Young Adult Reviews – October 2019

Across our libraries, we have a bunch of people passionate about recommending the best stuff for teens and young adults. Here's what they've been reading and listening to!

Book Reviews

Brave Face

Being a teenager is tricky. Being a teenager with depression is trickier. Being a depressed gay teenager in a time and place where it is absolutely not ok to be gay is even trickier again. And that’s what Shaun David Hutchinson’s memoir is about – growing up, coming out, and dealing with depression in the early 90s. The author doesn’t sugarcoat what’s gone on in his life, but he lets you know when delicate, possibly triggering content, is coming up. It is a story set in the past … but it is still incredibly relatable in 2019. This book me laugh, cry, cringe, and hold my breath. I finished the book … and immediately wanted to read it again.
Ky - Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre

The Secret Commonwealth: The Book of Dust Volume Two

I was thirteen years old when I first read 'Northern Lights' by Philip Pullman, and I was immediately transfixed by his alternative-world version of Oxford, where people lived alongside the animal embodiments of their souls, a mysterious substance called Dust was the cause of great political turbulence, and a little girl called Lyra found herself in the midst of forces she could barely comprehend. It was a formative reading experience, so imagine my excitement when Pullman announced a follow-up trilogy over two decades later. I’m in the middle of the first book La Belle Sauvage, which recaptures everything I loved about the original trilogy, and the second will see Lyra as a young woman investigating a remote village said to be haunted by daemons. I’m so excited, the release date is marked on my calendar (October 3rd!)
Rebecca - Ōrauwhata: Bishopdale Library and Community Centre

Angel Mage

Speaking of books I read as a teenager, Garth Nix’s Abhorsen series (starting with Sabriel and ending with Goldenhand) was another dark and atmospheric favourite. In October he plans to release another book, unconnected to his previous series, called “Angel Mage” (October 1st) . Details are scant at the moment, but a mysterious synopsis promises icon-makers, angel-summoners and a mage called Dorotea. I have no idea what any of this means, but I’m looking forward to finding out. Nix writes with so much depth and detail, and gets extra points for having created so many complex and three-dimensional female characters.
Rebecca - Ōrauwhata: Bishopdale Library and Community Centre


Last but not least is Frances Hardinge’s latest offering 'Deeplight' Hardinge is extraordinarily good at melding psychological realism with a dark fairy tale atmosphere, and so far none of her novels have disappointed. Deeplight (out on October 31st) is about two young scavengers on the coastline who accidentally awaken something in the depths of the sea. Now Hark has to protect his newfound treasure while attempting to save his friend Jelt, who is gradually changing into something dangerous… Hardinge often deals with weighty themes such as identity, trauma and metamorphosis, all through the lens of dark fantasy, and has spent her last eight books honing her craft. This is guaranteed to be a spine-tingling read.
Rebecca - Ōrauwhata: Bishopdale Library and Community Centre

Best Friends

Best Friends is the sequel to Real Friends. Shannon is in sixth grade (year 7), has stood up to her bully from Real Friends and is best-friends with Jen, the most popular girl in school. But things still aren't perfect - she can't keep on top of what's popular, or who The Group is or isn't talking to, and now there's all these rules about like-liking boys! Plus, Shannon's anxiety is beginning to grow out of control. Best Friends is perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier. It's a realistic portrayal of the joys and struggles of female friendship in Intermediate. I wish Best Friends had been around when I was 12!
Alicia - Hapori | Community, Tūranga

The Fox Inheritance

This is the 2nd book in the series, it is set 260 years after The Adoration of Jenna Fox. Three best friends were involved in a terrible accident and couldn’t be saved. Jenna’s parents - both scientists - illegally uploaded all 3 of their brains to a software programme, gave Jenna a new body, and told her she has been In a coma.

The first book followed the progress of Jenna, her new body and her feelings once she learns the truth about herself. Fast forward 260 years, Locke and Kara their minds floating in Cyberspace are suddenly ‘saved’ by a scientist, given new improved bodies and living sheltered lives on a wealthy estate. But all is not what it seems and the two friends escape with the help of others and go in search of Jenna, looking for answers to why them and why didn’t Jenna come back and save them.

