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Archive for the ‘Senior Fiction’ Category

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.

Ash Arising by Mandy Hager.

May 22, 2018 Comments off

Ash ArisingAsh Arising by Mandy Hager. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2018.

This sequel to The Nature of Ash reviewed earlier on this blog, is a powerful novel promoting peaceful means to solve political problems that have gone feral.

New Zealand is not a happy place led by a corrupt regime who rely on political and financial backing from the one-percenters who control the wealth of the Nation.

PM Bill Chandler and Police Commissioner Hargreaves have created a state where evil bastards who don’t give a damn about morals and rules are given free reign. The ruling political parties have manufactured political complacency by making politics so toxic that no-one wants to commit especially the young.

Ash, his Down Syndrome brother Mikey, ex cop Jeannie and her son Travis, plus lawyer Lucinda and a few others take the government the army and the police on, in this political thriller. It is not going to be pleasant and there is collateral damage. I hate that phrase. The positive is that the young are at the vanguard of the protest.

Added to New Zealand’s internal political problems is a rivalry between the two World Alliances The UPR and the WA who are playing silly buggers with NZers. It is all rather messy and it is great to read that one individual with support can influence and change the way the World thinks. The philosophy of Martin Luther king, Gandhi and other peaceful protestors is at the heart of  Ash and his friends protest.

A thrilling read for High school and Young adult readers. Mandy Hager writes this convincing story with aplomb. Once you start you won’t put it down.

Children of the Furnace by Brin Murray.

May 10, 2018 Comments off

children furnaceChildren of the Furnace by Brin Murray. Pub. Copy Press Books Nelson, 2018.

This is dystopian fiction at it’s very best. I wasn’t ready for it because much of the book leaves you in despair for Wil the 15 year old main character who is brutally treated for most of the book but rises above it all to leave the reader with hope at the end.

Set in a country called Sekkerland that looks remarkably like Greenland without the icecap. The lands to the south are called the Furnace Lands so there has been a great heat that has caused the land to change and this is called the Great Atrocity. This Atrocity is blamed on people known as Heaters.

Wil  Shirwud is a Heater, he has a tattoo between his eyes, never knew his father, lost his mother early and was brought up wise in the ways of nature  by a good man called Ty. He cannot read or write but his upbringing has made him strong and resilient and believe me he has to be because he encounters some of the cruelest inhuman characters I have ever read about.

A group called The Strong have taken over Sekkerland in a Revalayshun and one of their leaders Revout Sachs kills Ty and takes Wil to a camp of about 1000 boys, called Ferule a redukayshun centre where fear and cruelty rule. Sachs seems to know that there is something deep and threatening to The Strong about Wil and they are determined to break him.

Wil knows nothing about his destiny or his past except that when his father Ty is killed he calls to Wil to look for the Midwife, but first Wil must withstand severe punishment and learn what he has to do. His skills and notions of fairness ring true with the other boys in the camp and lead to a satisfying climax. The last 100 pages are totally heart stopping.

Written in phonically spelled words because of Wil’s illiteracy, the chapters are short and totally rivetting. Once you start you will not want to stop reading.

Oh and one other thing Wil has never seen a girl, most of the boys in the camp are in the same boat. Wil narrates most of the novel but there is another voice a 15 year old girl called Leah who is sent from the south lands to work as a nurse. She becomes part of the new way of thinking.

A momentous read that you will never forget. Check out the authors web page at http://www.brinmurray.com  and to purchase http://shop.realnzbooks.co.nz/shopn/spi/books_15602

Part 2 Crosstrees will be available soon.

Thunder Head by Neal Shusterman.

April 27, 2018 Comments off

ThunderheadThunder Head by Neal Shusterman. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.

This is part 2 of the Arc of the Scythe series the first being Scythe which is also reviewed on this blog. It is brilliant.

There are two powers in this dystopian world, Thunder Head the creator and the Scythes who rule death, and never the twain shall meet. Each has it’s role but there is division in the Scythe world that Thunder Head is deeply concerned about. That conflict is what this novel is all about as population control is essential in a world where nobody needs to die.

Thunder Head rules this idyllic world because it has solved all humankind’s problems. Global warming, the gap between rich and poor, crime, you name it Thunder Head has solved it. Nobody dies unless they want to or the Scythes deem that they are to be gleaned permanently from the planet. Those prone to crime have been treated genetically, sociopaths have been given a conscience and psychopaths have been given sanity. The age of mortality and suffering are over.

So why is there division among the Scythes? Who can be unhappy in paradise? Has the human ego, ambition and capacity for greed been eliminated?

There is much philosophy in this book told in short chapters amid the action, narrated by a humanised Thunder Head that gets to the soul of Humankind. The other chapters advance the plot and there  is action and intrigue aplenty.

