Zombie deer, dimensional rifts and a race to save an island from disaster – welcome to the world of The Rift, the newest offering from YA author Rachael Craw.
The Rift takes readers on an epic journey to Black Water Island, where Rangers guard the sacred Old Herd against the Rift, a mysterious natural phenomenon that poses a significant danger to the island and its inhabitants. Cal West is an apprentice Ranger, whose mission to save the island is interrupted by the return of former friend Meg Archer; both share a dark past. Read more
Levi’s War is a poignant, meticulously researched novel by Julie Thomas. Although part of the Horowitz Chronicles, it can be read as a stand-alone book, provided the reader is prepared to keep track of a tangled web of characters spanning three generations.
The book opens in London in 2017, in a backroom of the national archives, where, alongside high ranking military officials responsible for curating a memorial exhibit, we’re introduced to Levi Horowitz – more specifically, to a recording of Levi from 1945. On screen, he introduces himself: “my real name is Levi Horowitz and this is the story of my war. Read more
In the Dark Spaces
Hardie Grant Egmont
At first, Cally Black’s debut novel In the Dark Spaces seems just like any YA sci-fi/dystopian novel; in a universe where resources are scarce, 14-year-old Tamara barely manages to survive as a stowaway on the Starweaver Layla, the spaceship where her aunt works. Tamara spends her days looking after her toddler cousin, Tamiki, and occasionally, in true sci-fi style, creeping through the vents to steal extra food. But, despite the stereotypical opening, Black’s imagination soon transports the reader on a thrilling journey through space. Beautifully written, Black’s rich description, combined with her creativity, puts In the Dark Spaces into a league of its own. Read more
A J Ponder
Phantom Feather Press
Quest is a young adult fantasy adventure written by Wellington author A J Ponder and was published in 2018 by Phantom Feather Press. Ponder is most well-known for her first published book, Wizard’s Guide to Wellington.
Quest is the first book in the Sylvalla Chronicles. It tells the story of a teenage princess, in fictional Avondale, who goes on a quest with no plan, but tunnel vision and the dream of becoming a hero. With Princess Sylvalla gone, her father, the King, offers a reward for finding her.
Unfortunately, Dothie and Arrant see this as an opportunity to earn some money and go on a hunt to find her. Read more
Allen and Unwin
Rainfall is a young adult fiction book written by Ella West, first published by Allen and Unwin in 2018. Ella West is also the author of an award-winning book, Night Vision, which is also a mystery. The novel is set in Westport, New Zealand, between the Buller and Orowaiti rivers, where everyone knows everyone else, but nobody is quite who they seem. Jack and Annie are the main characters of the novel; a crime and mystery book with a touch of romance in this small-town setting. I would recommend this book to those aged 13 to 16 who are horse lovers and love mysteries with blossoming romances. Read more
See Ya, Simon
“Simon’s my best friend, and sometime in the next year or two years, he’s going to die.” Powerful, funny, heart-warming and heart-breaking, See Ya, Simon by David Hill is a novel that everyone needs to read.
See Ya, Simon follows 14-year-old Nathan as he chronicles his last year with his best friend Simon. Simon is much like most teenage boys – charming, witty, and out to impress any girl. However, Simon also has muscular dystrophy and is expected to die within the next few years. The novel writes in raw truth the struggles of Simon’s disability, while recording the hilarious and heart-warming moments of Nathan and Simon’s last year together. Read more
Love, Charlie Mike
Kate De Goldi
Penguin Random House
1997 (republished 2018)
Love, Charlie Mike by Kate De Goldi explores the struggles of teenage girl Christy in early 1990s Christchurch.
Christy is a typical teenager. She lives at home with her mum (Cushla), dad (Bob), brother (Finn) and grandmother. She is constantly irritated by the things her family do, such as her grandmother’s dementia which causes her to forget things easily, and her father’s sudden love for tennis and practicing in the hallway outside her room. All she wants to do is have fun with her friends, but, once a family secret is let out, her passion becomes finding some answers. Read more
Helen Vivienne Fletcher
Underwater, by Helen Vivienne Fletcher, is an interesting read, but definitely not what I expected when I first found the book. This book is set from Bailey’s – the main protagonist’s – point of view and shows her experience at Pine Hills Resort. Pine Hills Resort – which is somewhere in New Zealand – is described as not being the kind of place where anyone can keep anything hidden at all. This is worrying for Bailey, because she has a lot of secrets and a lot of scars, all of which she’d like to keep hidden. Read more
The Traitor and the Thief
“It appeared no one in this new world he inhabited was quite who they seemed.” This is a quote from the steampunk adventure novel The Traitor and the Thief by Gareth Ward. I was inspired to read this book after meeting the author, also known as The Great Wardini, at Booktown in Featherston, and being his assistant while he performed magic tricks. The Traitor and the Thief is a great book with complex characters, exciting twists and many themes.
When 14-year-old orphan Sin is abducted off the streets, he finds a new life in Covert Operations Group (COG), composed of a group of teens training to stop a war. Read more
Helen Vivienne Fletcher
Helen Vivienne Fletcher’s self-published thriller Broken Silence is bursting with promise – unfortunately, it fails to hit the spot.
Set in present-day Wellington, Broken Silence introduces us into the world of 17-year-old Kelsey, a protagonist with a heavy weight on her shoulders. Trying to deal with a terminally ill mother, an absent father, and her abusive boyfriend Mike, Kelsey’s chaotic life conveys what it feels like to be a lost and confused teenager. The mayhem escalates when a mysterious caller gives Kelsey a hand out of her violent situation with Mike – by putting him into a coma. Read more