‘Interworld’ by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves

This isn’t a bad book, but it could be better. I quite liked parts of it. I don’t think I’ll be able to write that much about it because there’s not much to it. So why did I pick it up? Because the book stands out, with its cool and outlandish name and great cover design. I picked this up off a shelf in my library because the spine of the book looked really cool, so I decided to read the blurb. It sounded pretty good so I gave it a try.

This book had huge potential. My problem with it is that in places there doesn’t seem enough book in the book, in others there’s too much. At some points, there just doesn’t seem to be enough detail to explain the story – to tell you what’s going on. I’d have liked more storyline and more detail on the characters. You keep thinking a bit is getting good and then it trails off. It’s a bit frustrating.

The story is about Joey Harker who lives a pretty average life; nothing is unusual in his life except for his crazy teacher – Mr Dimas. He gives Joey and his class weird assignments. For one of these weird assignments, as a test, the class is brought to a random place in their city. They go in groups of three. They have to try to get back to their school.

Joey, being somebody who can get lost in his own house (well, when his family built an extension, he didn’t recognise where he was!), did not fill his two team-mates with confidence. Turns out he knew where he was, but they laughed at him and didn’t take him seriously. They set off and Joey goes with them, though he knows it’s the wrong way. Havin gone the wrong way, they quickly get lost. Joey tells them he’ll scout ahead. He finds himself walking through a park as he looks for the right way. Then a sort of foggy mist descends around him. Joey walks through the mist and finds himself on the other side where he sees something incredible! (only kidding, it’s not that great, it’s a good surprise though). Read it to see what you think of the surprise.

Overall, this was a pretty average book which didn’t bore me, but didn’t keep me turning the pages either. I’ve written a fair bit about it in this review, but read it and see for yourself. This is a book for those who like sci-fi and action, maybe even fantasy. It’s a little bit of all these genres.

Thanks for reading this, Finn Buck, 12.

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‘Warcross’ by Marie Lu

This is an exceptional book. I really liked it. The writing is great. There is real balance in the actual storyline – I mean there’s no boring bits, only what’s needed to keep things ticking along. This is one of those books where you pick it of the shelf of wherever and think ‘this might not be a great book’ or you just think nothing of it and you read it and you love it. In ways, it’s a bit like Ready Player One, particularly because of the virtual reality part of it all and other things. But, of course, you have other big differences.

The book’s characters are mostly well created and show huge personalities with likes, dislikes and opinions. I think this is where the book could be improved: a small number of characters are pretty boring. I know why they are there, but their parts could have been better.

I’d love to read a sequel. I think one is coming, supposedly called ‘Wildcard’: I can’t wait because this first book was totally unpredictable and threw your unsuspecting mind right round corners and through invisible tunnels. I sometimes try to predict what might happen next and this was just utterly impossible.

It’s set in the future where a 13 year old boy called Hideo Tanaka has invented a world/game called Warcross. To play, you only need a certain pair of virtual reality glasses made by Tanaka. It has become the biggest thing/trend ever and made Hideo a billionaire. The book is set a few years after this. The story follows an 18 year old girl called Emika Chen who is a hunter (person who is payed money by the police to find and basically capture people who bet on Warcross because its illegal).

Emika is poor, the book makes this very clear! There is no denying it. She rents an apartment with her roommate. some time later, they are about to be evicted due to not paying the landlord rent. She starts to get desperate and hacks into the opening ceremony for the Warcross championships (where different teams battle it out to win against each other while you watch via Warcross). She wants to steal something that would be worth a lot of money, but she accidentaly glitches her avatar into the match and everybody can see her. The rest of the book is about what happens when she enters the game.

I highly recommend this book if you like mystery and science fiction. Well, you might be wondering how does mystery come into this! If you really want to know, then read the book 🙂 I promise this is a really great book. I think Marie Lu has created something worth reading; that’s just my opinion.

