Friday, 28 February 2014

Fireblood: Trisha Wolfe

A land in turmoil
An evil king plotting
A rebel force assembling
A prince on the cusp…good or bad?
And one girl stuck in the middle of it all
Let the war begin…

In the tradition of dystopian fiction Fireblood is set in a futuristic time where a virus has devastated the human population. One man, a King, has built his own kingdom modelled on the old legends of Camelot, Karm, where those who survive live sheltered by a domed force field from the terrors of the outside. Living within Karm is one Zara Dane, a simple girl who unlike those around her doesn't dream of princes, pretty dresses and a life lived in luxury. Instead Zara craves nothing more than to be with her father and the animals they care for. So when the prince, and next King of Karm, announces his betrothal to Zara a series of events will unfold that will sweep Zara up in an intricate web of lies, deceit and a struggle for power. Zara is about to find herself cast as pawn in the raging battle between King Hart and the Rebels who wish to overthrow him. A storybook fairy-tale this is not. Zara is in the battle of her life…for her life…and the lives of those she holds dear. Failure is not an option….

This novel surprised me, I really enjoyed reading an Arthurian style story with its knights, kingdoms, royalty and secret plots mixed in with a dystopian future. It made for a refreshing read blending the old world-ness of the traditional fairy-tale story with modern dystopian plots. Zara as the protagonist was engaging; she is smart and quick witted with an independent mind. At times she comes across as selfish, focused only on what she wants but I found this to be an appealing trait that is easier to connect with than the self-sacrificing protagonists of most tales. Prince Sebastian was an intriguing and complex character and I have to say I was disappointed not to see more of him or his back story. Just what was life like for him? What happened to make him the man he becomes? Perhaps if the story had been told from his point of view it would have added to the story.

Overall the story flowed nicely with the plot keeping a nice pace so that pieces of the story were revealed to keep the reader on edge for what was to come next. I think what particularly grabs me about this book is the strong female presence, not only is Zara a strong independent woman undertaking a massive tasks but her maid, her best friend, the Rebels leader and other female character show strong independent streaks that can only be praised in YA fiction. The male characters are present but they do not protect they fight alongside the women…standing as equals. The only deterrent from this of course if the strong focus on the romantic side of the story for several characters which somewhat deters me from the story but only because the setting, the characters and the plot where strong enough to stand without the romance aspect. Otherwise however I enjoyed the refreshing mix of Arthurian/dystopian traits. Fireblood has something for everyone; romance, action, adventure, secrets and mystery. Worth the read J


Courtney :)

Monday, 24 February 2014

The Time Machine

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

A Victorian scientist constructs a Time Machine. In which (I'm sure you'll be able to guess the next part) he travels 800,000 years into the future. He's astounded by the ruined state of the world around him. He encounters a slightly altered species of human, and another one - The Morlocks. These creatures live underground and only come out at night. They petrify everything and everyone.He stumbles across some obstacles on his way back to the present, which make this story unbelievably
hard to put down. The unknown just got the better of you, and you just HAD to know what happened next.
If you've by any chance seen the movie version, and assume this to be a replica of the film, then you may be disappointed.
Yes, it still has the main plots of the movie, but it just seems to lack detail.
I'm not usually one to 'judge a book by its movie', but I think that - even though it was still a captivating read, it could have used with more detail of the events that took place, and its duration possibly could have even extended a little more.
If you're into vintage, olden-day reads, then definitely have a crack at this one. But unless you're dedicated to science fiction and the idea of time travel, it's probably not the book for you.

Chantelle
Age: 17


Saturday, 22 February 2014

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

This book is one of those that keeps playing back in your mind. I really didn't know whether to review this book here, or even to recommend it, because on one level this book is terrible. It really upset me. But on another level it is absolutely brilliant, perhaps because it had the power to really upset me!


Unwind by Neal Shusterman is really popular in the U.S. It was published back in 2007 and is still talked about in YA circles today, so I thought I should have a read of it.

A 'Bill of Life' precedes the novel, describing how a war was eventually fought in America over the issue of abortion. An agreement was reached whereby a child cannot be touched from the moment of conception to the age of 13, but that between the ages of 13 and 18, parents can choose to retroactively 'abort' their child - on the condition that the life of that child does not technically end. At this point I was confused. What did that mean? The process by which this retroactive abortion happens is called 'unwinding'.

