Pieces of You
Penguin Random House
Pieces of You is the typical YA coming-of-age novel that surprisingly offers more than a cliche. Not least, it is uniquely set in a familiar setting of Auckland. Eileen Merriman creates genuine teenage characters – one aspect within the YA genre that often feels lacking or underdeveloped, and so is much appreciated when done right.
The story revolves around 15-turning-16-year-old Rebecca McQuilten, who has recently moved up to Auckland from Dunedin with her parents. However, a warning: the very first line can be triggering. Although it’s refreshing that Merriman does not dwell much on Rebecca’s backstory, the point at which she chooses entry into the plot can be quite confronting. Read more
Lonesome When You Go
Lonesome When You Go by Saradha Koirala is about a bass player called Paige. Paige is a year 12 student in a fictional New Zealand college. She is obsessed with a competition called Rockfest which her band, Vox Pop, plans to enter. As the book goes on and it gets closer to Rockfest some things don’t go quite to Paige’s plan and she must decide what really matters to her. The band gets put under more and more pressure as the competition nears. It’s not possible for Vox Pop to withstand the kind of pressure that they are putting on themselves, something is going to have to give. Read more
Whew. I feel like I just went through a washing machine. Mortal Fire is probably one of the most interesting books I’ve read (though, seriously, no one word can describe it). The twist of the ending is so strange that it brings a whole new meaning to fantasy. Though a YA novel by genre, Elizabeth Knox’s novel is far from a simple love story, or even a progression of self-discovery. It’s the kind of book that needs reading multiple times.
The main character, Canny Mochrie, is a very, very, complex character. The third person limited point of view does nothing to help the reader understand her thinking. Read more
The Impossible Boy
The Impossible Boy by Leonie Agnew explores the world of Vincent Gum, who is determined to protect his dear friend Benjamin from the consequences of war.
Vincent is Benjamin’s imaginary friend, who helps him make tricky decisions. Vincent leads Benjamin to an orphanage and Benjamin quickly makes many friends. Benjamin’s friends think that Vincent isn’t real and slowly try to convince him that Vincent doesn’t exist. Vincent is curious about his new environment and he wants to know what’s in the closet. The only way Vincent can survive is if convinces the kids, and even Benjamin, that he is real. Read more
I Am Not Esther
My first encounter with this book was when I was eight years of age. I had been so excited to borrow a Kobo from my primary school library. On the Kobo, I started reading I Am Not Esther. I didn’t understand it. All the religion was too confusing. Now, five years later at Wellington Girls’ College library, I came across the book once again. Many people complimented this book as being really good, so that encouraged me to attempt to read the book again.
Turning 14 in two weeks, I will be the same age as the main character in the book. Read more
Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox was probably one of the most interesting and unique books I have ever read, and that’s saying something. I have read quite a bit of fantasy, and love when fantasy books take place in our world. It makes me feel like my life can be just as fantastic as the characters who wander into a completely different world. This book follows a teenager named Canny, who goes on a camping trip with her brother to research a mine disaster in the mountains. While there, she discovers an interesting family that lives in the valley that seems to be keeping secrets from her. Read more
Sylvie The Second
Sylvie is invisible. Or, she may as well be. After Sylvie’s mess of an older sister attempts to overdose for “the kabillionth time”, it sets Sylvie’s family off into an explosive cycle, which persistently wears away her tolerance. Sick of being overshadowed by Calamity-Cate and her desperate actions, Sylvie decides to make some changes to her life: clothing, hair, personality. An obvious plea for attention, she makes drastic changes to her appearance. And though this doesn’t grasp the attention of her distraught mother, nor her dramatic father, it does attract interest from some unknown characters: Chris, the stereotypical popular jock, and Adam Allegro, the pizza delivery guy with the electric eyes. Read more
Battlesaurus, written by author Brian Falkner, is an alternate history book focusing on a teenage boy named Willem, living in the French town of Gaillemarde, during the events surrounding the famous Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The alternate part of the history is the fact that dinosaurs, here known simply as “Saurs”, are alive and well on the European continent. But rather than being fearsome giants, they are treated as merely wild animals, because none found so far are much larger than a raptor. That all changes, however, as Napoleon Bonaparte, the exiled French emperor, has found himself in possession of a larger and much, much more dangerous Saur, a secret weapon which he intends to unleash during the Battle of Waterloo and claim victory. Read more
The Ghosts of Moonlight Creek
The Ghosts of Moonlight Creek, by Sue Copsey, is the third book in the Spooky Adventures series. I have not read the two other books in the series, The Ghosts of Young Nick’s Head and The Ghosts of Tarawera, and I suggest you read these books first so you get an understanding of what they all are about and get to know the characters and their personalities. This book is set in 2016 and follows Joe and his adventures with his friends around Moonlight Creek.
When Joe, Beckie (Joe’s sister), Eddie and Anastasia are asked to come to a movie set near Queenstown by Anastasia’s father, famous movie director Roberto Johnson, they think that it’s for a summer holiday on a movie set: but it’s not. Read more
Dig for Victory
Dig for Victory, by David Hair, is a novel that shows the different aspects of war and is told from the perspectives of Leith McArran and Tamati Baines in 1916. When war is rampant throughout Europe, Leith McArran joined “the great adventure” with his brother Callum. Yet their unit, the Otago Mounted Rifles, was shattered in Gallipoli and now must merge with the new Māori contingents to form a new battalion of “Pioneers” doing the behind-the-scenes work; but, “We are not happy – we want to fight not dig holes.”
The book shows a different side of war from Leith’s perspective, and this is the side that is hidden behind all the fighting and sacrifice: the unsung heroes digging the trenches in the dead of night with flooding, lice and poor hygiene to deal with. Read more