One True Thing
As someone with a keen love of politics, can I just say how fantastic it is to see a YA fiction book that includes this.
Frankie is a normal teenager, whose mum just happens to be running for Premier of Victoria. In the lead up to the election tensions increase. While Frankie is worried about school and her band and the cute new guy in her life, the media zeros in on her mum. What scandal do they keep hinting at?
Growing up and surviving High School is tough enough without the added pressure of having this happen in the media spotlight. Author Nicole Hayes handles this nicely as well as highlighting the intense scrutiny female politicians are under. Timely, given the firestorm surrounding the US Presidential elections right now.
The Things I Didn’t Say
Selective Mutism is an unusual topic for a book but Kylie Fornasier goes there. She does a great job too. The Things I didn’t Say tells the story of Piper Rhodes, a high-school student who falls out with her best friend and decides to change schools. While this situation might be relatable, Piper’s mutism isn’t. While she is able to talk to her family, Piper can’t talk in public. This may seem strange but the way it is described in the book really made sense. I have a much better understanding of the psychology behind how it effects a person and the difficulties in trying to overcome it. The impact on family and friends is also nicely described. Piper’s parents are desperate that she start talking and live a normal life, while West, Piper’s boyfriend, is hurt because Piper can talk to her family but not him.
This book covers normal final year school hassles: exams, dating, bullying and gossip. Piper has to negotiate all this plus deal with her inability to speak. The Things I didn’t Say marks Kylie Fornasier as a long term player in the Oz YA scene which is a good thing.
I love the main character in this. Willowdean Dickson is a nice contradiction of confidence and insecurity. Which, let’s face it, represents most of us. She is a curvy young woman who is basically happy, but after she hooks up with the new cute guy, Willow starts to question herself. What will other people think about such an unexpected couple?
I also love the setting in Dumplin’. I’ve read a lot of books set in America, but the town in this was boring and average and full of normal people. That is a good thing. It made a nice change from so many other books and I applaud the author for reflecting real people and daily life routines.
One thing I didn’t like was how the book ended for one of the characters. I can’t really go into it because *spoilers*, but they kinda disappeared abruptly. Of course, that could just be me feeling sorry for them and wishing they’d scored a happier ending.
This book nicely captures what it is to be in High School and how everyone views everyone else. It takes time to work out who you are and where you fit.
Jonsberg writes about a family not in a very good place. Jamie’s sister Summerlee is an absolute brat whose behavior is driving a wedge between his parents. After Summerlee wins big in Lotto, their younger sister Phoebe is kidnapped.
Jamie is a maths guru who believes in Game Theory – the study of human conflict and cooperation within a competitive situation. With Phoebe taken and a ransom required, he starts to think about applying its principles to try and get her back.The stress of dealing with the kidnapper and his messed up sister is constant. Will he be able to save Phoebe in time?
This is a thriller that races along at a good pace. I really loved how the author didn’t try to make everything sunshine and rainbows and tie everything up neatly at the end. Sometimes in life you don’t get a happy ending. Language and content make this more for older readers.
The Illuminae Files_01
Wow. Just wow. This is really something special. In a world where it is can be difficult to find something unique, this book really stands out. It has multiple narratives and viewpoints, jumping between different settings and formats. In unskilled hands this brilliant idea could have fallen into a messy heap, but authors Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff know their stuff and then some. They seamlessly blend all the different character perspectives. We have emails, ship logs, reports, footage transcripts and even a malfunctioning AI. There is a lot going on but at the core of this is the relationship between Kady and Ezra. They are fighting, first with each other but then against something a lot, lot bigger.
I won’t say much more except that what starts off as mostly sci-fi (planet attacked, survivors escape and are tracked by an enemy fleet), turns into a thriller/horror (what did they bring up from their destroyed planet?).
Illuminae is clever, fun, scary and cool. This is the first of a trilogy. Book two (Gemina) is out soon.
Girl Defective is a great Aussie YA read.Set in Melbourne St Kilda, it is obvious author Simmone Howell has a genuine affection for this town and its people. This feels almost like a snapshot in time, a chance to remember the place before redevelopment and gentrification change it forever.
But don’t get me wrong. This, does not mean we are in for a rose-coloured view of the St Kilda. Howell covers the good the bad and the ugly, which is perfect and gives the book a lovely authenticity. It is also a nice reflection of the family. They too, are wonderful but far from perfect. Sky is a messed up teenager, frustrated by her even more messed up father. Then there is her brother, who is awesome but needs constant supervision. Throw into the mix a mystery guy, a scene stealing friend and a dead girl and you have drama aplenty.
I love how all this happens around the old record shop her family owns and operates. The music references, the way they infuse the story is a definite plus. Funny, sad and heartwarming Girl Defective is hopeful but never sickly sweet. A fantastic contemporary read.
Ready Player One
I am late to this party but I am so glad I showed up. This book is sooooo cool. Talk about pop culture reference overload. It’s like author Ernest Cline created a world based on all his favorite things. And wow, the man has excellent taste.
The idea is this. Skip forward to 2044. The planet is wrecked and people are struggling. Escape is found in OASIS; a virtual world with thousands of worlds and simulations. It’s creator, a mysterious recluse named Halliday, dies but instead of leaving his money the usual way, he decides to create the ultimate game. Solve the clues and you’ll gain access to his billions. First one to score the egg wins.
On announcing this the world’s population goes nuts; both citizens and corporations desperate to get their hands on the cash. Wade Watts is a not-so-typical teenager who obsessively tries his luck. Like everyone else he studies Halliday’s likes and dislikes, his history. After years spent studying the first clue Wade, or Parcival as he is known in OASIS, has a break through. Life as he knows it will never be the same again.
In Ready Player One, Ernest Cline has created some absolutely mind blowing set pieces. Given events mainly occur in the virtual world, anything goes. It’s like a mash-up of so many cool things (think Back to the Future, Goonies, Star Wars). The awesomeness of this almost distracts from the horror of the outside world (and for this reader the idea that I could see something like this actually happening sometime in our future).
Ready Player One was begging to be made into a movie so no surprises that it is currently in development. Steven Spielberg is the director.