 2019.

The third and final book in this trilogy and the big question is “what will become of the world of Scythes, Tonists and Thunderhead after the sinking of the Scythe Headquarters Endura”?

In a nutshell it is knackered. Chaos reigns. Everything is changing.

Firstly Scythedom is divided and Robert Goddard is now self declared Highblade of the Scythes and is determined to unite Scythes and increase their power over both the Thunderhead and the Tonists. Gleaning or killing is increased to alarming proportions and the fairness and equity of the gleaning is now targeted racism. Highblade Goddard blames Rowan or Scythe Lucifer for the destruction of Endura although Rowan and Citra or Scythe Anastasia died together in the sinking of Endura. In this World in which mortality has been conquered does anybody really die permanently?

Secondly Thunderhead, that AI entity that can process 2 billion actions per second, has withdrawn from the World. Everybody is declared “unsavory” and no longer has direct contact with Thunderhead. Day to day operations are still handled by Thunderhead but personal access has ended. The question is does Thunderhead have a plan for humanity or is it going to be left to destroy itself?

Thirdly the Tonists that wacko group of religious followers of the Tone have a living leader, The Toll who is a character you know from the previous two books and he is the only person that Thunderhead will talk directly to. Some Tonists have turned radical or Sibilant and Anarchy reigns as the Tonists search for their identity in this new World.

Fourthly, Scythe Faraday and his assistant in the last book detected a blind spot for Thunderhead in the South Pacific and they go searching, crash land on an island to make some interesting discoveries.

The action is non stop as each of the player groups reacts to the actions of the other. Has Thunderhead given up on humanity? Will the Scythes under Goddard glean humans out of existence? Do the Tonists have the answers? What of Anastasia, Lucifer and Faraday? Is the South Pacific the answer to their problems?

Stunning writing from Shusterman with an ending that will have you gasping. The best series since Hunger Games and will appeal to a similar audience. An interesting angle is added to this series with the character of Jericho and the personalisation of Thunderhead in human form. Can a machine ever understand humans?

Wonderful stuff, I am still buzzing over it.

 

Frankly in Love by David Yoon.

November 19, 2019 Comments off

franklyFrankly in Love by David Yoon. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2019.

I first received this novel for review two months ago and somehow I have sat on it till now. I shouldn’t have. It is absolutely superb. It is about first love, it is about racism and it is about cultural difference in American culture, written in a way that will totally enthrall you.

Frank Li is 18 years old he is by his own words a Korean-American and proud of it. He speaks no Korean and has grown up as an American kid except that he is Asian. His parents are dyed in the wool Koreans who came to America in the 90’s. Their English is halting and they earn a living from a liquor store come grocery in California which they own. They have done very well but stick to their Korean friends and are totally racist in their views especially towards other Asian groups. Its about the human ties that matter.

Previously their only daughter and Frank Li’s sister Hannah, has been disowned by the family because she developed a relationship with a Black American while at college and has since married him. Frank Li is distressed about this as he loved his sister and his parents want him to marry a Korean daughter of one of their friends. Her name is Joy and she has a secret Chinese boyfriend without her parents knowledge. Joy is a joy to read about.

When Frank Li starts a relationship with European American girl, Brit Means that develops into love and hot love at that, Joy and Frank Li start a pretend relationship to hide their real relationships from their parents.

This is a dangerous game and soon it is going to go pear shaped. Find out how and why by reading this very readable novel for yourself. It is compelling reading, superbly told.

In a nut shell the parents have to let go of their racist views and the kids have to learn to be brave in a melting pot that is the American dream. An added bonus is that the multi cultural kids in this book are highly intelligent and the wit and interaction they have both in person and via technology is totally engrossing

Senior secondary and young adult but younger teen readers will thrive on it too. In my top 5 books of the year so far and I pick it will stay there.

The Book of Dust. vol 2. The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman.

October 27, 2019 Comments off

DustThe Book of Dust. vol 2. The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2019.

This is a superb novel for lovers of fantasy, of philosophy, of mystery, of adventure and those interested in the meaning and origin of life.

It has been ten years since Lyra returned from the land of the dead in The Subtle Knife from the His Dark Materials series. She is 20 and is in a melancholic disposition because she and her daemon Pan have fallen out and there is no trust between them. They are capable of traveling apart from each other and do so regularly. This was once thought impossible but their parting is an essential ingredient in this story. Read it and find out why.

Lyra still uses that mysterious instrument, the alethiometer, to find out information and has started to use a new and radical way of manipulating it. The bankruptcy of her friend’s father who is in the rose trade is a warning of major trouble and the murder of a botanist Rodderick Hassall has the world in an uproar.

Hassall has just returned from the desert of Karamakan in Central Asia where a certain rose can only be grown whose oil has been contaminated with that magical particle Dust from which all life emanates. How? The origin of this rose oil is a building in the middle of the desert that can be entered only by those who can separate from their daemons.

Where has Pan gone? Can he really believe that someone has stolen Lyra’s imagination?

I will leave it at that. Find out for yourself in this novel of nearly 700 pages that is totally compelling. I read it over 6 days reading and savouring about 150 pages per day. It is outstanding and even the deepest philosophical points are made easy to read.

The real skill of the author is to organise the plot so that the connections between the host of characters is made apparent, otherwise it could be confusing.

If you miss this you will kick yourself. Lyra Silvertongue is not only growing up and learns much about herself, she is on the run again in the land of fairies and ghosts, the secret commonwealth.

 

Beverly, Right Here by Kate DiCamillo.

October 24, 2019 Comments off

BeverlyBeverly, Right Here by Kate DiCamillo. Pub. Walker Books, 2019.

