Ink by Alice Broadway

Imagine that you live in a world where every significant moment in your life is tattooed on your skin.  When you are named at birth your name is tattooed on your wrist, your family tree is tattooed on your back, and any successes or failures are recorded on your skin for anyone to see.  When you die your skin is flayed from your body and made in to a book so that your ancestors will remember you.  However, you are only allowed to be remembered once you are judged and your soul found to be clean.  If you are found to not be a good person your book is burned and you are forgotten.  This is the world in which Leora lives in in Alice Broadway’s fantastic new YA book, Ink.

9781407172842Every action, every deed, every significant moment is tattooed on your skin for ever.

When Leora’s father dies, she is determined to see her father remembered forever. She knows he deserves to have all his tattoos removed and made into a Skin Book to stand as a record of his good life.

But when she discovers that his ink has been edited and his book is incomplete, she wonders whether she ever knew him at all.

Ink is a gripping dystopian story of a girl whose life has been a lie. It’s also a book about wanting to live forever through the memories of our ancestors.  There is a belief in Leora’s world that only those who have lived worthy lives will be remembered and people will go to any lengths to ensure this.  I was hooked from the very first page and Alice kept me guessing the whole way. The stunning cover was the main reason why I picked this book up as the bronze foil design made me want to find out what the book was about.

Alice Broadway has created a world that is intriguing and enchanting.  It is a world that is held together by the stories that have been passed down from generation to generation.  These stories, that are woven in to Leora’s story, are based on fairy tales that have been manipulated to serve the purposes of the government.  In Leora’s world there are those that have been marked by their stories and those who choose to remain blank.  These Blanks have been banished but it is believed that they are trying to sneak back in to society to spy and ultimately to start a war.  Everyone in Leora’s world has a certain job, including inkers, flayers and government workers, and it is Leora’s dream to be an inker.  Just as her dream becomes a reality Leora’s world starts to unravel, leaving her unsure who to trust.

Ink is the perfect book for those readers who have read the Hunger Games, Divergent, and Flawed series and want something similar.  I think it is even suitable for Year 7 and 8 as there is nothing in the book that makes it inappropriate for this age group.  Although the book comes to (what I considered) a satisfying end there is certainly the possibility to delve deeper in to this world, and Alice says on her website that Ink is the first book in the The Skin Books Trilogy.

Allegiant Book Trailer

What if your whole world was a lie? What if a single revelation – like a single choice – changed everything? What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected? The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered – fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories. But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature – and of herself – while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice and love. Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

Allegiant, the final book in Veronica Roth’s Divergent Trilogy is out now.  I’ve been hearing good things about it and I’m curious to find out how the series ends.  I thought the second book, Insurgent, was a bit lacklustre, so hopefully Allegiant will be a satisfying conclusion to the series.

Insurgent Book Trailer

I’m so excited about this book!  Insurgent is Veronica Roth’s sequel to Divergent, one of my favourite books of 2011.  I loved Divergent even more than Hunger Games and I can’t wait to find out what happens to Tris and Four.  Insurgent is released in NZ on 4 May 2012 so make sure you order a copy at your bookshop or library now.

Six Days by Philip Webb

The recent trend in the publishing world of dystopian fiction is one that I am embracing whole-heartily.  I love the way different authors portray our future society, throwing in a corrupt ruler or organisation, a touch of romance and a mystery that their hero has to solve.  The majority of recent dystopian novels are set in America (or what was once America) so it was refreshing to read about a future Britain in Philip Webb’s Six Days.

Cass, her brother Wilbur, and their dad are Scavvs.  They work day in, day out ransacking what’s left of London, looking for a lost relic that no one has ever seen.  London is one of the only cities in the world left standing after the Quark Wars.  The Vlads have taken over control of the city and have forced those still alive to scavenge London to look for the ‘artifact.’  Cass’ brother, Wilbur, believes he knows where the artifact is and he’s determined to find it.  When Cass has to rescue her brother from what was once Big Ben, they meet a mysterious boy who looks nothing like a scav.  Not only is he not a scav, he’s also not of this world, and he knows the truth about the artifact that everyone is looking for.  This artifact has the power to begin and end life on earth and the Vlads will stop at nothing to get hold of it.

Six Days is an original, exciting mix of action, adventure, mystery and science fiction.  While I was reading it I was reminded of a quote from Shrek, ‘Ogres are like onions,’ because Six Days is also like an onion – there are so many layers to the story.  At first it seems like a dystopian story because you’ve got a future society ruled over by the invading Vlads. Then there’s the mystery of the artifact and the race to find it.  There’s also the story of where the artifact has come from and it’s link to the mysterious boy Cass meets in Big Ben.  All of these different parts come together in one incredible story that rockets along.  Cass is a fantastic narrator and will appeal equally to boys and girls (there’s no gushy romance to put guys off).  Philip Webb makes you really care for the characters and that’s what got me so engrossed in the story.  One of the reasons I like Six Days so much was because it’s not the first book in a trilogy, so Philip has packed so much into one book and you finish it satisfied that the story has come to a conclusion.  I can’t wait to see what Philip Webb writes next!

