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Books & Reading: Year 8 Great Reads

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When Ellie and her friends return from a camping trip in the Australian bush, they find things hideously wrong — their families are gone. Gradually they begin to comprehend that their country has been invaded and everyone in their town has been taken prisoner. As the reality of the situation hits them, they must make a decision — run and hide, give themselves up and be with their families, or fight back.

 


 

 

There are teens, but not one single adult. Just as suddenly, there are no phones, no internet, no television. No way to get help. And no way to figure out what's happened.

Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day. It's a terrifying new world.
 


 

 

Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of the The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out of work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin their journey through space.


 


 

 

Since a deadly virus and the violence that followed wiped out his parents and most of his community, Finn has lived alone on the rugged coast with only his loyal dog Rowdy for company.

He has stayed alive for two winters—hunting and fishing and trading food, and keeping out of sight of the Wilders, an armed and dangerous gang that controls the north, led by a ruthless man named Ramage.

But Finn’s isolation is shattered when a girl runs onto the beach. Rose is a Siley—an asylum seeker—and she has escaped from Ramage, who had enslaved her and her younger sister, Kas. Rose is desperate, sick, and needs Finn’s help. Kas is still missing somewhere out in the bush.
And Ramage wants the girls back—at any cost.

 


 

 

The trip of a lifetime just turned into the end of the world.

When Jesse crawls out of the wreckage of a subway car and emerges into daylight, he’s greeted by a living nightmare. An unexplained force has destroyed New York City, turning skyscrapers into ash, cutting off all power and communication. Jesse and his new friends, Dave, Anna and Mini are dazed but unhurt. The other survivors are not so lucky. Every human being they encounter is infected, gripped by an unquenchable thirst that drives them to monstrous acts of violence.

Somehow, Jesse has to escape. But first, he has to stay alive.
 


 

 

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made.  But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.


 

 

Laim O'Connor should have died at sea in 1912.

Maddy Carter should have died on a plane in 2010.

Sal Vikram should have died in a fire in 2026.

Yet moments before death, someone mysteriously appeared and said, 'Take my hand . . .'
But Liam, Maddy and Sal aren't rescued. They are recruited by an agency that no one knows exists, with only one purpose – to fix broken history. 

 



 

Wonder By R.J Palace

'You can't blend in when you were born to stand out.  My name is August.  I won't describe what I look like.  Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.  

August Pullman wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old. He does ordinary things. He eats ice cream. He plays on his Xbox. He feels ordinary - inside.  But Auggie is far from ordinary. Ordinary kids don't make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. Ordinary kids don't get stared at wherever they go.

Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life, in an attempt to protect him from the cruelty of the outside world. Now, for the first time, he's being sent to a real school - and he's dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted - but can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, underneath it all?'

Runner By Robert Newton

'Charlie's father is dead, and although his mother insists he stay in school, Charlie has no patience for the classroom. All he wants is to make money, to give his mother and baby brother a better life. So when he catches the eye of Squizzy Taylor, a notorious mobster, and is offered a job as Squizzy's courier, it doesn't take Charlie long to accept—even if he has to go against his own mother's wishes.

At first, the job's a thrill—running with messages, illegal liquor, whatever Squizzy orders. It fills Charlie with power. But then come the not-so-savory parts of the job. Collecting Squizzy's debts and dodging his enemies. The real dangers of the streets. And at some point Charlie has to ask himself—how long before running for a better life means cutting his life short?'

The House of the Scorpion By Nancy Farmer

'Matteo Alacrán was not born; he was harvested.
His DNA came from El Patrón, lord of a country called Opium--a strip of poppy fields lying between the United States and what was once called Mexico. Matt's first cell split and divided inside a petri dish. Then he was placed in the womb of a cow, where he continued the miraculous journey from embryo to fetus to baby. He is a boy now, but most consider him a monster--except for El Patrón.  Can a boy who was bred to guarantee another's survival find his own purpose in life? And can he ever be free?'


 

Don't Call Me Ishmael! By Michael Gerard Bauer

'There's no easy way to put this, so I'll say it straight out. It's time I faced up to the truth. I'm fourteen years old and I have Ishmael Leseur's Syndrome. There is no cure. And there is no instant cure to not fitting in. But that won't stop Ishmael and his intrepid band of misfits from taking on bullies, bugs, babes, the Beatles, debating, and the great white whale in the toughest, the weirdest, the most embarrassingly awful...and the best year of their lives.'

