Tag Archives: Young Adult Adventure

Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief – Rick Riordan
Book Club Read
March 18, 2010 posted by Katie

Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief – Rick Riordan


Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood. I never asked to be the son of a Greek god.

I was just a normal guy, going to school, playing basketball, skateboarding. The usual. Until I accidentally vaporized my maths teacher. That’s when things really started going wrong. Now I spend my time fighting with swords, battling monsters with my friends and generally trying to stay alive.

This is the one where Zeus, God of the Sky, thinks I’ve stolen his lightning bolt – and making Zeus angry is a very bad idea.

I first heard mention of the Percy Jackson books since watching the trailer for the recent adaption to screen, and as it is yaReads bookclub choice of the month, I decided to take a look and see what it is all about.

At first glances, Percy is a troubled kid. Constantly getting in trouble as school, unable to pay attention in classes because of his dyslexia, and his only true friend being the class outcast of Grover. With his best subject being Latin, taught by the slightly old Mr Brunner, Percy finds it tough to get a break. And when things start to seem slightly off on a recent school field trip to the museum, Percy starts to think that perhaps something isn’t right. For example, only he seems to remember their old maths teacher, and he seems to be the only one that Mr Brunner is really keen to get the ancient Greek and Roman myths right. Yet the vanishing maths teacher isn’t the only thing that seems to go wrong.

On a family holiday with his mum, things start to turn horrible. Being chased by a creature that shouldn’t exist, Percy must reach the sanctuary of a summer camp that even his mother doesn’t seem to know much about. When Percy arrives, he beings to discover exactly why he seems different.

For Percy is the son of a god. His is a half-blood, but just exactly who his father is, no one seems to know. At a summer camp that involves daily activities of sword fighting and learning Ancient Greek, Percy finally has a place where he belongs, a place with kids just like him. That is, until he attracts the attention of the one person you really shouldn’t disrupt.

Zeus thinks that Percy has stolen his lightning bolt – and demands that it must be returned before the summer solstice in ten days time. Accompanied by two friends, Percy begins the journey of a lifetime. One that could decide if he lives or dies. And with nearly every god and creature in the universe out to get you, locating one bolt of lightning is a lot harder than it looks.

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief is the first in a series of novels by Rick Riordan. I had high expectations of this novel, hearing a lot about it from friends and seeing great reviews. However, the biggest let of the novel was plot. To me, it didn’t move with any form of flowing pace, and lacked development. It was one action seen after the next. Just as you thought nothing more could happen to them, another obstacle was thrown in their way. I understand that it was a ‘quest’ novel, but I would have liked to see some more non-action development of plot – some working out of clues and a plan to get from A to B instead of running headlong at everything that came.

That being said, I did find the characters extremely enjoyable to read about. Highlights for me were both Annabeth and Grover. Both characters where strong and unique, helping Percy on his quest and helping him to grow as a person. In particular, I hope we see a lot more of Grover in future novels, he was a personal favourite.

If you’re a fan of action and mythology, that I can say that Percy Jackson will be something that you will enjoy.

Published date: 2005

Pages: 374

Rating:: ★★★½☆

Teaser quote: He pulled a pen from his coat pocket and handed it to me. It was an ordinary disposable ballpoint, black ink, removable cap. Probably cost thirty cents.

‘Gee,’ I said. ‘Thanks.’

‘Percy, that’s a gift from your father. I’ve kept it for years not knowing you were who I was waiting for. But the prophecy is clear to me now. You are the one.’

The Poison Throne: A Moorehawke Trilogy novel – Celine Kiernan
Book Reviews
January 30, 2010 posted by Katie

The Poison Throne: A Moorehawke Trilogy novel – Celine Kiernan

A friend. A father. A kingdom. Which would you sacrifice?

Meet fifteen-year-old Wynter Moorehawke – Protector Lady, qualified girl apprentice in a man’s trade, former King’s Cat Keeper who returns home after a five-year sojourn in the bleak Northlands. All has changed in her absence.

Wynter is forced to make a terrible choice: stay and bow to the King’s will, or abandon her ailing father and join her friend Razi and the mysterious Christopher Garron in their efforts to restore the fragile kingdom to its former stability.

But this changed kingdom is a dangerous place, where all resistance is brutally suppressed and the trio constantly risk assassination, torture or imprisonment…

At last, something in the YA fantasy genre that doesn’t need vampires or werewolves, magic or the paranormal to make an interesting read. The Poison Throne is debut novel from Irish author Celine Kiernan is one novel that I couldn’t put down.

