Sleeping beauty wakes up in 2128

when we wake coverTITLE = WHEN WE WAKE

AUTHOR = KAREN HEALEY

GENRE = SCIENCE FICTION

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 8, 9

Tegan Oglietti is having the best day of her life, in Melbourne, in 2027, a few years in our future. But the next thing she knows, she wakes up in a hospital – in 2128, having been asleep for over 100 years. She is the first patient who has ever woken up from stasis, and immediately becomes a celebrity, followed at the supermarket and at school. She manages to make some friends (and introduce her music class to the Beatles) but as she discovers more about the world she has woken in, she finds out that not all the changes between the Melbourne she grew up in and this new Melbourne are good, or for good reasons.

This adventure shows us what our future might be; how our decisions can change the world, even if we are sixteen year old girls who have been asleep for a century.

The author, Karen Healey, is from New Zealand but lived in Melbourne for a few years. On her website she has some extras for When We Wake: you can have a look at what the characters are wearing, listen to the book’s soundtrack, or read her essays on the Sleeping Beauty archetype that inspired the story!

This book has been Longlisted for the 2014 Silver Inky awards.

Highly recommended (emc) *****

Doctor Who Anniversary eBooks are a lot of fun

Kindle ebook review: Kindle 4

DR WHO EBOOKS

Genre= Science Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who, eleven ebook short stories are being written throughout 2013: ELEVEN Doctors, ELEVEN Months, ELEVEN Authors, ELEVEN Stories.

Doctor Who: Tip of the Tongue (5th Doctor) by Patrick Ness : ★

In true Patrick Ness style and upholding the spirit of the Dr Who series, this is a clever and funny short story with a thoughtful message underlying the action. Set in 1945 in the Deep South of the USA, the Doctor and his companion, Nyssa, must right the wrongs of racism, slavery and truth telling! 

Doctor Who: The Spear of Destiny (3rd Doctor) by Marcus Sedgwick. 

The action is fast-paced and non-stop, whilst the Doctor and his companion, Jo, travel from London in 1973 back to Uppsalla, Sweden in the time of the Vikings. Searching for a famous spear. But they may find more than they bargained for when they come up against the Vikings! 

Doctor Who: The Roots of Evil (4th Doctor) by Philip Reeve. 

This story takes a more traditional sci-fi approach as the Doctor and his companion, Leela land on a tree-like planet. Unfortunately for the Doctor it just happens to be a planet where they hate him and every living thing appears to seek vengeance upon him. Can the Doctor (and his beloved scarf) get them out of this fix?

A slow burn sci fi story

TITLE = A CONFUSION OF PRINCES

AUTHOR = GARTH NIX

GENRE = SCIENCE FICTION

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 8 -10

After a slow start, this journey into a Sci Fi world becomes quite engaging. Khemri has been programmed to become a Prince, a ruler of the Empire. With all sorts of in-built biological and technological aids, you would think that this young Prince in the making would be heroic and wise. Instead, at the start of the novel he seems like a spoilt jerk!

This humorous characteristic is the saving grace of the novel at the beginning. In amongst all the SF techno jargon and the setting up of this strange new SF world, the reader can enjoy a chuckle at Khemri’s expense. Although one delightful part of this arrogant Prince’s character is that he is a fast learner – so he soon begins to recognise his own short-comings (and the problems and humourous situations that can arise from them).

Most importantly he gradually realises that having been prepared for life as a priest is really no preparation for his world at all. Sent off on strange missions, Khemri begins to realise that those mere humans that he once scorned may actually offer a life that is preferable to the world of power and dominion for which he has been bred. More importantly, he falls in love and his whole world view changes. As Khemri grows and becomes more human he also becomes more likable so readers are likely to be drawn in excitedly over the last few nail-biting chapters … to see if Khemri will survive his brush with humanity.

This novel was written to accompany the online game “Imperial Galaxy” – check it out here. And the accompanying wiki can be found here.

Recommended (dma) ****

A strange and violent world …that may just drive you mad!

TITLE = BZRK

AUTHOR = MICHAEL GRANT

GENRE = SCIENCE FICTION, GAMING,

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 8,9

This is a weird and rather dark book. The opening chapters introduce us to a number of characters and a number of plot lines – a young teen visits his brother who is chained in a mental institute and screams insanely “beserk”. Another teen dies in an explosive plane crash which seriously injures his sister. So far we are in a violent and angry world but not a strange one.

