While driving home one evening with his parents, Kofi sees something on a roundabout. It's dark and furry and rolled up in a ball.
He thinks it might be a hurt animal, although his gut tells him it's not, and he's right.
At first, Kofi thinks it's an alien, but after he speaks and introduces itself as Rorty Thrutch, Kofi isn't so sure.
As Kofi gets to know Rorty, he realises that Rorty possess extraordinary powers, like copying things with his mind and making them appear out of thin air.
Since Rorty can copy things, he can also delete them. After Kofi takes Rorty in, it becomes clear that dangerous people are hunting him. Kofi and his friends must devise a plan to keep Rorty hidden and uncover where exactly he's from before it's too late.
I enjoyed this novel, I thought the description of the bullying and back and forth between Kofi and the other school children was genuine. I know the school children I work with will really enjoy the adventure and friendship elements of the Starman and Me. If you're looking for a book with a lot of heart with children outwitting the adults, this is for you!
When I was a kid I was obsessed with UFOs.
My dad witnessed the unexplained object streak across the sky at his home in Clark's Harbour Nova Scotia in 1967. It would be known as the Shag Harbour UFO incident because many locals claimed to have seen a craft crash into the ocean. Some told stories of thick orange foam covering the top of the water and Russian ships suddenly converging on the area.
Whatever it was, it was an experience shared by others and the stories remain to this day.
Encounters is all about a shared experience. Based on the Ruwa, Zimbabwe UFO incident when dozens of school children claimed to have seen silver discs land behind their school, Encounters follows the journey of six children that have their lives changed forever because of the alleged alien encounter.
The most fascinating UFO experiences that I have read about are the ones where the witnesses share some kind of collective unconscious aftermath - they have recurring nightmares that are eerily similar to each other, they daydream about the same thing and they often have an almost indescribable feeling of never being alone.
Wallace captures this experience perfectly. In Ruwa, the school children drew pictures of what they saw. The pictures that were drawn were almost identical to each other. In Encounters, The school children draw the same images and each have the itchy feeling that the creatures that they saw emerge from the ships were warning them about something.
For each of the six children, all suffering from turbulent home lives in some for or another, the warnings mean different things.
If you're fascinated with stories about people who've claimed to see UFOs, you simply can't ignore this book. Its tone is pitch perfect, a dream-like haze mingles with the boiling heat of the African sun, creating an eerie atmosphere that will stick in your guts for a long, long time.
Black Hole Sun / Won't You Come / And Wash Away the Rain
Soundgarden's dark lyrics were floating around my mind while I read this thrilling sci-fi adventure from Kevin Emerson.
The year is 2213, but no one's really counting anymore because the Earth is dead, swallowed by the sun as it goes supernova.
Earth's population has gone to Mars, but it's only a short stay because Mars isn't safe from the sun's wrath either.
Mars is just a place for the Earthlings to get their act together before they embark on a 150 year journey to a new home.
Liam was born on Mars, and the thought of leaving it behind is crushing, but he goes along with it because leaving is better than being melted to nothing. Liam's friend Phoebe is also disappointed about leaving, together they reminisce about their time together and get ready to board the last starliner to leave the red planet.
As the hour to leave approaches, Liam becomes convinced that humans are not alone on Mars. Soon, he and Phoebe make a series of discoveries that seem to prove his theory. These discoveries will also put Liam and his friends and family in great danger.
Last Day on Mars is the perfect YA sci-fi adventure. The pace is full throttle but not overwhelming, the world is 100% believable, you can tell Emerson has done his research without making the scientific descriptions dry at all. It's Dune for teens, it's Indiana Jones in space, it's Star Wars on Mars, it's the Ice Pirates (yes, I pulled that name), call it whatever you want, you'll be grabbing the sequel to this hard hitting series as soon as you can.
Prez doesn't say much.
He lives with his granddad, but one day his granddad is taken away after the state determines he isn't fit to take care of Prez anymore.
