Teen Arotake

Under a Pole Star – Stef Penney

Under a Pole Star – Stef Penney

imgres.jpgThis is a complex book, set in the time of exploration of the North Pole at the end of 19th century.

It deals with multiple issues – exploitation of the Inuit (first people); the role of women; obsession and the corrupting desire of ambition.

It is a fascinating portrayal of a specific time and place, but one that would be suited to senior readers due to some content.


Yong, the journey of an unworthy son – Janeen Brian

Designed for younger high school readers, this novel is based around the lives of Chinese immigrants who left their homeland to find their yong-195x300.jpgfortunes in Australia during the goldrush.

Yong accompanies his father and other families from their small village in Guangdong, to the goldfields of Ballarat.

The story provides a strong understanding of traditional Chinese family values and in particular, honour.

Very readable.


Asking for it – Louise O’Neill

This not an easy book to read – not because of the level of language or the style 30965521.jpgof writing, but by the very confronting content.

BOOK OF THE YEAR AT THE IRISH BOOK AWARDS 2015. The award-winning, bestselling novel about the life-shattering impact of sexual assault, rape and how victims are treated.

Online bullying, slut-shaming, gang rape and the aftermath of are not easy issues to read about, and more than likely not easy to write about.

Definitely a book for senior or more mature readers.

You can read more about it here – spoiler alert though!




The Museum of You – Carys Bray

This was certainly a very different kind of novel and one that I quite enjoyed. 26889460.jpgThe most difficult thing I found was the main character’s name – Clover! Despite being chosen for have ‘love’ in the middle of it.

Clover’s mother died shortly after she was born. Her father has hidden away all memories of her, but Clover wants to know more.

Her mission is to create a museum for her Mum, of all the things she finds and catalogues in their home. The truth is not always what we expect.

Unusual, interesting and very readable.


What will remain – Dan Clements

The blurb 28784489._SY75_.jpgof this novel (collection of connected pieces) reminded me of Tim O’Brien’s ‘The things they carried’.  However I struggled to follow the opening sections and found the connections difficult as well.

The storylines are brutal and very graphic in places, as is the nature of war. I think that junior or less mature readers would struggle with the way the narrative jumps and the stream of consciousness nature of the dividing sections.


Girl Detached – Manuela Salvi

This book caused some controversy in it’s home country on publication  and featured in Banngirl-detacheded Book week this year.

It follows the unsuspecting  ‘grooming’ of Aleksandra, by an older and confident young man.

The novel deals with the a pretty dark and seedy side of life, but one that is all too real. We don’t often hear a lot about it here in NZ, but not in Europe where the novel is set.

Aleks is naiive, awkward and totally unworldly – a prime target for Megan, her ‘new friend’ who finds girls for the ‘boyfriends’ to exploit and control. Victim blaming plays a large role too.

Definitely for a mature teen reader – and maybe parents out there too.


The Special Ones – Em Bailey

special-onesI don’t want to write too much about this one – as I don’t want to give too many spoilers away! But this is a very enthralling story.

Four characters living on a remote farm, where they are controlled as the ‘special ones’. They live without the luxuries of modern day life. They are watched 24/7 to make sure that they do not step outside the rules of their world. When they get too big or too old they are ‘renewed’ and a new version takes their place.

Well written and suspenseful, but maybe for a more mature reader.