Born to the commoners class, girl apprentice in the ‘man’s’ trade of carpentry and friend to the sons of the King, Wynter is no ordinary girl. For five years Wynter and her father had been confined to the Northlands, cut off from everything they know. So when they finally are ordered to return to the South, Wynter can’t wait to see her friends again, to live the life that she knows best.

Yet as they travel south, not all is as it seems. And when they arrive at the castle itself things are defiantly not the way they should be. What was once the most prosperous, fair, just and right kingdom seems to be descending into chaos and destruction – King Jonathon at the heart. The once benevolent ruler seems to have completely abandoned the people, no longer listening to their wishes, letting the state run into disarray and himself to be consumed by madness.

So it would seem.

In a court where one wrong step could have you fighting for your life, Wynter must navigate the difficult waters as the only daughter of the Protector Lord. Particularly when that Lord is your father and is deathly ill, so ill that even moving around the castle can become so difficult that he must rely of others to assist him.

Razi, the bastard son and illegitimate heir of the king is desperate to continue his doctor’s training yet is being forced into the position of crown prince. A position that not only does Razi not want, but that the people will not accept him in. Especially when the true heir Alberon is still alive despite Jonathon’s every effort to erase him from history. Alberon who used to be Wynter’s best friend and the beloved son of the King.

Wynter is thrown into the midst of a battle for power. A battle that could see one of her two best friends dead. Or both if she isn’t careful. And only two things are certain. Alberon must be found, or the lives of more than just her best friends and father could be in danger…

The Poison Throne is by far, one of the best young adult fantasy books I have read in a long time. From the beginning, Kiernan has created a world so complete and rich, that it automatically pulls you into the story. Atmospheric and intriguing, The Poison Throne evokes and enchanting and convincing alternate universe. A universe full of love, treachery, jealousy, tenderness, war, wisdom and court life. High fantasy at its best, The Poison Throne is an engaging and dynamic read that left me wanting for more, even after the last page.

Pages: 468

Publication date: Ireland 2008, Australia 2009

Rating:: ★★★★½

Teaser quote: Slowly Christopher lowered himself to the ground and lifted his strange knife from his belt. Wynter immediately unsheathed her dagger and crouched, ready to fight or flee…

Brisingr: An Inheritance Cycle novel – Christopher Paolini
Book Reviews
December 14, 2009 posted by Katie

Brisingr: An Inheritance Cycle novel – Christopher Paolini

Oaths sworn…loyalties tested…forces collide.

It’s been only months since Eragon first uttered “brisingr”, an ancient-language term for fire. Since then, he’s not only learned to create magic with words – he’s been challenged to his very core. Following the colossal battle against the Empire’s warriors on the Burning Plains, Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have narrowly escaped with their lives. Still, there is more adventure at hand for the Rider and his dragon, as Eragon finds himself bound by a tangle of promises he may not be able to keep.

When unrest claims the rebels and danger strikes from every corner, Eragon must make choices – choices that will take him across the Empire and beyond, choices that may lead to unimagined sacrifice.

Eragon is the greatest hope to rid the land of tyranny. Can this once simple farm boy unite the rebel forces and defeat the king?

Murtagh is defeated – for now. But not after revealing the information the rocks Eragon to his core and changes everything he knew and thought was right in his life. Struggling with the true identify of his mother and rejecting that of his father, Eragon is trying to find where he truly belongs. After having his entire being affected by the Ageti Blodhren ceremony of the elves, Eragon is starting to feel the binds of the oaths that he has made – oaths to each race and the individual people of Alagaesia.

First, is the oath to his cousin Roran. Roran’s betrothed is being held hostage by the Ra’zac – servants of Galbatorix, they spread fear in their opponents making them a deadly enemy in battle. And for this battle, it is impossible for Eragon and Saphira to be together. For it is in the caves of the Ra’za, caves too small for Saphira to fit through. Eragon and Roran are on their own. And when further complications arise, Eragon is making the first of his decisions that will affect the entire Empire.

Then there is the oath to Elva, the blessed-yet-cursed child that Eragon has promised to help. Yet when it comes to the ancient language, nothing is a simple as it seems. The more Eragon learns, the more he beings to realise how hard it is to remove the cures he placed on Elva. One wrong pronunciation and it could become a lot worse.

