Tag Archives: Young Adult Science Fiction

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

So many young adult novels are about ‘the chosen ones,’ those teens who are special and they’re going to change their world for the better.  What if you’re not ‘the chosen one’ though? What if you just have to live your life when everything around you is falling apart?  Patrick Ness asks this question in his latest book, The Rest of Us Just Live Here.  Patrick Ness is my favourite author and I know to expect something different (and amazing) every time he writes a new book.  He’s one of those authors who always tries something new.  As soon as I started reading The Rest of Us Just Live Here I knew I had a very special book in my hands.

What if you weren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death? What if you were like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again. Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life. Even if your best friend might just be the God of mountain lions.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here blew me away!  It is an incredibly beautiful, funny and moving novel.  The premise of this book, that not everyone is the chosen one, works so well.  There are two parallel stories happening – the story of the Indie kids and their battle with the Court of the Immortals (which plays out in the chapter headings), and the story of Mikey and his friends who aren’t the chosen ones.  Mikey, his sister Mel, and his friends just want to go to the prom and graduate without their school being blown up again.  All of the strange events that happen in their town seem to involve the Indie kids, who have names like Finn, Satchel and Kerouac. Their town has seen soul-sucking ghosts and vampires (amongst other ‘beings’) but the ordinary kids like Mikey and Jared are never part of that story.  They just want to live their lives the best way they can.  I love how we, as readers, know what is going on with the Indie kids and their battle with the Court of the Immortals, but Mikey and his friends and family don’t have a clue.  It’s very clever storytelling!

I love the characters in The Rest of Us Just Live Here.  They all have their own problems or are ‘messed-up’ in some way.  Mikey has anxiety issues that come and go.  When he gets especially anxious he gets himself stuck in loops, where he has to count things or wash his hands over and over again.  His friends are all going their separate ways after high school and he worries that he’ll get stuck in a loop and not be able to get out of it. Mikey’s sister, Mel, starved herself to death with anorexia and died for 3-4 minutes.  She’s on an eating plan but Mikey still worries about her.  Mikey’s friend, Jared, has problems of a different nature.  Jared is a god of cats so he has cats (both small and large) following him and a special gift that he uses to help his friends.  Even though they’re slightly messed-up they still count themselves lucky that they’re not one of the Indie kids.  This is a book that makes you feel that it’s OK just to be you, no matter how messed-up you are.  I love the way that the story ends and the decision that Mikey finally makes.

One of my favourite quotes in the book not only sums up the story perfectly, but also catpures teenage life:

‘Not everyone has to be the Chosen One.  Not everyone has to be the guy who saves the world.  Most people just have to live their lives the best they can, doing the things that are great for them, having great friends, trying to make their lives better, loving people properly.  All the while knowing that the world makes no sense but trying to find a way to be happy anyway.’

Patrick Ness is an author that can’t do anything wrong in my eyes.  I’m constantly amazed by his incredible writing and I can’t wait to read what he writes next.  Drop everything and read this amazing book!

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Win a signed copy of Stray by Rachael Craw

Rachael Craw’s addictive sequel to Spark, Stray, was released yesterday and I had the pleasure of helping Rachael to launch it in Christchurch last night.  It was a great launch with heaps of Spark fans! You can read my review of Stray here on the blog.

Thanks to Walker Books Australia I have 5 copies of Stray to give away, and thanks to Rachael they are all signed.  To get in the draw to win a signed copy of Stray just email bestfriendsrbooks@gmail.com with the subject line ‘Stray’, along with your name and address.

Competition closes Wednesday 9 September (NZ only).

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Stray by Rachael Craw

Rachael’s Spark Trilogy takes us in to a world of genetically engineered humans and the sinister organisation that rules their lives.  In Spark, Rachael introduced us to Evie, an ordinary teenage girl, whose life changes dramatically when her mutant DNA is sparked.  Evie is overtaken by the urge to protect her best friend Kitty.  We learn that she is a Shield, the result of a decades-old experiment gone wrong, and bound by her DNA to defend Kitty from the Stray.  Evie develops special abilities that help her to carry out her role, including increased speed, strength and attractiveness.  These abilities are only heightened by Jamie, Kitty’s striking brother.  Spark follows Evie as she hones her abilities in the hope that she is ready when the time comes to defend Kitty and take out the Stray.  Rachael reveals tantalising details about the sinister Affinity Project and its aims, but it is not until book two, Stray, that we discover more about them and the people behind the organisation.