Although there are other novels written about the theme of what it means to be human, I found the characters were likeable and plausible and wanted to know what would happen to them next. It raises ethical questions of how far should humans go in our quest to cheat death and the lengths parents will go to save a beloved child. I am looking forward to the next book: Fox Forever.
Ann - Spreydon Library

Princess Academy

The Princess Academy is the first book in a highly enjoyable trilogy. This fresh take on the somewhat tired backdrop of a group of girls competing for a prince's hand in marriage, Shannon Hale has created a gorgeous tale entwines themes of female friendships, loyalty, jealousy, family dynamics, and hidden strengths.

The story stars a teenaged Miri, who lives with her father and sister in a remote mountain village. The outside world descends on her village when the prophecy indicates that the next queen of their kingdom would come from their region. Aghast at the thought of a rustic nobody taking on a royal role, the kingdom's councillors dispatch a tutor to whip the village girls into shape. In the process of doing this the girls make friends, defeat enemies, discover strengths and powers, and use their new refinements to improve the lot of their village.

The story's universe is fully and creatively realized. Though it is a fantasy novel, the stories' universe feels familiar and recognizable. The entire trilogy is good fun to read and you can find them all at Christchurch City Libraries! - Bonnie - Aranui Library

Podcast Reviews

In case you don't know what a podcast is, it's a bit like a radio show. A lot of podcasts are people discussing something or sharing what they know about something (like crime or books!). But they can also be fictional. Imagine a play but it's only dialogue and sound effects - some amazing fiction podcasts are Welcome to Night Vale, Limetown, and Wolf 359. Here are some podcasts we think you should check out. You can listen to most podcasts through Spotify or a podcast app. 

Papercuts Podcast 

Need some inspiration of what to read next? Or just simply wanting to listen to people talk about books? Louisa Kasza, Jenna Todd and Kiran Dass are some book-obsessed Kiwi women, who start off their first episode by doing a Buzzfeed quiz to determine what Babysitters Club characters they are. Listening to this podcast keeps you up to date with what literary festivals and events are happening around New Zealand. They also delve deep into what they’ve been reading recently and what they are planning to read in the near future. They even stray from books occasionally and recommend the listener their favourite movies and podcasts. The best part about this podcast is that these girls don’t take themselves too seriously and aren’t afraid to have some fun! This one has been added to my favourites and is quickly becoming my go-to for long commutes.
Stacey - Matuku Takatako: Sumner Centre

Girl In Space 

Girl in Space is one of those beautiful things we call Fiction Podcasts. It takes what many would consider a boring format and gives it depth and intrigue, using a format of audio recordings used to record the experiences of a girl living on a deteriorating space station, orbiting a sentient star. his podcast brings the world alive, in a story told entirely through dialogue and sound. Being able to hear the voices and emotions of the characters brings them alive but the lack of visual stimulus, instead of detracting from the story, allows you to suspend disbelief and believe that this story is happening somewhere, sometime.This podcast is not yet finished; Season two is still in the works, leaving a breathtaking series of cliffhangers and unanswered questions. Now is the perfect time to listen to it, so that you can experience the unfolding of the second half of the story as it occurs.
Hannah - Year 11 at Cashmere High School

Reply All

Simply put, Reply All is a podcast about the Internet. My favourite episodes are part of the Super Tech Support series where the public call them with tech issues no one else has been able to answer. It sounds dry but Reply All leads you on a journey into parts of the Internet you never knew about. For example, Lizzie’s Snapchat account has been hacked and she wants to find out who was the creep who stole it (#130 The Snapchat Thief). The Reply All team learn all about the world of Handle stealing where people steal and sell Snapchat and Instagram accounts with cool usernames.

Other top episodes are #109 Is Facebook Spying on You? – Everyone’s been asking it, does Facebook listen to you and plant ads about what you’ve been talking about? Runners up are #143 Permanent Record (people with embarrassing moments stuck online), #125 All My Pets (Pet YouTuber drama), and #141 Adam Pisces and the $2 Coke (who is Adam Pisces and why is he ordering Cokes at Domino’s all over the US?).
Alicia - Hapori | Community, Tūranga

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