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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American Monsters

american-monsters

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews for these novels [here] and [here].

American Monsters was written by Derek Landy and first published in 2016. It follows the continuing adventures of Amber and Milo as they try to find a way to finally stop Amber’s twisted parents. The book forms the final instalment of The Demon Road Trilogy, and is preceded by Demon Road (2015) and Desolation (2016). I’d strongly advise that you read the books in sequence if you want to have any idea of what’s going on.

Amber is struggling to come to terms with her new role as the Shining Demon’s representative on Earth. She’s stronger than ever, her demonic side fuelled by vials of her benefactor’s blood, but using these is starting to come at the cost of her sanity. And then there are the things she must do – things that enable serial killers to go on killing. She knows that she needs to find a way to break her contract before she completely loses her soul.

And then there is the problem of her parents. Bill and Betty are still on the run and know that they’re living on borrowed time. When Amber finally catches up with them, they cut a deal. They know that they won’t live long while the Shining Demon is still in power. They want Amber to deliver the monster to them so that they can devour him and take his place. If Amber can do that, they promise that they’ll leave her alone to live her life.

Amber knows that her parents can’t be trusted, but there is one small problem. They’ve taken Kelly hostage and will kill her if Amber doesn’t deliver the goods within six days. With Kelly’s life on the line, Amber and Milo have no choice but to hit the road to find chains powerful enough to bind a Lord of Hell. However on the way they will encounter many old friends and enemies and, now that it’s known that Amber is the Shining Demon’s lapdog, it’s difficult to know who they can trust…

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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

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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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Boudica’s Daughters

boudicas-daughters

Boudica’s Daughters was written by Sheridan Winn and first published in 2016. It’s a fantasy story with historical elements, focusing on a family who are drawn closer together by both personal tragedy and an archaeological find. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Lilla has always seen ghosts, though she often finds that people don’t believe her. Therefore, it’s not really surprising that when her family moves out into the Norfolk countryside, she starts to see spirits of ancient warriors. Two thousand years before, the Iceni tribe was known to live in the area and when Lilla uncovers an ornamental hare in the woods behind her house, she quickly learns that it belonged to the daughter of Queen Boudica.

However, her investigation into the ghosts is put on hold when her sister returns home from University. While Lilla has always been a bit weird, her sister Janey was the life and soul of the party. Yet Janey’s not the same as she was. In the past year, she’s gone increasingly off the rails and fallen in with a bad crowd. It’s not long the family discover why, and the tragic revelation shocks all of them to the core.

In an attempt draw her sister out of her depression, Lilla enlists her to help scour the woods for Iceni treasure. As they discover more than they ever could have imagined, the sisters slowly begin to grow closer as they search for a way to both help Janey and the restless spirits find peace.

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Fish Boy

fish-boy

Happy New Year! For my first review of 2017, I’m going to be looking at Fish Boy, Chloe Daykin’s debut novel, which is due for release at the end of February. It’s a stand-alone story with fantastical elements, which focuses on a young boy trying to make sense of his life. Many thanks to Faber & Faber for providing me with an advance copy for this review.

Billy Shiel is twelve years old. He likes David Attenborough documentaries and swimming in the sea before school. He’s also incredibly lonely. His mother’s mystery illness has sucked a lot of fun out of his life – forcing his father to work extra hours to support the family and meaning that he spends a lot of time alone. He’s recently also become a target for the school bully, Jamie, who steals his stuff and calls him Fish Boy.

Things start to change when magic obsessed Patrick Green joins his class and befriends Billy, finally breaking him from his isolation. Yet its also around that time that a mackerel swims into his face and declares “Kezdodik”. The fact that the fish have begun to speak to Billy is confusing to say the least, but he wishes he could understand what they are saying.

When he finally shares this secret with Patrick, his new friend is surprisingly understanding. Patrick’s love of all things magic cause him to instantly believe in the fish and he pushes Billy to keep going back to find out what it wants. Yet as Billy spends more time in the sea, what he discovers changes his life forever…

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The Christmasaurus

the-christmasaurus

Hello everyone! Before I begin this very special review, I’d like to thank all of you for following me this year and wish you all a fantastic holiday (no matter what you believe or how you spend it). In honour of the occasion, I’ve decided to take a look at a story befitting the season.

The Christmasaurus was written by Tom Fletcher and first published in 2016. It tells the story of a young boy who has a magical Christmas Eve adventure with an unusual festive creature. Although the novel does hint at the possibility of a sequel, at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

William Trundle has not had the easiest of childhoods. He lost both his mother and the use of his legs in a tragic accident and has recently become the target of Brenda Payne, the meanest bully in school. His father sees that he’s miserable and encourages him to write a letter to Santa, asking for the one thing that he really wants. For William, the answer is simple. The one thing that he’s always wanted is a dinosaur.

Meanwhile, at the North Pole, Santa’s elves have come across something remarkable. Buried beneath the ice is a huge egg. When they thaw it out, it hatches into the very last dinosaur. Naming it the Christmasaurus, they allow the magical creature to live with them and experience their Christmassy way of life. However, the dinosaur is still lonely. It feels out of place and dreams of flying like one of Santa’s reindeer, yet all its attempts to do so fail.

When Santa receives William’s letter, he sets out making the boy the perfect present – a stuffed version of the Christmasaurus. When the Christmasaurus sees it, he immediately falls in love. It’s the closest thing to another dinosaur he’s ever seen and he doesn’t want it to go to some spoiled little boy. Reluctant to part with his new friend, he sneaks into Santa’s sleigh and unwittingly finds himself left behind in William’s living room. Naturally, William is overjoyed to meet the Christmasaurus but he soon realises that the dinosaur was not left for him. Yet how will they ever get him back home to the North Pole?

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