1447372344232It’s hard to remember hating anything as much as I hate Affinity; a bone-deep loathing for the faceless unknown and the concrete walls of my own DNA. Evie is a Shield: designed to kill in order to protect, and the Affinity Project have finally come for her. But Evie isn’t ready for the sinister organisation to take control of her life, her body, her mind. She isn’t ready to follow their rules about who may live and who must die – not when it condemns the innocent. She has one option: risk losing everything and everyone – including Jamie – and run.

Spark and Stray are incredibly addictive stories!  I got totally swept up in the stories and had to read every second that I could so that I could find out what happened.  As a librarian and a huge book lover I read so many great books but there are only a few that really stand out, and Rachael’s books certainly have for me.

The second books in a trilogy often lack something and can seem like they’re just filling in time before the dramatic conclusion.  Stray, however, is an epic sequel!  Rachael had me hanging on for dear life on this roller-coaster ride.  The action is almost non-stop, with Rachael giving you the chance to catch your breath briefly (with a touch of comedic relief), before racing ahead again.  Spark was full of plenty heart-stopping moments but Stray takes it up a notch.  There were times when I couldn’t take the suspense.  It’s this feeling that just keeps you reading so you can know the answers.  It was the science fiction aspect of the story that grabbed me with Spark and we delve more in to the shady world of genetic engineering in Stray.  Rachael takes us inside the Affinity Project and we meet the men and women of questionable ethics that are behind the organisation.

It’s not only the action of the story that I love about Rachael’s books, but also the characters.  You know that when you can both love and hate a character that they’re very real.  While a lot of Rachael’s readers are swooning over Jamie, I myself have a crush on Evie.  Evie is quite simply HOT!  I’m sure Rachael puts Evie in a Lara Croft costume just for her male readers.  Looks aside, there are times that I marvel at Evie’s actions and times that I want to shake her by the shoulders in frustration.  Evie’s relationships change quite dramatically in Stray, and not just with Jamie.  Rachael also introduces us to some great new characters who are part of the Affinity Project, including Knox and Tesla.

Rachael’s books are young adult sci-fi at its best and they can stand proud beside the likes of Hunger Games, Divergent and The Maze Runner. Rachael’s fan base will grow hugely with the release of Stray, and like me they will be desperate to read the conclusion of the trilogy when Shield is released next year.  Get your hands on a copy now.

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One week until Stray!

If you’re a fan of Rachael Craw’s Spark, you’ll know that there is only a week until the second book in the series, Stray, is released.  If you haven’t read Spark, you absolutely need to go and grab a copy now so that you’ll be up-to-date with the story before it continues in book two.  I’ve just re-read Spark to prepare myself for Stray, so Rachael’s brilliant story and characters are fresh in my mind.  I have to know what will happen to Evie, her family and friends, and what the repercussions will be from the events of Spark.  It is such an action-packed, edge-of-your-seat read and Stray is sure to be more of the same. Spark is one of the best YA science fiction books I’ve read and it’s even better knowing that Rachael is from New Zealand!

It’s hard to remember hating anything as much as I hate Affinity; a bone-deep loathing for the faceless unknown and the concrete walls of my own DNA. Evie is a Shield: designed to kill in order to protect, and the Affinity Project have finally come for her. But Evie isn’t ready for the sinister organisation to take control of her life, her body, her mind. She isn’t ready to follow their rules about who may live and who must die – not when it condemns the innocent. She has one option: risk losing everything and everyone – including Jamie – and run.

I’m super excited to be helping Rachael Craw launch Stray in Christchurch next Tuesday night!  I’m looking forward to meeting Rachael, hearing all about Stray and getting my book signed.  If you’re in Christchurch or near-by you could also come along too.  Here is the invitation to the launch:

Stray - Invite CHCHIf you can’t get to the book launch I have some fantastic news for you!  Thanks to Walker Books Australia I have 5 copies of Stray to give away here on the blog.  I’ll ask Rachael to sign them so I’ll have 5 SIGNED copies to give away.  Keep an eye out on the blog next week for your chance to win.

Check out Rachael Craw’s website for more info about Spark, Stray and Rachael herself.

 

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Interview with Thalia Kalkipsakis, author of Lifespan of Starlight

Thalia Kalkipsakis’ latest book, Lifespan of Starlight is one of my recent favourite young adult books.  It’s an incredibly exciting, fresh and unique story about time travel.  You can read my review here on the blog.