Death Cure by James Dashner

James Dashner’s Maze Runner, the first in the Maze Runner trilogy, is one of my all-time favourite books (you can read my review on the Christchurch Kids Blog).  It’s one of those books that is stuck in my head and I just couldn’t put down.  There are only a handful of books that have totally blown me away and The Maze Runner is one of them.  I’ve eagerly awaited the next books in the trilogy, The Scorch Trials, and finally, The Death Cure.  I honestly can’t tell you much about the plot for fear of spoiling the trilogy for those who haven’t read it, but here is the blurb:

“Thomas knows that Wicked can’t be trusted, but they say the time for lies is over, that they’ve collected all they can from the Trials and now must rely on the Gladers, with full memories restored, to help them with their ultimate mission. It’s up to the Gladers to complete the blueprint for the cure to the Flare with a final voluntary test.
What Wicked doesn’t know is that something’s happened that no Trial or Variable could have foreseen. Thomas has remembered far more than they think. And he knows that he can’t believe a word of what Wicked says.
The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever imagine.
Will anyone survive the Death Cure? “

All I can say is that The Death Cure is the perfect finale to an amazing series.  Thomas and the Gladers have come through this terrifying ordeal and the group are completely changed by the end.  James Dashner has managed to keep the suspense going throughout each book and keep us hanging out for The Death Cure to discover the truth.  If you’re a fan of dystopian or post-apocalyptic worlds, like those from Hunger Games and Divergent, you need to read The Maze Runner Trilogy.  You won’t regret it.

To get a taster of what to expect, watch this amazing book trailer:

Heart of Danger by Fleur Beale

We were first introduced to Juno and the people of Taris in Juno of Taris, what would become the first in a trilogy.  I picked up Juno of Taris on a recommendation of another children’s librarian that I worked with and was blown away by the community that Fleur Beale had created.  For those of you who haven’t read the first book, it’s best to start at the beginning, but one of the great things about the subsequent books in the trilogy is that you get a summary of the story so far before you start.  I don’t know if this was an idea of the publisher, Random House New Zealand, or Fleur herself, but I think it’s something that all trilogies/series should have, especially when the books come out a year apart.

Heart of Danger starts off exactly where Fierce September ended, with Juno and her family arriving at their new home.  It’s not long before Juno’s sister, Hera senses danger and they decide to move back to New Plymouth and Fairlands School, where they have the protection of Willem.  Juno is reluctant to move back to Fairlands, where Hilto’s son, Thomas goes to school.  There’s also the handsome Ivor, whose advances make Juno uncomfortable.  Her feelings for Ivor are confusing and she’s not sure how to deal with them on the outside world.  When Hera is taken by mysterious strangers who mean to do her harm, Juno must use her special mind powers to help her save her sister.  But will this be enough to save them both from the Children of the Coming Dawn?

Heart of Danger is the perfect conclusion to this brilliant trilogy.  There is a sense of impending doom from the opening chapter which builds to a thrilling climax, but there are also alot of questions answered about the establishment of Taris, the extent of Juno’s powers, and Juno’s biological family.  The climax of the story comes just over halfway through the book and I was wondering how it would finish, but it left plenty of time for Fleur Beale to wrap up the story of the people of Taris and end on a positive note.  I’ve really enjoyed seeing how Juno has developed over the series and how the people of Taris have adapted to the outside world.  I loved how they all managed to hold onto little aspects of life on Taris, while becoming citizens of Aotearoa.  I know I’ll miss Juno, her family and her friends, but I’ll enjoy starting from the beginning again and taking that journey with them once more.  In the mean time, I’ll go to to read Nash’s Story, an extra short story that Fleur Beale has written, to be read after Heart of Danger.

Recommended for 12+    10 out of 10


The Bridge by Jane Higgins book trailer

The Bridge is the brilliant new dystopian thriller by New Zealand author, Jane Higgins.  It is the very deserving winner of the 2010 Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing.  I’m currently in the middle of it and don’t want to put it down.  My review will be posted later this week.

In the mean time, here’s the blurb:

The City is divided. The bridges gated. In Southside, the hostiles live in squalor and desperation, waiting for a chance to overrun the residents of Cityside.

Nik is still in high school but destined for a great career with the Internal Security and Intelligence Services, the brains behind the war. But when ISIS comes recruiting, everyone is shocked when he isn’t chosen. There must be an explanation, but no one will talk about it. Then the school is bombed and the hostiles take the bridges. Buildings are burning, kids are dead, and the hostiles have kidnapped Sol. Now ISIS is hunting for Nik.

But Nik is on the run, with Sol’s sister Fyffe and ISIS hot on their trail. They cross the bridge in search of Sol, and Nik finds answers to questions he’d never dared to ask.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Some of my favourite stories are ones that are set in our world, but in the near future.  Divergent by Veronica Roth is one of those stories.  It is set in a society where everyone is separated into 5 different factions or groups; Erudite the Intelligent, Dauntless the Brave, Amity the Peaceful, Candor the Honest, and Abnegation the Selfless.  The main character, Beatrice, belongs to Abnegation, the faction that focus on others rather than themselves.  When you get to a certain age, you have to take a test to find out which faction is the best one for you to spend the rest of your life in.  You have the choice of staying in the faction you were born into or changing to your best-suited faction.  Beatrice’s results in her test means that she could choose from three different factions.

She chooses Dauntless, the faction of the daring and fearless, leaving behind her family and a faction that she can’t return to.  To become Dauntless, Beatrice (Tris, as she now calls herself) must pass the 3 stages of initiation.  She makes friends and enemies throughout the initiation, including Peter who will do anything to be the top initiate.   As she goes through the stages of initiation, it becomes clear that Tris is able to manipulate the simulations within the challenges and cope better than anyone else.  She discovers that she is Divergent, but what does that mean and why is it dangerous for anyone to find out that she is?

Divergent is full of suspense and I was on the edge of my seat right to the end.  Tris is an incredibly strong character who gets put through some tough challenges.  As I was reading Divergent I was thinking that I wouldn’t be strong enough to make it through the Dauntless initiation.  Veronica Roth has created a society that, at first, seems like it is perfect, but you see cracks slowly start to appear.  If you like stories like Hunger Games, you’ll love DivergentRecommended for 12+      10 out of 10