Unearthed by Amie Kaufman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I loved Unearthed. Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner have produced a ripper sci-fi/fantasy adventure novel that is clearly the beginning of a new series or trilogy. Ameila (Mia) and Jules are thrown together on planet Gaia – both searching and both in over their heads. Mia is a scavver (scavenger) who strips artifacts from off-world planets to get enough money to buy back her enslaved sister. Jules: son of infamous Dr Elliott Addison, an archaelogist who discovered a secret that nobody wanted to listen to, is on a mission to proves his father right and to stop humanity blowing itself up. The story is told in alternating chapters, from either Mia’s or Jules’ point of view, which works well and the perspective changes at just the right moment each time.
There are echoes of Indiana Jones and The Fifth Element running through this story, with plot twists, puzzles, danger and double crosses at every turn – but this is no copycat tale. Mia is clever, feisty, tenacious and vulnerable; Jules is smart, noble, nerdy and brave and the relationship that develops between them as the novel progresses is natural and believable.
The puzzles Jules and Mia have to solve are tricky and engaging, and the world they find themselves in is well-drawn. Gaia is a fascinating place.
The worst part about this book is knowing we have to wait for the next one because, oh boy, does it leave you on a MASSIVE cliffhanger!
I hope the next book in this series drops soon – I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
For ages 13 and up – it’s a corker.
The Power by Naomi Alderman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was an entertaining novel with a winning premise. I loved the idea of women having a latent power that is awakened in them, changing the social dynamic – and everything else connected to it. I also really liked the way Alderman shows that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely (thank you, H. Kissinger). So, this is not really a novel about gender (although it kinda is), it is more about power, the nature of power, and what HAVING (or not having) power does to people.
I thought the end came a little too quickly, it felt a bit rushed, but the last line is an absolute killer. Amusing and full of despair at the same time – can’t tell you because, spoilers, but it’s a real beauty.
Definitely worth a read – it’s sci-fi, spec fiction, and thriller all rolled in to one, with some astute observation thrown in. Favourite character? Jocelyn, without a doubt. She struggles with everything and still manages to shine, in my opinion., Everyone else is out for what they can get – Jocelyn just wants to fit in and have a peaceful life – what’s not to love about that? Favourite quote? It’s right towards the end, when Allie (a major character with HUGE potential that isn’t realised) is talking to the voice in her head, trying to work out which “side” to choose as things escalate between men and women and the people who have a vested interest in them fighting into perpetuity:
What can I tell you? Welcome to the human race. You people like to pretend things are simple, even at your own cost. They still wanted a King.
Allie says: Are you trying to tell me there’s literally no right choice here?
The voice says: There’s never been a right choice, honeybun. The whole idea that there are two things and you have to choose is the problem.
I know, right? Woah.
For ages 15 and up
Release by Patrick Ness
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It’s no secret to regular readers of my reviews that I LOVE Patrick Ness’ writing. The prose in Release is just sublime. Ness just gets better and better and this latest novel, a magical, heartfelt tale with a hard edge of realism, is as good as it gets.
Central character, Adam Thorn, is having a HUGE day. His former flame, Enzo, is leaving town; his best friend, Angela, makes a big announcement; Adam’s brother, Marty, makes an even bigger announcement; Adam’s boss, the greasily repugnant Wade, is sexually harrssing him; and Adam is trying to work out if he is in love with current flame, Linus. All the action in this story takes place over the course of a single day and it’s NEVER boring.
And if all that wasn’t enough, there is a second parallel storyline concerning the ghost of a murdered local girl rampaging through the forest and town looking for answers, for peace. Her journey and Adam’s are similar – they are both trying to find where they fit in and trying to move on from things that are holding them back.
I really like Adam as a protagonist. He is funny, sensitive, and well-liked by his peers. He also has an amazing best friend in Angela. She is probably my favourite character in this story. She loves Adam fiercely, and is always in his corner, and he in hers, no matter what. She has his back and her family is the family Adam wishes he has. Big Brian Thorn – head preacher at The House Upon the Rock evangelical church – is a proud and prejudiced man. Adam has hidden his true self from his parents for a long time and the revelation of who he really is, is a pivotal moment in the novel. When Big Brian finds out Adam is gay (and hopes he can pray the gay away) he tells Adam
“You have no idea how much I work to love you.”
Ouch. Adam tells his father how he feels about Angela’s family:
“…they’re my family. They love me. They are who I go to when things are hard. That hasn’t been you for years, Dad, and do you really never wonder whose fault that is?”
This is a novel about a small town, but it’s full of BIG emotions, BIG decisions. It’s a triumph. Read it. Just. Read. It.
Ages 13 and up.