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Posts Tagged ‘survival’

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.

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.

The Mapmakers Race by Eirlys Hunter.

May 6, 2018 Comments off

mapmakerThe Mapmakers Race by Eirlys Hunter. Pub. Gecko Press, 2018

The best thing I liked about this novel for primary and intermediate school children is that characters have to get off their bottoms and do something. They have to contribute and work for the group otherwise they will not survive. There is no sitting around on their chrome books and moaning that there is nothing to do. The children are challenged.

The novel is about a race to map a route for a railway  from Grand Prospect to the coast across a mountainous landscape. Five teams take part with four of them being adult teams of various skills and ethics.

Then there is the Santanders, Sal age 14, twins Joe and Francie aged eleven, Humphrey who is just walking and talking and their talking parrot called Carrot whose one liners add humour and reality to the story. Add older boy Beckett who provides the donkeys and cooking skills and we have a team to be reckoned with.

The Santanders father has disappeared on a previous adventure and their mother missed the train and there isn’t another for a week. The race to map the rail route is on and waiting for mother is not an option.

The children have some advantages. Firstly no-one gives them a dog show of winning and secondly they are in survival mode and have skills that no other team has. Firstly they were well taught by their parents and secondly Francie who can fly mentally. She never talks and her brain can see the landscape from above. She is the mapmaker.

The drawings at the head of each chapter keep the reader up with the pace and the plot advances in rollicking fashion. It reminds me of a cross between the family in Lemony Snicket and The Road to Ratenburg by Joy Cowley.

A first class read-a-loud for primary children and for individual reading. It’s all about survival and having fun at the same time.

Last Chance by Gregg Hurwitz

February 14, 2018 Comments off

last chanceLast Chance by Gregg Hurwitz. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2018.

This sequel to The Rains reviewed earlier on this blog is thrilling action writing at its best from an author who has written for Marvel and DC comics and the Orphan X novels amongst others.

After every adult over 18 years was infected by pollen from seeds spread about the Earth by asteroids, they turned into zombie like creatures called Hosts whose function was to capture all the children and to map the Earth for the alien invaders. Now these Hosts are rotting away and been replaced by a more daunting enemy the Hatchlings.

The children were collected to have eggs implanted inside them and give rise to the alien invaders who have been bred to survive in Earth’s conditions. They are flesh eating and are designed to finish humans off and prepare the planet for what? Read it and find out’

Once again the novel is narrated in diary form by 15 year old Chance Rains who with his 18 year old brother Patrick and Alex a 17 year old girl who provides the romantic conflict in this novel, basically fight the enemy single handedly.

These three have a special status within the young survivors of the Dusting and are going to find out that they have a bigger role than they could ever have conceived. They meet with one of the aliens who tells them a story that will blow their minds. .

Meanwhile the action continues as they fight tthe Hosts and Hatchlings to protect their commune set up inside a fenced off high school which has internal power struggles of it’s own. Can the enemy be defeated and the World saved? It’s the stuff of heroes. To tell you any more would ruin the novel for you.

The science is mind boggling and the ending may owe something to John Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids.

Compulsive reading for lovers of zombie books and of science fiction. Not unlike the 5th Wave novels also reviewed on this blog. Check it out, your mad if you don’t.

Moneyland by Michael Botur

February 9, 2018 Comments off

MoneylandMoneyland by Michael Botur. Pub. 2017. 

This book for high school students and young adults will give you a bit of a jolt. The language is choice in places and it is about some of the most loathsome teenagers I have ever read about.

The scenario is a good one though. Take a group of teenagers, give them a million dollars each and put them under a glass dome world for a year to fend for themselves. Can they do it without imploding?

The novel starts with the words being spat out like the author was in a fit of pique and it keeps up a torrid pace. Eden is a teenager who wants to lose her virginity and get the million bucks and have a cushy life. She may very well get the first option but the cushy life is way off the mark.

