Reviews for Young Adults – August 2020

Wow - our last blog post was back in March in the Before Lockdown times! We're back with a handful of reviews, as well as a spotlight on our new booklists.

And did you know we have two free bookclubs for teens? 

Tūranga Teen Book Club

Join the Tūranga Youth Librarians for a monthly book group where we’ll discuss what we’re reading, what we love and what we don’t, as well as discovering new genres and authors – expect games, laughs, conversation, and a MUCH larger ‘to be read’ pile.

Location: Wāhi Rangatahi/Youth Space, Hapori | Community, Level 1
Age: 12–18
Drop-in, no bookings required

Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre Teen Book Club

For Teens who enjoy getting stuck into a book, and want to share this enjoyment with like-minded people their age.

Drop in, no bookings requiried


Sisters of Shadow and Light

An enjoyable story about a sister and her quest to help her younger sister survive the magic that is driving her to madness. It involves Paladins, flying on Griffons, and generally all things I love about fantasy settings, but is phrased in a unique way. The main character is passionate about looking after her sister, and incredibly naïve about the outside world, but all of that is consistent with the fact that she has been trapped in her home her whole life. Claire - Hapori | Community, Tūranga


Killing November

November grew up in a small, unassuming town where she knew everyone. Suddenly, her father sends her away to a boarding school in the middle of nowhere ‘to keep her safe’. November quickly realises that this school, the Academy Absconditi, is not your usual boarding school. It is a place where descendants of the most infamous families in the world are trained and prove themselves worthy to lead. The lessons are about poisons and how to keep secrets and November struggles to keep up, although her father had been subtly training her, and she quickly learns that her father trained her this way for a reason, because the more you know, the more that can be used against you.

I loved this book. You are quickly drawn into the world of secrets and deception and there are so many fun things going on – murder, rivalries, super cool spy skills and weaponry. The back story is fantastic and it is hard to put down. The book wraps up nicely but leads well into the sequel Hunting November. This was definitely my pick of the month!
Amy - Linwood Library

Are You Watching?

Jess’s mother was murdered by the serial killer dubbed the Magpie Man ten years ago. She was his first victim. Now Jess is going to put her life on a Youtube show to try and catch the killer once and for all. Because surely someone knows something, right? But as the world is watching Jess online, so is the Magpie Man.

A fast-paced mystery with social media playing a big part. I liked this novel because it showed a lot of the raw emotions of grief and how it can still look, even years later. It also had some interesting twists that I wasn’t expecting and it was a nice quick read.
Amy - Linwood Library

The Easy Part of Impossible

Ria Williams always struggled at school, mostly due to ADHD, so her parents were thrilled to discover she had a talent for diving. Her life is ruled by Coach Benny's word -  diets, rigorous training, and chasing a placement in an Olympic dive team. But one injury sees her unable to compete and her - and her coach's - Olympic dreams evaporate. As Ria struggles to adjust to days without diving and her team-mates, she rekindles a friendship with Cotton - a fellow student with disability allowances. In their free hours at school, Cotton introduces her to cave exploration and as Ria explores the underground and gets to know Cotton again, she begins to see her relationship with her coach with fresh eyes.

This is a really engaging sport story that explores abusive coach-athlete relationships. Cotton, who is on the autism spectrum, is a great character who carries his own story and arc. I loved seeing Cotton and Ria discover and accept their talents and put boundaries in place to allow them to pursue their own dreams. Alicia - Hapori | Community, Tūranga


Dawn of the Arcana

Here’s a gorgeous fantasy manga series to sink your teeth into! After spending her childhood being an outcast from her family, Princess Nakaba is sold off into marriage to an opposing kingdom’s prince. Caesar, her husband, is a bit of a jerk, but has a really great character arc. There’s magic, there’s different cultures and races, and a tense love triangle. Best of all, it’s a good length (13 volumes) and is completed, so you don't have to worry about having to wait between volumes.
Claire - Hapori | Community, Tūranga


If you haven't noticed already, we librarians love recommending books. During lockdown, we were busy updating our online booklists. Explore some of the most popular genres and topics to discover new reads! We're highlighted some of our favourite lists below, but check out our ChristchurchTeens account for even more lists.

