Benjamin Chandler

Benjamin Chandler holds a PhD in Creative Writing and Fantasy. He writes Young Adult Fiction and has published academic work on popular culture, video game narrative theory, Japanese heroism, anime and manga, and Creative Writing pedagogy. Every now and then he teaches Creative Writing, English Literature, and Media Studies topics at the University of Adelaide and Flinders University.

Benjamin Chandler reviews 'Future Girl' by Asphyxia, 'The Other Side of the Sky' by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, and 'Indigo Owl' by Charlie Archbold

January–February 2021, no. 428 17 December 2020
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 politica ... (read more)

Benjamin Chandler reviews 'All Fall Down' by Cassandra Austin

May 2017, no. 391 30 April 2017
Benjamin Chandler reviews 'All Fall Down' by Cassandra Austin
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. Janice, crossing the bridge to flee her husband Craig and reunite with former lover Shane – or maybe not – manages to survive the fall, waking from a coma weeks later with a head injury people aren’t sure she isn’t faking. Charlie prays over ... (read more)

Benjamin Chandler reviews 'The Change Trilogy: The Silent Invasion' by James Bradley

April 2017, no. 390 30 March 2017
Benjamin Chandler reviews 'The Change Trilogy: The Silent Invasion' by James Bradley
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, Callie flee ... (read more)

Benjamin Chandler reviews 'The Tale of Shikanoko: Emperor of the eight islands' by Lian Hearn

June–July 2016, no. 382 23 May 2016
Benjamin Chandler reviews 'The Tale of Shikanoko: Emperor of the eight islands' by Lian Hearn
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 (2002–07). It is a pleasure to read a writer in top form, and Hearn is at her best here, demonstrating her characteristic flair for uncluttered, elegant prose. The Eight Islands are torn between two warring factions fighting over the emperor's throne. ... (read more)

Benjamin Chandler reviews 'The Red Queen' by Isobelle Carmody

March 2016, no. 379 25 February 2016
Benjamin Chandler reviews 'The Red Queen' by Isobelle Carmody
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 must save the world from a second nuclear holocaus ... (read more)

Benjamin Chandler reviews 'The Loud Earth' by Elisabeth Murray

May 2014, no. 361 30 April 2014
Benjamin Chandler reviews 'The Loud Earth' by Elisabeth Murray
The unnamed narrator of The Loud Earth lives the hermit life of the shunned. Her parents were murdered. She was acquitted of the crime, but small-town mentality condemns her nonetheless. She retires to a cabin in the mountains overlooking the town’s lake, and seems content to remain there until Hannah arrives at her door. Hannah, not of the town and thus not yet indoctrinated by the townsfolk in ... (read more)

Benjamin Chandler reviews 'The Asylum' by John Harwood

July–August 2013, no. 353 25 June 2013
Benjamin Chandler reviews 'The Asylum' by John Harwood
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 coincid ... (read more)

Benjamin Chandler reviews 'A Very Unusual Pursuit: City of Orphans, Book One' by Catherine Jinks and 'Julius and the Watchmaker' by Tim Hehir

June 2013, no. 352 27 May 2013
Benjamin Chandler reviews 'A Very Unusual Pursuit: City of Orphans, Book One' by Catherine Jinks and 'Julius and the Watchmaker' by Tim Hehir
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 ch ... (read more)

Benjamin Chandler reviews 'Liberator' by Richard Harland

September 2011, no. 334 22 August 2011
Benjamin Chandler reviews 'Liberator' by Richard Harland
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 D ... (read more)

Benjamin Chandler reviews 'Madigan Mine' by Kirstyn McDermott

December 2010–January 2011, no. 327 08 June 2011
Madigan Mine is the promising first novel by Kirstyn McDermott, who won the Aurealis, Ditmar and Chronos awards for her short story ‘Painless’. Narrated in the first person by Alex Bishop, a young man in his mid-twenties with not much going for him, Madigan Mine tells the story of Alex’s relationship with Madigan Sargood, a childhood friend who re-enters his life after a prolonged absence. T ... (read more)
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