Want a great read? Our team at Miranda have some great suggestions!
The Troop by Nick Cutter:
The Troop is the first horror novel from Nick Cutter, a psuedonym for critically acclaimed novelist Craig Davidson (Rust & Bone, The Fighter). It’s a simple set-up: a group of boy scouts and their guide head out to an island for their annual three day camping trip. Things begin to take a turn for the worst when an an emaciated and extremely sick stranger stumbles into camp. The group soon discover the island has been quarantined and they realise there is something with them on the island that is not about to let them go without a fight.
Taking his cues from old school horror novels of the 1980’s, Cutter writes visceral and unsettling body horror. To say too much would give away the thrill of discovering this horror gem for the first time. Though there are some sequences in this novel that will be forever etched into your brain, the most disturbing part of Cutter’s story is the psychological element. Thrown into extraordinary circumstances, the boys start to turn against one another, and a member of the group seizes the opportunity to use the harrowing situation as his own personal petrie dish. The results are disturbing to say the least. Recommended for any horror fan, The Troop also draws parallels to William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and early Stephen King. If skin-crawling horror isn’t your thing, give Cutter’s second novel The Deep a try. Set in a scientific research facility 8km under the surface of the ocean, it is as terrifying as The Troop with more of a focus on the psychological elements – and one of the most claustrophobic literary experiences I can recall.
If I haven’t convinced you, this quote from the king of horror himself will: “The Troop scared the hell out of me, and I couldn’t put it down…Not for the faint-hearted, but for the rest of us sick puppies, it’s a perfect gift for a winter night”. – Glenn (Store Manager)
Feed by M. T. Anderson:
Feed is one of the most fascinating YA dystopian novels I have ever read. It is disturbing, uncomfortable and utterly heart shattering. In the best way possible. And you should definitely read it. The book is based in the United States, where the majority of the characters are inundated with the feednet, accessed by a device implanted in the brain. The feed allows the characters to shop online (monitored by corporations), speak to each other telepathically, and share memories. School has become trademarked, language has completely disintegrated, and bodies are deteriorating from environmental pollution caused by the dominant corporations.
The story begins with Titus and his friends going on a casual trip to the moon, which, naturally, is a total bore. While off- planet, he meets Violet, a girl who is disenchanted by the feed. Back on Earth, she encourages Titus to resist the feed by contradicting their consumer profiles—with disastrous consequences. Anderson weaves a masterful satire, hailing the feed as a gross act of consumption that encourages apathy, while deflecting from a decaying language and world. In contrast, the aural nature of the descriptive passages are mesmerising—a result, no doubt, of the verbal world becoming obsolete. Feed is a novel that encourages a harrowing introspection of one’s responsibility in the possibility of this imagined world. – Rachel
Extraordinary Means by Robin Schneider:
Extraordinary Means is one of those contemporary YA’s that make you fall in love while simultaneously breaking your heart. Built on the premise of the fictitious Total-Drug Resistant Tuberculous we meet the main character Lane. Lane is sent to Latham house in what he believes is a death sentence to less the burden of his parents. That is, of course, until he meets Sadie. An old camp mate who has been at Latham so long she doesn’t dream of home. Along with her band of rebellious misfits, Sadie shows Lane the importance of living each moment to its fullest without hesitant.
Schneider expertly forms these loveable yet equally complex characters and relationships that you can’t help but fall for. The alternative view points only enhance this effect as you form a greater attachment to the characters and their budding relationships. While dealing with a heavy subject matter (that is in no way romanticised), the book has elements of light and humour which make Lane and Sadie real in a way that is unique to find in books. You are with them each step of the way, through the brilliant highs and the tragic lows.
