A strange new world

TITLE = THE GLIMPSE

AUTHOR = CLAIRE MERLE

GENRE = DYSTOPIAN FUTURE, ADVENTURE, THRILLER

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 9, 10

This is a compelling dystopian novel. At first, this dystopia may seem miles away from our current world; for in Merle’s future, the world is divided into Pures and Crazies. A simple DNA test determines an individual’s likelihood of mental illness, thus determining their “Purity”. As one of the characters suggests, this is a world based on scientific racism.However, as we learn more about the events which led to this new world, this dystopian future may seem all too real. Mention of a Global Depression and Petrol Wars will sound familiar whilst a world where people can be tracked by their online presence, may seem all too close for comfort.And the protagonist of this story, Ana is caught right in the middle of the moral dilemma created in a world where the Pures have it all and the Crazies are at the mercy of medication and the Psych Watch brigade, who swoop in at any sign of disturbance and cart Crazies off to a “loony bin”.  Whilst the Crazy world might seem threatening to any right minded Pure, perhaps the Pures have not recognised the constraints at play in their own world? And what if the DNA test that lies at the heart of this new future was not all it seemed??

For Ana these questions are critical. In her quest to find Jasper (her betrothed) and uncover the truth, Ana finds herself deep in the heart of the Crazy world where she learns that maybe her prejudices were unfounded. On top of this, she just might be falling for a young man who may be Jasper’s only chance for freedom … or who may be intent on destroying her world. Ana is on a tense and exciting journey of discovery. The final outcome of her adventures will have the reader on the edge of their seats to the final page.

Check out the author’s website here.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

 

An exciting start to a series

TITLE = GONE

AUTHOR = MICHAEL GRANT

GENRE = ADVENTURE, ACTION, SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 – 9

 

 

Wow!! What a great book! It is the first in s eries of books too – so there is plenty more action to come.

 

Check out the book trailer below to learn more about this book – or look at an earlier posting about this book.

 

 

Music sourced from the Animoto site: “100 pianos” by July for Kings. Images from the Animoto site. All text created by claire.

Recommended (claire) *****

Time travel with action and danger

TITLE  = TIMERIDERS

AUTHOR = ALEX SCARROW

GENRE = TIME TRAVEL, FANTASY, SCIENCE FICTION, HISTORICAL FICTION

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 8 AND UP

This is the first book in an exciting new time travel series by Alex Scarrow. Join Liam, Maddy and Sal in a wild ride as they come together from the past and future to try and protect the present. They must travel back in time – never to change the past, only to protect history from change. But what will happen if others also ride time for less honourable purposes? Will Liam be stuck in a brutal dark past? Will the present-day be damaged forever? Can newbies Sal and Maddy rescue Liam and save the day?

This book is a deserved winner of the Calderdale Children’s Book of the Year.

Highly recommended (dma) *****

Why not check out the following book trailer to learn more about this great book:

All images from the Animoto site. Music also selected from the Animoto site (“Battle Song” by Vaeda). Text provided by booklover.

 

The steampunk adventure bounds along to a fitting end

TITLE = THE LEVIATHAN TRILOGY 3: GOLIATH

AUTHOR =SCOTT WESTERFELD

GENRE = STEAMPUNK

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 – 9

The rollicking action continues in this brilliant final instalment of the steampunk Leviathan trilogy. The war between the Clankers and the Darwinists rolls on and once more, Alek and Deryn on board the Leviathan airship, seem to be in the thick of things. Alek is determined to stop the war at all costs, even if that means aligning himself with the eccentric and possibly mad, Nikola Tesla, against his own Clanker country. And Deryn is determined to help Alek, the young man she secretly adores. But when Deryn’s secret identity is revealed, will their friendship be destroyed? And is Tesla to be trusted?

With a cast of characters that includes newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, Mexican rebel leader Pancho Villa and Toyota magnate, Sakichi Toyoda, Scott Westerfeld has again marshalled together a delicious blend of the real and the alternative in this steampunk extravaganza. The action rockets along with a terrific sense of fun and is beautifully complemented by Keith Thompson’s glorious illustrations; once more this book is a complete package of exciting story, humour and imaginative design.  Perhaps Westerfeld’s finest creation in this delightful novel is the persipicacious lorus, Bovril, a beastie who always seems to have the last (and most ironic) word!