Luckily for Prez, he gets to stay with The Blythe family, a nice, rambunctious group of people that run a farm in the country.
Still, Prez keeps quiet, which is okay with the Blythes.
One day, Prez hears a doorbell ring.
The funny thing is, the Blythes don't have a doorbell.
He opens the door to see a strange boy in a kilt and an aviator's hat standing there. The boy introduces himself as Sputnik,.
Sputnik walks into the house and the Blythe family pat him on the head, ask him to roll over and look for his tags to see where he belongs.
It takes Prez a little while to figure out that to everyone else, Sputnik looks like a dog, but to him, he looks like a human.
Even weirder, Sputnik can read Prez's thoughts.
Sputnik introduces chaos in Prez's life as he demonstrates that he can bend time, space and even reality with merely a snap of his fingers. Plus, he looks like a dog to everyone so it's easier for him to get away with things.
Prez soon learns that Sputnik is on Earth to try and determine ten things that are worth doing. Ten things that make Earth stand out in a universe full of trillions of planets.
It turns out that it's very important for Prez to help Sputnik find those ten things, because if he doesn't, the Earth will be shrunk down to the size of a pea by Sputnik's alien race.
Desperate to save the planet and be reunited with his granddad, Prez and Sputnik embark on a wild ride that teaches Prez the true meaning of friendship and family.
A great, heart-warming read that will be a huge hit with our Year 7 students. I recommend this book to ages 11 and up!
The future ain't what it used to be.
Zen Starling is a thief in a rundown area of the galaxy known as Cleave. He survives by instinct and by knowing his surroundings.
His surroundings, incidentally, are made up of androids known as Motoriks, insects that swarm together to make intelligent beings known as Hive Monks, killer drones, and oh yeah, sentient trains worthy of Stephen King's Blaine in The Dark Tower.
All of this makes up the Great Network.
One dreary evening, Zen is summoned by a Motorik called Nova. she works for a mysterious and legendary being called Raven.
Raven has a job offer for Zen, not that he has a choice in the matter. What follows is furious ride through a dangerous galaxy that you will not want to leave.
I really fell in love with this book. Reeve has done some serious world-building, worthy of Star Wars and Blade Runner. The trains are creepy and dangerous and exciting, the Motoriks are loyal to a fault and the creatures are something out of a Jules Verne novel. I cannot wait for the sequel, if you want to get lost in a world for a while then check out Railhead now.
I recommend Railhead for ages 12 and up!
Mana is having a rought night.
First of all, she's just consumed a little bit of coffee which everyone knows she shouldn't because she's either allergic or has some sort of other weird reaction to it that makes her act completely out of control.
Second, in the middle of her cheerleader routine at her high school, she sees Dakota, the boy she has a crush on, being kidnapped.
Terrified, she still manages to run into the locker room after Dakota to try and help.
This is when Mana's night becomes very, very strange.
Yes, Dakota is being kidnapped, but the person she once knew as Dakota is now an acid-spitting alien with an elongated tongue. Standing over her is a Man in Black who calls himself China. China claims that Dakota is evil and needs to be exterminated.
In shock, Mana runs away, desperate to find her mother and inject some reality into an ultra crazy day.
The problem is, Mana returns home to find it trashed, her mom gone and a creepy, lizard-like alien in the bathroom ready to devour her.
With the help of her friend Lyle and the strange yet protective China (whom she can't figure out if she can trust) Mana embarks on an epic mission to find her mom and figure out what the heck is actually going on.
Chalk-full of snarky commentary and high octane action scenes, Flying is a great adventure story that teens will love!
I recommend it to ages 15 and up!
Luke can't seem to catch a break.
First, his older brother (known as Star Lad) gets superpowers after an asteroid has a near miss with Earth.
Then, to make matters worse, his friend Lara gets superpowers too. Her power? She gets to control the minds of animals. Well, not big animals, that would be dangerous. As Luke puts it, she's more like Snow White in leotards.
