The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

The Rest of Us Just Live Here
Written by Patrick Ness
Fantasy, Contemporary
Expected Publication August 27th 2015
352 Pages
Thank you to Walker Books Australia
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★★★★☆
What if you aren't the Chosen One?

The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you're like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshiped by mountain lions.
Seventeen year old Mikey isn't the hero who saves the world. He isn't expected to. Mikey is one of the Others, the bystanders within his strange little town where where the supernatural reign and the world rests upon the shoulders of the Chosen Ones. But his life is complicated enough as it is. His mother is a State Senator, neglecting her family for that of the community she serves. His father an alcoholic, his sister a reformed anorexic and Mikey himself suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder, finding himself stuck in loops in which is becoming increasingly harder to break. He's in love with childhood friend Henna, although too scared to tell her and his best friend is a gay, Jewish God of Cats, his feline admirers following him about town.

The latest crisis to hit the teen community comes in the form of the hipster kids being killed, pillars of light and glowing blue eyes in the night. But akin to the vampire plague that swept through years earlier, it's the Chosen Ones that need to deal with the prophecy, hipster kids affectionately known as The Indies. For Mikey and his friends, they just want to graduate without the school being burnt down. A group of ordinary teens living within an extraordinary town, and this is their story.

Kelly's Thoughts

Ever wondered about the secondary characters within our young adult fantasy and dystopian novels? The adults or the teens who aren't tasked with saving the world? This is their story. Mikey and his group of friends are ordinary teens who have seen it all, the paranormal descending upon their town and helpless to stop the pending apocalypse. The Chosen Ones are the kids known as The Indies, teens who segregate themselves from the school community and are named as uniquely as themselves.

But The Rest of Us Just Live Here isn't about those who save the world, it's the teens who are trying to live their life within the extraordinary town. Real teens that struggle with issues such as obsessive compulsive disorder, anorexia, workaholic and alcoholic parents, and having a new kid suddenly arrive within only six weeks left until graduation. The concept is completely bizarre and the storyline allows readers glimpses of the pending doom that is set to strike their town. But life goes on for the Others, those who are usually restricted to background characters while someone else saves the world.

Without a doubt, Patrick Ness is a phenomenal author and this may possibly be his best work to date. It's intelligent, quirky and still addresses real issues such as mental illness and substance abuse such as alcoholism. The cast of characters is diverse, which is what readers have come to expect from Patrick Ness. It reads as a subtle swipe at the young adult tropes that irritate what most readers take issue with, the Chosen Ones, the town that seemingly turns a blind eye to paranormal invasion, clueless adults and when you're one of the Others, how life continues on and no matter what's going on around you. Your own issues are still as important than the world coming to an end.

The Final Verdict

Beautifully imaginative, The Rest of Us Just Live Here is an exploration of those who aren't meant to save the world, but the bystanders who create their own storyline. Patrick Ness is a phenomenal author, who can enchant, enthrall and entice readers to believe in the impossible. Bizarre, incredible and utterly captivating.

Adrift by Paul Griffin

Adrift
Written by Paul Griffin
Contemporary, Survival, Thriller
Published July 29th 2015
240 Pages
Thank you to Text Publishing
RATING ★★★☆
Five of us went out on the water that night.
None of us came back whole, and not all of us came back.

Best friends Matt and John are spending the summer working. Matt to save money for college, John to kill time before trade school. On the beach, the beautiful Driana stops Matt in his tracks. Dri, Stef and JoJo invite the boys to a party at Dri's Hamptons mansion, and Matt drags John along.

When Stef decides it’s a beautiful night to go windsurfing, the others race out on the water to make sure she’s safe. But with no land in sight and a broken boat engine, it’s not just Stef they have to worry about. And as the hours turn into days, the prospect of rescue seems further and further away...
Matt is going places. While saving for his college education, he and best friend John work the beach during the summer months, changing tourists inflated prices for sweets and treats along the Hamptons shoreline. That's when Matt first sees the exotic Driana, rich, charismatic and along with Brazilian friends Stef and JoJo, invite the boys to the party of the summer. That's where their lives begin to unravel. When Stef decides to take the windsurfer out at midnight and finds herself in trouble, the group are forced to borrow a small boat in order to retrieve her from the water. But Stef's injuries are far worse than they'd first realised and heading back to shore to seek treatment looks unlikely when the motor splutters and fails to start. With Stef bleeding, the group are forced to wait until morning for rescue. 

