Book Reviews | by Miss Buxton

“Change” can be found in many of the books that we recommend in school at some point in the story arc, whether an action story or reflective one concentrating on the internal life of the main characters. The following recently published recommendations involve change in various ways but what the stories do have in common is that they are compulsive reading, especially helpful during these uncertain times.

Burn by Patrick Ness:

“On a cold Sunday evening in early 1957, Sarah Dewhurst waited with her father in the parking lot of the Chevron Gas Station for the dragon he’d hired to help on the farm.”

Which is how one of the best books I have read this year begins, set in a world similar to ours but very different in the fact that dragons exist. The dragon, Kazimir, supposedly without a soul is protective of Sarah and arrives in her life because of a prophecy, one which involves a deadly assassin, a cult of dragon worshippers, two FBI agents and Sarah herself.

The multiple themes of racism, sexism and homophobia amongst others, in no way detract from a story that is fast paced, compelling and right till the end you’re never quite sure how Patrick Ness will rescue his characters.

The Secret Commonwealth: The Book of Dust, Volume 2 by Philip Pullman:

The second volume of The Book Of Dust reintroduces us to Lyra Silvertongue, twenty years of age and studying now at the university which has always been her home. Effectively following on from The Amber Spyglass which ends His Dark Materials trilogy this is not a story for children as we find Lyra older, rather sad and in serious conflict with her daemon, Pantalaimon. The murder at the beginning of the story in Oxford is the catalyst for the action which follows. Dust is ever present, as is the new presence of rose oil, created in a fantastical place in the middle of a desert and leads to Lyra and Pan leaving Oxford and travelling across Europe and Asia to find answers to the secrets which surround them.

A story which explores how we and the world around us changes and how courage can always be found if we look for it.

The Night Bus Hero by Onjali Q. Rauf:

“I’ve been getting into trouble for as long I can remember. Usually I don’t mind ‘cos some of my best, most brilliant ideas have come from sitting in detention.But recently it feels like no one believes me about anything – even when I’m telling the truth! And it’s only gotten worse since I played a prank on the old man who lives in the park.”

Hector, the narrator and central character of The Night Bus Hero is by his own admission a bully. With a couple of friends Hector terrorises their fellow pupils, is the bane of his teachers lives, has a distant relationship with his parents and generally not a very likeable person at all. Then Hector encounters Thomas, a homeless person in the local park and a sequence of events are triggered which lead Hector to decide to become the hero and prove everyone wrong!

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