Now Luke has an even bigger problem, he's convinced that an alien attack is imminent and he knows his gym teacher, Sue Dunham, is behind it. The problem is that nobody believes him, not his brother, not Lara, not even his best friend Serge.
In desperation, Luke turns to the only person he has left, Christopher Talbot, the ex-super villain turned comic book shop owner. A hilarious battle between good and evil and everything in between begins!
There were some genuine laugh out loud moments in this novel. It reminded me of films like The Last Starfighter, Super 8 and Attack the Block.
I enjoyed the banter between Luke and his brother, his friends and the people around him. Of course, there's lots of twists and turns thrown in to keep the action going. Any fan of video games, humour and sci-fi will really enjoy this book.
I recommend it for Year 7 and up!
I rushed blindly into reading Armada with very high expectations. I loved Cline's first novel, Ready Player One and found myself recommending it to anyone who loved video games, D&D or sic-fi/fantasy in general. I have to be honest and say that Armada is no Ready Player One, not by a long shot.
I'll start with the good, Armada definitely made me nostalgic for my youth - jamming quarters into Gauntlet & Double Dragon arcade cabinets, sitting for hours on my bed trying desperately to beat The Legend of Zelda on NES. Even the cover seems to glow with light from an arcade game. It's a novel that wants you to remember the golden age of video games, and that's kinda the problem.
Zack Lightman is a seventeen year old video game nerd with a tendency for physical violence. His father died in a mysterious factory explosion when Zack was one, leaving a boulder-sized chip on his shoulder. His mother, who Zack refers to as "hot" (huh?) can recite Battle Star Galactica and World of Warcraft references better than any Cheeto-crunching basement dweller in the state.
Zack finds solace in a video game called Armada, an online flight simulator he plays every night with his friends. Armada may be the reason Zack lost his girlfriend, but it's also the one thing that keeps him focused and connected to his deceased father, who was also a massive gaming nerd.
After school, Zack spends his time working at Starbase Ace, a shabby video game store owned by Ray, a video game aficionado and Yoda to Zack's Luke. Zack seems happy to not have a plan in life, whittleing away the hours paying Armada and debating Star Trek vs. Star Wars with his friends.
Then, everything changes. Bored in class one day, Zack's gaze wanders to the window where he sees a flying saucer, and not just any flying saucer, the enemy ones from the game Armada. Convinced that he's hallucinating, Zack tries to shrug it off.
The problem is, you can't shrug off an alien invasion.
Every gamer has done it - imagined what it would be like if their favourite game turned out to be true and they were called up to engage in the real life version. Heck, just the other night I had a dream I was asked to save the world by catching as many bass as is humanly possible whilst listening to horrible music - just like the greatest video game ever made, seen here.
Turns out, Zack isn't hallucinating, the invasion is real. So real that a spacecraft lands at his school, men in futuristic uniforms hop out and tell him that he's part of an elite crew of Armada gamers needed to save the earth. That's right, all of those hours of playing video games finally paid off, the game wasn't just a game, it was a training module to prepare humans for the real deal.
Zack is rushed off to a secret base where he's given a few hours to digest the news that the world is about to be attacked by millions of alien craft and he and his slacker friends are the only hope.
That's the good part. I'm going to try not to be too negative, because I really, really wanted to like this novel. The problem for me is that Cline crams so many video game / music / film references into this story that at times it feels as if he inserted them first and then tried to write a story around them.
I don't mind the references, like I said, they made me nostalgic and I guess that's the point, I just felt like the plot and characters suffered because of them.
There's that, and then there's the awfully predictable ending that will make any fan of Ender's Game or The Last Starfighter roll their eyes so hard they'll fall into the back of their skull.
That said, it's a faced-paced, easy read and I am genuinely looking forward to recommending this novel to teens in the library that are immersed in this culture. I can tell Cline had a blast writing it, at least it feels that way, and I guess that should stand for something.
I've heard that Spielberg is making a film out of it, as a Librarian it's sacrilege to say this but I think the film could be done a hell of a lot better and I really look forward to it.