A YA Book Review Blog
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Recent Posts

Replica

Posted on by Rhys
Replica Jack Heath UK cover

Replica is Heath’s first young adult novel, and in a similar vein to his middle grade work,  Replica employs a similarly surreal – if that’s the right word – conclusion. It’s something that works in his writing for younger ages, where suspension of disbelief is more easily pushed by child protagonists – but here, amongst the (almost) realistic world of quantum mechanical processors (QMPs) and corrupt military contractors, Heath’s final note strikes an absurd and frankly laughable note. It’s a shame, given that Heath successfully manages to play with notions of human-real robots or replicas, in a way that is reminiscent of I, Robot. Although Replica delivers one or two shock moments, it’s disappointing how much of the essential plot is predictable. Once it moves away from the brilliant first chapter and the fog starts to lift from the story, it seems almost banal how easy it is to correctly speculate on the whereabouts of the sought after QMP. In fact, the incompetence of a supposedly deadly military corporation is Continue reading

Let’s Get Lost

Posted on by Rhys
Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid cover

Road trip stories are nothing new; from Kerouac’s On The Road to John Green’s Paper Towns, the sub-genre (if it can be called that) is frequently used, overused and abused. However, that didn’t stop me having high hopes for Adi Alsaid’s Let’s Get Lost which is getting a rather generous publicity campaign from its publishers, who probably think they’ve landed the next John Green. Rather unexpectedly (I don’t pay great attention to provided synopses…), Let’s Get Lost presents a panorama of teenage life in America. As Leila makes her way closer and closer to Canada (to see the Northern Lights, she frequently reminds us), she finds herself bumping into a variety of characters from all walks of life. It’s all a bit serendipitous – at times on the edges of disbelief – particularly as Leila manages to change the lives of the people she meets for the better, in one case playing the psychologist to Hudson who is applying to become a doctor but in his heart of hearts wants Continue reading

Publisher Pet Peeve: “Goodreads” Reviews

Posted on by Rhys

This is something that’s been around a while and that has equally annoyed me for the time it’s been around (I had hoped it would go away with time – it hasn’t) but I recently got a couple of emails where this had been done and I thought I’d finally write something about it, because I haven’t seen anyone else mention it. What I’m talking about is when publishers quote a review of a book on their publicity material and simply credit it as “Goodreads” or “Goodreads review”. Sometimes, they even venture into “Amazon review”, but either way: I’m not sure it’s right, and I’m almost certain that it’s just laziness on their part. It’s not accurate, either: Goodreads doesn’t actually “write” any reviews. They’re just an aggregator site. And sure, when you post any of your stuff you agree to these terms: “By posting any User Content on the Service, you expressly grant, and you represent and warrant that you have a right to grant, to Goodreads a royalty-free, Continue reading

Sand + GIVEAWAY!

Posted on by Rhys
Sand by Hugh Howey UK cover

Checkout the end of this review to find out how to enter the giveaway! Howey has quickly cemented himself as one of the best young adult fiction writers currently around thanks to the critical success of his Wool trilogy. Sand is his latest novel since then and marks him out as a truly talented author capable of crafting both great stories and wonderful characters. ‘This is the hiss of life,’ he said. The flame ducked and spattered as the water hit, and then leapt back up. ‘Our lives are the sweat on the desert floor. We go to the sky, over the jagged ridge, and we fall in the heavens where it rains and floods.’ What struck me immediately about Sand is that Howey’s prose is elemental. Like all great writers, the landscape becomes a character in itself. Under the harsh sun Howey’s visions of dry, dusty deserts frequented by sand-divers is exciting and vivid, and imagining them comes with ease as you almost feel the grains of sand falling Continue reading

We Were Liars

Posted on by Rhys
We Were Liars by E.Lockhart cover

E. Lockhart’s much-anticipated, much-hyped We Were Liars is a bit like an Agatha Christie detective novel, in which the crime slowly gets recounted until, finally, everyone understands. Except, in this case, the crime is a tragedy that befalls the prodigious and in-fighting Sinclair family; and Cadence cannot remember what happened. The truth of the tragedy lurks in the foggy recesses of her mind, but since waking up hypothermic on the beach of their private island, all recollection of what drove her there has vanished. What struck me about We Were Liars was the juxtaposition of the physical freedom and mental claustrophobia Cadence’s narrative conveys. Spending every summer on their island, the Sinclair kids have pretty much all the freedom they could ask for, roaming from house to house and beach to beach. Yet when it comes to matters of the heart, the family is secretive, false and emotionally claustrophobic; a family of pretences. The dichotomy between the two manifests itself in Lockhart’s wonderfully lyrical and intense prose, which both feels Continue reading