Archive for the ‘adventure’ Category

A futuristic action-adventure novel about a teenager caught in the middle of a centuries old war between wizards and robots, who finds the world’s destiny is suddenly in her hands.

When a young man breaks into her home claiming her life is in danger, Ada Luring’s world changes forever. Geller is a wizard, on the run from his father’s hidden clan who want to kill Ada and her mother. Sara Luring is the scientist who will create the first robot, the wizards’ age-old foes.

But a robot has travelled back in time to find Ada, and will lay everything on the line to protect her, as she may just be the key to preventing the earth’s destruction in the future.

Ada, Geller and the robots must learn to work together to change the past and secure the future. But they don’t have much time before a mysterious enemy launches its attack on Earth . . .

WAR: Wizards and Robots

Will.i.am & Brian David Johnson

Penguin Books

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui Smith

I’m always suspicious when I see a celebrity’s name in the by-line of a novel, and when it’s that of a popular hip-hop artist, it seems fairly certain that this book was published on the strength of that name’s ability to sell books. And after reading it, I don’t think that I was far wrong.

The writing itself wasn’t too bad, it’s more the story I have issues with, or more properly the setting. It feels like the authors took the grab-bag of science fiction and fantasy tropes, emptied it on the floor, picked out a handful of unrelated ideas not normally found in the same novel and decided to make a book out of it. So, you have wizards and robots, that’s obvious from the title. And then you add in time travel and invading aliens from another dimension…. It’s a mess, never totally resolved. If wizardry is dependent on a technological device in the form of a ring, then where and when did these rings come from? Perhaps some amphibians know?

The primary characters; a computer genius girl and a boy wizard are obviously designed to meet and form some sort of relationship, but why call the girl Ada Luring (rhymes with Turing)? I can see why her mother might name her Ada, but… It’s all a wee bit twee… and a bit silly. So, I’m afraid, is the plot. Time travel is almost guaranteed to create plot-holes and here they’re all over the place. There is a resolution of sorts, and evil is defeated, but it really is way too complicated for its own good. You may want to leave this one and its shiny silver cover on the shelf.

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Four kids on a quest to find the legendary Mines of King Solomon… and their parents.

Bick, Beck, Storm and Tommy are navigating their way down the Nile, from hot and dusty Cairo to deep dark jungles, past some seriously bad guys along the way.

They’ll need all their survival instincts just to make it out alive..

Danger Down the Nile Treasure Hunters #2

James Patterson with Chris Grabenstein

Arrow

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Maree

The children of the Kidd family continue to hunt for their main lost treasures, their parents, missing while on a treasure hunting adventure. If the first book was all about pirates and the Caribbean the second moves the action to Egypt. The children follow the clues left by their parents through hot dusty Cairo, fetid jungle and dodge bad guys and uncle Timothy who may or may not be CIA, at every turn. He cannot understand why, if they are searching for Kings Solomon’s Mines, why are they after a Chinese Ming Vase?

MAnother exciting adventure in  the Treadsure Hunters series that kept me turning pages eagerly.

From the top ten bestselling author of Middle School and I Funny comes a brilliantly original new adventure series, jam-packed with action, humour, and heart!

The Kidd siblings have grown up diving down to shipwrecks and travelling the world, helping their famous parents recover everything from swords to gold doubloons from the bottom of the ocean. But after their parents disappear on the job, the kids are suddenly thrust into the biggest treasure hunt of their lives.

They’ll have to work together to defeat dangerous pirates and dodge the hot pursuit of an evil treasure-hunting rival, all while following cryptic clues to unravel the mystery of what really happened to their parents – and find out if they’re still alive.

Treasure Hunters: Treasure Hunters #1

James Patterson with Chris Grabenstein

Arrow

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Maree

Bick, Beck, Tommy and Storm are searching for their parents who have gone missing while on a treasure hunting job. The Kidd family are full time treasure hunters but not all is as it seems and treasure hunting can get you in a heap of trouble. There are Caribbean pirates, gold, cryptic clues and an evil rival to contend with in the search. And then there is Uncle Timothy. Do they dare trust him? How much and is he really their uncle and how is he connected to the CIA? Is he all he seems? A cracking good story told in the “children out of any parental control” style of  the books I grew up with; if Arthur Ransome, the Famous Five, Pippy Longstocking and Rick Riordan had a baby…..

After a daring chase across the globe, Tim Barnabas and Clara Calland have brought Clara’s scientist father’s secret formula to Westralia. Here, much of Australia is simply too hot to be habitable by day. Duke Malcolm, of the Imperial Security Service, transports Claras rebel-father to a prison in Eastern Australia, hoping to bait her into attempting a rescue. Clara looks to Tim for help, only to find he has fled a racist incident into the desert. She takes a burrowing machine know as a “steam mole” in search of him. The two head to Eastern Australia, where they discover an invading force with plans to take Westralia.

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Published by Pyr

Purchased from Bookwyrms (some time ago)

Reviewed by Jacqui Smith

This is the sequel to Dave’s young adult novel Cuttlefish which I reviewed recently, and features the continuing adventures of Tim Barnabas and Clara Calland. Tim, along with the crew of the Cuttlefish, is stuck in Westralia, while the submarine is repaired. He takes a job working on the steam moles, digging tunnels to the mines north of the Tropic of Capricorn where it has become so hot that the trains must go underground. Only it all goes wrong, and he escapes into the desert… Meanwhile, Clara’s mother is poisoned by an Imperial agent and is sick in hospital. Clara learns that her father is incarcerated in Imperial territory in Queensland, and sets about attempting a rescue. When she finds Tim is missing, she steals a scout steam mole and follows him out into the desert.