Review by Finn Buck Aged 12

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‘Six of Crows’ by Leigh Bardugo

I absolutely loved this book; it was way, way, way better than I expected. It sort of had everything you need for a great book. The storyline is crazy, with tonnes of twists and turns, big betrayals, great action parts and some huge plans (to do with the story). I didn’t expect this to be a great book, well, actually, to be honest, I thought it might be pretty bad, but, as it turns out: I was wrong; it was actually an incredibly good book. I loved it.

Leigh Bardugo has shown us how well she can create characters. She introduces us to them in the most incredible way; even writing it from different characters’ perspectives, which makes you read the book in a new and different way. I thought all of this was really great. These parts of the book are written carefully and contribute to the story – they are not a distraction.

The book is set in a fantasy world which has different countries with different beliefs and opinions; it’s full of people who dislike and like different things. There are a race of humans called the Grisha; they have powers and are able to do things, but these things aren’t that strong. There are countries that like and dislike them and also those who hunt and kill them.

Unintentional chaos sort of erupts when a man creates a drug called Jurda Parem for the Grisha which is extremely addictive, has terrible after effects and hugely amplifies the powers of a Grisha and makes them able to do stuff they shouldn’t be able to do. Well, the man who made Jurda Parem has been captured and taken prisoner in the most fortified place in the world called the Ice Court. A 17 year old criminal prodigy called Kaz Brekker has been paid huge amounts of money to break into the Ice Court and get the man out alive.

Kaz is able to use whatever crew he needs, but, even for Kaz, this is going to be an extremely hard task to complete. He might be killed or assassinated after he gets the money.

I loved this book and recommend it if you like fantasy and action. The book might be a bit boring at the start or you might not understand it completely, but, trust me, it gets better, way better. I was not sure I wanted to read it. I’m glad I did. This truly might be one of my favourite books, though that would be really hard to rank. If you read this, I hope you like it, because I definitely did. If you don’t, well, that’s your opinion.

Review by 12 year old Finn Buck.

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The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

Overall, this is a classic Rick Riordan book. It’s written in his usual style which I love so much. I like it when one of Riordan’s books gets published or he starts a new series. I get so excited and always try to buy or borrow it from a library or even from somebody else. This book is no exception and everything about it is pretty good, but one or two things could have been changed to make it better. It reads like there are thing missing that could have been added in.

This is the first book in the ‘Trials of Apollo’ series, which now has reached its 3rd book; the amazing thing is that he also wrote the Magnus Chase series (I hope its not finished as a trilogy) at the same time: now that’s hard work. He brings in characters from other books he has written and they help make it all happen.  This mixing of characters between books made this story all the better. He has put power, attitude and personality into new characters, some of who come near to being the main characters.

This book has Rick Riordan written all over it, with his funny and mythological style of writing. The writing completely brainwashes me to read on and on and I haven’t even started on the cover of any of the books. For me, if I see a Rick Riordan cover in a bookstore I go wild if its a new book or series.

Its really all about the Greek god Apollo who has been cast down from Olympus by Zeus as a punishment. He’s now in the body of a 16 year old boy named Lester Papadoulos. Of course, on arrival on Earth, he lands in a dumpster in an alleyway and is mugged straight away.  As if this couldn’t get any worse, he is saved by a 12 year old daughter of Demeter called Meg (oh the embarrassment!). He tells Meg that he wants a powerful demigod to claim his service (meaning he does what they say and hopefully that gets him back into being a god). Meg instantly claims his service and becomes his master. It turns out the way he can become a god again is by completing certain trials which turn out to be freeing the oracles (sacred places of prophecy) of the world and defeating the triumvirate (who want to destroy the oracles and Apollo). Lets just say he is probably not going to have a good time doing any of this because, him being a god, he is used to sending demigods on quests to do this sort of stuff.

This is a great book about Greek mythology. I really liked it. I highly recommend this book if you like Rick Riordan, have read one of his books or just like mythology and adventure fiction. If you read this, I hope you like it.

