Lifespan of Starlight, by Thalia Kalkipsakis

Every gram of courage that I possess is going to be barely enough to make me step off the curb. An intake of air and I bail out, my toes gripping the soles of my boots for all I’m worth and the rest of me teetering over the edge. A car flashes past and I jump back. That was close.

Scout has to live her life unseen. She is an illegal, with no chip, hidden by her mother since birth. But neither her nor her mum want it to stay this way, so when she has a chance to take a chip, she does. Little does she know that the owner of the chip had a skill like no other: the ability to time travel. She finds herself sought out by two other teens to want to know how to time travel. Soon the three are experimenting with something both exhilarating and dangerous.

Lifespan of Starlight is a gripping dystopian novel for young adult readers, set in a future where identity and activities are closely monitored and controlled. Scout is smart and resourceful, but she isn’t perfect, which makes her all the more believable. Kalkipsakis’ version of time travel is very different from other time-travel stories, an originality which young readers will enjoy.

The first in a trilogy Lifespan of Starlight will appeal to young teen readers.

Lifespan of Starlight, by Thalia Kalkipsakis
Hardie Grant Egmont, 2015
ISBN 9781742978710

Available from good bookstores and online.

A Confusion of Princes, by Garth Nix

A fabulous new space-opera offering from one of Australia’s finest spec-fic creators. Set in a far-distant universe almost unrecognisable from the present, where technology and human consciousness have both evolved to a level where social structure, communication and every day life bear little resemblance to the present day

I have died three times, and three times been reborn, though I am not yet twenty in the old Earth years by which it is still the fashion to measure time.
This is the story of my three deaths, and my life between.
My name is Khemri.

Being a Prince should offer a life of privilege and ease, or so Prince Khemri thinks on the day of his investiture. But when you are only one priest out of millions, all hoping to one day be Emperor, then life can get pretty complicated. Khemri is no sooner a Prince than he is forced to use all of his skills and those of his Master Assassin Haddad, just to stay alive. In his subsequent training Kemri makes more enemies than friends, and has more than enough adventures for one life time – which is partly why he dies three times, each time being reborn.

While being an immortal Prince has its attractions, Khemri also learns what it means to be human – and has some tough choices to make.

A Confusion of Princes is a fabulous new space-opera offering from one of Australia’s finest spec-fic creators. Set in a far-distant universe almost unrecognisable from the present, where technology and human consciousness have both evolved to a level where  social structure, communication and every day life bear little resemblance to the present day, the story features one young prince’s adventures as he struggles to adapt to a life very different from that he envisaged for himself. Along the way, it explores themes of humanity, valour and ambition, with unexpected elements of romance and family.

The world Nix creates is complex and, at times, a little confusing, but whilst he doesn’t pause to explain, readers gradually build an understanding of how things work. Khemri is an intriguing first person narrator who seems at times arrogant and at others likeable, and sometimes foreshadows, allowing the reader to guess at what might be yet to come. There is action aplenty, with Khemri managing to land himself – or just to be landed, against his will – in crisis after crisis.

Suitable for young adult readers, particularly those with a thirst for action.

A Confusion of Princes

A Confusion of Princes, by Garth Nix
Allen & Unwin, 2012
ISBN 9781741758610

This book is available in good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Battle Boy Books 1 & 2, by Charlie Carter

Noise and fog and screaming wind were all around Napoleon. The skin on his face stretched as tight as a drum, and he thought his ears would burst.
‘ WHOA…’
He heard his scream echo around him.
‘Please relax, BB005,’ said Skin. ‘We are currently travelling through time and space.’

Napoleon Smythe loves two things – military history (especially battles) and books. But he little expects that those two loves will combine in such dramatic fashion. The librarian at Napoleon’s local library isn’t really a librarian at all – she’s actually an undercover special agent in charge of Operation Battle Book. She needs Napoleon to travel back in time to the scenes of the great battles of history, to solve mysteries and collect DNA.

On his first mission, Battle Boy (Napoleon’s operative name) lands on Sir Francis Drake’s ship, just in time for a big battle. But travelling through time is not without its problems – and it isn’t all smooth sailing.

Open Fire is the first title in the new Battle Boy series from Macmillan. This high interest, yet easy to read novel will appeal especially to boys in middle and upper primary, particularly those with an interest in war, the military or action.