 

Harry Potter's life is miserable. His parents are dead and he's stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he's a wizard. 




 


 

 

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts.

The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.


 


 

 

Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. We live among you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger and faster than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books--but we are real.




 


 

 

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkeness bind them.

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, The Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell into the hands of Bilbo Baggins, as told in The Hobbit.

In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as his elderly cousin Bilbo entrusts the Ring to his care. Frodo must leave his home and make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ring and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose.


 

 

He can summon demons. But can he win a war?

Fletcher is working as a blacksmith's apprentice when he discovers he has the rare ability to summon demons from another world. Chased from his village for a crime he did not commit, Fletcher must travel with his demon, Ignatius, to an academy for adepts, where the gifted are taught the art of summoning.

Along with nobles and commoners, Fletcher endures grueling lessons that will prepare him to serve as a Battlemage in the Empire's war against the savage Orcs. But sinister forces infect new friendships and rivalries grow. With no one but Ignatius by his side, Fletcher must decide where his loyalties lie. The fate of the Empire is in his hands.


 

 

To the forest on the shore of the Kingdom of the Isles, the orphan Pug came to study with the master magician Kulgan. But though his courage won him a place at court and the heart of a lovely Princess, he was ill at ease with the normal ways of wizardry. Yet Pug's strange sort of magic would one day change forever the fates of two worlds. For dark beings from another world had opened a rift in the fabric of spacetime to being again the age-old battle between the forces of Order and Chaos.


 


 

 

If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.

Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Everything is going to change.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

Remember. Survive. Run.




 


 

The Lab By Jack Heath

'Meet a 16-year-old superhuman: Agent Six of Hearts. He's the strongest, most effective agent in the Deck, a team of special agents fighting to uphold justice in a completely corrupt world. Six would be invincible if not for a deadly secret. He is the product of an illegal experiment by the Lab - a ruthless division of the corporation that controls his world. When the Deck begins to investigate the Lab, Six walks a tightrope between his two worlds, trying to keep his origin a secret.

But then he meets Kyntak, a boy whose past equals his own. As Six's life spirals out of control, he must face his most dangerous, thrilling mission yet.'

The Cursed By Michael Panckridge

'The story of an invisible tribe - hidden deep in the Brazilian rainforest.
The story of the Light Society - which has vowed to rid the world of evil.
The story of Lewis Watt - a boy destined to meet both forces head on.
A letter will change Lewis's life forever.'

Touch Me By James Moloney

'For Xavier McLachlan, Rugby is life. Winning a 1st XV jersey means everything ... Until he meets Nuala Magee. Has there ever been a girl like her? She's feisty, she's troubled, she's dangerous. What will his mates think? Does he even care? Everything looks different now. Xavier McLachlan is in love.'

Noughts and Crosses     By Malorie Blackman
'Sephy is a Cross -- a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a Nought -- a “colourless” member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses. The two have been friends since early childhood, but that’s as far as it can go. In their world, Noughts and Crosses simply don’t mix. Against a background of prejudice and distrust, intensely highlighted by violent terrorist activity, a romance builds between Sephy and Callum -- a romance that is to lead both of them into terrible danger. Can they possibly find a way to be together?

In this gripping, stimulating and totally absorbing novel, black and white are right and wrong.'

Holes By Louis Sachar

'"If you take a bad boy and make him dig a hole every day in the hot sun, it will turn him into a good boy." is motto for Camp Greenlake. Stanley runs away to find pal Zero. Their journey to freedom becomes a battle with hunger, thirst and heat in the shadow of Big Thumb. The mountain is entwined in the Yelnatz's unlucky history. To get there means salvation.'

 

The company says Otherworld is amazing — like nothing you’ve ever seen before. They say it’s addictive — that you’ll want to stay forever. They promise Otherworld will make all your dreams come true.

Simon thought Otherworld was a game. Turns out he knew nothing. Otherworld is the next phase of reality. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted.
And it’s about to change humanity forever.
 


 

 

Pay the debt or lose a pound of flesh.
It's a beautiful day in paradise. The sun is shining. The birds are chirping. And Dom Silvagni, indifferent student and elite middle-distance runner, is turning fifteen.

But Instead of cake and candles, Dom Silvagni is presented with the most unlikely gift for his birthday: an ancient family debt to an organisation so secretive and powerful, they are only known as The Debt.