Review by 12 year old Finn Buck

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‘Insignia’ by S. J. Kincaid

This is an explosion of a book. It’s full of unlimited possibilities and imagination. I found it a bit mindboggling at times; this didn’t stop me piling through the pages of what is a beautifully written read. I think Kincaid had fun writing this book – the characters are all full of attitude and have strong personalities. It has a unique storyline, with what I am going to call bad guys and traitors. It takes the characters to places you’d never expect them to go and has a whole lot of twists. It’s a funny story with happy and mischievous bits at times. It’s both a sci-fi and an action book (there’s probably an actual category of books like this one!).

It is set years from now, where World War 3 is being fought between the Indo-Americans (America and India) and the Russo-Chinese (Russia and China) in space using spaceships controlled by army trained teenagers using Virtual Reality and a computer called a ‘neural processor’ (this is inserted into their brains).

The teenagers are all incredibly talented video gamers from all over America and India. Why do they use teenagers? Because they are the only age group who can handle it; anybody else will go mad or die. But the war is more or less a game for territory in space and money for the big companies and corporations. And, in America, the teenagers train and fight at the Pentagonal Spire which is a tower that has been built at the Pentagon.

The story is about 14 year old Tom Raines (he’s a bit naughty!) who loves gaming and VR and is incredibly good at it. He has a homeless gambling addict of a dad and goes to school in VR. But one day his world is changed when he is spotted by the U.S military and is offered a place at the training facility to become one of the fighters. He is overwhelmed with joy and wants to go so much but his dad does not really like the idea and goes on about how you’ll never be repaid or honoured. But Tom goes none the less. He makes friends and enemies as soon as he arrives but needless to say anyone can be a traitor and even people you think you know well.

I would highly recommend this if you like sci-fi and action books. I loved this book and if you read it I hope you do too. I think there is a sequel to this book and if there is I want to read it so bad! Another thing in the book it says Albert Einstein once said ‘ I know not what World War 3 will be fought with but World War 4 will be fought with sticks and stones’ and of course this isn’t happening.

Review by 12 year old Finn Buck.

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‘Hover Car Racer’ by Matthew Reilly

I’ve read this book five times. I’d read it again (it’s a quick read). It’s up there on my list of all time favourites. The book has everything – twists, turns, fantastic characters and a fast-paced, addictive, storyline. What’s funny is how this sci-fi book doesn’t stand out in bookshops and libraries (I lend books from two different libraries). I just picked it up off the shelf one day, read it and found it’s one hell of a read. It also has that funny twinge of comedy and it actually made me laugh at random times.

At the start of the book it says it’s set: “A few years from now”. I wonder, as the book was written in 2004, why don’t we have hover technology yet?

The book is about, 14-year-old, Jason Chaser who has a talent for hover car racing (hardly a surprise given the book’s title!). Jason dreams of becoming a pro racer. His younger brother (he’s 12) is AKA ‘The Bug’ and he’s the hover car’s navigator. He helps Jason to make plans. He’s good at it because he’s clever (he can tell you what 654 x 357 is in 2 seconds!).

Their talent as racers is spotted at a race by a teacher from the International Race School in Tasmania (the school actually owns Tasmania, so they have huge race courses for the hover cars). The teacher offers them a place at the school. This gives Jason a chance to become a pro racer.

When he gets to the school, Jason makes friends with Ariel Piper who is the first ever girl to enter the race school.

It becomes obvious quickly that someone is intent on stopping him and Ariel from winning anything or becoming something big. It’s a story you can read with little effort; you just go with the flow. I recommend this book to anyone who likes fast-paced sci-fi thrillers (I’d say that’s most kids!). I’d say kids of any age could read it. The only hard bit for younger reads is that there are lots of characters and they can be hard to keep up with. I liked this, but some kids might get confused by this.

Review by Finn Buck aged 12.

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‘A Million Dollar Gift’ by Ian Somer

This is the first of a series of books and a debut novel for Irish writer Ian Somer. I think he’s done well. This book has all the right plot, pieces, characters and ideas for an action thriller. The book’s 400 pages go past fast.  It’s an easy read with no difficult words. These supernatural books just seem to find me no matter what. This is also a really interesting book. I look forward to reading the whole series to learn more. There’s one thing I really like about this book and it might just be how the main character is Irish.