Then there is the problem of his un-finished education and the promise to return to Ellesmera to complete this. Yet can Eragon really afford the time to travel across the Empire when the Varden need him now more than ever?

For it is Ellesmera that holds the key to the next stage of the battle against Galbatorix. For Ellesmera holds the only elf with the knowledge on how to forge a Rider’s sword. A sword Eragon is in need of after Za’roc was taken from him by Murtagh on the plains. For only a Rider’s sword can face another of its kind and only a Rider’s sword can withstand the pressure of magic. Yet this seemingly simple process is complicated further by more oaths and promises, some that Eragon himself doesn’t yet know the cost of.

As Eragon, Saphira, Arya and the Varden hurdle closer to the battle that will decide the fate of the world, each side begins to face the costs of what has be promised.

In Brisingr, I feel Paolini has outdone himself. This is by far the best of the series. The characters all come leaps and bounds, with the multiple viewpoints woven simultaneously into a smooth plot that gives you an understanding of each and every race that make up Alagaesia. One of the biggest things I noticed in Brisingr was the development of the characters and the relationship between these characters. You could see just how much each character was standing for and just how much they would lose if they failed.

Personally, I’m a sucker for romance in any for, and the continuing developments between Eragon and Arya had me happy in this novel. There still isn’t a relationship between these two, yet the strength and development of the friendship that Paolini developed between Eragon and Arya was so believable and strong, that it had me smiling at many stages in this novel. Not to mention the ending that had me tear up at one stage, due to the pure and raw emotion in the scene.

Once again, I would recommend Brisingr to any lover of epic adventure fantasy novels, and with one instalment left to go, I will be looking forward to the release date for the last novel in the Inheritance Cycle as much as the next reader.

Pages: 763

Publication Date: 2008

Rating:: ★★★★½

Eldest: An Inheritance Cycle novel – Christopher Paolini
Book Reviews
December 9, 2009 posted by Katie

Eldest: An Inheritance Cycle novel – Christopher Paolini

Darkness falls…despair abounds…evil reigns.

Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have just saved the rebel state from destruction by the forces of King Galbatorix, cruel ruler of the Empire. Now Eragon must travel to Ellesmera, land of the elves, for further training in magic and swordsmanship, the vital skills of the Dragon Rider. It is the journey of a lifetime, each day a fresh adventure. But chaos and betrayal plague him at every turn, and Eragon isn’t sure whom he can trust.

Meanwhile, his cousin Roran must fight a new battle back home in Carvahall – one that puts Eragon in even graver danger…

The rebel freedom fighters, the Varden, has just won their first confrontation with Galbatorix’s army, Eragon has defeated the Shade Durza with the help of Saphira and Arya earning him a new name – Eragon Shadeslayer. Murtagh has finally gained the trust of the Varden and Hrothgar, king of the Dwarves. Yet as everything seems to be looking positive for a while, the Varden are given a final blow. Ajihad, leader of the Varden, is betrayed by two of his closest advisors, and is killed on the very day the Varden are celebrating. A day of victory becomes a day of mourning. Along with this, Murtagh is kidnapped and clouded by a spell, making it impossible for Eragon to know if he is alive or dead. With the leadership of the Varden and their magicians in doubt, Eragon finds himself being wormed deeper into politics of the rebel army. Forced by the new leader to sear fealty to them and not the Varden, Eragon is beginning to gather more oaths then he is able to bear.

The Varden decided to move. Heading to near-by Surda to start their campaign against King Galbatorix, there is limited time for Eragon to learn what he needs to know, and the place he needs to learn it, is on the opposite side of the Empire. In the ancient city of the elves, Eragon receives instruction from a surprising teacher, being schooled in the finer points of magic, the ancient language and swordsmanship, yet even under the most careful tutorage, an old injury is holding Eragon back. As Eragon struggles with his new education, people in his past being to capture the attention of the Empire.

Roran, Eragon’s cousin, is faced with the tough decision that will define the rest of his life – to stay and Carvahall and fight a lost battle, or to move the whole town and to seek help in Surda, where members of Carvahall have only heard whisper’s of the legendary Varden. It is a decision that will cost Roran in more ways than one.

