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Posts Tagged ‘teenage relationships’

I, Claudia by Mary McCoy

May 11, 2019 Comments off

I ClaudiaI, Claudia by Mary McCoy. Pub. carolehoda Lab, 2019. Imprint Walker Books.

Sometimes there comes a novel that you don’t want to ever finish and this political thriller about a student council in a Los Angeles high school is one of them.

I savoured this novel over 10 days and was not disappointed by a thing. Yes I was. I was disappointed that the Head and Board of Governors of the school did not step in earlier in spite of ample evidence to do so, but then that would have ruined the story

The Imperial Day Academy is a prestigious school that is run by a student body titled the Honour Council which is structured somewhat like the Roman Senate with representatives from each class level and a President and vice President. The candidates are elected annually and have as many qualities as everyday American politics – liars, cheats, bullies, power freaks and idealists. . The aim is to destroy your opponents character and intentions and make you seem like the only wise choice. Whether it is true or not.

The novel is told by Claudia McCarthy in the form of a testimony and you the reader will find out why this is when you finish the book. The aim is to work out who are the bad guys and who are the good guys and it is not easy. Claudia’s approach is this “I make a habit of identifying the psychopaths in my environment as quickly as possible”. But is she right? Claudia’s character is charismatic. She appears to be a nobody and describes herself as an historian and is ultimately totally brave.

The characters are stunningly conceived from the ruthless, manipulative Livia, to the power crazy Cal and the heroic Claudia. There are deaths, there are inhuman episodes, there is corruption, there is sexual violation and there is love albeit misused.

The tactics used by Nixon during the Watergate scandal are a blueprint for the political drama at Imperial Day school and there is a lot of Trump’s America in there too.

This is a novel of today’s America and if you miss this one you will kick yourself. The ending provides all the answers but leaving some doubt as well. In politics do we ever learn the truth?

For High school students and Young Adults. Just superb. Stunning cover.

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.

Invisibly Breathing by Eileen Merriman

March 13, 2019 Comments off

breathing invisibleInvisibly Breathing by Eileen Merriman. Pub. PenguinRandom House, 2019.

When 16 year old Felix Catalan was in year 7 he realised he was different and he was going to be lonely for the rest of his life like a solitary moon orbiting a distant planet he’d never be able to call home. He probably has Asperger’s Syndrome although this is never stated, loves Green Day and lives with his mother and brother after his parents split up.

Then he meets Bailey.

Bailey is questioning his feelings too after a failed relationship with a girl. He has 3 siblings, an abusive father, he is good at judo and he has just moved to Wellington from Auckland. His first encounter with Felix is at school and they later attend a school party together and sparks fly.

Both boys feel it. When Bailey touches Felix’s arm it feels like all his atoms are spinning away from each other. They both feel like they never have before and they can’t get enough of each other. But it is a perilous world out there. Homophobia is rife and pretty soon life at school and at home becomes upsetting as the relationship between the two boys blossoms.

Conflict is inevitable and invisibly breathing becomes impossible.

Then Lucy comes along. Read it and find out what happens.

Eileen Merriman is at the top of her game as a writer. Her descriptive prose is a delight and the dialogue between the characters is totally believable. She deals with a sensitive subject with aplomb and knowledge. I couldn’t put it down and nor will you.

Definitely senior fiction but anybody out there agonising over their sexuality be assured this is the book for you.

Only Love can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber

October 9, 2018 Comments off

only loveOnly Love can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber. Pub. Walker books, 2018.

I have always liked romance and relationship novels and I liked this one, but it drove me to distraction yet I couldn’t put it down. As Gene Pitney once sang “Only love can break a heart, only love can mend it again”. So it is with this novel.

Among other things it is a novel about control in a relationship and getting over the death of a loved one.

Reiko is a beautiful 17 year old girl with a Japanese father and an American European mother. Everybody notices Reiko wherever she goes but she has  a monkey on her back that she never talks about and needs to get it out.

When Reiko was 12 years old her 14 year old sister Mika died in an accident. Reiko feels guilt and has never grieved properly. Mika appears to Reiko in her room and they talk.  Reiko tells nobody, she should. Everybody skirts around the subject.

Then Seth appears on the scene and a relationship develops that drove me crazy. Reiko is practically perfect and Seth is a lone wolf. They get on well but Reiko keeps him secret and exerts a control over the relationship that upsets Seth. Both of them are using the other for their own purposes and sooner or later the dirt is going to hit the fan.

