NEW TITLES

Incredible journeys, friendship, romance and prejudice are among the themes covered in this month's reviews for 11-17 year old readers, with the world wars, refugees, near futures and true stories providing the framework for the books.

Ele Fountain

Pushkin Children's Books

ISBN 9781782691976

Shif has a best friend, and lives with his mum and sister. He's really good at maths, loves chess and wants to be an Engineer. He's living an ordinary life until he's followed by soldiers on his way home from the shops. From that moment, his life is changed forever. Before he knows it, Shif is on his own, he's terrified and he doesn't know if he'll ever see his family again. On his incredible journey, Shif will endure unbelievable hardship and encounter people who have nothing but still show him life-changing kindness. Boy 87 is fantastically written and the chapters are short, not one word is wasted in this fast-paced, whirlwind story. The characters are completely believable and it will make you feel like this experience could just happen to anyone. I was enjoying the story so much, I only wish is the book could have been longer. This is a striking book that will stop you in your tracks. It's a terrifying journey, one that we cannot imagine. We take our safety for granted when so many children in the world suffer immeasurably. This is a superb book for anyone who has read and enjoyed Benjamin Zephaniah's Refugee Boy or Judith Kerr's When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. It's essentially a modern story of our times. The hopelessness, and the hope, are what I will take from this book. It made me feel lucky. 224 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Victoria Long, school librarian.

Charlie and Me: 421 Miles From Home
Mark Lowery

Piccadilly Press

ISBN 9781848126220

This is a wonderful book! 13-year-old Martin is on a very special journey, accompanied by his younger brother Charlie. The brothers appear to have run away from their Lancashire home, to see the Dolphin they saw on a family holiday in Cornwall. A journey of 421 miles. The key questions is what significance does this dolphin hold for them? Never mind how they will manage such a trip, both financially and logistically. Of course, there is a backstory which is gradually revealed through the funny, engaging and touching narration of Martin. The final chapter is incredibly sad and some readers will find this upsetting (spoiler). A moving, funny and emotional book. I would recommend this to 10-14 year olds. 259 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Kay Hymas, school librarian.

Charlie and Me: 421 Miles From Home
Second Best Friend
Non Pratt

Barrington Stoke Ltd

ISBN 9781781127575

The hugely popular author Non Pratt has created another thrilling and engaging novel for her readers. This narrative is incredibly relatable to all of us, but most of all to young teenagers who feel they are always being compared. We live in a society of competition where we are always being compared to each other throughout our whole lives and now, with social media becoming more and more popular, it is impossible to escape. For teenagers who are generally more vulnerable and more likely to feel compared to other, this story is perfectly designed to reflect that. Second Best Friend tells the tale of Jade who is best friends with Becky. However, when Jade breaks up with her boyfriend and he remarks, 'Everyone knows Becky is the hot one anyway', Jade's world is turned upside down as she starts to notice that Becky really is always better at her than everything; even Jade's own Dad seems to prefer her. Jade sets out to prove that she is better than Becky in the School election process and in her mission to do this inevitably destroys all the relationships around her, including betraying her best friend. This story has many teaching attributes - independence, individuality, competition, the rise of social media, the rise of technology, becoming more disconnected with each others... the narrative is rich in talking points from start to finish. Barrington Stoke (publisher) has a wonderful style of creating stories that appeal to young readers of ALL abilities. This story can be read as a class read or individually and all readers will enjoy it. Quick paced and engaging from start to finish, it is easy to see how Non Pratt has become a popular author whose books always have a waiting list in our school library. 152 pages / Ages 10+ / reviewed by Joanna Hewish, teacher.

Second Best Friend
Truly, Wildly, Deeply
Jenny McLachlan

Bloomsbury Childrens Books

ISBN 9781408879740

Truly Wildly Deeply is a joyful teen romance (set against the contrasting backdrop of Wuthering Heights) focussing on loveable main characters Annie and Fab. Annie has cerebral palsy and Fab has recently moved from Poland, however, this is not an 'issues book', McLachlan skilfully tells the tale of the twists and turns of the pair's blossoming relationship in a comical and completely relatible fashion. The supporting characters - Jackson, Hilary, Oliver, Mal, Jim, Annie's Mum and even Miss Caudle - are well rounded and delightful and the humour kept me laughing consistently throughout, particularly those passages referring to reading: 'I love reading. I mean, I'm obsessed with it. I'm a book pervert, and I do it everywhere and at every opportunity, even when I probably shouldn't be doing it at all'; the difference between what you can get away with reading about in public and looking at in public is mind-boggling. Truly Wildly Deeply is not without conflict however, and it is this conflict which ultimately leads Annie to make an incredibly adventurous, possibly reckless gesture. Will her spontaneous gamble pay off? Recommended for ages 11+ / 298 pages / Reviewed by Rhiannon Cook, school librarian

