The First (but hopefully not the last) Young Adult Literary Convention (YALC) 2014

Published July 25, 2014 by bibliobeth

download (5)

YALC is the brain-child of current Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman, who was awarded an OBE for her services to children’s literature in 2008 and from the moment appointed, has been incredibly passionate about getting young people to read. Alarming statistics show that only 3 out of 10 young people read daily out of school, and a fifth say they would be embarrassed if a friend saw them reading.

images (6)

Malorie Blackman (photo from http://www.theguardian.com)

Malorie says…

“We are incredibly lucky to have such a wealth of fantastic children’s authors and illustrators in this country who create incredible stories for young adults to enjoy.  It’s so important to encourage, sustain and where necessary instil a love of reading in our teenagers.  Reading opens doors and creates life opportunities. That’s why I want to do my utmost to promote YA books for all our young (and older!) readers.”

All hail Queen Malorie! YALC promised a fantastic line-up of events, including panel talks with authors, intimate workshops, a publishers stand with goodies galore and an opportunity to purchase a wide range of YA fiction from sponsor Waterstones. Having bought our Early Bird Tickets for both days (Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th July) my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads were very excited to experience all the delights YALC had to offer. So, how did it go?

DAY 1 – Saturday 12th July

Our introduction to YALC

London Comic Con – the craziness!

Photo from nintendo-insider.com

I have never experienced the pure craziness that is the London Comic Con, and couldn’t believe the immense crowds both outside Earls Court and inside where moving around became a bit of a mammoth task. After finally locating the YALC section at the back of the huge hall, Chrissi Reads and I let out a huge sigh, gritted our teeth and began to move through the crowds. (What things we do for our love of books!). We also weren’t prepared for the amount of people in strange and wonderful costumes – we recognised Spider-Man, Batman, The Power Rangers, Darth Vader and some Stormtroopers and…er… Half-Naked Lady? It was quite an experience! What was funny though was how quickly we got used to seeing costumed superheroes wandering around, checking texts and posing for photos and it became entirely natural to see Iron Man for instance, desperately seeking the toilets.

After locating the YALC Book Zone, our first task was to get some tickets for the first panel talk – The End of The World As We Know It with James Smythe as chair and also featuring Sarah Crossan, Patrick Ness and Malorie Blackman to talk about the dystopian genre, why they think it’s so “hot” right now, and what they see as the future of the genre. Malorie Blackman officially opened the proceedings in a fabulous costume and speaking in Klingon, and Patrick and Sarah provided some witty and interesting insights into the world of dystopia. Does it represent the fears teenagers have for their future? And is there also some hope and positivity in these worlds that young people can cling on to for comfort?

Day One YALC

James Smythe, Sarah Crossan, Patrick Ness and Malorie (Klingon) Blackman

Photo from http://www.theguardian.com

The talk was very entertaining and I was especially excited to see Patrick Ness (my new favourite author) who did not let me down and had me in fits of giggles. Next, it was time to see what else YALC had to offer. We visited publishers stands where I managed to bag some bookmarks, a cute YALC badge and even some advance copies of books I’m quite excited about. This included There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake and Solitaire by Alice Oseman. And where Waterstones are selling books, it’s compulsory to buy some! I picked up Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman and the illustrated edition of A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Then we visited a couple of stands where other YA authors were promoting their work and I picked up The Narrows by James Brogden and Dystopia by Anthony Ergo, both authors were absolutely lovely and took time to talk to us. At the Hot Keys Book stand, they had a fabulous idea going where you could bring in a book and swap it with another which is where I acquired a copy of Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd.

After all that book buying and walking around it was time to go home, shoulders feeling the extra strain but incredibly happy bloggers! Bring on Day 2.

DAY 2 – Sunday 13th July

Talks, talks, oh and a Book Wall!

