Archive for the 'Young Adult' Category

Book Review: Ballad for a Mad Girl by Vikki Wakefield

Ballad for a Mad Girl has everything you could want in a book. Mystery, suspense, secrets, intrigue, and a touch of the supernatural. Add to that well-drawn characters, great prose and an Australian setting and you have a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Seventeen-year-old Grace Foley is a daredevil. She’s not afraid of anything, Balladand will do anything for a laugh. Until she tries to defend her record for ‘Walking the Pipe’ across the disused quarry and something happens that she can’t explain. Not to herself and not to anyone else. Her search for an explanation leads her into a twenty-year-old mystery that has never been solved and despite the well-meaning advice of family and friends she can’t seem to let it go. Is it really the ghost of Hannah Holt come to exact her revenge? Or is Grace going a little bit mad?

This is a novel that keeps the reader turning pages. The characters are well-developed, the voice authentic and edgy, the suspense well drawn, and the mystery intriguing. Vikki Wakefield expertly portrays Grace’s anxiety and fear as she battles with what is real and what is imagined. Highly recommended.

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Book Review: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

Romy Silvers has had an unusual upbringing. She was born on the spaceship Infinity, bound for a new planet, brought up by her parents until the age of eleven. And then she was alone. The sole surviving crew member with only ghosts and memories for companions. Until she receives word that a second ship has been launched from Earth, scheduled to rendezvous with the Infinity in only twelve short months. The commander of the new ship is a boy named J.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe is a Y/A science fiction story positively brooding with tension and suspense. Romy and J begin communicating via 32601841-_uy630_sr1200630_.jpgemail as Romy discovers that all is not well on Earth. He is her only link to the human race, and she finds herself drawn to him, despite the months it takes for their transmissions to cross between the two ships. Romy comes to depend on J’s emails for emotional support as her situation on board the Infinity becomes more and more precarious, and she finds herself falling in love with the voice at the end of the emails. All that is keeping her going is the thought of J’s arrival.

James creates a vivid and believable world on the Infinity, and expertly builds the tension throughout the novel to the explosive conclusion. She creates suspense and intrigue by dripping in Romy’s backstory, as well as dropping in small clues as to what is to come. Romy’s is an authentic and believable voice, which evokes empathy and support in the reader. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and highly recommend it not only to science fiction fans but any young adult and adult readers who love suspense.

Book Review: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon is an enjoyable read. The year is 2059. The place Scion London where clairvoyants have been outlawed and driven underground. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney survives by working for Jaxon Hall, one of the mime-lords. As a dreamwalker, a rare and sought-after form of clairvoyant, she leads a relatively privileged life in the dangerous underworld, until she is attacked, kidnapped, and transported to Oxford, where she discovers a world she never knew existed. Controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race, Paige soon learns that Scion London is hiding far more than the NVD and a corrupt, anti-clairvoyant government.

Samantha Shannon has created an interesting and vivid alternate reality London. It is a complex world, where clairvoyants live a duplicitous life alongside non-clairvoyants, and where the world
of the Rephaim is completely hidden. For the most part Shannon has done well to make this world believable to the reader, however at times it feels like there is a bit of an info-dump and occasionally it becomes somewhat confusing. Not enough to detract from the story, but perhaps the world-building could have been done with a bit more subtlety and clarity.

The pace picks up as Paige learns more about Oxford, the creatures who are threatening to overrun Scion London, her keeper Warden, and the Rephaim who are actively reaping the clairvoyants from the world for their own purposes. It is a world she is determined to expose, once she has escaped. If she can escape.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Bone Season and would recommend it for those who read dystopian and speculative fiction. Categorised as Adult fiction, but suitable for Young Adult as well. The first in a proposed series of seven, I look forward to seeing what the next instalment brings.

Book Review: Songlines by Carolyn Denman

Songlines by Carolyn Denman is a YA urban fantasy set on a sheep station in a fictional town in Victoria, Australia. Drawing on the beliefs of a number of religions, including Judeo-Christian and Indigenous traditions, the story revolves around the idea of an Eden that was transported to Australia for protection.

The novel starts out as Lainie Gracewood and her best friend Noah Ashbree are about to finish high school. When a mining company starts exploring near Lainie’s aunt’s sheep station, their farmhand, Harry, an Aboriginal Elder, reveals a family secret that rocks her to her core. She is unwilling to believe what he has told her, until Harry disappears on a quest to save the area from the miners, and Lainie discovers a link between herself, Noah, and Bane, the boy who has been the bane of her existence since she was five, that make it impossible to discount the revelation. She also realises that, with Harry gone, it is up to her and Noah to protect the land.

Denman’s depiction of the Australian landscape, life in a small rural town, and her version of Eden are clear and concise, the characters and their relationships well developed. The dialogue is vernacular and authentic, and Lainie has a clear teen voice. At times I found the plot somewhat slow, which reduced the build-up of suspense, however the second half of the book picked up the pace to an exciting and dramatic conclusion. An enjoyable read for those who like speculative fiction of a supernatural nature.

Book Review: Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

I loved Jasper Jones. The characters were engaging, the prose lyrical yet easy to read, the setting solid and real. The story starts out with 13 year-old Charlie Bucktin reading late into the night, unable to sleep due to the oppressive heat of an Australian summer. Along comes Jasper Jones knocking on his window, urging him to come out. He desperately needs his help. Jasper is the outcast of the small mining town of Corrigan, mixed-raced and solitary, he is the first to be blamed when anything goes wrong. And yet Charlie finds him compelling and cannot resist the impulse to sneak out of the house and follow Jasper deep into the bush where he witnesses something that changes his life irrevocably.

Silvey has a unique voice, the ability to draw out tension and bring it to a feverish conclusion, all the while masterfully weaving in the subplots of this coming-of-age story. There is young love, racism, families falling apart and unspeakable secrets. Highly recommended.


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