The unbelievable Gwenpool, written by Chris Hastings, artists Danilo Beyruth, Gurihiru
What happens when a comic book fan is suddenly blasted into the Marvel Universe? Utter chaos – imagine Deadpool as a teenage girl. Her costume is pink, she has no plans and for a for a while her closest ally is a talking duck. (That would be Howard the Duck, last seen in the post credits scene in Guardians of the Galaxy). Then she gets a job as a freelance assassin, then as a henchmen for a major player in the MU – encountering various other Marvel heroes and villains along the way. I’m looking forward to Gwen’s further adventures…
Forbidden, Eve Bunting
Sixteen-year-old Josie Ferguson has just lost both her parents. She is sent to live with an unknown aunt and uncle in a town on the stormy northwest coast of Scotland. But the townspeople, including her relatives, are as cold and hostile as the sea. Josie has never felt so alone. Then Eli appears. Mysterious but kind—and handsome—he sparks a desire in Josie unlike anything she has ever experienced. Even though she’s been warned that Eli is forbidden, she can’t stop thinking about him. And the locals are harboring a secret. When curious, determined Josie sets out to uncover it, the truth is more horrific than she could have imagined. (Goodreads).
First lines: We had arrived.
I’d taken two traps, a coach, and a carriage to get here from my old, beloved home in Edinburgh. It was sad and strange to think of myself as an orphan now that my parents had died. But that was what I was. Sorrow threatened to overwhelm me. But I told myself to be brave and to consider myself fortunate to have an aunt and an uncle to go to. Though an orphan, I would have a family again.
Thicker than water, Brigid Kemmerer
Thomas Bellweather hasn’t been in town long. Just long enough for his newlywed mother to be murdered, and for his new stepdad’s cop colleagues to decide Thomas is the primary suspect.
Not that there’s any evidence. But before Thomas got to Garretts Mill there had just been one other murder in twenty years. The only person who believes him is Charlotte Rooker, little sister to three cops and, with her soft hands and sweet curves, straight-up dangerous to Thomas. Her best friend was the other murder vic. And she’d like a couple answers. Answers that could get them both killed, and reveal a truth Thomas would die to keep hidden… (Goodreads).
First lines: I hate this suit. Mom bought it two weeks ago, and I hated it then. But she started with the whole please and for me and just this once and I gave in. Because she knows my buttons. Knew. She knew my buttons. I hate the past tense. I’m definitely not a suit guy. She knows that. Damn it.
Hide and seek, Jane Casey
It’s Christmas in Port Sentinel, the tiny English town where Jess Tennant has been living for more than a year now. Jess wasn’t sure how she felt about moving to Port Sentinel when her mom dragged her there right in the middle of high school, but even Jess has to admit the town has completely outdone itself for the holidays. There’s a Christmas market complete with mini ice-rink and fairy lights, and the bare trees stand stark against the sky. But for Gilly Poynter, one of Jess’s classmates, the Christmas season is anything but magical. She’s disappeared, leaving behind only her diary and a lot of questions. Has she run away from her unhappy home, or has something more sinister happened? And will Jess be able to find her before it’s too late?(Goodreads).
First lines: As parties went, it was a fairly typical Port Sentinel night out: too many people crammed into a large, expensive house, most of them determined to have fun. If there was one thing I’d learned in the five months I’d been living in Port Sentinel, it was that any excuse for a party would do. The mere fact it was Friday night counted.
Black widow: forever red, Margaret Stohl
Natasha Romanoff is one of the world’s most lethal assassins. Trained from a young age in the arts of death and deception, Natasha was given the title of Black Widow by Ivan Somodorov, her brutal teacher at the Red Room, Moscow’s infamous academy for operatives. Ava Orlova is just trying to fit in as an average Brooklyn teenager, but her life has been anything but average.The daughter of a missing Russian quantum physicist, Ava was once subjected to a series of ruthless military experiments—until she was rescued by Black Widow and placed under S.H.I.E.L.D. protection. Ava has always longed to reconnect with her mysterious savior, but Black Widow isn’t really the big sister type. Until now.
When children all over Eastern Europe begin to go missing, and rumors of smuggled Red Room tech light up the dark net, Natasha suspects her old teacher has returned—and that Ava Orlova might be the only one who can stop him. To defeat the madman who threatens their future, Natasha and Ava must unravel their pasts. Only then will they discover the truth about the dark-eyed boy with an hourglass tattoo who haunts Ava’s dreams…(Goodreads).
First lines: Natasha Romanoff hated pierogies – but more than that, she hated lies. Lying she was fine with. Lying was a necessity, a tool of her tradecraft. It was being lied to that she hated, even if it was how she had been raised.
Truthwitch, Susan Dennard
On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others. In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well. Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.
Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness. Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.(Goodreads).
First lines: Everything had gone horribly wrong. None of Safiya fon Hasstrel’s hastily laid plans for this hold up were unfolding as they ought. First, the black carriage with the gleaming gold standard was not the target Safi and Iseult had been waiting for. Worse, this cursed carriage was accompanied by eight rows of city guards blinking midday sun from their eyes.
Sound, Alexandra Duncan
As a child, Ava’s adopted sister Miyole watched her mother take to the stars, piloting her own ship from Earth to space making deliveries. Now a teen herself, Miyole is finally living her dream as a research assistant on her very first space voyage. If she plays her cards right, she could even be given permission to conduct her own research and experiments in her own habitat lab on the flight home. But when her ship saves a rover that has been viciously attacked by looters and kidnappers, Miyole—along with a rescued rover girl named Cassia—embarks on a mission to rescue Cassia’s abducted brother, and that changes the course of Miyole’s life forever. (Goodreads)
First lines: The butterflies keep dying. Their gossamer corpses line the back wall of Dr. Osman’s office -spotted swallowtails and the dark-tinged bird-wings-all suspended in squat acrylic resin cylinders behind her desk.
“It has to be a genetic disorder.” I hold the latest casualty, a common blue, out to Dr. Osmani in my gloved hand. “They can’t handle the atmosphere.”