In the second title, Red Devil Down , Napoleon’s adventures continue when his second mission takes him to the scene of the Red Baron’s demise in 1918. Again, there is plenty of action and adventure to keep young readers absorbed.

The blend of time travel with military history works well.

Open Fire (Battle Boy)

Open Fire (Battle Boy)

Red Devil Down (Battle Boy)

Red Devil Down (Battle Boy)

Both by Charlie Carter
Pan Macmillan, 2009.

These books can be purchased online from Fishpond, by clicking on their titles above. Buying through these links supports Aussiereviews.

The Wicked War on Planet Whimsy, by L. M. Moriarty

‘Nicola! Phone call!’
Nicola Berry was startled. Who would be calling her here at this time of night? ‘For me? Really?’
It was past midnight and she was at her great-grandmother’s one-hundredth birthday party. The music was thumping, and Nicola and her cousins were all hiding yawns behind their hands as they danced in a circle around their tiny, white-haired Grammy, who was tapping her feet and jiggling her hips, leaning on a walking stick in each hand. Grammy was the oldest one at the party, but she seemed to have the most energy. The littler cousins were asleep, curled up in corners. Even Nicola’s dad had collapsed on a sofa, his head tipped back, twitching violently each time he snored.
‘She said it’s Shimlara,’ yelled Nicola’s crazy Aunt Annie…

Nicola Berry is the leader of the Space Brigade. For most of the time, she and her friends are normal children doing normal earth things, but when the call comes, they board their ‘Mini Easy-ride Spaceship’ and head into the skies. This time, their friend Shimlara is calling because she fears her brother and parents have been kidnapped. They stop at Globagaskar to collect Shimlara where they learn that the kidnappers are from the Planet Volcomania. They have declared war on the beautiful Planet of Whimsy and that’s where Shimlara’s family are. The Planet of Whimsy is a beautiful place, peopled by artists and poets. The Space Brigade’s mission is to rescue Shimlara’s family, but they also become involved in helping fight a war.


The Wicked War on the Planet of Whimsy follows two other off world adventures. Each member of the Space Brigade has a role to play. Nicola, leader, often doubts her ability to lead, as does grating Greta. Tyler is their tech guy, Katie is the nice one. Sean is Nicola’s older brother and Shimlara can read minds. Individually they all have their strengths and weaknesses but together they form a formidable team. They are fast becoming known through the solar system. It’s not necessary to have read earlier stories, although there are references to previous adventures. This adventure takes place across three planets, with several others mentioned. The characters may look different, but the personalities are universal. This Space Brigade adventure is action-packed and wildly imaginative. Recommended for mid- to upper-primary readers.


The Wicked War on the Planet of Whimsy (Space Brigade)


The Wicked War on the Planet of Whimsy (Space Brigade), L. M. Moriarty
Pan Macmillan 2009
ISBN: 9780330625391


This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.


Sleepless in Space, by Sally Odgers

If it wasn’t for Grandad, Jed wouldn’t be in this predicament. It is Grandad who invented the Starspinner Drive which makes spaceships do so fast. And because they can go so fast, they can go long distances. And because they can go such long distances they can take people to far away planets.

So it is because of Grandpa that Jed finds himself on the spaceship Starbringer, on the way to the distant planet Serendipity. Jed has always had trouble sleeping, but now he is supposed to sleep in a hypno-bed for a whole year – the time it will take to get to Serendipity.

But Jed can’t stay asleep for a whole year, and one day when he wakes he hears a strange noise. Space pirates have taken over the ship and Jed is the only one awake. It is up to him to figure out a way to get rid of the pirates.

Sleepless in Space is a fun title from outstanding Australian children’s writer, Sally Odgers, with excellent ‘spacey’ illustrations by Judith Rossell. An Orange Level Tadpole from Koala Books, for early independent readers, this fun book will appeal to 6 to 10 year olds, although older reluctant readers will also find the story enjoyable.

Sally Odgers has a great feel for the science fiction genre, which reflects in her ability to adapt the genre for a range of ages and abilities.

Sleepless in Space, by Sally Odgers, illustrated by Judith Rossell.
Koala Books, 2002.