The next morning, Chrissi Reads and I were up bright and early but we were still not prepared for the enormous queue that awaited us when we arrived at Earls Court. Looping right round the building it ended up in the underground parking space and then looped a bit more. We needn’t have worried however, as soon as the doors opened at 09:00, the queue moved very fast and it was a little easier to navigate our way to the Book Zone to make sure we had all the tickets for the talks we wanted to see. The first talk didn’t start for a while, so it was the perfect opportunity to curl up on a bean bag and read under a Wall of Books.

YALC

The Book Wall at YALC

Photo from http://www.theguardian.com

Sooner than we knew it, it was time for the first talk which was set to be interesting with the title: I’m Too Sexy For This Book, featuring the newly-crowned Queen of Teen, James Dawson at the helm and also featuring Cat Clarke, Non Pratt and Beth Reekles. The talk was absolutely hilarious and dragged down into the gutter at times but always in a fun way, with innuendos galore and lots of “sexy fun time.” Where do you draw the line with sex in young adult novels? Shock announcement – yes, some teenagers do actually have sex! All panellists agreed that if the sex is portrayed in a positive and educational way, it cannot be a bad thing. Personally, I remember Judy Blume’s Forever feeling quite graphic to me as a teenager, but I think I also learned a few things that I may have got the wrong information about otherwise.

The next talk was Crossover: Not Just For Kids, the panel consisting of David Maybury as chair and authors Nick Lake, Anthony McGowan, Meg Rosoff and Matt Haig. They explored how novels such as The Hunger Games and The Fault In Our Stars are being read by adults as well as teenagers and the possible reasons for this. They certainly made me feel more comfortable about being an adult YA fan, and Nick Lake made the very good point that a lot of books we consider classics now would actually fit into the YA genre quite well, for example The Catcher In The Rye and Oliver Twist.

Our final talk was Sisters Doing It For Themselves with chair Sarra Manning and female authors Tanya Byrne, Julie Mayhew, Isobel Harrop and Holly Smale. This again was a great bunch of authors with fantastic insights into the role of our modern day heroine in YA fiction and heroines that inspired them personally in literature. We had a range of answers here from Tanya Byrne who took inspiration from people around her, Sarra Manning who had a soft spot for “mad girls” such as Sylvia Plath and one of my own personal favourites, Anne of Green Gables who was Holly Smale’s heroine.

YALC – THE END?

So it was time to drag our weary bodies back home, we had an absolutely fantastic weekend and it was worth every minute queueing and being bumped by crowds. Thank you to Malorie Blackman for putting on a great programme, all the authors who came and gave talks and thoroughly entertained us, and all the publishers and people behind the scenes that made the event possible.

YALC – this time next year? (please?!)

Short Stories Challenge – The Colour Out Of Space by H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft

Published July 24, 2014 by bibliobeth

6594144

What’s The Colour Out of Space all about?:

This Halcyon Classics ebook contains sixty-seven of celebrated horror and occult writer H.P. Lovecraft’s best works central to his ‘Cthulhu mythos.’ Although Lovecraft’s (1890-1937) readership was limited during his life, his reputation has grown over the decades, and he is now regarded as one of the most influential horror writers of the 20th century.

The Colour Out of Space is the story of the strange and deadly effects of a meteorite from outer space crashing into a small town, leaving everything that lives there in grave peril.

What did I think?:

The third story in this huge collection of H.P. Lovecraft’s work, The Colour Out of Space is probably my favourite so far, which surprised me as I don’t generally read much science fiction. Somehow, Lovecraft makes everything that happens believable, which probably makes it more terrifying to read. The story begins when our unnamed narrator is visiting a deserted town that has a bit of a reputation, mainly whispers and gossips between the local folk about strange occurrences that have happened and continue to happen which is largely thought to be “just talk,” or stuff of legend. Our narrator wants to delve a bit deeper into what happened to the town so he visits the only inhabitant who remains near, Ammi Pierce who lives at a safe enough distance away that he dares to talk about the town’s past.

