Saturday, May 19, 2012

New, hot, and recommended for May 2012

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Wow – talk about wow. What can I say about this book that hasn’t already been said? Is it amazing? Should you go out and request this book immediately, if not actually buy it? Yes, yes, yes. It is honestly that good. I’d been hearing about this book for a while, hearing everyone absolutely rave on about and telling me how I should read it. I’d looked up the plot on line and was a touch sceptical – was it going to end up being quite Lord-of-the-Flies-ey? So when it was handed to me, I took it smiling, but privately I couldn’t help but recall how people had urged me to read Twilight (the horror!) and I must admit I wasn’t all that enthused. All that changed however, in the blink of an eye, the turn of a page, or just a chapter into The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is an incredibly gripping book, I could hardly put it down. Set in a post apocalyptic world, the brutal authoritarian State of Panem cruelly demands two tributes from each district to compete in a brutal televised fight to the death, the Hunger Games. Collins has done a brilliant job with characterisation; had it not been for Collins’ skilled writing, 16 year old Katniss with her calculating intelligence may have been at risk of coming across as unappealing and cold. As it is, you cannot help but admire and like her as she attempts to get through The Hunger Games. The key theme to keep in mind while reading this book is humanity. How far can someone go and still hold on to it? Is it only those competing in The Hunger Games that risk losing their humanity? A fantastic and highly recommended book.

And yes, the line for Team Peeta has been drawn.

Oh Peeta, my hero!

Love-shy by Lili Wilkinson
Penny Drummond, fiercely determined, competitive, champion academic, and aspiring journalist, is on the hunt for a story. A Pulitzer Prize winning story. And she may have just found it in the library. In the mysterious Pezzimest. No more expose`s on the teachers who smoke outside the back door of the staff room or detailed analyses of the canteen chicken and corn rolls (FYI not chicken!) oh no! She would focus her investigative skills on exploring the shadowy world of Love-Shyness and the mysterious Love-Shy Pezzimist at the centre of it. She, Penny, using all her journalistic talent and resources, would draw out the boy who logged on to the Loveshy forum in the library. She would use a systematic, methodical approach. Nay, a Scientific approach and interview every subject (boys in her year) and assess their potential Love-Shyness. It couldn’t fail. Then she would cure him. And then accept her Pulitzer prize. Ok, admittedly, it would first have to be published in East Glendale Secondary College Gazette, her school paper, but after that, definitely the New York Times or The Guardian. But what started out as a simple story leads into the heartbreaking family life of Pezzimist, and Penny discovers that Pezzimist’s problems may not be so easy to fix. Along with her own. I really liked this eccentric wee book. It really was a sweet, quirky and quietly heart-wrenching book about real friendship and kindness, however misguided at first. Lili Wilkinson has a dry wit that has you laughing through your tears – the interviews with the subjects being a highlight in the book. And yes to all you thinking the same thing I was, Love-Shyness is apparently a real thing, I googled it, although, it doesn’t seem to be formally recognised as a mental health disease.

Yes by Deborah Burnside – New Zealand Post Finalist
I completely agree with New Zealand Post about this book and its calibre; it was an absolute delight to read. Yes tells the story of Marty, who’s ‘un-co as,’ and his mate ‘Legless’, aka Luke, crazy involvement in the Young Enterprise Scheme – a sure-fire way to make them rich, get the girl, and propel them to super cool status – or at least out of their current ‘D crowd’ ranking. I loved the way Deborah Burnside wrote this book. Yes was told through Marty in running stream of consciousness kind of prose. Burnside pulls this off well because although Marty goes off on tangents during the book, keeping up with the plot is easy. Throughout the story Burnside also drops little hints to highlight little differences with the main character Marty, his ‘un-co-ness’, his flashcards, so you know his mind works a bit differently to yours. You cannot help but befriend Marty when you see his friends, family, himself and his minor quirks through his eyes. And when the author reveals what you’ve long suspected, she also shows how unimportant these tiny differences are. This is a lovely, heart-warming book about friendship, courage, understanding, mental health, and a whole lot about not holding back, not reaching out, and what you might miss out on if you do. If Burnsides’ other books are anything like this one, then I for one will definitely be reading more. Double thumbs up lady!

The Bridge by Jane Higgins – New Zealand Post Finalist
I can understand what New Zealand Post saw in this book. It is a highly gripping book with a strong message of friendship, courage and the complete futility and devastation of war. The Bridge is a dystopian tale about an all consuming war between the Citysiders and the hostile Southsiders. Caught in the middle of this gruesome, unrelenting war is Nik Stais, and his friend Fyffe, who sacrifice all going over the Bridge into the hostile Southside territory to bring home Fyffes’ kidnapped younger brother Sol. But nothing is quite what it seems over the Bridge. The Southsiders are just as determined to fight for their people as the Citysiders are, but are they the real hostiles? The longer Nik and Fyffe stay in Southside the murkier the truth becomes until Nik can no longer be certain who he is. Is he even a citysider? Who is the real enemy, Citysider ISIS, or the Southside CFM or Remnant? This gritty tale certainly pulls no punches and is a dark tale about class and race division, propaganda and war. I’ll be honest, it is a pretty bleak book, very, very intense, so you might need a wee pick-me-up fluffy book to read after this.

Reminders lovelies:

  • Teen Scene Newsletter - don’t forget to sign up to the Auckland Libraries' Teen Scene eNewsletter under the New and Recommended tab on the website
  • Blogs - Under the Collections and Services tab on the website you can find a range of cool random blogs, and not just for teens. My favourites are the All things musical and the Top 5 goodies blogs eg Top 5: 5 things you might find rather odd if you saw them in your parents house
  • ~ Alannah, Howick Library

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