Here's a real thriller for people who love dystopia with a twist - this time it's all in the mind. Sixteen-year-old Kyla's been Slated - her memories wiped clean by a government who think she's a terrorist. But is she?
So she has to learn to live with her new family, to go to a new school where some of the students are hostile to 'Slaters', and to endure therapy sessions to make sure she's not going to dangerous emotional extremes. She even has a device. called a Levo, strapped on her arm to remind her - on pain of knocking her unconscious - not to get too angry or anxious. But Kyla isn't like the other 'Slaters': she still has dreams. Horrendous nightmares in which she is tortured and imprisoned.
When she meets Ben, who has also been Slated, they start to wonder why this has happened to them? Together with a friend, Mac, who has an array of illegal computers, they make a discovery: It is possible to get rid of the hated Levo devices, but the physical and emtional cost could be too high ...
This book shocked me - not because I don't know that this sort of abuse happens. It was the complete ability for the author to make the reader see the world through Alice's eyes, so, horrified by her situation and her actions, they still feels sympathy and wants to see her survive. It's a bleak message, but the writing is so mesmerising I couldn't put the book down.
Written in simple language, it isn't gratuitous in its description of violence, but it is extremely confronting. The cumulative effect of years of systematic abuse has an almost physical impact on the reader, and I would recommend it for older teens only.
Living Dead Girl deals with similar content to Emma Donoghue's Room. Seen through the eyes of a small boy whose mother was kidnapped as a teenager and sexually assaulted for a number of years, Room is marketed as a book for adults. In comparing the two books, it's interesting to notice the increasingly blurry lines between YA and adult fiction.
This is one for Louise Rennison fans. Ted, like Georgia Nicholson, is an engagingly goofy girl, to whom Things Happen. In this case, a lucrative modelling career beckons, but Ted's innate clutziness and integrity threaten to derail it. She's also stressing out about her sister, who has cancer, and one of the interesting aspects of this book is the way in which Ava, who is battling chemo and radiotherapy, just wants not to be fussed over, and pushes her boyfriend away because she thinks he doesn't want to know her. So it's not all hearts and flowers.
The treatment of Ava's illness and Ted's various disastrous experiences at modelling shoots is done with humour and a lightness of touch that at first may seem superficial, but there is real heart and an acute portrayal of family dynamics beneath the glitzy world. And it's great to see some contemporary YA liberature from the UK, too!
I read this book because I absolutely loved Laurie Halse Anderson's Wintergirls which delved into the murky depths of what makes an aneorexic tick. It was highly disturbing, because the author managed to inhabit the character so seamlessly.
In this, her first book, the author looks at the effect of an at first unspecified trauma on a teenage girl. Melinda was assaulted at a party over the summer holidays, and, in calling the police, alienated all her friends, who blame her for the consequences. As the story progresses, we watch her slowly disintegrate mentally and emotionally, getting to the point where she is almost physically unable to speak. Her grades are on a downward spiral, and her parents, whose own marriage is less-than-amicable, are frustrated by their inability to get through to her, and her former friends have mounted a hate campaign against her. Worse, she sees her attacker on a regular basis: there is no escaping him, or what he did to her.
The only person who looks close to breaking the ice around her is her art teacher. But he has issues of his own.
Reading this, I was reminded of Courtney Summers' Some Girls Are, dealing as it does with the destructive nature of persecution amonst teens, which often goes unnoticed by the outside world. It's sad, horrifying, and ultimately hopeful as Melinda works out what she has to do to move on from the assault and live a life of freedom. It's a very powerful book.
This book will grip you from the beginning. It's so simply told, but the things it's talking about aren't simple at all.
Laine knows that Leah has overstepped the boundaries of friendship, but her confusion over what do do draws her into a trap. Telling anyone about it would lead to ostracism by her peers. Not telling anyone means Leah's behaviour will go on, and on ...
No wonder she wishes that Leah would die. But when her wish comes true, the guilt threatens to overwhelm her.
Although readers will naturally be empathising with Laine from the outset, more mature readers will understand that Leah, too is a victim, and her story is in some ways even sadder than Laine's.
This book may be a little too close to the bone for some readers, but it is nonetheless a rewarding read.
