Monday, 21 December 2009

FIVE Challenge: Debuts

FIVE Great Debuts

Further explanation of the FIVE Challenge here.

In no particular order here are my favourite debut releases for 2009. They have all been released from whatever part of the world they are from in between January 1st - December 31st 2009. Publishers are listed, click on the review links for more information on the book and author.

5. Kirsty Eagar's Raw Blue (Penguin Australia)

Carly has dropped out of uni to spend her days surfing and her nights working as a cook in a Manly café. Surfing is the one thing she loves doing ... and the only thing that helps her stop thinking about what happened two years ago at schoolies week.

And then Carly meets Ryan, a local at the break, fresh out of jail. When Ryan learns the truth, Carly has to decide. Will she let the past bury her? Or can she let go of her anger and shame, and find the courage to be happy?

Why: This book treats the reader like a punching bag that occasionally gets some welcome respite under the surface of the water. Carly is one of the most emotionally repressed character that I have come across. She's a tough girl dealing with an even tougher situation. It's heavy and gritty and affecting. (Read my review here.)

4. Beth Fantaskey's Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side (Harcourt Books)

The undead can really screw up your senior year . . .

Marrying a vampire definitely doesn’t fit into Jessica Packwood’s senior year “get-a-life” plan. But then a bizarre (and incredibly hot) new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu shows up, claiming that Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birth—and he’s her long-lost fiancé. Armed with newfound confidence and a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire’s Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions, Jessica makes a dramatic transition from average American teenager to glam European vampire princess. But when a devious cheerleader sets her sights on Lucius, Jess finds herself fighting to win back her wayward prince, stop a global vampire war—and save Lucius’s soul from eternal destruction.

Why: It was a fresh take on a rapidly stale genre....vampire YA or bit lit as I like to refer to it. It infused deliberate humour into a story that was farcical but emotional. The protagonist had moxie. Jessica's well rounded, strong, argumentative and an interesting "nice" girl. Lucius is a vampire that is caught up in the old ways but quickly learning that just won't swing with a modern girl. It's utterly delightful. (Read my review here.)

3. Lisa Mantchev's Eyes Like Stars (Feiwel & Friends)

All her world's a stage.
Beatrice Shakespeare Smith is not an actress, yet she lives in a theater.
She is not an orphan, but she has no parents.
She knows every part, but has no lines of her own.
Until now.

Welcome to the Théâtre Illuminata, where the characters of every place ever written can be found behind the curtain. They were born to play their parts, and are bound to the Théâtre by The Book—an ancient and magical tome of scripts. Bertie is not one of them, but they are her family—and she is about to lose them all and the only home she has ever known.

Why: I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I cracked open the covers of this book...and 20 pages in I was still none the wiser. Combining magic with romance, mystery and the bonds of love with effortless prose and wheelbarrows of snark, this book couldn't be any more perfect if it tried. It's beyond description but Mantchev has built a world that draws on the familiar while turning it all on it's head. A truly unique and captivating read. (Read my review here.)

2. Adrian Stirling's Broken Glass (Penguin Australia)

Danny Clarke's best friend, Nile, is back in town. Having him around was a wild ride - the one thing worth living for in their vindictive, small-minded town. But after what Nile did, nothing can be the same...

Now that everyone in town wants Nile to disappear, Danny will need to choose sides. But which side is worse? And when he's pushed to the edge, what is Danny capable of? What are any of us capable of?

Why: Another heavy hitting Australian debut that dries you out and then kicks you around again. It's a ball buster set in a dying country town where bigotry flourishes and fears are at a high. Tense, dark and brutal...this is a truly impressive debut.(Read my review here.)

1. Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth (Hachette Australia)

In Mary's world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future-between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

Why: Ryan did something incredible here. It's not the supernatural elements of the unconsecrated (aka zombies) or even the simple living of her characters, Ryan perfected tension, pace and pervasive tone. (Read my review here.)

My choices will be contentious. I considered the strength of the writing style, the emotional impact and it's longevity...will people read this beyond genre hype in the next year? There were many to choose from and it was a hard decision. Hopefully some of them have spiked your interest.

Tomorrow: FIVE Great Covers


Daisy Whitney said...

I have not read eyes like stars but given your rec I am going to now!

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with your one, three and four here. Lots of awesome debuts, which is why I'm probably gonna round my list out to ten. XD

Natalie Hatch said...

I so liked Raw Blue, Kirsty really brings a touchy subject to life.
Haven't read eyes like stars yet, will have to add it to the TBR pile.

LibraryDoggies said...

Loved Broken Glass; liked Raw Bue

Here's my 5 Guys Reads for 2009 off the top of my head and in no order:
Boofheads - Mo Johnson
Broken Glass - Adrian Stirling
Th1rteen R3asons Why - Jay Asher
Measuring Up - G. M. Stroud
Swerve - Phillip Gwynne

And as I can't count, and also believe there is good stuff out there for boys , there is also
Paper Towns - John Green