Putting my confusion aside, I started the novel. It begins like any of the increasingly popular dystopian fiction around at the moment, with an outsider character who likes to rebel (could be The Hunger Games at this point). The action revs up and as a reader you get carried away by the story line. Connor, Risa and Lev have just turned 13 and for various reasons they are in danger of being unwound. They run away together (Lev somewhat unwillingly). But how do you hide from the authorities when you are only 13? And if one of you is convinced that unwinding is your destiny? Connor also manages to pick up a newborn baby on the way that hardly makes things easier. Through their journey we get little hints of what exactly unwinding means, and what it has done to society. 

Unwinding, we discover eventually, is the process of harvesting parts of the human body for transplants. The scene in which one character is unwound made me feel physically ill, so I warn you that you may feel likewise reading it. 

Tackling issues of abortion, human transplants, ethics, children's rights and society 'norms' makes this a hugely interesting read. Shusterman is an incredibly talented writer, but I am a little scared of whatever he writes next...

Read it if you dare. 

- Celia

Thursday, 20 February 2014

That Burning Summer

'That Burning Summer' is the second teen novel written by English author Lydia Syson.
Lydia takes us back in time to the year 1940.
Ordinary people's lives have been turned upside down and the world is in chaos as World War Two is in progress.
The setting for this novel is Romney Marsh, Great Britain. Germany is threatening to invade Great Britain and the inhabitants of Romney Marsh are attempting to live their lives amidst the ongoing terror of daily air strikes.
Guidelines and instructions are issued by authorities for the general public. For instance, 'Do not rush about spreading vague rumours', and 'Do not give any German anything. Do not tell him anything. Hide your food and your bicycles. Hide your maps.'
There are many strengths to  this novel. One notable strength is the characterization within the novel - characters are well developed and totally believable. For instance, sixteen year old Peggy is growing into maturity and finds herself facing a huge moral dillemma when she befriends a Polish pilot whose plane crashes in the marsh. Does she hand him over to the authorities? What is right and wrong?
Her younger brother, Ernie, is perceived by others to be shy and under confident. He tries to do the right thing and agonises over the instructions he receives. He, too, discovers the Polish pilot and the danger for the pilot escalates.
Another strength in this novel is the strong sense of place and time. Lydia has obviously researched her subject well to include meticulous details and viewpoints that depict the era. To give you an example, Peggy and Ernie's father is a conscientious objector to the war and as such is scorned by some members of the family and community.
'That Burning Summer' is an outstanding novel that I would recommend to all teens, especially those who enjoy historical fiction.
-Ann 

Friday, 14 February 2014

Romantic YA reads

Links to titles above

The sky is everywhere: Jandy Nelson
Before I die: Jenny Downham ( also published as Now is good)

Courtney :)

Friday, 7 February 2014

Beautiful Malice

Title: Beautiful Malice 
Author Rebecca James

‘Truth or dare?’ She asks.
I hesitate. ‘Truth,’ I say finally. ‘I can imagine one of your dares, and I don’t fancy running down Oxford Street naked tonight.’
‘Truth,’ Alice says slowly, drawing out the vowel sound as if she’s savouring the word. ‘Are you sure? Are you sure you can be completely honest?’
‘I think so. Try me.’
‘Okay.’ And then she looks at me curiously. ‘So. Were you glad, deep down? Were you glad to be rid of her? Your perfect sister? Were you secretly glad when she was killed?’

Katherine has moved away from her shattered family to start afresh in Sydney. There she keeps her head down until she is befriended by the charismatic, party-loving Alice, who brings her out of her shell. But there is a dark side to Alice, something seductive yet threatening. And as Katherine learns the truth about Alice, their tangled destinies spiral to an explosive and devastating finale.

Firstly, I would like to say this Beautiful Malice is by far the best novel I have ever read.
I've read a lot of novels in my time, but this one takes the cake.
I'm not really into teen angst, lovey-dovey novels, which is what I thought this one was going to be. But boy was I wrong.
If you're into those types of books that leave you biting your nails down to the core, or falling off the edge of your seat, then this is the one read for you.
It was beautiful, scary, lovely and awful at the same time, all in a good way!
I've since recommended ALL of my friends to read this beautiful book. And so far, they have all returned to me baffled by how great it was.
If you've ever lost someone special in your life, or even had an enemy, than this book is as close as you get to re-living it all.

Chantelle
Age 17

 
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