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Sylvie the Second by Kaeli Baker.

December 1, 2015 Comments off

Sylvie SecondSylvie the Second by Kaeli Baker. Pub. Makaroa Press Eastbourne NZ. 2015.

This novel for teenagers, particularly reluctant girl readers, is honest, inspiring and positive in spite of the very serious issues it deals with.

Sylvie is 15 years old and feels invisible in her family. She calls her mother Pamela Panic, her father Damn-it-all Dave and her older sister Calamity Cate, and refers to herself as Sylvie the Second. Yes the family is dysfunctional and has issues and Sylvie focuses it all on herself.

Older sister Cate has mental health problems, is suicidal and this has fractured the family. The parents sleep in different rooms and all relationships are strained

Sylvie rebels, dyes her hair red and dresses wildly. She attracts the wrong sort of attention in the shape of Chris a rich boy with a “roastbuster” mentality. At a party Sylvie’s already sad life is blown apart. You will have to read the book to find out what happens.

I will say Sylvie does have a wonderful friend in Belle and then there is the wonderful Adam Allegro, the boy Sylvie has built an imaginary shrine in her head about.

Structured in 4-6 page chapters this novel is easy to read with the dialogue within Sylvie’s family and between the teenagers particularly convincing. The ending is positive and heartwarming and there is a gentle Buddhist like philosophy that pervades the pages.

Don’t miss this one it is special.

The Dharma Punks by Ant Sang.

October 13, 2015 Comments off

dharma punksThe Dharma Punks by Ant Sang. Pub. Earths End, 2014.

This graphic novel for high school students and young adults is possibly the best graphic novel I have read by any author since Dylan Horrocks’ Hicksville.

I normally have difficulty reading graphic novels but not with this one. I finished it in two sittings, put it down and said WOW!

The novel evolved from the Dharma Punks comic series of the early 1990’s which were set around a punk band named Filth. It’s about rebellion, about the meaning of life on a higher plane, about existing in a hostile world, about the awkwardness of relationships and about the naivity of youth. It’s also about violence and exploitation but the innocence of it all shines through like a beacon.

Chopstick is the main character. He hasn’t gotten over the death of a female band member who jumped off Grafton bridge into the cemetery below. The others haven’t got over it either and are drifting aimlessly in life. Somethings gotta give and it does.

Lured into placing an allegedly harmless bomb at the opening of a fast food outlet by a large conglomerate, Chopstick and his mates have a night of wonder and violence. They are attacked by skinheads, Chopstick has a religious experience and all hell breaks loose.

In between chapters there are philosophical quotations from Bhuddism that talk about some of the deep things in life and are relevant to the action.

The graphics are superb and enhance the mood and character of the participants and the action. The ending is positive and the interaction and dialogue between the characters is real.

Set in Central Auckland, you will not read a better graphic novel than this.