Chosen by Year 8 (12/13 year old) pupils from Homefield School, Sutton, Surrey.
Thanks to Mrs K Ducksbury, Head of English.
The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray
Chris Wooding, Scholastic Point, 0 439 99452 7, £5.99
This book by Chris Wooding, winner of the silver Nestlé Smarties Book Prize 2001, is one of the most chilling, spooky and imaginative books you’ll ever read. Set in the Old Quarter of London, where the wych-kin roam the streets, this book takes a leaf or two from J K Rowling’s Harry Potter books, with the main character a brave boy with special powers, who battles evil. The wych-kin are monsters, full of evil who need a Buffy the Vampire style ritualistic killing. It all sounds a bit violent and bloody, but as soon as you read the first page, you’ll be hooked.
Alaizabel Cray is a girl who is inhabited by an evil spirit and she needs Thaniel Fox, wych-hunter to free her from it. Her inhabitant turns out to be a real, serious wych. The wych-kin appeared after the Vernichtung, a Victorian World War Two, and Thaniel and co. want to find the source of these evil killings. They find it in the most unlikely place …
This epic is exciting, thrilling and a fantastic page-turner. I found myself reading it in the car on short journeys, resulting in a few upset stomachs and red-eyes. Brilliant, but definitely not for night-time reading!
The Bad Beginning
Lemony Snicket, Egmont, 0 7497 4611 4, £5.99
Lemony Snicket has written many books. This is a series of books called ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’. This title is what made me read this book, since people rarely write about the negative side of life. However, to my surprise and possible disappointment, the storyline was in no way, shape or form horrendous stories or gory mishaps as probably suggested by the title. Instead the story is about three orphans: Klaus, Violet and Sunny Baudelaire who are continuously shoved around the country with a horrible villain, Count Olaf, chasing them, in an attempt to seize the gigantic Baudelaire fortune. This is an idea that many authors have tried before but Lemony Snicket brings the story to life by his strange yet unique writing style!
I grew to liking the mid-chapter warnings urging the faint-hearted to stop reading straight away or to explain in depth, a complicated word or phrase! This is a definite read if you want a laugh! This really brings originality and is an interesting way to alter a book which cannot be commended for its plot.
It is obvious that Snicket has tried incredibly hard and manages to keep the balance between dull and over the top, but despite this I still think that the £5.99 price tag is a bit ambitious.
Eoin Colfer, Puffin, 0 14 131212 2, £4.99
Artemis Fowl is an intricate tale, perhaps not that probable, but otherwise very compelling.
The book tells us about the existence of the fairie race, a mysterious and technological group of beings – dwarves, elves, pixies, trolls and goblins. Living underground the fairie government work studiously to prevent the knowledge of their existence fall into human hands.
When crises arise, the Lower Elements Police are sent out to rectify the situation, and so when the 12-year-old criminal Artemis Fowl captures L.E.P. captain Holly Short, the government panics, first sending in teams to bring her back, and then giving in to the ransom demands. Artemis will use this fortune to continue the search for his lost father.
However, rogue elements of the L.E.P. are mobilising destructive resources against Artemis, and they are not at all bothered about Holly.
Fun characters and a clever plot make this book a must have, and Colfer has sold the film rights already. I recommend this book to anyone over 7.
If you are looking for a serious and believable novel, this is not your book. But if you want something fun and enjoyable, read this book!
Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard
Kiran Desai, Faber, 0 571 19571 7, £6.99
The three words that describe the book are fresh, funny and delicious. Hullabaloo is lush and intensely imagined showing the magic of Kiran Desai’s narrative style. The book simply compares the frantic life in the city to the leaves of a guava tree.
Sampath Chawla, an afflicted boy living in the town of Shahkot, decides to move away from all his parents’ lectures into the branches of a guava tree. When his family find him they realize he has turned into a hermit. How did this happen so soon? To unravel the secret, enter the world of Kiran Desai.
This spectacular author has already taken four prizes for the book including the Booker Prize. I strongly recommend this book to people who love adventure. If you enjoy reading the book, try Anita Desai’s Fasting, Feasting.