It all began when a meteorite struck the town, leaving behind an area known as “the blasted heath.” Scientists who rushed to analyse the object from space were dumbfounded as they could not conceive of what it was made from and noted that it did not react or respond to any manipulation from extensive chemical testing. Furthermore, the object showed a spectrum of colours that have never been seen before and cannot be explained, and seemed to shrink from day to day until it left merely a hole. After that, life seemed to go on as normal for the inhabitants of the town until they realised their crops and foodstuffs were growing bad, their animals were getting sick and dying, and strange footprints of mutant creatures were whispered about across the land. The area worst affected was the land of farmer Nahum Gardner, whose family quickly became endangered as they continued to drink water from the well on their property, despite the strange taste and the curious colours that the well now produced. The trees on his property seem to move even when there is no wind, and the animals that become sick are reduced to such a state that they die horribly “grey and brittle.”

Things become even worse for the family when they all start to succumb to a kind of madness, starting with Nahum’s wife, who rants and raves about strange colours and has to be shut in an attic room for her own safety. People start to leave the town in droves, frightened by what is happening on the small farm, and soon no-one is left to see what happens in the end, apart from Nahum who sees things so terrible that even he cannot speak of them. A reservoir is due to be built on the land, and Nahum is hopeful that this will mean an end to the strange goings-on yet unfortunately we feel that there is something always there lurking and waiting, biding its time.

This was a fantastic piece of writing which made me understand why Lovecraft is appreciated and enjoyed so much. As with the previous two stories that I have read, the vocabulary he uses is extraordinary – take this paragraph for example:

“but everywhere were those hectic and prismatic variants of some diseased, underlying primary tone without a place among the known tints of earth. The “Dutchman’s breeches” became a thing of sinister menace, and the bloodroots grew insolent in their chromatic perversion.”

When you first read it, it seems slightly heavy but I found myself really getting into the style and reading sections like this (of which there are many) again and again makes you really admire the way the author uses words and descriptions to set the scene and build up the tension in a story. Even though I’m not usually a fan of science fiction, I really enjoyed the other-wordly feel this tale had and even though it is quite obviously fantastical, Lovecraft had me believing every word while I was reading it.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

NEXT SHORT STORY: The Blood Pearl by Barry Maitland from the collection The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime Volume 7

 

Talking About Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge with Chrissi

Published July 22, 2014 by bibliobeth

17860826

What’s it all about?:

Two hostages. One bullet. One lives. One dies.

They were going to spend the rest of their lives together. Soul mates. But when a young couple wakes up alone together, disorientated and trapped, they are yet to grasp the true horror of their situation. They have no food, no water. Instead there is a gun loaded with a single bullet and a mobile phone with enough power only to deliver a short message: ‘when one of you kills the other, the survivor will walk free’. For their captor it’s simple: set the scene, watch, wait and leave the victims to do the killing. Tortured by fear, desperation, starvation and thirst, there’s only one way to end their ordeal: one of them must die.

DI Helen Grace and her team know they are hunting a complex predator whose broken survivors must endure their role as living calling cards. And killers. The victims – work colleagues, a mother and daughter, a pair of dancers – appear to be chosen at random and yet the planning is meticulous. There must be something driving the choice of victims, but until DI Grace can establish a connection, the killer is unreachable. A breakthrough is elusive and then, terrifyingly, the investigation begins to turn full circle…

In this startling highwire drama M.J. Arlidge throws us headlong into a chilling race to stop evil in its tracks. Dark, ingenious and bullet-paced, Eeny Meeny introduces a major new thriller writing talent.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin UK for an advanced reading copy of this novel.

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI:  Discuss whether having a female character at the heart of a crime novel gives it a different feel.

