Europe in Autumn, by Dave Hutchinson

A spy thriller, a near-future science fiction adventure … a prophetic look at what follows the disintegration of the European Union under a rising tide of extreme nationalism and xenophobia …

Europe in Autumn is the first in a series about a fractured Europe in a world very like our own – a world after the devastation of a pandemic flu had led to a paranoid nationalism, with nations dividing and subdividing so rapidly that even citizens of a country can find it hard to keep track of just where they’re living. Recruited to a new career as spy and people-smuggler with a mysterious organization calling itself Les Coureurs des Bois, the protagonist, Rudi, a cook in eastern Europe when we first meet him, is drawn deeper and deeper into the mysteries underlying his world. Conspiracies within conspiracies, treachery, organized crime, a railway line that’s an independent state and a political power in Europe, the quest for a document that might reveal long-hidden secrets about the nature of the world, and Rudi’s increasingly desperate struggle to survive as he learns more than he should and employers and allies turn into enemies, make this a thriller hard to put down. If you enjoy Len Deighton and Alan Furst and other thrillers that combine action and suspense with intelligent stories and characters, as well as thoughtful science fiction, you should definitely pick up Europe in Autumn. We hope to have book two, Europe at Midnight, in the library soon.

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The Martian, by Andy Weir

Guest Post by Hilda P.

Astronaut Mark Watney becomes one of the first people to walk on Mars, and may be the first to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and his crew evacuates leaving him for dead, Mark is alone. Stranded, he cannot even let anyone know he is alive; there is no way to communicate this information to Earth. He knows there is no way he will survive on the limited supplies he has or until a rescue team lands on Mars.

Mark is an engineer and a botanist, and not ready to give up yet. He tries to grow food and make a plan to contact NASA on Earth, all because he wants to get off Mars alive. Mars has other surprises for him though! Will he overcome the odds against him?

A must read book that is difficult to put down; a real page turner. An amazing read for adults and anyone interested in outer space travel. This is the best book I have read in a while!

London Eye, by Tim Lebbon

London Eye is book one of Toxic City, an action-packed, suspense-filled British post-apocalyptic dystopian series for teens. If you have a reader in your household who enjoyed The Hunger Games, send them to the library to check this out! The action centres around London, which is cut off from the rest of the world, supposedly after a terrorist attack that left it a toxic wasteland. Jack knows that’s not true and as he investigates, he gathers a group of allies who lost friends and family in the supposed attack. They get past the military blockade which uses lethal force to stop anyone entering or leaving, to discover that London isn’t the uninhabited ruin the government has told them, but that those few who survive within it have been terribly changed, some gaining powers that threaten to strip them of their humanity. Jack and his friends have to fight for their survival in this new world, while trying to discover the truth of the contagion that destroyed the city.

We also have book two, Reaper’s Legacy.

Journey to the Centre of the Earth, by Jules Verne

Guest Review by Malachi G.

There is molten magma at the center of the earth. A very true statement. Or, is it? On the 24th of May, 1863, Axel’s life changed forever. His uncle, Professor Lidenbrock, came back to his house in Hamburg, Germany, with a strange piece of parchment with some weird characters on it. After they decoded it, they learned that it said, “Descend into the crater of Sneffels Yokul, over which the shadow of Scartaris falls before the kalends of July, bold traveller and you will reach the centre of the earth. I have done this. Arne Saknussemm.”

Axel did not want to go on this adventure. However, his uncle did. They left immediately, as it was June, and by the time they arrived in Iceland, it would be nearing the end of July. Once they got there, they had to hire a guide for climbing the volcano. His name was Hans, and he spoke mostly Dutch. Axel spoke only German and a little bit of Latin, but luckily his uncle was fluent in Hans’s language. They started gathering supplies, such as food, water, pickaxes, and anything that might be useful underground. Except for Hans, who walked long distances often, they all left riding horses.

The author of this book is trying to teach that perseverence will lead to success. The characters have to persevere through many difficulties. In the end, Axel and his uncle learn to work together to survive to make it to the surface.

There were many risks they had to take during this adventure to the center of the earth. When Hans, Axel, and Professor Lidenbrock got to the top of Sneffels, there were three chimneys through which lava once flowed. They had to wait for a few days, because there were too many clouds in the sky to see the shadow. One day when it was sunny, they were able to see the shadow pointing at one of the chimneys. It was at this point that they started the long trek to the center of the earth. They walked along the path, which was was slanted downwards at a steep angle. Their water started running low after coming back after a wrong turn. If they didn’t find some soon, they would die of dehydration. Luckily, they found a spot in the wall where there was water running behind it. They hit the wall with their pickaxes until the water started pouring out. It created a stream that went down the tunnel, showing them where to go. Consequently, they followed it until they reached an underwater ocean. They build a raft, and sailed across it, then explored everywhere, finding things that were thought to be extinct, a giant forest of mushrooms, and more.

I liked this book because in it there is lots of adventure, and it kept me reading until the last page. The characters are all very interesting, all of them having very different views of this adventure. Axel at first doesn’t want to go, but he starts becoming interested in this journey, wondering what is at the center of the earth. Despite Axel’s reluctance, his uncle is very excited, and is willing to go until they get to the center of the earth even if it kills all of them. Will they ever make it back to the surface? Read Journey to the Center of the Earth, by Jules Verne, to find out.

Boom! by Mark Haddon

Our book for May is Mark Haddon’s Boom! At the start, you might think this is going to be just another family drama story. Jimbo’s father has lost his job and is sunk deep in depression, his older sister’s dating a thug Jimbo calls Craterface, his best friend Charlie is grounded for deciding to borrow his mother’s car and teach himself to drive, and their teachers are out to get them.

In fact, two of their teachers really are out to get them, at least after Charlie and Jimbo do some electronic eavesdropping and hear the teachers speaking an alien language. Not merely a foreign language – a not-from-this-earth alien one. Their subsequent investigations get them into big trouble, revealing a conspiracy of alien abductions. When Charlie disappears, Jimbo knows he’s the only one who can save him. Along the way, Jimbo finds his sister to be an unexpected friend and, short of actual armed police, the best ally he could have in his quest to rescue Charlie. The two steal her boyfriend’s motorbike (not that Becky has a licence) and set off for Scotland and the secret alien transport beam. Charlie’s only 70,000 light years away, somewhere in the vicinity of the Large Magellanic Cloud. Unfortunately, Jimbo’s rescue attempt ends up annoying the aliens so much they decide to destroy the earth, meaning that Jimbo, Charlie, and Becky, armed only with a big stick and a few oddments accidentally borrowed from Craterface along with his motorbike, have to save the world – and they only have a few minutes to do so before it all goes Boom.

This science fiction comedy adventure for older kids and younger teens is a fast-paced read with a very British sense of humour.