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Archive for the ‘Young Adult’ Category

Like Nobody’s Watching by L.J. Ritchie.

June 8, 2017 Comments off

nobody watchingLike Nobody’s Watching by L.J. Ritchie. Pub. Escalator Press, 2016.

This first novel is a finalist in Young Adult section of this years New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. It is also up for best first novel and the subject is surveillance culture.

When Oscar’s high school fits 36 cameras in the school grounds to curb vandalism it changes the culture of the school but not in the way it was intended.

Oscar and his friends are not high profile year 10’s but they have a sense of justice. When Oscar’s friend Bronwyn alerts him to boys bullying her brother Will, Oscar finds a way to hack into the school system and view the surveillance video, then uses the video secretly and without trace to shame the bullies and blackmail them into to ceasing the bullying.

At first it works a treat, then they use the same system to stop year 11’s bullying the year 9’s. This time however it is complicated so they use  a social media site to shame the bullies again to great success.

The Internet never forgets and while Oscar and his friends don’t feel they are doing anything wrong because all is anonymous and bullying is unlawful, will they slip up and get caught?

But viewing the surveillance videos could be used in a more sinister way such as stalking. The students rebel and set up a petition to remove the cameras. Read it and find out what happens.

The novel is narrated by an eye of god technique and is told in short sharp sentences which took me a while to get used to. Nonetheless it impressed me with it’s perceptive look at teen culture in this hi tech wired up world we live in.

 

 

My Life as A Hashtag by Gabrielle Williams

May 28, 2017 Comments off

hashtagMy Life as A Hashtag by Gabrielle Williams. Pub. Allen&Unwin, 2017.

I regard this novel as one of the most important novels for teens and young adults that I have read. Why?  Because it deals with the whole way that teenagers and the young communicate using social media and the serious problems that can occur when things go wrong.

Social media can be a vicious forum where people can say what they like and the word or concept “friend” is a misnomer like no other.

MC is an ordinary girl with good friends who go to school, party and text and communicate with each other all day every day. It is the social norm.

Misunderstandings over a boy between MC and her friend Anouk cause a ruckus on Tumblr that goes viral and shakes everyone concerned to the core. And the boy wasn’t worth it. After MC has been left out of a party at Anouk’s she uses an App that uses any face to deliver a message. MC picks celebrities including Justin Bieber and the Queen with a corgi on her lap, to humiliate Anouk, and it goes viral.

MC doesn’t realise that what she has done is bullying and her life falls apart. Can she recover and sets things right? Read this amazing story and find out.

Lots of amusing girl talk, some of it bitchy, and some laugh out loud moments. Dialogue between characters is particularly strong and there is a total scoundrel of a boy character.

The message from Gabrielle Williams is loud and clear. Cyber bullying is not ok. You cannot go back once you press that enter button. What you write is always there and can be very damaging to everyone.

It ends positively fortunately. There is a better way, it is just matter of finding it.

Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

May 21, 2017 Comments off

chemical heartsOur Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland. Pub. Hot Key Books, 2016.

There is a Japanese art form called Kintsukuroi in which you take a bowl or plate or a pot break it into pieces and stick it back together again so that it becomes more beautiful for having been broken.

This really is a metaphor for the relationship that develops between Henry Page who narrates the novel and Grace Town a beautiful, mysterious, damaged and thoroughly weird girl. Henry wonders what it will be like to fall in love and when he first sees Grace he knows he is drawn to her like a moth to a flame.

Henry struggles to get anything going with Grace, they text each other, work together on the school newspaper but one day she is hot the next cold. Then he finds out about a deep sadness that Grace is carrying around. Henry wants to care for Grace and for her to recognise that they are an item but Grace slips into the abyss and forgets the world exists. Grace tells Henry that “stories with happy endings are stories that haven’t finished yet”.

Henry finds out that this is true. The novel also asks the question do men feel romance?. Do they crush on girls and go through the same heartbreak as girls do over boys?

Brilliantly written in a style that draws on film, book and music trivia with bold dialogue and great depth on what it is like to be growing up and seeking love. I read this in two sittings I couldn’t put it down. Thank you Linley for recommending it to me.

For teenagers and young adults who like the novels of John Green and grew up with Harry Potter, The Twilight series and the music of the Strokes and the Pixies.

Don’t miss this one you will kick yourself if you do.

The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom.

April 22, 2017 Comments off

crueltyThe Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom. Pub. Walker Books, 2017.

Abandoning their own when an operation turns bad is what the CIA is known for. So sayeth one of the characters in this book, but is it the whole truth.

Seventeen year old Gwendolyn is an ordinary American girl. She is told by her father that he works for the Government and as a result they have lived in many countries especially Russia and Italy making her adept at several languages.