Truly, Wildly, Deeply
In Your Light
Annalie Grainger

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471122941

Mella, a beloved sister and daughter, disappears. Since she had a history of running away, had recently been troubled and dropped out of college, the police soon give up the search and conclude that she just doesn't want to be found. Lil, her sister, never gives up hope that Mella will be found and will come back, keeping her alive by having conversations with her in her head. When Lil finds a girl injured on the road in a storm who says she is from The Sisterhood of the Light everything changes, and the clock starts ticking for Mella. This is a pacey, exciting tale about love, hope and sisterhood with plenty to make you think. Annalie Grainger writes in an utterly believable and authentic voice as Lil describes her life after the loss of her older sister, Mella. The constant questioning of herself over what she could have done to prevent it and the sense of guilt and betrayal every time she laughs or finds herself enjoying something for a short time. The strained relationship between Lil and her mother is equally genuine and illustrates something of the impact missing people have on the family they have left behind. 140,000 children and young adults go missing in the UK each year; In Your Light would make a very good starting point for exploring the issues involved. Great for PHSE and RE, it would also make a good book to use as a springboard for discussing the nature of belief, its relevance today and the difference between cults and religions. 328 pages/ Ages 12+/ Reviewed by Melanie Chadwick, school librarian.

In Your Light
How to Bee
Bren MacDibble

Old Barn Books

ISBN 9781910646441

Children's publishing seems to be experiencing a time of growth; the shelves of book shops are bursting with newly-published books for kids - so much so that it can be hard to choose which books to read. Some seem to garner much attention whilst others arrive quietly, waiting to be picked up and discovered. How To Bee is new to the UK market but has already been doing very well in its native Australia. And it would be a real shame if it did not take off here too. Set in a future Australia where honey bees are all but extinct, this is a book about family, friendship, courage and survival and features an extremely strong, but not invincible, female lead character. Despite being pegged as a dystopian novel, the story portrays a world not dissimilar to the one we live in now. And this is what makes this book so disturbingly successful. Although the story is a chain of largely dismal events, the reader is sucked into Peony's life - Bren MacDibble makes it impossible for the reader not to be rooting for her as she pursues her dream of becoming a bee - a hand pollinator. But How To Be is not without its moments of light and hope - it would be a hard read if it wasn't. However, with an ending that is weighted more towards the bitter end of the bittersweet scale, it is an important read for those who only ever experience happily-ever-after endings. Peony's abduction by her mother and her cruel partner sees her removed from the countryside and placed into a rich household in the city. There Peony is witness to a way of life far removed from her simple, often harsh, but enjoyable life of sleeping in a shed and working amongst the fruit trees. The author cleverly contrasts these two lifestyles in such a way that merit can be seen in both - in the home of the Pasquales, Peony experiences a loving marital relationship - a far cry from the relationships her mother has been in; but she also sees how the poor are exploited in order to provide a lavish lifestyle for the rich - there are several other such contrasts. As with any good dystopian fiction, current affairs are explored and commented on in the context of a fabricated domain. Although sold as a children's book, with an age recommendation of 9-12, the subject of domestic abuse - both physical and emotional, towards adults and children - makes this a tough read in places, particularly for the aforementioned age bracket. I would suggest that this book is better suited to teenage readers for this reason. There is no reason why this challenging read shouldn't be celebrated - it is well-written, introduces children to other ways of life (and a new dialect) and despite being brutal in places is told with a very gentle touch. With its well-formed and believable characters - some loveable, some hateable - How To Bee is a book really to get into. I found it hard to put down, such was the grip it had on me. 208 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Aidan Severs, teacher.

