I was pretty excited when I heard that this book was like Terminator meets X-Men. What a premise! Luckily, Monster Republic delivered the non-stop act...moreI was pretty excited when I heard that this book was like Terminator meets X-Men. What a premise! Luckily, Monster Republic delivered the non-stop action promised, and moved along at a very quick speed. As a bonus, Random House have included a few pages of art at the back, which made imagining the characters and settings that much easier.
Cameron is a normal teenage boy, with the usual mix of secondary school friends, and the hots for a girl in his year. He's not a character that stood out to me at first, but all that changed when he woke up after surviving an explosion at a power plant. He became a leader, a warrior, and someone to be feared. Cameron's new life as part-machine, part-boy struck me as a metaphor for growing up, with his new responsibilities and decision making teaching him some valuable life lessons.
Rora, a fellow member of the Monster Republic for rejects, is a good match for Cameron, and takes him under her wing. She comes across as the leader of the group, and risks a lot when she decides to trust Cameron. Carla, a mish-mash of machine parts and students, plays the main villain well, even though she coincidentally always turns up at the right place at the right time.
Monster Republic didn't hook me immediately, and it took me quite a while to warm to it. I felt detached from most of the characters, which I think is down to me not being able to easily empathise with their situation. I did enjoy all the action scenes, and the story itself was fantastic, but for me it just had that special ingredient missing. (less)
Laura Summers brings the subject of disability to the forefront, in her critically acclaimed debut novel Desperate Measures. Told from the perspective...moreLaura Summers brings the subject of disability to the forefront, in her critically acclaimed debut novel Desperate Measures. Told from the perspectives of twins Vicky and Rihanna, the story takes us on a journey across the UK, and to a place where both girls, along with their brother Jamie, finally feel at home.
Vicky and Rihanna are very well written, with both girls dealing with Rihanna's disability in different ways. Vicky is her primary carer, and has more responsibility than she should. She's loyal to her sister, and is willing to put her own life on hold to help her. Rihanna is innocent and young for her age, and often doesn't understand simple concepts such as death. It's hard work for the children, and the lack of a stable home life makes things even more difficult.
Although the characterisation and topics explored are hard to find fault with, I did have some trouble with the plot. I found it fairly hard to believe that three children would be able to run away, and get as far as they did with hardly any money or supplies. I thought the people they encountered would have used common sense and alerted the police of their whereabouts, rather than send them on their merry way with some advice and well wishes.
I can see why Desperate Measures has been so highly regarded, as it really will make teenagers think about disability, and what it's like for the families involved. I'm looking forward to seeing what Summers writes next, and I'm sure she has a long and successful career ahead of her.(less)
I'm nowhere near the target age for this book, but I absolutely loved it! It's such an enjoyable read, with very funny dialogue and brilliant artwork,...moreI'm nowhere near the target age for this book, but I absolutely loved it! It's such an enjoyable read, with very funny dialogue and brilliant artwork, which is drawn by Rachel Renee Russell herself. While reading Nikki's diary entries, I cringed, I laughed out loud, and I relived a few of my own disastrous school days as a 14-year-old. Traumatising, I know.
Dork Diaries chronicles Nikki Maxwell's experiences at a new school, through notes, daily diary entries, doodles and drawings. Her embarrassing stories are there for everyone to read (and see!), as well as her feud with mean girl MacKenzie and crush on budding photographer Brandon. Her new best friends Chloe and Zoey -- self-confessed bookworms -- are great supporting characters, and provide Nikki with some much needed life advice.
Russell has her writing spot-on when it comes to her target market, with lots of teen slang, believable scenarios and contemporary references. Oh, and anyone who can make a poem ('The Biology of my Heartbreak') about a dead frog make me laugh for ten minutes deserves a comedy award. Of course, there's room for improvement: more character development, less use of capitals and no algebra problems (eurgh!) would be top of my list, though these minor complaints are nothing to write home about.
As the front of the book says, it's Diary of a Wimpy Kid for girls, but it also reminded me of a US version of Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging. It's almost as funny, and definitely just as awkward. I loved the format, I loved the artwork, I loved the story, and I can't wait for Dork Diaries: Party Time, which is published later in the year. (less)
When I first received a copy of Pretty Bad Things, I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was what I'd learnt from the cover: it was something to do...moreWhen I first received a copy of Pretty Bad Things, I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was what I'd learnt from the cover: it was something to do with siblings, Vegas and a gun. Quite a random mix, eh? Pretty Bad Things does feature two twins, it's set in Las Vegas and, yes, a firearm enters the equation. In addition to this, it's also about sacrifice and love, and the lengths people will go to to be reunited with those closest to them.