Young man with camera, Emil Sher
T– is used to getting grief. He gets it from his mom, who blames herself for his accident years earlier. He gets it from Mr. Lam, who suspects every kid of stealing from his shop. Worst of all, he gets it from Joined at the Hip, a trio of bullies so vicious that they leave T– terrified of even using his entire name. But T– has his own strength too: his camera, which captures the unique way he sees the world. His pictures connect him to Ms. Karamath, the kind librarian at school; his friend Sean, whose passion for mysteries is matched only by his love for his dog; and especially Lucy, a homeless woman who shares his admiration for the photographer Diane Arbus. When Lucy is attacked by Joined at the Hip, T– documents the assault on film. But the bullies know he has the photographs, and their anger could be deadly. What’s the right thing for T– to do? Do pictures ever tell the whole truth? And what if the truth isn’t always the right answer? (Goodreads)
First lines: This is not a fire hydrant. And the truth is, a hydrant isn’t always a hydrant. Sometimes it’s a perch. I stood on my perch to take a picture of Ruby. Ruby is Mr. Lam’s daughter. Mr. Lam is the owner of McCreary’s Corner Store, which is a lie, since the store is in the middle of the block and should be called McCreary’s Nowhere-Near-the-Corner Store.
Gathering deep, Lisa Maxwell
When Chloe Sabourin wakes in a dark, New Orleans cemetery with no memory of the previous days, she can hardly believe the story her friends tell her. They say Chloe was possessed by a witch named Thisbe, who had used the darkest magic to keep herself alive for over a century. They tell her that the witch is the one responsible for the unspeakable murders that nearly claimed the life of Chloe’s friend, Lucy. Most unbelievable of all, they say that Thisbe is Chloe’s own mother. As she struggles with this devastating revelation and tries to rebuilt her life, Chloe wants nothing to do with the magic that corrupted her mother…especially since she feels drawn to it.
Now, a new series of ritualistic killings suggests that Thisbe is plotting again, and Chloe is drawn unwillingly back into the mystical underworld of the French Quarter. To stop Thisbe before she kills again, Chloe and her friends must learn what they can from the mysterious Mama Legba. But when her boyfriend Piers vanishes, Chloe will have to risk everything and embrace her own power to save the one person she has left… even if that means bringing down her mother. (Goodreads)
First lines: Hair don’t weigh no more than a soul, but taken all together, it’s got the sort of gravity that anchors a person. Shh. Shh. The scissors whispered their sharp commands, and pieces of who I was fell all around me. I wanted to scream, to tell them I’d changed my mind. But I couldn’t seem to make my mouth form the words.
The suffering, Rin Chupeco
Seventeen-year-old Tark knows what it is to be powerless. But Okiku changed that. A restless spirit who ended life as a victim and started death as an avenger, she’s groomed Tark to destroy the wicked. But when darkness pulls them deep into Aokigahara, known as Japan’s suicide forest, Okiku’s justice becomes blurred, and Tark is the one who will pay the price… (Goodreads)
First lines: I’m no hero, believe me. I’ve never rescued babies from burning buildings. I’ve never volunteered to save humpback whales or the rain forest. I’ve never been to protest rallies, fed the hungry in Africa, or righted any of the eighty thousand things that are wrong with the world these days. Heroism isn’t a trait commonly found in teenage boys.
The rosemary spell, Virginia Zimmerman
Best friends Rosie and Adam find an old book with blank pages that fill with handwriting before their eyes. Something about this magical book has the power to make people vanish, even from memory. The power lies in a poem—a spell. When Adam’s older sister, Shelby, disappears, they struggle to retain their memories of her as they race against time to bring her back from the void, risking their own lives in the process.(Goodreads)
First lines:For ten years, my father’s furniture and books lurked in the study he abandoned. I don’t remember a time when we thought he might come back, but his belongings were like a bookmark, holding a place in our lives, until Mom found out he’d moved to London.
This raging light, Estelle Laurie
Her dad went crazy. Her mom left town. She has bills to pay and a little sister to look after. Now is not the time for level-headed seventeen-year-old Lucille to fall in love. But love—messy, inconvenient love—is what she’s about to experience when she falls for Digby Jones, her best friend’s brother.(Goodreads)
First lines: Mom was supposed to come home yesterday after her two-week vacation. Fourteen days. Said she needed a break from everything (See also: Us) and that she would be back before the first day of school.
Through the woods, Emily Carroll (Graphic novel)
Five mysterious, spine-tingling stories follow journeys into (and out of?) the eerie abyss. These chilling tales spring from the macabre imagination of acclaimed and award-winning comic creator Emily Carroll. Come take a walk in the woods and see what awaits you there…(Goodreads)
First lines: When I was little I used to read before I slept at night. And I read the light of a lamp clipped to my headboard. Stark white and bright, against the darkness of my room. I dreaded turning it off. What if I reached out…just past the edge of bed and something waiting there, grabbed me and pulled me down, into the dark-
The mystery of hollow places, Rebecca Podos
All Imogene Scott knows of her mother is the bedtime story her father told her as a child. It’s the story of how her parents met: he, a forensic pathologist, she, a mysterious woman who came to identify a body. A woman who left Imogene and her father when Imogene was a baby, a woman who was always possessed by a powerful loneliness, a woman who many referred to as “troubled waters.”
Now Imogene is seventeen, and her father, a famous author of medical mysteries, has struck out in the middle of the night and hasn’t come back. Neither Imogene’s stepmother nor the police know where he could’ve gone, but Imogene is convinced he’s looking for her mother. And she decides it’s up to her to put to use the skills she’s gleaned from a lifetime of reading her father’s books to track down a woman she’s only known in stories in order to find him and, perhaps, the answer to the question she’s carried with her for her entire life.
First lines: The bedtime story my dad used to tell me began with my grandmother’s body. Back when my dad wasn’t yet my dad, but a young forensic pathologist at Good Shepherd Hospital the city, a dead woman landed on his table. She was middle-aged and unremarkable, her hair colourless, her face like a vacant moon.
Time travel is one of my absolute favourite plot tropes, and it can be handled very differently from story to story. Sometimes more serious, sometimes less so. It’s also interesting to see how different interpretations deal with time continuity, and what happens when the past (or future) is altered. Here are a few time-travel picks which I hope you’ll enjoy!
The here and now / Ann Brashares.
“Prenna and her doctor mom are not your average immigrants. No, they have immigrated to New York from the 2090s, a future of climate-change extremes and mosquito-borne plagues that wipe out entire families and civilizations. The few who have survived the plagues and the journey back to 2010 have been charged with two challenges: change the course of environmental history and assimilate into the culture without disclosing their origins or becoming intimate with the natives. Prenna knows her friendship with Ethan is red-flag behavior. When an elderly homeless man warns her that she and Ethan must prevent a murder on May 17, 2014 just days away she realizes she must defy the community and its counselors for civilization’s greater good.” (Booklist)
The 57 lives of Alex Wayfare / MG Buehrlen.
