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Posts Tagged ‘survival’

The Traitor and the Thief by Gareth Ward

August 1, 2017 Comments off

traitor thiefThe Traitor and the Thief by Gareth Ward. Pub. Walker Books, 2017.

Many words could be used to describe this novel for readers of a wide age range from 12-18 years. Steam punk should be a couple of them but also ingenious, thrilling and enormously clever would be others.

The central character is teenager Sin who was left at an orphanage with a teddy bear, grew up tough and ended up working the streets as a thief for Fixer, a Fagan like character. He learns that rules mean nothing when you have money, power and privilege. The poor have no chance. Some things never change.

He is caught by the mysterious Eldritch Moons and pressured to join a COVERT OPERATIONS GROUP (COG) and train to be a spy. His fellow trainees include the ruthless Velvet, the delicious Zonda and a host of villainous reprobates but his talents as a liar, a cheat and thief are just the talents needed.

COG is headed by a genius inventor named Nimrod whose inventions form the steam punk part of the novel and he has the moral high ground by using his organisation to prevent war. Nimrod makes many enemies and COG has more leaks and conflicts than the West Wing of the White House.

Will Sin survive? and who are his parents? Is there a link between his abandonment at birth and COG? Read it and enjoy this thriller as much as I did. The ending will have you gasping for breath.

The plot bears a close similarity to the military, industrial and political rivalry that precipitated World war 1, and the city of Coxford where the novel is set, is remarkably like London.

Winner of the Storylines Tessa Duder Award. Splendidly paced and written. Great cover.

Sparrow by Scot Gardner

July 25, 2017 Comments off

sparrowSparrow by Scot Gardner. Pub Allen & Unwin, 2017.

Every day I see people scrambling for life and survival on the streets. Every city in the World has them and we walk on by trying hard not to notice. We never ask where do they sleep? how come they are there? what do they do all day? are they in good health? even when they are children.

This is the story of Sparrow a ten year old boy living on the streets of Darwin and making a good fist of it in spite of a horrible background. Sparrow has lost the power of speech because of the treatment meted out to him by family and others. He has a shock of hair a dashing smile and helps wherever he can for food and company.

Sparrow is looked after by an old man called Sharky who teaches him how to swim, a skill that will save his life. Every day Sparrow avoids the “ghost boys” who haunt the streets, taking drugs and booze and whatever else they can get hold of. One of them is Sparrow’s brother.

Leap forward five years and Sparrow is in Juvie and on a survival trip in shark and croc infested waters. An accident and Sparrow is out in the bush trying to survive in hostile country but at least he is free and he knows it.

The novel is superbly structured as the two strands of Sparrow’s life are told in consecutive chapters,coming together near the end of the book. Scot Gardner’s descriptions of the wilderness with it’s snakes, lizards, insects, crocs, sharks and physical beauty, are stunning. His understanding of the underdog, the sick, the mentally ill, the human condition and how to survive, are praiseworthy indeed.

Simple to read it is accessible to the most reluctant of readers of reading ages 14-18 years. The hopeful ending will bring joy to your heart.

Don’t miss this one. A potential award winner. Superb cover because you are always waiting for the croc to show up.

Horizon. survival is no game. by Scott Westerfeld

February 14, 2017 Comments off

horizonHorizon. survival is no game. by Scott Westerfeld. Pub. Scholastic, 2017.

This can only be the beginning of a new series because the end is inconclusive and elusive to the reader who is kept guessing all the way through the novel.

It is a science fiction/adventure novel with survival a major theme and is aimed at intermediate, junior secondary readers.

The novel begins with an unusual airplane crash by an aircraft en route from USA to Japan. In mid flight over the Arctic the aircraft is sliced through from nose to tail by something weird and crashes in a lush and dangerous jungle. How could this be?

Furthermore during the ripping of the fuselage all 500 adults disappeared leaving behind 8 teenagers and there seemed to have been some sort of electric selection system that decided who survived. Could this be true?

The teenagers wonder where they are. The plants and animals seem to indicate they are on Earth but two moon like lights in the sky suggest another planet. As the teenagers face what has happened to them they find an anti gravity device which allows them to explore the surroundings and they encounter a flesh eating vine and birds with razor sharp beaks that hunt in a flock.

Cool heads are needed to get out of this because if they got there, there has to be a way back. Read it and find out.

Imaginatively written by Scott Westerfeld, this series will be a winner.

Nightfall by Jake Halpern & Peter Kujawinski

January 18, 2017 Comments off

nightfallNightfall by Jake Halpern & Peter Kujawinski. Pub. Hot key Books, 2015.

This highly original book on survival in a dark world is for teenagers and young adults.

Set on the island of Bliss, a name that is far from the truth because life is far from easy. The island is surrounded by cliffs with no easy access to the sea and the cycle of life is dictated by 14 years of daylight followed by 14 years of darkness. The hinterland is forested and nobody goes there for fear of wild animals, monsters and demons.

The years of daylight are almost at an end and the islanders are preparing to evacuate to the desert lands of the south where the cycle of life is 3 days light and 3 days dark.