It’s about 17 year old Ross Bentley who lives in Maybrook, Ireland. He has one friend called Gemma (he likes being by himself). He works at the local supermarket and has psychic powers (he can move things with his mind). Yes, the book mixes the boring with the cool. He lives with just his dad because his Mum died from a heart attack when he was 11. The sadness lead to him discovering his power. No one knows he has this power; though in the book he does end up telling his Dad and Gemma.

In the book we are introduced to Ross as he films a mad stunt he’s doing on his skateboard. He puts it on the Internet without telling anyone who he is. He tries not to use his powers for bad. I’m not sure I could stop myself

He finds out about a contest in London called the Million Dollar Gift in which, if you have any supernatural power, you win a million Euros/Pounds/Dollars. They are looking for people with powers! Ross decides to enter because his family needs the money and once there he shows them his power. Of course it can’t be this simple … it isn’t.

As soon as he shows off his powers, he finds he has thrown himself into an unpredictable world of the true gifts. The true gifts are powers like telekinesis, super speed (called warper) and 13 more like that. Then there are the power hungry, greedy, powerful people who want you dead which isn’t a very nice thought … Ross’s experiences make for a great action packed story. It’s also a funny book.

The book is written so that you have to read the next book. I highly recommend this if you like supernatural books because I know I love them. I ripped through this book and I am hopeful for more in the sequel. Anyone reading this book will enjoy all the cool powers the characters have!

Review by 12 year old Finn Buck.

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‘Department 19’ By Will Hill

This is a very crazy book; loads happens in its absolutely wild and feral storyline. The book is pretty long but very exciting; it keeps you on the edge of your seat and is a totally worthwhile read. It’s sort of a spin off of Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’, with the characters each having ancestors who featured in it (some are the actual characters from Dracula because this book contains flashbacks from the original).

The book is set up neatly and nicely. Will Hill has worked hard to make this happen. It all ticks along nicely page after page (and there are 490 pages). I was unsure of this book after reading the blurb. I decided to give it a try and boy was I surprised. It was much better than the blurb made it sound. I really liked it.

The book is about a boy called Jamie Carpenter who is 16 years old. He lives in England with his mum. He has no friends and is bullied at school because his Dad, Julian Carpenter, had supposedly been a terrorist and been shot dead in front of Jamie. This back story would probably make a pretty good book!

One day his life changes. He meets a weird girl called Larissa and it turns out she’s a vampire sent to kill him. For some reason, she doesn’t. It gets worse. His Mum is kidnapped by Alexandru, the second oldest vampire in the world. If you can believe it, Frankenstein’s monster turns up (it has adopted its creator’s name). Frankenstein’ takes Jamie to a place called Department 19, which is the country’s kind of ministry for hunting vampires. It’s also known as Blacklight (it’s kind of a company as well). The Department’s job is to slay vampires.

When he arrives inside, somewhat dramatically, a victim of a vampire attack is wheeled in and so is Larissa. Turns out Larissa is a vampire. She’s been injured by another vampire, but has been arrested for attacking this victim whose name is Matt. Jamie is still taking all these happenings in, when he finds out his Dad wasn’t a terrorist. Instead, he had been a traitor to Blacklight, by giving information to vampires about one of its operations, causing the death of many people.

To save his Mum, Jamie decides he wants to become a Blacklight operative called an ‘Operator’ (they only have one job – killing vampires!), so he goes through 24 hours of brutal training and learns as much as he can about Blacklight and vampires. They get a few leads on where Alexandru and his Mum are but a few of them are tricks and traps. Larissa offers to help and Jamie agrees. This is frowned upon by a lot of the Blacklight operatives (she’s a vampire!).