“For as long as Alex Wayfare can remember, she has had visions of the past. Vivid visions that make her feel like she’s really on a ship bound for America, or riding the original Ferris wheel at the World’s Fair. It isn’t until she meets Porter, a stranger who knows more than should be possible about her, that she learns the truth; her visions aren’t really visions. Alex is a Descender — capable of traveling back in time to her past lives. But the more she descends, the more it becomes apparent that someone doesn’t want Alex to travel again. And they will stop at nothing to make this life, her fifty-seventh, her last.” (Syndetics)
Tempest / Julie Cross.
“The year is 2009. Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun. That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future. Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities. But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler. Recruit… or kill him.” (Goodreads)
A thousand pieces of you / Claudia Gray.
“Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him. Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.” (Goodreads)
Timebound / Rysa Walker.
“When Kate Pierce-Keller’s grandmother gives her a strange blue medallion and speaks of time travel, sixteen-year-old Kate assumes the old woman is delusional. But it all becomes horrifyingly real when a murder in the past destroys the foundation of Kate’s present-day life. Suddenly, that medallion is the only thing protecting Kate from blinking out of existence. Kate learns that the 1893 killing is part of something much more sinister, and Kate’s genetic ability to time-travel makes her the only one who can stop him. Risking everything, she travels to the Chicago World’s Fair to try to prevent the killing and the chain of events that follows. Changing the timeline comes with a personal cost, however—if Kate succeeds, the boy she loves will have no memory of her existence. And regardless of her motives, does she have the right to manipulate the fate of the entire world?” (Goodreads)
After Eden / Helen Douglas.
“Eden Anfield loves puzzles, so when mysterious new boy Ryan Westland shows up at her school she’s hooked. On the face of it, he’s a typical American teenager. So why doesn’t he recognise pizza? And how come he hasn’t heard of Hitler? What puzzles Eden the most, however, is the interest he’s taking in her. As Eden starts to fall in love with Ryan, she begins to unravel his secret. Her breakthrough comes one rainy afternoon when she stumbles across a book in Ryan’s bedroom – a biography of her best friend – written over fifty years in the future. Confronting Ryan, she discovers that he is there with one unbelievably important purpose … and she might just have destroyed his only chance of success.” (Goodreads)
Steel / Carrie Vaughn.
“Sixteen-year-old Jill has fought in dozens of fencing tournaments, but she has never held a sharpened blade. When she finds a corroded sword piece on a Caribbean beach, she is instantly intrigued and pockets it as her own personal treasure. The broken tip holds secrets, though, and it transports Jill through time to the deck of a pirate ship. Stranded in the past and surrounded by strangers, she is forced to sign on as crew. But a pirate’s life is bloody and brief, and as Jill learns about the dark magic that brought her there, she forms a desperate scheme to get home—one that risks everything in a duel to the death with a villainous pirate captain.” (Goodreads)
TimeRiders / Alex Scarrow.
“Liam O’Connor should have died at sea in 1912. Maddy Carter should have died on a plane in 2010. Sal Vikram should have died in a fire in 2026. Yet moments before death, someone mysteriously appeared and said, ‘Take my hand …’ But Liam, Maddy and Sal aren’t rescued. They are recruited by an agency that no one knows exists, with only one purpose—to fix broken history. Because time travel is here, and there are those who would go back in time and change the past. That’s why the TimeRiders exist: to protect us. To stop time travel from destroying the world…” (Goodreads)
Science: it’s not just a subject at school. It’s what makes the world what it is. The books below explore stories using experimental sciences we’re perhaps less familiar with right now, but could perhaps plausibly be present in the near future. Cryogenic freezing, internet implants, DNA harvesting – see for yourself whether you think it could happen (or just accept it and go OOH COOL! SCIENCE!)
When We Wake, Karen Healey
Sixteen year-old Tegan has been cryogenically frozen, but her jump to the future was not planned, and she wakes up 100 years past her former present-time of 2027. She discovers she is the first unknowing government test subject to be frozen and successfully revived. Tegan’s not so sure about the benefits of her unique situation, and things get even more complicated when she discovers appalling secrets about her new world. Tegan faces a choice: keep her head down and live her second chance at life, or help fight for a better future.
When We Wake is the first in a series (the sequel is called While We Run) and it is a finalist in the LIANZA Children’s Book Awards 2014!
Feed, M.T. Anderson
Titus and his friends thought this trip was going to be just like any other trip to the moon. That is, a chance to party hard over spring break. But that was until the hacker got into their brain-implanted internet feeds and caused them all to malfunction, sending Titus and his friends into hospital with an eerie nothingness in their heads. It is especially strange in contrast to the 24/7 bombardment of consumer customised broadcasts and advertisements which normally stream directly into their brains. And then Titus meets beautiful and brainy Violet, who is determined to fight the omnipresent feed before it destroys everyone.
Origin, Jessica Khoury
Pia has spent her whole life so far in a secret laboratory in the Amazon rainforest, raised by a team of scientists as the first of a new immortal race of people. But on the night of her 17th birthday, Pia finds a way to escape, and she leaves the compound for the first time. Outside, she meets a village boy named Eio, and together they race against time to find the deadly truth about Pia’s origin.
The Adoration of Jenna Fox, Mary E. Pearson
In the near future, 17 year old Jenna Fox has just woken up from a coma caused by a terrible accident a year ago. At least, that’s what they tell her, but what happened before that? Jenna doesn’t remember her life, and what she does remember she can’t even be sure is real. Jenna must seek out the truth of her mysterious past and learn to live with the implications it may have for her future.
The House of the Scorpion, Nancy Farmer
“Matteo Alacran was not born; he was harvested with the DNA from El Patron, lord of a country called Opium. Can a boy who was bred to guarantee another’s survival find his own purpose in life? And can he ever be free?” (Goodreads)
The Wellington NZIFF programme launched a couple of weeks ago and there are so many to choose from – nearly 150 films are in the programme so it is absolutely chocka. Having given it some thought, I’ve picked out some I think will be hits! Check out my list and let me know what you’re excited for in the comments!
