J L Pawley
Recommended to me as a sci-fi thriller in which the author “actually knows how birds work,” J L Pawley’s debut novel, Air Born, is sure to be a high-flier in New Zealand YA fiction.
Air Born was originally self-published by the author under the title First Flight. It quickly became a Wattpad sensation, attracting over 1.5 million reads. After working with Pawley, it was published by Steam Press in late 2017. Since then, the book has been sold internationally and was recently released in Russian. It’s easy to see why the book took flight. Read more
Allen & Unwin
Lyla is a book written in raw truth. The story begins in a world of homework and the normal everyday life of a young school girl named Lyla. She attends Avonside Girls High School and lives happily in the city of Christchurch. But then disaster strikes: an earthquake shakes the lives of every Christchurch citizen, turning us upside down into chaos. This book reveals the truth of the February Christchurch earthquake, the loss people faced, and the terrible things we saw. It brings a reader out of their world of media and newspapers and reveals the personal terrors one faced in that horrific time. Read more
Oxygen by William Trubridge is a breath-taking story about one man’s quest to push his body and mind to the absolute limits. Trubridge is a professional New Zealand freediver, and Oxygen tells the story of his early days, his discovery of freediving, his ride to success, and his quest to dive 100 metres below the surface of the ocean, equipped with nothing but a single breath (and a really tight wetsuit).
Born on the 24th of May 1980 in Northumberland, England, Trubridge’s family chose to sail across the Atlantic Ocean when Trubridge was 18 months old. Read more
1984 (republished 2017)
I have to be honest here – I read this book because I saw the film trailer. The trailer was very intriguing. First, Carmody Braque (the villain of The Changeover) is played by none other than the actor Peter Pettigrew. Even in 2 minutes, it was surreal to see a Harry Potter actor in a New Zealand film. And that’s it – very few books by New Zealand authors have been made into films. Judging by how well-known The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are, The Changeover may very well be the next big thing. Read more
Because Everything is Right but Everything is Wrong
Because Everything is Right but Everything is Wrong by Erin Donohue starts off really normally. There is a drifty, relaxed vibe as Caleb enters year 13 in a Wellington school. Things kick up a notch as Caleb struggles to keep up with school work, fit in with friends, and understand family. In this dark gloom, Caleb makes a friend called Casey. She is the one bright spot in his life. However, there are many secrets lurking in the dark and things are certainly not as they seem. Read more
Have you ever wanted to be a witch? No? Neither has Laura, but if she wants to save her little brother Jacko she must changeover and become a witch. Jacko has been marked by an enemy, and with each day that passes he grows weaker as his youth is sucked out of him, and if Laura changes over she has a chance to save him. Margaret Mahy writes about Laura’s fictional journey in her supernatural romance book The Changeover. This book has recently been made into a Kiwi film and is currently in cinemas. Read more
Pieces of You
Penguin Random House
Pieces of You is the typical YA coming-of-age novel that surprisingly offers more than a cliche. Not least, it is uniquely set in a familiar setting of Auckland. Eileen Merriman creates genuine teenage characters – one aspect within the YA genre that often feels lacking or underdeveloped, and so is much appreciated when done right.
The story revolves around 15-turning-16-year-old Rebecca McQuilten, who has recently moved up to Auckland from Dunedin with her parents. However, a warning: the very first line can be triggering. Although it’s refreshing that Merriman does not dwell much on Rebecca’s backstory, the point at which she chooses entry into the plot can be quite confronting. Read more
Lonesome When You Go
Lonesome When You Go by Saradha Koirala is about a bass player called Paige. Paige is a year 12 student in a fictional New Zealand college. She is obsessed with a competition called Rockfest which her band, Vox Pop, plans to enter. As the book goes on and it gets closer to Rockfest some things don’t go quite to Paige’s plan and she must decide what really matters to her. The band gets put under more and more pressure as the competition nears. It’s not possible for Vox Pop to withstand the kind of pressure that they are putting on themselves, something is going to have to give. Read more
Whew. I feel like I just went through a washing machine. Mortal Fire is probably one of the most interesting books I’ve read (though, seriously, no one word can describe it). The twist of the ending is so strange that it brings a whole new meaning to fantasy. Though a YA novel by genre, Elizabeth Knox’s novel is far from a simple love story, or even a progression of self-discovery. It’s the kind of book that needs reading multiple times.
The main character, Canny Mochrie, is a very, very, complex character. The third person limited point of view does nothing to help the reader understand her thinking. Read more
The Impossible Boy
The Impossible Boy by Leonie Agnew explores the world of Vincent Gum, who is determined to protect his dear friend Benjamin from the consequences of war.
Vincent is Benjamin’s imaginary friend, who helps him make tricky decisions. Vincent leads Benjamin to an orphanage and Benjamin quickly makes many friends. Benjamin’s friends think that Vincent isn’t real and slowly try to convince him that Vincent doesn’t exist. Vincent is curious about his new environment and he wants to know what’s in the closet. The only way Vincent can survive is if convinces the kids, and even Benjamin, that he is real. Read more