Beverly Tapinski is beautiful, she is 14 years old, her dog Buddy has just died, her mother is an alcoholic and her daddy left home when she was very young. She lives in the steamy state of Florida and was friends with Raymie Nightingale and Louisiana Elefante, the main characters in two other books by Kate DiCamillo that are reviewed on this blog.

Beverly feels bereft after the death of Buddy, the disappearance of Louisiana and the move away by Raymie, so she decides home has nothing for her, and hitchhikes out of town and goes to Tamaray.

What happens from then on is heart warming with some of the best and worst behaviour, (but mostly best) that humans exhibit. Beverly meets an old lady who lives in a caravan called Iola who takes Beverly in. She gets a job clearing tables at a sea food restaurant, meets a boy called Elmer and has some of the best experiences she has ever had in her life.

The rest you can find out for yourself, except to say this is a book of wisdom. Reading it will gladden your heart.

For primary, intermediate and junior secondary readers. A work of genius. Terrific cover.

The End and Other Beginnings. Stories from the future by Veronica Roth.

October 22, 2019 Comments off

end beginningsThe End and Other Beginnings. Stories from the future by Veronica Roth. Pub. HarperCollins, 2019.

There are 6 stories in this collection, all are set in the future, all are about survival in which the characters come to a crisis or turning point in their lives akin to death, then have a renewed assurance and confidence about continuing their lives.

In all stories which are set on an Earth like setting there are alien cultures living in with the native population and the characters have a skill or a talent that can help them in their plight.

They are not simple stories. All have strong development of plot and character from which further stories can be made from the reader thus they are very useful at encouraging writing.

INERTIA has a dying teenage boy linking mentally by medical science with a girl with whom he had a past relationship. They share memories of the earlier relationship of which the other was not fully aware as a way of saying goodbye before death. With a twist.

THE SPINNERS. Has a bounty hunter chasing the killer of her mother. The killer is an alien symbiotic leech that attaches itself to the neck of a human and takes over their mind and body. Stunning ending with a twist.

HEARKEN. A girl with a strong musical talent is to become a Hearker who is able to read the life and death songs of humans based on String Theory. Everybody is living and dying at the same time. A lovely twist to this story too.

VIM AND VIGOR. Is a story of girls who are mad about super heroes. read it to find out what happens.

ARMOURED ONES. is a story of a boy who is considered week by his peers and choses to take on an Armoured beast that is feared by all in order to prove his worth.

THE TRANSFORMATIONIST. looks at religious belief and refusal to defend oneself in an alien culture.

Check these superior stories out, the human problems are so real yet so different. Senior secondary and young adult in appeal.

 

 

 

HERO by Michael Grant.

October 10, 2019 Comments off

heroHERO by Michael Grant. Pub. Electric Monkey, Imprint HarperCollins, 2019.

This work is like a Marvel or XMen comic written as a novel, and that is a good thing because it allows the reader to use his or her own imagination to view what is going on not someone else’s.

It is the third and final part of a spin off series of the GONE series, some of the characters are in there, so is the gore and mind blowing action.

Eight years ago a meteor hit Perdido Beach and everybody disappeared except those that lived within a dome created by an alien virus. The rock that the meteor was made of contained a virus that turned people into monsters.

The dome helped create the Rockborn gang – Dekka, Shade, Cruz, Malik and Armo. They are mutants, have special powers and can morph and demorph into super heroes at will. They kept the world from disintegrating in the last book, live in Las Vegas, and now they have a new challenge.

Another asteroid with the same virus is orbiting the Earth and is projected to hit New York. They Nuke the thing but large rocks and dust still crash into the city. Those hit by the dust are isolated, taken out into the country and slaughtered at the behest of the Federal Government in case they turn into monsters like Perdido. This clashes with the will of New York City.

Four people allegedly survive and one is newly infected Bob Markovic whose invisibility is covered with stinging bees and insects. A new kind of monster. As a human he was a capitalist whose philosophy is “morality and profit do not walk hand in hand”. See how he handles being a monster.

The Rockborn gang are brought in to sort it out and they are having doubts as to who they really are and what type of world are they living in. Are they living in an AI sim as comic book super heroes or is it the real world?

Check it out for yourself. I thought it was brilliant but not for everybody. The gore and the action hits you in waves.

Secondary and young adult but adults who like horror and sci/fi will devour it. Superbly written in short chapters to keep you up with the pace.

Prince of Ponies by Stacy Gregg

October 5, 2019 Comments off

prince of poniesPrince of Ponies by Stacy Gregg. Pub. HarperCollins, 2019.

This latest novel from Stacy Gregg for intermediate and junior secondary readers, is breathtaking.

If I had to summarise it in one sentence it would go “two girls, two horses, two dogs, two Germanys, two historical periods, two connections”.

Zofia is a 9 year old polish girl when the Nazis conquered her country in 1939. She survived WW2 on a horse stud  taken over by the Germans and developed a close relationship with a grey/white Arabian horse called Prince. He was a superior horse, proud muscular and awe inspiring. Her dog Olaf hated Nazis.

Mira is from Syria and now resides in Germany in 2019. She is bullied at school, loves horses and walks a dog called Rolf. She and Rolf follow a horse who has got loose through the forest to a stud where she meets Zofia as an old lady. The horse is also white/grey, is named Emir and has the same arrogance and other qualities as Prince.

Both horse are powerful expressive stallions. There is much quality horse and show jumping talk.

In return for writing Zofia’s story Mira gets horse riding lessons from Zofia who tells her after her first attempt at riding Emir “it takes a hundred falls to make a true rider”. Zofia’s story in Berlin and the last days of Hitler are mind blowing as is Mira’s progress in the show jumping circuit. The ending is very emotional.

Find out the rest for yourself and you will love it. Zofia’s story is stunning and Mira has much to deal with too. One of the best of the year so far.