Saturday, 4 May 2013
Saturday, 27 April 2013
Title: Noble Conflict
Author: Malorie Blackman
As a fan of Malorie Blackman, I know she has a skill for creating entire fictional worlds, such as the fantastic ‘Noughts and Crosses’ series for example. This book is based on a Totalarian world in which Guardians protect the Alliance from the Insurgents who work for the Crusaders and attempt to attack the Alliance. Kaspar is a new young Guardian, determined to fight for his country and protect the people from the vicious terrorists. However in his role of Guardianship he discovers things he had never realised, and begins to question his own knowledge of the world he lives in and the system by which his life and the lives of his entire country are run. He decides to try and find a pattern to the movements and attacks made by the insurgents, some stealing information before committing suicide while others are blowing up large areas of cities killing innocent people and children. However as he becomes more involved his own comrades and leaders appear more opposed to him, Kaspar feels he is in far too deep.
However, with the help of Mackensie, a young librarian full of sharp wit and bright ideas, he uncovers a series of data which suggests the movements of the insurgents may not be as simple and unorganised as they are made out to be. He is burning with questions, none of which are answered by the High Councillor and or his Guardian leader Voss. In fact the more he discovers, the more he is pushed away. Then he discovers something he wished he never had. The Guardians use stun-guns as the Alliance refuses to sink to the level of the Crusaders by means of slaughter; therefore the Insurgents are checked for injuries then sent to a holding station. Or so they had been told. Yet Kaspar finds thousands of these people, shot by him and the other guardians, who should have recovered unharmed, on life support and covered in scars in the supposedly abandoned North Wing at the Guardian’s hospital. The confusion increases after meeting Rhea, an insurgent who saves his life as after he meets her he begins to have vivid dreams and he fears he may be able to experience her thoughts and emotions. Kaspar struggles on his path to find the truth: is he on the side on noble conflict?
Another gripping action packed thriller from one of my favourite authors, Noble Conflict uses an imaginary world to address issues which are very significant today and have been throughout history. The horror of the Totalarian State seems so distant to us, so impossible, but this book examines the idea of complete manipulation and control of an entire society. It also includes elements of romance, friendship and national belonging and examines the terrible realisation of the truth as the entire world falls to pieces. As a character Kaspar is likeable and obviously intelligent and therefore he displays how easily a society can be controlled if the influence is so great that no one dares to question what they have been told.
I would fully recommend this book!
Title: All Our Yesterdays
Author: Cristin Terrill
you ever considered what our world would be like with a time machine? Would we
go back in time and solve all those wars, stop all those bombs and save
millions of people? However time should not be manipulated or controlled, it is
far too powerful as Marina and Finn find out when it leads to the destruction
of their best friends James, a brilliant, once shy young boy who created a
scientific miracle and a monster. This is Cassandra. Marina and Finn, trapped
in cells and tortured for information struggle to remember the person their
best friend used to be before he too became a tool for the power-hungry villains
of the world; the machine which was supposed to be his legacy and the saviour
of the world had been transformed into a weapon, a means of control of society
through the past. The day Marina finds the note in her ell, the note from a
previous version of herself she finally understands what she must do as she
reads those terrible words “You have to kill him”. She and Finn must go back in
time and commit the unthinkable in order to prevent the terrible events which
follow on, because of James.
science-fiction thriller also contains themes of romance and heartbreak as
Marina must make the ultimate decision- to kill the boy she loves in order to
save the future. It’s also an interesting representation of the human mind and
how time and events can change and distort it. The power of the time machine changes
James into a monster he himself never could have imagined, but Marina herself
changes. She s no longer the insecure girl, hopelessly in love with the boy
next door, instead she is strong independent and determined to secure the
future for the younger version of herself, so that she may never experience the
horror that followed the creation of Cassandra. But her childhood love for
James still remains at the back of her mind, despite everything and she wonders
if she could ever succeed in killing him, even for Finn, who she fell in love
with after all those years in prison plotting to destroy Cassandra. Her mind
knows what must be done, but will her heart fail her?
action packed, and has elements of both murder mystery and science fiction. The
element of time travel is surprisingly easy to follow, although at times the
presence of two sets of the same character, past version and future version is
a little confusing. It’s still a great book however and the first person
narrative, which switches between the young Marina and the older post-Cassandra
Marina, is very effective.