When her father goes missing in France on what he said was a routine operation, Gwendolyn’s life changes. The CIA call round asking questions. A neighbour upstairs tells Gwendolyn that all is not as it seems and gives her a book that her father said was for her eyes only. What she discovers takes her to Paris and the company of a taut bodied former Mossad agent, Yael ,who describes her job as 90% waiting around and 10% terror.

Gwendolyn toughens up under Yael’s guidance and after a gun battle Gwendolyn takes off for Berlin and later Prague. She assumes the identity of a 22 year old Russian stripper called Sofia and becomes involved with a gun running, drug dealing, young girl smuggling multi millionaire Bohden Kladivo. He tells her “a woman who seeks to rise in the World must be crueler than men”. As the plot evolves Gwendolyn/Sofia finds the cruelty rising within her.

An excellent action/thriller/spy story that makes for tense reading. One of the best of this type of novel that I have read and the good news is the story is not over. There must be a sequel. The plot is tight and believable and the style is clever, menacing and witty – “trains creep slowly along the tracks like snakes in a moat”

Teens and Young Adults will love it.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

April 15, 2017 Comments off

hate u giveThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Pub. Walker Books, 2017.

It is Spring break in America and while all of 16 year old Starr’s friends are talking about going to Taipei, the Bahamas and Harry Potter World she watches a cop kill her childhood friend and has his blood spill all over her.

Yes this is a tough book but it is essential that stories like this are told and the dangers of racism are seen for what they are. The story clearly grew out of events in USA that have led to the Black Lives Matter movement and it is difficult to see a more powerful novel about this topic come out anywhere in the World this year. It will stun you.

Khalil is also 16 years old he runs with the gangs because he has to. His mother is a Meth freak. He sees no other alternative, she needs help. Starr was his childhood friend and he takes her to a party where shots are fired, some boy is killed and on the car ride away from the party they are pulled over by the cop who kills Khalil.

Starr’s father has experienced the gang life, served jail time and now runs a store and taken his family away from that life. Starr goes to an essentially white school where if the white boys talk street slang they are cool but if the black girl does she is “hood”.

Starr also has a white boyfriend.

This powerful novel looks at the killing and asks questions about justice and racism. It also looks at the families of those living in the “hood” and their options in life. It is easier for them to find crack than it is to find a good school.

The way this story is spun by the different sides seems typical of Trump’s America where false news dominates and spin is more important than truth. As an Australian mate of mine said “this is a flamin’ good story”.

Senior fiction and Young Adult. It is simply written with the dialogue between characters superb. The phrase “stank Eye” really tickled me. If you don’t know it I bet you feel the same. The title comes from a rap by Tupac Shakur, put the first letter of each word of the title together and you get THUG. You will kick yourself if you miss this one.

Virginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear & Isabelle Arsenault.

April 9, 2017 Comments off

virginia wolfVirginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear & Isabelle Arsenault. Pub. Book Island, 2017.

This is a sophisticated picture book that is multi level, it is disturbing but ultimately hopeful and the topic is depression.

Many people get depressed but when a child gets depressed that is upsetting and needs investigation. When Virginia gets depressed she turns into a wolf and everything in the house turns upside down and dreary for her sister Vanessa.

Vanessa cares and tries to jolly Virginia up. It is a hard row to hoe. Virginia mentions Bloomsberry and so Vanessa paints her view of Bloomsberry with flowers and a garden in which she and  Virginia can wander safely and happily.

The names of the children and the situation mirror that of writer Virginia Woolf and the name Bloomsberry is a name associated with her, although you don’t need to know that to enjoy the book.

Isabelle Arsenault’s illustrations are superb. The black wolf, the brightly dressed Vanessa and the black and white images depicting depression are magical. The garden scenes painted by Vanessa fill the reader with hope that depression will pass.

A picture book for everyone.

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading.

April 6, 2017 Comments off

kitty hawkKitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading. Pub.  2012.

Kitty Hawk is a redheaded 19 year old girl who is intelligent, brave, cares about the planet and everything on it and still blushes when she meets a boy whom she likes. She is also a pilot and like Amelia Earhart wants to fly around the World.

This is the first book in an adventure, travel mystery series for teens and Young Adults in which Kitty in her flying boat visit and have adventures all over the World. This novel is set on the West coast of Canada and USA and follows the route of the Yukon Gold rushes of the 1890’s.

Some legendary gold has been stolen or has it? Kitty while flying and filming the whales off the Alaskan coast stumbles across four brothers who allegedly have a hoard of stolen gold. Kitty is captured by the brothers and walks the legendary Chilkoot Pass taken by the goldrush miners. But all is not as it seems as the brothers discover Kitty has a plane and force her to help them shift the gold.

Iain Reading tells the story in some detail. We learn of the Yukon Goldrushes, of Jack London and his writings, of the whales off the Alaskan coast and of Inuit culture. Plus there is adventure and mystery.

Although the font size was small I read this novel very quickly because it was so darn interesting. Read it and see, and look for the others in the series at the web page given above. http://www.kittyhawkworld.com