Only rescue doesn't arrive.

Throughout the night, the group have drifted out to sea. With no land in sight and only each other for company, each day becomes a fight for survival. Not just for the injured Stef, but for themselves and from each other.

MY THOUGHTS

Adrift was terrifying. A psychological thriller and fight for survival. Imagine being stranded at sea, no land in sight and with strangers you had only met hours prior. That's what faces the both Matt and John, best friends who neither are strangers to violence. Dri is a Manhattan girl, but cousin Stef and her boyfriend JoJo are Brazilian nationals, enjoying the summer before it all begins to fall apart. Told from Matt's point of view who has limited medical knowledge, Dri who had basic survival skills and John, with his calm exterior that has him dubbed the Iceman. JoJo spends most of his time fawning over the heavily injured Stef, her arm torn to pieces and the limb now turning grey. It's eerie. Between the group of five, it seems inevitable that one is on the verge of snapping.

As they started to turn on one another, I found myself incredibly anxious. With a hammer and makeshift harpoon as potential weapons, the storyline has a dangerous undercurrent of unpredictability and I loved every moment. My only real issues were how the group came to be out there in the first place. An idiotic snap decision when there seemed to be no real danger at the time, yet there were no safety checks on the boat and no one, even the stoic John, showed any real common sense. Although superbly written, it lacked emotion sadly. The thriller aspect was pure perfection, but the quieter moments between the characters, especially Matt and Dri fell flat. Matt was still coming to terms with a horrific incident that he and John were involved in three years prior, but even as their story emerged, I felt emotionally disconnected to them both. I really enjoyed it. I loved the thriller aspect and survival story, but it needed a little more emotion within it's characters and their plight. It's the only difference from it being a good read into an incredible read.

THE VERDICT

Adrift was an enthralling thriller that simmers along, leaving readers anxious and defenseless. Well written and a unique tale of survival in the most desolate of conditions. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

Lorali by Laura Dockrill

Lorali
Written by Laura Dockrill
Paranormal, Mermaids
Published July 2nd 2015
208 Pages
Thank you to Hot Key Books and Five Mile Press
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RATING ★★★
Looking after a naked girl he found washed up under Hastings pier isn't exactly how Rory had imagined spending his sixteenth birthday. But more surprising than finding her in the first place is discovering where she has come from.

Lorali is running not just from the sea, not just from her position as princess, but her entire destiny. Lorali has rejected life as a mermaid, and become human.

But along with Lorali's arrival, and the freak weather suddenly battering the coast, more strange visitors begin appearing in Rory's bemused Sussex town. With beautifully coiffed hair, sharp collared shirts and a pirate ship shaped like a Tudor house, the Abelgare boys are a mystery all of their own. What are they really up to? Can Rory protect Lorali? And who from? And where does she really belong anyway?
The lazy seaside town of Hastings is known for it's quiet cobblestone streets, it's portside fishing and the dream of escaping and making more of your small town life. None more so for Rory. Reminiscing about his long gone father while an earth shattering storm rolls in, wasn't how Rory thought he'd spend his sixteenth birthday. He certainly didn't expect to find a girl, naked and alone, washed up underneath the Hastings pier. Lorali doesn't speak and her beauty is almost otherworldly, leaving Rory instinctively wanting to keep her safe.

Lorali's life as a royal mermaid had driven her to the surface, making the painful transition from mermaid to Walker. Her kingdom is in disarray, sending the well mannered and dashing Abelgare pirate brothers to return her to her rightful home and they aren't the only ones. The sea is a haven for pirates and hunters, not all with the intention of returning the princess to her kingdom. Not knowing who he can trust, Rory will protect Lorali with his life by putting himself in danger in the process.

MY THOUGHTS

I haven't had much luck with Mermaid themed young adult reads, they tend to be underwhelming and not the magical, whimsical storylines most readers are probably expecting. Not only does Lorali break that mould, but it's a much darker storyline than I'd imagined. Told from three points of view, Rory, Lorali and The Sea, it tells the story of Princess Lorali who has surfaced among humans and those who are on the hunt to capture her.