How to Bee
The Children of Willesden Lane
Franklin Watts

Franklin Watts Ltd

ISBN 9781445161303

The Children of Willesden Lane is a true story of hope and survival during World War II. Mona Golabek, one of the authors, writes a note at the start to explain that this book is based on the story of her mother, Lisa Jura, who taught both of her daughters to play the piano. Through music, Lisa told her life story to Mona. As a 14 year-old, Lisa travelled by train to escape atrocities that were taking place in Vienna at the time. She asks the reader to consider, what do you hold on to in life when facing great challenges? I think we hold on to stories like these, of remarkable people, that inspire us to achieve our dreams. I think we hold on to the love of family and friends. It gives us the courage we need to tackle challenges. I think most of all we hold on to a tiny candle of hope that lights a path in the darkest times. I think this book is truly inspirational and such an important reminder of the importance of music. It has the power to inspire, make you reflect, help you dream, give you courage and it has the power to transport you to a faraway place. Isn't it magical? 240 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Keranjit Kaur, teacher.

The Children of Willesden Lane
Outwalkers
Fiona Shaw

David Fickling Books

ISBN 9781788450003

Outwalkers is a fantastic, absorbing debut YA novel from this author that gets the reader involved in almost every page. The story is set in England in the not so distant future. All the population are now micro chipped from birth so the government can track your every move. Jake, our main character, now lives in an academy as his parents have been killed in a car accident. He wants to escape to find his grandparents who live in Scotland, but there are two main obstacles in his plan. One, there is now a wall between England and Scotland and two, the government will not let children travel on their own. I'm trying not to give any spoilers so will only give this much more information; yes, he does escape, finds his dog Jet and then manages to join up with a gang of other children called Outwalkers. The story follows the group on their perilous journey to get to Scotland. As the story is so well written and set in England there is a familiarity about it, which helps the reader get involved in the plot and empathise with the characters. The part where they are underground in the tube station is so emotive you can almost feel and smell what is around them. This world that The author has created is so cleverly close to the real world, it's scary to think this could one day be our future. I only have one little niggle with the story, which is the background as to how this all started, why are the government so harsh on children? Why is everyone being monitored? This wasn't fully explained, but did not detract from it being such an excellent read. Outwalkers is a heartbreaking/warming novel that hits on friendship, family, loyalty, trust and most of all a sense of belonging. If you only read one book this year let it be this and if the author decides to write a sequel I'm sure that along with me you will eagerly await for it to be on the shelves. 422 pages suitable for 12+ confident readers that love dystopian novels, and for those reluctant readers that are out there, as the short chapters will give a sense of achievement as they realise how quickly they have moved through the book. 422 pages / ages 12+ / Reviewed by Linda Brown, school librarian.

Outwalkers
Smile: The story of the original Mona Lisa
Mary Hoffman

Barrington Stoke Ltd

ISBN 9781781127179

An original, page-turner of a story! Engaging right from the start, this story held me captive in a beautiful world of 15th Century Florence. Hoffman (the author) has created a truly unique story that really appeals to a young readership. The narrative is easy to follow whilst also cleverly absorbing the reader into its colourful world of Art and the stories behind the artists. Smile tells the tale of a young girl - Lisa. Lisa is born in Florence, Italy and when she is just three years old is lucky to be painted by the upcoming artist Leonardo de Vinci who names her 'lovely Lisa'. As she grows older, the narrative describes the world for young girls in this time period - to be married very young, often to older widowed men with children, expected to produce six to eight children and to uphold the values of marriage. Lisa is married at just 15 years old and is soon pregnant with their first child. The first person narrative explores how she feels about her circumstances in a direct and easy to follow storyline. Lisa is surrounded by Art and the changing circumstances of Florence - religion, the corrupt Pope, deaths, execution and unfortunately the death of two of her own children. Michelangelo is one of Lisa's friends and she is soon torn between her friendship with him, his growing jealously of Leonardo and her own desires for Leonardo. Soon Leonardo de Vinci returns to Florence and he agrees to paint an updated picture of her as she is now - the Mona Lisa. The story is fictional but is based on the mystery that surrounds the model behind the picture - Mona Lisa. Dates - births, dates and marriages - are accurate, but the story of Lisa is fictional. However, this story gives the picture a whole new meaning and can be taught with the painting fixed on the wall for the students to study. From a teaching perspective, I read this as a class read with a middle ability set of 13 year old students and they were captivated by it. It was fast paced and Barrington Stoke (publisher) has ensured ALL abilities can access this text. We discussed the mystery around the model in the painting before reading the novel as well as some research tasks on Leonardo de Vinci and Florence in the 15th Century. Hoffman should be praised on her creation of a beautiful tale about a young girl caught between a world of everyday responsibilities and flourishing artists. 104 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Joanna Hewish, teacher.

