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Young Adult Fiction Reviews
The Murdstone Trilogy
by Mal Peet
"The Murdstone Trilogy is a wickedly funny send up of the Young Adult and Fantasy genres. Philip Murdstone writes moving and critically acclaimed books about sensitive boys… until, that is, his publisher demands he churn out a quick fantasy trilogy which will actually sell. At first a small creature from another dimension seems to be his saviour until everything gets wildly out of hand.
"I read this in a weekend and there were several laugh out loud moments - including the portrayal of the local librarians as being about one broomstick and a couple of toads away from standing around a Shakespearian cauldron and cackling."
The Complete Persepolis
by Marjane Satrapi
"This book is a memoir in the form of a graphic novel, with simple, expressive illustrations and complicated relationships layered over a backdrop of revolution. Before reading Persepolis I only had a vague idea of Iranian political history. Persepolis is a story of revolution, war and family, but mostly it is a story of the search for identity when the things and places by which we identify ourselves change into something that is only half recognised. It is a story of refusing to let those who tell you not to speak and not allowing them to write your narrative for you. It is unsurprising that people have tried to have this book banned. It is honest, opinionated and unflinching in showing the importance of staying true to the things you believe that make you who you are and its acceptance of the human failings that cause us to fall short of who we hoped to be."
And I Darken
by Kiersten White
"And I Darken is the story of Vlad Dracul, or Vlad the Impaler to history, retold as Vlada - a warrior princess. Hard and vicious and willing to do anything to protect her homeland from its occupation by the rapacious Ottoman Empire, Lada is not a romantic princess. She is a soldier without pity and her only loyalties are to her homeland and to her brother Radu. Sent to live in the palace of the Ottoman court as hostages, Lada and Radu must navigate a treacherous political game combining her ruthlessness and his diplomacy to survive.
"Lada is not a likeable heroine. She makes no apologies and gives no quarter, but she is mesmerizing in her strength. A different kind of princess who will fight tooth and nail to bend the course of history to her will and crush her enemies - and if necessary, her friends."
Ink and Bone
by Rachael Caine
"The Great Library of Alexandria survived and has become an ominous and threatening presence, controlling all access to knowledge. Challenged by revolutionaries willing to commit an unthinkable crime - book burning - a new group of library recruits must decide where their loyalties really lie.
"An unsettling dystopian fiction in which people don't like libraries."
by Michael Grant
"Following on in the dystopian books that swept the shelves after the success of Divergent and The Hunger Games, Gone is a series where all the adults have been wiped from the face of the earth and teenagers reign supreme. Problems they face include, hunger, mutations and rivalries between gangs as they try and survive in this harsh new world."
The Rest of Us Just Live Here
by Patrick Ness
"I can't stress enough how good an author Patrick Ness is. He writes about issues that you deal with when your growing up, he talks about anxiety, sexuality, personality, moving, divorce, friendship, the supernatural, zombies, alien body snatchers just your usual stuff and he does it all in a really accessible and interesting way. He doesn't try to hit you over the head with it- he just makes those issues part of the fabric which makes up the cast of characters in his books.
"A really unique story written from the perspective of average teenagers living in a world populated by the sorts of troubled teens you find in your Twilight, Percy Jackson and Walking Dead style stories. This is their story, the one that doesn't usually get told. They just want to graduate and get into university without vampires eating everyone, ghosts possessing the adults or aliens invading...again.
"This might seem a little weird and it is. Ness keeps you updated each chapter with what is going on with the crazy 'Indie' kids, before going into detail with our main protagonists who deal with much more realistic issues like OCD, depression, sexual identity, divorced parents and love.
"While at some points I really just wanted to read about the immortals and their magic invasion of America, the protagonist Mikey and his friends really grew on me. I found myself churning through this book very fast and really feeling for these kids as they juggle relationships and problems we all tend to face growing up."
by Rainbow Rowell
"This has to be one of my favourite books this year. I highly recommend it to anyone who has read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Read. Fangirl. First. There are reasons. This book is very meta. It's a book written by a fictional character in Fangirl - isn't that great? And because it's a completely different kind of book about a very familiar type of world it's even more fun to get your teeth into.
