I was having a lull with my reading but this latest novel from Bernard Beckett has whipped me back into shape. I am so glad that he is back and with a novel that will make you think.
Rene and Theo are identical twins. They sometimes swapped places although both have distinct characters. Rene is more academic and sensitive, Theo is confident brash and popular.
Their parents were killed in bizarre circumstances when they were 7 or 8 and they were brought up by a Mrs Struthers. The twins were close but things became divisive when they hit their teens and girls came on the scene. Harriet and Emily. Both boys were attracted to these girls but Theo had the style and confidence to strike.
When Theo has an accident that renders him brain dead, Rene is interviewed by a psychologist, Maggie, to see if he can make an “informed consent” as to whether a ground breaking surgical procedure can take place in which Rene’s thought patterns and memories will be transferred into Theo’s dead brain.
The interview of Rene is stunning and revealing. Dr Huxley is to conduct the brave new world operation and urges Maggie and Rene to come to a quick decision but it is Emily that delivers the critical statement. To Rene she says “if you do this, who will be there for me to love”?
Read it and find the stunning answer. And…. does Rene want his brother back as a replica of himself and is he capable psychologically of making this decision?
High school, young adult and adult readers will find this novel fulfilling
I have never read a book like this before and it is very good for teens and anybody who wants to know about organ transplants.
Dani was born with her heart on the wrong side of her body. She suffered all her childhood and awaits a suitable donor to hopefully change her life. The way she thinks about her life and possible fate before the operation is a revelation and the affect that the transplant has on her afterwards is another revelation.
Amanda is 14 years old and a brilliant gymnast. The novel opens with her preparing for the district finals and ends with an accident that leaves her brain dead. Think of her parents and friends. Within hours the hospital social workers are pressuring in an unpressured way for use of Amanda’s body for transplant purposes.
Think of how you would feel with such a decision.
Milo has had a kidney transplant and has blown it with a drinking binge that leaves him in need of another. Much to discuss here, but it is his philosophy of life that is invaluable to Dani while awaiting her transplant.
Tyler is Amanda’s errant brother who needs to come to terms with the death of his sister and with how he treated her when she was alive. His parents also have their issues.
This is just the half of it. A well crafted story that will have you turning it’s pages until it is finished.
Wither by Lauren DeStefano. Pub. HarperVoyager, 2011.
Seventy years earlier scientists created a perfect generation free from diseases and allergies. This generation still exist and are healthy and robust. Unfortunately their children and their children’s children suffer from an incurable virus that limits a males life span to 25 years and a female life span to 20 years.
The rich employ “Gatherers” to hunt young girls for breeding purposes to secure survival of the species and of their own property.
Rhine is 16 years old and is captured and purchased by Linden along with two other girls Cecily and Jenna. Linden marries all three and keeps them imprisoned in an amazing property with the intention of breeding with all of them.
Rhine resists Linden by adopting the stance “you can trap more things with honey than you can with vinegar”. Rhine wants to escape back to her twin brother Rowan but will she be able to?
Into the plot comes a male servant of Linden’s called Gabriel and this provides the love story in a clever plot. To top it off there is a superb villain in Housemaster Vaughn, you will hate him.
I just loved this story. It has an original plot is well written and there are good moral and ethical issues to ponder. Will you do anything to survive? How can you live a fulfilling life if such a short time span? Can the virus be cured? What goes on in the outside world?
High school students will love this novel with the knowledge that there are two more to come. I will be reading them for one.
Virals by Kathy Reichs. Pub. Young Arrow, 2010.
Tory Brennan is 14 years old and she lives on Morris Island Charleston South Carolina. Tory’s father works at a research laboratory on Loggerhead Island off the coast of Morris Island and she and her friends are allowed access to the island. She wishes she did not!
The laboratory is run by a devious character called Professor Karsten who has isolated a section of the research Institute for his own secret experiments.
Loggerhead Island also has a couple of other unique features that are important to the story. Firstly a lone wolf has mated with an alsatian dog and produced three cubs the youngest of which is called Coop. Secondly the island is populated by a troop of monkeys who are starting to show weird behaviours.
When visiting Loggerhead Island with her friends Ben, Shelton and Hi, Tory discovers that Coop has gone missing and the monkeys attack them and throw a clod of earth at them in which is embedded a soldiers dog tags.
In order to read the dog tags the teenagers break into the Research Centre to use equipment held there and in the process find the secret laboratory in which Coop is held and being used to test a deadly virus called Parvovirus which is normally fatal to dogs. The question is can it be trasmitted to humans? When Tory and her friends start having weird dreams and spasms of heightened senses and strength they realise they are turning into Virals.
Kathy Reichs normally writes for adults but she has adjusted her style to write this novel for teens and young adults. The Chapters are short as are the sentences and paragraphs. This makes for quick easy reading with hooks at the end of each chapter to keep the reader interested.
Virals is over 450 pages but it is exciting action packed and combines mystery with fantasy and forensic science. It is probably the start of a new series and fans of Twilight will find it appealling. I enjoyed it.
Organ Music by Margaret Mahy. Pub. Gecko Press, 2010.
When I saw this title I assumed that it was a new book and looked forward to seeing if Margaret Mahy still produced the goods. Alas I was misled. It turns out to be a novel she wrote in 1997 for the Surfers series called Operation Terror.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a very good high interest story with all the brilliance with words and plot that Margaret Mahy can muster. But it is not a new novel and I think the reader should have been told.
To cut a short story long, Harley and David, two teenage boys are walking through a rough area of town when they come upon a car with keys in the ignition. They nick the car only to find that it has in fact nicked them.
They are taken to a research institute in the middle of a forest where an unscrupulous Doctor wants to remove their body organs for use by more deserving citizens. Much to talk about here.
Margaret Mahy combines science fiction with fantasy in a situation that probably happens in places like India, and tells an exciting yarn in less than a 100 pages.
Still worth purchasing if you don’t have it already and will be eagerly read by middle and intermediate school students.
The Legacy by Gemma Malley. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2010.
This is the final part of a series that began with The Declaration and The Resistance and has been one of my favourite series because basically it examines the social implications and ethics of living for ever. If given the chance how many people would want to live for ever?
In the Declaration we learn of a drug marketed by a firm called Pincent Pharma that allows the body to renew itself so that you never die. People in return for the drug sign a declaration that they surrender the right to have children. Some people opt out and some children are born illegally. Two such people are Anna and Peter and these two characters are involved in all developments in the plot.
In book 2 The resistance we learn of opposition to the drug and the firm that is marketing it. The underground movement attempts to break down the hold that Pincent Pharma has on the world. A world in which there are no children, there is little social interaction and those opposed are ruthlessly dealt with. We learn that children born illegally are farmed for their stem cells in order to continue production of Longevity the drug that everybody takes to stay young.
The Legacy takes you back to the development of the drug and we learn that the real inventor did not want it marketed because it interfered with the “circle of nature” and he refused to give the formula for the drug. He did however have a sample of the drug stolen and it was from this sample that the drug was developed.
Over a hundred years has passed since everybody signed the Declaration and society has changed. The Legacy analyses the nature of relations people have in these times of longevity. Do people form life long relationships? How do they fill their time? Perhaps the demands of eternity are too much!
Then people started dieing. I will tell you no more except to say you will be enthralled by what develops.
High school readers and above. A great idea well told.