BETH: This novel was a bit more unique than your usual crime/thriller as the perp of this novel is a woman. I haven’t read much fiction before that has a female character as the murderer so instantly it became a bit more interesting. I think this is probably because the statistics show that women in general don’t tend to kill random strangers as much as a man. What makes the story even creepier in my opinion is that our perp is choosing two individuals, placing them in a situation where they can’t escape and have no access to food or water. The only thing they have access to is a gun, and instructions saying that one must kill the other if they want to be set free. The idea of this terrifying plot combined with the fact that it is designed and carried out by a woman, make this novel stand out amongst its other rivals in the genre.

BETH: The story is set in Southampton. As we’ve lived there for quite a while, how did you enjoy reading about it in this novel?

CHRISSI: I have to admit it was very odd to read about places that we knew about. It’s not often books are set in Southampton so it was an enjoyable reading experience. I could easily picture the places they mentioned. It gave a very creepy feel to the story!

CHRISSI: When we were reading Eeny Meeny we were unsure whether the author was male or female. Do you think it matters? Does it affect the reader’s opinion of a book depending on what gender the author is?

BETH: The author of this book is M.J. Arlidge with no clue as to the gender. We aren’t given much more information about the author and I know a few authors decide to have just their initials and the surname on the book cover without revealing their sex. I’m not entirely sure why this happens, except that some might think it removes the prejudice that certain readers may feel about reading a book say, by a woman. For me personally I don’t really care whether the author is female or male, the only thing that matters surely is the quality of the writing and the story? However, I know we did have fun speculating on whether the author was male or female, and I have to say I was slightly surprised when I found out as I had expected the opposite. Perhaps I did make some assumptions without realising it?

BETH: Did you like the main character, DI Helen Grace? How well was she written in your opinion?

CHRISSI: I don’t think that Helen is a character that you immediately like. I think readers will either love her or hate her. I think she was a good character, but I didn’t immediately connect with her. She is incredibly well written though. She’s a strong character that comes across as incredibly steely, determined and driven. Her career is immensely important to her and she has to be tough in order to deal with the job and the challenges that come her way every day. She does come across as a very good leader. I sympathised with Helen towards the end and I’ll be interested to see how her story continues…

CHRISSI: The novel asks difficult questions about moral choices. Discuss the choices that the characters make.

BETH: Our perp is a very sneaky character and it seems the whole point of her agenda when it comes to these murders is questioning the morality of different characters when placed in the same situation. Some of the individuals have closer relationships than others, the first being boyfriend and girlfriend and some others are work colleagues. The victims have no way of getting out of their situation and are being denied food and water. Only one of the two can survive, but to do this they must kill the other. It’s hard to think if you were placed in the same situation with a loved one, a friend or even a colleague what you would do in that situation. I don’t think I would be able to kill anyone at all but when faced with this choice, it is surprising what some of the characters choose to do, in some cases they may think of killing the other as a mercy. It is only afterwards, when the surviving victim has to live with what they have done, that we see the internal struggles they go through because of their decision.

BETHHow do you think Eeny Meeny compares with other novels in the genre?

CHRISSI: I think it fits in nicely with other books in the genre. It definitely has a place. I think it’s great when female characters are at the heart of the novel, because more often than not the characters in thrillers/crime reads are male.

CHRISSI: How did you find the pacing of the story?

BETH: I found that the pacing of the novel changed which I enjoyed. In some parts it is slightly slower when we learn about our main character Detective Inspector Helen Grace, with a few tidbits about her life and how she is managing to solve the crime. Other parts are action-packed, fast and exciting and these parts were written in a way that I never felt bored.

BETH: Discuss Helen’s past and how what she has been through has affected her character.

CHRISSI:  Helen has had a traumatic past. I don’t want to mention all that had happened to her, as it would affect the story for those that haven’t read it yet. I think it does affect Helen’s present behaviour. It’s bound to. I found her to be quite an emotionally damaged character because of her past. She’s also such a flawed character, with some desperate sexual desires. As she learns more about the murders, Helen realises she’s being punished for something that happened to her that she’s tried hard to move on from.

