| A taut and gripping thriller from the award-winning Australian author, Libby Gleeson. [The book was first published in Australia in 2012, where it won the 2013 Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Children’s Fiction.]|
It opens in the aftermath of a cyclonic storm that has wreaked havoc on Sydney. A young girl comes back to consciousness smothered in mud.
She can remember little from her past. A boy called Peri befriends her and piece by piece helps her regain some recollection of her past. Things start to become clearer when she sees a photo in the ruins of her old primary school.
Whole book read
Yes Yes Yes
What makes me like this book so much? Is it that it concerns a collection of old threepenny bits, those belovedly brassy coins of childhood? Is it because it is such a well-formed object of a physical book, a beautifully proportioned small hardback with pleasingly designed dustjacket and chapter heading illustrations (both by Temujin Doran)? Is it because it reads so smoothly, with not a word wrong-footing the inner ear? Of course these things help, but novels ultimately have to make their impact by virtue of characters and narrative, rather than style, form or inanimate objects.
Stuart, very short for his age and with a surname (Horten) that doesn’t help matters, is 10 years old when he has to move away to a new town, leaving all his friends behind. His new neighbours, the Kingsley triplets, do not believe him when he tells them how old he is. These neighbours are highly entertaining creations, as is Stuart’s father, a writer of crosswords, who always chooses the longest words to describe things.
Perfect reading for children aged 7-10, and highly recommended as a readaloud class novel for teachers of Y4 or Y5. The author is a radio and television producer. She has written two or three adult books. This is her first children’s novel. It ought not to be the last.
Whole book read
Read On? Yes, but…
This book had a lot of publicity when it came out last year, so I am not going to waste too many words on it here. Suffice to say that I was led to believe it was a a debut novel by an Australian author that shouldn’t be missed. From the recommendations I had remembered reading I was expecting a psychological thriller of the highest order. Well, it isn’t that. It’s highly readable in a trashy kind of way, and I read it from cover to cover while on the train to Glasgow. I think it could work quite well as one of those 3-parter TV thrillers, but whoever turned it into a screenplay would have to make the ending far less easy to predict.
Whole book read
Read On? YES
Andrea Deakin sent me this Canadian winner of the 2008 Arthur Ellis Best Juvenile Crime Novel Award quite some time ago, but I only recently picked it up. And enjoyed it. It is well-written and well-paced, though on balance I would have preferred the narrative in a traditional past tense, rather than the rather stylised continuous present used by Peacock.
stopped at p92
Read On? NO
It’s getting difficult to actually finish some of the books I pick up these days, so I have decided that, rather than ignore them, it would be better to confront the situation and actually record the point at which I give up on a book, for whatever reason.
At times I had to keep reminding myself that Lin and Michel are both in their late teens (indeed, Michel drives them both around in his car) because their manner is not the teenage manner as more usually portrayed in contemporary young adult literature, and also because the adventure that unfolds is, for all its menace and melodrama, very much in the mould of younger children going out and attempting to solve a mystery without adult intervention.
M. G. Harris
I’d dipped into the first Joshua Files title, Invisible City, and into this book as well, sufficiently enough to be able to know that they were well-written pacy adventures but Ice Shock is the first I have read from cover to cover. Assisted by good publisher publicity and promotion (which has included video trailers), clever presentation (the paperbacks have come in colourfully translucent plastic slipcases), and the well-judged online presence of the author herself (M. G. Harris has her own website, blog and twitter), the Joshua Files series is already, and deservingly so, a publishing success. Fans have to wait until early 2010 for the third installment, and after the stunning climactic pages of this novel, I imagine that for many readers, especially those who read the book 6 months ago when it was first released, that will be a wait too long.
There’s much to admire in this debut novel, due for publication in November 2009, and not the least is its lack of pretension. Hush, Hush is a novel written to entertain and not to impress. There was a brief moment midway through the book when I thought I was going to regret the fact that the fallen-angel theme was being taken literally rather than metaphorically, fearing that I would find the rest of the narrative somewhat preposterous. But Fitzpatrick is already a sufficiently skillful storyteller to be able to carry the reader along and create the necessary suspension of disbelief. This is all done in the atmosphere of a Sunday afternoon feature film. I can’t say I was ever seriously moved or unsettled by the predicaments the main character, Nora, finds herself in, but I was always fully engaged.