It was deliciously bizarre, the inclusion of pirates, the sirens they tame and the world between the underwater kingdom and Walkers was simplistic, yet incredibly engaging once the hunt for Lorali begins. Rory's character is the average, knockabout lad but cares deeply for his single mother who seems on the verge of falling apart. Along with best friends Flynn and Elvis, they plan on celebrating Rory's sixteenth birthday when the weather turns nasty and Lorali washes up on shore. Her transformation from mermaid to human is incredibly charming.
Lorali. I'm a bit in love. A bit in love with this weird girl wearing my clothes, stuffing butter into her mouth off a knife.
But lorali is by no means safe, and Rory is about to find out how deadly betrayal can be. As much as I enjoyed the storyline overall, I found the world building lacking. Lorali's underwater kingdom was underdeveloped and I found it hard to imagine. Seeing a point of view from The Sea was bizarre, and it felt as though it used the narrative as a way to explain the pirates and the politics of Lorali's world. Inventive, but personally I would rather have seen a point of view from the pirate Abelgare brothers, who added a dose of intrigue throughout the storyline.

THE VERDICT

Lorali is a unique storyline of mermaids, sirens and pirates within the human world. Slow to begin, but the action soon heats up as the battle is on to capture and return Lorali home... Or otherwise. With points of view from The Sea, it is a unique read and one of the more engaging mermaid themed books in young adult.

Paperweight By Meg Haston

Contains triggers for those who have experienced, or have been touched by eating disorders.
Paperweight
Written by Meg Haston
Contemporary, Mental Illness
Published July 2nd 2015
285 Pages
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RATING ★★★★
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Struggling to deal with her brother's death and a past she refuses to confront, Stevie knows she has problems. But she's still furious about the fact that she's been packed off to a health clinic, in the middle of nowhere, where mobile phones are banned and communication with the outside world is strictly by permission only. The regimented and obtrusive nature of the clinic and its staff is torture to the deeply private, obstinate Stevie, and don't even get her started on the other 'inmates'. All she wants is to be left alone...

But as Stevie is about to find out, life is full of surprises. And she will prove herself stronger than she knows, even when her past finally catches her up in the most shocking and brutal way possible.
Stevie finds herself at a heath retreat in the middle of nowhere, a last ditch attempt to save her life only that Stevie doesn't want to be saved. Her mother abandoned her, her father checked out emotionally and brother and best friend Josh is dead. Stevie is grieving, angry at being sent to the facility for girls with eating disorders and all in the lead up to the first anniversary of Josh's death, something the teen continues to carry the blame for. At the facility, girls are counselled and given the tools to promote a healthy lifestyle, something Stevie has no interest in. All she wants to do is escape and return home to Eden, a toxic friendship of alcoholism and deceit, someone who cares little for Stevie's well being. But to face her truth, Stevie must face the heavy weight of Josh's death and the part she believed she's played.

And realise that through the adversity of Josh's death, Stevie needs to live. For herself and to honour his memory.

MY THOUGHTS

Paperweight is an emotional, difficult and distressing read about a girl who ultimately wants to die. Stevie is bulimic, her weight loss and emotional state landing her at the health clinic with girls who know all too well what it feels like to live with an eating disorder. Her weight is the only aspect in her life that she feels in control of, carrying around the blame of her brothers tragic death in which Stevie survived the accident. The one trait Stevie has is likability, even beyond her abrasive personality and refusal to adhere to the program. But behind the eating disorder lies a troubled girl, a girl who's mother left her for a better life and Eden, a girl who played games with her by building her confidence up in the most destructive of ways.

Reading Stevie's journey was incredibly emotional and at times, distressing, as she comes to terms with the girl she was and the young woman she hopes to become. Stevie's character development was brilliant and one of my favourite aspects of Paperweight. She doesn't change due to a love interest and her growth isn't an overnight phenomenon. Stevie's only chance at recovery comes in the form of the realisation that to die, she isn't honouring Josh's memory but needs to make the most of the life Josh will now never live.

THE VERDICT

Paperweight is an incredibly moving and emotional read of one girl's struggle with addiction, self confidence and feeling worthy of living. It's not the destination, but the story of fight and survival throughout Stevie's journey that will appeal to readers of emotional and realistic fiction. Beautifully written, raw and packs a punch. Really enjoyed it.