CHRISSI: Eeny Meeny has some very dark sex scenes. Did you ever find it too much or do you think it made sense in context with the story?

BETH: Great question! I’m thinking of one sex scene in particular that was incredibly graphic. I’m no prude but it did make my eyes pop slightly! I’m not very sure if it fit in with the story exactly except for emphasising the relationship between the characters. Did I find it too much? Perhaps, but it did add a naughty little edge to the novel in points.

BETH: The next novel in this series is going to be Pop Goes The Weasel. Would you read it?

CHRISSI: I think I would read more of this series, but it’s not particularly a book that I’ll rush to read. It was enjoyable, but it felt fairly long at points!

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Yes!

BETH’s Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

CHRISSI’s Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

 

Hollow Pike – James Dawson

Published July 21, 2014 by bibliobeth

10836484

What’s it all about?:

She thought she’d be safe in the country, but you can’t escape your own nightmares, and Lis London dreams repeatedly that someone is trying to kill her. Lis thinks she’s being paranoid – after all who would want to murder her? She doesn’t believe in the local legends of witchcraft. She doesn’t believe that anything bad will really happen to her. You never do, do you? Not until you’re alone in the woods, after dark – and a twig snaps… Hollow Pike – where witchcraft never sleeps.

What did I think?:

This is the sixth book from Chrissi Cupboard month which I completed in June of this year. After reading James Dawson’s other excellent young adult novels, Cruel Summer and Say Her Name, I was eager to read Hollow Pike, which was his debut. I found it to be a stunning read, physically and literally speaking with beautiful cover art and images inside that fit with the theme of this novel perfectly. Our main character is a teenager called Lis London who has suffered from bullying in her previous school and when it opens, is travelling to a town called Hollow Pike, to stay with her sister for a while and attend a new school where she is desperately hoping she can fit in and escape the problems of her past. Despite escaping from her tormentors, Lis is having terrifying nightmares, where she is alone in a forest and someone is trying to hurt her. On arriving in Hollow Pike, it becomes more eerie when she recognises the forest of her nightmares in the small town. Lis also finds out that the town has a history for practising witchcraft in the past, and as she eases into her new school and is integrated into the “popular” crowd, learns of a small group that are ostracised for being a bit “freaky,” and are accused of being witches.

Our heroine hasn’t really got the character to be part of the Mean Girls Brigade however, and finds herself warming to the group on the outside, three friends called Jack, Delilah and Kitty, who accept Lis into their fold when Queen Mean Girl Laura turns on Lis for attracting the attention of Danny, who she is determined to snare for herself. In a pivotal moment in the story, tragedy strikes when some teenage pranks go badly wrong and Lis and her new friends find themselves ensnared in a murder mystery that proves very dangerous for all the teenagers concerned. Lis’s nightmares meanwhile are becoming more vivid and intensely disturbing – could they be a premonition for what is to come? And can Lis find out what exactly is going on in Hollow Pike before those nightmares become a reality?

James Dawson certainly knows how to get into the adolescent mind, and writes a terrific ghost story for young adults that is full of thrills and chills and completely unputdownable. As a debut novel, it is an accomplished piece of writing that I’m certain will be loved by teenagers the world over. It deals with a lot of difficult issues, like sexuality, the damaging effects of bullying on an individual, and the importance of friendship and support. In essence, it is a book that urges you to feel comfortable in your own skin, encouraging individuality, the power we all have to just say “no,” and assurance that we don’t have to follow the crowd like a sheep but can be our own person with our own rights and opinions. I also loved that the author explored the issue of sexuality which I feel is often looked on as a taboo subject in other young adult novels or just not recognised/mentioned. I’m very excited to see what this author does in the future as I’m sure that his talent will capture the hearts and minds of all younger readers.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

WWW Wednesday #49

Published July 16, 2014 by bibliobeth

WWW Wednesdays is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Click on the image to get to her blog!

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday, and thanks as ever to MizB for hosting.

To join in you need to answer 3 questions..

