The Lie Tree by Francis Hardinge
The family arrive off the boat on a stormy night to an isolated island community. Father is a noted scientist trying to outrun something that happened before they left home. Her mother is trying to keep up appearances and her little brother needs attention.
She suspects that her father is up to something so does some spying. He seems unbalanced and she is worried. She is smart in a world that doesn’t admire smart girls.
Tragic events unfold but Faith is smart and she stays strong. The social commentary is telling as the women of the family try to salvage a life for themselves.
How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon
T has been shot in the street by a white man. Was he armed? Was it self-defence? Why do all the witnesses have a different version of what went down?
Very, very good. Short chapters, easy flow, hard hitting reality of living in a bad neighbourhood. Either running into or away from gangs. The desperation, poverty, hopelessness is tragic but sympathetically written.
You don’t always have a choice whether you join a gang or not. The boys of Peach Street don’t have many choices. It’s either the Stingers or the Kings. The girls don’t have much hope either.
This book should draw in reluctant boys 13+ but is a gripping read for all ages. Strong girl / women characters.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Ari lives with his parents. They won’t talk about his older brother who is in prison anhis Dad won’t talk about his time in Vietnam. Ari would like to know more but knows not to ask. He has a lot of questions that have built up over time. This makes him angry.
One summer day he goes to the town pool. He can’t swim. A boy he’s never met before, Dante, teaches him how to swim. They become friends. He goes to Dante’s house and finds that Dante and his parents love to talk, they talk about everything. Dante tells Ari that he wants to kiss boys, not girls. This doesn’t bother Ari as long as Dante doesn’t try to kiss him.
Ari gets on well enough at school but keeps the other kids at an arms length. He gets a job at a burger place.
Dante’s Dad gets a job teaching at a Uni far away for eight months. Dante writes lots of letters, Ari sends two. Dante gets back in the summer and their friendship continues.
Dante gets a job and a boy friend. Dante and Ari’s dads become friends. Events lead to a few dramas and the boys friendship is tested.
I loved this book. Well formed characters with real and interesting life dramas. Great story for 14+ boys.
Smart by Kim Slater
Kieran is growing up in a council house. He lives with his Mum who is always at work, her boyfriend Tony and his son Ryan who are always home.
Kieran has his own teacher aid and gets on at school, art is his favorite subject. He keeps his drawings and journal hidden so Tony won’t find them. When his Mum is at work he is either quiet in his room or out somewhere. His Mum is working later at night.
He finds the body of Colin a friend and homeless man down at the river bank. The police think Colin was drunk and fell accidentally. Kieran thinks he has been murdered and uses skills learned watching CSI to investigate the case.
Kieran has a few friends, Jean knew Colin from the shelter and a new boy at school. He hasn’t seen his grandmother in a long time. His teacher aid thinks Kieran might not be safe at home.
All the while Kieran is collecting clues, staying away from Tony and trying to look after his Mum.
A well written and page turning story of dysfunctional family life, love, loyalty and a reminder that you should never underestimate someones bravery, intelligence or ability.
Noggin by John Corey Whaley
You are dying at 16 and you hear about cryogenics freezing your head until they have the technology to attach it to another body sometime in the future. You have been sick for ages and there is no hope. You convince your parents that it would be a good idea to freeze your head. You expect not to come back to life but if you do it would be at least 100 years in the future. You say goodbye to your family, friends and your girlfriend.
Fast forward 5 years, you wake up. It seems to you that no time has passed. Once you adjust to your new body, which is much better than your old one and not sick, you expect to pick up where you left off. But your parents got rid of your stuff, your best friend is in Uni while you have to finish high school AND your girlfriend is engaged to a really nice guy and doesn’t want to see you.
Rather than a returning hero you have a whole new set of problems. You never liked high school and now you are a celebrity, only 2 of the 100 cryogenic recoveries has worked so you are a miracle. You don’t feel like a miracle or a celebrity, you feel sad. You miss your old life.
You go back to school and make a friend. You work towards taking your old life back. Along the road you make some sacrifices, learn some surprising things and find that you can have a new life with remnants of the old and that really is a miracle.
New Zealand author alert!
This is a gem, I think Joy Cowley nailed this one, five stars for sure.
The world financial crisis has reached Will and Mellisa’s house and the promised summer trip to Queenstown must be postponed. Instead the brother and sister accompany their elderly grandparents to the old family bach in the Marlborough Sounds. This seems like genuine hardship to the kids considering long drop toilets and zero cell phone coverage, but what happens makes them appreciate life more. Told alternatively by Will and Melissa, you see their confidence, character and relationship develop as they explore a very precious and beautiful part of New Zealand.
This is great for 9+ readers and will appeal to boys and girls.
A thoughtful book, on a dark subject. As the story opens Seth is drowning. Then he wakes up in a strange but a familiar place. His old family home that they moved from years ago, covered in dust and containing things that moved with them and things left behind.
What is the silver tape on his body and why is there no one else around?
As Seth seeks to make sense of this world, surprising things happen.
I am a big fan of Patrick Ness and loved The Chaos Walking series, one of the darkest and bleak series every written. The villain in this story is different because Seth doesn’t know what it is or what part of reality is real.
A must read for fans and dystopia readers should enjoy.
Recommend for readers 14+ but able younger readers may enjoy.
meant to be confusing to relate the characters confusion.