C. J. Skuse's writing is among the best I've read in the past few years, and her words are brimming with snark, wit and humour. I laughed out loud plenty of times, usually at something the ever observant Paisley came out with -- that girl can talk her way out of anything, whether it be a robbery or an arson attempt. She's the complete opposite to her brother, Beau, who is quiet for the most part, though he does step up and come out of his shell as the book progresses. Buddy is also an interesting character, and is one I'm hoping to see more of in the future. As a father, he's been pretty absent for most of Paisley and Beau's lives, but their bond is still there and, in true fatherly fashion, he'd do anything for them.
The Vegas backdrop is a brilliant setting, with lights and glamour par for the course on The Strip. I've never seen Vegas in real life, and I doubt I ever will (scared of flying), so I was fascinated to read about it in such detail. I came away feeling like I'd been living in a seedy hotel and walking down the dingy back alleys late at night, just like Paisley and Beau. Skuse definitely has a skill when it comes to scene setting, and I've been listening to The Killers all day in response. They're the best thing to come out of Vegas, in my opinion!
Pretty Bad Things is cool, edgy and daring. It's one of those books I couldn't put down, and it's one of those debuts that deserves a place on the YA map of fame. I'm so excited to see what this author writes next, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed it will feature Paisley and Beau. They are two rockin' dudes! (less)
Dark Life is a fantastic, original piece of storytelling that is both engaging and ambitious. It's told from a male perspective, which I loved, and fe...moreDark Life is a fantastic, original piece of storytelling that is both engaging and ambitious. It's told from a male perspective, which I loved, and features an underwater world that was completely new to me.
When whole continents were destroyed by rising oceans, Ty and his family formed a settlement underwater, and forged an existence as farmers. Those still living on land above were named Topsiders, and very rarely ventured below the ocean waves. This is the whole basis for Dark Life, and I personally think it's a brilliantly realised idea. Ty and his family and friends all live in what I can only describe as a real-life fish tank, complete with houses, animals and every sea creature you can possibly think of. I must admit, I could never, ever live like that, as sharks and jellyfish aren't my idea of a good time. I really admired the life Ty's family created for themselves, though, and I loved how they became a part of the ocean community.
With so many new ideas and structures being described in Dark Life, I found the visualisation process quite difficult. I wasn't familiar with a lot of the constructions and transport, so seeing them in my head was a bit of an exercise in imagination. This isn't always my strong point, but it did get easier as the book progressed, and I got used to what Falls was talking about. She had some wonderful concepts, each one better than the last.
Ty's narration was my favourite part of Dark Life. I'm a big fan of male narration, and it's something I don't think we see enough of. I went into the book thinking it would be from Gemma's perspective, but was pleasantly surprised to find out different. Ty is a great character: he's brave, intelligent and oddly innocent, thanks to his life below land. Like everyone, he has secrets he's desperately trying to hide, and his revelations along the way were surpising, if a little expected every now and then. Gemma makes a good friend for him, and together they embark on a journey of friendship, adventure and danger - the latter being no thanks to creepy villain Shade.
The world Falls created within Dark Life's deep oceans blew me away, and I can't wait to see the story in movie form. Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down, and that's testament to the great writing and storytelling within its pages. As Gemma would say, it's "glacial"! (less)
Demon Strike is a really fun read that I think will appeal to all ages. It's humorous, exciting and fast-paced, and full of characters that I would lo...moreDemon Strike is a really fun read that I think will appeal to all ages. It's humorous, exciting and fast-paced, and full of characters that I would love to meet!
Alannah and Worley are the coolest 12-year-old ghostbusters I've ever read about. Alannah is headstrong and feisty, whereas Worley is more on the timid and quiet side of things. Don't let that fool you, though, because if he needs to, he can kick some gargoyle ass! New friends Flhi, Yell and Gloom, members of A.N.G.E.L. (Attack-ready Network of Global Evanescent Law-enforcers - clever idea, yes?), are my favourite though, especially Gloom. He's so pessimistic and negative, and always offers his depressing thoughts on things. Gloom and Worley's dialogue kept me laughing constantly, and I hope we'll be seeing a lot more from them in the rest of the series.
Rather than the more popular vampires and werewolves, the baddies in Demon Strike are gargoyles and ghouls. And I don't mean cute little gargoyles, I mean really ugly, nasty ones that would gladly gobble you up whole. It's lucky Alannah and Co. are on the case, or I think earth's population would definitely be significantly smaller. It's so refreshing to read about different supernatural creatures, even if they aren't of the attractive, seductive variety. It's good to have a change! At times I did think the pace of certain chapters got a bit slow, and I found my concentration wandering away. I also didn't connect with the main characters as much as I wanted to, though I still really liked them.
12-year old boys will think they've hit the jackpot when they read Demon Strike, and girls will no doubt appreciate the two strong female characters. Newbound writes in a highly accessible style, and his debut novel is a pleasure to read. I'll definitely be back for the next book! (less)