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Tag / YA fiction


Reviewsday: King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

I've been waiting with bated breath to read this book ever since the shock ending of Glass Sword! (For those who haven't read it, avert your eyes and finish it quickly so you know what's going on) I knew it would have to be amazing, thanks to the incredible plot set up by its predecessors, but what I didn't expect was how heavy and intense of a story line it would be.

Mare's captivity under Maven's tyrannous thumb was always going to be hard to read but I felt like it took me forever to get through this book because I had to take frequent breaks - there's a lot of strong emotions bubbling at the surface of this novel, for Mare, her friends and her foes and at times it just got to be too much. It was very cleverly written in that I wanted to keep turning pages to find out what was going to happen next but I personally felt there was little to no relief from the constant turmoil our brave hero experiences.

That being said, the plot overall was rich and engrossing. As well as combing through Mare's struggles as Maven's prisoner, we're given also given insight into the Scarlet Guard's activities during her captivity and boy, oh boy was that an interesting ride as well! If you haven't read this amazing novel yet, pick up a copy ASAP!

 

Reviewsday: Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom

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Eric Lindstrom’s debut young adult novel, Not If I See You First, introduces Parker Grant: sharp-tongued, stiff-spined, and the latest in a line of protagonists who subvert suppositions about the blind.

Blindness has featured in a number of recent novels—the most memorable being Anthony Doerr’s 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller, All the Light We Cannot See, which gave us Parisian Marie-Laure: resilient, resourceful, and blind since she was six years old. Young adult fiction offers, among others, the fragile Emma of Rachel DeWoskin’s Blind, who suddenly (and unrealistically) becomes synesthetic after losing her sight; and the somewhat dependent Laureth of Marcus Sedgwick’s She Is Not Invisible, who, at sixteen, relies on her younger brother to guide her despite being blind since birth.

Refreshingly, Parker’s blindness is not painted as something to overcome in order for her to move forward—which is not to say that DeWoskin’s Emma and Sedgwick’s Laureth are bad or weak representations, but rather, that all people are different, disabled or not. People, as Parker realises, ‘can’t be defined by just one thing’. Sixteen-year-old Parker’s immersive first-person narrative unobtrusively outlines the everyday realities of life without sight: she makes full use of her phone’s assistive technology, ‘taps’ through school hallways with her cane, and browses the internet with speech-to-text software that speaks to her in Stephen Hawking’s voice—‘what better way to learn stuff than hearing it from the smartest guy in the world?’ Of course, people can’t be defined by just one thing, and Parker’s blindness does not limit her to good—or non-destructive—behaviour. She wears outrageous blindfolds as a fashion statement only she can pull off, and she runs each morning without the aid of her cane—‘like the devil’s chasing me’.

Parker’s sense of humour is droll and acerbic by equal turns—she wields her words like weapons, and with good reason. The novel opens in the shadow of her father’s death; her mother was killed eight years prior in the car accident that took Parker’s sight. Her first and last relationship ended three years ago due to a breach of trust that nearly destroyed her. And, as her best friend Sarah exasperatedly notes, ‘one of the unexpected side effects of Parker going blind was how she got… less and less sensitive about what she said to people because she couldn’t see them flinch’. At times, Parker is not an easy protagonist—or person—to love. She makes her way through the world with a ‘get them before they get me’ mentality—an attitude that, in her perception, hasn’t failed her yet. Readers will quickly realise, however, that this is not the case.

Inadvertently an unreliable narrator, Parker’s struggle towards self-awareness drives the novel forward in lurches and false starts. Unsurprisingly given its classification as a young adult novel, the intricacies and politics of high school life are at the forefront of Not If I See You First: Parker needs to re-establish her identity during an influx of new students, she and Sarah are ‘frenemies’ (or ‘enemends’) with one of the most popular girls in school, and she must negotiate the possibility of joining the track team and being seen running in public. To make things more complicated, Parker finds herself on shaky ground when the boy who broke her heart three years ago returns just as she thinks she’s ready to move on.

Due to pop-cultural osmosis, Australian readers will have little to no trouble recognising the novel’s American tropes and stereotypes. But Not If I See You First dismantles these tropes and destabilises these stereotypes, challenging readers’ expectations of popular girls, mean girls, fat girls, and jocks. The novel’s supporting characters are fully realised and fleshed out—an impressive feat given than their characterisation relies almost entirely on dialogue. Likely to the delight of some readers (myself included), Parker’s love interests are overshadowed by the liveliness and tenacity of her friends. PVP (Person who is Very Popular) Faith offers a gentle voice of reason that unfortunately goes unheard for most of the novel, new student Molly—Parker’s designated study buddy—stops holding her tongue when it comes to Parker’s bluntness, and best friend Sarah (affectionately referred to as Sarah ‘Sweatpants’ Gunderson more than once) is a joy to read and know; her stalwart loyalty and self-sacrifice make her more than worthy of the love that Parker has for her. It is through these relationships—and others based on platonic love—that Parker grows, flourishes, and makes peace with her dead.

