YA reviews: Cosmic, Fault line, and Thicker than water

Want the skinny on books? Check out what the Cashmere High School Read and Review Team have to say.

Cover of CosmicCosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce

This book is so good. So this boy is like 13 but is like so tall and has a moustache so he fakes being a girl’s dad and wins a father and daughter trip to space. He goes to space and has an awesome adventure. Get this book and read it because it is way too good for earth!

Rating: Infinity stars

-H.M. Year 10

Fault line by C. Desir

This book is strictly senior fiction. It is about a relationship between a boy and a girl. At a party, something terrible happens to the girl and the rest of the story is about how she deals with the aftermath of the event. The writing of the book was sensational it had me feeling the tears rolling down my face before I had known they had fallen. It told a heart wrenching story that touched on many themes that few people seem to want to talk about. A very good book, well worth reading.

Rating: 4 out of 5

-Grace Y11

Cover of Thicker than waterThicker than Water by Brigid Kemmerer

A crime story. A story of loss and finding love. A paranormal thriller. What’s to love about this book? Everything.

Thomas Bellweather’s mother, the only person who truly cared about him, the only true family he really had, is dead. Murdered, to be precise. The doors were all locked, there were no signs of forced entry and only Thomas and his mother were in the house. He is now the only suspect. But Thomas would never knowingly hurt someone he loved … so who was it? A brand new house in a brand new town means that no one trusts Thomas. Even his cop stepdad can’t help him from police and town ridicule. Only one person believes Thomas is innocent and she is a sister to three protective cops; Charlotte knows the police are missing something, and is determined to help Thomas in uncovering the truth.

I simply loved everything about this book. The story was well-paced and engaging, the premise was original and thought-provoking and the author created characters who were relatable and displayed a good sense of humour and irony. Brigid Kemmerer has mastered changing both voice and writing style between chapters so that Thomas and Charlotte have distinctive voices that are shown well when they take turns narrating the story. I also enjoyed the different levels and themes this book had, and came away with the distinct impression that this story wasn’t about Thomas at all; it was about Charlotte. As with any love story, the characters learn more about themselves as they learn more about each other, and through this, they grow and develop. This development is shown most prominently through Charlotte’s character.

The underlying theme of feminism was the aspect that earns Thicker than Water a place on my must-read list. I mentioned previously that I found the story to be more about Charlotte than about Thomas; so here’s my rationale. Charlotte is presented as a vulnerable girl (through her illness) who would look much more at home playing a 1950s housewife. Her mother and grandmother insist she knows how to cook, and expects her to clear and wash the dishes for the whole family while her father and three older brothers relax and do not contribute. Charlotte’s grandmother appears to be still caught up in the gender norms set for girls in her youth and openly disapproves of Charlotte’s decisions towards something as simple as clothing choices (e.g. a skirt above knee-height). However, in helping Thomas find his mother’s killer, she ends up finding out that the way she is treated at home is very different from the outside world, and I believe falling in love with someone like Thomas, someone who doesn’t expect her to do housework or clean, was probably the best thing for her to do.

I rate Thicker than Water by Brigid Kemmerer ten out of ten.

By Saoirse (Year 11)

Spaced out and starry-eyed

I have become a space junkie. It all began about 18 months ago when I read the light, accessible and informative children’s novel George’s secret key to the universe to my children. I learned a lot, and as it was written by Stephen Hawking and his daughter, I feel what I learned was fairly reliable. And my children kept saying: “Mum, didn’t you know that already?” just to confirm that they know everything and I’m a typical dumb parent.

Coincidentally the library hosted a space programme over the summer holidays, and I found myself wearing a pair of NASA overalls. You know, one of those delightful outfits that are much easier to get in to than out of, rather like a bad relationship or a black hole.

The space theme has continued to haunt me ever since. The favourite new book in our household last year was Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce. It’s a humorous, touching and exciting read about a boy who is constantly mistaken for an adult. This is awkward at times, especially when he ends up heading to the Moon supervising a bunch of kids. I read this book out loud to my children, which was tricky at times because I was laughing so much. In addition to the humour, there’s lots about families and especially the role of dads.

With a similar plot, i.e. bright kid heads to moon, but way more detail about space flight, is P.B. Kerr’s exciting new book One small step. It’s a great adventure story, which somehow manages to overcome its plentiful improbabilities and its unexpectedly philosophical end. Kids intrigued by space or who love adventure and can cope with the technical explanations will love this one.

Inevitably my space addiction has led me to the adult section, where I unearthed the story of the perilous voyage of Apollo 13 written by the commander of that mission, Jim Lovell with journalist Jeffrey Kluger. It’s a blow by blow account of the colossal amount of human resource, brainpower, commitment and teamwork that went in to bringing three astronauts safely home, and averting what could have been a mortal blow to the space programme. Although the technical side of the mission is intriguing in itself, the human story is what is totally compelling of course, even though it’s told in a slightly irritating Dan Brownesque cliffhanger manner.

To top all my space-themed reading off, the library launched a new interactive activity Space Explorer on the kids web pages last year. You can take a virtual journey through space and learn a few bits and pieces on the way. It also has links to other great space websites, library resources and children’s books on space.

So now that I know all about the space books in the children’s section, and was comforted to find from Erin’s post Great Gig in the Sky that I am not the only female space junkie librarian, I am keen to follow up on the books listed by Erin about Neil Armstrong.

And now we’re coming full circle as Stephen and Lucy Hawking have a released a follow-up title George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt which was up for review. So of course, I can’t help myself. The plan is that I will read it to my daughters over the holidays and review it. Watch this space! Well, it is the International Year of Astronomy, after all.