Archive for the 'Young Adult' Category

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.

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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.