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Benjamin Chandler

Dystopias, apocalypses, and postapocalypses have been part of Young Adult literature long before ecological disaster became the prevalent social narrative. They give writers a chance to indulge the youthful desire to upset the table and start over, rather than partake in the tedious and often fruitless work of actual progress. Blowing stuff up is far more exciting than endless meetings or political discussions. Asphyxia’s Future Girl, Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner’s The Other Side of the Sky, and Charlie Archbold’s Indigo Owl each deal with the end of the world and how young people navigate it.

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The collapse of a bridge is the catalyst in Cassandra Austin’s All Fall Down, isolating the small town of Mululuk in true Australian gothic fashion ...

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The Silent Invasion, James Bradley’s first Young Adult novel and the first in a trilogy, begins in generic post-apocalyptic fashion. Humanity crowds into restricted safe zones, hiding from an intergalactic plague that infects living matter with the mysterious Change. Adolescent protagonist Callie’s younger sister Gracie is infected; to prevent her demise at the hands of Quarantine, ...

With Emperor of the Eight Islands, Lian Hearn delves into the mythic past of the world she crafted so perfectly in the Tales of the Otori series ...

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Twenty years before Katniss Everdeen competed in The Hunger Games (2008) and dominated the post-apocalyptic landscape, Elspeth Gordie went to Obernewtyn (1987) in her own ruined world. She would grow from orphan outcast to rebel conspirator and community leader, overthrowing religious and secular powers and carrying a darker fate as the Seeker who ...

In The Asylum, the latest dark suspense novel from John Harwood, the author manages to walk a fine line between Gothic romance and contemporary psychological thriller. Or rather, he gambols gleefully along it, delighting his reader with familiar Gothic tropes while deftly interrogating his protagonist’s sense of her own self. There are mirrors here, an insane asylum, and enough startling coincidences to make you think Harwood was actually writing this in late Victorian England, where the novel is set. There are even a dark, brooding hero and a diabolical villain, assuming they are who they appear to be. But at its heart this novel concerns one woman’s struggles with her own identity, one she is only barely aware of herself. That woman’s name is Georgina Ferrars. Or is it?

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A Very Unusual Pursuit by Catherine Jinks & Julius and the Watchmaker by Tim Hehir

June 2013, no. 352

The Victorian era has gripped the collective imagination of speculative fiction writers in much the same way the medieval period influenced our forebears. The nineteenth century gave us the Penny Dreadful, Dracula, and Frankenstein, and the melding in fiction of fantasy and reality, superstition and science. A spike in child labour was followed by its marked decline as society began associating childhood with innocence.

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Richard Harland’s Liberator begins three months after its predecessor, Worldshaker (2009), left off. The optimism and exuberance that marked the success of the revolution has dimmed as the inhabitants of the newly renamed Liberator struggle with the realities of running the mobile juggernaut. A saboteur breeds havoc and mistrust between the governing council of Filthies and the remaining Upper Decks folk (the Swanks), and conflicting factions vie for control. Meanwhile, the Liberator is running out of coal, and the only place where the revolutionaries can replenish their stock exposes them to direct conflict with the remaining Imperialist juggernauts.

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Yellowcake  by Margo Lanagan & The Wilful Eye: Tales from the Tower, Volume I  edited by Isobelle Carmody and Nan McNab

May 2011, no. 331

The ten tales in Margo Lanagan’s Yellowcake offer an eclectic glimpse behind the slender veil separating the everyday from the fantastic. The collection is peopled by monstrous gods and godly monsters, by scavengers, drifters, and fascinators. Its landscape incorporates hellish war zones, apocalyptic streetscapes, and haunting carnivals. There is hope and ...

S.D. Gentill’s Chasing Odysseus provides a fresh perspective on Homer’s The Odyssey for young readers. It focuses on the adventures of Hero and her three brothers – Machaon, Lycon, and Cadmus – during the fall of Troy and on their subsequent pursuit of Odysseus, king of Ithaca, throughout his legendary voyages. The siblings are raised among the Herdsmen of Ida, who are ...

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