Revolution

Revolution was written by Jennifer Donnelly and first published in 2010. It is a very ambitious novel that blends elements of contemporary, historical and science fiction, presenting the dual stories of an American teenager suffering from the death of her brother, and a French teenager trying to survive the Great Terror. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of Donnelly’s other books to fully appreciate it.

Andi Alpers is falling apart. Her little brother – Truman – has been dead for two years, her mother is lost in grief and her father has left them to start a family with a younger woman. Andi knows that she is entirely to blame for all of this and is growing increasingly numb to everything. She is flunking school but doesn’t care. She knows that everyone would be happier if she just wasn’t around.

However, her father’s sudden return derails her morbid plans. To Andi’s horror, he immediately has her mother sent away to a psychiatric institution and insists that Andi accompanies him to Paris over the school break. He hopes that the change will do her good and give her ample time to work on her thesis – a complex work linking an 19th Century French musician to present day acts. Over this time, they will be staying with an eccentric family friend – a Historian known as G who is desperate to prove that a mummified heart belongs to the last Prince of France.

Although Andi is desperate to finish her research and return to her mother, she grows increasingly distracted as she discovers a lost diary belonging to a servant working in the Court of King Louis XVI. The girl – Alex – initially agreed to be a companion for the young prince to move up in society, but gradually grew to view him as a younger brother. Andi keeps reading these increasingly grim accounts of the French Revolution, hoping for the best. However, as G’s research continues, she becomes increasingly fearful as to what Alex’s fate will be…

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Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret

Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret was written by D.D. Everest and first published in 2015. It is a fantasy story for middle grade readers, focusing on a young boy who discovers that he belongs to a family of magical book wardens. The novel forms the first part of a planned trilogy and is followed by Archie Greene and the Alchemist’s Curse (2016). The final part of the series – Archie Greene and the Raven’s Spell – is due for release later this year.

Since the tragic deaths of his parents and sister, Archie Greene has grown up living with his Grandmother and led a wholly unremarkable life. However, all this changes on his twelfth birthday when a stranger appears with an unusual gift for him. The man comes from London’s most secret law firm and has come to deliver a sealed book and a message. The weird thing is, the book has been with them awaiting for delivery for over four hundred years.

The message instructs Archie to deliver the book to the Aisle of White, a book shop in Oxford. It is here that he learns the truth about his family. Archie is a descendant of one of the men who protected the Library of Alexandria – the place were all magic books were kept until it was destroyed by fire. When the Flame of Alexandria recognises his potential, he is apprenticed to Old Zeb – a master book binder – and begins working for the Museum of Magical Miscellany (or Mothballs as it is known to the other apprentices).

Yet Archie soon learns about the dangers of the magical world. Mothballs is home to four of the Terrible Tomes – magical books that could bring about the end of everything. On Archie’s first day, another apprentice is targeted by Greaders – people who are desperate to get their hands on the Tomes’s power. Realising that they could have mistaken the boy for him, Archie begins to grow suspicious about the book that he delivered. Could it be that it’s what the Greaders are searching for?

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Visser

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

Animorphs:  1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-19 | 20-22 | 23-27 | 28-32 | 33-37

Megamorphs: The Andalite’s Gift | In the Time of Dinosaurs | Elfangor’s Secret

Animorphs Chronicles: The Andalite Chronicles | The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

For today’s review, I’m going to be taking a look back at the third of K.A. Applegate’s Animorphs Chronicles. These books are designed to be read alongside the main Animorphs series as they help to expand on the universe by giving more background to the different alien races. Today’s novel – Visser – focuses on how Visser One first began the invasion of Earth and is designed to be read directly after The Proposal (book thirty-five of the main series).

Edriss 562 has never been in so much danger. Following a string of mistakes in the invasion of Earth, she has found herself stripped of her rank as Visser One and brought before the Council of Thirteen to answer for her crimes. The charges stacked against her carry a dozen different death charges but the worst thing is that Visser Three is her prosecutor. The Andalite Controller has hated Edriss for as long as she can remember and will stop at nothing to see that she is found guilty.

As the trial progresses, Edriss recounts how she and her friend Essam discovered Earth and took the very first Human Controllers. However, as she is subjected to an invasive memory probe, it quickly becomes apparent that her early years on Earth did not go smoothly. Visser One has many secrets, ones that not even her host is aware of. Secrets that are enough to shock even the most hardened of Yeerk generals.

It’s not long before Edriss realises that she has no hope of being found innocent. The only thing that she can do is make Visser Three seem worse. His incompetence in dealing with the Andalite Bandits has made him look a fool time and time again, but Edriss knows something that he doesn’t – the fact that they’re not Andalites at all. Slowly, she begins to form a plan to use this information to her advantage…

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The One Memory of Flora Banks

The One Memory of Flora Banks was written by Emily Barr and first published in 2017. It is a contemporary novel which focuses on a girl with amnesia on a quest to find her lost love. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

When Flora was ten years old, an operation to remove a brain tumour left her without the ability to make memories. She remembers everything up to this but anything that she has learned since leaves her mind within a few hours. Despite now being seventeen, she will never lead an ordinary live. It’s not even safe for her to leave her home town. That is, until she kisses a boy on the beach.