The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward

The Potion Diaries Potion series Book One
Written by Amy Alward
Fantasy, Romance, Adventure
Published July 2nd 2015
320 Pages
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia
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RATING ★★★
When the Princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with a love potion meant for her crush, she falls crown over heels in love with her own reflection. Oops. A nationwide hunt is called to find the cure, with competitors travelling the world for the rarest ingredients, deep in magical forests and frozen tundras, facing death at every turn.

Enter Samantha Kemi, an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Sam's family were once the most respected alchemists in the kingdom, but they've fallen on hard times, and winning the hunt would save their reputation. But can Sam really compete with the dazzling powers of the Zoro Aster megapharma company? Just how close is Sam willing to get to Zain Aster, her dashing former classmate and enemy, in the meantime?

And just to add to the pressure, this quest is all over social media. And the world news.

No big deal, then.
The Kemi Potion Shop is falling apart, never mind business not being as bustling as it once was. Synthetic potion makers have taken over the market, driving the little family owned business into disrepair. When Sam and her gruff grandfather are summoned to the palace, the elderly alchemist and his protege called to action to find a cure for a toxic love potion. It seems Princess Evelyn has been poisoned by her own hand, concocting a love potion for an unrequited crush but consuming the mix and falling in love with her own reflection. Her life is in danger and teams from all over Kingstown have been called to participate in The Hunt, a dangerous adventure into the Wilds to obtain the ingredients needed to create a cure. 

Along with Finder Kirsty, the odds are stacked against the duo who not only have an exiled royal turned rogue to contend with but Zain, Evelyn's own crush and heir to the Aster synthetic potion empire.

MY THOUGHTS

The Potion Diaries was a lovely mix of fantasy, adventure that reads more as a mature middle grade, than young adult series. It follows the story of Sam, apprentice alchemist who lives in the family owned potion store. The Hunt offers Sam a chance for the Kemi Potion Shop to be financially viable once more, provided she finds the cure first. A fantasy modern day setting, it was lighthearted and fun, but the characters seemed far younger than they claimed. The few chapters from the Princess Evelyn's point of view were snort worthy. The potion intended for unrequited love, somehow she ends up consuming it herself and falls in love with her own reflection she affectionately calls Lyn. The Princess playing coy with the mirror, claiming she's found the love of her life was ridiculously funny and only added to the overall lightheartedness of the storyline.

The romance was the only down point and was used as a tool to add further interest. Zain didn't seem all that genuine and often put his father's wishes and Hunt before Sam. She often questions how genuine he is and whether his interest in her was little more than furthering his family's investment in the competition. Team mate Kirsty was more of a vested party than a friend, and although she claimed to be one of the world's best Finders, she let the inexperienced Sam do most of the work instead. She didn't add anything to the storyline and wouldn't have been missed, apart from driving to each destination.

THE VERDICT

Amy Alward has crafted a fun and lighthearted read for fans of middle grade fantasy, treasure hunts and adventure. Highly entertaining and looking forward to continuing on with the series. Really enjoyed it.

Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars

Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars
Written by Martine Murray
Middle Grade, Magic Realism
Published June 24th 2015
256 Pages
Thank you to Text Publishing
RATING ★★★☆
Molly has a strange life. Her mama collects herbs at dawn and makes potions, her father and brothers have gone away, and her house feels like a gypsy caravan.

Molly doesn’t want to know anything about herbs and potions. She wishes she could be more like her best friend, Ellen, who has a normal family and a normal house. But she is also secretly interested in Pim, who is inquisitive and odd and a little bit frightening.

When Molly’s mama makes a potion that has a wild and shocking effect, Molly and Pim look for a way to make things right, and Molly discovers the magic and value of her own unusual life.

Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars is a delightful story about friendship and acceptance and learning to see the wonder in the world.
Molly has always longed for a mother like that of best friend Ellen. Ellen who eats packaged foods and lives in a world of pop songs. Molly's mother talks to nature, concocting potions to cure almost anything and tends to her menagerie of animals, that both Molly and her mother call family. She wishes her father wasn't missing somewhere in Cuba or that her twin brothers would need to travel to find adventure, and she certainly wishes the elderly Mister and Mrs Grimshaw next door would mind their own business and stop picking on The Gentleman, their rooster who crows at all hours of the morning. To stop the nosy neighbours, Molly's mother devises a plan to grow a tree to block their view over the fence. A tall and majestic tree that she claims will be fully grown in a week, and sets off to collect the ingredients needed for her concoction.