 

 

Charlie Higson's The Enemy is the first in a jaw-dropping zombie horror series for teens. Everyone over the age of fourteen has succumbed to a deadly zombie virus and now the kids must keep themselves alive.

When the sickness came, every parent, police officer, politician - every adult fell ill. The lucky ones died. The others are crazed, confused and hungry.

 


 

 

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.

But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.



 


 

 

Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him.

With Sabriel, the first installment in the Abhorsen series, Garth Nix exploded onto the fantasy scene as a rising star, in a novel that takes readers to a world where the line between the living and the dead isn't always clear—and sometimes disappears altogether


 

 

To save humanity, they must give up their own.

Adam's muscular dystrophy has stolen his mobility, his friends, and in a few short years, it will take his life. Virtual reality games are Adam's only escape from his wheelchair. In his alternate world, he can defeat anyone. Running, jumping, scoring touchdowns: Adam is always the hero.

Then an artificial intelligence program, Sigma, hacks into Adam's game. Created by Adam's computer-genius father, Sigma has gone rogue, threatening Adam's life-and world domination. Their one chance to stop Sigma is using technology Adam's dad developed to digitally preserve the mind of his dying son.


 


 

 

Long ago, so the Storyteller claimed, the evil God Torak sought dominion and drove men and Gods to war. But Belgarath the Sorcerer led men to reclaim the Orb that protected men of the West. So long as it lay at Riva, the prophecy went, men would be safe.

But that was only a story, and Garion did not believe in magic dooms, even though the dark man without a shadow had haunted him for years.

Brought up on a quiet farm by his Aunt Pol, how could he know that the Apostate planned to wake dread Torak, or that he would be led on a quest of unparalleled magic and danger by those he loved - but did not know? For a while his dreams of innocence were safe, untroubled by knowledge of his strange heritage. For a little while... thus begins book one of the Belgariad.



 


 

The Book of Lies By James Moloney

'The newest boy at Mrs. Timmins's Home for Orphans and Foundlings awakes at first light with no name and no memory. But a strange girl who hides among the shadows of the orphanage tells him that a mysterious wizard's creation, the Book of Lies, holds the answers, and then gives him one clue: "Your name is Marcel."

With that knowledge, and the help of three new friends, Marcel begins a quest to find the truth about his real identity—a truth that is hidden in the Book of Lies. As Marcel learns more about his past, he realizes that truth can change at any moment and can be manipulated by anyone, and he begins to wonder if the old book's so-called magical truth might be the greatest lie of all.'

Evil Genius By Catherine Jinks

'Cadel Piggott has a genius IQ and a fascination with systems of all kinds. At seven, he was illegally hacking into computers. Now he's fourteen and studying for his World Domination degree, taking classes like embezzlement, misinformation, forgery, and infiltration at the institute founded by criminal mastermind Dr. Phineas Darkkon. Although Cadel may be advanced beyond his years, at heart he's a lonely kid. When he falls for the mysterious and brilliant Kay-Lee, he begins to question the moral implications of his studies for the first time. But is it too late to stop Dr. Darkkon from carrying out his evil plot?'

Noah's Law By Randa Abdel-Fattah

'Sixteen-year-old Noah is a troublemaker. His father is a hotshot barrister. This is not a good combination. When Noah gets caught mucking up at school, his dad sends him to work at his aunt's law firm during the holidays to 'learn responsibility' and 'fix his attitude'. There he meets Jacinta – the cute intern who knows her way around a photocopier, and Casey – the wicked witch of the firm. Noah becomes involved in a case where a woman has been killed during a mugging gone wrong. There's a grieving husband, a guilty employer, and an open and shut case involving lots of money. But right and wrong, and crime and punishment are soon entangled as Noah realises that things are seldom what they seem.'

Mister Monday By Garth Nix

'Arthur Penhaligon is not supposed to be a hero. He is, in fact, supposed to die an early death. But then his life is saved by a key shaped like the minute hand of a clock. 

Arthur is safe - but his world is not. Along with the key comes a plague brought by bizarre creatures from another realm. A stranger named Mister Monday, his avenging messengers with bloodstained wings, and an army of dog-faced Fetchers will stop at nothing to get the key back - even if it means destroying Arthur and everything around him.