Eldest is the second instalment in Christopher Paolini’s the Inheritance Cycle, and starts right where Eragon left off. In Eldest we are now following three different points of view and three separate storylines, as Paolini introduces even further complications and obstacles in the path of all characters in the plot. We have Eragon and the elves, Roran and the people of Carvahall and Nasuada and the Varden. With three distinct and different series of events, it is easy to get lost in story, and Paolini’s handle on the multiple viewpoints rarely left me struggling for understanding.

Eragon’s character continues to develop, and in Eldest we glimpse many of Eragon’s future problems and being to get a grasp on the extreme and vast differences between the three cultures. Eragon’s attempt at trying to master these three cultures sometimes gets him into a spot of bother, and it is these moments of insecurity and failure that allowed me to connect with Eragon on a personal level – they are mistakes that I would have done in his place. The relationship between Eragon and Arya develops to a new level, and while I feel I know where this will end up, it seems that there will be some twists and turns to see it arrive in that place.

We are re-introduced to Roran, and he, along with the Carvahall villager’s, plays a much larger role in this novel than in Eragon. Roran, for me, lacked as a character. He seemed to be driven by one singular thought, and lacked reason or compassion for people around him. That being said, it was these characteristics that drove his plot and story, I just found his point of view difficult and trying to read from.

Eldest is filled with a lot more darkness and evil than seen in Eragon, slowing highlighting the true horror of Galbatorix’s reign on Alegaesia. Captivating from the shock beginning to the even more shocking ending, Eldest is the must read sequel for fans of Eragon. A truly compelling page-turner that had me reading from the first page, to the last.

Rating:: ★★★★☆

The Tomorrow Code – Brian Falkner
Book Reviews
November 13, 2009 posted by Katie

The Tomorrow Code – Brian Falkner

“It happened before. Burnt Mountain, Alaska. Novosibirsk, Siberia. Now it’s about to happen to a thriving city. Crack the code…or tomorrow is history…”

Auckland, New Zealand. A city with a population of 1.3 million. 25th December. Already, 50 000 people have just vanished into a mystery white fog. They were never seen again. Their town was surrounded by white fog which defied gravity and wind, with whispers of ‘snowmen’ coming from the very few survivors. No one who goes in, comes out. No electrical transmissions can find their way through the storm, and nothing New Zealand authorities do can seem to stop the fog.

Imagine that you’re the only one who knew this was about to happen. Imagine that you’re the only one who has a chance of stopping it from happening again. Imagine that you had discovered a way to receive messages from the future and no one would believe you. Imagine that the fate of the civilization of the world could rest on how quick you can crack the code. Everything is stacked against you, you’re a teenager still in school, not old enough to be considered seriously, you have a mother that is only interested in the next episode of her favorite soap opera on TV and every minute that goes past is another death that could have been prevented.

This is Tane and Rebecca’s reality. Months earlier, Tane and Rebecca discovered a way to read messages that were transmitted through time. Messages coded and hidden in gamma ray bursts that are recorded by high-tech NASA space equipment, only you invented and discovered the program to read these messages. The messages that are decoded spell out a bleak future for live on earth. Receiving instructions from their future selves, Tane and Rebecca face a race against the clock to try and get the New Zealand and International military and bio-medical forces to listen to them. Every instruction that they have followed from these coded messages has been correct. From winning the lottery as a test, to breaking into NASA’s top-secret internet files, each step brings you closer to either saving humanity, or watching it descend further into chaos and destruction. Whispers of the Chimera Project that must be stopped, cryptic instructions for a device to send information to the future and juggling sudden millionaire status are just some of the issues that Tane and Rebecca have to deal with on a daily basis.

And this is only the beginning.

The Tomorrow Code is Brian Falkner’s first young adult novel, with three children’s novels being published prior to this. The style of writing and the way in with Falkner deals with some difficult concepts is remarkable. When talking about science, quantum foam and biology, it is easy to get lost in the technical terms, yet Falkner allows the reader to sympathise with either of the two main characters. Rebecca is the brains, the science and math whiz who more often than not is the one talking and explaining the technical jargon while Tane is the creative soul and often, like me, doesn’t have a clue what Rebecca is saying, yet somehow works it out in more simple and creative terms. Rather than subtracting from the plot, this actually adds to the sense of urgency and mystery of the novel. In all, I liked this novel, it captured my interest from the beginning and it was an easy read that I didn’t have to struggle through. The characters were interesting, plot well developed and style captivating from the first page to the end.

Rating:: ★★★★☆