Jahnine is 16 years old and in her own words “as white as they come”. Her mother Maggie is in hospital dieing of cancer and being looked after by her wayward sister Trina.
The family have plenty of history but the thing that really matters is the Patu that they have had in the family since their great grandfather acquired it during the Land wars. The family feel that they are cursed and Maggie wants to return it to the rightful owners. Maggie feels her own cancer is related to possession of the Patu and Jahnine vows to return it.
In the quest to return the Patu< Jahnine meets a disturbed Maori boy called Andy who at first takes the Patu, then leads her to meet his family and this is where the action starts.
With his brother Jimmy, a handsome Maori boy who the girls love, with five illigitimate children and no direction in life. Jimmy’s girlfriend Piki who has two children of her own and is still only 18 years old, Sid a follower and wastrel who is always under the influence of something. Jahnine and Andy join this crew in a journey south in a crapped out car to seek information on how to find the real owners of the Patu.
The road trip is a life changing experience. But are they taking the Patu home or is it leading them.
Powerful story with strong themes about the alienation of maori city youth from their culture. Mainly for high school students and well worth a read.
Reviewed by Bob Docherty. Review taken with kind permission from http://bobsbooksnz.wordpress.com.
A powerful novel told in letters from 18 year old Jack to his younger brother Tom from the battlefields of France and Belgium during World War 1.
Sandy McKay has shown the contrasting situations of the men in the trenches and how the war was portrayed by the Political leaders and the press at the time. The letters reflect this astonishing difference.
Tom’s letters from home are almost “boys own” in content and opinion. War is like a game, like hunting rabbits. You know however that this was the naive spirit and innocent enthusiasm that took young men to the battlefields of Europe for King and Country.
Jack’s letters start out with that innocence and enthusiasm. The big adventure, can’t wait to get their before it is all over, lets give the Hun a taste of their own medicine. Then the realities hit in as the slaughter begins. The men knew their leaders and decision makers were useless. They couldn’t do anything about it through fear of being shot as traitors. They took it and thousands were slaughtered for nothing.
It bothers me that Kiwi soldiers were paid less than the Aussies but more than the British. What cost a life?
Sandy McKay tells this story with class. Let the reader decide. To make the story more powerful she includes newspaper articles about the battles, about conscientious objectors and everything that was going on at home.
The last 15 pages will wrench your heart out.
Reviewed by Bob Docherty. Review taken with kind permission from http://bobsbooksnz.wordpress.com.
Sam Kinnison is a geek, and he’s totally fine with that. He has his horror movies, his nerdy friends, World of Warcraft – and until Princess Leia turns up in his bedroom, he doesn’t have to worry about girls.
Then Sam meets Camilla. She’s beautiful, friendly and completely irrelevant to his life. Sam is determined to ignore her, except that Camilla has a life of her own – and she’s decided that he’s going to be part of it.
Sam believes that everything he needs to know he can learn from the movies … but now it looks like he’s been watching the wrong ones.
Reviewed by Zac Harding. Review taken with kind permission from http://www.bestfriendsrbooks.com.
Jasmine is out to shock. Electric clothes, electrichair, wired behaviour: anything to get approval from the cool kids at school - and admit it, Jaz - to force her parents to take notice. Preoccupied with their own problems, her parents can't see how Jaz's desire to fit in is spinning her out over the edge. Somtimes - hard to confess to her new friends - the only real support Jaz gets is from Gi-Gi, her great-grandmother. You might say Gi-Gi has a kind of sixth sense. She's given Jaz a diary of their ancestor Maggie, to read aloud during their weekly visits. Maggie, at the same age as Jaz, had to migrate from the Shetland Islands with her family. Where to? Nineteenth-century Stewart Island - a wild, lonely, brutal place, that tested Maggie's spirit sorley. Her diary seems to speak directly to Jaz with dazzling clarity
Maggie and Jaz were born 150 years apart, but they look and act almost as if there were twins. This story covers a year in the lives of both teenage girls and during that time Jaz discovers just how Maggie reacted to challenges, just as she must too. Jaz lives in pre-quake Christchurch, while Maggie sails from distant Shetland close to the Arctic circle, all the way to Stewart Island where the next stop is Antarctica. Out of Tune is a colourful story of two girls, who belong to their own worlds yet have an uncanny connection.
Reviewed by Ruth Williamson.
Fleur Beale’s historical novel A Respectable Girl made the Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction list
Hannah, of Pakeha background, but with a Maori step-mother and half-brother, has grown up in New Plymouth which by 1859 becomes very the battlefield between settlers and Maori.
Partly because they are torn between the two cultures, partly to find out secrets about their dead mother’s past, Hannah and her twin brother flee the colony and board a ship to England.
