Wellington City Libraries

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Teen Blog

Reading, Wellington, and whatever else – teenblog@wcl.govt.nz

Category: Julie

Best of 2011: Julie’s Picks

2011 is nearly over, so we thought we’d ask some library staff what their favourite books of the year were. Here are the first reviews of an interesting, ecclectic bunch!

Naked, Kevin Brooks

London 1976, during the height of IRA bombings and the emergence of the punk scene, teenagers Lili and Curtis are living their dream by playing in their punk band called ‘Naked’.

William Bonney, a Belfast boy joins the band as guitarist and Lili is immediately drawn to him. She finds herself caught up in his Irish past which inevitably follows him to London. This is a characteristically gripping novel from Kevin Brooks.

Out of Shadows, Jason Wallace

This is the story of Robert Jacklin a thirteen year old boy who arrives from England to Zimbabwe at the end of the civil war – Robert Mugabe has just taken over as president. Robert is sent to a very traditional boy’s boarding school where bullying is rife and he quickly learns that instead of remaining friends with one of the school’s few black students it is in his interests to be loyal to the white elite. Over his five years at the school he turns into a thug’s accessory and chooses to ignore his own morals.

The story turns into a fast paced thriller as Robert’s mentor becomes more and more focused on achieving what he think is right.

Author, Jason Wallace grew up in post revolutionary Zimbabwe so the portrayal of the boarding school and political climate is very real. While in many ways it left me feeling shocked it was a very powerful novel.

~ Julie

What I’ve been reading

I have just had three weeks off so finally a chance to lie on the beach and read through the pile of books that have been sitting on my must read list. These are the books that have stood out for me when reading the many reviews before making the decision to buy or not to buy.  It would be great to know what you think….

Trash, Andy Mulligan

In an unnamed third world country three young teens, Rat, Raphael, and Gardo live with thousands of other kids in a garbage dump. They dig through the rubbish looking for anything that could be profitable. One day Raphael unearths a leather bag containing a map, a wallet and a key. Keeping the discovery secret from the police the three boys soon find themselves in a mission involving a secret code, a corrupt politician and a search for six million dollars. The adventure is told through the voice of all characters, including their thoughts, feelings and perspective.

A gripping adventure story while also giving an insight into the lack of social justice that exists in parts of the world. If you enjoyed Slumdog millionaire give this a go.

 Unhooking the moon, Gregory Hughes

This is the author’s first novel and has won the Booktrust teenage prize!

It is a very unique story of two teenage orphans, Bob and his sister Marie Claire aka Rat who travel from Canada to New York in search of their uncle. Rat is a funny, football playing, singing, dancing and psychic ten year old and I was entranced.  Bob is her older brother and takes on the role of protector of his ‘crazy’ sister. The story follows the two through New York where they come across some very interesting characters including a drug dealer, up and coming rap-star and thieves. While the story itself is a page turner, for me this book was all about the characters. I would be keen to know what you think!

Boys don’t cry, Malorie Blackman

While Dante is waiting for his A level results he gets an unexpected visit from ex girlfriend, Melanie and her baby Emma. Her reason for the visit is to leave the baby in Dante’s care. All of a sudden Dante’s life is turned upside down as comes to grips with fatherhood at seventeen. As a sub plot Dante learns to accept his sixteen year old brother Adam’s homosexuality. This a genuinely moving story, that explores topics not widely covered in teen fiction.

Annexed, Sharon Dogar

Most of us know Anne Frank’s story, however this is a novel written from Peter’s point of view, who is also hiding in the annexe with his mother and father. When the story commences Peter is irritated by Anne but finds himself falling in love with her. As a result of his confinement Peter begins to question his religion, wondering why being Jewish has inspired such hatred. Anne’s diary ends in August 1944, however in ‘Annexed’ Peter’s story continues on beyond their betrayal and into the Nazi concentration camp.

While there has been controversy surrounding this book I found it powerful and engrossing.