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Machine Wars

machine-warsBy: Michael Pryor

Bram was late home from music practice, these things happen but this time something is very wrong when he gets home. This is a moment he has been training for. For some reason a paranoid, super intelligence is out to get him. His mum always said she hoped this would never happen but she made sure he was prepared if it did. Thing is Bram really wasn’t expecting it to be today. The plan calls for Bram to scatter and hide. It sounds so simple but with so much technology around that the intelligence is able to tap into to use to hunt for him, that is no easy task. Bram isn’t alone in this, somehow his best friend gets dragged into his disaster. Also there is one piece of technology left that is on his side, a Roboduck called Bob. This unlikely group have to survive, if they can do that they will be instrumental in saving the world.

A fun roller coaster of a read. The pace of it does not stop. Bram is a bit of a loner, all his moving about has made it difficult for him to make friends. Stella gets through his defences by being herself. She refuses to let herself be boxed into one group, instead she goes out of her way to be friends with everyone. This is beneficial in this situation because she has learnt some neat little bits of information along the way. Bob is such a wonderful addition to the story. He is part comic relief, part necessary associate and a reminder of another robot with self esteem issues from another series of books.

The world Pryor has created seems not too distant from our own in many ways, just with an abundance of technology that we don’t live with.I enjoy the way Pryor has blended together the familiar and the not so familiar to create a place that is very easy to visualise. you can almost hear the machines, (though it’s entirely possible that that is my over active imagination). I also like the way the characters work together, how Stella is an equal partner in their survival. The story touches on some interesting ethical issues around the topic of artificial intelligence, but the ethics don’t bog it down.

Another wonderful read from one of my favourite authors. For ages 10+

Recommended.

Publisher: Random House Australia Children’s Books

Published: 01 April 2014

Format: Paperback 288 pages

Categories: Artificial Intelligence, Action

ISBN 13: 9780857982766

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of the page.

 

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The Will of the Empress

the-will-of-the-empressBy: Tamora Pierce

Winding Circle is a long way away for our four mages, at least it is time wise and now they are all back together they find they can’t go back to the way things were. They all experienced things they don’t know how to share and this causes rifts between them. Then Sandry’s uncle asks the others to accompany her on a journey to Namor. It is a journey the reluctant Sandry has to go on because she needs to check out the lands that provide her income.

The problem is that Namorn is ruled by an Empress who is not used to people saying no to her and Sandry has no intention of getting married to the Empress’s choice and settling down to become a tool for the Namorese court. They quickly discover though that the trap isn’t just for Sandry, the Empress wants all of them to become her pets and she already has powerful mages in her employ to ensure her will is never thwarted. The Circle though is not without it’s own power, that is if they can remember what drew them together in the first place and if they can put aside their worries and start working together once again.

What a great read. This is a return to loved characters, ones that have changed and it is good to see characters go though changes like these ones have. The paths they travel on are difficult, the choices they have to make are weighty and the sort of things that would leave a mark on your soul, it is good to see an author give us characters who have changed as a direct result of their choices and actions.

More than any of them Sandry longs for things to go back to the way they were. She missed her family immensely and despite her words to them, never wanted them to go. She however is the most secure in her place, finically and status wise. She will always belong and the others don’t have that kind of security. None of them are without means though, Daja and Briar are very finically well off as their magic provides them with unique products they can sell for a tidy profit. Tris struggles with acceptance more than the others in that her magic is stranger, even more powerful, and with her new ability she is convinced everyone will think less of her.

Pierce has given us a very detailed and thus easy to visualise setting. The realism that shines through here assists in keeping us grounded in the four’s story. It is the breaks in the friendship that are what make this story so strong. We all know what it is like to fall out with friends or family, (or most of us do), it is a battle of wills and a learning curve of give and take. Pierce handles all this skilfully. The Empress is a master manipulator who has power to back herself up. She is a spoilt brat in many ways and it is nice to occasionally see those cracks in her persona. The way the four young mages work through what has gone before and what is happening now is an interesting journey and the overarching story is one that allows us to see how each of these youngsters have grown.

Once again Pierce has created a wonderful adventure within a fantastic world.

Highly Recommended.

Publisher: Scholastic US

Published: 01 October 2008

Format: Paperback 550 pages

Categories: Adventure, Fantasy, Magic

ISBN 13: 9780545074551

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of the page

The Dead of Night

By: Peter Lerangis

Book 3 Cahills vs Vespers

Atticus, Dan’s best friend has been kidnapped. The Cahill’s weren’t expecting that. Atticus isn’t a Cahill, he is however a guardian and while they aren’t really sure what that means they do know their lives are linked together, so they aren’t about to let Atticus go without a fight. Atticus may be alone and not sure what is going on but he isn’t out of the fight. He is a smart boy with a trick or two up his sleeve. Atticus and Jake become allies with the Cahills and the good guys start to get little victories, they may not seem like much but every little thing counts.

Meanwhile Ian Kabra is pursuing his own thing and the crew at home base may have finally had a breakthrough on the location of the hostages.

The action just keeps going in these books and part of you wonders how long Dan and Amy can keep doing this. The uneasy alliance with Jake (Atticus is far more willing) is a great addition. It gives us a character from the outside whose perspective is a little different. Atticus is fun, his intelligence helps Amy and pushes her whilst his style, as Dan says, makes history more interesting.

The little snippets that exist at the centre of all the action give the story a depth and ground the adventure in reality. I want to know what happens next. I want Dan and Amy to win and then I want to see them have some fun.

Publisher: Scholastic US

Published: 05 April 2012

Format: Hardback 336 pages

Categories: Adventure, Family, Action, History

ISBN 13: 9780545298414

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on the side of page

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