This is when novel develops some aspects of the 19th century English melodrama: class distinction, missing heirs, a dastardly rogue threatening a maiden’s virtue, the importance of respectability for a young woman, the need to make a good marriage.
However, the protagonist is far too feisty and clever to play the part of a swooning heroine and confronts class prejudice, sexism, dishonour and poverty with courage. She appears a decidedly modern, somewhat anachronistic character whereas her brother plays second fiddle throughout.
Full of action, danger and adventures this is an enjoyable read.
Reviewed by Anneke a Campo.
Brian Falkner won the Julius Vogel Award for Young Adult Science Fiction with his novel Brainjack.
This action-packed page-turner is set in the USA, sometime in the future, after Las Vegas has been destroyed in a terrorist attack. Helicopters patrol the skies over New York City. Online gaming is the most dangerous - often fatal - drug around. In this dystopic near-future, neuro-headsets have replaced computer keyboards with access to the Internet at the speed of thought.
Teen hacker Sam Wilson covets a headset and acquires one for himself and his friend through hacking a huge corporation and placing an order. He is not quite as clever as he thinks and his hacking of the world’s largest telecommunications company has him nabbed by the cyber-defence network, which recruits him.
As he becomes more familiar with the neuro-headsets, he realises the obvious, terrifying truth: if all computers are vulnerable to hacking, what happens when one’s mind is linked to the system? Could it too be hijacked? Of course the answer is yes. With almost the entire cyber-defense team hooked up, how is Sam to stay alive to free his hijacked colleagues who are doing their best to kill him?
This thriller asks serious questions about where technology can lead and about the power of artificial intelligence. It convincingly describes the dangers of a society utterly dependent on interconnected computers.
Reviewed by Anneke a Campo.
This is a fast-paced and compelling novel with twists and turns that keep surprising the reader. The story is set in New Zealand and deals with the issue of bullying. The protagonists Mark and Nicole are portrayed realistically and the development of their characters throughout the story reveal the novel’s themes of young people fitting in with family and peers, moral choices, betrayal and loyalty, victims and bullies.
Mark no longer feels that he fits in when his passion for photography sets him apart from old friends. Despite this he has the courage to be different and pursue his art. He has to learn that his passion can cause grief if he does not follow the key rule laid down by his parents, who were professional photographers: don’t photograph what people want to keep to themselves. Mark upsets Nicole with his photography, making her feel even more a victim than she already does. Nicole has plenty of reason to feel victimised and she is helpless until she finally is heard and believed, gets help, becomes proactive and takes charge of her life.
The novel looks at bullying in almost all its forms, including the thoughtless acts of otherwise good people. As well as parental bullying and artistic stalking, the story describes malicious stalking, violent physical bullying and the passive bullying by bystanders. The book pre-dates email and Facebook which means cyber-bullying is not covered.
The story examines the effects of bullying on the victims and looks at reasons why people bully. Most interestingly, the novel unflinchingly describes how the very people who should try to put a stop to bullying – parents and teachers - prefer to hide their eyes and pretend it does not take place.
This is one crazy story. Kane is 15 years old, he has a best mate called Jase, a girl friend Pippa who makes him sweat with desire, a mother who is a TV celebrity as a dog whisperer and he is allergic to dogs.
Kane likes to make girls laugh but he can’t get a girlfriend to lock lips with. He fancies Pippa but she seems more keen on his mate Jase.
While on a shoot with his mother he is licked on the hand by a hairy man and bitten on the bum by a dog while relieving himself in a creek. After an embarrassing appearance on his mother’s tv show he declines into absurd behaviour.
Kane feels he is turning into a werewolf. Then the gorgeous Angela turns up.
A good laugh for teens who have a sense of the ridiculous.
Review taken from http://bobsbooksnz.wordpress.com with kind permission.
I actually really enjoyed this book! According to Bob's review that must mean I have a sense of the ridiculous - and I do! :)
As werewolves do not form a large part of my usual reading repertoire I admit I was duped into reading this book. Duped by the cool bright cover and duped by the interesting blurb on the back. Duped too, in a good way, thankfully, by an engaging story line that made me read on in spite of (or because of?) the bottom-baring antics of the main protagonist.
All in all a fun read with engaging characters.
Ms. Hill :)
Steel Pelicans is about two friends called Dean Steele and Pete Kelly who are the Steel Pelicans of the story. The story starts in Wollongong, Australia where Dean and Pete have spent most of their life. Dean gets them into all sorts of trouble, especially when it comes to mucking around with explosives. Pete’s parents don’t like him hanging around with Dean, and when Pete’s grandmother in New Zealand becomes ill his family decide to move to Auckland to look after her. Dean doesn’t want Pete to go and gets him involved in one last dangerous stunt before he leaves. It’s not long before Pete becomes friends with Afi at his new school. Pete’s parents approve of Afi and let Pete go and stay with Afi and his family at their batch in Port Waikato. It’s here that Pete and Afi stumble on a smuggling operation and find themselves in deep trouble, which only gets worse when Dean comes over for the holidays. They’re about to learn that they shouldn’t mess with the Redfern family.