Marin and Kana are 14 year old twins, both share a friend in Line but the relationship is changing as Line notices Marin’s curves and she notices his muscles. The islanders are going through a ritualistic preparation to leave. They are cleaning their houses, removing locks and setting tables with heavy plates. There is talk of spirits and monsters coming with the dark and an urgency to leave before the night falls and the sea withdraws.

Through circumstances that you will have to read the book to find out, Marin, Kana and Line are left behind on the island and on their first night alone  they learn that what their parents and elders said was true.

Then in an unexpected surrealistic twist in the plot Kana takes his boots off and discovers an astonishing transformation.

Tensions are high and the action swift and often brutal. If you have a fear of the dark then this book is not going to make it easy for you. Confront your fears and read one of the most absorbing novels I have read for a while.

Great cover and structured in short easy to read chapters that make you want to keep reading. If you miss this you will kick yourself.

Boy X by Dan Smith

December 19, 2016 Comments off

boy-xBoy X by Dan Smith. Pub Chicken House, 2016.

This is an easy to read action/ survival thriller set in a research Lab on an island covered in a deadly jungle.It is aimed at high school students and intermediate aged readers

Ash is about 16 years old and he awakes in a bed in the research laboratory with memories of a man called Thorn having stabbed him in the neck with a needle. He goes looking for his scientist mother and stumbles into a heap of action including a helicopter crash.

He meets Isabel, an Hispanic girl whose father is also a scientist and together they make their way to the laboratory where Ash’s mother and Isabel’s father are sealed in. They learn that both have been injected by a lethal virus called Kronos which has the potential to destroy the World.

Fortunately there is an antidote but some villains have taken both the virus and antidote and fled across the dense jungle to a boat on the other side of the island. Isabel and Ash need to stop the virus from leaving the island and to get back to their mother and father to give them the antidote.

They have 24 hours to do so. The countdown is on, the psychopathic Thorn is after them, and the jungle has terrors of its own. Not only that, Ash has developed heightened senses and can see, hear and smell things miles away. He is also stronger, heals quickly and can move like a vampire.

Read the rest and find out what happens. It is thrilling.

Shooting Stars by Brian Falkner.

September 12, 2016 Comments off

shooting-starsShooting Stars by Brian Falkner. Pub. Scholastic, 2016.

“You who are on the road must have a code that you can live by” these lyrics from a 1970 Crosby Stills and Nash song ran through my mind as I was reading this superb novel.

Egan and his Moma have lived in the remote forests and bush of the Coromandal Peninsula for 15 years since Moma fled from an abusive husband with Egan as a baby. She taught him well, bringing him up on a code that is not unique- based on the Golden Rule, and written by every philosopher from Socrates to Fred Dagg. Egan is well read and wants to be a writer, Hemmingway and Steinbeck are favourites. Some of his stories are spread throughout the novel. The Code works well in the bush where there are no other humans, until Egan meets D.O.C. deer culler  J.T. Hunter.

Egan and his dog Jack like J.T. and they learn much from each other, then Moma goes missing. Egan looks for clues in his mother’s papers and this takes him to Auckland. This is part 2 of the novel with Egan describing  Auckland as a bonfire that needs constant feeding. He learns to live with the street kids and finds violence and love. He could survive anything but The Code by which he has lived is sorely tested.

Part 3 tells the father’s story and Egan learns what celebrity status means. The Code is further tested and broken. I would ruin it for you if I told you anything else.

Falkner narrates the story in diary form through Egan from December to March and it is totally compelling. The wit, the humour, the characterisation and the flow of the novel are strong traits of all Falkner’s novels, this is no exception. I was mesmerised from start to finish and you will be too. It is a triumph for motherhood.

Mention must be made of the cover, it is outstanding, any reader can see what the novel is going to do from the cover. The best I have seen for a long time.

Would be a great text for students from year 9 – 11 and great reading for everyone else. My book of the year so far.

NB this novel will be released for standing orders in October 2016 with general release November.

The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry

July 26, 2016 Comments off

dolssaThe Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry. Pub. HarperCollins, 2016.

Of all the eras of human habitation on this planet the one that I would least liked to have lived in is the medieval period when the power of the church was at it’s highest and most vicious.

In this novel for senior students and young adults Julie Berry has created that medieval world with all its poverty, cruelty and religious fervour. Once I had become fond of the characters who are largely female, young, clever and questioning I was scared witless of what fate may become them. You will too.

Dolssa is the key character who believes god speaks to her and through her and she refers to him as her beloved. This brings her into conflict with the Inquisitors who see heresy spreading and spoiling the vineyard of the lord. This role is played by Lucien de Saint-Honore who wishes to destroy anything that conflicts with the teachings of the church and believes that this will please the blessed Saviour.

After watching her mother burnt at the stake by Lucien, 13 year old Dolssa flees and is eventually rescued by teenager Botille an arranger of marriages and her sisters Plazensa who is a prostitute and Sazia who can read fortunes. The girls hide Dolssa from the Inquisitors and this brings drama and danger into their lives.

You will have to read the novel to find out more and believe me it is captivating reading.

Narrated by Dolssa, Botille and Lucien mainly but other characters do contribute. Chapters are short and the writing is lofty and crude at the same time in line with the characters of the Medieval period. A superb piece of writing.