Flora wakes up the next morning and is shocked to find that she remembers this vividly. She quickly convinces herself that the boy – Drake – has some sort of special ability that will restore her memory. Trouble is, Drake is leaving to study at the North Pole and so she has no chance of ever seeing him again.

However, that’s before her parents are forced to rush to the bedside of her sick brother, leaving her in the care of her friend Paige. This is Flora’s chance. With her parents far away, no one will stop her from just getting on a plane and going after Drake. However, nothing is quite what it seems. Flora will need all of her bravery if she’s ever to discover who she truly is, and survive her adventure to the Land of the Midnight Sun…

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Animorphs 33-37

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

Animorphs:  1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-19 | 20-22 | 23-27 | 28-32

Megamorphs: The Andalite’s Gift | In the Time of Dinosaurs | Elfangor’s Secret

Animorphs Chronicles: The Andalite Chronicles | The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Welcome again to my retrospective of K.A. Applegate’s Animorphs. In case you haven’t seen any of my previous posts, this is my gradual look back over a popular-science fiction series that ran between 1996 and 2001. The series consisted of fifty-four main books and ten spin-offs, though for the purpose of this review I’m only going to be looking at volumes thirty-three to thirty-seven – The Illusion, The Prophecy, The Proposal, The Mutation and The Weakness. Be warned, there will be spoilers below the cut…

Due to Rachel’s struggle against herself, the Animorphs failed to stop the development of the Anti-Morphing Ray. Now that it’s ready to be tested, the team know that it could reveal that they’re really human and put all of their lives in danger. Their only hope is to fool Visser Three into believing that it’s broken and the only way to do this is to use Tobias. The hawk is his true form and so if the ray is turned upon him, nothing would happen. However, tricking the Yeerks requires for him to first become their prisoner.

Following this, the Animorphs are contacted by the last of the Arn. He wishes to breed a new strain of Hork-Bajir to free his plant for the Yeerks, but to do so he needs to find a cask of armaments that was once hidden by Aldrea. To locate this, he needs to transfer Aldrea’s consciousness into a willing host. However, there is no way of knowing if Aldrea will be prepared to give the person their body back.

Yet some of the Animorph’s biggest challenges occur close to home. Marco struggles to control his morphing power when put under stress by the possibility of his father remarrying, and Jake is forced to make difficult decisions when the team are taken captive by a race of aquatic humanoids. Yet the biggest challenge comes when Rachel is left in charge while Jake takes a vacation. Her reckless plan to show up Visser Three puts the lives of her friends in danger. Just how far will she go before she realises that she is in over her head?
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Young Adult Comics

graphic-novels

I haven’t had time to prepare a proper review for today as I’m currently studying for an exam. Don’t worry though – so long as I pass, everything should be back to normal for next week!

Anyhow, instead I thought I’d use today’s post to talk about something a little different. If you follow me on Goodreads, you’ll already know that I’m also an avid comic book reader. While comics are a bit more mainstream now than they once were, they’re still often looked down upon as being of lesser value than other forms of art and literature. This is quite frankly crazy – as with the novels that I’ve reviewed, the quality of comics can vary quite wildly between titles, writers and artists.

Therefore, I thought I’d use this post to talk about my favourite comics for middle grade and young adult readers. Everything on this list (apart from Nimona) is an ongoing series so you should be able to find them at your local book store, library or comic book shop. I also should note that all of these series are all Western comics. While I do also read manga, these days I’m more of a Western comic book reader and so I’m not up on the most recent Japanese titles to recommend.

Anyhow, let’s start with some Marvel comics!

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Megamorphs #3: Elfangor’s Secret

megamorphs-3

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

Animorphs:  1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-19 | 20-22 | 23-27 | 28-32

Megamorphs: The Andalite’s Gift | In the Time of Dinosaurs

Animorphs Chronicles: The Andalite Chronicles | The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

It’s been a while since I looked at one of the Megamorphs books, so here’s a little background. This is a spin-off of K.A. Applegate’s popular Animorphs series. There are four Megamorphs books and they’re characterised by being longer and containing more narrators than a typical Animorphs book. For today’s review, I’m going to be looking at the third of these – Elfangor’s Secret – which was first published in 1999. It should also be noted that this book is designed to be read after The Sickness (the 29th instalment of the main series).

When Elfangor tried to escape the war, he did so using the Time Matrix – the most powerful device in the universe. He knew that if the machine fell into the wrong hands it could be used to alter the history of the world, and so he hid it. Unfortunately, things don’t remain hidden forever. The device has fallen into the hands of Visser Four, and he intends to use it to ensure that Yeerks can easily dominate the Earth.

