NEW TITLES

Killing Rachel: The Murder Notebooks
Anne Cassidy

ISBN 9781408815519

The second book in The Murder Notebooks series, Killing Rachel is the kind of atmospheric, psychological crime thriller for teenagers that Anne Cassidy creates so well. In this series, step siblings Rose and Joshua are investigating the disappearance of their parents who were both police officers working on 'cold cases'. Each book follows this story arc but also contains a distinct investigation, in this case involving one of Rose's former school friends, Rachel. The two girls previously fell out but Rachel then contacts Rose, out of the blue, asking for her help. When Rachel is found dead, Rose visits her former boarding school to try to find out why. In the process, she and Joshua uncover more about her missing parents. While it is part of a series, the book can easily be read as a stand-alone story. The mystery of the missing parents easily runs alongside this more detailed investigation which delivers a brooding suspense to the story. It also gives us a realistic sense of the intense friendships girls can form at this age. Ages 11+. 336 pages. Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Killing Rachel: The Murder Notebooks
Rat Runners
Oisin McGann

Corgi Childrens

ISBN 9780552566209

In this futuristic story about a 'watched world', Oisin McGann immediately takes us to the centre of the action - the dark underworld that, despite the society's watchful state, still thrives. While the nature of the surveillance makes it hard to carry arms in this world, the dark undercurrent of violence permeates the story. In it, teenagers Nimmo, Scope, Manikin and FX are recruited by a criminal overlord to find a box that belonged to a dead scientist. The problem is, Nimmo already knows where the box is but he's unwilling to hand it over until he gets a better idea of what's inside, and what makes it so powerful. Before they know it, the young criminals are way over the heads in threats, reprisals and danger. This is an exciting story that also carries an interesting perspective on our increasingly surveyed society. Ages 11,12+ / 400 pages / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Rat Runners
Raining Fire
Alan Gibbons

Indigo (an Imprint of Orion Children's)

ISBN 9781780620275

"The gun is power. The gun can make a weak man strong. The gun is the coward's fist." These opening lines set the scene perfectly for this stomach-churning, fast-paced thriller, populated by strong and weak, heroes and cowards. But who is who? Ethan, the narrator, and his older brother Alex live on the kind of inner-city estate that is all too common in the UK - no jobs, no money, no fathers, no prospects, no ambition. Community venues, like youth clubs and libraries, are closing down, leaving in their wake a social wasteland. All too often the only perceived escape-route is via either sport or crime; the local Premier League Academy offers the first (Ethan) and rival local gangs beguile youngsters into discovering the delights of the second (Alex). But once in, can you ever get out...? Sparked in particular by two tragic, seemingly senseless real-life teen-gang murders, this is a courageous attempt to grasp the psychology of teenage gang culture and its effects on the lives of guilty and innocent alike. Alan brings to life the leaders, the followers, the violence, the helplessness, the betrayals - deliberate and unwitting - and the crude manipulation of characters' lives. Don't expect 'comfortable' or 'happy ever after'. Alan Gibbons' pen does not partner rose-tinted spectacles, and some of the images are violently graphic. But, as always, he takes his reader on a rollercoaster ride, makes the reader think, question and debate the rights, wrongs and ethics of the subject in question. As he writes in the book: "I wanted to explore this [gang] world, neither to make judgements, nor to glamorise, but to understand." Did he come to any sense of understanding? Is this a scenario that can ever have any definable measure of black/white, right/wrong? Perhaps not, but teenagers need to read this book and begin their own debates. Then they need to read more of Alan Gibbons' thought-provoking books! Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Christine Fitt: Children's Reading Enthuser

Raining Fire
Waiting for Gonzo
Dave Cousins

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192745460

This is that tricky second novel that comes after a very well received debut, but fans of the Carnegie nominated 15 Days without a Head will be delighted by this one. It seems to me that Dave Cousins is going from strength to strength. He has a really remarkable ear for dialogue and is able to create completely convincing modern teenagers in believable and realistic settings. There is great humour and pathos too, but this is done with a light touch not shovelled on as in so many offerings. Once again we have a really memorable and engaging central character and narrator. Marcus is distraught at being torn from his urban lifestyle and friends and deposited in the middle of nowhere and trying to negotiate a first day at a new school an irresistible practical joke goes horribly wrong. To add to his worries he discovers his elder teenage sister is pregnant and the whole book turns into his conversation with G or Gonzo, as he nicknames the foetus, explaining everything that happened leading up to the birth. Quite a lot did happen and most of it seems to be Marcus' fault and this is his defence! I think what is most appealing and important about the book is that it reveals that boys can have emotions and a softer side too. Boys need to read and think about these things just as much as girls and this book will be funny and enjoyable way to hook them into some valuable emotional literacy by stealth! Ages 11+ / 256 pages / Reviewed by Joy Court, SLS librarian.

Waiting for Gonzo
Through Dead Eyes
Chris Priestley

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408811061

Alex joins his historian father on a business trip to Amsterdam where he is left in the care of the daughter of his father's editor. Angelien takes him on sightseeing tours of Amsterdam and makes sure he gets to see all the interesting sights Amsterdam has to offer and that he immerses himself in the real Amsterdam. On these sightseeing tours, at a market Alex finds that he is drawn to an old, ugly mask and feels compelled to buy it. Putting the mask on drags him back to the Amsterdam of centuries before. Alex and Angelien begin to unravel the story of the girl who used to wear the mask and coincidentally lived in the building that Alex is staying in, but the more they learn the more Alex is strangely drawn to the mask and the past it shows until the two different worlds begin to collide and he has to wonder if it is a coincidence at all. A delightfully spooky story with a particularly eerie twist. Thoughtful descriptive writing brings modern day and 17th century Amsterdam to life. The added storyline of Alex's 'mistake' at school adds a slant that young people may be able to relate to. Alex could be any teenager; confused, angry, feeling abandoned and falling for girls he probably shouldn't! This is not your typical teen blood and guts horror, it's a nod to the old style subtle chillers, which makes a refreshing change. Ages 12+ / 224 pages / Reviewed by Kristy Rabbitt, School Librarian

Through Dead Eyes