ISBN 9781405265119

Elizabeth Wein, whose earlier novel Code Name Verity was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, has returned to the same era as Code Name Verity for her new novel, Rose Under Fire, but with a different heroine, Rose Justice. Like Maddie in the earlier novel, Rose is an ATA (Air Transport Auxiliary) pilot. Rose is ferrying an aircraft from France to the UK in 1944 when she is captured by the Germans and sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp. There, she suffers horrendous conditions during the final months of the war before managing to escape. This is a powerful and powerfully-told story which treats with dignity and integrity the stories of the thousands of women who lost their lives at Ravensbrück. One of Wein's central themes is to tell the stories of those who did not live to tell their stories themselves, and you do feel that she achieves this. Woven into Rose's fictional story are true historical incidents that many of us will not know about, such as the efforts made by the women in the camp to protect the 'Rabbits', those who had been needlessly operated on by the Nazis, whose story also needed to be told. There are also more hopeful themes, such as the women's desire for education, for poetry and, most poignantly, for recipes. Rose Under Fire is a brave, warm and beautifully structured novel that, as Wein set out to do, completes the story begun in Code Name Verity. Ages 14+ / 480 pages / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Noble Conflict
Malorie Blackman

ISBN 9780385610421

Malorie Blackman's latest novel, Noble Conflict, centres on a community that is protected by a force of elite 'peacekeepers', The Guardians, whose job it is to maintain the region's hard-won stability, despite the external threat posed by a group of rebels. Teenage Kaspar is proud to join The Guardians, but after meeting one of the rebels, he starts to question what it is that the Guardians are really protecting, and why? The dystopian novel features a future potential world where a small community has survived a cataclysmic event, although we are not sure what caused this until the end of the story. It reads, however, as a very possible future scenario. We only gradually come to realise that the world we are presented with is one built through propaganda and that its carefully-presented values and structure is just that, an appearance that masks a very dark history and truth. One of Malorie Blackman's strengths as a writer is her ability to turn the tables on what we think we are seeing in the world around us, and what we tend to accept without question. In this novel, she reminds us that we probably need to question much more than we do. Ages 12+ / 368 pages / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Noble Conflict
The Savages
Matt Whyman

Hot Key Books

ISBN 9781471400384

The Savage family would love to have you for dinner ... not if you are a vegetarian though, there are some things they draw the line at and non-meat eaters are one such! The Savages are a family with a difference, a family with a dark secret and a family who love a good feast. Their story is the story of first teen love, of the moral values attached to food and shopping, of caring for your friends and family and of daring to be a little bit different! The Savages love to eat, they are a family almost obsessed with food. The food they love has to be meat, yes they enjoy the odd vegetable too, but as an accompaniment! Sasha and her brother Ivan do not tend to see eye-to-eye (do any brother and sister?). So when Sasha is forced by Ivan to reveal she has her first boyfriend, and that he is a veggie, her parents are not sure which is more shocking. The consequences of this revelation go much further than anyone in the family could possibly imagine but if I say much more it will be to reveal too much ... Be prepared to be shocked, intrigued and compelled to read on despite your own misgivings. Be prepared for lots of guess work and see if you can work out what is actually going on! Ages 12+ / 288 pages / Reviewed by Louise Ellis-Barrett

The Savages
Monkey Wars
Richard Kurti

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406346107

One of the most excitingly different and memorable books of the year so far can be read as a page-turning visceral, action-packed thriller about urban warfare, but its value and impact lies in the way it engages the reader in some very deep thinking about the nature of power, corruption, propaganda, responsibility and morality. So, on the surface, we have the story of Papina, a survivor of the massacre of the Rhesus monkeys orchestrated by human encouragement of the brutal Langur monkey troops, and Mico the young Langur who begins to doubt the validity of the Langur actions. Their relationship is at the heart of the story and their fight for survival in the reign of terror created by the despotic Tyrell, who becomes the all powerful, corrupt and manipulative leader of the Langur troop, is thrillingly told. You can definitely detect the screen writing background of this debut novelist in the dramatic battle scenes and the vivid descriptions of the Kalkota backdrop. This book would make a fascinating counterpoint to study of Animal Farm. Allegory is a powerful tool, but whereas I feel with Orwell that the political message came before the story, here the author is very concerned to tell a real and engaging story, yet with no less of an important underlying theme. Getting readers of all ages to question what is worth fighting for and what price you might have to pay for freedom seems unfortunately as relevant today as during the fight against Hitler or Stalin. The third person objective narration and the animal characters allow the message to be universal and not linked to just one political sphere. This is a rare beast indeed: an exciting read that is more than worthy of classroom study. Reviewed by Joy Court, School Library Services

Monkey Wars

ISBN 9781408327609

A new boy shows up at school, unremarkable in many ways. He makes a new friend, gets to know them and their family. One day, maybe a couple of months later, a member of that friend's family dies, of 'natural causes'. The boy slides out of the friend’s life, has to move on - mission accomplished. This is how the boy has lived his life for the past two years, since being taken and trained by the shadowy government organisation known as the Program. Given a target, he infiltrates their life until the perfect opportunity to administer a lethal injection arises. Then he moves on, to a new city, a new school, to await details of his next mission. But this time it is going to be different. In New York City, he has only five days in which to complete his assignment against a man who reminds of his own father. Emotion should play no part in the boy's life - no fear, no sympathy, no remorse - but this time, for the first time, he finds himself questioning what he has to do. And memories of his previous life are surfacing. Staccato sentences and short chapters propel the reader through this thriller, with the main protagonist being described elsewhere as a combination of Alex Rider and Jason Bourne. Zach [his real name?] does not use guns, but he is still able to kill, efficiently and remorselessly. This is a story which you will have read before and seen many times in films and on television, but here is given an immediacy and pace which will appeal to young fans of the genre. Given some of the violence and references to sex, I would recommend this to readers of 13+. This is the first in a projected series, with film options already being discussed, so expect to hear more about Boy Nobody in the future and join him on his quest to discover the truth about himself and the Program. Ages 13+ / 352 pages / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, Librarian

SLATED Trilogy: Fractured: Book 2
Teri Terry

Orchard Books

ISBN 9781408319482

Fractured takes off, like a greyhound after a rabbit, hot in the heels of Teri Terry's debut novel Slated. Terry proceeds to skilfully peel away some more layers surrounding the new identity, as well as the background, of the girl who is now Kyla; the girl with a chip in her brain who was once Lucy. And we get to spend some more time in the England of the near future, an England not so very different from today, but different enough if you're young and you've gone off the rails. This is Book 2 in a trilogy, often the point where a story can sag and drag between Books 1 and 3. Not so here. Kyla is a character in a state of metamorphosis in a dangerous world where she hasn't a clue not only of who she really is, but who she can trust: her new family and new friends? The doctors still checking up on her? The teachers? Or the person from her past who, out of the blue, turns up at her school? Told in a tense first person style, the pages turn fast as the story unfolds and Kyla-who-was-Lucy gets drawn deeper into the fight to break the rule of the Lorders and their masters and strike a blow for freedom. And also further down the path she hopes more than anything will lead her to the truth about who she really is. This is a thriller with brains, and a heart, and Terry leaves us on a precipice, waiting, like Lyla, to find out what happens next. Ages 11+ / 432 pages / Reviewed by Graham Marks

SLATED Trilogy: Fractured: Book 2