Dystopian fiction - Teens

List created by ChristchurchTeens

Travel into grim futures not-so-far-removed from the world as we know it. The heroes of dystopian fiction encounter oppression and spark revolutions. Be challenged and amazed, and prepare to question the status quo. 

An immersive and compelling read for younger teens that examines the societal impacts of climate change. Set in Australia’s not-so-distant future, disease has made bees extinct and now children must climb fruit trees and pollinate them by hand. Our heroine, 9-year old Peony, is fierce, agile, and determined to become a Bee on the farm. The novel radiates with her energy and kindness, in addition to the belief that her community has the power to endure the struggles they face. 2018 Winner for Junior Fiction - NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

An action-packed, gruelling adventure where communities are divided. At 16, Beatrice will be tested and dedicate herself to one of five factions, each embodying a different virtue. The people of that faction will become her family, her entire life. Faced with puzzling results she’s torn between the faction that raised her and one which might allow her to become her true self.

Gripping action, social criticism, and self-discovery has made this the classic YA dystopian series. As retribution for a failed uprising, children from twelve districts must fight to the death in a televised spectacle. The victor and their family will get to enjoy the luxuries normally reserved for the Capitol. This trilogy follows Katniss as she’s thrown into a world of propaganda and warfare. Can she trust those around her and stand-up for what she believes in?

View Full List

Manga - Teens

List created by ChristchurchTeens

A picture paints a thousand words, so prepare to be amazed. These manga series are brimming with great artistry and storylines that will have you hooked until the end. From high-stakes high school volleyball drama to deep fantasy narratives on politics and war to pirates just wanting to have a good time, there's a manga out there to fit anyone's tastes. 

Fancy something sweet? Horimiya is an adorable slice-of-life high school series focusing on Hori and Miyamura and their budding romance, as well as their hilarious friends. Hori is bright and sunny and popular, but lacks a social life as she has to go and look after her little brother after school every day. Miyamura is gloomy and quiet and isolated, but works in a delicious cake shop after school. Watch as their worlds collide!

Want some sports drama in your life? Haikyu!! follows the story of a group of underdog volleyballers seeking championship wins, led by Shōyō Hinata who despite his short stature wants to be the best of the best. It's action-packed, it builds tension and laughs, and it doesn't take long until you are rooting for them more than the All Blacks!

This fantasy shoujo series is beautifully illustrated and masterfully crafted. Much like Avatar: The Last Airbender it tackles deep and difficult topics in an elegant manner, with a fresh voice and light-hearted moments. Yona is a banished princess who must gather the Four Dragons of legend to reclaim her throne.

View Full List

Fantasy - Teens

List created by ChristchurchTeens

Fancy being transported to another world? Or to discover new mysteries or secrets in our own? Are you worried about the old gods rising? Then come and peruse some of our recommendations of what to read. This guide is roughly ordered by nice reads to gritty. 

A quirky adventure set in a faraway-yet-familiar land, Howl's Moving Castle draws you in with sensible protagonist Sophie, who has been cursed to look as old as she behaves. With plenty of twists and turns, this story is sure to delight.

A classic fantasy adventure. Will has been chosen to train to become a Ranger - a mysterious guild proficient in fighting and surveillance. He has to use his hard-won abilities and dry wit to survive the dark forces that are afoot.

This fantasy staple is heavily based in storytelling from Lord of the Rings and Star Wars (minus the sci-fi). When Eragon finds a dragon egg, and causes it to hatch, he is thrown into a world of wonder - and danger. With his new best friend he is destined to become a dragon rider, and plays a vital piece in the new rebellion.

View Full List

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of Christchurch City Libraries