When We Wake by Karen Healey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Set in Melbourne, this is sci fi writing at its best. Tegan (Teeg) is a sixteen year old girl, loving life her best mate Alex and her new boyfriend Dalmar. Her life changes irrevocably the day she attends a climate change rally in the city centre. A sniper, aiming at the Prime Minister, shoots Tegan instead. Her world goes black and she wakes up, 100 years later in a research facility. Everything she knew is gone – in an instant. Her mother, her friends, the world she knew has disappeared. Luckily Tegan is a resourceful and strong-willed girl and she learns to adapt quickly to her new surroundings. It is clear she is a pawn in a much bigger game than she could ever have anticipated.
The novel doesn’t pull any punches about the effects of climate change and touches on many related issues without being preachy, which I really liked. It treats the YA reader as someone with intelligence and curiosity. The things that happen to Tegan, framed in the future science (and society) that Healey uses so well, are totally believeable and genuinely scary.
I also loved the use of song titles from Tegan’s beloved Beatles as chapter titles. It just shows – good music is good music even 100 years from now!
I am pretty sure there must be a sequel in the wind, or already here, so I must seek it out asap! I am anxious to find out what happened after the last page. Highly recommended.
Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Colin has Asperger’s Syndrome. It is important to get that out of the way, because this is not just about Asperger’s. It is also about the other people in the life of an Asperger’s sufferer. Family, friends, teachers – all figure in this mystery novel starring Colin as the detective.
Colin has just started high school and it has not been going well. “Flushed” on his first day by Wayne Connelly – it doesn’t look good for Colin. He makes notes about everyone and assesses people’s emotional state using a set of “smile flash cards”. You get the picture. At home, he has a supportive set of parents, especially his Dad who seems slightly bemused about everything most of the time. His brother Danny is resentful of all the extra attention Colin gets, but overall they are a loving family unit.
The mystery kicks into gear when a shot is fired in the cafeteria. The gun is dropped and perpetrator escapes, leaving everyone to wonder who it was. All the circumstantial evidence points to Colin’s nemesis, Wayne, but Colin is not convinced and sets out to prove Wayne’s innocence in the face of opposition from everyone except the breathtakingly beautiful Melissa. Now, I do not believe in spoilers so you won’t get much more out of me here, but it is fair to say that cake and crocodiles come into play as the investigation continues.
This is a delight from beginning to end. Colin is a three-dimensional character suffering from Asperger’s, but not defined by it. I actually imagine that he would have been the type of guy I would have found fascinating at school. The teachers, particularly the sports teacher, Mr Turrentine, are fabulous. I really believed the sports lessons where he would not allow Colin to sit out because he was afraid of the basketball. I loved Mr Turrentine, and it appears the author did too because part of the dedication is to the “real” Mr Turrentine. Dr Doran, the principal is also really cool and immensely accommodating of Colin’s investigation. Melissa is lovely and Wayne the bully is proof that still waters sometimes run very deep.
A great read that reminded me in parts of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, but also gave me lots of new things to enjoy.
Definitely for ages 13 and up.