The new year provides a wonderful opportunity to look back and congratulate ourselves on how far we have come in promoting the wonderful works of Australian women writers. So many amazing YA Speculative Fiction books have been read and reviewed as part of AWW2012, I don’t have time to get through them all, but I will highlight some of my favourites.
Marianne de Pierres is one of the most popular young adult authors reviewed for last year’s challenge, with Burn Bright, the first book of The Night Creatures Trilogy, being her most reviewed title. A powerful book that introduces readers to the mysterious and dark world of Ixion, Burn Bright is a literary accomplishment that is only surpassed by its sequels, Angel Arias and Shine Light, which together tell the story of Naif, a girl to runs away from everything she knows to search for her brother and finds herself in the process. You can read a glowing review of Burn Bright from Mandee @ veganYAnerds, who describes Ixion as “ interesting, dark and mysterious” and commends Marianne’s world building. Also reviewed, by Terri Sellen, was the space opera Dark Space, the first book in de Pierres’ Sentients of Orion quartet.
Rebecca Lim’s Mercy series finds more in common with modern young adult literature, but still entertains and intrigues readers with its brand of angel-lore. Consisting of Mercy, Exile, Muse and Fury, the quartet follows an angel who periodically wakes up in different bodies and lives out the lives of strangers. While the books are still full of mythology, angels and romance, what I loved about it is the heart that Lim has put into Mercy’s character and the world she has created. As Mercy inhabits a different body and lives out a different body in each book, every novel reads differently: the first a murder mystery, the second a contemporary and so on. Tsana @ Tsana’s Reads reviews the first two books of the series and observes that “Lim has a more poetic writing style than most other YA books” and that “Mercy spends more time philosophising than other YA characters that spring to mind (possibly because she’s not really a teenage girl).”
Paula Weston’s début novel Shadows caught the attention of a few reviewers last year. Marketed as New Adult, the book follows 18-year-old Gaby Winters, who is trying to put her life back together after the death of her twin brother. She meets Rafa, who looks remarkably like the guy from her dreams and claims to have known her brother. Gaby is suddenly thrown into a world of angels, hellions and demons, and is fighting for her life. A review by Narrelle Harris describes it has “full of fabulous, full-bodied characters like Rafa and Mags, Gaby’s best friend” and Lauren @ The Australian Bookshelf relishes that Gaby “ isn’t too bogged down in self-esteem issues and being distracted by the ‘beautiful,’ dreamy supernatural guy”.
Isobelle Carmody has been another popular choice by readers this year, especially her young adult fantasy series, The Obernewtyn Chronicles. Written in the style of Big Fat Fantasy and epic in its scope, the series is set in a dystopian future and follows Elspeth Gordie – a teen with mysterious powers who is sent to the prison camp of Obernewtyn. S Shanahan @ Female Factory delights in the richness of Carmody’s dystopia, stating “[t]his is a serious book, and really, it could be a version of the future.” Bree @ 1girl2manybooks, who re-read the series in 2012, reviews The Farseekers, the second book of the series and comments “There is nothing superfluous in these books at all. I’m even more impressed now.”
Kirsty Eagar’s books posses a haunting quality that engages readers and has them coming back for more. Her 2012 release, Night Beach, was reviewed a few times for last year’s challenge, a raw and gripping read about a girl with a dark obsession, and monsters that hunt in the darkness. The novel has received high praise from all its reviewers, with Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out saying “[w]ith breathtaking imagery, this atmospheric novel reveals what remains unseen”.
Cleverly intertwining the real with the fantastical is A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty, which follows two very different protagonists, one in our world and one in the magical Kingdom of Cello. They find a crack between their worlds and start exchanging letters. Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting writes a wonderful review of the book and comments that “[a]lthough it’s Madeleine who lives in our magic-free world, her story often feels almost as fantastical as Elliot’s”.
The final book I want to highlight came as a surprise to me: And All the Stars by Andrea K. Höst, a self published masterpiece of a novel that raced to the top of my favourites of 2012 list because of its great characters and vivid realisation of an apocalypse brought on by alien invasion. Madeline Cost wakes up buried under concrete after the collapse of a train station. Mysterious spires have risen up out of the earth in 150 of the world’s largest cities, spewing out a purplish-white dust that changes those who come into contact with it. Tsana states in her review that “[t]he writing is strong and tight, the characters are delightfully varied, including a diversity of cultures and sexualities representative of modern Australia.” She, like me, loved that the aliens in the book are truly alien: “[n]ot little green men, but something more strange and other”.
These were the books I really wanted to highlight for my wrap up, but there were so many great books reviewed for AWW2012 that I feel I have to quickly mention them:
- Fans of Melina Marchetta, acclaimed writer of YA Fiction, will be delighted to know that she published the concluding volume of her Fantasy series, The Chronicles of Lumatere in 2012 – the series consists of Finnikin of the Rock, Froi of the Exiles and Quintana of Charyn (links to my own reviews)
- The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kaymullina (review by Marg)
- Sea Hearts (also released as The Brides of Rollrock Island) by Margo Lanagan (review by Lizabelle)
- Black Glass by Meg Mundell (review by Janine Rizzetti)
- The Puzzle Ring by Kate Forsyth (review by Suburban Sonnet)
- Thyla by Kate Gordon (review by VeganYANerds)
- Blood Song (review by Marg) and Blood Storm (review by Nalini Haynes) by Rhiannon Hart
- The Reformed Vampire Support Group (review by Paula McGrath) and The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group (reviewed by Holly Kench) by Catherine Jinks
Hi! I’m Shaheen from Speculating on SpecFic, a book blog dedicated to works of speculative fiction – fantasy, science fiction, magic realism, paranormal romance and much more. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love reading and use my blog to peddle my love to others. When not reading (rare times indeed), I can be found planning my upcoming wedding and completing my PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics.