Archive for the ‘young adult’ Category

The smallest thing can change the path of history.

The year is 1976, and the British Empire still spans the globe. Coal drives the world, and the smog of it hangs thick over the canals of London.

Clara Calland is on the run. Hunted, along with her scientist mother, by Menshevik spies and Imperial soldiers, they flee Ireland for London. They must escape airships, treachery and capture. Under flooded London’s canals they join the rebels who live in the dank tunnels there.

Tim Barnabas is one of the underpeople, born to the secret town of drowned London, place of anti-imperialist republicans and Irish rebels, part of the Liberty – the people who would see a return to older values and free elections. Seeing no further than his next meal, Tim has hired on as a submariner on the Cuttlefish, a coal fired submarine that runs smuggled cargoes beneath the steamship patrols, to the fortress America and beyond.

When the Imperial soldiery comes ravening, Clara and her mother are forced to flee aboard the Cuttlefish. Hunted like beasts, the submarine and her crew must undertake a desperate voyage across the world, from the Faeroes to the Caribbean and finally across the Pacific to find safety. But only Clara and Tim Barnabas can steer them past treachery and disaster, to freedom in Westralia. Carried with them—a lost scientific secret that threatens the very heart of Imperial power

Pyr

Purchased from an Amazon Reseller

Reviewed by Jacqui

I probably should not review this book without first warning you that a physical copy might not be readily available, although Amazon has the e-book. But since I had already accidently acquired a second copy of the sequel, I thought I really ought to get hold of Cuttlefish and then read them in sequence.

Cuttlefish is very much a steampunk novel, but unlike most it is not stuck in Victoriana. Freer has created a solid scientific and alternate historical background, choosing as his turning point not the outcome of some momentous battle or treaty, but a simple pre-marital argument, which meant that the Haber process for the production of synthetic ammonia was never invented. And this changes the world. In the 1950’s when the novel is set, the world is still heavily dependent on coal, and global warming has drowned many of the world’s coastal areas. If there is a message here, it’s about consequences.

Enter our heroes. Clara must escape with her mother, a brilliant chemist who has discovered how to synthesize ammonia. Starting in Ireland they are chased by Mensheviks and Imperial British agents to London where they meet up with the rebels and smugglers who roam the canals of the flooded city. There they are taken aboard the Cuttlefish, a coal-fired sail-submarine. And there Clara meets Tim, a young half-Jamaican submariner, and initial dislike turns to eventual friendship as Cuttlefish battles her way to the other side of the world…

This is in many ways a simple and familiar story of young people finding themselves as they run into peril and adventure, escaping a relentless enemy. It’s the setting that makes it different, that adds both excitement and interest. Cuttlefish is a character in itself, a truly remarkable vessel, and her crew are a curious bunch as well. I can happily recommend this book to young adults, and to readers of any age who fancy something a bit different in the steampunk theme.

 

Advertisements

Teenager  Tim Ryan comes into his own as he  faces danger on a remote Australia island where magic lurks in land and sea.

Tim Ryan can’t shake the feeling that he is different from other teens, and not in a good way.  For one thing, he seems to have his own personal poltergeist that causes fires and sets him up to be arrested for shoplifting.

As a result Tim has been sent to live on a rundown farm on a remote island off the coast of Australia with his crazy grandmother, a woman who seems to talk to the local spirits, and who refuses to cushion Tim from facing his difficulties. To make matters worse, Tim is expected to milk cows, chase sheep, and hunt fish with a spear.

But he’s been exiled to an island alive with ancient magic—land magic that Tim can feel in his bones, and sea magic that runs in his blood. If Tim can face down drug-runners, sea storms, and worse, he may be able to claim the mysterious changeling heritage that is his birthright, and take hold of a legacy of power beyond any he has ever imagined.

Baen

Purchased from Amazon

 Reviewed by Jacqui Smith

There is something special about this young adult novel. It took me right back to my own childhood and those Arthur Ransome novels from the library. This is young adult literature the way it used to be written, all about growing up and finding yourself, and not so much about sex and drugs. Only it’s not exactly “Swallows and Amazons”, because there is something different about Tim Ryan… he has the blood of the fae in him, and even has a little fae following him around, trying to be helpful. Stuff happens around Tim, not all of it good.

As a result of one such incident, Tim’s mother sends him away from Melbourne, and off to Flinder’s Island. Yes, that’s the island where Dave lives, and that island is a big part of this story. Here, Tim will discover who he is, and where he belongs; and a selkie may or may not get want she wishes.

I did enjoy this book. It is real in a way that many young adult novels are not, and yet fantastical at the same time. And the nicest thing is that you can give this book to your young teenager without worrying that they’ll get any unwelcome ideas… although they may want you to take them fishing.

Wise, tough, heart-breaking, funny, this compulsive love story is about facing your demons.

Fifteen-year-old Rebecca McQuilten moves with her parents to a new city. Lonely but trying to fit in, she goes to a party, but that’s when things really fall apart.

I couldn’t tell anyone what had happened. Especially since I was the new girl in town. Who would want to believe me?

Things look up when she meets gregarious sixteen-year-old Cory Marshall.

‘You’re funny, Becs,’ Cory said.
‘You have no idea,’ I said, and clearly he didn’t, but I was smiling anyway.
And after that, he was all I could think about.

