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In a Nutshell: Inter-galactic girl power The all-female crew of a glass starship find themselves in the firing line of a fearsome bounty hunter in this high-energy, epically-plotted sci-fi YA-fusion. Andi is captain of the Marauder starship. To her crew, she’s simply their strong commander, leading them on a regular, run-on-the-mill mission. But Andi has a secret. To others, she’s known as the Bloody Baroness, a ruthless mercenary whose power extends throughout the galaxy. This double-life begins to unravel at breakneck speed when the Marauder journeys into unfamiliar territory, and the crew find themselves at the mercy of a figure from Andi’s past. And that’s just the start of it… Co-written by two women, one a prominent Book Tuber, this sprawling space opera epic is packed with plenty of paranoia, intrigue and all-out action, and comes recommended for fans of YA fantasy who are looking to broaden the boundaries of their reading galaxy. ~ Joanne Owen
November 2017 Debut of the Month With the pace and twists of a thriller, an emotional sucker-punch, the exquisite world-building of the best fantasy, and an imagined future that sci-fi fans will love, This Mortal Coil has all the ingredients to become the next phenomenon in YA.
Set on a space station in the near future, this cool concept sci-fi novel with a powerful finding-your-way-in-the-world theme also has much for fans of contemporary YA. Fifteen-year-old Leo was born and raised on Moon 2 Space Station and has never set foot on earth. After being remotely parented by a team of astronauts, Leo and his companions, twins Orion and Libra, have finally been deemed strong enough to survive the perilous journey to earth. But, while they’ve been in training for this for pretty much their whole lives, reality is a very different matter. To return and survive means defying some serious odds, and finding a place to call home is anything but straightforward.This is a thought-provoking thriller, fuelled by the suspenseful space journey, and by Leo’s emotional journey. He has a unique voice, and speaks in the shortened text-type language that’s used for NASA communications. But, more than that, Leo feels like a living, breathing young adult, trying to figure out his sexuality, and his place in the world. With this foray into sci-fi, author Nick Lake confirms his status as a writer with immensely diverse talents. ~ Joanne Owen
In a nutshell: super-readable story | robot rumpus at high school | Uh-oh, things are not running smoothly in the Hayes-Rodriguez household, which is highly unusual, because Mum, a robot scientist, has invented a host of machines to ensure it does. Something has upset the robots, and suddenly it’s chaos. With Mum busy on something else, it’s up to Sammy and his little sister Maddie to work out what’s gone wrong. It’s James Patterson’s mission to get and keep kids turning pages, and he’s a master of the art. Sammy’s wise-cracking narration hooks readers from the first, the action is pretty well non-stop, and the cartoon illustrations come thick and fast too; yet there’s still space for feelings and emotions too. Other authors creating addictive and irresistible page-turners for young readers include Steve Cole, Liz Pichon and Jim Smith. ~ Andrea Reece
Emily Knight is back in all her brilliant, brave glory! She’s a fabulously inspirational heroine of colour, a girl who’s not afraid to take on even the most perilous of missions. Even though she’d “lost count of the nightmares she’d had since her encounter with Neci, the deadliest warrior to exist”, Emily steps-up to the mark when Neci returns, set on war and destruction, with Emily a main target. An action-packed race against time soon kicks-off, with lively, engaging dialogue peppering the pacey plot, and some heart-warming moments of love and friendship running alongside the drama.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | September 2017 Book of the Month | In a Nutshell: Stellar story of survival in outer space A uniquely thought-provoking, space-set page-turner with an unforgettable main character whose strength and resolve will leave readers reeling in admiration. Romy is alone in space, decades from Earth. She’s the sole survivor aboard The Infinity, a spacecraft whose crew had been tasked with the mission of establishing “the new home of humanity on Earth II”. After losing her parents at the age of eleven, she’s had to come to terms with being entirely alone. “I just got on with it”, she states, revealing her characteristic, awe-inspiring strength. Then news comes from NASA that another ship has launched and the programme will be pushed forward by over twenty years. Romy is ecstatic that she’ll have company again. This is intensified when she and J, the young Commander of the new ship, start communicating and strike up a close bond, as troubling news comes from Earth. Romy’s experience of falling for J is dazzlingly evoked - every skip of her heart, every frisson of passion - as she imagines them as the Adam and Eve of Earth II. The novel’s darker strands are powerfully done too. Romy is haunted by the traumatic events that forced her into solitude, then there’s the succession of shocking revelations that explode when she begins to question J. To say the twists are unexpected is an understatement. This is one of those rare reads that defies classification. Smart sci-fi; gripping thriller; coming-of-age epic - it’s all this and more. ~ Joanne Owen
