Set on a remote island off the coast of Scotland, The Last of Us is the story of six children who have survived some kind of plague that took the lives of their parents and the other islanders.
All communication with the outside world has been lost. With no adults to rely on, the children must use their individual skills and imaginations to survive. Each new day involves searching for supplies — the food, water and medicines that they need to keep going. All of the children have lost their parents — either through death or through a parent being absent for one reason or another. Each is troubled by this loss and their grief influences their behaviour in different ways. Memory is important to all of them and they collaborate to preserve what they can remember of the past. They also keep to routines that help them maintain social order and respect the dead.
I really liked this book and am curious what other readers think. Reviews seem to be mixed with some readers thinking that the narrator’s voice is occasionally too adult for an eight-year old child. To be honest, I didn’t particularly notice this — perhaps because I was so caught up in the storytelling that it didn’t bother me.
Overall, The Last of Us held my attention from the first page to the end. So, for what it’s worth, I found Rob Ewing’s book an engrossing read and am happy to give it the thumbs up. I think young adult readers in particular might like it. In terms of comparison with other novels, it reminded me of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies.
[Disclosure: I received an advance review copy]
Ali Land’s debut novel Good Me Bad Me caught my eye because it’s described as a psychological thriller. It could perhaps equally be a ’young adult’ novel in that it deals with teenagers and bullying themes, although it is very dark — perhaps too dark for some younger readers.
The main character is Annie whose mother — a serial killer of children — is awaiting trial after Annie reported her to the police.
With her mother in jail, Annie gets a new name — Milly — and is sent to live with a foster family. Almost immediately, she is bullied by her foster parents’ daughter Phoebe and Phoebe’s friends. But Milly has skills learned in her past that help her to cope with the pressure.
What is a bit depressing in this novel is that virtually all of the characters are either manipulative or exploitative of others. The possible exceptions are Morgan, with whom Milly forms a friendship, and her
Foster father, Mike, for example, seems kind in his interactions with Milly as he counsels her to help her prepare for her mother’s trial. But even Mike has an ulterior motive as he’s writing a book about Annie.
Milly is an interesting character and Good Me Bad Me is a pacy read. It’s published by Penguin. I read an advance copy courtesy of Netgalley.
Like Lockhart’s earlier work, Genuine Fraud explore themes of privilege, truth and lies.
In an author’s note, E Lockhart lists her sources of inspiration for Genuine Fraud. They include Victorian orphan stories, con artist tales and narratives of class mobility. She talks about stories told backwards and tales of female ambition. Much of this filters through into Genuine Fraud, the story of Jule West-Williams, a young con woman who exploits friendships for personal gain.
Jule is rather like the orphans in Dickens who engage in crime out of necessity. She sees herself as an action hero, physically and mentally strong yet she’s also vulnerable, living on her wits and in constant danger of being uncovered as a fraud.
Like Lockhart’s earlier novel, We Were Liars, Genuine Fraud explores themes of privilege, truth and lies. It’s a story of good and evil, privilege and want, elite and envy. It’s dark and twisty — a tale of self-invention and self-deception. It’s a fast and engaging read.
Jule spends a lot of time worrying about her origin story. She struggles between what she tells herself and what she tells others. Is she disturbed or is she simply dangerous? That’s the question you’ll ask yourself if you decide to read Genuine Fraud.
Disclosure: The publisher provided a review copy via Netgalley.