The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet (3D)
From the director of Amelie comes a tale of a prodigious young inventor of completely zany and fascinating products. His perpetual motion machine comes to the attention of the Smithsonian institute and they invite T.S. to Washington, unaware he is just 10 years old. Determined to respond to the invitation, T.S. sets out alone one night on a cross-country adventure to collect his reward for his brilliance.
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
The newest film from Studio Ghibli (The Wind Rises) and eight years in the making, Princess Kaguya is a retelling of a traditional Japanese folk tale. A humble bamboo-cutter stumbles upon a tiny princess-like doll hidden in a bamboo shoot. He takes it home, and he and his wife are shocked when the doll turns into a wailing baby. When gifts of gold and silks continue to appear, the bamboo-cutter and his wife decide to abandon their humble lifestyle to raise the girl as a proper princess.
We Are The Best!
We Are The Best! is the story of 3 young misfits growing up in Stockholm, Sweden in the 1980s. Klara and Bobo are 13-year-old rebels looking for a cause. Despite having no particular musical talents, they channel their efforts into forming an all-girl punk band and enlist their shy, guitar-playing classmate Hedvig to join them. The story is based on a graphic novel by the director’s wife Coco Moodysson and fully embodies the DIY spirit of the punk movement.
Another exciting anime film, Patema Inverted is the story of young and inquisitive Patema who lives in a post-disaster underground world. While exploring one day she falls into a deep pit, but mysteriously finds herself falling upward to the Earth’s surface. However it is an upside-down surface – surface dwellers live by the opposite gravity to Patema. She is helped by a surface boy called Age, who explains that in his world “inverted” people like Patema are considered unholy sinners and she soon finds herself being pursued by secret police. Together Age and Patema must uncover the dark conspiracy lurking behind their inverted worlds.
This is a documentary about the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland and the first proton-smashing experiments conducted there. It also follows closely the thrilling search for the Higgs boson, the particle that gives mass to other particles. It is a fascinating insight into the world of physics and discovering our own universe and looks to be extremely exciting!
The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness
This documentary follows Hayao Miyazaki and visits Studio Ghibli, which in itself looks like a Miyazaki movie. Miyazaki is working on his allegedly final film The Wind Rises, working by hand in a cluttered workspace filled with old technologies. Meanwhile, Ghibli’s other maestro Takahata Isao is working on Princess Kaguya (see above) across town in a completely different working environment. Ghibli producer and co-founder Suzuki Toshio shuttles between the two, managing their differing approaches with love and appreciation for the different challenges each film faces.
John Corey Whaley is my absolute favourite contemporary YA author at the moment. I was in awe of his first novel Where Things Come Back (if you frequent this blog, you may have noticed me raving about its awesomeness before) and I just finished reading his second novel, Noggin.
JCW (as I like to call him for short) has this amazing way of writing situations that so many people would completely relate to, yet he never sounds like he is merely churning out a thinly veiled trope or cliche. Every situation he puts his characters in feels like it could only happen to them, and we’re privileged to get a small glimpse into their lives.
His first novel Where Things Come Back won the Printz Award in 2012 – this is a huge honour! The Printz Award is an American Library Association literary award that annually recognizes the “best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit”. So basically, they thought it was the best YA book written that year of ALL the YA books. All of them. That’s a lot. It also means it’s a slightly more “literary” book, but don’t let that put you off! As a first novel it’s pretty ambitious – it follows Cullen Witter, a 17 year old boy living in a small town in Arkansas during the summer before his senior year. All kinds of strange things begin to happen, starting with the sighting of a rare Lazarus woodpecker that has been extinct for more than 60 years. The townspeople become obsessed with the bird, and the whole town turns into a woodpecker carnival, celebrating it with haircuts, burgers, and anything else you can think of. Amid the strange carnival atmosphere, Cullen’s contemplative and sensitive younger brother Gabriel suddenly disappears.
In alternating chapters the novel also follows the tale of a young missionary in Africa who is questioning his faith after things fail to turn out as he had prepared for. He begins to search for meaning anywhere he can find it, grasping onto the last strands of hope and familiarity of his former life. Meanwhile, Cullen and his family are distraught and drift aimlessly through the sudden loss of Gabriel. While the two stories at first seem very distant, they eventually entwine with one another, leading to the shocking climax (which I had to read three times to believe).
His second novel, Noggin, is very different. Get this – and don’t let me lose you too quickly – Travis Coates used to be dead. Now he’s not. But this is not exactly a sci-fi novel. Travis’s old body was riddled with cancer, so they chopped his head off and cryogenically froze it so that maybe at some point in the distant future it could be reattached to someone else’s body. The scientists told his parents that if they were lucky they might get to see Travis again before they died. But science moved much faster than expected and just five years after his first death, Travis, with the aid of Jeremy Pratt’s body, is ready to give life a second try. The problem is things have changed but Travis hasn’t. His best friend Kyle and girlfriend – well ex-girlfriend, kind of? – Cate are both 21 now and it’s difficult for Travis to accept that five years passed during what he felt was a short nap.
Travis has to figure out how to handle that the love of his life is suddenly engaged to somebody else, and how to face the unwanted attention he’s receiving from all over the world on account of him being the latest scientific miracle. There’s only one other person in the world who has any idea what Travis is going through. Lawrence, who was reanimated six months earlier than Travis, is the only one who can assure him yes, this IS all very weird.
Despite the bizarre premise, Noggin is probably the more accessible of JCW’s two books but I highly, highly recommend both. You can also follow John Corey Whaley on Twitter under @corey_whaley and the same on Instagram. If you’ve read or are planning to read either of these books, let me know what you think in the comments!
Tin Star, Cecil Castellucci (233 pages)On their way to start a new life, Tula and her family travel on the Prairie Rose, a colony ship headed to a planet in the outer reaches of the galaxy. All is going well until the ship makes a stop at a remote space station, the Yertina Feray, and the colonist’s leader, Brother Blue, beats Tula within an inch of her life. An alien, Heckleck, saves her and teaches her the ways of life on the space station.When three humans crash land onto the station, Tula’s desire for escape becomes irresistible, and her desire for companionship becomes unavoidable. But just as Tula begins to concoct a plan to get off the space station and kill Brother Blue, everything goes awry, and suddenly romance is the farthest thing from her mind. (Goodreads)
First lines: There are few things colder than the blackness of space. But lying here, I couldn’t imagine anything colder than the Human heart that left me half-concious at tne entrance to Docking Bay 12.