•What are you currently reading?

•What did you recently finish reading?

•What do you think you’ll read next?

Click on the book covers to take you to a link to find out more!

What are you currently reading?:

13206760

This is the second book in Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series and I’ve been meaning to get to this book for so long. I know some of you have really enjoyed it so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in.

What did you recently finish reading?:

17235026

I’m not really sure what I expected from this book but it certainly wasn’t what I expected. I’m reviewing this book with my blogger friend Luna’s Little Library so look out for our review coming your way on Friday.

What do you think you’ll read next?:

1373381

Jojo Moyes is one of my favourite authors and I’m slowly making my way through her back catalogue. This is one of her older books, first published in 2005 and I’m really looking forward to it.

What are you reading this Wednesday? Please leave your link and I’ll come pay you a visit! Happy Reading Everyone!

Short Stories Challenge – Ghosts With Teeth by Peter Crowther from the collection A Book of Horrors

Published July 15, 2014 by bibliobeth

12711120

What’s Ghosts With Teeth all about?:

Many of us grew up on The Pan Book of Horror Stories and its later incarnations, Dark Voices and Dark Terrors (The Gollancz Book of Horror), which won the World Fantasy Award, the Horror Critics’ Guild Award and the British Fantasy Award, but for a decade or more there has been no non-themed anthology of original horror fiction published in the mainstream. Now that horror has returned to the bookshelves, it is time for a regular anthology of brand-new fiction by the best and brightest in the field, both the Big Names and the most talented newcomers. A Book of Horrors is the foremost in the field: a collection of the very best chiller fiction, from some of the world’s greatest writers.

Ghosts With Teeth is the third story in this short story collection edited by Stephen Jones. It involves a husband and wife who return to their sleepy little town after some time away and find a lot of things have changed… along with the arrival of some unexpected and very unwelcome guests.

What did I think?:

Beware! This short story is not for the faint-hearted. It’s one of my favourites of the collection so far and the author, Peter Crowther describes it beautifully:

“My idea was that maybe the old chestnut about poltergeists being little more than Casper the Friendly Ghost is a long ways off of the truth. Thus the ghosts in my tale don’t just move ornaments around and empty drawers onto the floor… no sirree. The ghost in my tale have teeth. And they bite.”

Our story begins with a married couple, Hugh and Angie, who are travelling back to their small town after spending some time in Boston with Angie’s sister Nan. It is a dark and stormy night setting the scene perfectly for the horrors that are to come, and they are almost turned away from entering the town by a local police officer called Maude who the couple know well. She is closing off the road preventing any further cars from going through but decides to let the couple through as a favour which they may not thank her for later. Especially when she utters the words that circle around their minds later – “Ain’t like you’re going to be going anyplace once you get there.” Almost immediately, the couple are on edge and get the sense that something isn’t right. This feeling is only increased when they arrive home to a deserted town and a neighbour who stops only long enough to deliver a cryptic message – “They’re here, Hugh,” and disappears down the street. In a rainstorm, remember.

Approaching their house, Hugh believes he sees someone at their bedroom window but then dismisses it as a trick of the light or shadows, as on entering their property he realises the burglar alarm has not been tripped. The arrival of the Sheriff should put their minds at ease, but strangely enough he appears to be acting a little oddly and delivers little cryptic messages of his own. Then the worst happens. Angie disappears from the house very quietly and with no warning. Although reassured by his friend Gary, Hugh still worries incessantly about her, why would she suddenly vanish? And why didn’t he hear her leave? Numerous other odd things happen throughout that night that really send a shiver down the spine including the radio turning itself on, sounds that make Hugh believe someone has turned over in bed, a closed door suddenly opening (VERY slowly, of course!) and the scariest phone call I have read about in years. It probably doesn’t help that it’s Halloween also which as we all know is prime ghost and ghoulie time. This all leads to an absolute “killer” (no pun intended!) of an ending that made every hair on my arms stand on end.

