With just 10 days to go until the New Zealand Book Awards winners will be announced, I'm getting a hustle on with my attempt to read and rank the shortlisted books. I've got the Picture Book and Illustration Awards behind me now, so I've been plugging away at the Junior Fiction category. It's taking me a while to get through them because I'm kind of a slow reader! So I thought I'd share the first couple I've read now, and cross fingers I get through the rest of the category in time!!
When I saw this book on the shortlist, I was intrigued! The words "Memory Thief" conjured up all sorts of wonderment in my head, and when I saw that it was about a troll who turned into a stone statue by day, and ate people's memories by night, I just couldn't wait to read the story! There's some interesting ideas here around memory and identity. I enjoyed the reading how the characters' memories, both good and bad, defined who they are, and how they lost themselves as they lost their memories. But sadly, for me, I found it hard to keep track of what was going on, because Seth, the main character, was always struggling to remember the things that had happened the day before. So although I liked a lot of things about the story, I found it hard to read, and didn't enjoy it as much as I had thought that I would.
I had no idea what to expect when I started reading this one, and with it being the second in a series, I was worried I wouldn't know what was going on. But I was soon swept up into this fabulous story about a family of cartographers, out to find their father who has mysteriously disappeared. Each of the Santander children has a special talent perfect for both mapmaking and mystery solving. When their mother falls ill, they have to put their talents to the test to save their dad and help their new friends save their home from a money-hungry, tyranical corporation. The story is vivid and exciting, and I loved the unusual, slightly Steampunk world it is set in, with its dirigibles, contraptions, and pigeon post. I loved that it was the kids who had to save the day, as all the adults had been whisked off to prison on trumped up charges. I couldn't put it down! And I enjoyed how the threads of the story came together. The writing was so evocative; I really felt like I could see everything, and even though the setting was a complete fanatsy, it felt really familiar. I've added The Mapmakers' Race (the first book in the series) to my "must read" list, and yes, I'll be looking out for the next one too!
Although I'm not far into the books in this award category, The Uprising is my pick to win so far!