I run up the dunes with the wind howling at my back, my ears burning from its bite. It carries the sting of snow from faraway mountains and hooks under the tail of my surfboard so that I have to fight to keep it tucked under my arm… A line of surfers is strung out like a necklace, from the point, all the way down to the south bank… One day I’m going to paint this place. Probably from this very spot. But only when I’m good enough to capture whatever it is that makes my soul open up every time I see it.
Wow, what amazingly powerful writing, just like the unpredictable ferocity of the surf that pounds through this book. It has scary atmosphere in spades, and there are more than enough hints to the reader that Abbie's obsession with Kane will only lead to heartbreak.
Night Beach, like Kirsty Eagar's first book, Raw Blue, features a tough independent girl who lives for surfing – and for an unobtainable boy. But Night Beach is an altogether darker story than Raw Blue, mixing shadowy paranormal chill in with the raunchy surfer-dude world.
There are still bloody confrontations in the waves between local surf heroes and the outsiders looking in, but Abbie faces a far more edgy relationship with Kane than Carly does with either Marty, the workplace Romeo, or Ryan, the boy she really wants. There are more inexplicable moments of fear than in Raw Blue, more weirdness and unpredictability, and less promise of a happy ending.
The cover really says it all: this is a book all about losing your virginity effortlessly and romantically, and being cool as a result. But are you?
Abby, Mala, Bree and Zoe are determined to shed their virgin status before Schoolies Week does it for them. In other words, they want to 'avoid losing it in the bushes with some random guy in a heavy-metal t-shirt after too many tequila shots.'
A pact is struck, and the countdown - and the fun - begins.
This is a light hearted look at what can be a serious issue for many teenagers, and in general it manages to tread gently through a complicated turning point in our lives. In writing about four very different girls, the author has the opportunity to explore wider themes and cultural limitations and expectations. Abby, from a conservative Christian background, is dealing with the inevitable parental disapproval if they find out what she's up to. Mala, from a similarly conservative but Asian family, has an added complication: how is she going to tell the boy she's using that she actually likes him? Bree encounters unexpected sexuality issues and Zoe learns a valuable lesson about mixing friendship with sex.
There's potential for discussion, and for laughs, too, in this book.
Once you get past a pretty improbable (but highly original and enjoyable) scenario, this book is an utter delight. In deceptively engaging and accessible style, the author has given her characters complexity and hidden depths, allowing them enough quirkiness to make them interesting, but also keeping them emotionally ‘connected’ to the reader.
It’s impossible not to sympathise with sensible Dodie, who, just about to finish her final exams, has to cope with missing parents, a wayward sister she describes as a ‘creator of friction’, a hot guy who seems ambivalent towards her - and the Messiah in a coffin. Is it any wonder she’s just a bit unsettled?
I was SO excited to hear that Margo Lanagan has written a new book I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy.
Sea Hearts is less confronting on the surface than her previous book, Tender Morsels, but lovers of her books will enjoy the brilliant evocation of the claustrophobic life of a small isolated community with its underlying cruelties and eccentricities. Plus, Margo Lanagan really knows how to write about the fascination of the sea and its creatures to humans.
Sea Hearts is mesmerising.
This is an exciting adventure story of a boy with seafaring blood in his veins, who will do anything to realise his dream of going to sea and exploring dangerous and unchartered waters.
When he makes the decision to leave his forest village behind and try his luck with the fishermen of Stromner, Dow Amber knows he can never go back. But being apprentice to the embittered Nathaniel puts Dow off fishing forever. Nathaniel, who lost his son and grandson to a lethal maelstrom ten years ago, wants only to join them in the watery depths of the sea. And if Dow loses his life in the process, that's alright with him.
When the notorious Ship Kings, whose ruthless control of New Island and its inhabitants has lasted for eighty years, come for their tribute, Dow is obsessed by the grandeur of their tall ships and wonders if there's a way to steal the navigational secrets on board. Caught on one of the ships, he faces punishment by the captain, but a hair-raising journey into the vortex of the maelstrom will change Dow's life forever.
I read (and love) loads of books about sailors and the sea and this one is as good as anything I've seen. One for fans of Hornblower, Ramage and Patrick O'Brien's Master and Commander series, but also for fantasy lovers - anyone who likes C. S. Lewis' Voyage of the Dawn Treader and Robin Hobb's Liveship Traders books would love this book!
Best of all, it's the first of a four-book series!