When the Drode is sent to request the Animorphs’ assistance, they know that something is wrong. The Crayak is their most powerful enemy – why ever would he need their help? Yet it quickly becomes clear that neither side wants to see the Yeerks with such power. The Crayak offers to give them the ability to pursue Visser Four across history, but he will only do so for a price. One of the Animorphs must die.

This is naturally not something that they want to agree to, yet they have no choice. They can’t value one of their lives over those of every human on the planet. Therefore, they begin to chase Visser Four in an attempt to stop him from changing history. However, they know that they must be careful. The Yeerk is not the only threat. Any wrong move that they make could also change the future for the worse…

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Animorphs 28-32

animorphs-28-32

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

Animorphs:  1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-19 | 20-22 | 23-27

Megamorphs: The Andalite’s Gift | In the Time of Dinosaurs

Animorphs Chronicles: The Andalite Chronicles | The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Sorry it’s taken so long for me to post this – life is busy. Anyhow, let’s return to my retrospective look at K.A. Applegate’s Animorphs books. As with previous reviews, please note that there will be spoilers. In case you’ve never heard of it before, Animorphs was a science fiction series for young teens that ran from 1996 to 2001. It consisted of fifty-four main novels, as well as ten spin-off stories. For the purpose of this review, I’m going to be looking at books twenty-eight to thirty-two only – The Experiment, The Sickness, The Reunion, The Conspiracy and The Separation. That’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get started!

The Battle for Earth is drawing on and the Yeerks are being forced to grow craftier in their approach. When the Chee come to learn that the Yeerks have taken control of a research lab and meat processing plant, the Animorphs know that they have to infiltrate both to discover why. What they find is a complex plot to change the food supply in order to remove human free will. However, can they destroy the Yeerks’s research without winding up as hamburgers?

Following on from this, the Animorphs are forced to embark on a number of sensitive personal missions. Cassie’s trust is put to the test when she is contacted by a Yeerk who claims to be part of a peace movement. His ally, Aftran, has been captured and will inevitably reveal everything about the Animorphs once Visser Three tortures her. Yet, with all the other Animorphs sick, it’s up to Cassie alone to rescue her and, to do that, she must morph into her worst enemy…

Jake and Marco face crises of a different source when their families are targeted by the Yeerks. Jake must pull out all the stops to protect his unknowing father as Tom tries to either infest or destroy him, while Marco learns that his mother is still alive and is forced to make the impossible choice whether to risk his friends to save her or let her die. Meanwhile, Rachel is forced to face the danger within when she finds herself split in half. With the threat of the Yeerks developing an Anti-Morphing Ray, the team needs to be more focused than ever. But how can they stop it while Rachel is at war against herself?

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Born Scared

born-scared

Born Scared was written by Kevin Brooks and first published in 2016. It’s a thriller that focuses on a teenage boy who is afraid of everything. As it’s a stand-alone story, you don’t have to have read any of Brooks’s other novels to fully appreciate it. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing a copy for me to review.

From the moment that he was born, Elliot has known nothing but terror. Although experts have been unable to put a name to his condition, his whole life is governed by acute fear. Every sight and sound, from sheep to the colour red, cause his mind to spiral into uncontrollable panic and so he rarely leaves the safety of his “fear-proofed” bedroom.

The one thing that takes the edge off his panic are the little yellow pills that his doctor prescribes. However, due to mix up at the pharmacy, it’s Christmas Eve and he’s running out. His mother leaves in a blizzard to get more. The trip should only take half an hour but as the minutes tick by and she doesn’t return, Elliot realises that something must have gone horribly wrong.

With his last pill beginning to wear off, Elliot is forced to do something terrifying – to head out into the snow to find her. His journey should take him less than a mile away from his home, but the outdoors are unpredictable and his fear is rapidly returning. Will he be able to conqueror it for long enough to find her?

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Caraval

caraval

Caraval was written by Stephanie Garber and first published in 2017. It’s a fantasy story about the experiences that a young woman has when she’s invited to take part in a magical game. The novel is the first part of a planned duology, although at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

Scarlett has always dreamed of seeing Caraval – a yearly performance known for its audience participation and magic – but it seems that her chances have run out. Her abusive father has arranged for her to be married to a nobleman that she’s never met and Scarlett knows that she has no choice but to obey. He’ll only hurt her younger sister – Tella – if she displeases him.

When her long-awaited invitation to Caraval finally arrives, Scarlett is disappointed but knows there is nothing that she can do. However, Tella is not about to let her sister’s last chance at adventure slip away. Teaming up with Julian – a young sailor – the two fake a kidnapping and spirit Scarlett away to the festival. However, as soon as they set foot on the island, things start to go wrong.

Legend, the enigmatic master of Caraval, spirits Tella away. The game this year is to be a hunt for the stolen girl and the winner is promised to receive a wish in return. Scarlett is not interested in the prize but knows that she needs to get her sister back before the five days are up, otherwise she risks missing her wedding. Teaming up with Julian, the two work together to solve Legend’s clues. However, Caraval is a place of illusion and magic and Scarlett finds herself pitted against dozens of other players, all willing to go to any length to win…

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