Pim has always been a strange boy, alone and marching to the beat of his own drum. Molly is drawn to his sense of wonder and whimsy, but with best friend Ellen beside her, would never dare approach him. Ellen, with her perfect home, perfect mother and perfect life. But when Molly's mother's spell goes horribly wrong, it's Pim she turns to for help.

MY THOUGHTS

Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars was a joyful and lovely middle grade read. Contemporary sprinkled with magic realism, the underlying story is about friendship, acceptance and learning the value that the grass isn't always greener. Molly is at that age where she's incredibly self conscious about how she's perceived. She see's best friend Ellen as having the perfect life, full of modern conveniences and so far removed from her own. She's inquisitive, but wants nothing more for her mother to be normal. Until she suddenly doesn't have a mother. Sort of. A spell that has gone horribly wrong leaves Molly to fend for herself and no one to turn to. She can't tell Ellen what's happened to her mother so that leaves weird and wonderful Pim. I loved his character. He brought spark and personality to the storyline and was a brilliant example of all things unique. He was understanding, not to mention reliable and gave off an air of honesty.

The most magical aspect of the storyline was the fantasy elements. It added such a lovely sense of whimsy. The only negative aspect for me was Molly's missing father and brothers. Her father was supposedly lost in Cuba, but the storyline didn't expand further on his character or lack thereof. For children, Molly's missing father may pose more questions than answers. A small gripe that also could also be used for further discussion with older children.

THE VERDICT

Whimsical and utterly lovely, Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars will enchant middle grade readers and adults alike. Children will adore the magical realism and the underlying storyline of friendship and acceptance. The monochrome illustrations throughout are simply lovely. A delight to read.

Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot

Royal Wedding The Princess Diaries Book Eleven
Written by Meg Cabot
Contemporary, Romance
Published July 1st 2015
400 Pages
Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia
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RATING ★★★
For Princess Mia, the past five years since college graduation have been a whirlwind of activity, what with living in New York City, running her new teen community centre, being madly in love, and attending royal engagements. And speaking of engagements, Mia's gorgeous longtime boyfriend Michael managed to clear both their schedules just long enough for an exotic, and very private Caribbean island interlude where he popped the question! Of course Mia didn't need to consult her diary to know that her answer was a royal oui.

But now Mia has a scandal of majestic proportions to contend with. Her grandmother's leaked 'fake' wedding plans to the press that could cause even normally calm Michael to become a runaway groom. Worse, a scheming politico is trying to force Mia's father from the throne, all because of a royal secret that could leave Genovia without a monarch. Can Mia prove to everyone, especially herself, that she's not only ready to wed, but ready to rule as well?
Twenty six year old Mia is no longer the awkward and gangly teen, she's the young, confident woman who's very much in love with childhood sweetheart Michael, while juggling her role as the Genovian Princess. Staying at the Genovian Consulate in New York, Mia's father the Prince is embroiled in another scandal, this time involving a sports car and an effort to woo back Mia's mother. The paparazzi have ensured the royal family are trapped within the confines of the Consulate, while they continue to speculate why Michael has yet to propose to Mia.

But Mia has more pressing concerns. Her father is harbouring a secret that threatens to blow apart the Genovian empire, that even a royal wedding may not be able to overshadow.

MY THOUGHTS

Remember dorky, frizzy haired, goofy, monobrow Mia Thermopolis?


Mia is now twenty six, living life as a princess and dating childhood sweetheart Michael, who now owns his own multimillion dollar empire. The Genovian princess is stuck at the embassy, with rendezvous between her and Michael too few and far between. Political tensions are high, with neighbouring refugees trying to seek refuge within Genovia and a rival wanting to take the title of Prime Minister. Mia has never quite come to terms with the pressure of being a royal, and none more so when her father plunges her adopted nation into chaos. A nervous tick, a therapy journal and an overbearing grandmother later, Michael is about the pop the question. And about time.
Jet? He's hired a private jet? Who does he think he is all of a sudden, Christian Grey? I am not okay with this. I'm not some shy virginal student who only owns one shirt.

