Publisher: Jimmy Patterson Books / Little, Brown and Company
First Published: 2019
A plane crash.
A savage jungle.
Hope hope of rescue.
How long would you survive?
A gripping white-knuckle thriller set in the unknown depths of the Amazon jungle, When We Were Lost explores the razor-thin line between life and death, and what it really means to be alive.
A group of high school students are on their way to Costa Rica for a two-week school sponsored environmental field trip, when their plane crashes in a remote dense jungle. The plane is torn in half – nineteen students in the tail-end of the plane survive.
Together the group must now survive in a hostile jungle environment, that includes animals, reptiles, insects, the heat, lack of food – and each other.
The novel is written in third person, but the narrative focuses on the point-of-view of seventeen-year-old Tom Colloway. Tom has been orphaned since he was nine and feels like an outsider.
Many reviewers have drawn parallels to Lord of the Flies and Lost. Although other than a plane crash and the characters being young there isn’t a huge number of parallels really.
It is an action packed adventure with enough gripping twists and turns to keep the reader hooked but unfortunately the story lacks any strong character development, and the ending feels a little rushed and flat.
Join him as he discovers the world, with tiny eyelashes. Travel from school to college, where he discovers his flock and comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen. At university, take a seat in the audience and watch him find his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo.
A bold story about discovering that only YOU get the privilege of choosing who you are. There is power in embracing your uniqueness. What’s your story?
Michael is a young biracial British man of Greek Cypriot and Jamaican descent. He feels like he is caught between many identities: black and white, masculine and feminine, straight and gay. He feels that he is not “Greek enough”, not “Black enough” or “queer enough.”
The novel begins with Michael aged six and we follow him on his journey from childhood through to university.
When Michael goes to university he joins the Drag Society and creates his drag persona The Black Flamingo. In finding his voice Michael becomes more confident and accepting in who he is.
The novel is told in verse, which makes it an easy ready. It also features beautiful black and white illustrations by Anshika Khullar.
Author: Patrick Ness. From an original idea by Siobhan Dowd
Series: Stand alone novel
Country: Great Britain
Publisher: Walker Books
First Published: 2011
Conor has the same dream every night, ever since his mother first fell ill, ever since she started the treatments that don’t quite seem to be working. But tonight is different. Tonight, when he wakes, there’s a visitor at his window. It’s ancient, elemental, a force of nature. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.
It wants the truth.
Last month the Old Vic made their 2018 production A Monster Calls available for a week on their YouTube channel. After watching it I borrowed the book from my library.
Siobhan Dowd initially conceived the idea of a young boy coming to terms with his mother’s illness while diagnosed with breast cancer. It would have been Dowd’s fifth book but she passed away 21 August 2007 before writing the story. Her publisher Walker Books approached Patrick Ness to write the novel.
A Monster Calls follows thirteen-year-old Conor O’Malley, who is struggling to cope with the diagnosis of his mother’s cancer.
Conor is also facing other challenges. He is being bullied at school, has a distant father living in the United States with a new family, and a strained relationship with his Grandmother who has come to help look after Conor’s mum.
He has been having nightmares. At seven minutes past midnight Conor awakes to a voice calling him from outside his bedroom window. There is a monster that has taken form from the branches and leaves as a yew tree.
The monster tells Conor that he will tell him three stories, and then Conor must tell his story.
A Monster Calls is a poignant exploration of terminal illness, grief and truth.
The novel was also adapted into a 2016 film with Ness also writing the screenplay. The film was directed by J. A. Bayona (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) and starred Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebbell, Lewis MacDougall, and Liam Neeson.
Twelve-year-old criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl has discovered a world below ground of armed and dangerous–and extremely high-tech–fairies. He kidnaps one of them, Holly Short, and holds her for ransom in an effort to restore his family’s fortune. But he may have underestimated the fairies’ powers. Is he about to trigger a cross-species war?
Artemis Fowl: The Movie will drop on the Disney+ streaming service on June 12th, so now is the perfect time to take a look at the first book in the eight book fantasy series.
The story follows the adventures of Artemis Fowl, a 12-year-old old criminal mastermind, who kidnaps Holly Short, an elf and captain of LEPRecon (Lower Elements Police Reconnaissance force) for a ransom of fairy gold.
Although Artemis is the protagonist of the novel, he is no hero – he is an antihero. He is not a villain in the traditional sense, but is far from being good – it is difficult to justify his actions at times.
The novel has a third-person narrative, and switches from following the human characters to following the magical creatures.
Artemis Fowl is often shelved in the children’s fiction, although it is probably more suitable as middle grade novel due to its action and violence.
