Author: Helen Chebatte
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
About the book: In a school divided into racial gangs, there are three unspoken rules:
- Stick with your own kind
- Don’t dob on your mates (or your enemies)
- Respect the family.
But fight clubs, violence and racial prejudice get in the way of these rules. Romeo Makhlouf knows to follow these rules, but when he gets into a fight with another boy, the rules become so much harder to follow.
What I thought: This confronting book feels like a modern-day version of The Outsiders, with its gangs, love and engrossing plot line. Set in Australia, it feels realistic and very close to home.
I didn’t really connect with a lot of the characters, possibly because they were the tough guys of the school, who started a lot of fights, but I still really liked the book. It was an interesting insight into racism in teenagers.
I think a lot of boys would really enjoy Bro, although Romeo is in year 10 so it feels like an older book. I would recommend it for ages 14+. Anyone who enjoys reading books by S.E. Hinton, or very Australian books, would like this one.
Buy Bro here.
Title: The Yearbook Committee
Author: Sarah Ayoub
Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
About the book: Five teenagers from different walks of life are thrown together in their final year of high school to work on the school yearbook. There’s Matty, a loner; Ryan, the school captain; Tammi, the popular girl by association; Charlie, the newcomer; and Gillian, the MP’s daughter. Together, they learn that the Yearbook Committee is more than just about putting together the yearbook – it’s about forming friendships.
What I thought: I thought this book was funny, emotional and, at times, sad. I really connected with all of the characters because they felt so real – like you were in the room talking to them. Each character narrates throughout the story, giving different perspectives to events that unfold. I liked how each character told their own part of the story because it helped develop the characters more and show who they really were.
I would recommend this book for ages 14+ as it contains coarse language, adult themes and drug use. If you’re looking for a starkly realistic but also entertaining novel about friendships, hardships and contemporary Australian teenage life, then this one is for you.
Buy The Yearbook Committee.
Title: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
About the book: Quentin is a nerd in his last year of high school. Nine years ago, he and his friend Margo discovered a dead body together, but since then have drifted apart. Now she is edgy and cool and he is not.
When Margo takes Quentin on a night of mayhem and madness, and then vanishes in the morning, Quentin is left with a series of clues to try and track her down before it is too late.
What I thought: This is one of my new favourite books. I really liked the voice of Quentin and I could relate to him. The story, although about complicated things, flowed quite easily and was not hard to read.
I really liked the conversations that Quentin and his friends Ben and Radar had, because they added a touch of comedy to an otherwise serious book.
I recommend this book for ages 14+ because it contains some strong themes and coarse language.
Buy Paper Towns here.
Title: Everything Is Changed
Author: Nova Weetman
About the book: Alex and Jake, both teenagers, do something terrible one night and have to try to conceal it. This book is told in reverse, starting at the end, and leading up towards the climax, which is where the reader finds out exactly what the boys did to lead them to where they are at the start of the book. It’s the mystery of this that keeps you reading.
What I thought: I thought this book was very interesting, as it’s told in reverse, and I like how the language in the book helped the tension. I found the characters relatable because of the way they were described and the book is all told in first person so their voices felt very real, and I liked that. The two boys narrate part of the story, but there are other voices adding to the story as well.
I recommend this book for ages 12+ because it contains mature themes, some coarse language and high tension, and I think that both boys and girls would like it.
Buy Everything Is Changed.
Title: The 5th Wave
Author: Rick Yancey
Publisher: Penguin Books
About the book: Sixteen-year-old Cassie is living through an alien invasion. So far there have been four waves of attacks, killing over four billion people. Now she’s on her own, and facing the fifth wave.
What I thought: This book sucked me in from the first page. It’s a fast-paced thriller that’s also thought-provoking. The plot unfolds cleverly as you read, making you want to read on and on.
I liked the character of Cassie because she likes books, to the point of making room in her survival kit for them. I also liked the first-person narration because it feels very immediate, like you’re experiencing the danger with her.
I recommend this book for ages 14+ because it has adult themes, violence, science fiction elements and it can be scary in places.
Buy The 5th Wave here.
Title: The Maze Runner
Author: James Dashner
Publisher: Random House
About the book: I thought I would review this book because ‘The Fever Code’, a second prequel to the original series, has just been released.
When Thomas wakes up in a strange maze, the only thing he can remember is his first name. He’s welcomed by other boys into The Glade, a camp in the middle of the terrible maze. Like Thomas, the others do not know where they are, why they are there or how they got there.
What I thought: This was a tense, gripping book, which had me wanting to read more and more, as more questions were answered – opening up new questions. I really loved how this book kept me interested and the quality was the same the whole way through (the pace is kept up from start to finish).
I recommend this book for ages 12+ as it contains confronting scenes and some grown-up themes, and may be thought to be a bit scary in places.
Buy The Maze Runner here.
Buy The Fever Code here.