As the plot thickens and the cliff hangers abound, Westerfeld shows a masterful touch in bringing the different plot strands together and providing a satisfying conclusion to both this instalment and the series as a whole. The author’s notes at the end provide further illumination about the background to the story and Westerfeld’s alternative take on historic events. While the series may have ended, with the inventiveness he has shown in this series it is to be hoped that Westerfeld hasn’t finished with the steam punk world just yet.

Read more about the series here on Scott Westerfeld’s blog – includes more of Keith Thompson’s great art work, too.

Read reviews of an earlier books in the series here .

Selected as a Notable book for the CBCA Book of the Year 2012 (Older Readers)

Highly Recommended (dma) ******

Adventure, fun … and some time-travel to boot!

TITLE = BEFORE THE STORM

AUTHOR =SEAN McMULLEN

GENRE = FANTASY, STEAMPUNK, TIME TRAVEL

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 8 – 10

What a delightful foray into the steampunk world is provided here by Australian author, Sean McMullen. Time travel has sent 2 warriors from the future back to Melbourne in 1901, to prevent disaster from occurring on the opening of the first Parliament of this young nation. However, these young warriors have been thrust into a world very different from their own. They may have brilliant military training and amazing weaponry but to achieve their aim they will need to enlist the support of some locals. The bossy, studious Emily and her brow-beaten brother, Daniel, from the well-heeled gentry,  may not seem like the most obvious choice. However, Daniel’s street-wise buddy, Barry the Bag, may be a better proposition. The young teens must bring together the best from both their worlds, if they are to succeed in this fast-paced, and often quite humorous, adventure. There will be some lessons learned – about life and about love – and some secrets revealed along the way. The constraints on the role of young women at the turn of the twentieth century will also be explored in a light hearted but meaningful way. And the resolution of this wonderful adventure is sure to please both the characters and the readers.

A terrific read.

Find out more about Sean and his many books on his website.

Highly Recommended (dma)  *****  

Fast-paced future

rosie blackTITLE =THE ROSIE BLACK CHRONICLES : Genesis

AUTHOR =LARA MORGAN

GENRE =SCIENCE FICTION, FUTURE

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 9, 10

Rosie Black lives in a rather unsettling future world. Whilst space travel is a common occurrence and it appears that Mars is inhabited now, life on earth seems very hot, very restricted and rather dangerous. And Rosie is soon at the centre of this danger. Whilst scrounging with a friend they come across a mysterious box and when they open this box Rosie’s world comes crashing down around her – and she finds herself fleeing from the police. Can she trust the feral, Pip, or his boss, Riley?

Rosie soon finds that there is more at stake than her own father’s life – perhaps even more than her own life. Could the dreaded malaria strain that killed her mother be of human invention??

Whilst this novel will appeal to sci fi lovers it can also be read simply as a fast paced action thriller. Not all readers may understand or care about the science and technology of Rosie’s future and it is not dwelt upon at great length – it is just there as a backdrop to an exciting adventure in which Rosie’s resilience, stamina and ingenuity will be tested. There are a couple of clever twists in the plot which will keep the reader gripped till the final page.

The good news is that this is just the first volume of Rosie’s adventures – there is more excitement to come.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

Action packed future

TITLE = GONE

AUTHOR = MICHAEL GRANT

GENRE = ADVENTURE, SCIENCE FICTION

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 8 UP

An action packed adventure – a real page turner. When their teacher suddenly disappears in mid-sentence, along with everyone else in their town who is over the age of 15 the young inhabitants of Perdido Beach are left in a quandary. Many turn to Sam Temple as the obvious leader. Sam is a bit of a loner (he only has one friend, Quinn) but is known to his school mates as School Bus Sam  after an heroic performance a few years ago when he quietly saved lives by steering their bus to safety. However, Sam is suffering a crisis of confidence and is not ready to step up to the plate, afraid that he hasn’t got what it takes. So in his stead the local bullies take over.

Sam is also hiding a secret – a secret about his hidden powers which may in fact hold the key to the mystery of what has happened to their town and the solution to their future. But will others still accept him as a leader if he is a freak?? Will those who know his secret betray him?? Will he be brave enough to trust himself??

There are obvious parallels to “Lord of the Flies” in this novel as young people struggle with the concept of leadership and co-operation. Sam is pitted against Caine (which also raises interesting parallels to Biblical stories). Will the bullies win out… or will time run out for Sam …because his 15th birthday is fast approaching…

Whilst the novel is fast paced and the action rarely lets up, there are some compelling characters in this novel which will ensure an emotional pull on readers who will be hungry to get to the final page … and the sequel of this great novel.