Between two worlds, Katherine Kirkpatrick (261 pages)On the treeless shores of Itta, Greenland, as far north as humans can settle, sixteen-year-old Inuit Billy Bah spots a ship far out among the icebergs on the bay–a sight both welcome and feared. Explorers have already left their indelible mark on her land and its people, and a ship full of white men can mean trouble.
The ship carries provisions for Robert E. Peary, who is making an expedition to the North Pole. As a child, Billy Bah spent a year in America with Peary’s family. When her parents went to America years later, they died in a tragic scandal. Now, Peary’s wife, daughter, and crew are in Itta to bring him supplies. Winter comes on fast, and when the ship gets caught in the ice, Billy Bah sets out to find Peary. The journey will imperil her life, and that of the man she loves.(Goodreads)
First lines: I climbed toward the sky, my fingers curling around the cold rocks, thousands of shrieking birds around me. Just under my feet the sheer red cliffs dropped to the water. Though it was summer, it was still cold and the wind felt fresh.
The edge of the water, Elizabeth George (387 pages) A mysterious girl who won’t speak; a coal black seal named Nera that returns to the same place very year; a bitter feud of unknown origin—strange things are happening on Whidbey Island, and Becca King, is drawn into the maelstrom of events. But Becca, first met in The Edge of Nowhere, has her own secrets to hide. Still on the run from her criminal stepfather, Becca is living in a secret location. Even Derric, the Ugandan orphan with whom Becca shares a close, romantic relationship, can’t be allowed to know her whereabouts.As secrets of past and present are revealed, Becca becomes aware of her growing paranormal powers, and events build to a shocking climax anticipated by no one.(Goodreads)
First lines: I was two years old when I came to my parenrs, but the only memories I have before the memories of them are like dreams. I’m carried. There’s water nearby. I’m cold. Some runs with me in his arms. My head is pressed so hard to his shoulder that it hurts every time he takes a step.
The museum of intangible things, Wendy Wunder (292 pages)Hannah and Zoe haven’t had much in their lives, but they’ve always had each other. So when Zoe tells Hannah she needs to get out of their down-and-out New Jersey town, they pile into Hannah’s beat-up old Le Mans and head west, putting everything—their deadbeat parents, their disappointing love lives, their inevitable enrollment at community college—behind them. As they chase storms and make new friends, Zoe tells Hannah she wants more for her. She wants her to live bigger, dream grander, aim higher. And so Zoe begins teaching Hannah all about life’s intangible things, concepts sadly missing from her existence—things like audacity, insouciance, karma, and even happiness.(Goodreads)
First lines: I am a freshwater girl. I live on the lake, and in New Jersey, that’s rare. The girls on the other side of town have swimming pools, and the girls in the south have the seashore. Other girls are dry, breezy, salty and bleached. I, on the other hand, am grounded, heavy and wet.
The shadow prince (Into the Dark, Book 1), Bree Despain (481 pages)Haden Lord, the disgraced prince of the Underrealm, has been sent to the mortal world to entice a girl into returning with him to the land of the dead. Posing as a student at Olympus Hills High—a haven for children of the rich and famous—Haden must single out the one girl rumored to be able to restore immortality to his race.
Daphne Raines has dreams much bigger than her tiny southern Utah town, so when her rock star dad suddenly reappears, offering her full tuition to Olympus Hills High’s prestigious music program, she sees an opportunity to catch the break she needs to make it as a singer. But upon moving into her estranged father’s mansion in California, and attending her glamorous new school, Daphne soon realizes she isn’t the only student in Olympus who doesn’t quite belong. Haden and Daphne—destined for each other—know nothing of the true stakes their fated courtship entails. As war between the gods brews, the teenagers’ lives collide. But Daphne won’t be wooed easily and when it seems their prophesied link could happen, Haden realizes something he never intended—he’s fallen in love. Now to save themselves, Haden and Daphne must rewrite their destinies. But as their destinies change, so do the fates of both their worlds.(Goodreads)
First lines: I did the unforgivable the day my mother died, and for that I’ve been punished every moment of my life. He’s too weakminded. Impulsive. He’s too much like her. He’s too human.
Stolen songbird, Danielle Jensen (469 pages) For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined. Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity. But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader. As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.(Goodreads)
First lines: My voice rose an octave, resonating through the Goshawk’s Hollow marketplace, drowning out the bleating sheep and the hammer of the blacksmith down the way. Dozens of familiar faces abandoned their business, expressions unoform in their nervousness as they anticipated the note I had dreaded daily for the past month. She liked an audience for my failures.
Taken, David Massey (279 pages)A young crew of five are toughing it out together, sailing around the world on a gruelling charity challenge. They are used to being pushed to the limit, but nothing could have prepared them for being kidnapped. When they are taken hostage by a notorious warlord and his band of child soldiers, the trip of a lifetime turns into a one-way journey into the heart of the African jungle. When hope is all you have, survival is all you can fight for…(Goodreads)
First lines: My rucksack thuds on to the wooden pontoon and all the stress of getting here falls away with it. I feel light and dizzy, like I’ve just ditched the last thing that anchored me to reality.
Storm, Donna Jo Napoli (343 pages)The rain starts suddenly, hard and fast. After days of downpour, her family lost, Sebah takes shelter in a tree, eating pine cones and the raw meat of animals that float by. With each passing day, her companion, a boy named Aban, grows weaker. When their tree is struck by lightning, Sebah is tempted just to die in the flames rather than succumb to a slow, watery death. Instead, she and Aban build a raft. What they find on the stormy seas is beyond imagining: a gigantic ark. But Sebah does not know what she’ll find on board, and Aban is too weak to leave their raft.(Goodreads)
First lines: Each row has exactly as many pods as my fingers-ten. And there are exactly as many rows as my fingers on one hand. Five. I’ve laid them out on the ground perfectly. It’s my job to tie precisely fifty bean pods into the cloth because I’m good at numbers, better than my parents.
Dust of eden, Mariko Nagai (121 pages)In December 1941, thirteen year-old Mina Masako Tagawa and her Japanese-American family are sent from their home in Seattle to an internment camp in Idaho. What do you do when your home country treats you like an enemy? (Goodreads)
First lines: We held our breath for three years. We did not have anything to call our own except for the allowed number of bags: two. Te did not have anything except for a rose garden my grandfather made from hard earth and spit. We lived behind a barbed wire fence under a stark blue sky that could break your heart (as it did break my grandfather’s.)
Breaking butterflies, M. Anjelais (257 pages)Sphinxie and Cadence. Promised to each other in childhood. Drawn together again as teens. Sphinxie is sweet, compassionate, and plain. Cadence is brilliant, charismatic. Damaged. And diseased. When they were kids, he scarred her with a knife. Now, as his illness progresses, he becomes increasingly demanding. She wants to be loyal–but fears for her life. Only the ultimate sacrifice will give this love an ending.(Goodreads)
First lines: When my mother was a little girl, she walked out to the playground by herself every day after school. I can picture it easily; photos of her as a child are almost indistinguishable from photos of me when I was little.
Returning to shore, Corinne Demas (196 pages)Her mother’s third marriage is only hours old when all hope for Clare’s fifteenth summer fades. Before she knows it, Clare is whisked away to some ancient cottage on a tiny marsh island on Cape Cod to spend the summer with her father – a man she hasn’t seen since she was three. Clare’s biological father barely talks, and when he does, he obsesses about endangered turtles. The first teenager Clare meets on the Cape confirms that her father is known as the town crazy person. But there’s something undeniably magical about the marsh and the islanda connection to Clares past that runs deeper than memory. Even her father’s beloved turtles hold unexpected surprises. As Clare’s father begins to reveal more about himself and his own struggle, Clare’s summer becomes less of an exile and more of a return home.(Goodreads)
First lines: The white balloons were released from behind the pirvet hedge at the exact moment the Clare’s mother kissed her new husband. Clare watched the balloons rise. They were snatched by an errant wind and blown stage left, free now, and undisciplined.
Awakening, Natalie King (272 pages)
When Zelie Taylor pulls a lost necklace out of the icy waters of the lake, she has no idea what the consequences will be. At first the pendant is just freezing cold – unnaturally so – but then she hears a voice inside her head and Zelie thinks she must be going mad. She’s not. Seventeen-year-old Tamas’ soul has been trapped in the silver necklace since 1918. His body is nearby, sleeping, and Zelie must help him awaken.
At first Zelie would like nothing better than for Tamas’ moody, enigmatic presence to be out of her life, but after a while she isn’t so sure. And what is waiting for Tamas when he does emerge? It seems that the sinister force that trapped him all those years ago has returned and is growing more powerful.(Goodreads)
First lines: Of all the emotions, guilt leaves the greatest mark. While fear and happiness can fade, guilt remains as heavy and harsh as the day it arrived. Zelie Taylor’s guilt weighed heavy, so when Kate Hearn asked, she couldn’t say no.
The true adventures of Nicolo Zen (271 pages)Nicolo Zen is all alone in 1700s Venice, save for his clarinet, which a mysterious magician had enchanted, allowing its first player to perform expertly. Soon Nicolo is a famous virtuoso, wealthy beyond his dreams, but he can’t stop wondering if he earned the success himself — or what might happen if the spell were removed. And throughout it all, he continues to think about the girl he met in Venice, what she might be doing and if she’s safe from harm. (Goodreads)
First lines: When the Master auditioned us, we were told not to speak. Luca, his assistant, a heavyset man in a black coat, handed each of us a page of sheet music, from the first moment of the Master’s latest concerto. “Just play this,” said said gruffly, pulling his black beard,” first in D major, then in B-flat minor.”
Guy in real life, Steve Brezenoff (386 pages)It is Labor Day weekend in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and boy and girl collide on a dark street at two thirty in the morning: Lesh, who wears black, listens to metal, and plays MMOs; Svetlana, who embroiders her skirts, listens to Björk and Berlioz, and dungeon masters her own RPG. They should pick themselves up, continue on their way, and never talk to each other again.
But they don’t.
This is a story of two people who do not belong in each other’s lives, who find each other at a time when they desperately need someone who doesn’t belong in their lives. A story of those moments when we act like people we aren’t in order to figure out who we are. A story of the roles we all play-at school, at home, with our friends, and without our friends-and the one person who might show us what lies underneath it all. (Goodreads)
First lines: “This is not my life.”
Everything is spinning on the curb in front of Vic B’s bar. I shouldn’t have been drinking. I knew that beforehand. I knew that as I drank. I know that now, sitting on said curb, with my head on my knees and a puddle of chunky vom next to my feet.
Drama Queens in the house, Julie Williams (426 pages)Sixteen-year-old Jessie Jasper Lewis doesn’t remember a time in her life when she wasn’t surrounded by method actors, bright spotlights, and feather boas. Her parents started the Jumble Players Theater together, and theater is the glue that holds her crazy family together. But when she discovers that her father’s cheating on her mother with a man, Jessie feels like her world is toppling over. And on top of everything else, she has to deal with a delusional aunt who is predicting the end of the world. Jessie certainly doesn’t feel ready to be center stage in the production that is her family. But where does she belong in all of this chaos? (Goodreads)
First lines: The theater is lit up like an opening night gala celebrating the first show of a new season. It’s graduation night, the second Thursday in June, and this gala is all about me. JESSIE JASPER LEWIS…my name on the marquee in lights.
The Archived, Victoria Schwab (321 pages)Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.
Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive. Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what she once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive. Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall. (Goodreads)
First lines: The Narrows remind me of August nights in the South. They remind me of old rocks and places where the light can’t reach. They remind me of smoke – the stale, settled kind – and of storms and damp earth. Most of all, Da, they remind me of you.
Don’t look back, Jennifer L. Armentrout (369 pages) Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.
Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it’s one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took “mean girl” to a whole new level, and it’s clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She’s getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she’s falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash. But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn’t just buried deep inside of Sam’s memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive? (Goodreads)
First lines: I didn’t recognise the name on the street sign. Nothing about the rural road looked familiar or friendly. Tall, imposing trees and overgrown weeks choked the front of the dilapidated home. Windows were boarded up/ There was a gaping hole where the front door had been. I shivered, wanting to be far away from here…wherever here was.
Hello, groin Beth Goobie (272 pages)When Dylan Kowolski agrees to create a display for her high school library, she has no idea of the trouble it’s going to cause–for the school principal, her family, her boyfriend Cam and his jock friends, and her best friend Jocelyn. And for Dylan herself. If only her English class had been studying a normal, run-of-the-mill, mundane book like Lord of the Flies instead of Foxfire things wouldn’t have gotten so twisted. Then the world wouldn’t have gone into such a massive funk. And then Dylan wouldn’t have had to face her deepest fear and the way she was letting it run her life. (Goodreads)
First lines: We were coming around a bend in the road just before the Dundurn Street bridge. I was double-riding my best friend, Jocelyn Hersch, on my bikem and we were running late, Difedenbaker Collegiate’s last warning bell about to sound. So I was tearing along with my head down, pretty much oblivious to the local scenery, when Joc tightened her grip on my waist and let out a yelp that could have raised the dead.
Deadfall, Chris Ryan (338 pages)Zak Darke is sent on what seems like a straightforward surveillance op in South Africa but it soon turns into the toughest, most dangerous mission he has ever faced. An old enemy has teamed up with a terrifying gang of child soldiers and Zak is caught in the middle. Having travelled to the heart of the African jungle, will he make it out alive …? (Goodreads)
First lines:There has been a thin layer of frost on the ice-cold bottle of Coke. Beads of Condensation ran down the glass. Just like the bead of sweat that ran down the side of Zak’s face. This should be an easy op. Why, then, did he feel so on edge?
Dance of the dark heart, Julia Hearn (233 pages)Jack Orion is a tormented soul. His childhood companion, and one true love, has been cruelly snatched away from him and now nothing matters to him but being reunited with her.
From the goatherd’s shack to the court of King Henry VIII, Jack will not be diverted from his path.And wherever he goes he plays his fiddle like a demon, while the demon in his head urges him on. But Jack is dangerous, and he has a dark heart. If you had the chance to dance with the devil . . . would you? (Goodreads)
First lines: There had been omens. Bad ones. A blood-coloured ring around the moon. Crows on the woodpile, watching the shack. A tree that fell without being axed, keeling over in its prime, like a man with a curse on him. Old Scratch noted these occurances -the moon, the crows, the tree – but kept his own counsel. For one thing, he had no one to tell.
When the tripods came, John Christopher (151 pages)Long ago, the Tripods–huge, three-legged machines–descended upon Earth and took control. Now people unquestioningly accept the Tripods’ power. They have no control over their thoughts or their lives. But for a brief time in each person’s life–in childhood–he is not a slave. For Will, his time of freedom is about to end–unless he can escape to the White Mountains, where the possibility of freedom still exists. The Tripods trilogy follows the adventures of Will and his cohorts, as they try to evade the Tripods and maintian their freedom and ultimately do battle against them. (Goodreads)
First lines: An explosion of noise woke me. It sounded if a dozen express trains were about to hit the shed. I rolled over in my blanket, trying to get out of the way, and was aware of a blaze of orange, lighting up boxes and bits of old farm equipment and tackle. An ancient rusting tractor looked briefly like an overgrown insect.
Dear Killer, Katherine Ewell (359 pages)Rule One—Nothing is right, nothing is wrong.
Rule Two—Be careful.
Rule Three—Fight using your legs whenever possible, because they’re the strongest part of your body. Your arms are the weakest.
Rule Four—Hit to kill. The first blow should be the last, if at all possible.
Rule Five—The letters are the law.
Kit takes her role as London’s notorious “Perfect Killer” seriously. The letters and cash that come to her via a secret mailbox are not a game; choosing who to kill is not an impulse decision. Every letter she receives begins with “Dear Killer,” and every time Kit murders, she leaves a letter with the dead body. Her moral nihilism and thus her murders are a way of life—the only way of life she has ever known. But when a letter appears in the mailbox that will have the power to topple Kit’s convictions as perfectly as she commits her murders, she must make a decision: follow the only rules she has ever known, or challenge Rule One, and go from there. (Goodreads)
First lines: Rule one. Nothing is right, nothing is wrong. That is the most important guideline, and the hardest one for most people to understand – but I have understood it my entire life, from the moment I laid my hands on that first victim’s neck to this very moment as I think about the blood under my fingernails and the body I have so recently left behind.
The Nethergrim, Matthew Jobin (356 pages) Everyone in Moorvale believes the legend: The brave knight Tristan and the famed wizard Vithric, in an epic battle decades ago, had defeated the evil Nethergrim and his minions. To this day, songs are sung and festivals held in the heroes’ honor. Yet now something dark has crept over the village. First animals disappear, their only remains a pile of bones licked clean. Then something worse: children disappear. The whispers begin quietly yet soon turn into a shout: The Nethergrim has returned! Edmund’s brother is one of the missing, and Edmund knows he must do something to save his life. But what? Though a student of magic, he struggles to cast even the simplest spell. Still, he and his friends swallow their fear and set out to battle an ancient evil whose powers none of them can imagine. They will need to come together–and work apart–in ways that will test every ounce of resolve. (Goodreads)
First lines: The best horse I ever knew was a bay stallion with a white star on his face. Jis name was Juniper- a strange name for a steed of war, but that’s what he was called when he was born, and his rider never changed it.
Women in space, Karen Bush Gibson (206 pages)When Valentina Tereshkova blasted off aboard Vostok 6 on June 16, 1963, she became the first woman to rocket into space. It would be 19 years before another woman got a chance—cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982—followed by American astronaut Sally Ride a year later. By breaking the stratospheric ceiling, these women forged a path for many female astronauts, cosmonauts, and mission specialists to follow. Women in Space profiles 23 pioneers, including Eileen Collins, the first woman to command the space shuttle; Peggy Whitson, who logged more than a year in orbit aboard the International Space Station; and Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space; as well as astronauts from Japan, Canada, Italy, South Korea, France, and more. Readers will also learn about the Mercury 13, American women selected by NASA in the late 1950s to train for spaceflight. Though they matched and sometimes surpassed their male counterparts in performance, they were ultimately denied the opportunity to head out to the launching pad. Their story, and the stories of the pilots, physicists, and doctors who followed them, demonstrate the vital role women have played in the quest for scientific understanding.(Goodreads)
The smart girl’s guide to going vegetarian, Rachel Meltzer Warren (224 pages)What would you love. Love what you eat. No labels. No fuss. It’s not about what you call yourself–it’s about how you feel. Whether you’re going vegan, vegetarian, fish-only, chicken-only, or all veggies except grandma’s famous pigs-in-a-blanket, this book is your new best friend. Eating less meat can boost your energy, help you lose weight, and it’s better for the environment. If you’re looking to cut down on meat or cut it out completely, here you’ll find awesome advice and the answers you need to make it work for you.(Goodreads)
Betty Cornell’s teen-age popularity guide, Betty Cornell (141 pages)Available again for a whole new generation of readers, the original 1950s popularity guide that was the inspiration for teen author Maya Van Wagenen’s memoir Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek! Filled with fun tips and vintage wisdom, Betty Cornell’s Teen-Age Popularity Guide offers advice and guidance for teens who want to be poised, self-confident, and “shiny bright.” Betty covers topics ranging from “Figure Problems,” “Good Grooming,” and “What to Wear Where” to hints on dating, hosting a great party, and becoming “the most popular girl in your set!” (Goodreads)
First lines: I believe in fate. Not everyone does, but after what I’ve experienced because of this book in your hands, I would be crazy not to. This book found my dad years before I was born. I can imagine it, sitting on a cluttered book-shelf at a thrift store, no dust jacket, just a faded, torn, blue cover and a spine that read the name in bold red letters: BETTY CORNELL’S TEEN-AGE POPULARITY GUIDE.