Steel Pelicans is a classic Des Hunt story with all the adventure, mystery and danger that make his stories so good. His stories are usually set just in New Zealand but this story starts in Australia as that’s where the two main characters are from. One thing I like about his stories is that they have a real Kiwi feel about them and they’re set in different parts of the country, from the Coromandel to the West Coast to Port Waikato. He always adds an ecological message into the story and this time it’s about fishing and Paradise Ducks. I always finish his books knowing that I’ve read a great story and learnt a little bit about New Zealand wildlife at the same time.
I really liked the characters of Pete (or Pelly) and Dean. They’re almost complete opposites but somehow are still best mates. I liked how Des Hunt added a second friend into the mix because it created some conflict between the three boys. Des Hunt also really knows how to write scumbag villains, whether they’re gang members or drug dealers, and you can imagine that they’re the sort of people who might live in your neighbourhood. If you’re a fan of Des Hunt’s books you’ll love Steel Pelicans, but if you haven’t read any of his books then this one is a great one to start with.
Review by Zac Harding. Review taken with kind permission from http://wwwchristchurchkidsblog.wordpress.com
It’s the school holidays and Zac thinks he might go crazy with boredom. He’s living in exile with his disgraced father on the remote Terawhiti Station on Wellington’s wild southwest coast. Then Zac and his dad witness a boat sink during a storm. Investigating further, Zac finds a set of unusual animal prints on the beach. Whose boat is it? And what creature could have made the prints? Soon armed men are prowling the coast, and threatening Zac, his friends and his family. He must do all he can to protect the Phantom of Terawhiti from those intent on hunting it down.
Phantom of Terawhiti is an action-packed adventure story, packed with mystery, armed and angry Russians, brainless hunters, wild weather, a car chase, and a race against time. Des Hunt is a gifted storyteller who never fails to write a story that grips readers and makes you keep turning the pages to find out what happens next. In Phantom of Terawhiti there are plenty of heart-stopping moments, especially when Zac and Jess clash with the Russians. The mystery of the ‘Phantom of Terawhiti’ draws you in and, even when the creature is revealed, you wonder how it will survive in the wild with the hunters trying to track it down.
Like the main characters in his other books, Zac and Jess are just normal Kiwi kids, who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (or maybe the right place at the right time). Zac gets dragged by his dad to come and live on the remote Terawhiti Station, and it’s while he’s here that he discovers the wreck of the yacht and the paw prints in the sand. When they discover the Phantom of Terawhiti, Zac and Jess know that they must do everything they can to protect it.
Phantom of Terawhiti is one of Des Hunt’s best books so far and I can’t wait to see where in the country he will take us to next.
Reviewed by Zac Harding. Review taken with kind permission from http://www.christchurchkidsblog.wordpress.com.
New Zealand authors can approach the issues of greed, the temptation of easy money, public health and teenagers making choices in very different ways …
This is both a thriller and a coming-of –age story. The disillusioned, risk-taking teenager is well characterised.
On his blog Beckett says the following: “You’ll also see a nod to Holden Caulfield in the opening of this novel, this is the book where my love of The Catcher in the Rye comes to the surface. Pete’s itchy, restless, pissed-off as he calls it, a sort of low level depression in the face of a world he has so little regard for, is my dim reflection of that shining character.”
The novel is unusual in that the two authors each provided a voice. It switches point of view between the protagonist Pete and a shadowy, geeky stalker. Pete takes on a large corporation, not from any reasoned, ethical stance, but simply because he is “pissed-off”. His stalker decides to assist him, both from fascination with Pete himself as because of strong moral objections to the corporation. Their activities will lead them into real danger.
Still, this is not an action-packed thriller. Despite the mystery and hairy situations, the focus is very much on the thoughts and feelings of the protagonist.
Review by Anneke a Campo.
This is a light-hearted and humorous take on money-making schemes.
The protagonist is Randy, a young teenager on holiday in a small beach community. He is obsessed with the need to make money to buy the fashion accessory he craves. When his conscience raises questions about morality or legality he firmly squashes it down. His attitude is contrasted to that of his Maori friend Piho who, while just as avid to make money, has a sense of responsibility to whanau which causes him to at least feel guilt about his activities.
In their small way the teens reflect the less than moral and sometimes outright illegal ways of making money of the adult community. Shady councillors, dubious entrepreneurs and people wanting a job at any cost are the grown-up versions of Randy and Piho.
Reviewed by Anneke a Campo.
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