Ultimately, this book is a must read for any fans of John Green or Sarah Dessen. Littered with pop-culture references and issues that people who have experience teenage ages will love and understand. It’s beautiful cover, beautiful characters and beautiful writing and make it truly extraordinary. – Tori
Room by Emma Donoghue:
Never before have I read a book from the perspective of a five year old boy. I was completely hooked on little Jack and his remarkable way of looking at the world and everyday objects in it. His brutal honesty and fascinating imagination make him, in my humble opinion, one of the most inspiring literary characters ever created.
Room, written by Emma Donoghue, takes its readers to a frightening place: an enclosed space known only as “Room” and simultaneously comforts them by the inclusion of the bond between Jack and his ‘Ma’, who attempt to live a normal life despite the horrifying circumstances of their home.
When quick thinking and determination become the catalysts for rebirth into society, Jack and Ma struggle to understand and experience the world around them, often using their preconceived beliefs as arguments for the way life should be. Jack cannot grasp the implications of his actions or the perceptions of others and requires guidance through interacting with the “real” world.
Donoghue teaches her readers to not take the world for granted and highlights the importance of imagination and drive when faced with the impossible. She also hints at the explicitness of parenting and how repetition and the familiar sometimes have to be sacrificed in order to experience change and beneficial happiness.
I have never experienced reading a book the way I did with Room, and I don’t think I ever will again. I read it in two days and it left an immediate impression upon me for days after I was finished. There isn’t any doubt why this book was shortlisted for both Man Booker Prize and the Orange Prize, and I definitely don’t doubt how much you’ll enjoy reading it.
Looking to experience something real but out of this world? Then Room is for you. – Ellie
Breathing Under Water by Sophie Hardcastle:
Sophie Hardcastle’s debut YA contemporary novel is both beautifully written and compelling. It’s definitely one of my top picks for the year!
“I stroke up to the line-up, weak with jelly limbs, sit up on my board and wipe matted hair from my skin. My feet dangle from my board, swaying with the gentle currents. Tonight a crescent moon rests on dark water.”
The story begins centred on Grace and Ben, twins who love to surf; though Grace seems to be obscured by her brother’s success. Their relationship is a complex one, and Hardcastle has captured their personalities and the different characters in their family so well. But this is a story which has so many more dimensions to it. There’s a depth of insight into how people are affected by grief, and friendships are tested when the unthinkable happens. When reading it, you can’t help but be inextricably drawn into the lives of the Walker family and those around them. There is a warmth to this narrative, which flows with an emotional tide leading to a heartfelt end. In all, I’d definitely recommend Breathing Under Water, especially for fans of One by Sarah Crossan and I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson. – Eugenia
I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes:
If you’re looking for a book to lose yourself in, this is it! This epic thriller follows the adventures of the alias-shifting narrator, a former intelligence agent with a haunted past. He thinks he has retired, but the world of international affairs requires his wealth of knowledge. With this book you get two thrillers for the price of one with the narrator chasing a ruthless killer and a malicious scientist. The mysterious and clever scientist has his sights set on global destruction.
If you’re thinking this is sounding a little far-fetched, fear not because Hayes handles his subject with sophistication and a flair for subtly building tension. It’s difficult to believe this is his debut novel, he is already a master of the craft. He gives just enough details of his characters to keep you interested without giving away all of the mystery. He creates a rich tapestry of intrigue that keeps you engrossed and on the edge of your seat until the very end.
This massive book is worth taking on, it is so well-researched and well-written, staying with me months after I finished reading it. It is sublime, a thriller to rule over all others. – Meagan
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline:
This is by far one of the greatest Sci-Fi novels I have ever read. It is set in a dystopian future where famine, poverty and disease has striken the earth. We meet a teenager named Wade Watts who spends the majority of his life growing up in a fully immersive MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online). However, the games developer and creator has just died and left his billions to the first person to find all the easter eggs that he has placed in the world of OASIS. Littered with pop-culture, gaming and 1980’s references throughout, this is a nostalgic and addictive read.
With Steven Spielberg currently working on the film adaptation, there’s no better time to throw yourself into this unique world. – Sami
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