"This book is huge. It's full of about 7 books worth of happenings in a not-so-enormous size, so it has plenty of wade-through backstory to get past first. Once that's over it's a fast paced read which I do admit kept me from doing what I should have been doing because I had to get to the end. It's a romance and it's an adventure and even though I could see the twist coming, I still wanted it to keep going. I turned the last page over and looked for more. Enjoy!"
A Thousand Pieces of You
by Claudia Gray
"Marguerite's parents are brilliant physicists who have dedicated their careers to developing a prototype that will for the first time make interdimensional travel possible. Captivated by the scientific implications of an exciting new frontier in the practical application theoretical physics they are blindsided by the betrayal of a protégé who erases their work, murders Marguerite's father and escapes to another dimension. Determined to get revenge Marguerite plunges after him and so begins a chase across dimensions that are both strange and familiar. As she works to keep her balance navigating the lives of alternate versions of herself while trying to uncover the plot behind her father's murder the true implications of interdimensional contact unfurl beyond anything her parents could have predicted.
"This book is reasonably fast paced and despite some rather eye roll worthy plot twists (An alternate life as princess? Really?) overall it wasn't a bad read. If you enjoyed Amie Kaufman's 'Starbound' trilogy and you're looking for what to read next, this book by New York Times Bestselling author Claudia Gray is the beginning of a whole new adventure."
A Court of Thorns and Roses
by Sarah Maas
"This is fairly paint by the numbers as far as novels about teenage girls falling for mysterious handsome boys that are over 500 years old and have magical powers go. While not as magical as previous shortlister Seraphina by Rachel Hartman or as much fun as Kiersten White's Buffyesque Paranormalcy, 'A Court of Thorns and Roses' is a comfortable book to curl up with on a rainy day when you want to spend some time with the fairies."
The Last Time We Say Goodbye
by Cynthia Hand
"What a riveting read. Lex is in her final year of school, hanging out with her nerd friends and getting over her parent's divorce when her brother kills himself. And this story is about what happens next. Lex is on a rollercoaster with the pressures of school, friends, her ex-boyfriend, her parents and now she's seeing Tyler's ghost. Is she crazy? Is she guilty? Or perhaps there's something that Tyler wants her to do, not that she believes in ghosts. I loved this book, it's not a huge tear-jerker which is a bit of a surprise when you think about it, but it's really real. The character Lex is wonderful, she doesn't accept pity, she just keeps on going even when she's having trouble breathing. This is a book about bravery, and I think you'll love it like I did."
by Brandon Sanderson
"A tale of magic and tactical geometry.
"In a world where wild chalk drawings can swarm and attack people, humanity's only hope are the select few who know how to wield the magic of trigonometry against the invading horde - The Rithmatists whose numbers are dwindling as a serial killer picks them off one by one.
"Not as strange as it sounds."
Life on the Refrigerator Door: A novel in notes
by Alice Kuipers
"An interesting concept - a story told purely though notes left for each other on the refrigerator door. Fifteen year old Claire and her obstetrician mum live in the same house, but life is so busy with school, work and friends that they are almost living separate lives - hence the almost daily messages they leave for each other. Emotional, funny and heart-warming, this is a very quick read that is sure to reflect on your own life in some way."
The Darkest Part of the Forest
by Holly Black
"I love Holly Black. I just thought I'd get that out there. I love her writing, I'm a massive fan, and I'm not likely to be unbiased during this review. So. Now I can Squee!!! with utter joy at finding a new book by her, and such a great book too!
"It's a fantasy (Holly Black makes fantasy awesome again), set in the modern world in a little backward village where real fairies live in the woods. Sounds a little bit like everything you've ever read? Think again. There's a boy with horns in a glass casket, children are stolen and swapped for changeling babies, tourists go 'missing', it's funny, dark, lovely and has a really great heroine with a badass sword which she uses to deftly remove heads with."
