Blog Archives

What’s a New Zealand novel? Sue Esterman

Enemy Camp 
David Hill
Puffin, $20.00, ISBN 9780143309123

Lullaby
Bernard Beckett
Text, $26.00, ISBN 9781922182753

Open Your Eyes, Jackson Ryder
Rudy Castaneda Lopez
Escalator, $30.00, ISBN 9780473295691

It has been interesting to read three such different but compelling books. All three writers are New Zealanders, but only one book is identifiable as a New Zealand novel. I mention this only because there was a session at the recent Writers Week in Wellington during the Arts Festival where I was expecting a robust discussion about what constitutes a New Zealand writer but unfortunately that didn’t happen. So the question is still there, but I don’t think I can address that in this review except through an occasional comment.

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review, Young adults

“thethrillingalchemy”, Emma Martin

From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle Kate De Goldi Longacre, $30.00, ISBN 9781775535768 Kate De Goldi’s writing for children and young adults has been acclaimed for its vibrancy and verisimilitude. De Goldi often takes the reader into psychologically complex

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review, Young adults

Tourism and real life, Abby Loader and Abby Simpson

Bugs Whiti Hereaka Huia, $25.00, ISBN 9781775501336 Bugs, by Whiti Hereaka, is an honest narrative that confronts the reader with the everyday life of Bugs, “as in bunny”. Sixteen-year-old Bugs is struggling to hold onto childhood pal Jez, as he

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review, YA Reviewers, Young adults

Distance and familiarity, Lucy Prestidge 

To the Is-Land Janet Frame Random House, $30.00, ISBN 9781869411305 The first volume of Janet Frame’s autobiography was initially a bit daunting to me. Not only because it’s the work of one of New Zealand’s most celebrated writers, but because

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review, YA Reviewers, Young adults

At the whim of larger, terrifying forces, Angelina Sbroma

The Deadly Sky
David Hill
Puffin, $20.00, ISBN 9780143308157

The Red Suitcase
Jill Harris
Mākaro Press, $25.00, ISBN 9780994106902

Spark
Rachael Craw
Walker, $22.00, ISBN 9781922179623

David Hill’s The Deadly Sky is set in 1974, when the nuclear proliferation of the Cold War was at the forefront of political debate, and France was, quite literally, dropping bombs in the South Pacific. Modern global terror has a different focus (the Big Red Button seems old-fashioned from today’s perspective), but the ethical quandaries at the heart of the arms race – whether militarisation works to promote security or to endanger it; whether national and global security is worth its economic, ecological and individual cost – remain pertinent.

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review, Young adults

Boys’ own adventures, Tina Shaw

Singing Home the Whale
Mandy Hager
Random House, $20.00, ISBN 9781775536574

Magic and Makutu
David Hair
HarperCollins, $25.00, ISBN 9781869509330

If these two titles are anything to go by, New Zealand young adult fiction is in good shape. These are two very different novels, although both integrate Māori culture into the storyline, and both feature a boy as the main protagonist.

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , , , ,
Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review, Young adults

Sex-free romance and YA cred, Paula Morris

Bugs
Whiti Hereaka
Huia, $25.00,
ISBN 9781775501336

When We Wake
Karen Healey
Allen & Unwin, $22.00,
ISBN 9781742378084

Awakening
Natalie King
Penguin, $20.00,
ISBN 9780143570790

Bugs, the eponymous protagonist of Whiti Hereaka’s first YA novel, is unimpressed with much of what her generation is expected to read. Her English teacher insists they discuss that infamous “human/werewolf/vampire love triangle … because the characters are our age, they’re going through what we’re going through, we can relate. Like half of us could relate to a white chick with a thing for dogs and dead dudes.”

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review, Young adults

Hormones and hedges David Hill

Into the River Ted Dawe Longacre, $20.00, ISBN 9781775536048 Dappled Annie and the Tigrish Mary McCallum (Annie Hayward illus) Gecko Press, $20.00, ISBN 9781877579912 Anyone present when Into the River won the Senior Fiction and Book of the Year categories

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Children, Literature, Review, Young adults

A lot to live up to, Caoilinn Hughes

When Our Jack Went to War  Sandy McKay Longacre, $20.00, ISBN 9781775533092 Brave Company David Hill Puffin, $20.00, ISBN 9780143307570 Speed Freak Fleur Beale Random House, $20.00, ISBN 9781775534709 When Our Jack Went to War is “a fictional story based

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Children, Literature, Review, Young adults

Wearing their ethics on their sleeves, Jack Ross

Mortal Fire Elizabeth Knox Gecko Press, $30.00, ISBN 9781877579530 Dear Vincent Mandy Hager Random House, $20.00, ISBN 9781775533276 There was a time when I used to wait eagerly for each new YA novel by Margaret Mahy. Starting with The Haunting

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , , , ,
Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review, Young adults
Search by category

See more

Recent issues: subscriber-only access

Subscribe to NZ Books to access the issues above