Judges Comments on the Winner and Honour Books – OLDER READERS



wildlifeWOOD, Fiona: WILDLIFE
Pan Macmillan ISBN: 9781742612317, 369 pages

Three very different teenagers find out about themselves and some of the big questions of life during their school’s outdoor education term. Life, death and sex are the hefty themes of this book and they are handled brilliantly with honest and authentic teenage voices, as the characters reveal not quite all through writing in their daily journals. The setting in the wilderness campus of a school is a wonderful platform to showcase the difficulties and issues arising from living so closely together along with relationship dynamics. There is a clever use of intertextuality using Othello parallels to highlight betrayal masked as friendship as well as the isolation of the physical environment.




NEAR, Allyse: FAIRYTALES FOR WILDE GIRLSfairytales for wilde girls

Random House, ISBN: 9781742758510, 432 pages

Isola Wilde sees things differently to most, as might be expected when one is protected by ghosts, and lives next to a magical wood. From the opening pages, the reader is carried away into Isola’s world. This suspenseful and intricate story of whimsy and darkness is full of glorious intertextuality. The text is woven together in a fresh intelligent combination of words to balance magic and realism to successfully explore the themes of grief, love and friendship. This is an emotional story that combines history with mystery and a dash of romance, with twists that will keep the reader guessing beyond the thought provoking last page.



ZORN, Claire: THE SKY SO HEAVYsky so heavy    

University of Queensland Press, ISBN: 9780702249761, 304 pages

Everything changes for Fin one morning when he wakes and finds snow everywhere. There is no power, no phone and no parents. Left to look after his younger brother Max, Fin must find a way to survive in this original post apocalyptic novel set in changing rural and urban landscapes. Social certainties change as Fin struggles to negotiate a way through to safety and security. Characterised by rising tension, vivid world building and fluid language, this stunning novel engages the reader right from its gripping sequence. Fin’s journey puts the spotlight on human relationships under stress. The moral and ethical dilemmas he faces are not sensationalised or glossed over. The gradual disappearance of Fin’s known world is realistic and very moving. This novel is set apart by its impressive understated layering of social issues.

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