ReadPlus is a collection of selected books and films arranged under themes. This web site provides lists, reviews and resources for librarians, teachers and parents about books for young people aged 5 to 18.
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Latest Review

Jan 23 2019

The chaos of now by Erin Lange

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Faber and Faber, 2018. ISBN: 9780571317479.
(Age: 13+) Highly recommended. Themes: Suicide, Bullying, Cyberbullying, Schools, Power, Monitoring. A disturbing opening page will ensure young adults read to the last page, so incensed at the suicide that they will want to see the bullies brought to justice. That Jordan was being bullied was not a secret, but his response shocked the school into placing cybermonitors on the computing system to stop such things happening again. Eli is amazed at this response by the school; all done without consultation or getting to the main problem. Lip service is given to making people aware, having anti bullying signs around the school and a gratuitous memorial service for Jordan after 12 months has elapsed. It makes Eli sick, but he has problems of his own with his father bringing home a woman to live in the house, and a nasty run in with one of the school bullies, Malcolm.
A computer nerd, Eli is a coder, one of a small group of people for whom the binary system is a language he can speak without fear, able to hack into the school's computer system with ease, at one stage hacking into the local police system, with disastrous consequences. Two other geeks seek him out. They were friends of Jordan and had planned to enter and win a computer hacking competition which would bring them to the attention of corporations and the possibility of work in an area they know well. With Jordan gone, Eli is their next choice. But they are not just interested in winning a competition. They want to heap revenge upon those students who bullied Jordan, and they use their computer skills to achieve this.
This is an up to the minute look at the skills of the millenials, able to use computers for their own ends, stretching the notions of morality confining earlier users of technology, seeing possibilities and uses beyond those proposed by their teachers. This is a most unsettling look at the problem of cyber bullying, where the skills of those perpetrators outstrip those of the monitors and Eli and his friends represent those who are willing to use their skills to bring down those who would bully. But have they turned into bullies themselves? In posting some of the videos they illegally access online, exposing one as a drug cheat, another as a racist another dressing in his mother's clothes for a video, the question arises about who is bullying who? Eli at first sees himself as exposing wrong, but in doing this he becomes a vigilante, one who is outside the law, taking the law into his own hands.
The line between right and wrong, black and white becomes very blurred and makes for a read which will make people think about the consequences of cyber bullying and how to deal with it. Readers will want to know how Eli comes out of this, after all he and the others have committed criminal acts.
Fran Knight



More Reviews

Jan 23 2019

A honeybee heart has five openings by Helen Jukes

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Simon and Schuster, 2018. ISBN: 9781471167713.
(Age: Senior secondary - Adult) Highly recommended. Subtitled A year of keeping bees, Helen Jukes' book is a mix of memoir and research project. Set in Oxford, England, it tells of her decision following her move into a shared house...
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Jan 21 2019

The forgotten beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip

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Fantasy Masterworks. Orion, 2017. ISBN: 9781616962777.
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. Winner of the inaugural World Fantasy Award 1975. In my quest to read some of the award winning books that I have missed over the years, I was very fortunate to pick up this outstanding story by...
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Jan 21 2019

Embassy of the Dead by Will Mabbitt

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Ill. by Chris Mould. Orion Children's Books, 2018. ISBN: 9781510104556.
(Age: 8-10 ) Recommended. Themes: Fantasy. Opening a strange box is the starting point of this amazing adventure for Jake Green as it contains a severed finger, summoning the Grim Reaper which takes him into the...
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Jan 21 2019

Dolls of war by Shirley Parenteau

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Candlewick Press, 2017. ISBN: 9780763690694.
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Themes: World War Two, Japan, Dolls, Prejudice, Museums. In 1941, eleven-year-old Macy James lives near the Oregon coast with her father, the director of a small museum. Miss Tokyo, one of fifty-eight exquisite...
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Jan 18 2019

Shadow of the centaurs: an Ancient Greek mystery by Saviour Pirotta

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Ill. by Freya Hartas. Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN: 9781472940254.
(Age: 8-12) Recommended. Themes: Ancient Greece, Mystery. Saviour Pirotta's fourth book in the Ancient Greek Mysteries series is a lively tale of mystery and celebration. In Shadow of the Centaurs the citizens of Athens...
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Jan 18 2019

The Boy by Tami Hoag

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Broussard and Fourcade book 2. Trapeze, 2018. ISBN: 9781409169635.
(Age: Adult - senior secondary) Recommended. Themes: Mystery and suspense, Detectives, Death, Domestic violence, Children at risk, Bullying. As a fan of Tami Hoag, I grabbed The boy as soon as it arrived on...
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Jan 18 2019

The extraordinary life of Michelle Obama by Sheila Kanani

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Ill. by Sarah Walsh. Penguin Random House, 2019. ISBN: 9780241372739.
(Age: 8+) Michelle La Vaughn Robinson, the descendant of a slave, was raised in a small apartment in Chicago. At the age of forty-four she became the First Lady of the United States. Sheila Kanani's biography explains...
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Jan 17 2019

Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman

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Walker, 2018. ISBN 9781406386851.
(Age: 13+) Highly recommended. Themes: Droughts. Survival. California. Climate change. What would happen if suddenly there was no water in your house - nothing to drink, nothing to wash with or cook with, let alone use on the garden? This is what...
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Jan 16 2019

The assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin

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Candlewick Press, 2018. ISBN 9780763698225.
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Themes: Fantasy, Power, Politics, War, Propaganda. What a treat to read a unique tale told by two outstanding people, National Book award winner M.T.Anderson and Newbery Honoree Eugene Yelchin. The historian elf...
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Jan 15 2019

A good night for shooting zombies by Jaco Jacobs

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One World, 2018. ISBN 9781786074508
(Age: 11+) Recommended. Themes: Adventure. Martin aka 'Clucky', is a quirky 13 year old mathematician and heir to his father's egg business. Vusi owns a dog who likes to bite chickens. Confronting your neighbour about his murderous dog is not a great...
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Jan 11 2019

Lady Helen and the Dark Days Deceit by Alison Goodman

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Lady Helen book 3. Angus and Robertson, 2018. ISBN 9780732296117.
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. After devouring the first two books in the series (Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club  and...
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Jan 08 2019

The caged queen by Kristen Ciccarelli

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Gollancz, 2018. ISBN 9781473218161
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. Themes: Fantasy. Love. Loyalty. Roa and her sister, Essie, share a bond that goes beyond understanding and even death. Essie's spirit is trapped in the body of a hawk, living in the limbo between life and freedom. Roa's...
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Jan 02 2019

The Boneless Mercies by April Tucholke

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Simon and Schuster, 2018. ISBN 9781471170003
(Age: Mature 14+) Highly recommended. Themes: High Fantasy, Death. Certain to appeal to young adult fans of medieval epics, this macabre group of heroines will attract an even wider audience. In the male dominated Vorseland, orphaned girls who...
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Jan 02 2019

Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake

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Macmillan, 2018. ISBN 9781509876495
(Age: 12+) Despite having read the previous books in the series, Three dark crowns and One dark throne I personally...
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