1. Hold On – Alan Gibbons
This novel is a rather stark look at a boys suicide and a girls mission to get the vengeance for him she feels he deserves. However it is a very interesting look at how nothing is ever that clear cut and simple. It’s never easy to delineate people and point a finger claiming: ‘you are to blame, you are not, and these are the consequences’. That is not as simple as Annie would like it to be for John’s sake and the complexities and differing opinions that go with that and make up the causes and effects.
The novel is Annie’s process of discovering what happened to John and why he chose the path he did, eventually answering quite a few previously unanswered questions for several people.
The novel is written in alternate chapters, Annie’s present day point of view and from extracts of John’s diary and poetry.
It is a sometimes dark, complex and sometimes frustrating (as an adult reader, and one was relentlessly bullied at school) read, but no less of a page turner because of that. It serves as a poignant and insightful, though by no means wholly conclusive look at bullying.
4/5 A book I would certainly re-read and also recommend.
2. Scat – Carl Hiassen
Another, well written and ecologically poignant novel from Hiassen (he wrote: Hoot) that focuses on a species of Florida’s endangered wildlife, the Panther.
This is an engaging and clear novel about the dangers of oil companies and greed as it affects wildlife and others, yet it avoids being overly sentimental or preachy, whilst maintaining a clear line on the author’s opinions on the matter. Like all good mysteries, not everything is always as it seems, the ‘baddies’ aren’t necessarily who you would expect and sometimes people can act in very positive and surprising ways.
Some very engaging characters and a lack of ambiguity as to the authors/characters standpoints on the issues at hand, resulting in a very readable, page-turning novel which certainly didn’t give me any trouble in getting through.
4/5 Another that I would definitely re-read and recommend.
3. The Carbon Diaries 2015 – Saci Lloyd
A novel that considers what life would be like if the Government were to implement a national carbon dioxide rationing scheme, due to the results of an overly extravagant lifestyle and the rate of carbon emissions and subsequently global warming resulting in grand scale natural disasters.
I finally picked this book up at my local library having seen it crop up on numerous occasions across my internet browsing on book blogs and book lists. This line on the first page was what finally clinched the deal and swayed me into committing to borrow and reading it.
“Typical. Mum is Being Very Positive – ranting about when she did voluntary work in the 80’s on a kibbutz in Israel, knitting lentil ponchos and it being the best days of her life.”
TCD2015 is a futuristic (5 years in the future) dystopian novel in the same warning vein of Orwell’s’ 1984 in that it is very easy to see Lloyd’s version of the future occur, along with the initial devolution/adaptation of society.
I’m intrigued to read the follow up: The Carbon Diaries 2017 that I believe is already in the works, or indeed may well already have been published.
It’s a fairly brutal look at this version of society (through the eyes of a teenager: Laura Brown) and the ways in which it begins to separate her family and those around her, the rapid descent into potential chaos and a police state. However it is not all doom and gloom, the fact that the people eventually band together and become a stronger community unit than they had ever been previously, supporting each other and bringing their individual skills to that community to keep them all afloat (so to speak, as one of the disasters they face is flooding).
A most excellent and compelling read and a real page turner. 4/5. One to re-read and recommend.