Chosen by Year 9 (13-14 year-old) pupils from Bishop Rawstorne Church of England Language College, Lancashire, who are taking part in the Lancashire Book of the Year Award.
Thanks to Linda Singleton, librarian and Nina Ainscough.
The Knife of Never Letting Go
Patrick Ness, Walker, 978 1 4063 2075 6, £8.00 pbk
Told through the eyes of 12-year-old Todd Hewitt, the last boy in Prentisstown, a desperate nothing of a town lying in the future but determinedly clinging to the darkest principles of the past. Prentisstown is a town of only men and ‘Noise’, a forcefield of thoughts and emotions that surrounds every living creature. Amongst all these angry, bitter, noisy men, Todd is the only boy. Filled with tension, emotions, it leaves you with questions about the actions of the characters and of humanity. Action-packed it may be, but it is the characters that really make this book as marvellous as it is. One of the main themes of the book is Todd’s inner conflict about killing. This is dealt with in a sincere, emotional way. Viola is another fantastic character. She is introduced as alien to this barbaric world, someone to be feared not trusted. She is no superhuman and she makes mistakes, but she is thoroughly likeable and a strong female character, a rare thing in today’s novels. The Knife of Never Letting Go is an amazing book that should be seen as a classic.
Steve Voake, Faber, 978 0 571 23001 3, £6.99 pbk
It is said you shouldn’t ‘judge a book by its cover’, however, from the moment I saw the cover – a cold merciless, reptilian eye staring out from a torn gap in a wall of steel – I immediately knew what the plot would be. In a secluded Amazon forest, a team of scientists examine the world’s deepest lake – one that hides a terrifying secret that could exterminate humanity. While investigating the lake, a strange event occurs and a scientist secretly discovers what the lake has kept from the world for centuries. The book truly becomes a thriller after the scientist is murdered and various attacks on minor characters occur. These include an elderly woman who has her throat shredded and a plumber whose hand is decapitated, which provide some of the most exciting and gruesome chapters of the story. My largest praise is how well it creates these mysterious attacks, making you guess and think hard about what the creature is.
The Lady in the Tower
Marie-Louise Jensen, Oxford, 978 0 19 275531 5, £5.99 pbk
A gripping story narrated through the eyes of the young Lady Eleanor Hungerford. Her father is a powerful, wealthy man – an advisor to King Henry VIII. When Eleanor is eight, her father returns home from his usual gallivanting in a thundering rage; gripping her mother ferociously, he accuses her of being unfaithful and performing witch acts. Set in Tudor times, it keeps to the old fashioned theme, giving it authenticity. I really liked the way the author described the women’s dresses making them sound majestic and beautiful. Through the book we see Eleanor flourish into a magnificent, strong woman. It is a fantastic story.
Solace of the Road
Siobhan Dowd, David Fickling Books, 978 1 84992 005 6, £6.99 pbk
Holly Hogan is a 14-year-old girl who lives in a foster home called Templeton House. Holly is done with social workers and secure units. She’s done with foster parents. When she gets fostered by Fiona and Phil, a pair of mogits (Holly and her friend Grace’s term for ‘Miserable Old Gits’), she finds a beautiful blonde wig in a chest of drawers. From that moment, she’s heading off on a captivating road trip to find her mam. She’s ditching her life as Holly Hogan – she puts on the wig, pulls up her skirt and bats her eyelashes. She’s ready, she’s solace, solace of the road. When reading this book I felt I knew the protagonist, her thoughts, her feelings. It’s as if her heart has spilled into the book.
The Spook’s Apprentice
Joseph Delaney, Red Fox, 978 1 86230 853 4, £5.99 pbk
Tom is the son of country folk from Lancashire. He is the seventh son of a seventh son which means he can see, hear and smell things concerned with the dark. I really enjoyed this book. It is set in Lancashire and I know all the places Tom travels to. Throughout the book, the reader is constantly discovering new secrets about Tom’s family and the Spook. Tom’s thrilling encounters with the dark are terrifying, yet enthralling. Just when it seems like death is certain, Tom remembers a trick he has learnt and the evil creature is heroically destroyed. Overall, this is a great book with an amazing storyline and a very exciting climax.