Not If I See You First is more than a novel about a girl who is blind—it can’t be defined by just one thing. Parker’s story is one of grief, resilience, trust, and most importantly, friendship. ‘I think about how when I first lost my sight’, she recalls, ‘some kids asked me how I knew when I woke up in the morning if I couldn’t open my eyes and see anything. I should have realized then just how steep a hill I had to climb.’ No matter how steep the hill, Parker does not have to climb alone, and by the end of the novel, readers will want to climb—no, run—with her.

~ Shastra

QBD Reviews: “Chopsticks” by Jessica Anthony & Rodrigo Corral

9781595144355When a young piano prodigy by the name of Gloria “Glory” Fleming disappears, the whole country wonders where she has gone. Told through a series of photographs, documents and drawings, readers experience the story of Glory’s blossoming relationship with her new artistic neighbour, Francisco “Frank” Mendoza. How did their relationship lead to Gloria’s disappearance? And where did she go?
This debut novel, Chopsticks is quite an eye opening book as you read from the perspective of both Frank and Glory, who come from different lifestyles but both go through moments of pressure, love and loss. It’s amazing to see the similarities between their experiences that bring them closer together. A heart warming story filled with beautiful art works, CD track lists, instant messenger conversations and emotional photographs. It is definitely a different way of reading a novel as the reader needs to analyse each image and document to completely follow the story. It is also a very interactive experience with Youtube links as well as references to books, movies and music.
A great book about following ones heart while battling all the obstacles along the way. A must read for those who enjoy young adult contemporary novels filled with romance as well as heart ache.

QBD Reviews: The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward

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In the magical world of Nova, the population is split into the Talented (those with magical abilities), and normal people. The Royal family, of course, is Talented. When Princess Evelyn accidentally poisons herself with a love potion meant for her crush, the Kingdom is thrown into disarray. A 'Wilde Hunt' is called and great riches and power will befall the alchemist clever enough to devise a cure.

Samantha Kemi, an apprentice alchemist, is ready to take up the Hunt. Hailing from one of the oldest alchemical dynasties in Nova, she is desperate to modernise the failing family business and give her Talented sister a good education. To do so, all she needs to do is divine what rare ingredients the Princess used for her potion, travel to the far reaches of the world to get them, and beat out her family's arch-nemesis ZoroAster Corp, while avoiding the weirdly-adoring gaze of the dashing Zain Aster. What could be easier?

Zain Aster has been dragged into the Hunt by his father. As leaders of ZoroAster Corp, the largest synthetic potions company in Nova, and personal physicians to the royal family, they have a responsibility to win the Hunt, or lose face. Constantly confronting danger & the alchemist-with-attitude Sam Kemi, Zain desperately wants to save his close friend, Princess Evelyn, but are other feelings getting in his way?

Just to add to the pressure the Hunt is being followed by everyone and is plastered all over social media. In the race to cure the Princess, can Sam find the cure and win the boy's heart?

The Potion Diaries (also known as Madly in the USA) is a quick, fun, light-hearted read that just makes you smile. Aimed at the younger end of Young Adult readers it has all the thrills of The Amazing Race, with a magical twist. Samantha Kemi is strong, smart, talented and resourceful. I haven't enjoyed a female character so much since Harry Potter's Hermione.

Perfect for ages 12+

What is the 5th wave?

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The much-anticipated movie adaptation of Rick Yancey's novel, The 5th Wave,  opens in cinemas around Australia TODAY. Just ICYMI, here's the basic plotline:

The 1st Wave took out half a million people.

The 2nd Wave put that number to shame.

The 3rd Wave lasted a little longer. Twelve weeks . . . Four billion dead.

In the 4th Wave you can't trust that people are still people.

And the 5th Wave? No one knows. But it's coming.

On a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs. Runs from the beings that only look human, who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan may be her only hope.

An absolute heart pounding read! When you read from Cassie's perspective, it's hard not to believe that aliens have taken over the Earth and the end of the world is upon us. Twists and turns kept me reading all through the night, and even after the last page I was begging Yancey for more. This book will not disappoint anyone who likes a bit of action, love and mystery, just be prepared for a sleepless night! - Chey, QBD Hornsby

Are you going to read it before you see it? We can't get enough of it! And Book 2, The Inifinite Sea is released on 18th January- so you don't have to sit biting your fingernails, waiting to find out what happens!