And then we learn that a character named “The Bug Man” created the plane crash by rewiring the brain of the pilot – using bugs or biots. Sounds wrong. Sounds evil. But what if the “good guys” use a similar technology to try and combat the baddies. What if they use nanbots to rewire people’s brains too?? It takes skill to do this – to enter a person’s body and move inside to the right part of the eye or the brain so that you can control them. If you get it wrong … then you might die..or you might go mad! And why are they doing this? BugMan’s bosses  want to control everyone – so we can all live happy lives. The good guys want freedom of thought. But is freedom more important than happiness?? So important that they will risk madness?? And should freedom be gained by any means??

This is at times a fascinating story as we are literally taken inside people’s heads and over their eyeballs. It is often a violent book – as there are battles waged on the nanoscale and (more conventionally) on the macro scale (with fists and guns). It is also a dark book – with so many deaths, the stakes are high. The similarity of the strategies employed by both the good guys and the bad guys certainly makes for an interesting moral dilemma. There is no doubt the good guys have greater integrity and are more appealing – whether they are the cool Vincent or the newbies Sadie and Noah. However, it is somewhat disturbing that the good guys have all taken on names of people who have all gone mad: Vincent (van Gogh), Plath (Sylivia), Keats …

Michael Grant wrote the compelling “Gone” series but this new books is more complex and less easy to read, partly due to the nanotechnology and partly because it is less easy to emotionally engage with some of these characters – like those figures in the Gone series, they are all flawed.

BugMan is clearly a gamer and there are Games and iPad apps to accompany the novel. Check out the book’s website.

Intriguing. (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) *****

WHO DO YOU TRUST??

ask-and-answer_pbTITLE = THE ASK AND THE ANSWER

AUTHOR = PATRICK NESS

GENRE = SCIENCE FICTION, DYSTOPIAN FUTURE

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 9 AND UP

A gripping sequel to “The Knife of Never Letting Go”, although the focus shifts slightly in this novel. Todd and Viola have been separated from each other but they still yearn to be together and to fight alongside each other. Their feelings for each other provide them with an inner strength and a determination to go on, but it is also used as a weapon against them by ruthless leaders on either side of the war that gradually escalates in this novel. No longer are Todd and Viola on the run but now their enemy is even harder to determine and who to trust (outside of each other) becomes difficult, too. Whereas “The Knife of Never Letting Go “ was about personal identity and integrity, and what it takes to be a man, this novel is as much about leadership and the struggle for freedom, as it is about Todd and Viola’s developing sense of self and their determination to hang on to some sense of morality. Although the novel is set in some indeterminate world there are echoes of real wars, especially the Holocaust, in the treatment meted out to the Spackle and Todd’s reaction (excuse?). The cliffhanger ending brings a real sense of dread to the next novel: are past sins going to haunt Todd as the war takes a new direction??

Patrick Ness has created a cruel world where brutality seems to be both the Ask and the Answer. Characterisations are again brilliantly real and the growing tension facing both Todd and Viola will have the reader on the edge of the seat. A truly gripping and thought provoking read. A powerful sequel to a powerful first volume.

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) *****

Captain Underpants And The Invasion Of The Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies From Outer Space And The Subsequent Assault Of The Equally Evil Lunchroom Zombie Nerds.

Captain Underpants And The Invasion Of The Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies From Outer Space And The Subsequent Assault Of The Equally Evil Lunchroom Zombie Nerds. by Dav Pilkey

Genre: Cartoon, Adventure

Interest Level: yr 8

This Book Is The Third Captain Underpants Book By Dav Pilkey.

It is about two kids named George Beard and Harold Hutchins and how they get their school’s Lunchroom Ladies fired. Unexpectedly, space monsters from Outer Space take their positions when they get fired and turn the whole School into Zombies.

So its up to George, Harold and their pal Captain Underpants To Save The Day.

Rate: ***** (fortie)

A brilliant book

DOPPELGANGER by Michael Parker (PAR)
Genre: Science Fiction, Supernatural
Interest Level: Years 10/11

An intriguing situation faces Andrew, the main character in this novel. He discovers a parallel Sydney which is like a darker, more sinister version of the Sydney he has grown up in. For reasons that Andrew cannot fathom, he keeps travelling to this sinister world which is being torn asunder by gang wars. What makes this all worse for Andrew is that he discovers that one of the key gang leaders in the parallel world is a doppelganger of his best friend and if he is to save his own Sydney, he may well have to kill this doppelganger, which will mean certain death for his friend too. An intriguing moral dilemma is thus developed in this compelling novel. Andrew is a well drawn and credible character who the reader soon comes to care for. As we learn more about Andrew so he learns more about himself, self-knowledge which he will need if he wishes to survive in either world. This is an exciting and thought-provoking novel which should appeal to many teen readers.

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). ***