I would give this book 7/10
Saturday, 20 April 2013
Author: Caroline Green
Cal lives a fairly normal if, unhappy teenage life. He lives with his mum and his unbearable new Stepfather Des and his son Ryan aka Pigface, goes to school with his best friend Amid and loves to impress the art teacher Miss Lovett with his paintings. This is his life, until the cracks start to appear. His world starts to change and transforms from ordinary into a nightmare as cracks appear on tables walls and the sky around him and he finds himself trapped in Riley Hall, the local young offender’s institution where he finds himself face to face with a boy who looks just like him. He knows he has been here before and that something terrible happened.
This is when Cal wakes up in hospital in the year 2023 and is informed that an accident lead to another boys brain tissue being transferred to his brain in order to save his life and since then he has been in a coma. Trapped in a whirl of confusion, Cal no longer knows what to believe and doesn’t trust the doctors who say he has no family that they know of and keep him locked in his room under close surveillance. He also refuses to believe that the life he has been living was someone else’s, a transmission of memory inside his head because he knows he himself has lived at Brinkley cross and is determined to find Amid and his mother, even Des in order to regain normality.
He manages to escape from hospital, but soon discovers that the world in 2023 is very different. Constant suspicion of terrorist attacks has lead to heavy security everywhere and constant police interrogations as well as recurring ‘plaster bomb’ attacks. The regime is now in charge and they are determined that no one will trust anyone else in case they lose control. Cal meets Kyla and Jax who take him to a modern Fagin’s den full of runaway youths who steal for their keep. Among these new friend Cal finally begins to feel like he belongs again , however his hospital ant him back and he must run leaving his friends behind for their own safety. Can Cal ever find out who he really is and achieve a normal life, or will he be returned to the hospital and hooked up to a machine once again, forced to live the rest of his life through someone else’s memories.
Incredibly exciting and action packed, Cracks is the new Hunger Games with a terrifying twist. Imagine waking up to discover your whole life is a lie? Everyone wonders at certain points whether our lives are computer games, controlled by greater powers and our world meaningless- this book takes it one step further by describing a boy whose entire life is lived through his mind and monitored by scientists. The world created in the future is a similar prediction to George Orwell’s 1984, and just as terrifying, yet with the hope of friendship love and family still remaining. Its an excellent novel whether you’re a sci-fan or not and will really get you thinking- beware; life can seem so normal, until the cracks start to appear.
Tuesday, 16 April 2013
Title: Winter Damage
Author: Natasha Carthew
ISBN: 9781408835838 (hardback)
The book follows Ennor a young girl living in a deteriorating society were money is worthless, shops are closing down and everyone has nothing. These things are nothing new to Ennor however, with her father dying of cancer and drug abuse after the loss of their farm although she is now only 14 she was forced to leave school years ago in order to take care of the few remaining animals, attempt to provide the family with food and pay the rent while taking care of her sickly father and her younger autistic brother Trip. Her mother left them years ago to follow a religious path, and as bills pile up and food runs out Ennor feels she might be their only chance of surviving the winter. Her worries increase as she receives a letter about Trip being taken to an ‘institution’ and she decides to set off in search of her mother leaving her best friend Butch to take care of her father and brother. However Butch, abused and beaten by his father and consequently ill himself finds it difficult to take care of Trip and further problems occur when Ennor is lost on the more and ends up at the house of a strange woman who attempts to take her belongings. However the woman appears to know where her mother is and gives Ennor directions. But can she be trusted, and even if found, will Ennor’s mother even acknowledge the daughter she lost so many years ago? With the bitter cold of winter settling and the desperation of a society with no possessions or food growing, the moor is not a safe place for a young girl alone. However she meets Sonny a young strong gypsy girl who can fight, hunt and shoot and soon her good humour and outgoing personality grows on Ennor.