I had a few questions about Lifespan of Starlight, Thalia’s vision of time travel.  Thalia very kindly answered my questions and you can read my interview with her below.

  • What inspired you to write Lifespan of Starlight?

I love the idea of a hidden skill or ability that all humans possess – exploring how it might be discovered and what it could be. But for me the ‘ability’ is really just a metaphor for human ambition and the way imagination can lead to creation. I’m also fascinated by time – and the variety of ways we experience time – so it was easy to work out what the hidden ability would be: conscious control over where we move in time.

At the moment, human beings are facing huge challenges – both in terms of how technology impacts on our lives and also how our lives impact on the environment – but I still look to the future with a sense of hope. So the ability to time travel in the story is also a metaphor for our future inventions and resilience. I believe that we might even surprise ourselves.

And the main character? Strangely it was our cat who inspired Scout’s character. The cat was from an animal rescue shelter and the runt of the litter. She seemed so powerless, but she is actually quite cunning and resourceful once you get to know her. I wanted to write a character that has no power, no rights, but uses creativity and courage to survive.

  •  Is your vision of time travel based on real scientific principles? Is there such a thing as Relative Time Theory?

I chose the name Relative Time Theory as a nod to Einstein’s theory of relativity, but I also took a huge amount of fictional licence in order to make the story work. The idea that we can control our experience of time is entirely my own leap of fun. But once you make that leap I like the way it relates to the true concept of spacetime – once you completely stop your progress through time, you also cease to exist physically in space. At least, that’s how it works in the story.

  • Your vision of time travel in Lifespan of Starlight is not a stereotypical idea of time travel.  What are your rules of time travel in your story?

Since the initial seed of the idea was an ability that exists in us all, it was important to me that it didn’t come easily – so no flux capacitors or sonic screwdrivers here J. It is simply a matter of meditating to a point where your ‘flow through time’ reaches a standstill, then (within limits) you choose your return point. Human beings are capable of amazing things but we also have to overcome our weaknesses and flaws, so things like confidence and fear impact on how well a character can time skip. And as with every skill you might try to master, your ability to time skip also improves with practise. In book 1 and even more in book 2, the characters also struggle to hit their chosen time for return.

The idea that you can only travel in one direction also relates to our experience of time – we always experience time progressing forwards, we never see the world unravelling around us. So even though the characters begin to believe that it’s impossible to go back, in my mind and within the rules of that world, I do imagine that going backwards is possible, but it’s our difficulty comprehending ‘backwards’ that renders it almost impossible to achieve. Although, that’s an issue for book 2…

  • If you could time jump, how far ahead would you want to go?

I don’t think I would jump very far ahead at all. Once I began spending time in that world, it didn’t take me long to realise the impact of jumping ahead in terms of leaving behind the people you love. This issue looms large in book 2 but I think it’s also true to how life would be if time skipping were real. Since I could only go forwards, I’d only want to time jump if everyone I care about could come with me. But if I knew I could easily come back to ‘now’? In that case, my answer’s completely different. Let’s start with 2084 and I’d get to see how closely the world in the Lifespan of Starlight matches reality.

  • What is your favourite book and movie about time travel?

Aw, only one book and movie? It’s difficult to choose, but I can say that my favourites all link time travel with a sense of genuine human experience.

For adults, it’s hard to go past The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger: it’s both a book and a movie. The way time travel impacts on the character’s daily lives rings so true that you end up believing that it’s real.

For kids, I’d have to choose Cicada Summer by Kate Constable. I don’t want to give anything away, but one of the main twists always gives me a lump in the throat. It’s not a movie, but it should be.

  • If you could choose a song to be the theme song for Lifespan of Starlight what would it be?

Gosh, what a great question. Pity I don’t have a decent answer. I know this is cheating but it’s hard to go past the soundtrack to the movie Run Lola Run. I love the lyrics: “I wish I was a writer, who sees what’s yet unseen”.

So, just cos they’re awesome, here are links to the trailer for the movie and the title song:

  • You leave readers on a cliff-hanger ending.  How long do we have to wait for book two and do you know the title?

It wasn’t so much about leaving readers hanging, but I did want to give readers that sense of jumping into the unknown – reaching the end of the story and not knowing where the next story would begin.