When Stephen’s dad says they’re moving. Stephen knows it’s pointless to argue. They’re broke from paying Mom’s hospital bills, and now the only option left is to live with Stephen’s grandmother in Spencer, a backward small town that’s like something out of The Twilight Zone. Stephen’s summer starts looking up when he befriends punk girl Cara and her charismatic twin brother, Devon. Only, as the summer presses on and harmless nights hanging out in the cemetery take a darker turn, Stephen starts to suspect that Devon is less a friend than a leader. And he might be leading them to a very sinister end…
Seventeen-year-old Stephen and his father move from Denver, Colorado to his father’s small hometown of Spencer, Michigan (population 814) to live with his grandmother. Stephen’s mother had been committed to a mental health facility in Denver and his father was struggling to pay their bills hence their move to Spencer.
Shortly after arriving in town Stephen meets mysterious twins Cara and Devon.
As you can expect Stephen is instantly attracted to Cara the punk girl who ‘definitely didn’t look like a farmer’s daughter.’
Stephen is also drawn to Cara’s charismatic but creepy twin brother Devon, who befriends him and invites him to hang out a cemetery at night, which Devon and his friends call the Playground.
Stephen later learns of an urban legend that all the bad things that have happened in Spencer’s history can be attributed to these dark winged creatures. Very Stephen King-esque! Do Devon and his friends really believe this legend?
I do have to warn that the novel’s depiction of mental illness tends to play into problematic stereotypes, so some readers may take issue with this.
Brewer does a good job of writing Stephen’s first-person-narrative. Some reviewers have not appreciated his sarcastic, sullen, selfish voice – but I found it refreshing and real, maybe reflecting my own former inner teen self.
The novel has a nostalgic, small-town American horror movie vibe to it. Don’t expect major character development, there is the twist at the end that experienced mystery readers will probably pick.
Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. It’s hard to get your come up, through, when you’re labeled “trouble” at school and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. But Bri’s success is all that stands between her family and homelessness, so she doesn’t just want to make it – she has to.
Even if it means becoming exactly what the public expects her to be.
Sixteen-year-old Brianna ‘Bri’ Jackson attends a public arts school and is an inspiring rapper. Her father Lawless, an underground rapper, was shot dead by a rival gang when she was a child. Bri is raised by her mother Jay, a recovering drug addict who has been clean for eight years. Jay is behind with the rent and struggling to put food on the table.
Bri is also supported by Aunt Pooh, a gang member and drug dealer, and her older brother Trey, the college-educated golden boy of family, who despite his education is unable to find a good job.
There are racial tensions at her school. There is an incident where two security officers throw Bri to the ground assuming she is a drug dealer. Bri puts her frustration and anger about the injustice black students face into a rap song, which goes viral.
Bri wins a rap battle at a local hip-hop venue. Will this be her breakout moment and her chance to score her a recording contract?
On the Come Up, is set in Garden Heights, the same predominantly black and poor neigbourhood as Thomas’ debut novel The Hate U Give. It is not a sequel, but takes places following the events of The Hate U Give.
Thomas herself was rapper as teenage and when I read Bri’s raps I could her voice clearly. I usually dislike when authors write lyrics into novels, but Thomas nails it.
On the Come Up is a compelling coming-of-age story about young black woman finding her voice.
Author: Val Emmich with Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul
Series: Stand alone novel
Country: United States of America
Publisher: Penguin Books
First Published: 2018
When high school senior Evan Hansen is accidentally pulled into a family’s grief over the loss of their son, all he has to do is stick to a lie he never told, that the notoriously troubled Connor Murphy was his secret best friend.
Suddenly, Evan isn’t invisible anymore. And Connor’s parents have taken him in like he was their own, desperate to know more about their enigmatic son. Evan knows that what he’s doing can’t be right – but he’s helping people, how wrong can it be?
Dear Evan Hansen is a funny, profound and utterly compelling story of fitting in and growing up, for anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider.
Broadway musical adaptations of novels are not uncommon, but with Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel it is the other way around. It is a stage-to-page adaptation of the 2015 Off-Broadway and 2016 Broadway hit musical that was nominated for nine Tony Awards, winning six, including Best Musical and Best Score.
Anxious high school senior Evan Hansen’s therapist Dr. Sherman has encouraged Evan to write a letter to himself each day to reframe his thinking to show how good his day will be.
Connor Murphy, finds one of these Dear Evan Hansen letters. A few days later Connor takes him own life and his parents Larry and Cynthia find the letter believing it to be a suicide note addressed to Evan.
Evan lets Larry and Cynthia believe that he and Connor are secretly friends. He soon finds himself caught up in a web of lies as he has to produce fake emails to show their friendship.
The novel is told first-person by Evan with some posthumous narration by Connor.
Dear Evan Hansen is a musical that is on my wish list. I would be interested to know what those who have seen the show think of the book!
Ana is an Iranian asylum seeker who is only allowed out of detention to attend school. There she meets Jono, who is dealing with his own problems: his mum has walked out, his sister has gone away to uni and he’s been left alone with his Vietnamese father, Kenny.