Smile: The story of the original Mona Lisa
The Goose Road
Rowena House

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406371673

It's 1916 in the south of war-torn France. Even this far from the Front, the effects of war are felt. 14 year old Angelique and her mother are left to manage the family farm after Angelique's abusive father and adored brother Pascal are conscripted into the army. A series of disasters - violent weather, the requisitioning of farm animals, violent men, neighbourhood gossip, unpaid debts, the death of Angelique's father and her mother's subsequent breakdown - leaves the family on the brink of losing everything. To save them, Angelique embarks on an epic and desperate trek across France, accompanied by her Uncle Gustav and a flock of Toulouse geese. The Goose Road is a heartbreaking and moving story about war, from the perspective of one left behind. The Goose Road is an adventure story - Angelique and her geese undertake an epic journey on a quest against the odds. It is also a story about the horrors of war - how it brings out the worst, but also the best, in people. The futility of war is mirrored by Angelique grappling with the futility of her quest. But despite this, Angelique remains hopeful. She wants to believe that people are basically decent, she wants to trust, and to give the benefit of doubt. This is her greatest weakness, but also her greatest strength. There is an interesting postscript to the book, in which the author talks about how she was inspired to write the story by a chance viewing of a photograph. This would be a brilliant creative writing exercise to do with students - writing stories inspired by historical photos. This year marks the centenary of the end of The Great War. This book would be a great way to introduce a different perspective on the war to both History and English Literature classes. The Goose Road is an emotional rollercoaster, and a great read for anyone interested in history, war, adventure and stories with heart. 375 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Daniel Katz, school librarian.

The Goose Road
I Have Lost My Way
Gayle Forman

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471173721

'I have lost my way'. A simple, heart-breaking sentence, an admission, a plea for help and a conclusion drawn independently by Nathaniel, Freya and Harun; I have lost my way. But when Freya falls from a bridge (onto Nathaniel, witnessed by Harun) the three inextricably cling to the company of each other. Not quite recognising the loss inherent in one another, they do however recognise that their meeting is a blessing and together can hope to find their way again. Taking place over the course of a day, spliced with flashbacks to give an insight into the backstory of each, we see how simple contact and connection allows each the confidence to resolve their loss. Building a friendship they support one another, slowly understanding what it is each one needs. Gayle Forman gives us three very different characters each with an absorbing history, touching on a whole range of topics. She has created three very likeable young people and has delivered another excellent story charting loss and friendship, and finding a way back to who you believe yourself to be. 288 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Catherine Purcell, school librarian.

I Have Lost My Way
Flying Tips for Flightless Birds
Kelly McCaughrain

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406375657

Twins, Birdie and Finch, are trapeze artists and their lives revolve round the family circus. Treated as outsiders by their peers at school, they set out to emphasise their difference. When Birdie has an accident, Finch teams up with another outsider as the show needs to go on if they are to save the circus. Full of fabulous characters, Flying Tips for Flightless Birds is a wonderful read which explores how our expectations of others and of ourselves can limit and change how we live - making us 'flightless'. The story is told through the eyes of Finch, who has learned to create a shell, to push others away, as a way of protecting himself. He questions the actions of others constantly, expecting the worst. Birdie's voice is heard through the blog she is writing, exploring the history of the circus, its performers, successes - and disasters - and offering hints of her real thoughts and wishes. As Finch is forced to reflect on his own actions, he also comes to understand others better as well, including his sister. Hector is particularly well-developed; his determination to succeed - both at circus skills and in his friendship with Birdie and Finch - is endearing. Lou, their grandmother, is a wonderful figure, perfectly captured with all her eccentricities, refusing to conform to the expectations of others. Often funny, frequently moving, incredibly readable, Flying Tips for Flightless Birds is a brilliant story, exploring love, friendship and family. 384 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