Those who enjoyed Hunger Games or The Phoenix Files will equally enjoy this novel about authority and young people trying to save themselves and their world.

And make sure you check out the website linked to this book – apart from updates about what is happening in Sam’s world there is a blog from Michael Grant about his YA reading inspirations and updates about sequels etc.


Highly Recommended (dma) *****

Ray of hope in a grim future

vulture's gateTITLE = VULTURE’S GATE

AUTHOR = KIRSTY MURRAY

GENRE = SCIENCE FICTION, ACTION

INTEREST LEVEL = YEAR 7 UP

Kirsty Murray has painted a rather grim future in her latest novel, “Vulture’s Gate”. It is a world where children appear to face threats from many sources, regardless of their circumstances. Young Callum has two loving fathers but this does not prevent him from being kidnapped and having to rely on his wits to survive. Bo has been brought up by a loving grandfather who has taught her many survival skills. But even with her skills and her robots, she faces a lonely and harsh life. Despite their differing upbringings, when the two children find each other in the desert, they join forces on a journey to find a better future. Then the strange social order of this future world gradually unfolds: a world where there are few girls and the ones who do survive appear to be fated to become baby machines. The children are faced with obstacles at every turn: they must evade capture but it is hard to know who presents the greatest threat and who may be a trusted ally. Is it better to trust the street gangs of children or hope that Callum’s dads have survived and will provide shelter? Murray has created a credible future world and her cast of characters are equally believable. There is plenty of action and adventure to keep the reader fully engaged in the story and cheering Bo and Callum on as they struggle against each new obstacle. A thoroughly entertaining book which quickly hooks in the reader: the future may be very different from the world we know but it is easy to comprehend.

Read more about the background to this novel and how it evolved for Kirsty Murray here. And if you enjoy this book you might also enjoy “The Hunger Games” series by Suzanne Collins.

Highly recommended (dma) *****

Sequel packs a punch!

catching fireTITLE= THE HUNGER GAMES:CATCHING FIRE

AUTHOR = SUZANNE COLLINS

GENRE = ACTION, science fiction

INTEREST LEVEL =YEARS 7 PLUS

This sequel to “The Hunger Games” is every bit as rivetting as the first novel in the series. Katmiss and Peeta may be victors from the most recent games but that does not put them out of danger, in fact, far from it! After receiving a visit from the President himself, Katmiss is all too aware of the danger she faces; and it is not only her life at stake – but also the lives of everyone she holds dear. It seems that rebellion is in the air in many districts and the fans of this rebellion have been unwittingly fanned by the actions of Katmiss and Peeta that saw them crowned as victors. It is no longer a simple matter of survival in the arena there is more political intrigue at stake in this novel – our heroes must decide to what extent they want to (or are able to) support the rebellion whilst also trying to negotiate the hurdles of relationships on a more personal level. Once more, Katmiss feels herself torn between Gale and Peeta – both are men of integrity and both love her – which way does her heart truly lie and does it matter if none of them can survive the Capitols latest ploy?

Suzanne Collins masterfully weaves action packed drama with political intrigue and just a dash of romance to hold her readers on the edge of their seats  – and few will see the twist coming at the end of this novel. Fans will be eagerly awaiting the final instalment in this intriguing trilogy.

A great Inky winner!

hunger gamesTITLE = THE HUNGER GAMES

AUTHOR = SUZANNE COLLINS

GENRE = ACTION, SCIENCE FICTION

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 -9

The recent winner of a Silver Inky, this is indeed a compelling novel. In the bleak future world of North America, life is harsh and made even harsher by the annual “Hunger Games”, a bizarre and deadly fight to the death on national TV. This is Reality TV in its most lethal form. 16 y.o Katmiss volunteers to take the place of her younger and much loved sister, to represent her District. Her male counterpart is Peeta, the baker’s son. Whilst Katmiss appears to have far more useful skills of survival (she is a hunter and archer of renown) perhaps it is Peeta’s kind and loving nature that holds the key to the young couple’s success?? There is plenty of action and readers will be on the edge of their seats as the adventure unfolds. And is there romance or heartbreak for this young couple as they fight to stay alive? A deserving winner of the Inky and readers will be keen to read subsequent books in the trilogy by Suzanne Collins.

If you enjoy this series, you might also like to read “Vulture’s Gate” by Kirsty Murray.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****