Today I’m covering two #LoveOzYA books that I’ve recently read – one about a sci-fi hostage situation, and the other about feminism and empowerment against cyber bullying. I recently talked about them on the OZYAY segment on ABC Radio, which you can listen in on here. Enjoy the reviews!Take Three Girls by Cath Crowley, Fiona Wood, Simmone Howell
Published by Pan Macmillan Australia on August 29th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia
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"This beautifully crafted, lively novel captures the good and the bad of female friendship" Bec Kavanagh Books + Publishing, 5 stars.
3 award-winning authors.1 compelling book.
ADY - not the confident A-Lister she appears to be.KATE - brainy boarder taking risks to pursue the music she loves.CLEM - disenchanted swim-star losing her heart to the wrong boy.
All are targeted by PSST, a toxic website that deals in gossip and lies. St Hilda's antidote to the cyber-bullying? The Year 10 Wellness program. Nice try - but sometimes all it takes is three girls.
Exploring friendship, feminism, identity and belonging, Take Three Girls is honest, raw and funny.
It’s easy for online trolls to hide behind the anonymity of the internet, but when you know it’s someone at school, it makes it even harder to get away from.
At this private girls school, cyber bullying is addressed through Wellness class, which inspires positive self reflection. Told through lesson plans, excerpts from the PSST website, and diary entries from each of three main characters – you can almost picture this happening at any high school.
I loved how Take Three Girls deals throws the notion of perfection out the window. On the surface, it follows three talented girls who have achieved a lot, and appear to have their futures set out for them. Clem is a swimming superstar, Kate is a talented cello player, and Ady has an eye for fashion design. But as you get to know them through their own perspectives and through the other girls, you discover that they’re just like us, with their own hopes, dreams, worries and fears.
By looking beneath the surface, we find out what they’re really dealing with. From sibling rivalry, to family substance abuse, secret talents and hidden kisses, there’s a lot more going on here behind the scenes. All this is going on with the misogynist website PSST watching in the sidelines – ready to post about any slip up. Although I guessed who the culprit was early on, it was still an intriguing read with many lessons to be learnt along the way.
These three girls each learn their own lessons in life – about finding out who their real friends are. About pursuing your own talents and dreams without trying to please others. About being able to make mistakes, in love and in life, but also falling back on your own two feet and going where life takes you. I loved Clem’s naivety, Kate’s braininess and Ady’s penchant for detail. It’s these quirks that made them feel so real and relatable.
“When did everyone decide it was even a thing to be anonymous and evil?”
I also loved how Take Three Girls dealt with female empowerment through friendship. As Ady learns, it’s not about competing with each other, showing off, or trying to get on top of the pecking order. It’s about loving and accepting each other for who you are, supporting each other through your weak spots, and also just learning to listen and understand. There’s a heavy dose of feminism, with an apt contrast between how guys felt about the misogyny on PSST (taking it as a joke) and how demeaning the women found it.
Part of high school for some teenagers is also to discover falling in love, pursuing crushes, and having sex for the first time. Each of these girls experience different types of romantic relationships, including bisexuality and sexual fluidity.
Almost the entire world relies on other people’s opinions to tell them what to think.
Take Three Girls is an empowering feminist read, with friendship, self-reflection and growth at its heart. Told in such a refreshing and heart warming way, it still manages to remain warm and fuzzy despite some of the heavier topics. It’s a wonderful #LoveOzYA book about friendship, feminism, and self-discovery, which I really enjoyed!
Rating: 4 out of 5
Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for sending me a review copy!
Take Three Girls is available from Australian bookstores for RRP$18.99.
In the Dark Spaces by Cally Black
Published by Hardie Grant Egmont on August 1st 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Booktopia
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"What will happen when you don't come back?"
The latest winner of the Ampersand Prize is a genre-smashing kidnapping drama about Tamara, who's faced with an impossible choice when she falls for her captors.
Yet this is no ordinary kidnapping. Tamara has been living on a freighter in deep space, and her kidnappers are terrifying Crowpeople – the only aliens humanity has ever encountered. No-one has ever survived a Crowpeople attack, until now – and Tamara must use everything she has just to stay alive.
But survival always comes at a price, and there’s no handbook for this hostage crisis. As Tamara comes to know the Crowpeople's way of life, and the threats they face from humanity's exploration into deep space, she realises she has an impossible choice to make. Should she stay as the only human among the Crows, knowing she'll never see her family again … or inevitably betray her new community if she wants to escape?
This ground-breaking thriller is the latest YA novel to win the Ampersand Prize, a stand-out entry with a blindingly original voice: raw, strange and deeply sympathetic. With its vivid and immersive world-building, this electrifying debut is The Knife of Never Letting Go meets Homeland, for the next generation of sci-fi readers.
What would you do to survive an alien invasion? That’s the question that Tamara has to answer, as her ship gets invaded by terrifying crow-like aliens.
Everyone she has known has died, except for Gub, her baby cousin. And she’ll do anything, including joining the other side, in order to reunite with him.
As Tamara gets taken to the hive, and is tested by the alien species, there’s a lot of getting used to. The aliens have their own way of living – their needs are taken care of their hive, and they also form squads to protect each other. It was interesting how they were mostly female, therefore their language also reflected this. They communicate in a series of whistles and noises. I was impressed with how the alien race was developed and how you could even come to understand them.
It was terrifying from Tamara’s point of view as a hostage. Any wrong move could end her life, but she manages to get by. This is where the book almost lost me – the whole alien induction was kind of weird, and I felt a certain sense of discomfort while reading it. It also takes up over half of the book, and I was relieved when it passed.
Tamara, while young, is an incredibly resourceful character, as she can clearly think of her feet for the means of survival. It was incredibly seeing how quickly she learns to survive within uncharted territory, and how she built a friendship with particular aliens.
In the Dark Spaces explores the different shades of morality due to survival. Being on the ‘wrong side’ of the alien invasion, Tamara is horrified as she is forced to help these aliens mercilessly slaughter humans. But on the other hand, she can also see it from their point of view – which makes her an invaluable survivor. Her ordeal will leave you thinking – would you do what she had to do in order to survive?
In the Dark Spaces is a space exploration into humanity and morality, that closely reflects the effects of colonisation. It features an alien race that is terrifying, surprisingly nurturing, and also feels incredibly vivid. It does venture into darker territory, especially when it comes to survival, and it’s an unexpected book that will have you thinking long after the very last page.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Thanks to Hardie Grant Egmont for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
In the Dark Spaces is available from Australian bookstores for RRP$19.99.
OZYAY ON AIR Podcast
Listen to the #OZYAY Podcast where we discussed these two books live on ABC Radio!
Tune into OZYAY on the first Sunday of every month from 7-8pm AEST for the latest news on Aussie YA releases, events and a discussion on two of the latest Aussie YA books.
Our next segment will be held on 3 December where we discuss our 2017 favourites! You can tune in on your local ABC radio station, online or via the ABC radio app.
What do you think of these two #LoveOZYA reads?