Flying Tips for Flightless Birds
Mary's Monster: Love, Madness and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein
Lita Judge

Wren & Rook

ISBN 9781526360410

Mary's Monster is a beautifully written and illustrated biography by Lisa Judge. Taking four years to create, it immerses us in the life and struggles of Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein. Using ethereal images and verse, Judge creates the mood and atmosphere of Mary Shelley's tumultuous existence with first her family and then her love and tormentor, Percy Bysshe Shelley. Grieving for her mother and withdrawn from her adoptive family in Scotland, Shelley falls in love with the poet Percy and so begins an affair and marriage that has passion, betrayal and madness at its core. This book is stunning with artwork that expresses the sorrow, grief, love and life of Mary. The verse throughout is informed, lyrical and will entice reader and reluctant reader alike. Highly recommended, I could not put it down. 304 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Lorraine Ansell, school librarian.

Mary's Monster: Love, Madness and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein
Savage Island
Bryony Pearce

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847158277

This is a thrilling, action-packed horror story that steadily ratchets up the tension as a group of teenagers try to make it through a deadly geocaching challenge on a remote island. Savage Island a perfect addition to Stripes' Red Eye horror series and will be devoured by 14+ readers who love horror and pacy stories - but be warned, it pulls no punches especially at the end although I was pleased that the gore was kept to a minimum; we know what is happening but it's not overly described. The story follows a group of teenagers who take on a geocaching challenge on a secret island for the chance to win a million pounds each. Once they arrive, however, and with the first geocache of a severed finger giving a good indication of what is to come, tensions soon rise as they gradually realise the lengths their competitors will go to to win the competition. Alongside the action, we have flashbacks to the teenagers' childhoods and relationships which draws us further into the story through their bonds and the complexity of their friendships. Ben, the narrator, has a troubled relationship with his mother and brother Will who, we learn, has a tendency towards sociopathic behaviours. His responsibilities for Will puts limits on his aspirations for his career and he draws back from other relationships. The other teenagers in the group are also fleshed out; each is there to contribute a different skill for the challenge. As for the geocaching challenge, we know only that it has been set up by a shadowy organisation headed up by a corporate billionaire. With the entire activity eventually turning into something like a very dark The Apprentice, the book also has things to say about our modern corporate environment. Full of twists and with a punchy ending, Savage Island takes the reader along with the teenagers on a journey you won't forget in a hurry. Highly recommended for those who enjoy their horror dark. 416 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Ellen King.

Savage Island
The Astonishing Colour of After
Emily X. R. Pan

Orion Children's Books

ISBN 9781510102965

On the evening that 16-year-old Leigh kissed her best friend Axel for the first time, she fled in panic because she was scared she'd lose her best friend - the boy she'd known for five years and the friend she valued most - only to find, when she arrived home to her distressed father, that they had lost her mother to suicide and her world was falling apart. She is racked with guilt and fearful about the future. Her mother has left only a discarded, scribbled note, and crossed out 'I want you to remember', but comes to Leigh in the form of a beautiful, mysterious and elusive red bird which leads her with her Dad to Taiwan and her estranged maternal grandparents. This novel traces Leigh's emotional journey as she copes with grief, trauma and the unravelling of memories - both her own and those of the people around her - and begins to understand and learn to live with the consequences of what has happened. Leigh's love of art and Axel's love of music are woven into the story and reflect the emotional tones. It's a beautifully and sensitively written book about loving and fearing, about guilt and forgiveness, about separation, about losing and finding - and I loved it. 472 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Jane Welby, school librarian.

