In a dark future how do you survive?

the sky so heavyTITLE = THE SKY SO HEAVY

AUTHOR = CLAIRE ZORN

GENRE = FUTURE, VIOLENCE, SURVIVAL, FRIENDSHIP 

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 9+

This is an exciting story of survival which also gives the reader plenty to think about. The opening line takes us straight into a dramatic situation and awakens a strong sense of peril and fear. And then we go back to find out what brought the narrator, Fin to this urgent situation.

And it all began on what seems like a typical day in the life of teenaged Fin: catching the bus to school, trying to chat with his crush (Lucy), listening to his teachers waffle about the world outside their own Blue Mts. At home, his brother clashes with his father and step-mum, so the boys are left on their own … and that’s when the horrifying adventure really begins.

In an apocalyptic future, Fin and his brother Max must face the danger alone. The power goes almost instantly so any chance of communication with the outside world is immediately restricted. It becomes a daily battle to keep warm and feed themselves, let alone entertain themselves… as they wait for dad to come home …or to be rescued.

Fin is a decent and responsible lad but even he can be pushed to extremes when faced with the mammoth job of keeping his brother alive and safe. Suddenly Fin decides to take action in a morally questionable way … this leads the way for a clever and thought-provoking strand to develop in this novel. For the story gradually raises questions about actions and consequences: does the end always justify the means? Does the fight for survival give one the right to hurt others? How far is too far?

Fin joins forces with Lucy and another boy from their school whose religious leanings provoke some of the moral questioning. Fin is a credibly flawed character who faces great odds and readers will be truly engaged in his story.

Shortlisted for the 2014 CBCA Book of the Year (Older Readers), this book was announced as AN HONOUR BOOK!! CONGRATULATIONS TO CLAIRE ZORN.

Recommended (dma) ****

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) *****

 

Another action packed stage in the journey ….

TITLE = fallout

SERIES = THE PHOENIX FILES

AUTHOR = CHRIS MORPHEW

GENRE= ACTION, ADVENTURE, DYSTOPIAN FUTRUE

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 8, 9, 10

This is the fifth book in “The Phoenix Files” series and like its predecessors, the action is fast paced and almost unabated. The clock continues to count down at an alarming rate and as the story begins, there are only 14 days left. What is intriguing about this series (and this book) is that the clock is now ticking on more than one level: it is not just signalling the end of the world, it is also ticking down towards the birth of Jordan’s brother or sister as well as Luke’s likely murder. So the anxiety levels have been significantly raised for both the central characters and the readers. The main focus of concern is still the future of Phoenix, and the wider world, with the imminent release of Tabitha. But there remains the daily problem of survival especially whilst living at such close quarters in an underground shelter. As Jordan and Luke are all too aware, just because everyone in the shelter shares a common enemy, this does not mean their motives, or the actions they are willing to use, are similarly shared. There is a constant undercurrent of distrust among many in the underground forces, a constant fear of betrayal. Morphew’s sense of pace and his ability to provide a cliffhanger ending is to be celebrated because it has certainly produced an exciting series and this instalment is no exception.

Recommended (dma) ****

Action and romance a sure fire hit!

TITLE = THE HUNGER GAMES

AUTHOR = SUZANNE COLLINS

GENRE = ACTION, ADVENTURE, FUTURE

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 AND

 

An exciting story set in a rather grim future – where even reality shows that are screened nationally appear to be a fight to the death. A strong female lead character, plenty of compelling action, twists and turns in the game play and just a touch of romance, ensure that this book will be enjoyed by teen boys and girls.

A fuller review can be found here.

Check out the book trailer below:

 

(Music by Mike Gallagher: “Free to fly”. Images and music provided from the Animoto site. Text by dma)

Why not check out the sequels to this book, too. A review of “Catching Fire” can be found here and one of ‘Mockingjay” can be found here.

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) *****

An unusual read…

STORMBRINGER: RAVENS RISING by Kerry Greenwood (GRE)
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Interest level: Years 11/12

This is the third book in the trilogy which is set in a future where the world has changed dramatically. Control of this new world lies with the University but when our heroes (the Ravens) return to Melbourne Uni to tell of their exploits from Book 2, they find no-one there – except for a computer that wants to take over their minds. There are strong themes throughout the book concerning friendship, loyalty, kinship and independence. The characters and story line are intriguing; a believable future world has been created, even if the circumstances of this world are not fully explained. The traditional Good versus Evil conflict plays out with some terrific touches: the Twins (Flae & Thel) who finish each others sentences provide an intriguing mix. The main characters are drawn boldly and in pairs: Bran (the hero who is a pure, goodhearted leader) and Scathe (once an Oracle, a Good Angel, an androgynous, beautiful empath); Swart (the Bad Angel – dark in looks & mood, a cynic who hates dirt and finds it hard to share with others) and Ceridwen (a beautiful woman of the wild who brings love & comfort to Swart); Mill (a huge, Hercules type figure, full of brawn) and Tenar (his equal in size & might); the Twins (wild hunters, able to melt into their surrounds with a very close bond) and Dismas (a wily thief, able to break into anything, he thinks of himself as a coward yet he often acts heroically). Whilst this book could be read alone, the reader would be wise to read the first 2 books in the trilogy to fully enjoy the story line. Kerry Greenwood is a clever writer who always provides an entertaining and thoughtful narrative.

Recommended (dma). ***