Penguin, 2013. ISBN 9780141345819.
Highly recommended for older teens. Science Fiction is entering a new golden era. During the 70s and 80s, with the rise of 'epic' fantasy, sci fi novels lost favour while Feist, Donaldson and King dominated. However, the last couple of years have seen an increase in books with spaceships, aliens and galaxies. Mesh technological gadgetry with dystopian ideals, and you have the makings of a reborn War of the worlds.
Rick Yancey already has two action-packed series for young people, with one of them The Monstrumologist, receiving critical acclaim, so it's not surprising that The Fifth Wave hits a lot of the right notes attempting to attract the reading attention of teenagers. Its basic premise is very simple - an alien race scopes out Earth and, seeing that it fits their needs, makes a calculated endeavour to take over by hostile and underhanded means.
What Yancey does with this is to create a tense, taut narrative that is full of action and snark. Cassie is the main character. We see her point of view as she attempts to survive the almost complete annihilation of the human race. Yancey doesn't follow a clear chronological style. We are thrust into an unwinnable situation, and quickly find out what Cassie is reduced to - kill or be killed. It's powerful stuff. As the story progresses we are told virtually nothing. We have to fill in the gaps between Cassie's solitary here-and-now, and her flashbacks to the last days of her family life.
Amidst all the action and the emotional family drama, there is also much snarky dialogue. When Cassie is alone, it's an inner monologue of snark and this ensures the narrative isn't totally pessimistic. Admittedly a lot of the humour is dark; 'Then the door flew open and Mr Faulks told us to head over to the gym. I thought that was really smart. Get us all in one place so the aliens didn't have to waste ammunition . . .' But it defines Cassie's character: She's feisty and brave.
When the first section ends and we enter the head of another character, I was pleasantly surprised. Multiple viewpoints allow the narrative a broader canvas. Whereas Cassie's view is an individual one, Zombie's is large scale. We see the fight back against the invaders, we see politics and training. We see the consequences of the aliens' actions on very small children. More powerful stuff.
Other viewpoints are offered, but to tell you more would spoil the surprises that are best kept secret. I guess some of what we discover is predictable and some of it a bit contrived, but that doesn't stop this from being a cracking read. Although the main goal of the book is resolved, there is more that can be, and will be developed.
Highly recommended for older teens. Themes include survival, family loyalty, trust and betrayal, romance and identity.
Translated by Adriana Hunter. Bloomsbury, 2012. ISBN 9781408814710.
Highly recommended. I was unaware of this French author's pedigree as a writer but will, after reading this fine book read more. A household name in her native France, Marie-Aude Murail has with this book achieved...
Hachette, 2013. ISBN 9780733630309.
(Age: Mid secondary - adult) Recommended. Me and Rory Macbeath is set in 1970s Adelaide. Jake's mother, Harry, is a barrister, a heavy drinker and an even heavier smoker. Jake is not good in a fist fight but he has learned to fight with words...
Ill. by Joe Berger. Nosy Crow, 2013. ISBN 9780 85763 130 5.
(Age: 4+) Warmly recommended. Picture book. Grandparents. Witches. In easily red rhyming verses, the story of Granny unfolds. She is unlike all other Grannies and although does some wonderful things for the girl, she sometimes...
Ill. by Gregory Rogers. Sword Girl Book 5. Allen & Unwin
2013. ISBN 9781743313213. 126p. RRP $11.99.
Highly recommended 7-9 year olds. Themes: Medieval Times, Castle Life, Ghosts. Frances Watt's Sword Girl series follow a feisty young girl character Thomasina - Tommy...
Scholastic Australia, 2013. ISBN: 9781742990026. RRP:
(Age: 9-11) Highly recommended. Themes: Pirates; Adventure; Voyages and Travels. Tom Applecross's life is one of misadventure, his father Josiah Applecross a famous explorer has failed to return from his latest...
Puffin Books, 2013. ISBN 978 0 14 330726 6
(Age: 9+) Highly recommended. Dystopian. Animals. When Colt and his mother, a veterinarian, go to the Lost World Circus to see an elephant, the last elephant in the world, they must take action when the animal is bitten by the dreaded ghost-rat,...
Working Title Press, 2013. ISBN 978 1 921504 55 6
(Age: 3+) Warmly recommended. Picture book. Fish. Rhyming text.
First published in the USA by author illustrator, Stockdale, in 2008, this brightly coloured and informative book will have an instant appeal to Australian students....
Harper Collins, 2013. ISBN: 978-0-7322-9615-5.
'It is better to have loved than lost than to have never loved at all.'
While 'the adventures of a teenage witch' is not original it is shown in a new light as this sinister novel presents a new way of looking at witchcraft by using...