I am not familiar with Peter Crowther’s work, but this short story will definitely make me seek out some of his others. It was very reminiscent of Stephen King, whom as you probably know if you are a regular reader of my blog, is my all-time favourite author. I should probably disclose that if you are of a nervous disposition, get creeped out by ghost stories, or are alone in the house when you read this, I’d probably say steer clear! For me however, it was a wonderful and chilling addition to my short stories challenge and although I’m now jumping at the slightest sound, I highly recommend it.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

NEXT SHORT STORY - The Colour Out Of Space by H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft

Echo Boy – Matt Haig

Published July 14, 2014 by bibliobeth

17997707

What’s it all about?:

Audrey’s father taught her that to stay human in the modern world, she had to build a moat around herself; a moat of books and music, philosophy and dreams. A moat that makes Audrey different from the echoes: sophisticated, emotionless machines, built to resemble humans and to work for human masters. Daniel is an echo – but he’s not like the others. He feels a connection with Audrey; a feeling Daniel knows he was never designed to have, and cannot explain. And when Audrey is placed in terrible danger, he’s determined to save her. The Echo Boy is a powerful story about love, loss and what makes us truly human.

What did I think?:

Echo Boy was the fifth book I picked for Chrissi Cupboard Month in June 2014 and I was really excited to get to it already having loved Matt Haig’s previous adult novels The Radleys and The Humans. But can Matt Haig do YA? The answer is yes, absolutely. The story is set in a future world where things previously considered to be the realms of science fiction are made reality. We have hover cars that make travel to other countries a walk in the park, with journey times vastly reduced so that previous far-off holiday destinations are easily accessible through a day trip. We also have virtual reality which make learning for children much more interesting and fun without having to leave the comfort of your own home, and trips to the Moon which has actually become a habitable planet. The most amazing technological advance however has to be the creation of creatures called Echoes, robots which are human in appearance, but are programmed to be used in households across the world as helpers/slaves (whichever way you like to look at it!)

Our main character in this novel is a teenage girl called Audrey whose world is turned upside down when a previously faithful Echo turns on her family in the worst way possible. The eerie and bitter-sweet fact of the tragedy is that Audrey’s father was stridently against Echoes, having quite “old-school” principles and constantly worrying and campaigning about the danger of creating such sophisticated machines. His brother, whose care Audrey now finds herself under, is the complete opposite side of the coin, and works in the manufacture of Echoes as he fuels his desire of creating more advanced machines. After Audrey’s terrifying experience with a “malfunctioning” Echo she is understandably anxious about staying with her uncle. Due to the nature of his job, he is a very rich man and has literally dozens of Echoes working on his property, although he takes great pains to assure Audrey that they are completely safe.

Then Audrey meets Daniel. Daniel isn’t like any other Echo she has met before. For a start, he seems to be able to feel emotion and pain and rebels against the authority imposed on him by Audrey’s uncle, all because he believes that she is in danger and he wants to protect her. As the two become closer both of their lives are now at risk and it leads to an action-packed adventure where they both learn what it is to love, to be human and how to live in a dangerous world where the art of communication and joie de vivre is slowly disappearing. This leaves behind a sort of emptiness in a technology-crazed society that can only be filled by the love they both have for each other.

I was very excited when I found out that Matt Haig was attempting a YA novel and after finishing his effort, I can happily confirm that he has made an explosive and exciting entry into a market that is really hot at the moment. His imagination in creating our future world is spectacular and it was written in such an accessible manner that the story felt very authentic, as well as being highly entertaining. In this book, I think we have something for everyone – science fiction, action and drama and the obligatory villain(s). To add to this though, we have a love story that builds over time, some tender and poignant moments and even a bit of philosophy that made me question my own beliefs and attitudes. I hope that Matt continues to write YA, but I look forward to any novel that he brings out as he has a real talent for tapping into what the reader wants and leaving them fully satisfied.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 511 other followers