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Posts Tagged ‘survival’

Louisiana’s way Home by Kate Di Camillo

May 29, 2019 Comments off

louisianaLouisiana’s way Home by Kate Di Camillo. Pub. Walker Books, 2019.

Oh to be able to write as well as this!

Twelve year old Louisiana believes that her parents were part of a circus acrobatic team named Elefante who were killed in an accident and that the family is cursed because of an incident in Elf Ear Missouri. She believes that her Granny taught her everything she knows and has looked after her for the whole of her life.

All these beliefs are going to come under question in this superb novel of growing up and the amazing resilience of Louisiana. She is truly a character to be admired.

At 3.00am one morning Granny gets Louisiana out of bed to pack her suitcase and announces that the day of reckoning had arrived. The pair drive north out of Florida across that imaginary Georgia State line. They run out of gas and Granny becomes bedridden with tooth ache.

Louisiana has to drive the car off the motorway to a small town and seek dental treatment for her Granny. This will lead to all secrets being told and for Louisiana to show her incredible character when faced with a crisis that would floor most people.

Beautifully told with great wisdom, common sense and perception. You are with Louisiana all the way and once you start the novel the most difficult part will be putting it down.

Total class writing for intermediate and secondary school students. For me the best junior fiction title of the year.

A Place of Stone and Darkness by Chris Mousdale.

May 1, 2019 Comments off

stone & DarknessA Place of Stone and Darkness by Chris Mousdale. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2019.

Released 7 May

At last a fantasy novel with some depth. Deep not because it is set almost totally underground but because it has a lot of significant observations about the Human condition, and it is a very good tale.

Thousands of years ago Humans hounded the Strigg people out of the forests and into underground caves where their culture survived and thrived out of Human knowledge. The Striggs are a bird like creature that has lost it’s ability to fly as their wings have evolved into arm like structures with claws.

Striggworld is now under threat from polluted water from the earth above and from lack of drinking water as wells dry up. Their food supply which is a mushroom like product, morra, has also begun to be scarce and the Elders of the Striggs are contemplating a move North. They would love to go back to the surface but it is too dangerous.

On the eve of a spangletime ceremony which celebrates the move from childhood to adulthood, a young Strigg, Ellee, discovers a human boy called Blue who has fallen down a well into the underground. She saves him and with the help of her academic brother, Sidfred, brings him back to home.

When Blue is discovered by the Strigg Elders panic hits the small community. Some including Kass a fierce warrior type want to kill him to avoid other Humans finding a way underground but the Elders view is that is not our way and never will be our way.

They decide to return Blue to to Uptop or the surface, where all the Toppas live. The action begins and it will have you spellbound. Read it and find out what happens.

If there is a catchphrase that describes this novel it is “It is amazing what eventually ends up underground”. We should take heed of that. It says a lot about the Human condition of treating the Planet and every other creature on it as if it is ours alone to use. The Striggs know all about us and our destructive ways.

Excellent story, descriptively written and with a message for all Humankind.

Chris Mousdale creates an imaginative World that is totally believable, the Striggs are believable The Strigg way contrasts with that of Humans and puts us to shame. And his illustrations are superb. One of the best of the year.

Suitable for Intermediate and High school readers.

Amundsen’s Way. The Race to the South Pole by Joanna Grochowicz.

April 21, 2019 Comments off

AmundsenAmundsen’s Way. The Race to the South Pole by Joanna Grochowicz. Pub. Allen & Unwin, 2019.

This is historical writing at it’s very best. It is the other side of the coin about the great race to the South pole in 1912 between Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott. Scott’s tale is told in Joanna’s earlier book Into the White reviewed earlier on this blog.

It is not only the story of Amundsen and his men and their journey to the pole but also the story of the dogs who took them there. The dogs’ story is equally dramatic and mirrors the drama of Amundsen and his crew.

Amundsen deceived the King of Norway, his people and the famous explorer Nansen, into believing he was headed for the Northwest Passage around Cape Horn and up the Pacific. Captain Scott had no knowledge of Amundsen’s intentions either. When the ship the Fram berthed at the port of Madiera, Amundsen’s brother was dispatched with a letter to both the King and Nansen. He was heading South to the Pole.

Doing this he unwittingly drew Scott into a race he didn’t want and he put his reputation on the line. He must succeed. This preyed on his mind for the whole escapade and affected his decision making and his relationships with his men. But Amundsen had planned meticulously and was convinced of his ability to be successful. The contrast with Scott is one of the great exploration stories.

Having reached the Antarctic they hunkered down in a small hut  with 9 men, surrounded by dogs, leading to power struggles amongst both men and dogs. There was significant drama and conflict in both species.

Amundsen was haunted by the knowledge that Scott had motorised sleds, little did he know that these were a white elephant but it caused him to panic and move before his men were ready and the conditions were suitable.

Read it and see how the journey went and the fate that befell the dogs. Totally absorbing. This book is for everybody. They don’t make men like this these days.

The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James.

March 18, 2019 Comments off

quiet worldThe Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James. Pub. Walker Books, 2019.

Is it possible that the human race could become extinct? This is a major theme of this new sci-fi novel from Lauren James and her next after The Loneliest Girl in the Universe also reviewed on this blog.

Shen and Lowrie are 16 & 17 and are the only humans left on the planet. A virus years before rendered humans infertile and once the storehouse of eggs and sperm was used up no more humans were born. Shen and Lowrie are the last and they are yet to discover the truth.

They live in London which has a population of only three hundred and spend their lives in a hi-tech world run by androids and robots with their parents. Their parents have not told them everything and as the book evolves the whole truth comes out and it is mind-blowing.

While exploring an old Tube station Lowrie discovers a wallet belonging to someone called Maya who lived through the period when humans became infertile. They read her Posts on a social web site as some old sites are still available, and find out what happened and how humans reacted.

Humans became lonely without children so created their own robotic children in a programme called Babygrow. For a while living humans and Babygrow children existed together and how they related makes for interesting reading.

Then a helicopter accident sparks off a series of events that reveals the astonishing truth. Read the novel and find out what.

Excellent science fiction that feels like normal life. But is it? Well structured with old facebook and Twitter like comments from Maya and friends feeding the historical information. Great environmental message for the future

Senior and young adult fiction. Confident intermediates could handle it too.

Outside by Sarah Ann Juckes

January 7, 2019 Comments off

outsideOutside by Sarah Ann Juckes. Pub. PenguinRandom House, 2019.

I have never read a novel like this before and the thoughts I had when reading it, you will have too. Some will be right and some will be wrong but you will be compelled to keep reading and the ending will give you satisfaction.

It is senior fiction and YA and is written in a style that you need to get used to because Ele the main character, a girl in early teens, has had a background that you would wish on nobody. She narrates the story and has been brought up in a room with her brother Zeb and doesn’t know there is an outside.

Something happens to Zeb and alone in the room Ele creates a fantasy world based on a book of nursery stories such as Rapunzel and Jack and the Bean Stalk. Ele makes up a fictional world and fictional characters to explain the world she lives in, that help her survive. But why is she there? Who is the Him that feeds her and visits her from time to time carrying a gun?

Then she escapes and finds Willow and his dad Ezra and the whole mystery unravels.

A gripping read, I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. You will ask yourself many questions the most important of which will be ‘how can humans act like this towards each other? To quote from the novel “Truths are like people. They don’t like being shut up tight. They shrivel slowly and then rot with lies….when those truths get out, they get rubbed clean by people. nice people”.

Thank heaven it had a positive ending.

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.