Wombat Books, 2013. ISBN 9781921632327.
Recommended: Middle / Upper Primary. The Tae'anaryn is a fantasy novel with a very strong philosophical bias. The questions it asks the reader to ponder are universal: What is the purpose of my life? How do I respond to and treat others? The...
Phoenix Education, 2011. ISBN 9781921586231.
Recommended as a Teacher Resource. As the current curriculum documents refer to using and creating multimodal texts this book offers an invaluable introduction to and analysis of the most basic, common and accessible of this text type, The...
Allen and Unwin, 2013. ISBN 9781743313077
(Age: 11+) Highly recommended. Novel. Merchant Navy. World War Two. When his mother dies, and his father decides to leave for work in Glasgow, Adam is at a loss, but buoyed by stories of the Merchant Navy, he joins up, appearing at the nearby...
Harper Collins, 2013. ISBN 9780732296261
(Age 17 +) Highly recommended. Urban Fantasy. Paranormal. Romance. The familiar panic rises within Sabine's chest. At the stroke of midnight - for as long as she can remember - Sabine shifts between two worlds. Her physicality, name and memory...
Meet series. Ill. by Sonia Martinez. Random House, 2013. ISBN
(Age: 8+) Picture book. Saints. Education. Australian History. Non Fiction. The Meet series, from Random House promises to introduce younger readers to significant people within...
Random House Australia, 2013. Hbk ISBN 9781742756509 $A19.95, ebook
'Our dog is not a work dog, a round-'em-bring-'em-home dog. Our dog is a SEADOG. A run-and-scatter-gulls dog.' So begins this most delightful little story about a most unusual dog that is not like any...
Fremantle Press, 2013. ISBN 9781922089199.
Highly recommended. The mimosa tree by Antonella Preto is a good book and extremely relatable. It focuses on Mira, an Australian-Italian girl who has just finished school and has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She is worried...
Ill. by Serena Geddes. Ford Street Publishing, 2013. Hbk, 32 pp RRP
$A26.95. ISBN 9781921665844. Pbk. RRP $A16.95. ISBN 9781921665851.
Josh is making a movie, the first on his journey to being a famous movie director. His sister, Gracie, is the star - dressed up as a spider with lovely...
Ill. by Alexis Deacon, Walker Books 2012. ISBN: 9781406329919.
Recommended. (Age 14+) Myths. Legends. Pregnancy. Shamanism. Regeneration. Renewal. Soonchild is a mythical, fantasy novel written for a young adult to adult audience. This novel is set somewhere north of the Arctic...
Ill. by Benjamin Johnston. Little Rockets series. New
Frontier Publishing, 2013. ISBN 9781921928420. 80pp. RRP $12.95
(Ages: 7-8 years) Lucy's pet ferret Flash is in training for the Fastest Fearless Ferret Race. He needs a little encouragement to complete the race and Lucy tempts...
Secrets of Carrick, 3. Black Dog Books, 2013. ISBN 9781743032184.
(Age 13+) Highly recommended. Mally is always frightened, afraid to move from the edge of the shore, afraid to make friends. But there is change in Carrick and Mally may have to change too especially as the bully...
Omnibus, Sydney, 2013. 169p
(Age: 13+) Joyous and Moonbeam is a heart-warming book narrated by the characters for which it is named. Bracks, Ashleigh's principal, arranges for her to volunteer in Mr Santorini's workshop where she is assigned to Joyous. Joyous is a 30 something...
Ill. by Axel Scheffler. Scholastic, 2008. ISBN 9781407132327.
The classic story of Stick Man has been revived in this series designed as Early Readers. Despite the font being a smaller size than one normally associates with early readers the colourful illustrations and predictable rhyme...
Pan Macmillan, 2013. ISBN
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. Sky Martin is a 15 year old girl. Life is tough. Her mother has left the family and gone to Japan, her brother Gully wears a pig mask all the time and her father has a dusty record shop and likes beer a bit too much. When...
Recommended for upper primary readers who are not squeamish! Artemis Fowl fans will be keen to try this first book in the latest series from Eoin Colfer but they may be disappointed if not a little shocked on reading the opening chapter. Though when the title is...
Bloomsbury, 2013. ISBN 978 1 4088 3842 6.
Joshua and his friend David are playing football when David kicks the ball into a construction site surrounded by a high fence. When Joshua goes to retrieve the ball he discovers a flattened house and a tunnel which goes under the wall which...
Pledger Consulting, 2013. ISBN 9781876678371.
If you have ever thought to yourself I wonder what new quality books I'm missing or I wonder what's available that I can use with my class, then this may be the book for you. From the stable of Pledger Consulting comes another useful...