I think you can see where this is going. You get a rollicking steampunk adventure, with a touch of romance, set in the Australian desert. It’s a lot of fun. The star of the show, however, is not the characters, but the steam mole itself. Dave does a masterwork job of creating this wonderful steampunk device, making it thoroughly believable.

The story ends happily for all concerned, save the villains, who get what they deserve. Perhaps it’s a bit simplistic for some, but I found it a good read, and one I can happily recommend to young and old, especially if they are fascinated by unusual mechanical devices.

Before they became the most famous Ranger in the land and the hard-working Ranger Commandant, Halt and Crowley were young friends determined to change the world.

The scheming Baron Morgarath is drawing other power-hungry knights and barons to his banner. King Oswald is wasting away and, if gossip can be believed, Prince Duncan is causing havoc in the north.

Halt and Crowley set out to find the prince, uncover the truth, and re-form the weakened Ranger Corps. Once-loyal Rangers are scattered across the country, and it will take determination, skill, and leadership if they’re to come together as one. Can the Rangers regain the trust of the Kingdom, or will the cunning Morgarath outwit them at every turn?

the-tournament-at-gorlan

Random House

supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

Flanagan continues to mine his “Rangers” world; only now he’s digging into prequel territory.

The flaws in his world-building are still evident – coffee ought to be a rare luxury in any pseudo-medieval world unless the setting is very close to its point of origin (or there are improbable amounts of magic messing around with transport and economics).

I keep wishing he’d chuck out this background and start again doing a proper job of it, because he’s otherwise not a bad writer.

The Tournament at Gorlan fairly rollicks along, and I have to say I quite enjoyed it. The story is that the young Prince has be taken captive, and an imposter is stirring up trouble in his name, while the old King is being slowly poisoned in mind as well as body. Our rangers make it their business to get together and put things to rights.

Which they do, culminating in the events of the titular tournament (which I must admit felt more like a modern re-enactment than the real thing, but that’s Flanagan).

The reality is that the majority of his young readers will not even notice the mistakes that annoy me, and this is probably the best of his work that I’ve read so far. Which is as close to a recommendation that you’re going to get.

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the-sword-of-summer

I must confess that I haven’t actually read any of Riordan’s work before, although I had seen the movie adaptation of Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief. Which hadn’t really impressed me, so I wasn’t expecting a lot from this novel. But I soon discovered otherwise. What didn’t come through in the movie is the sheer exuberance of Riordan’s prose, and his truly wicked sense of humour. This book was fun!

There were a few things that didn’t sit well with me – the convoluted logic it took to get a Muslim girl to become a Valkyrie for example (just because Muslim heroines are fashionable doesn’t mean that every story has to have one). And I think that the choice of Boston as the centre of Yggdrasil and the connection to the other worlds was yet another case of “everything must happen in America even if it doesn’t make much sense”. Personally, I would have found Iceland a bit more interesting. Or even Norsewood.

But Riordan is good enough that this reader can ignore such matters and enjoy the story. It does begin in Boston where Magnus encounters a bridge, a sword, and a fire giant. And dies. And the story continues in Hotel Valhalla. Much of the humour devolves from the collision between Norse myth and the modern world, and it worked for me. Much better than other takes on modernising Norse myth that I’ve encountered, and Riordan’s version is much truer to the actual mythology than, for example, the Marvel version.

The main criticism others have made is that Magnus is too much like Percy and Jason. I didn’t have that issue, because I hadn’t read the other books. However, I would suggest that if Riordan is to silence his critics, he might be advised to try something totally different after finishing this series – something that doesn’t involve mythology, and has a markedly dissimilar lead character. Maybe a science fiction series with a female protagonist. As for me, I got a lot of enjoyment from this book, and I’m sure many teens would enjoy it too.

Puffin

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

WARP 3

I enjoyed Colfer’s Artemis Fowl stories (Yes, I know they’re fairy stories, they’re written for kids, and you know perfectly well that I don’t care, because they’re that good), so I thought I might try this. Unfortunately it’s the third book of a trilogy – which rather threw me in the deep end of the wormhole, but Colfer was clever enough to include a brief “Need to Know” introduction, which explains the background. And a bizarre background it is. WARP stands for Witness Anonymous Relocation Programme, which is what you think it is… and not. Because Professor Charles Smart figured out how to mess with quantum physics to create wormholes into the past – and when the FBI found out about it they decided to use it to stash important witnesses back in history. But Professor Smart didn’t really understand what he was doing, nor does anyone else, and now he’s gone missing… And then there’s the unpredictable weird stuff that keeps happening to people who pass through the wormhole. You can see the potential for trouble. And then, Colfer throws in a couple of clever kids to save the world from a psychotic Victorian villain, who has been let loose to cause havoc across history.

As you might imagine, this book is a whole lot of fun. Colfer has a seriously warped sense of humour, and a talent for action. The youthful lead characters here are well-crafted (and more sympathetic than Artemis Fowl ever was). The villain is an absolute nutter, no bones about it. As for how it all works out in the end… very clever, Mr Colfer.

Puffin

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui