Did you know? In fact, we’re almost half way through New Zealand Book Month! Exciting stuff! So have you read any homegrown authors? Been to any events? If you answered no to both questions then never fear, there’s plenty more happening and you can find out about it here. Perhaps that seminar on writing YA fiction at the Children’s Bookshop in Kilbirnie on Sunday 24th of March is for you. In the meantime we bring you a spotlight on the wonderful Karen Healey. If you’re an aspiring writer yourself then I urge you to check out her website FAQ page which is full of useful hints and tips. And then read her books for inspiration!
Guardian of the Dead is her debut novel and won a whole lot of awards. It’s easy to understand why because there is so much to love about this book! The heroine, Ellie Spencer, is just like any other teenager at her boarding school. She hangs out with her best friend Kevin, she obsesses over Mark, a cute and mysterious bad boy, and her biggest worry is her paper deadline. But then everything changes. The news headlines are all abuzz about a local string of serial killings that all share the same morbid trademark: the victims were discovered with their eyes missing. Soon, Ellie finds herself plunged into a haunting world of vengeful fairies, Maori mythology, romance, betrayal, and an epic battle for immortality. Throughout all of this Ellie remains one of the most calm and collected heroine’s we’ve ever encountered. She’s on a mission to save the world which drastically changes her life clearly, but it doesn’t derail it. Instead, Ellie keeps going, gets excited about going to university and majoring in Classics. She simply takes all that she’s learned from these life-changing events with her, because that’s what smart girls do. And we love her for it.
The Shattering introduces us to another fantastic heroine. Keri is still in shock from her older brother’s suicide when her former bff Janna suggests that perhaps it wasn’t suicide but murder. Sceptical but hopeful, Keri agrees to meet with her and Sione to talk about this possibility (apparently Janna’s older brother Schulyer’s suicide started a pattern of one male per year killing himself, the link being age and that they were in Summertown for New Year’s Eve). The three start to investigate and discover something’s Not Quite Right with the town, and some of the townspeople. While some of the reveals were obvious, there were enough surprises to keep us interested. What we loved in both these book is that Karen Healey addresses issues of race but it’s not the focus. Somehow along the way she gets us to consider the context of Maori myths. Did the colonials impact their written recording for example? Mostly though, The Shattering, is an incredibly engaging mystery with a New Zealand flavour.
When We Wake is set in Australia but we’ll forgive it because this book is, quite simply, stunning. As well as shifting in setting When We Wake falls into a different genre. Sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl living in 2027 – she’s happiest when playing the guitar, she’s falling in love for the first time, and she’s joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world: environmental collapse, social discrimination, and political injustice. But on what should have been the best day of Tegan’s life, she dies–and wakes up a hundred years in the future, locked in a government facility with no idea what happened. Tegan is the first government guinea pig to be cryonically frozen and successfully revived, which makes her an instant celebrity – even though all she wants to do is try to rebuild some semblance of a normal life. But the future isn’t all she hoped it would be, and when appalling secrets come to light, Tegan must make a choice: Does she keep her head down and survive, or fight for a better future?
If you still don’t believe us then check out the book trailer here although you’ll have to look past the American accent. That handy link will take you to Karen Healey’s website, did we mention that you should check it out already? Yes, yes we did and we’ll do it some more because it’s that good.
Hope you’re reading some New Zealand authors this month!
R n R