Ennor is a girl who almost feels she has lost everything at many points in the book, yet on this path she also finds friendship and rediscovers the childhood she missed out on. She learns the meaning of hope and love and discovers that what she had been searching for had been with her along her journey. Society and mankind is falling to pieces, as desperation leads to theft, ignorance and neglect, but from the dust rises up a new generation of hope for something better; for children never forget the joy of laughter. An inspiring story that captures the freezing cold of winter in order to symbolise the coldness of humans in a times of crisis- when each person is only concerned for their own survival. However the warmth of love and friendship thaws broken dreams and hearts and leads these children to something better than the life they left behind.
Tuesday, 9 April 2013
Title: A Twist of Fortune
Author: Barbara Mitchel Hill
The award winning author of ‘Run Rabbit Run’ has produced a thrilling Victorian historical fiction novel. It follows the tale of Sam Pargeter who through a series of unfortunate circumstances ends up head of his family; his sister Eliza and little brother Alfie and responsible for finding them food and a home. This is no easy task for children in Victorian England however as everyone seems to be against them. However they decide to set off in search of their rich grandfather with their dog Patch and their favourite book Oliver Twist, hoping that he will help them. It is a heart-warming story which does not conceal the injustice and brutality of the Victorian society towards children at the time. It also has some wonderful characters, including Charles Dickens himself and exciting villains. The children are forced to live in Devils Acre, an area of London crammed with criminals, misery and insufferable poverty, then are accused of murder and also end up trapped in a terrible school where the children sleep on stone floors and sweep chimneys. However there are also themes of family, bravery and strength in this book for children who had to grow up far too soon but are determined to find happiness and be reunited with their family. There is trouble at every corner for the Pargeter children and more importantly will their grandfather accept them, after disowning their father for marrying a poor woman? Will he even recognise them if they don’t have their father’s and Aunt Maud’s letters in mother’s silver box?
The children’s adventure makes this novel a page-turner, but it also reveals a lot about living in Victorian England and their attitudes towards the poor as well as the effects of early industrialisation and the railways. It is also written convincingly in the style of a Victorian boy and we learn how Sam is forced to become the man of a family, even though starvation has given him the frame of a small boy, in order to save his younger siblings. Yet the family always stick together, and with Sam’s careful planning and Eliza’s beautiful singing voice and Alfie’s innocent charm, perhaps the family might one day find happiness?
Saturday, 6 April 2013
Title: The Extincts
Author: Veronica Cossanteli
Price: (out in May) paperback £5.99
This is a story about a young boy named George (he’s not named after St George, even though he lives in the town were the famous battle with the dragon took place, he’s named after his Grandfather). George feels he is far from ordinary, in fact when he sees a job advertisement for a job at Wormestall Farm, he feels he could be the ‘Right Person for the Job’ and it’s not just because he need the money for a new bike. But George could never have imagined in his wildest dreams the creatures he discovered at Wormestall which was certainly no ordinary farm. It may have pigs and cows, but they are extinct species or mythical creatures, not to mention there is a unicorn, an ichthyosaur (like a dolphin but with very, very sharp teeth) and an old dragon with a wounded eye and a dislike towards Knights on horseback. They are very rare and seek sanctuary in Wormestall farm otherwise they would be sent to laboratories to be tested or put in cages for humans to view. Worse still there is Diamond Pye, the stepmother of Pruedence the new girl in Geroge’s class who also finds out bout Wormestall. Diamond Pye is an animal-stuffer, and when there are rumours that the wigglington worm has escaped (it is actually a basilisk named Mortifier). George has to help Mrs Linde and Lo, the keepers of Wormestall to bring back Mortifier before he turns the whole town to stone or eats a child (it’s not his fault though, he can’t help it), or is captured, bagged and stuffed by the Diamond Pyeso that she can win the Taxidermist of the Year award and the golden brain spoon. Meanwhile the evil taxidermist locks Prudence in a cage in order to make her confess the truth about the location of the weird and wonderful creatures, so George now must rescue her as well. Can he save the day?
Hilarious and full of exciting animals you could never have imagined, all real extinct creatures, or taken from myths, ‘The Extincts’ is a fun book for younger readers and will have you imagining your own monsters that live in Wormestall Farm.