When it does, major change takes place for the benefit of both.

The strong parts of this novel are the friendships between Reiko and her brother Koji, her parents and her girlfriend Dre. Reiko is lucky to have them but Mika needs to be talked about.

Reiko drove me nuts with her self analysis and her secrecy and control over Seth, but I always felt Seth was out of his league with this beauty. It really enhanced the belief that women are from Venus and men from Mars. This has to change and it does.

I loved it and so will you. High school and young adult.

 

Don’t stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Siobhan Curham.

July 24, 2018 Comments off

dont stopDon’t stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Siobhan Curham. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.

I bet that somewhere in the World in this very moment in time, a refugee is wishing that things in their own country were safe and they could return. They will be thinking that people in the country they are in feel threatened by them and resent them being there. They will despair for the future of themselves and their families and friends

This is true of Hafiz a teenager from Syria whose escape to freedom you will read about in this novel. He is lucky to be alive and lucky that he has an aunt and uncle in the UK that can support him. He is a gifted footballer and has aspirations to join the best, but will he be given the opportunity to show his talents and develop the way a UK national would?  Read this novel and find out.

Stevie is a talented guitarist and singer, she is 14 years old and is living with her severely depressed mother who can’t get over the death by violent means of her husband and Stevie’s father. They are living on the breadline and things look hopeless. They have to move on and they need a break. Read it and see if this happens.

Stevie and Hafiz come together at school in a class that has some bullying and less understanding kids, but not all. Their relationship develops, they are good for each other but they are going to be sorely tested.

An excellent novel that examines modern day issues of refugees and mental depression and the effects it has on lives when attitudes of hatred and lack of understanding are to the fore.

This book could have drifted into  a state of sentimentality but it doesn’t. You feel for both Hafiz and Stevie and their chances in life in a hostile world. Their story is as common as life itself and the message is, things have got to change!!

Written in short chapters consecutively by Stevie and Hafiz which makes it very easy to read in short bursts but if you are like me you will keep reading long after your eyes are drooping onto the page.

A story for readers in the intermediate to young adult age group. Adults will get reward from it too. But be warned there will be tears.

Funny Kid: prank wars by Matt Stanton.

July 17, 2018 Comments off

PRANK WARSFunny Kid: prank wars by Matt Stanton. Pub. ABC Books, 2018.

It had to happen to funny kid Max even though he has always thought that girls are gross. Yes he is 11 years old and he has started to notice the girls, well one girl in particular – Pip.

He has always had a tussle with Abbey and that still goes on, but Pip makes him feel like no girl ever has. Yes he is falling in lurv. The trouble is new girl Pip has a twin brother Tyson who is a prankster and he is going to ruffle Max’s feathers while Max is trying to get Pip to notice him.

Things get quite lively as Max and Tyson play tricks on each other on a school camp to Lake Quiet where it is rumoured  an extinct dragon has been spotted. The girls think it exists but the boys are nah.

Read it and find out what happens. Max’s best friend Hugo is back, Abbey is back as is duck. It all makes for great fun especially for reluctant boy readers of primary and intermediate age.

Because Everything is Right but Everything is Wrong by Erin Donohue.

June 26, 2018 Comments off

Everything rightBecause Everything is Right but Everything is Wrong by Erin Donohue. Pub. Escalator Press Whitireia, 2017.

The New Zealand Children and Young Adults Book Awards often recognise a novel that is right out of left field and this one is about the very important subject of mental illness, particularly with teens.

Caleb is in year 13 and until now has been a very competent student. Now he wonders if you can be lost and not know it. He suffers from two conditions that dominate his life -the Fear during which he can barely breathe and the Deadness which makes him want to stay in bed and do nothing.

At school his grades fall, he doesn’t do the required work and he wonders how he will function outside of school if he can’t function inside school.

His parents and little brother are at their wits end. “Its like he’s not even there”.

Then Casey appears. A rebellious attractive girl that taunts Caleb and her presence is the mystery of the novel and the catalyst that leads to him having treatment for mental illness.

Clearly written from experience the novel does not demonise mental illness but carefully analyses Caleb’s breakdown. I cannot comment on the treatment given to Caleb, I just don’t know but I was glad none of the drugs that he is treated with are mentioned.

I thought the attitude of Caleb’s parents was superb and that of his friends and little brother commendable.

Short and to the point which makes for compelling reading for teens and young adults.