While this is happening, in Russia, Valeri, one of the brothers of Alexandru, and a pack of other vampires,  have launched an attack on a Russian military base and stolen the contents of one of Blacklight’s vaults. Those contents are Dracula’s ashes. They’ll use them to try to resurrect Dracula. Alexandru launches an attack on a small island called Lindisfarne killing many people and leaving just a few survivors who manage to get to the mainland. Blacklight only send in a small team because they think the Russia incident is more important, The team is Jamie, Larissa, a man called Thomas Morrison, who Jamie had became friends with, and two Blacklight operatives called McBride and Stevenson. Valeri is long gone by the time they get there.

The Blacklight team get to Lindisfarne and find a lot of dead and dying people. One girl called Kate, who is about Jamie’s age, is alive. They see a ancient monastery and take a wild guess that Alexandru and Jamie’s Mum are in there.

Read the book to find out the rest and boy will you be surprised. There are a few sort of flashback stories in between the chapters of the book and those are what make it so long. I recommend this to over 12s who like adventure and fantasy sort of books (it’s not a horror even though it has lots of Dracula and Frankenstein references). The book’s characters are written very well; they are believable (even if the book is totally unbelievable!). This book is one of a series; I am yet to read the rest.

Review by 12 year old Finn Buck

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‘TimeRiders’ by Alex Scarrow

This as an alright book with a good enough idea. The story is just a bit all over the place and parts of it get boring. It tells you about history, what the future could be and what we might not know. It can get a bit weird at times.   It shows what humanity could make of itself and become. I found parts of this book full of interesting ideas; other bits could have been left out. I recommend it to older readers because of the violent and gory parts (if it was a film it might be over 18s!).

The basics of the storyline (and it’s messed up and hard to explain) are that in 2044 a time machine has been invented. It’s not used now. It’s banned and time travel is illegal because of catastrophic effects to the future it causes. It has three main characters. A teenage Liam O’Connor from 1912, Maddy Carter from 2010 and Sal Vikram from 2026. Moments before their deaths, they are all saved by a man called Foster. They have all been brought to 2001, to a small office, a place underneath an archway of the Williamsburg Bridge in New York City. It’s called the Agency. The Agency stops people from destroying the world with time travel. It tries to maintain time lines.

The Agency is in a two day ‘time bubble’ which keeps repeating on the 10th and 11th of September. The Agency also works with things called support units which are robots who are incredibly human-like. The original robot is called Bob and they use him all the time.

They are all assigned certain roles by Foster. Liam is the field agent who goes with Bob through time, Maddy is the team leader and Sal is the observer who notices shifts in time (changes in time). For a training exercise, Foster takes Liam and Bob into the past to change something and the girls, Maddy and Sal, have to figure out what it was. The Boys go back to 22nd of November 1963 in Dallas, Texas, where they stop Lee Harvey Oswald from killing John F. Kennedy. The girls figure out what it was that was changed. They tell the boys when they come back and then the boys go back again to restore the time.

Not long after, the time line is altered by a Dr Paul Krammer and a group of men lead by Karl Hass. They have travelled from 2066 to Germany on April 15th 1941. They did it using the first time machine made by a guy called Roald Waldstein. They launch an attack on Hitler’s base. Once inside, they strike a deal with Hitler and help him win the war using knowledge and technology from the future. When the war is over, Krammer takes over from Hitler.

In 2001, Sal notices the time shift and quickly tells the team. Bob and Liam are sent back  to the exact time the Americans surrendered to the German forces, After gathering information, they manage to miss their two time windows to get back. Liam gets transported to a prison camp and Bob decides (instead of going back home with the information) to save him.

The book doesn’t stay with the German storyline. It seeks jumping around. This gets a bit annoying and hard to understand. Like, also in 2001, another time shift happens where New York is turned into a wasteland with little mutant cannibal creatures who roam around in huge packs. This seems to make no sense when you are reading the book.

At this point, the rest of the team are trying to get Liam and Bib back but their time travel generator run out of diesel and they need to get more. They obviously get more. Meanwhile, back in 1941 Germany, Bob has started raiding prison camps to find Liam. Prisoners have joined with him, indirectly starting a small resistance. After six whole months (time in the past isn’t the same as the present), Bob finds Liam and frees him.