All the characters are shockers. They bully, talk badly to each other, have no sense of direction, have no clues of how to organise themselves, have no loyalty and basically deserve what is coming to them. Did they have a choice? Well it is set in 2037 in a World dominated by robots and mechanical Artificial Intelligence beings. Most humans have no work and no future and divided into two camps – Mech lovers or luddites. Perhaps this is a dystopian future.

Ideas in this novel seem to be drawn from Stephen kings TV series The Dome and William Goldings Lord of the Flies with the language spoken by the characters much like Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange.

I did like the novel but English teachers are probably going to throw their arms in the air in horror. Check it out some will love it. It is totally irreverent.

http://www.michaelboturwriter.com.

The Rains by Gregg Hurwitz.

December 22, 2017 Comments off

the rainsThe Rains by Gregg Hurwitz. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2018.

I like zombie novels but this is one that differs from other zombie novels because it appears the zombies are controlled by something else. You will have to read the novel to find out what.

The novel is written in diary entries by 15 year old Chance Rain. He warns the reader to take notice as “your life depends on it”.

On a clear night an asteroid slams into the Creeks’s Cause valley and a week later stalks grow to maturity and spout pollen into the air in a process Chance calls the Dusting. The spores attack the frontal brain lobe of everybody over the age of 18 years, lasering their eyes out so that membrane covered clear holes appear in their heads. These former humans then attack and capture all kids and put them in cages.

The male zombies are the lumbering kind with immense strength, while the females  are rapid moving cat like creatures that lunge like lions and tigers. Both types are called Hosts as it appears they are the host of a zombie spore. The action involving the zombies is thrilling.

Chance Rain, his older brother Patrick and his girlfriend Alex escape the zombie hordes and shack up in the locked school complex. Meanwhile the zombies rove the towns and appear to have a mission about them. What is it? Is the valley the only victim of this spore attack? Patrick is only a week away from turning the magic age of 18 years. Will he turn into a zombie?

Then the surviving group find out some stunning information. Read it and find out what.

A stunning ending that will leave the reader with questions but have no fear a sequel titled Last chance is published at the same time. Watch this space.

This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada.

November 4, 2017 Comments off

mortal coilThis Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2017.

This Young Adult novel can be described as science meets literature and indeed literature meets science. Mortal Coil from Shakespeare and the double helix coil that is the shape of human DNA. Very clever from a very intelligent and literate writer.

It is set in a dystopian world in which gene technology and software rule the planet through a conglomerate called Cartaxus. The World is swimming in toxins and Cartaxus seized control by offering people implantable panels in which are embedded gene control codes that allow them to survive. These panels respond to electronic pulses sent from outside and actually grow inside the body. Most Cartaxus people live underground.

Human gene editing is at the heart of everything until a virus called Hydra begins to infect the planet with clouds of explosive toxins for which there is no cure. Humanity is threatened with extinction.

Dr Lachlan Agatta who reluctantly worked for Cartaxus was a genius who wrote codes to protect people through their implanted panels. Before his death he wrote a code for a vaccine that could nullify Hydra. Cunningly he hid the code inside his 17 year old daughter Catarina without her knowledge and told her to hide outside the Cartaxus World. Catarina is a genius just like her father.

Catarina who narrates this novel, survives in the wild for a couple of years  with help from the underground resistance called Skies. Then one day a superbly wired up Cartaxus soldier comes looking for Catarina asking for help to write the code to destroy Hydra before it is too late. His name is Cole and there is chemistry between him and Catarina which both are trying to avoid. This brings a romantic side to this astonishing story. Together they find out some extraordinary information and have crises and adventures that will blow your mind. The World is at stake.

Superbly written as the science is complicated yet plausible and the reader must be able to understand what is going on to enjoy the story. Emily Suvada achieves this with some panache and keeps the drama up from start to finish.

If you like Rick Yancey’s series The 5th Wave you will love this. The best scifi novel I have read in years.