Quantum Drop
Saci Lloyd

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444900828

This is a thought-provoking, action-packed story by the author of Carbon Diaries which, like her earlier title, uses a futuristic setting to take a critical look at today's world. This is wide-ranging critique, from the way we have set up our financial systems to how we are failing our young people. In the story, Anthony is keenly aware that his girlfriend's murder has been ordered by someone she worked for and he enters The Drop - a shadowy online world where the big deals are done - to hunt out her killer. The comparisons between rich and poor, run-down council estates and the sharp-suited city workers, the everyday world and the world of 'quantum' finance, are explored and dissected throughout but not in a way that distracts from Anthony's story. Instead, what is happening globally is shown to have a very real impact at local level and the setting for the story could be any run-down district anywhere in the world. There is much for reading groups to discuss and explore in Quantum Drop. Ages 11+ / 288 pages / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Quantum Drop
The Disappeared
C. J. Harper

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9780857076984

This dystopian thriller by CJ Harper explores the idea of a divided world where children are either channelled into 'Academies' that prepare them only for factory work, or are sent to elite boarding schools where they are expected to enter the professions or 'leadership' roles (politicians). While the premise is not unfamiliar, CJ Harper's skill is in developing the reality of these two very different worlds - the elite school that Jackson finds himself brutally excluded from, contrasted with the chilling and brutal 'Academy' to which he is sent, where teachers teach from iron-bard cages and where pupils are encouraged to fight among themselves for supremacy. Through this setting, we explore themes of discrimination, the power of language and the nature of identity, so it packs a powerful punch. The ending is satisfying, but we know that Jackson has much more work ahead of him to disrupt the regime that has created this world. Ages 10+ / 384 pages / Reviewed by ReadingZone

The Disappeared
How to Fall
Jane Casey

Corgi Childrens

ISBN 9780552566032

Teenagers who are interested in crime thrillers (which is one of the biggest adult genres in terms of sales) often have to turn to the adult market to find this kind of book, so it's pleasing to see bestselling adult author Jane Casey writing for a younger, teenage audience. How to Fall is the first in a series about a girl-turned-detective, Jess Tennant, whose first case is to find out how her cousin Freya really died - was it an accident, suicide or murder? As Jess starts to ask questions, she meets with increasing hostility from the local townspeople. There is plenty of suspense in the novel but the detective action is cushioned by the exploration of the town setting and the psychology of the group of teenagers who knew Freya. Nor do we forget that the setting is about Jess spending a summer's holiday with family and trying to make new friends. Jess proves to be a feisty detective with some great put-down lines. Ages 11+ / 416 pages / Reviewed by ReadingZone

How to Fall

ISBN 9780857078025

As you read Infinite Sky, you'll need to remind yourself that this is a debut, so fine a hand does CJ Flood have on her characters, the pace of the action and shape of the novel, not to mention the lyrical quality of the writing. The novel begins with a funeral, but we are not sure whose although we know the mourner, 13-year-old Iris. The funeral takes place at the end of a summer that sees Iris and her older brother, Sam, left to their own devices after their mother leaves the family to go travelling. When a group of travellers set up camp in the family's field, it builds the frustration in the family home with the father berating the travellers and Sam following his cue. Iris, meanwhile, forms a bond with one of the travellers, Trick, who supports her more than anyone in her family. As Sam falls in with the wrong crowd, however, tensions mount, building to violence and tragedy. This is a heartfelt and authentic novel that uses the natural landscape as much as the actions of its characters to set and build the scene. CJ Flood is a writer to watch. Older readers might also want to try Annabel Pitcher's Ketchup Clouds. Ages 12+ / 288 pages / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Colin Fischer
Ashley Miller


ISBN 9780141343990

Colin Fischer has Asperger's Syndrome: "high-functioning" as he tells his gym teacher, but with poor social skills, a hatred of the colour blue and loud noises. All of which do not help on his first day at high school; his first without a helper and with only flashcards to help him interpret facial expressions. He starts the day, and the book, with his head down a toilet but his lack of emotion also means he does not bear a grudge, unlike his annoying but so realistically resentful younger brother. When Wayne the bully is the one accused of being the owner of the gun fired in the school cafeteria, Colin is the one who sees that this cannot be true and that it is up to him to prove it. Colin's hero is Sherlock Holmes and like him, he has an astonishing recall of facts and powers of observation. The story is told by excerpts from Colin's Notebook - the precious journal where he records his observations and interests, as well as a narrative which allows you into Colin's thoughts and to those around him. This gives us a very real understanding of how he sees the world and how the world sees him. One of the authors has Asperger's himself as do two of his sons and so it is not surprising that the book is so perceptive. It is also hugely enjoyable and entertaining. The journal entries and the authorial footnotes tell us an awful lot of genuinely fascinating facts and theories. There is great humour too and a genuinely surprising outcome to the mystery. Colin really develops as a character and we are left feeling very positive about his future at the high school. This would be a fascinating book for classes to compare to A Curious Incident of a Dog in the Night-time. Ages 11+ / 256 pages / Reviewed by Joy Court, SLS Librarian

Colin Fischer

ISBN 9780192733139

This is the final book in this series which follows the fortunes of Kimi, her sister, Hana and their young brother Moriyasu, after the massacre of their parents by their uncle, Lord Yamamoto. Their adventures have taken them from their sheltered upbringing as daughters of a Japanese aristocracy, to highly trained warriors, versed in both the arts of the Samurai and in Ninja skills. As their story reaches its climax in the confrontation between the Shogun and Lord Yamamotu, the action is non-stop and breathless. There are escapes, betrayals, single combat and gruesome battles described in some detail. This is very much a thrilling adventure in which historical detail is never allowed to get in the way of the action . Kimi and Hana are likeable `heroines and will appeal as proactive girls who show they can hold their own in a masculine world. However, their characters are lightly sketched and there is little opportunity for development as the plot moves swiftly on. The Japanese setting provides an element of fantasy and the exotic, allowing both the samurai and ninja to display almost super-human skill; no magic is involved. A fast moving adventure designed to appeal mainly to girls who want to see themselves as more than mere adjuncts to the action, this will be welcomed by young readers KS2/3 who have discovered the earlier titles, starting with Under the Cherry Blossom I believe this series was originally published as The Warriors Path under the name of Maya Snow. As 'Two sisters, one destiny' it has been relaunched and repackaged. However, the gentle cover illustrations do not give a true impression of the action packed plot and young readers craving this type of adventure may miss out. Ages 10+ / 272 pages / Reviewed by Ferelith Hordon, librarian