This couldn’t happen quick enough, as Krammer has gone insane and built a bomb connected to the time machine he used to get there. It has the power to end humanity. He detonates it a week after its built (Liam and Bob have gotten back to 2001 by now). How are they going to save the world? Liam remembers writing in a guest book when he visited the national history museum while in New York and comes up with the idea of putting a message in it for the team to read in 2001. So he sneaks in with Bob and sets up a bunch of hidden clues to get to the message he’s written in the book.

In 2001, Foster coincidentally (yes, it gets a bit far-fetched, but this is a book about time travel!) remembers the guest book as well and finds the message which has the coordinates for a time window. On the way back, they walk into a trap set by the mutant creatures and Sal is taken and presumably killed, but then Foster assures Maddy that she’ll come back if they restore the time. When they get back, they start charging up the generator for a time window for the set coordinates, but unfortunately the mutant creatures break into the office through weak points.

Luckily (yes, again!), Bob and Liam turn up just in time to save Foster and Maddy. They inform Foster of what happened in the past and they are sent back to the time where Krammer got into Germany and they stop him – they do this pretty violently.

Back in 2001, when the timeline has been restored, Sal appears back with no memory of what happened and Foster bids them farewell because he is dying and he just walks out of the time bubble. There are lots of bits like this which aren’t really explained.

Overall, this is an exciting book with an ok storyline but it gets boring at times. It is trying to fit too much in. It’s overly complicated and some bits are coincidental to the point of being silly. This could have been a better book.

Review by 12 year old Finn Buck.

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‘Middle School: The Worst Years of my Life’ by James Patterson

This comedic book is hilarious, interesting and all round incredible. James Patterson has found a way to make you laugh while making you think. It’s a very funny book. It’s also a rebellious book. It appeals to me and I expect it’d appeal to anyone in their middle school years. As I’m Irish, I don’t get any of specific references to elementary school, middle school and grades – we call them different things.
The book is full of cartoons. I used to read lots of these types of books. I think this is what makes this book this book (if you get me). Now I’m older I use my own imagination while reading, but pictures help younger kids (like my sisters).
The book is based on a really good idea. It is about 12 year old Rafe Khatchadorian who has an amazing creative imagination. He’s a good character. It’s Rafe’s first day of 6th grade in his new school. I expect many kids feel a bit odd on their first day and so does Rafe. When I say many kids, I mean the new kids with no actual school friends.
Things get worse because Miller the Killer, a bully, is already onto him even though he’s trying not to get noticed.
Rafe’s only friend, Leo the Silent, is imaginary. This doesn’t stop them being great friends! Their relationship is a bit weird (of course!).
Jeanne, one of the prettiest girls in the school, doesn’t know he exists. He wants her to though.
From Rafe’s point of view, 6th grade is like being in a prison. The teachers in the school seem intent on making the students obey many rules – and there really are a lot of rules. Rafe thinks up an idea which he calls Operation R.A.F.E. The objective is to break every single rule in the school. Leo and Rafe think up funny ways to do this.
At home, Rafe lives with his Mum, his little sister, Georgina, and his lazy Mum’s boyfriend, ‘Bear’. Rafe starts to get into trouble for breaking the rules and his Mum freaks out. Eventually Rafe stops Operation R.A.F.E. and tries to cool it down to normal. But it’s not going very well; it seems he’s going to flunk 6th grade, so with Leo’s help, he comes up with a major plan.
He draws loads onto one of the school walls. He thinks it’s amazing but his teachers don’t. Then, that night, Bear hurts his Mum in a fight and he calls the police. His Mum kicks Bear out of the house.
Rafe is going to get expelled from his school. This isn’t so bad because Rafe’s art teacher recommends an art school he can go to.
I recommend this book if you like funny, rebellious, book. This series of books has been very successful. There’s even a movie. I’ve seen a bit of it and it was funny but not as funny as the book.

Review by 12 year old Finn Buck.

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