Who Will Save the Planet is the story of Jason, a 14 year old avid computer game fan with ambitions of becoming a life saver, but he's also a young and passionate environmentalist. After a lucky turn which resulted in Jason rescuing the Prime Minister, Jason becomes the topic of media speculation and government policy problems when he asks the PM to introduce emission controls.
Sure of his belief in scientific evidence and the need to protect the future of the world, Jason must contend with criticisms from locals, including his father, who believe that emission controls will badly affect the local economy. He soon discovers that nothing is black and white, but not before he suffers repeated attempts at manipulation from government members, and multiple run-ins with the media.
While I strongly believe that fiction is an excellent educative tool, I was a little unsure how McLennan would handle this difficult topic. In particular, I was unsure whether such a message would be hard to write in a story that remained appealing to young readers. As such, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the story was well paced and very enjoyable. The story flowed well, with no decline in plot appeal, had a light youthful voice and well defined, quite irresistible characters.
I particularly enjoyed Jason's family dynamic, and found Jason's character to be relatable and appealing. His cynical sense of humour was also very amusing.
I was a little disappointed that Jason backed down in his request from the PM, despite winning out in the end. I understood that this was part of his lesson in seeing the world in its entirety with shades of grey, but felt disappointed that he did not stick to his guns over something he was so passionate about - particularly when his doubts resulted significantly from manipulation.
All in all this was a lovely read with a good message. I think most children would enjoy this book, and I look forward to a sequel.
“The Right Connection” is a fantasy-romance about Taylor, a soldier determined to save missing children from the clutches of the enemy. In order for the mission to be a success, she must develop a psychic connection with fighter Roden. However, Taylor’s last such connection with a male fighter ended in her sexual assault, a terrible history which she must overcome for the wellbeing of the children.
As you might imagine, given this is a romance story, a connection develops between Taylor and Roden on a deeper level than that required for the mission, but there are a number of twists and turns along the way, and this connection in itself becomes an issue with which Taylor must contend.
I really didn’t know what to expect from “The Right Connection”, mostly because I’m more familiar with contemporary urban fantasy stories than those set in an invented or altered world. Often I find these sort of fantasies can be draining, particularly if the world building comes to dominate the story and detract from the plot and characters, which are what I’m really interested in. This was not the case with “The Right Connection”. Murphy successfully and seamlessly wove her world building into the plot without seeming pretentious and without becoming confusing. It was also not excessive, rather assumed the reader had the imagination to fill in the gaps. I really appreciated this.
The characterisation was good. I found Taylor to be an accessible and relatable character. She wasn’t boring either, but had a developed sense of independence and strength, combined with a desire for self improvement, which was quite refreshing. I didn’t particularly like Roden. His arrogance irritated me, though I realise this is a trait desired and enjoyed by many romance readers as part of the character’s development. Certainly, his vulnerability was also captured and developed nicely as the story progressed. Murphy’s snappy sense of humour is definitely catching, and comes through in both the hero and heroine’s characterisations as endearing and appealing.
The sexual assault story was particularly interesting. This is one of those times when fantasy is used to deal with a difficult subject, and in this case it was done really well. Interestingly, Taylor explains that, despite having overcome the physical trauma of the incident and having had sex since, she continues to be burdened with an emotional trauma which affects her on a much deeper level. She comes to realise that her ability to trust another man psychologically, or psychically, is the real problem that she must deal with. I think, in this respect, “The Right Connection” has made a very perceptive discussion of a very complex issue. Also, in this respect, I think that Roden was a good character, since it is his understanding of Taylor that allows her to eventually trust him.
“The Right Connection” is a fun read that deals with some heavy issues along the way. I was completely invested in the love story, enjoyed the plot, and ended the story in happy-tears. Always a good thing from a tragic romantic.
"Dark Spaces" is an intriguing collection of short stories designed to make the reader uncomfortable. Some of the stories work particularly well, such as the flash piece "Timmy's Escape" which is deeply unsettling and manages to supplant chills under the skin in under 350 words. I expected more from a few of the stories, including the fairly predictable "Sarah's Story" about a woman contemplating her love for her child while watching a news report about a missing baby. However, I especially enjoyed "The Presentation", as well as "Breathe in Autumn", which I'm going to have trouble forgetting when I go for my next afternoon walk. Both of these were disturbing and disturbingly satisfying. Overall, Dionne Lister's writing is well paced and her plots are gripping. This anthology is worth the read, but don't read it at night.