Book two has a couple of twists and surprises – it’s due for release in April 2016 and the working title is ‘Split Infinity’.

  • Have you planned the trilogy or do you have to see where Scout takes you?

The short answer is ‘yes to both’. I did have a sense of the overall structure very early on, but it was only when I recognised three distinct sections that I began to think it might work as a trilogy. The identity of the woman in the cave, for example, I’ve always known would be revealed in book 3. But I’ve also left enough room for the characters to breathe – to let them lead the story rather than the other way around. I’ve already found in book 2 that Scout is brave enough to take on more than I had planned.

Grab a copy of Lifespan of Starlight from your library or bookshop now.  Stay tuned for the chance to win a signed copy of Lifespan of Starlight next week.

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When We Wake by Karen Healey

What do you think the world would be like if you fell asleep right now and woke up in 100 years time?  Would the world be incredibly technologically advanced or would it be ravaged by an apocalyptic event?  Would people be more tolerant of differences in race, ethnicity and sexuality? Karen Healey shows us her version of a future in earth in her latest book, When We Wake, about the first person to be cryonically frozen and successfully revived.

Sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl living in 2027 – she’s happiest when playing the guitar, she’s falling in love for the first time, and she’s joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world: environmental collapse, social discrimination, and political injustice. But on what should have been the best day of Tegan’s life, she dies – and wakes up a hundred years in the future, locked in a government facility with no idea what happened.

Tegan is the first person to be cryonically frozen and successfully revived, which makes her an instant celebrity – though all she wants is to rebuild some semblance of a normal life … including spending as much time as possible with musically gifted Abdi, even if he does seem to hate the sight of her. But the future isn’t all she hoped it would be, and when appalling secrets come to light, Tegan must make a choice: Does she keep her head down and survive, or fight for a better future?

When We Wake has everything a great science fiction story should have – mystery, action, actual science, a future world, cool technology, and a main character who you route for right from the start.  Karen keeps you guessing and her writing is fast-paced so you want to keep reading so you can find out how it ends.

It’s a sign of a great character when you connect with them as soon as they start talking.  Karen hooked me in from the first paragraph and I wanted to know everything about Teegan and the insane situation that she finds herself in.  You empathise with her because you know how strange and difficult it would be to adapt to a different world. The more you find out about her and the sort of person she is, the more I liked her.  She’s the sort of person who won’t be pushed around and told what to do.  Even though she’s told by the army and various religious groups that her life doesn’t belong to her she does everything to prove them wrong.  She’s not concerned about making a spectacle, even when she’s being broadcast to millions of people around the world.  Other people try to force their morals and ethics on to Teegan, but she has her own strong opinions and no one is going to change those.

One of the things that really stood out for me in When We Wake was the way that Karen brought the future society’s moral and ethical views into the story.  Many science fiction stories (especially for teens) don’t delve into these aspects of future worlds so it made Karen’s feel fresh and different.  Through Teegan you see how the future society’s views of religion, ethnicity, and sexuality have changed, and how, even with massive climate change, people still aren’t looking after the planet.  Like today’s society, many of the people in charge of this future earth have questionable morals and ethics, and it’s these that shape the story.

5 out of 5 stars

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2012 Cybils Winners and My Favourite Finalists

It was an exciting week last week, with both International Book Giving Day and the announcement of the winners of the 2012 Cybils Awards on Thursday 14th February.  It’s always exciting to find out which books judges pick as the winners, and it was even more exciting for me as I got to help choose the winner of the Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy category.  You can find out about all the winners of each category on the Cybils website.

I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the Round 2 judges for the 2012 Cybils Awards.  My group of judges had the tough task of choosing our favourite YA science fiction and fantasy book from the 7 shortlisted titles (you can see them all here).  It was a really interesting and enjoyable experience, even though it was tough at times.  For someone like myself, who won’t finish a book if I’m not enjoying it, I had to push through a couple of the finalists and force myself to finish them.

We chose Seraphina by Rachel Hartman as our winner of the Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy category.  Seraphina was one of my top 3 books in the category, along with Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi and Every Day by David Levithan. I think these are three books that all high school libraries should have in their collection, and you can find out what I loved about these books below.