The Astonishing Colour of After
Landscape with Invisible Hand
M. T. Anderson

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406379006

When the aliens first arrived on Earth, everyone was relieved that they weren't invading. In fact, the vuvv not only came in peace, they came offering technology and medicine so advanced that it could cure all known human diseases and make menial labour a thing of the past - it seemed too good to be true. It was. Vuvv technology has made many Earth jobs obsolete. Unemployment and poverty is epidemic, people have to find new ways to get by. The vuvv are obsessed with 'classic' Earth culture (specifically 1950s America), so 17 year olds Adam Costello and Chloe Marsh decide to earn a living by going on and recording 1950s-style dates for the entertainment of the vuvv ('Gee, Chloe', 'Golly, Adam'). However, it's hard to whisper sweet nothings when, with each new episode, you hate each other more and more. And as their families' only source of income, can they afford to stop? Landscape With Invisible Hand is a dark satire on colonialism, capitalism, culture, art, class, race, education and society, in the tradition of writers like Kurt Vonnegut. This short novel is simply and straightforwardly told, but there is a boiling cauldron of ideas that bubble under the surface that make this story far more than the sum of its parts. On the surface, the book's message is traditional YA fare: be true to yourself. But Landscape With Invisible Hand is also one of the best critiques of paternalistic colonialism and late capitalism I've read in a YA book. This is definitely a book for more mature readers. While there are occasional strong swears, this guidance is more informed by the satire of Landscape With Invisible Hand, which is so subtle and sophisticated that it could well be lost on younger children - and probably a good many adults, too. 162 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Daniel Katz, school librarian.

Landscape with Invisible Hand
Orphan Monster Spy
Matt Killeen

Usborne Publishing Ltd

ISBN 9781474942386

Sarah is a Jewish teenager living in Nazi Germany. She attempts to flee with her mother but finds herself orphaned at a soldier checkpoint. Now Sarah is alone in a hostile society. She is reliant upon her acting skills and powers of observation to survive. Sarah helps a British Spy and is taken under his wing, being sent to a tough boarding school for the Nazi elite. Her mission is to infiltrate a top German scientist's home. Sarah is an intelligent and resilient heroine and Orphan Monster Spy is a real page-turner that will take you from one drama to the next without pausing for breath. This is historical fiction with a contemporary twist that highlights the possible nuclear threat of World War II. It's an amazing debut novel that is set for a sequel and I cannot wait to read it! Note: There is an attempted rape (no explicit details). 400 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Clair Bossons, school librarian.

Orphan Monster Spy
Dear Martin
Nic Stone

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471175565

Dear Martin is a short (207 pages) but very powerful story; a raw, captivating read that I seriously could not put down - the length of the book created impact and pace for the reader. The story follows a 17 year old African American teenager named Justyce. He is a good young man who wants to follow in the steps of Martin Luther King. Through the third person narration alternating between Justyce's letters to MLK, the reader gets an insight into some of the experiences that happen to black teenage boys. How they cope with the knowledge that they are judged and could be murdered due to the colour of their skin or by the type of clothes that they wear. Nic Stone has created a very well written, emotive read as it's hard to comprehend that this prejudice still happens in the world today. You need to go into this story with an open heart and eyes and learn something from the author's experience as she has loosely based it on true events. This book would be great as a classroom/debate session read, as it deals with various equality-related issues and values; it's not just about the shooting that occurs. I would happily recommend the book to 14+ confident readers due to the content of violence, death, racism, police brutality and to lighten the story a little, a touch of romance, albeit not without its own consequences. A must read for 2018, especially if you enjoyed The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas. 224 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Linda Brown, school librarian.

Dear Martin
The Sacrifice Box
Martin Stewart

Penguin Books Ltd

ISBN 9780141371610

I was immediately gripped by this book and enjoyed it from the start. However, it reminded me of The Lord of the Flies and Stand by Me a great deal. I also had trouble placing a setting for this story, it implies it's an English setting but I couldn't get away from feeling it was an American New England type of location. It wasn't until I read the author's notes at the end that it said it was based on the Isle of Arran. The actual story itself, like I said, was gripping and original. It's based on five students who are thrown together one summer and the closeness that binds them. The main character, Sep, short for September, is so glad to have some friends that when he has dreams and 'hears' instructions about what they should do with a box they found in the forest, he doesn't hesitate to talk his friends into all sacrificing an object that is dear to them, as a way of sealing their friendship forever. There are rules that apply though, and one of these, 'never take back your sacrifice' is broken by one of the friends with catastrophic results for the residents of the island. This is a disturbing and violent book, I would recommend it for ages 14 and above. Towards the latter part of the story, I feel there is a bit too much death but despite that, it really was an enjoyable, gripping read. I'm a bit of a stickler for details however, and as the main part of the book was set in 1986, one of the characters is bought some nicotine patches from the ferry shop, were they even invented then? 400 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Amanda Allen, school librarian.

The Sacrifice Box