The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl
by Melissa Keil
"If you love graphic Novels and superhero stuff then you’ll enjoy this story. It’s about a small town girl called Alba who is stuck between school and Uni at Christmas time with all her friends when the end of the world is predicted by an internet guru. According to the guru their hick town is the only place that will be spared. This news kicks off a big invasion of hippies and religious fanatics to Alba’s town. Alba is an artist and wants to write her own graphic novel with her own creation Cinnamon-Girl! (part superher/part ordinary girl). She’s stuck with her superhero though, Cinnamon Girl is always looking angry lately, and her friends are acting funny and why does her best friend Grady keep disappearing? Why is everyone so eager for it all to change? Is the world really going to end? I liked this book, it was a fun read. Buuuut, as a fan of graphic novels I was really disappointed that their wasn’t a graphic novel 10 page spread in the back or even a couple of character pages which are described in the book. I really wanted more of the art! It has a great cover and I really thought some more art would have made the book."
by Rainbow Rowell
"Cath is your typical fangirl and she is in the middle of writing a huge Simon Snow fanfiction when it is time to leave for college. Her and her twin sister Wren used to spend hours in their room writing their perfect love story, whereas now, Wren has grown out of her obsession, but Cath is still in love with her favourite series and continues to write chapters in her fanfiction for thousands of online readers. College is a huge change for her, so big that she rations out her energy bars because she hasn’t asked anyone where the dining hall is. Wren, being Cath’s only friend, decides to take a new path and chooses a dorm room without Cath, who is left with a rude roommate and her roommate’s overly excited “boyfriend”. She struggles to find her footing in her new environment with her only escape being her writing. Throughout the book, Cath unintentionally meets new people, finds her voice and learns more about herself.
"This book is a must for teens and geeks now. It explores growing, changing relationships, the fear of making friends and of course, fan-culture. Fangirl is in so many ways relatable with bits of romance, humour and in some parts fantasy you won’t be bored. The book has lovable characters that you can’t help but get attached to. Fangirl will have you desperately wanting to read Cath’s fanfiction, joining the fandom and coming back for more. You might even write your own fanfiction!"
Reviewer: Ava H
by Sally Green
"Witches- ‘good’; (white) and ‘bad’, (black) – rule their world unknown by Fains- (humans). Black witches are hunted by the white witches and their Hunters. Nathan is a Half-white half-black witch and is barely tolerated by his nasty half-sister Jessica, and totally shunned in the white witch community. He’s waiting for his Black witch father, in fact everyone is, the White council wants his father dead and Nathan is the bait. This book is actually more about oppression by a ruling class than magic. There’s loads of torture and dark stuff in this book. If it wasn’t such a page turner I’d have run a mile from it. So very dark, but very good. Try it if you dare."
The Astrologer’s Daughter
by Rebecca Lim
"I don’t know what to say except: Read this book! It’s the best thing that’s happened to me this year. It’s a bizarre book about astrology; stalking; mystery; murder and a big school assignment to get finished no matter what. Yes, you could get lost in this book. I particularly like that the main character Avicenna has a terrible facial scar and it’s not really what the book focuses on, it’s just who she is. Avincenna’s mother goes missing right at the start of the book and it’s a mystery that Avincenna knows is up to her to solve. Avincenna is a wonderful character she’s a bit rude, gutsy, and very sharp. I think I won’t say much more, no spoilers!"
Are you seeing me?
by Darren Groth
"This book is written from both sides by a pair of 19 year old twins on their last holiday together a year after the death of their father. Perry has a brain condition which makes him behave antisocially and his long suffering carer and sister Justine must repeat this to strangers again and again. Their mother abandoned them when they were young so they are alone and just have each other. Justine has a surprise for Perry, their trip to America is more than a holiday. I really enjoyed this book but I found it difficult to get into the sections written in Perry’s voice. I think the Justine sections are brilliant though, it’s well worth reading."
I Am Number Four
by Pittacus Lore
"This book was a huge hit, movie rights were sold, blah, blah, blah. So I was looking forward to it and my expectations were high. Unfortunately I was a bit disappointed; don’t get me wrong, it’s still a pretty good read, but not really, really, good. So. It’s got a pretty good beginning; there are nine alien refugees from their stolen home planet. Number Four and his protector are waiting for his superpowers to kick in. He has to keep ahead of the evil aliens hunting him and his fellow aliens so he has to keep a low profile. Then number Three dies and he knows they’re hunting him next. Because they have to die in order. Because of the, um, magic. But the magic can’t completely protect them, noooo that would be too easy. They can still die, but only in an orderly numbered fashion, (what?). Yep. So the magic part is a little weak, but it’s still a good fun read with loads of fight scenes and super powers."
