Read these reviews from the Young Adult Category submitted to the inaugural LIANZA Book Review Competition and pick up a copy from your local library...
The Rift by Rachael Craw
YA Category Review Winner:
The Rift is a YA fantasy book about zombie space dogs called Rift Hounds who cross the Rift when the moon is full. Rangers who live on Black Water Island protect the magical and majestic Old Herd from the Rift Hounds, and use telepathy to communicate with the deer. Meg and Cal are broody, courageous and witty protagonists.
The world is well constructed, and conjures beautiful imagery of New Zealand-esque scenery - with thermal pools and a rugged, harsh landscape. The fantasy-side of the story takes a little to get your head around, but it does not make it any less mind-blowing. As I read the book, I was transported to the island and I could clearly see everything in my mind. It takes a great wordsmith to bring a world to life, and Rachael does this so well.
The Reviewer: Amy Chiles is a librarian at the brand-new Christchurch Central Library – Tūranga. In her spare time she enjoys sewing and crochet and has fun finding hilarious picture books to read her 5-year old daughter.
Rachael Craw’s The Rift is a story about connectedness. Its two main characters are thematic foils: Meg Archer grew up among the Rangers but has been away from Black Water Island for many years, while outsider Cal West has never felt accepted on Black Water Island despite his Ranger gifting. The mythology-inspired fantasy element of magical deer and mutant space hounds intervenes at key points to drive character change, but Meg and Cal’s journey to find their place in the world plays out most clearly in their developing relationship with each other. The story wraps up by the last page but the remaining mysteries of the fantasy world leave space for future adventures beyond the Rift. Young adult romance/adventure set against the backdrop of a darkly fantastical world.
The Reviewer: Matthew Sampson is a Selwyn librarian, reader, writer and story theorist and leads the local children’s book club. He peruses the fantasy and science fiction shelves in every age category at his local library.
Invisibly Breathing by Eileen Merriman
In Eileen Merriman’s third Young Adult novel, Bailey Hunter has just moved to Wellington from Auckland, an awkward sexual encounter in his wake. His caravan in the driveway is his escape from his four siblings and his alcoholic and abusive father.
Felix likes numbers, Green Day, and the new kid. His parents have separated and his mum has a new boyfriend, which he is less than impressed about.
They gravitate to one other, and a sweet but intense and necessarily secretive romance ensues. Their home lives, however, threaten to interfere; Bailey’s in particular, and a high-energy, suspenseful denouement kept me turning the pages right to the end.
I really enjoyed the two main characters; their quirks (a stutter, an obsession with numbers) made them human and interesting without being too odd, especially Felix, who could easily have become a nerd stereotype.