Kenny is trying to work out the rules his new job as a guard at the Wickham Point Detention Centre. He tells Ana she should look out for Jono at school but soon regrets this decision: who is she really? What is her story? Is she a genuine refugee or a queue jumper? As Ana and Jono grow closer, Kenny spirals into mistrust and suspicion…
Ana (Anahita) is a fifteen-year-old Iranian asylum seeker who attends high school in Darwin, Australia. At the end of each school days she returns to Wickham Point Detention Centre, where she is being held with her three-year-old brother and pregnant mother.
At school Ana meets Jono, a sixteen-year-old half Australian, half Vietnamese boy, whose father Kenny is a guard at the detention centre. Kenny born in Vietnam, was sponsored out to Australia by his older sister, who was one of the first Vietnamese refugees to settle in Australia.
Jono is struggling to find his place in the world after his mother walked out, his girlfriend dumped him, and his sister left for university. The relationship with his father strained.
Atkins similar to Jono had an Australian mother and a Vietnamese father, so grew up living between two cultures.
The novel is told from the points of view of Ana, Jono and Kenny, each alternating chapters as narrator. Jono’s opening chapters are written in verse, often with one word per line, until he meets Ana. Kenny’s adult voice added a fresh perspective to what would otherwise have been a girl-boy narration.
Between Us is an insightful and complex exploration of the refugee situation in Australia.
Socially awkward Alex is used to disappointment, and this summer is looking to be his sorriest yet.
When he unexpectedly lands a job at Wonderland, a run-down amusement arcade, he starts making new friends. It looks like his bad luck is about to change.
But in Wonderland nothing is quite what it seems.
And in life and love, sometimes you have to make your own luck.
Awkwardly shy sixteen-year-old Alex’s only two friends Will and Alice, who are now dating, have abandoned him for the summer.
Kendra, Alex’s dad’s girlfriend (who he views as a wicked stepmother) bullies him into finding a job for the summer. After an accident at Wonderland, a run-down waterfront amusement park, Alex secures a summer job there. Wonderland owner Maggie gives Alex a job on the condition he doesn’t sue her over his accident.
Despite giving the appearance that she hates teenagers Maggie has a soft spot for Alex.
At Wonderland Alex’s co-workers are a weird bunch of teenage misfits. He is befriended by Efia and Ben. Alex develops a crush on Ben, unfortunately he has a girlfriend Bella, who to make matters worse in lovely and definitely hard to hate.
There is also another potential suitor in the form of Caleb aka Lemon Boy, a young hunky lemonade seller, who saves Alex from drowning after he falls off the pier dressed in a pink flamingo costume – another awkward Alex moment – there are plenty.
Wonderland is in financial trouble, so Alex, Efia and Ben set out to revamp and save the amusement park.
When mysterious and threatening notes begin to appear our Scooby-Doo gang set out to investigate. I worked out who was behind the notes and other threatening incidents before the reveal, but didn’t mind as the mystery is only a sub-plot in the story.
At the urge of her lucky-in-love brother, sixteen-year-old Lily has left a red notebook full of dares on her favourite bookshop shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept. Curious, snarky Dash isn’t one to back down from a challenge – and the Book of Dares is the perfect distraction he’s been looking for.
As they send each other on a scavenger hunt across Manhattan, they’re falling for each other on paper. But finding out if their real selves share their on-page chemistry could be the biggest dare yet…
I have always wanted to read this in the lead-up to the festive season and I recently saw a good quality second-hand copy for $1 so I snapped it up.
It’s Christmas time in New York City and Dash is an orphan for the holidays. He has told each of his divorced parents that he staying with the other, allowing them to be out of town, and for him to be alone at Christmas. Not that Dash likes Christmas he loathes it.
Dash enjoys his alone time browsing the shelves of his favourite bookstore, The Strand. It is there that he finds a red moleskin notebook among the J.D. Salinger books with the words ‘do you dare’ on the cover.
The notebook sends Dash on a scavenger hunt through the bookstore, which includes a dare to ask for a copy of Fat Hoochie Prom Queen from the counter.
Sixteen-year-old idealistic Christmas-loving Lily has put the scavenger hunt together with her older brother Langston and his boyfriend Benny to help her find a boy. The question though is Dash that boy? – it is clear Dash and Lily are polar opposites.
Dash follows the instructions and the two characters converse using the notebook. Levithan writes Dash’s perspective and Cohn writes Lily’s, alternating chapters.
The book features many Christmas traditions and New York locations including a visit to Macy’s Santa Claus, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, and FAO Schwarz.
A sequel The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily was released in 2016.
Netflix announced it October an eight episode adaptation starring Austin Abrams as Dash and Midori Francis as Lily. The show will be adapted by Joe Tracz (who adapted A Series of Unfortunate Events for Netflix). The series is expected to screen in 2020.