You probably know all about The Hunger Games and Divergent by now, right? And if you’re anything like me, they hooked you right in and you just can’t get enough of those dystopian wastelands. So future, much wow. There are heaps and heaps of really great dystopian novels which lurk in the shadows of their better-know literary cousins, but I’m here to shine a spotlight on a few of them.
Bumped, Megan McCafferty
“In 2036 New Jersey, when teens are expected to become fanatically religious wives and mothers or high-priced Surrogettes for couples made infertile by a widespread virus, sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony find in one another the courage to believe they have choices.” (from library catalogue)
The first in a trilogy, as dystopias tend to be.
Pastworld, Ian Beck
In 2050, Pastworld is a Victorian London themed park where teenaged Caleb meets 17-year-old Eve, who knows nothing of modern life outside Pastworld. They both become entangled in the diabolical plans of a murderer, revealing disturbing facts about the muddy origins of both Caleb and Eve’s lives.
Life As We Knew It, Susan Beth Pfeffer
A meteor hits the moon, throwing it ever so slightly out of sync and causing disastrous havoc for everyone on Earth. Tsunamis, earthquakes and eruptions interrupt every day life what with the moon being out of whack. Told through the diary entries of 16-year-old Miranda, Life As We Knew It explores the struggle of Miranda and her family to survive through this catastrophe.
Wither, Lauren DeStefano
Modern science has turned every living human into a genetic timebomb, with men all dying at age twenty-five and women all dying at age twenty. In these cruel and unusual circumstances, young girls are kidnapped and forced to help repopulate the planet. This is the first in the Chemical Garden trilogy.
Cinder, Marissa Meyer
Cinder crosses a classic fairytale with cyborgs… Cyborg-ella! Cinder is a gifted cyborg mechanic living in New Beijing. She is reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s sudden illness. But when her life becomes entangled with Prince Kai’s, she finds herself forced to confront her own past in order to protect Earth’s future.
Ship Breaker, Paolo Bacigulupi
Teenage Nailer works as a “ship breaker” scavenging copper from grounded oil tankers. But when he finds a beached clipper ship with a girl aboard, Nailer must decide whether to strip the ship of its worth, or save the girl inside. This one is gritty and harsh and completely action-packed. It also has a follow-up companion novel called The Drowned Cities which takes place in the same universe.
There are so many out there, what are your favourite dystopias?
Our graphic novel section is growing bigger by the day! Here are some of my picks, from the historical to the hysterical.
These two graphic novels tell the story of the Boxer rebellion from different points of view. The Boxer Rebellion was a clash between the occupying colonial powers in China and a pro-nationalist and anti-Christian movement that became known as the Boxers. Gene Luen Yang captures the hard lives of the protagonists: Little Bao, who fights for the Boxers, and Vibiana, who is Christian. Both books are heart-breaking stories of people caught up in larger events beyond their control.
The Sixth Gun: Sons of the Gun
This book serves as a stand-alone inthe Sixth Gun series. The Horsemen go their seperate ways, trying to escape the dreadful choices they made. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone who hasn’t read the Sixth Gun series, but for those who have, it’s an interesting look at our primary antagonists. As usual, the artwork is both lush and disturbing, with reddish tones and black shadows predominating. The Sixth Gun was mentioned in one of my earlier blog posts about graphic novels, and is well worth picking up.
Doctor Who: Dead Man’s Hand
Continuing the Western theme, here’s a new adventure featuring the Eleventh Doctor and Clara. They go to Deadwood, a frontier town in 1882, to pay their respects to the famous gunslinger, Wild Bill Hickock. But as always with the Doctor, nothing is as it seems. The town is being terrorized by a sinister, masked gunman. They meet up with real-life figures Calamity Jane and Oscar Wilde, who was on a tour of America at the time. (Bet you didn’t know that!) The art’s decent, but the real star is the story, which clips along in true Doctor Who style.
The thrilling adventure hour
A comic anthology featuring a plethora of awesome stories, by a whole range of different authors and artists. Western, science-fiction, steampunk, superheroes: there’s something here for everyone. The art and writing is consistently amazing, keeping close to the “pulp” feeling of the book. My pick for best story? “Beyond Belief” a screwball comedy about a pair of psychics who keep the various supernatural factions of their city from war in between drinking cocktails and delivering killer quips.
Welcome to the weekend. What to do, what to do?
If you find yourself wandering about Newtown this weekend why not check out Wellington Festival Of Circus? If having clowning & cabaret up in your face isn’t doing it for you maybe Darren Shan could keep you in theme but through the safety of bound text?
If you’re more of a performer then a watcher have you considered entering this years Smokefree Rockquest? It’s the 25th year this right-of-passage is running and man has it fostered all sorts of household name kiwi musicians. Need some inspiration? Here’s a surface scratching list of previous contestants including Kimbra and last years winners New Vinyl. Take yourself on a journey through our CD collection.
The curtain falls on Game Masters at Te Papa this weekend. The amazing exhibition that caters to almost every level of gamer was borrowed from the incredible ACMI in Melbourne’s Federation Square and includes Pacman, Space Invaders and Sonic!
Ever wondered what happens when you wring a soggy towel out in space? Here’s the answer:
– Physics, fascinating!
That’s what’s a going down.