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Archive for the ‘Young Adult’ 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.

 

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.

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.

Never, Ever, Ever, Give Up? A memoir by John Hellemans.

September 9, 2018 Comments off

never give upNever, Ever, Ever, Give Up? A memoir by John Hellemans. Pub. Canterbury University press, 2018.

If you ever need some inspiration to keep going, no matter what sport or activity you are involved in, read this memoir by John Hellemans.

John is a staunch Dutchman who was seduced by the New Zealand environment and became one of the fathers of the tri- sport event once called Ironman and now known as triathalon.

This is the story of how his upbringing led him to the sport of triathalon just as it had led him to the profession of a doctor. John was a fierce competitor, a no nonsense coach who you either loved or hated. He coached many fine athletes including Erin Baker who was out of the top draw, plus Andrea Hewitt and Kris Gemmell who he called wonderboy.

He learned as a coach that a spontaneous comment can sometimes have more impact than a well thought out sermon and that in competition if you are not well prepared or your head isn’t in it, you are not going to be a champion.

He writes in the same no nonsense manner that he competed with and at times it is hilarious. Chapter 4 titled Trials and Tribulations is a must for any sporting buff. He deals with the technology of the Triathalon particularly the cycling leg. You will learn about aero neck, about drafting, about blood doping and about the aerodynamics of racing.

It is a fascinating book for this “silver fox” of the triathalon who has played a significant role in elevating this prince of sports endurance to Olympic level.

There is more to this book than that but you will have to read it to find that out.

As byword to my review read the story of John’s experience at the age of 60, running the Hawaii Ironman when he hit the wall on the barren lava flows 4 kilometers from the end. What drama!

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow.

August 6, 2018 Comments off

girlGirl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow. Pub. HarperCollins, 2016.

If I had to give advice to a new writer I would say write what you know, write what you have experienced, write honestly about how you feel and write with a purpose.

Kathleen Glasgow has done all of those things in this compelling young adult novel about 17 year old Charlotte (Charlie) Davis. Charlie thinks that nobody normal will love her.

Charlie has had a harrowing life and has NSSI or non suicidal self injuring. Yes she cuts herself on the arms and legs and amazingly feels that she is in control of her body while she is doing this. She keeps a Tender Kit with her at all times – a box that enables her to cut herself and repair herself afterwards.

The book opens in a psychiatric centre for young girls who do the same as Charlie. She doesn’t speak, she has been living on the street and her body has been cut to ribbons. We learn of her journey to this crisis point in her life in part one of this novel and it doesn’t make for pleasant reading. Abusive mother, bullying at school, drugs, sleeping rough, brutal men, self loathing, worthlessness and extreme self harm. Yet strong friendship from those around her.

Part 2 of the novel takes Charlie out of her Minnesota environment to Tucson Arizona where she finds work at the bottom of the pile and starts to get herself together again. She is vulnerable, she needs love and attention and she needs a massive break in life.

Can she get it or will her past come back to haunt her? read part 3 and find out.

I loved Charlie to pieces. I didn’t want to stop reading about her. I wanted to care for her and for much of the novel I was totally apprehensive. You will be too.

Beautifully written in short sharp episodes that keep you hanging on. It’s tough and has a powerful message ” sometimes you have to let stuff go if you want to move forward”

Don’t stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Siobhan Curham.

July 24, 2018 Comments off

dont stopDon’t stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Siobhan Curham. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.

I bet that somewhere in the World in this very moment in time, a refugee is wishing that things in their own country were safe and they could return. They will be thinking that people in the country they are in feel threatened by them and resent them being there. They will despair for the future of themselves and their families and friends

This is true of Hafiz a teenager from Syria whose escape to freedom you will read about in this novel. He is lucky to be alive and lucky that he has an aunt and uncle in the UK that can support him. He is a gifted footballer and has aspirations to join the best, but will he be given the opportunity to show his talents and develop the way a UK national would?  Read this novel and find out.

Stevie is a talented guitarist and singer, she is 14 years old and is living with her severely depressed mother who can’t get over the death by violent means of her husband and Stevie’s father. They are living on the breadline and things look hopeless. They have to move on and they need a break. Read it and see if this happens.

Stevie and Hafiz come together at school in a class that has some bullying and less understanding kids, but not all. Their relationship develops, they are good for each other but they are going to be sorely tested.

An excellent novel that examines modern day issues of refugees and mental depression and the effects it has on lives when attitudes of hatred and lack of understanding are to the fore.

This book could have drifted into  a state of sentimentality but it doesn’t. You feel for both Hafiz and Stevie and their chances in life in a hostile world. Their story is as common as life itself and the message is, things have got to change!!

Written in short chapters consecutively by Stevie and Hafiz which makes it very easy to read in short bursts but if you are like me you will keep reading long after your eyes are drooping onto the page.

A story for readers in the intermediate to young adult age group. Adults will get reward from it too. But be warned there will be tears.