GRAVE MATTER (Book Review)

Written by: Juno Dawson

Illustrated by: Alex T. Smith

Published in the UK in 2018 by: Barrington Stoke

Pages: 140


REOPENING THE DOOR

“That future wasn’t meant to be and I was an arrogant fool to challenge fate.”

A brief-yet-pointedly macabre horror novella spread over just 140 occasionally-illustrated yellow-hued pages, young adult author Juno Dawson’s twisted tale of first loves lost and best left lost is a quick read perfectly suited to entice reading adverse older teens and dyslexics alike.

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Ready Player One (Cinema Review)

12A – 140mins – 2018 – 3D


 

V.R. TROOPERS

Cineworld were in full alert last night with bouncers at the doors of their latest Unlimited Preview Screening to physically watch you switch off your mobile phones before you entered for an exclusive viewing of young adult sci-fi action adventure adaptation Ready Player One. This didn’t, however, stop the projectionists from messing up and starting the film too early, so we got to watch the opening five minutes twice in the space of a quarter of an hour.

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Maze Runner: The Death Cure (Cinema Review)

12A – 142mins – 2018


 

SHANKS AND BIG WALLS

Back up and, err, running again (if you’ll pardon the wordplay) after a hefty-but-unavoidable production delay following lead actor Dylan O’Brien’s on-set accident, The Death Cure is a scintillating and welcome conclusion to returning director Wes Ball’s trilogy of dystopian sci-fi action-adventures based on author James Dashner’s hit series of Maze Runner novels.

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THORNHILL (Book Review)

Written and illustrated by: Pam Smy

Published in the UK by: David Fickling Books / Publication date: 27th August 2017

Pages: 544


A TIMELESS FRIENDSHIP

Weighing in at a daunting 544 pages, APU graduate and Cambridge lecturer Pam Smy’s debut solo work (the first she has both written and illustrated) is actually a deceptively quick read, and one which I blasted through in a matter of hours.

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Flesh and Blood (Book Review)

Written and illustrated by: Chris Priestley

Published in the UK by: Barrington Stoke, 15th April 2017

121 pages


 

BEHIND THE MASK

The first of three new releases from the macabre mind of Anything That Isn’t This author and illustrator Chris Priestley to fill children and young adults with equal measures of fear and wonder in 2017, this dyslexic-friendly “easy reader” from publishers Barrington Stoke may be the shortest and most simplistic, but Flesh and Blood does not suffer for its ease of accessibility.

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A Monster Calls (Cinema Review)

Image result for a monster calls film

12A – 108mins – 2017


 

A CONOR CAROL

For a twelve-year-old, Conor O’Malley (Lewis MacDougall) has a lot on his plate: his estranged father (Toby Kebbell) lives in America with his new family; his mother (Felicity Rogue One Jones) is terminally ill, leaving Conor to look after her almost as much as she looks after him; his aloofly strict grandmother (Sigourney Finding Dory Weaver) is threatening to take him away to live in her archaic abode. If all of that wasn’t enough, Conor also has to deal with regular beatings from school bully Harry (James Melville).

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MARVEL Iron Man: The Gauntlet (Book Review)

Written by: Eoin Colfer

Published in the UK by: Egmont, 27th October 2016

Pages: 273


AN INSTRUMENT OF PEACE

From page to screen and back to page again, award-winning Artemis Fowl author – and Ireland’s laureate for children’s literature – Eoin Colfer brings Marvel’s smart aleck comic book superhero to the North shores of his home country in this slick and snappy YA adventure which substitutes the colourful panel art we normally associate with the Iron Man property for zinging dialogue, explosive descriptions and profuse Irish stereotypes (“top of the morning,” leprechauns, Guinness, Riverdancing, “…, so” and U2 are all brought up – seriously).

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CLASS, 1.1 – “For Tonight We Might Die” (TV Review)

BBC Three – available from 22nd October 2016

Created and written by: Patrick Ness

Directed by: Ed Bazalgette


A DOCTOR CALLS

Arriving in a blaze of hype and publicity this third recent-times spin-off from the BBC’s flagship sci-fi drama may suffer from the most bland and unimaginative title ever, but it does boast perhaps the strongest continual link to its parent show, set as it is in Coal Hill Academy, a stalwart of the long-running serial right up to its most recent run, with Clara Oswald and Danny Pink both teaching there, and even the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) briefly becoming a caretaker.

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The Divergent Series: Allegiant (DVD Review)

12 – 103mins – 2016


 

PRIOR KNOWLEDGE REQUIRED

“You saved a city. Help me save the world.”

With Erudite leader Jeanine (Kate Steve Jobs Winslet) killed at the close of last year’s first sequel, Insurgent, and Evelyn’s (Naomi Watts) soldiers increasing hostility within Chicago’s perimeter, Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), Caleb (Ansel Elgort), Christina (Zoë Kravitz), Tori (Maggie Q) and the smug side-swapper Peter (Miles Teller) ascend the great wall and escape into the unknown beyond.

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The Monstrous Child (Book Review)

Written by: Francesca Simon

Illustrations by: Olivia Lomenech Gill

Published in the UK by: Faber & Faber and Profile Books, 2016

287 pages 


 

HEL HATH NO FURY LIKE A TEENAGER SCORNED

Embarrassed by her parents, peeved at her violent brothers, lonely, hateful and self-deprecating, Hel sounds like any normal teenage girl… except her father is a god, her mother a giant, one brother a wolf and the other a snake… Oh, and she’s half rotting  corpse! Meet Hel, Queen of the Dead, ruler of the Underworld and general cynical soul.

This curious genre-mashup of dysfunctional family drama, growing pains memoir and biblical fantasy comes from the rebellious mind of globally-bestselling Horrid Henry author Francesca Simon. The Monstrous Child is her first book for the booming Y.A. demographic.

With short pages and a large font type, the near-300 pages fly by – the swift pace accelerated by some scathingly wry black humour from Hel’s first person perspective. This is her tetchy testament and she demands you listen as she moans on about being banished from Asgard to the depths of her own self-named kingdom of ‘Hel’.

“I spent an eternity of hating… I spent eternity lying on a stinking bed. Sunk into myself, plotting and moaning and… dying.”

Dividing her time between fawning after the only person she has ever felt any feeling of love and joy towards (the charming but already-married Baldr) and moaning about her agonising eternity of isolation with only a dragon, a monstrous howling mutt and two near-static slaves for “company”, the book’s rapid tempo does little to enforce Hel’s timeless torment as the ages creep by towards The End of Days.

It’s also fair to say that as clever as the concept is, the novel does begin to feel a little repetitive at times, with Hel’s fixation on her niggles and teenage tendency to mope in her chamber with her bed hangings drawn (which she has sarcastically nicknamed Glimmering Misfortune) occasionally slowing down the procession of her life(less) story.

Essentially a diary of a teenage goddess, The Monstrous Child is a decent and well-observed experiment which will certainly leaving you smirking at its cruel, pitch-black sense of humour. However, it does also feel like more of a one-joke short story concept spread painfully thin – even if the hardback release does look glorious.

CR@B’s Claw Score: 3 stars