Mia is incredibly funny. Considering the chaos that surrounds the Genovians, her inner thoughts are still sharp, sarcastic and the same insecure and nerdy Mia that readers had fallen in love with. But a huge family secret throws a spanner in the works and Mia refuses to sweep it under the rug. In Royal Wedding, the wedding in fact plays a very small part to the storyline, but more so the secret her father has been keeping from everyone. And it's a doozy.

The storyline was a little thin in places, the political turmoil that faces Genovia felt more like filler sadly. Apart from a quick island getaway, the majority of Royal Wedding is set within the Genovian consulate. Fans have been waiting for the day Mia weds, but there was no pomp and pageantry which I was looking forward to reading. As much as I did enjoy it, I have a feeling it might have been an introduction to a new spin off series. I'd love to see it come to fruition, as sadly The princess Diaries seem to have run it's course.

THE VERDICT

I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a delight to see Mia as a young woman who is still the same dorky, goofy teen underneath her role as Princess. You don't need to have read the first ten installments in The Princess Diaries series, but it certainly helps if you've seen the first film adaptation The Princess Diaries to learn Mia's back story.

Because You'll Never Meet Me

Because You'll Never Meet Me
Written by Leah Thomas
Contemporary, Science Fiction, LGBT
Published July 1st 2015
352 Pages
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
★★★★
Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times, as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him.

A story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances, this debut is powerful, dark and humorous in equal measure. These extraordinary voices bring readers into the hearts and minds of two special boys who, like many teens, are just waiting for their moment to shine.
Oliver is allergic to electricity, spending his days in his mother's ramshackle cabin, reading and mastering the glockenspiel. He's a local legend, he and his mother living off the grid with their only visitor in a man known as Auburn Stache, a doctor who is connected to Ollie's late father. Ollie sees electricity as bursts of colour, he's never watched television, never experienced the internet or used a mobile phone. So when his mother suggests her write a letter to a penpal she believes may understand Ollie's condition, he feels he may finally have a friend. The last one didn't work out so well for Ollie.

Moritz knows what it feels like to be ostracised. Not only does he rely on a pacemaker to keep him alive, but Moritz was born without eyes, he was born listening, using his other senses to see. Oceans apart, the two boys understand that with Ollie's allergy and Moritz's pacemaker, their friendship will only ever consist of letters. But neither boy realises how much they will rely on the other to live.

My Thoughts

Because You'll Never Meet Me was one of the most unique contemporary fusion reads I've come across. It blended the strange and endearing, with a science fiction twist. The storyline is told in a series of letters between Oliver and Moritz. Ollie is allergic to electricity, he and his mother live in a cabin to protect Ollie from the devices that most of us can't live without. Surrounded by powerlines, their property is shared with Junkyard Joe, a man who uses the land to hunt. It's there that Ollie meets Liz, a girl with a sense of fun and mischief. Liz is the reason why Ollie now waits in their driveway, for the girl who may never arrive.

Moritz lives in a bustling German city, navigating the tumultuous halls of high school where he is bullied and abused by Lenz, a boy insistent on making Moritz's life miserable. In public, he wears opaque goggles to hide his 'disability', but Moritz isn't blind. He can see through his extraordinary senses of sound, touch and scent. But life for Moritz didn't begin with a loving family, and his story leaves Ollie wanting to know more about the aloof boy.

The letter's between the two boys were absolutely lovely. Ollie needed to fill the space with constant chatter, while the untrusting Moritz learnt to trust Ollie through their interactions. We learn more about Ollie's mother, his absent father and about Liz, the girl that Ollie has fallen in love with. While Moritz shares the story about the only father he's ever known, his own sexuality and dealing with the pressure of being different. I loved the back and forth letter format, it gave the reader an incredible sense of both Ollie and Moritz's inner thoughts being told from their own point of view. As the story progresses, it shifts from contemporary to what could only be seen as science fiction. I loved the twist, but was hoping it could have been eased into the storyline, as I felt slightly disconnected.

A warm and well written story about two boys oceans apart, that find solace in one another, their thoughts and secrets. A lovely debut novel from an author who will no doubt only go from strength to strength.