Citra has become Scythe Anastasia and works with master Scythe Marie Curie. Yes all the scythes have names famous from the old world of mortality and they will give you a smile as you read. Jim Morrison, Golda Meir and Nelson Mandela are others.

Rowan has taken a secret role trying to remove corrupt scythes from the world and this has precipitated a lot of action but it is Citra who has caused the most ripples. In the background Scythe Michael Faraday is working on a different tact that is hopefully going to be the salvation of the world.

Brilliantly conceived and written by Neal Shusterman, the action at times is breath taking and the philosophical argument thought provoking. One of the best novels this year or any other year for that matter. I await book 3 with bated breath.

Senior fiction and young adult but good intermediate readers will devour it too as they did with the latter novels in the Harry Potter series which dealt with equally complex topics. There is even a Voldemort like resurrection.

Finding by David Hill.

April 22, 2018 Comments off

findingFinding by David Hill. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2018.

This is the New Zealand story in my opinion. I hope David Hill got as much satisfaction writing it as I got reading it.

It is the story of two family trees, one Scottish who settled in the Waimoana river valley  in the 1880s and the other Maori who were already living in the Pa by the river and without whom the Scottish family could not have survived. It is the story of early New Zealand settlement that has been largely overlooked.

The story then tells of 7 generations who lived, loved and developed the land in the valley. They intermarried and were as close to each other as it is possible to be.

One of the descendants named Alan Hohepa sums it up when describing himself “I,m Pakeha and I’m Maori and I’m Ok being both”. Recognition of the need to keep the Maori language alive was firm with Maori and Pakeha characters alike.

The story takes us from the 1880’s through landmarks in New Zealand’s history until 2018 when the current residents of the Waimoana valley are considering whether to sell up and move to the city. You will have to read the novel to find out the decision.

This is the way race relations is supposed to be and it brought joy to my soul. The ending is both apprehensive and hopeful but who doesn’t feel like that these days.

Things I loved about this book include:- I loved the way the Maori reacted when the bagpipes are played – like a screaming Taniwha. I loved the way the treasures of the silver bracelet and the greenstone bat were handed down through the generations. I loved all the characters who had a respect for each other and the land they lived on.

I loved the way the love of the land is not all one sided. I loved how the stories of the past were held dear by successive generations whose family trees are drawn in the front of the novel for you to refer to, and I loved the Waimoana river and it’s valley which is a character in it’s own right and whose map is at the start of the book.

Splendid writing by David Hill in his easy style and the art work on the cover and at the beginning of each generational chapter is superb.

For everybody really but excellent for intermediate and high school readers.

Nobody Real by Steve Camden.

April 11, 2018 Comments off

nobody real.jpgNobody Real by Steve Camden. Pub. HarperCollins, 2018.

It took me three days to read this astonishing novel. I sat down poured a whiskey and said Wow. A mixture of realism and fantasy that is strangely satisfying.

To paraphrase a theme from the book “the real us lives in dark corners”. If you don’t want to go there don’t start this book.

Marcie or Mars is about to turn 18 and has just finished her final exams. Everybody says your whole life is in front of you, but first she must settle with the past.

When she was a toddler her artistic mum left and she grew up with her artistic father who is an agonised writer. He has had a novel published that critics called brilliant. Marcie copes with life by creating an invisible friend who is like a boy polar bear she calls Thor. He has been with her for 10 years and it is time to go. She has to be weened off Thor and it is up to Thor to do it.

What Marcie doesn’t know is that Thor has his own unreal world which parallels the real world of Marcie and when his work with Marcie is done he will face the Fade. What is the Fade? You will have to read the novel to find out.

Marcie needs to be herself, she has to make her own mistakes and she has to settle with the breakup of her parents. Her  road to reconcile with the past and her current friends and family is going to be bumpy.

Fascinating style of writing. Written in different fonts for the real and the unreal often poetic, always interesting, often confusing but totally compelling. One of the best young adult novels I have read for a long time.

Watch Me! by Jenni Francis.

April 7, 2018 Comments off

watch meWatch Me! by Jenni Francis. Pub. jennifrancis.com  2018

The most recent short novel for intermediate and junior secondary girls from the Keri series about Keri and her friend Mereana who are now 13 years old.

The girls go to visit cousin Claire on a farm that runs horse trekking holidays as well as stocking sheep and cattle. Someone is stealing horses sheep and cattle from Claire’s farm and from surrounding farms and the girls are going to become involved.

It is not the only drama in the book as Claire has found lumps under her arm and has bad sweats in bed at night but this is not going to hold her back.

As usual this short novel is tightly written with realistic dialogue between the girls and other characters. It has great family values and is written at a pace that keeps you in the book.

Who would have thought that Morse Code would be still useful in these days of cell phones. Read it and find out why. Lots of horse talk.