He wasn't an alien, I was sure of that. It was more like he'd walked in through an ancient door from the past ... except he was here, in my bedroom and his misty forest was somewhere real on Planet Earth. Twelve-year-old Kofi first spots the prehistoric human on a supermarket roundabout. He is small and dark and curled into a tight ball. His name is Rorty Thrutch and he has zero memory of how he ended up in the unexceptional village of Bradborough, or why he's being hunted... Kofi soon finds out that Rorty can do amazing things. He can copy, paste and delete objects, using only the power of his mind. This is the discovery of the century and mad, greedy scientists will stop at nothing to track him down. Kofi and best friend Janie are on a mission. Not only must they protect Rorty, but they have to find his missing girlfriend Pogsy Blue, too. Our prehistoric ancestors have crashed headlong into the 21st century and time is running out to save them... The Starman and Me explores where we have come from and where we are moving to - it's about the magic of DNA, the power of identity, and the importance of caring for each other.
July 2017 Book of the Month In a Nutshell: Lord of the Flies with added asteroid action A uniquely-premised psychological page-turner packed with darkness, death, and compelling conspiracy. Since the age of eight, Min has experienced the unthinkable. On each even-numbered birthday, she’s violently murdered by a strange man. The first time it happened, she arrived home just a few hours after the event, with all evidence of the murder erased. After the second time, she was diagnosed with a dissociative disorder and has been on medication ever since. Then there’s Noah, the popular, handsome son of the richest man in town. But, beneath his perfect façade, Noah struggles with deep-rooted self-doubt caused by his father’s lifelong deprecations, and with unbearably violent nightmares. As the two teenagers try to deal with their inner demons, an external demon looks set to hit the world – quite literally - in the form of a giant asteroid. While the population waits to discover whether The Anvil is going to strike Planet Earth, Min uncovers a web of lies in which both she and Noah are entangled. Crisscrossing genres (crime, sci-fi, psychological thriller) with dynamism and panache, this ambitious book – the first in a series – tingles with twists, suspense and originality. ~ Joanne Owen
Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award In a nutshell: dazzling journeys into other worlds | Philip Reeve continues to turn us all into railheads in his glorious new sci-fi adventure. The follow up to Railhead, this is set in a gleaming future world where trains, great, beautiful sentient machines, travel from one world to the next. It’s a thrilling adventure and political thriller too, with a cast of young exiles, outsiders and rebels – petty thief Zen Starling, his friend the android Nova, ousted empress Threnody and the tough, disillusioned Chandni. Romance is never far away either, not least the romance of travelling on beyond the sunset. Full of scenes and images that bring you up short, and driven by an unstoppable plotline, this is epic, dazzling stuff. You could point readers who enjoy this towards H G Wells or Ray Bradbury. ~ Andrea Reece
This feverishly fast-paced apocalyptic thriller, sequel to Remade, packs a seriously strong pathological punch. It’s eighteen months on from the horrific events recounted in Remade (“People dying in the goddamm street”, flesh coming away from their bones “like casserole beef from a T-bone”) and it looks like the devastating virus has been killed off. A further lifeline is thrown when Leon and Freya, “a pair of lonely scavengers”, see a message bearing news that civilian and naval vessels are waiting for survivors in Southampton, with medical and emergency supplies aboard. While “glass-half-empty type” Leon reckons that this rescue ship news might be old, “always upbeat, always optimistic” Freya thinks it’s worth investigating. But it’s not long before their worst nightmare re-rears its unimaginably ugly head…The virus is back, reborn in an evolved state with even greater powers of intelligence. The fight is on, and the stakes could not be higher. Ideal for fans of Darren Shan’s Zom-B books, and shows like The Walking Dead, this pithy page-turner is sure to set readers’ heart a-pounding and brains a-boggling. It’s tense, taut and tantalisingly twisty throughout, and the action couldn’t be more in-your-face-thrilling. ~ Joanne Owen