READ IT! Way Down Dark by James Smythe

Way Down Dark Australia Trilogy Book One
Written by James Smythe
Dystopian, Science Fiction
Published June 30th 2015
400 Pages
Thank you to Hachette Australia
Add to Goodreads
★★★★★
There's one truth on Australia. You fight or you die. Usually both. Imagine a nightmare from which there is no escape. This is a hell where no one can hide. This is a ship of death, of murderers and cults and gangs. This is Australia.

Seventeen year old Chan's ancestors left a dying Earth hundreds of years ago, in search of a new home. They never found one. The only life that Chan's ever known is one of violence, of fighting. Of trying to survive.

But there might be a way to escape. In order to find it, Chan must head way down into the darkness, a place of buried secrets, long forgotten lies, and the abandoned bodies of the dead. Fiercely independent and self sufficient, Chan keeps her head down and lives quietly, careful not to draw attention to herself amidst the violence and disorder. Until the day she makes an extraordinary discovery, a way to return the Australia to Earth. But doing so would bring her to the attention of the fanatics and the murderers who control life aboard the ship, putting her and everyone she loves in terrible danger.

And a safe return to Earth is by no means certain.

Kelly's Thoughts


ABSOLUTELY. PHENOMENAL.

Way Down Dark is the young adult dystopian of the year. Gritty storyline and a strong willed, determined, kick ass heroine that will have you on the edge of your seat. It's dirty, it's gritty and exactly what the dystopian genre needs. A tough, balls to the wall storyline that holds the reader hostage. And you'll love every. Freaking. Moment. It's action from cover to cover, leaving little time for you to catch your breath.

Australia is stationed in space, hovering above the earth in search of a new home. Previous generations have passed down the stories of the Earth being over populated, dying and a new home was needed to save mankind. It's inhabitants scrambled to build ships to send skyward, but one was never found. Chan was born upon Australia, a ship of murderers, hardened criminals and misfits of society. The next generation on board are split into groups, the Pale Women who live by their Testaments, the Bell's who are experimental genetically modified soldiers, dangerous as they are dim witted. Shopkeepers who recycle clothing and shoes from the dead and the Lows. Deadly gangs that roam the ship looking for their next victim. But now they've decided to expand. Families are being terrorised, children stolen, parents gutted like animals and thrown into the depths of the ship and Chan may only be one seventeen year old girl, but she's determined to fight back.

Chan is absolutely fierce. I adored her! She knows when to keep her head down and when to fight back. The families who live within the berths, she considers her people and when the Low's begin to sweep through with their own form of caste cleansing, Chan takes it upon herself to take them on. The Low's aren't your average young adult villains, they're brutal, terrifying and have no qualms about slashing you to ribbons just because they can. Their leader Rex is nothing short of a ferocious, homicidal and now out for blood.

It's fight or flight on board Australia, but eventually they will find you. There's no where to hide, even for Jonah. Jonah with his shock of red hair lives under the instruction the Pale Women, until he finds his world ripped apart by Rex. Together he and Chan form a tentative bond, wanting to rescue others from the clutches of the Low's and themselves. But Australia isn't what it seems. Years of fables told throughout the generations could never have prepared them for what those on board are about to discover. It's explosive.

The Verdict

James Smythe is an incredible author that has crafted an engaging, enthralling and brutal dystopian young adult novel that will leave you breathless. It's intelligent, dark and incredibly gritty. I loved it for it's brutality, it's honesty and it's determination to fight for the underdog. The young adult dystopian of the year.

Cover Reveal: STRAY by Rachael Craw

It’s hard to remember hating anything as much as I hate Affinity; a bone-deep loathing for the faceless unknown and the concrete walls of my own DNA.

Evie is a Shield: designed to kill in order to protect, and the Affinity Project have finally come for her. But Evie isn’t ready for the sinister organisation to take control of her life, her body, her mind. She isn’t ready to follow their rules about who may live and who must die – not when it condemns the innocent. She has one option: risk losing everything and everyone – including Jamie – and run.
Add Stray to Goodreads          Read my review for book one Spark here
Stray will be released 1 September, 2015 in bookstores in Australia and New Zealand, and online retailers.
COVER REVEAL

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