Children’s / Teenage fiction: Science fiction

Roxy

Roxy

Author: Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman Format: Paperback Release Date: 11/11/2021

Best-selling father and son have turned their attention to the dangers of prescription drug misuse, but as one might expect from the master of dystopian fiction, this comes with a twist. Imagine drugs personified as Greek Gods looking down from Olympus tasked with bringing people to The Party (addiction) and all the way to the ‘end of the line’- the VIP lounge (overdose and death). We know the stakes are high- the book opens with the painful and shocking description of the death of I. Ramey, but when we meet siblings Ivy and Isaac we do not know which of them it will be and their tragic and all too believable journeys keep you completely gripped. But first, we meet the alluring Roxy (Roxicodone) and the pompous over-achiever Addi (Adderall) and learn about their place in the drug hierarchy. They know they are gateway drugs and in various interludes they talk about their genuine lifesaving moments, but they also know that they can get their ‘plus-ones’ to the VIP lounge alone and so their deadly wager begins. Ivy is the eldest sibling, already running with a bad crowd and overindulging in recreational drugs but wants to turn over a new leaf and reluctantly agrees to treatment for her ADD. Isaac is hardworking and a sports star with a scholarship chance for college until an injury threatens that. Well-meaning help from his grandmother’s pain killer prescription launches him down the slippery slope. The multiple narrative strands weave together effortlessly. From Roxy’s and Addi’s first-person perspectives to Isaac’s and Ivy’s third-person limited viewpoints and combined with interludes, in which other drugs tell their stories, and words emboldened in the poetic chapter headings hinting at themes or plot points, this is masterful storytelling. A challenging read that pulls no punches nor offers much help to the reader who may need to look up street names for drugs to identify all the ‘gods’, this is a book with a powerful message that needs to be read and discussed.

Iron Widow

Iron Widow

Author: Xiran Jay Zhao Format: Hardback Release Date: 23/09/2021

* Instant New York Times No.1 Bestseller * Science fiction and East Asian myth combine in this dazzling retelling of the rise of Wu Zetian, the only female emperor in Chinese history. I have no faith in love. Love cannot save me. I choose vengeance. The boys of Huaxia dream of the celebrity status that comes with piloting Chrysalises - giant transforming robots that battle the aliens beyond the Great Wall. Their female co-pilots are expected to serve as concubines and sacrifice their lives. When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, her plan is to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister's death. But on miraculously emerging from the cockpit unscathed after her first battle, she is declared an Iron Widow - the most feared pilot of all. Now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she sets her sights on bigger things. The time has come to stop more girls from being sacrificed.