by Shin Yoshida
"Yu-gi-oh Zexal is a Japanese anime and manga series and is the third main spin off series in yu gi oh. The anime has 3 seasons and the story is very easy to follow. One common thing in some anime and manga is that sometimes the manga doesn’t follow the anime. Yu Gi Oh Zexel is one such manga. The manga is written by Shin Yoshida and illustrated by Naohito Miyoshi. The main character is a boy named Yuma Tsukimo he is a warm hearted boy and he dreams big but sometimes his ego goes a little too far.
"Along with his friends they attend heartland academy where augmented reality duals are the big thing. It is through Yuma’s dueling that he encounters astral a being from the astral world and together they form a close friendship and a new legend begins."
Reviewer: Christina R
by Gabrielle Tozer
"If you are looking for a no-brainer fun read then look no further. This book makes no demands on the reader allowing you to drift along the fashion-writer road while the main character Josie gets into and out of trouble along the way.
"I think the author missed an opportunity when the article which changed Josie’s career is talked up, (amazing etc.) - but then the article isn’t included in the book. A little bit of romance thrown in too, perfect for reading on a beach, on a couch or under the covers with a flashlight."
Planesrunner, Everness Book 1
by Ian McDonald
"Steam punk meets parallel world thriller? Yes, please! Everett Singh’s dad is kidnapped right in front of him by shady types. So what does he do?
"He goes on the hunt to find his dad through mysterious hints and strange new technologies which turn out to allow people to parallel world jump- of course.
"Everett must stay ahead of the other ‘interested parties’ which want his dad’s technology for their own ends along the way he jumps to another earth, meets The Airish and makes a dangerous friend.
"There’s airships, there’s fights, there’s heaps of action, so much fun."
by Claire Zorn
"This is a really fantastic read. I read it all in one night, it was unputdownable! The main character is hiding things so you only gradually discover what happened to her sister(no spoilers here), why her family is a mess, who the awful kids at school are and why they are so, so very awful. (The bullying is nightmare inducing).
"It’s a story about loss and bullying and grief and a whole lot of BIG ideas, but that’s not why you should read it. You should read it because it’s really great, the character Hannah is likeable and smart and again great, but crushed by her life.
"It’s about things getting better. I loved it. I hope you love it too."
by John Corey Whaley
"What do you do when you’ve died and have your cryogenically frozen head reattached to a donor body five years after everyone who’s ever known you has moved on?
"This is the question answered by the book Noggin and it’s not the ridiculous read you might expect. I thought it would be a comedy, it’s not.
"I thought I would have trouble with the idea of someone wandering around with someone else’s body. It was surprisingly easy to get past.
"This is a great story, it’s about friends moving on without you and how to deal with someone you love who doesn’t quite love you back anymore.
"It’s about your family being weird and finding a new life when your old one isn’t there anymore. This is an awesome idea with real depth. Loved it!"
by Rachael Craw
"Futuristic genetically modified super assassins? Check! Equally terrifying super bodyguards with weird telepathic bonds with the person they are compelled to protect?
"Check! Evil shadow corporation trying to cover up a botched medical experiment? Check! Well you know what happens next, don’t you?
"A fun, zippy ride through wild action scenes and mysterious plot twists. They’re even some romance between mysterious (naturally), hot-guy and bewildered hot-girl dealing-with-new-powers = Fun, fun, fun."
The Other Side of Nowhere
by Steven Johnston
"This book was clearly aimed at the teen guy. There’s a yacht, there’s the best friend who grunts instead of using that new-fangled thing all the kids call LANGUAGE.
"There’s a mysterious island, a shipwreck and storm and then it all goes to hell.
"I can tell you the token girl is really annoying, so cool and fit and together and insightful and, and, and… not believable. She must be a cyborg. The storm is great, so scary.
"The main character Johnno is a moron who irritates all his friends and has an amazing younger fitter brother who puts poor Johnno in the shade.
"I can’t say this read set my world on fire, but perhaps you are a teen guy and will get all the jokes that passed me by?"