Cory helps Rebecca believe in herself and piece her life back together; but that’s before he shatters it all over again . . .

*this book contains adult themes and is suitable for readers aged 16+*

Penguin

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

Trying to fit in to a new town, Rebecca goes to a party, gets drunk and goes for a walk on the beach to clear her head, when she is raped.  She doesn’t tell anyone as she fears being labelled a slut.  Her new cute neighbour likes her but he is friends with her rapist.  He can’t understand why she doesn’t want to go to places with him where she might run into his friends and thinks it is him that is the problem.

This was a tough book to read but but very well written and not graphic.  It covers the hard-to-talk-about topics of rape, self harm, and suicide in a natural way.  The main character got on my nerves after a while with the way she constantly put herself down, she annoyed me and I didn’t really like her.  But then again I’m not this book’s target audience and can’t relate to a lot of the aspects (thankfully).  I really enjoyed the ending – it as a plot twist I didn’t see coming.  I love endings like that!

This is a beautifully written book that deals with some serious issues New Zealand doesn’t really talk about.  It is well worth reading and I’m recommending it to my cousin’s daughters.  The contact numbers at the back for agencies that offer support for the issues raised was a caring touch.

Zeus has punished his son Apollo–god of the sun, music, archery, poetry, and more–by casting him down to earth in the form of a gawky, acne-covered sixteen-year-old mortal named Lester. The only way Apollo can reclaim his rightful place on Mount Olympus is by restoring several Oracles that have gone dark. What is affecting the Oracles, and how can Apollo/Lester do anything about them without his powers? After experiencing a series of dangerous–and frankly, humiliating–trials at Camp Half-Blood, Lester must now leave the relative safety of the demigod training ground and embark on a hair-raising journey across North America. Fortunately, what he lacks in godly graces he’s gaining in new friendships–with heroes who will be very familiar to fans of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series. Come along for what promises to be a harrowing, hilarious, and haiku-filled ride.

Puffin

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Maree

It’s all about Apollo. Apollo is still banished from Olympus, still in the body of a pimply teen called Lester Papadopoulos and still on his quest to find the oracle that may have the answers to help him get back into Zeus’ good books. It’s all about Apollo. Accompanied by his friends he is traveling the mid-west, keeping an eye out for and battling monsters sent to destroy them all. It’s all about Apollo but not everyone loves the coolest of gods, ok, former god, and wants to help him as a matter of course because… he’s Apollo. It’s all about Apollo, however he may be beginning to just slightly be aware, that demi-gods and humans are not as, well, disposable, as he has thought up till now. It’s all about Apollo but in fact he is getting quite fond of these beings who are brave and loyal. It’s all about Apollo, but maybe getting in a big bowl of popcorn and slamming a few cold ones down as you watch a battle, where armies are tearing each other up in your name, from the comfort of Olympus, may not have been…..cool.

It’s all about Apollo but maybe it can be about others too?

 

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.

\

When of hundreds of Japanese captives arrive at Featherston POW camp, the tiny town is divided. Tensions run high and then, on 25 February 1943, disaster strikes. Three boys are there at the moment the storm breaks – and terrible, unforgettable events unfold before their eyes.

enemy-camp

Puffin

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

It’s 1942, and the tiny farming town of Featherston has a prisoner-of-war camp that can house hundreds of Japanese soldiers in it. Ewen, whose dad is a guard there, can’t stop wondering about the enemy just down the road. Some say the captives are evil and cruel and should be treated harshly – or shot. But when Ewen and his friends ride out to the camp to peep through the barbed wire, the POWs just seem like . . . well, people.

Written as a journal Ewen keeps, this tells the events of the NZ POW camp through the eyes of a typical kiwi kid. Ewen and his best friend Barry ride out to the camp to see what the Japanese are like.   They take along Barry’s little brother Clarry in a carrier attached to one of their bikes, as he had polio and his legs are weak.

The boys are given Japanese lessons from an English speaking Japanese officer called Ito. From him they learn that for the Japanese in the camp “for us to be prisoner is to be dead person”.

They realise people aren’t all good or bad and everyone is a fellow human being, regardless of race or religion.  An important message to learn, especially in this turbulent time.

I was really interested in this story as my Poppa was one of the guards – I found out after he died as he was ashamed of the Featherston massacre.

Aimed at 9-14 yr olds, this is an addictive read for all ages.  David Hill has written another enjoyable, fascinating book based on true events in NZ’s history.

the-severed-land

Puffin

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Steve

Fliss, an escaped slave, pulls Kirt, whom she thinks is a drummer boy, though the Wall. But he is not as she thinks, and Fliss is sent back through the Wall with Kirt by the Old One on a mission. They must rely on Fliss’s street smarts to survive the journey south deep into enemy territory to rescue Kirt’s sister Lorna and return with her to the Old One. This will not be easy as not only is Lorna hunchbacked and blind, but she is the prisoner of an enemy faction.

This is Gee’s first children’s book for almost ten years, but his skills haven’t faded. The story rattles along quickly with no unnecessary padding. The characters are believable, and the situation, an oligarchic plantation society bent on dominating an entire continent, is credible. Gee is not afraid to present the ugly fact of challenging such authority and failing: execution.

I enjoyed this book. The story was a page turner, it was neither too long, nor too short – the multifarious side plots in adult fiction had been omitted and the barebones of the story told. A good read.