Butterfly In The Dark

The Perfect Girl
Gilly MacMillan
Hachette Australia
March 2016

It’s easy to forget—considering there are generations that have grown to adulthood knowing no different—that the internet of things is still new to humanity. Certainly in terms of laws and regulations, the internet is still something of a frontier with the frontier mentality of “anything goes”. Because what are the consequences of misbehaving, really?

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Space Zombies!

Illuminae
The Illuminae Files_01
Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Allen & Unwin
October 2015
$19.95

Illuminae_smIlluminae is a visual wonder piece of science fiction narration. It straddles the undefined landscape between novel and graphic novel in a way that is almost cinematic in its execution. Rather than a story told in a series of words, what we have are words presented as in a dossier; “found” documents (e.g., chat room logs, mission reports, narrated surveillance footage) that show the bloody unfolding of one corporation’s ruthless attack on another. We’ve stumbled upon someone’s dirty little (well-documented) secret, the kind of dirty secret that the most cynical of us assume that all corporations must have, and we can only hold our breathe as the carnage accelerates, and ask, “Will they get away with it?”

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A Novel of Contrasts

Tape
Steven Camden
HarperCollinsChildren’sBooks
Jan 2015, RRP $16.99 (paperback)

tapeQuintessentially, Tape is a novel of contrasts. It contrasts the past world of Ryan with the present world of Ameliah, the world of the male with the world of the female, the world of 1993 tape technology with the 2013 world of texts and twitter, and the world of the adult (from the teenager’s perspective) with the world of the teenager.

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Truth and Truthability

Newt's Emerald
Garth Nix
Allen & Unwin
September 2015, RRP $18.99

Newts EmeraldMy dearest reader

How much I have to tell you. Oh, but how are you? I trust you have been well?
I have the misfortune to suffer constantly from my nerves and have confined myself, of late, to my chambers. However, this has not prevented me hearing the most scandalous news.

I trust you have heard of Lady Truthful Newington who has come to London for the season. She has been staying with her aunt, Lady Badgery—that notorious virago—and is quite the heiress, and handsome too if the reports are true. No doubt she will attract those young gentlemen in need of a lady of fortune to bolster their own, or lack thereof.
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Social Justice with Vegetables

GREEN VALENTINE
Lili Wilkinson
Allen & Unwin, RRP $16.99
August 2015

GreenValentine_sm

Green Valentine is a beam of sunshine through the dark cloud of cynicism. Let’s face it; fiction these days, and in particular young adult fiction, can be pretty bleak. There’s The Hunger Games, where a totalitarian region maintains order through fear by forcing children to slaughter each other. The Harry Potter series, known for its quirky humour, also straddles dark territory with beloved characters dying during the terror of war. These are poignant stories which allow the reader to ride waves of emotion; fear, anger, sadness; and feel just that little bit more alive, to exist wholly in the moment. But when the worlds we read are always dark they can shape our perception until, perhaps, we then see only darkness in our own world.

So in the landscape of distrust that real life is becoming, perhaps we owe it to ourselves to find stories that celebrate the joy and excitement of life, to surround ourselves by inspiration rather than despair. Which brings us back to Green Valentine. Lili Wilkinson has written an unapologetically optimistic story of finding love, learning acceptance and changing the world, one strawberry at a time, and it’s like a warm shower after a week’s worth of camping in the rain. It could possibly even be the sweetest story ever written. Continue reading

Honoured To Be Sure

The Honours Book Cover The Honours
Tim Clare
Allen & Unwin, RRP $27.99
June 2015

Astonishing.

Haunting.

Gripping.

Irresistible.

These are the only four words I read prior to cracking open Tim Clare’s debut novel, The Honours, plastered as they were on the four corners of the truncated dustjacket.
There are those who prefer to screen potential reading material, scouring blurbs and reviews until there is barely a reason left to read the book itself. My advice of the day is to save yourself the time investigating and just read, dammit. Read a book you’ve never heard of and know nothing about. This is a matter of wellbeing and should be done at least as often as taking a stroll through a sun-dappled forest—minimum dose: once every twelve months.

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Over Troubled Water

To Hold the Bridge Book Cover To Hold the Bridge
Garth Nix
Allen & Unwin, RRP $19.99
May 2015

Have you read a Garth Nix before? Have you? Have you?

If you answered yes, you are correct. Well done. There is truly nothing I need to tell you other than – hey, check it out, a book full of short stories by Garth Nix. Huzzah!

If you answered no, then this is me taking you by the shoulders, looking deep into your slightly terrified peepers and trying to convince you to make that positive change in your life.  Continue reading

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