Author – James Bradley
Age – 13+
Ever since strange spores covered Earth, leaving web-like threads, humankind has battled The Change. Anybody who shows the symptoms of luminescence on their skin, or strange lights in their irises, are taken from their families, never to be seen again.
Callie is not about to let that happen to her 5 yr old half-sister Gracie. They have already lost their father to The Change, and Callie can’t face losing Gracie too. Against the strict Quarantine laws, Callie flees across Australia to The Zone – a place said to be a safe haven for The Changed.
But their journey is full of danger, vicious dogs with hate-filled owners, drones on the look-out and determined Quarantine officers. Will they get to The Zone and is it what they’ve been told or is it something not of this world?
I quickly became attached to determined, resourceful Callie and her love for her little sister. The tension never lets up on their journey and it culminates in a shocking finale. A trilogy I will definitely be following!
(Dystopian, Love, Family, Action, Alien, Escape, Determination, Series, Trilogy)
Author – Philip Pullman
Age – 15+ (Sexual Content)
When Chris helps a girl escape a group of guys at a posh party he is working at, he finds a love that consumes him. Jenny is smart, beautiful and independent. She lives in a squat with two friends and one weekend he invites her to stay with him as he house sits his dad’s place and looks after their cat.
When Jenny goes home, her squat is boarded up, her friends arrested for drug dealing and she is without a home. Not wanting to go back to Chris’ dad’s place to ask where he lives, she loses contact with Chris. She doesn’t know his surname and doesn’t know exactly where he works. They both spend months searching for each other in the city of Oxford.
Jenny gets a job baby-sitting. She doesn’t know Chris works for the child’s father, or that the father is being hunted down by a killer. Somebody is going to die…
Quick but thrilling read by this master story-teller,
(Thriller, Love, IRA, Betrayal, Lies, Growing up, Blended family, Step mother, Abuse)
Author – Eileen Merriman
Age – 15+
Rebecca hates her new school and new home far away from her friends in another city. She’s lonely and lost. When invited to a party, she goes to try and make friends and maybe fit in a little more. But on the way home, drunk and alone she encounters a group of boys where one of them takes advantage of her condition. She escapes before she it goes too far but is left with feelings of intense grief, loneliness and guilt that it was her fault. She begins to cut herself.
But then there is Cory Marshall. He is the boy next door, friendly, handsome and he makes her laugh. Over a shared love of books and poetry, they become friends and then a couple. But the boy that hurt her is one of Cory’s friends and she can’t be anywhere he is. Every time she bails on Cory (parties and school ball), he gets more confused and then angry with her. But Cory is dealing with his own demons – meeting his birth mother and learning who and what his birth father is.
Eileen Merriman is new to the NZ Teen Fiction stage after winning many awards for other writing. Pieces of you is a stunning teen debut. The characters are real, believable and well written and any fans of David Levithan, Jon Green or Jandy Nelson will love them.
(Romance, Adoption, Truth, Cutting, NZ Author, New Zealand, School, Ball, Kiwi)
Author – Gary D Schmidt
Age – 12+
This isn’t a long read and would be great for those teens who are a little reluctant at the thought of reading one of the doorstops they regularly see on library or bookshop shelves for teens. But just because it’s only 192 pages, doesn’t mean it won’t pack a punch – because it sure does.
I felt so much for Joseph, who at only 14 had experienced prison for attempted murder of a teacher, found an all consuming wonderful first love then lost it again, and learned that he was a father but was forbidden to ever have any contact with his baby daughter (called Jupiter.)
Now in foster care with 12 yr old Jack and his parents, Joseph is quiet, deliberately and instantly misunderstood by some of his teachers and the school bus driver, and the target of some school bullies.
But Jack quickly finds that Joseph is none of the things he is labelled with and he stands by him, just like he would an older brother. Jack’s parents treat Joseph as if he is their son, and Joseph responds to that – but his past soon catches up with him, with terrible results. Joseph has to make a choice. A sad but beautiful story of friendship, family and belief in someone you love.
(Family, Foster Care, Bullying, Prejudice, School, Young father, Love, Trust)
Author – Teri Terry
Age – 12+
(This is the 1st in a series)
16 yr old Shay (Sharona) is being teased about her full name again. When she fights back, leaving the bully on the floor, she flees bumping into a noticeboard on the way out. She snatches up flyers she has knocked off and escapes. When she is free, she opens the scrunched flyers and one of them shows a face she recognises. It is a photo of 11 yr Calista Tanzer, missing for a year. There is a contact number beneath the photo and Shay rings to say she has seen Calista.
1 year before, on a bike trail, Shay had noticed the young girl walking alone. She’d asked if she was ok then saw her get into a car with a man. Calista’s grieving brother (Kai) answers Shay’s call and wants to know everything she can remember and comes to see where his little sister was seen.
At the same time, some sort of virus seems to spreading through Scotland – fast. And it’s no ordinary sickness. It involves a temperature and pain – lots of pain. Is Calista part of this contagion?
Contagion is a thrill-ride that builds in intensity as Shay and Kai get to know each other, following anything they can find out about Calista’s last movements. It takes Shay to hell and back while people they know die around them. But where did the contagion come from and was it an experiment?
(Series, Love, Contagion, Experiment, Death, Revenge, Mystery)
Author – Patrick Ness
Age – 16+
Adam Thorn is looking forward to the going away party of a friend. But first he has a list of stuff to do. Get a run in before his shift at work, then a visit to his boyfriend Linus before helping his pastor father set up the church for weekend services. Little does Adam know that each of these jobs before the party will reveal a life changing event for him, altering his well planned future for himself.
These events help Adam find the courage to finally speak out against his controlled upbringing by his christian parents, his unsavoury employer and to finally realise what love truly is. This is a story of self doubt and self realisation, all while an entity has risen up out of the town lake inside a murdered girl. This entity wants revenge and will stop at nothing to get it.
Brilliant, effortless, wonderful writing with a strange supernatural element woven through the background.
(Gay, Homosexual, Sexual Identity, Love, Self doubt, Murder, Family)
Authors – Kathi Appelt & Alison McGhee
Age – 10+
What happens when you die? Maybe you turn into the wind. Maybe you become a shooting star. Maybe a fox?
When Jules loses her older sister Sylvie to a forbidden place in the woods, she is left with Dad and ‘Life After Sylvie.’ She’s angry at Sylvie’s incessant need to run faster. If only she hadn’t run off into the woods that day. If only she’d grabbed Sylvie’s hand tighter?
But if onlys don’t make things any easier, for Jules or their neighbour who has his own if onlys. But a fox called Senna is growing up nearby, and she is drawn to Jules. She knows she has to help this young human full of sadness.
Maybe a Fox is a story of grief, sisterhood and wishing rocks. Some that have worked and some that haven’t. Jules and Senna become closer throughout the story and then an event links them forever just as Jules learns the reason for her sister’s need to run faster….
(Fox, Animals, Secret, Catamount, Wishes, Friendship, Loss, Grief)