Desperate, Arthur ventures into a mysterious house - a house that only he can see. It is in this house that Arthur must unravel the secrets of the key - and discover his true fate.'

Mao's Last Dancer By Li Cunxin

'From a desperately poor village in northeast China, at age eleven, Li Cunxin was chosen by Madame Mao's cultural delegates to be taken from his rural home and brought to Beijing, where he would study ballet. In 1979, the young dancer arrived in Texas as part of a cultural exchange, only to fall in love with America-and with an American woman. Two years later, through a series of events worthy of the most exciting cloak-and-dagger fiction, he defected to the United States, where he quickly became known as one of the greatest ballet dancers in the world. This is his story, told in his own inimitable voice.'

 

As a young dragonlord, Ged, whose use-name is Sparrowhawk, is sent to the island of Roke to learn the true way of magic. A natural magician, Ged becomes an Archmage and helps the High Priestess Tenar escape from the labyrinth of darkness. But as the years pass, true magic and ancient ways are forced to submit to the powers of evil and death.


 


 


 

Charles and Benjamin Armstrong, conjoined twins and owners of the Armstrong Fancy Gifts Corporation, have a goal: to turn the world into their vision of utopia. No wars, no conflict, no hunger. And no free will. Opposing them is a guerrilla group of teens, code name BZRK, who are fighting to protect the right to be messed up, to be human.



 


 




A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.


 


 

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie's only hope for rescuing her brother-or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.



 


 




Welcome to Arena 13. Here warriors fight. Death is never far away . . .

Leif has one ambition: to become the best fighter in the notorious Arena 13. Here, punters place wagers on which fighter will draw first blood. And in grudge matches, they bet on which fighter will die.

But the country is terrorized by the creature Hob, an evil being who delights in torturing its people, displaying his devasting power by challenging an Arena 13 combatant in a fight to the death whenever he chooses. And this is exactly what Leif wants . . .


 


 


 

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
The year is 2575, and two rival mega-corporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than a speck at the edge of the universe. Now with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra — who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to evacuate with a hostile warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A plague has broken out and is mutating with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a web of data to find the truth, it’s clear the only person who can help her is the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.



 


 

 

What would you be willing to risk for a lifetime of fortune?

Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.

Forever.


 


 

Peak By Roland Smith

'The only thing you’ll find on the summit of Mount Everest is a divine view. The things that really matter lie far below. – Peak Marcello

After fourteen-year-old Peak Marcello is arrested for scaling a New York City skyscraper, he's left with two choices: wither away in Juvenile Detention or go live with his long-lost father, who runs a climbing company in Thailand. But Peak quickly learns that his father's renewed interest in him has strings attached. Big strings. As owner of Peak Expeditions, he wants his son to be the youngest person to reach the Everest summit--and his motives are selfish at best. Even so, for a climbing addict like Peak, tackling Everest is the challenge of a lifetime. But it's also one that could cost him his life.'


 

Chasers By James Phelan

'The trip of a lifetime just turned into the end of the world.

When Jesse crawls out of the wreckage of a subway car and emerges into daylight, he's greeted by a living nightmare.  An unexplained force has destroyed New York City, turning skyscrapers into ash, cutting off all power and communication.  Jesse and his new friends, Dave, Anna and Mini are dazed but unhurt.  The other survivors are not so lucky.  Every human being they encounter is infected, gripped by an unquenchable thirst that drives them to monstrous acts of violence. 

Somehow Jesse must has to escape but first he has to stay alive.' 

 

Replica By Jack Heath

''Whose body is that on the table?' I ask.
She stares at me, as though the answer is obvious. 'It's yours,' she says.
Before I have time to scream, she types a command on the keyboard. My consciousness whirls away like storm water down a drain.

Chloe wakes up to find all her memories have been wiped. And the only person who knows what happened is a teenage girl who looks and sounds exactly like her.

Who is she? And what does she want?

Chloe is running out of time to discover the truth. But she's in even more danger than she realizes, and nothing is as it seems . . '

Mortal Engines By Philip Reeve

'"It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea."

The great traction city London has been skulking in the hills to avoid the bigger, faster, hungrier cities loose in the Great Hunting Ground. But now, the sinister plans of Lord Mayor Mangus Crome can finally unfold.'

 The Knife of Never Letting Go           By Patrick Ness 

'Prentisstown isn't like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else's thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee -- whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not -- stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden -- a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.

But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear every thought? '