Game Theory, by Barry Jonsberg

Clouds part and moonlight steals through my curtains, a silver intruder.
I sit upright in bed and the gunis clasped in my right hand. I have been in the same position all night; the pillow is rucked against my back and there is a pan in my neck. My hand aches from gripping the gun’s handle too hard. I have not slept, though I tried at first.

Jamie is a maths whiz. His older sister Summerlee is rebellious and his younger sister Phoebe is loved by everyone. When Summerlee wins the lottery on her eighteenth birthday her rebelliousness goes up a notch – she no longer needs her family, so she’s out of there. Soon she and her boyfriend Spider are living it up with parties, drugs and alcohol, while the rest of the family carry on as best they can, until Phoebe is kidnapped, by someone who wants 2 million dollars to give her back.

Right from the start it is Jamie the kidnapper communicates with, and as Jamie was with Phoebe when she was taken, he decides it is up to him to get her back, using game theory. He needs to outsmart the kidnapper, predict his or her moves – and not be predictable himself.

Game Theory is an exciting young adult psychological thriller for teen readers. There are plenty of clues and leads encouraging readers to try to figure out who the kidnapper is, and a prologue which foreshadows the third (and last) section of the book, as Jamie attempts to get Phoebe back. Jamie is a likeable main character – aware of his own strengths and weaknesses, humorous and also brave when needed, even though he shows his fear and worries for his sister.

Jonsberg has written in a variety of genres for the young adult readership. Game Theory is a new direction and will not disappoint.

Game Theory, Barry Jonsberg
Allen & Unwin, 2016
ISBN 9781760290153

At My Door, by Deb Fitzpatrick

Deliveries do not come late on a school night. They don’t come in a normal car, that then speeds away. And they don’t cry.

When Poppy hears the doorbell late at night, she wonders what is happening. Then she hears crying, and worried voices. It seems the family has had a late night delivery – but it isn’t a parcel or a letter. It’s a baby. Suddenly the family’s peaceful, ordered life is turned upside down. Where has the baby come from, and why has it been left on their doorstep?

At My Door is an entertaining story about families and familial stress. The issue of the abandoned baby contrasts with the stable life of the traditional family which Poppy is part of of – Mum and Dad, an older brother and Poppy herself. Along with the msyetry of the baby, and the practicalities of helping her, Poppy becomes aware of the difficulties other families face, as will readers.

This is gentle exploration of some potentially weighty issues, a mix which will draw readers in to the story as well as opening up lots of discussion.

At My Door, by Deb Fitzpatrick
Fremantle Press, 2015
ISBN 9781925162707