 

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina works as the music assistant to the royal court composer in Lavondaville. Her world is populated by humans and by dragons able to take human form, and for now there is an uneasy peace between them. In fact, the fortieth anniversary of the treaty between human and dragonkind is rapidly approaching. But then a member of the royal family is murdered, and the crime appears to have been committed by a dragon. The peace and treaty between both worlds is threatened.Seraphina is caught desperately in the middle of the tension. Her father is human, and her mother was a dragon in human form.She is unique, and completely illegal – and if she is found out, her life is in serious danger . . .

  • The world building was amazing and I really felt immersed in Seraphina’s world.  The history of the relationship between dragons and humans was explained well, without getting into lots of detail.
  • I connected with Seraphina right from the start and I found her voice interesting.  She’s a character that teen readers would relate well to and they would be routing for her.
  • The mystery and intrigue really hooked me in.  Sure, at times there wasn’t a lot of action, but trying to figure out different people and their motives kept me interested in the story.
  • It was an original dragon story.  I didn’t feel like Rachel had borrowed ideas from other fantasy stories.  Her dragons were captivating and I loved the way that they hoarded knowledge rather than gold.  I think that aspect kind of connected me to the dragon characters.  I also loved that the dragons could shape shift into human form and walk among us.

The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi

Two refugee children, Mahlia and Mouse, are known as ‘war maggots’: survivors who have barely managed to escape the unspeakable violence plaguing the war-torn lands of the Drowned Cities. But their fragile safety is threatened when they discover a wounded half-man -a bioengineered war beast named Tool, who is hunted by a vengeful band of soldiers. When tragedy strikes, Mahlia is faced with an impossible decision: risk everything to save the boy who once saved her, or flee to her own safety.

  • Paolo’s real strength in this story is his world building.  He feeds you little details about why the Drowned Cities are the way they are and who the different factions are that are fighting for supremacy. The setting is definitely a character in itself and he describes the Drowned Cities in great detail.  Through his descriptions you know what it looks, feels, sounds and smells like and you wonder how people can survive here.
  • I loved the the characters of Tool, Mahlia and Mouse/Ghost.  If Paolo can make you feel for a killing machine that’s some powerful writing.  The way that Paolo chose to tell the story, switching between the three main characters, really helped to keep the story moving along and I was always wondering what was happening to the other characters.
  • The story is quite dark, but this is why I enjoyed it so much.  You’re delving into this world full of despair and routing for the characters to make it out into a world full of hope.  A lot of the characters are sinister and have been shaped by the world they live in, and you keep reading in the hope that they will get their comeuppance.

Every Day by David Levithan

Every morning, A wakes in a different person’s body, a different person’s life. There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

And then A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

  • It’s completely different from anything I’ve ever read, because usually the narrator stays in one body throughout the story and they interact with the same characters.  In Every Day, A is in a different body each day, so it has to get used to being a different person (on the outside) and acting like that person.  One of the most interesting things about this book is the way that you look at the character of A.  Even though A doesn’t know if it is male or female, I imagined A as a male right from the start.  However, I think each reader will picture A differently.
  • Sometimes it can take you a while to put yourself in the main character’s shoes, but I immediately empathized with A and what it was going through.  You try to understand what it would be like to wake up each day as a different person, but you can’t really grasp how difficult it would be.
  • I loved the interactions between A (in its different bodies) and Rhiannon and you are hoping with all your heart that they can be together.
  • David Levithan’s ending to the story is absolutely perfect, and has to be my favourite ever ending of a book.

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Love YA sci-fi? Grab The Rosie Black Chronicles

The Rosie Black Chronicles is a fantastic young adult science fiction series, written by Australian author Lara Morgan.  The series is published by Walker Books Australia, who also publish some other exciting science fiction/futuristic books for children and teens, including Brian Falkner’s The Tomorrow Code and Brainjack, and Ambelin Kwaymullina’s The Tribe series. 

The Rosie Black Chronicles is an action-packed, fast-paced series set in the not-too-distant future.  There are corrupt organisations, secret plans, a killer virus, rebellions, space travel, a colony on Mars, a touch of romance, and a butt-kicking main character, Rosie Black.  If you like futuristic stories like The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, Across the Universe, and Legend then The Rosie Black Chronicles is the perfect series for you.

Last week I received a top-secret package from Helios, the secret organisation from The Rosie Black Chronicles with a flash drive containing information about Rosie Black.  I was told to spread the information, so below you will find links to chapter samplers from each of the three books in the series, character profiles, book trailers and an interview with Lara Morgan.  Feel free to print these off and share with readers far and wide.  Next week I’ll have a special giveaway of a complete set of The Rosie Black Chronicles signed by Lara Morgan, so watch out for this.

Rosie Black Book 1: Genesis Chapter Sampler

Rosie Black Book 2: Equinox Chapter Sampler

Rosie Black Book 3: Dark Star Chapter Sampler

Rosie Black Character Profiles

Q&A with Lara Morgan

Rosie Black Mini Poster

For more about Lara Morgan and The Rosie Black Chronicles visit www.rosieblack.com

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Prepare for the conclusion to The Rosie Black Chronicles

The Rosie Black Chronicles, written by Australian author, Lara Morgan, is one of my favourite YA science fiction series.  If you haven’t come across this series (from Walker Books Australia) you don’t know what you’re missing.  Here’s the blurb of the first book in the series, Genesis:

Rosie Black is on the run to save her family and uncover the truth.
Five hundred years into the future, the world is a different place. The Melt has sunk most of the coastal cities and Newperth is divided into the haves, the “Centrals”; the have-nots, the “Bankers”; and the fringe dwellers, the “Ferals”. Rosie Black is a Banker. When Rosie finds an unusual box, she has no idea of the grave consequences of her discovery. A mysterious organisation wants it – and they’ll kill to get it. Forced to rely on two strangers, Rosie is on the run. But who can she trust? Pip, the too attractive Feral, or the secretive man he calls boss? From Earth to Mars, Rosie must learn the secrets of the box. Before it’s too late.

Lara amped up the action and the tension in the second book, Equinox, and the third and final book, Dark Star, is due to be released in November.  I’ll be reviewing it here on the blog in a couple of weeks and, thanks to Walker Books, I’ll have some signed copies to give away.  In the mean time, check out the fantastic trailer for Dark Star:

Lara Morgan will be visiting the Walker Books Australia offices on Thursday so if you have any burning questions about the series to ask her you can post them here or send Walker Books a message on Twitter – @WalkerBooksAus

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1.4 by Mike Lancaster

Mike Lancaster’s 0.4 is one of my favourite books and the best science fiction story I’ve read.  I read it just before the February 2011 earthquake in Christchurch so I was distracted by everything that was going on and didn’t get the chance to tell everyone how amazing it was.  It’s the story of Kyle Straker, a teenage boy living in a small village in England, who wakes up after being hypnotized to find his world a very different place.  It hooks you in from the first line and you don’t want to put it down until the last word.  1.4 is Mike Lancaster’s sequel to 0.4 and it’s just as addictive.

It’s a brave new world. In the far future, people no longer know what to believe…Did Kyle Straker ever exist? Or were his prophecies of human upgrades nothing more than a hoax? Peter Vincent is nearly 16, and has never thought about the things that Strakerites believe. His father – David Vincent, creator of the artificial bees that saved the world’s crops – made sure of that. When the Strakerites pronounce that another upgrade is imminent, Peter starts to uncover a conspiracy amongst the leaders of the establishment, a conspiracy that puts him into direct conflict with his father. But it’s not a good idea to pick a fight with someone who controls all the artificial bees in the world.

1.4 is an upgraded, even better story than 0.4.  The story takes place 1000 years after the events of 0.4 and Mike shows us his incredible vision of the future.  It’s a future where bees have died out and been replaced by robot bees, humans can connect to technology and each other through filaments that come out of their bodies, and they are constantly connected to technology through their Link.  The story is told through the LinkDiary entries of Peter Vincent, whose father invented the robot bees, which many people believe saved the world.  There is a small section of society who believe that the Kyle Straker tapes are real and that the events of 0.4 actually happened, but these people are treated like second class citizens and live in slums.  Amalfi (or Alpha) is a Strakerite who goes to Peter’s school, and when she asks for Peter’s help to find out what has happened to her father, their world is turned upside down.

The thing I like most about 1.4 is the way that Mike Lancaster has woven the two stories together.  If you’ve read 0.4 you know why society is so technologically advanced and who the ghosts in the photos are.  I also really like that Mike doesn’t let relationships between his characters get in the way of the story, like many female authors tend to do.  Having said this, his characters are still interesting and you empathize with the situation that they’re in.

1.4 is a smart science fiction story with lots twists and turns, freaky technology, and hidden truths.  If you haven’t discovered Mike Lancaster, you don’t know what you’re missing.

5 out of 5 stars

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