Quite by chance I have read a series of books recently which, whilst all being very different, have all had a spooky continuity. They have all asked questions about reality and identity, and involved stories about people trying to find themselves and get back home.
The first book, Nowhere Boys by Elise McCredie, is based on an Australian television drama series [by Tony Ayres and Beth Frey] that won the Australian Film Institute Award for best Children’s Television Drama in 2013. It is a fantasy adventure about four very different teenage boys who spend a night in the bush when a school excursion goes wrong. But when they return home, they discover that they are trapped in a parallel world where no one recognises them and they no longer exist. What has happened? Is it magic? Is it demons? Why has this happened? and how are they going to get home?
The second book, Flip is Martyn Bedford“s first young adult novel [although he has published five novels for adults]. Flip is a much more intense psychological thriller about a boy called Alex who wakes up one morning to find himself trapped in the body of someone else; this person shares the same birthday but nothing else. He lives in very different part of the country, he has a sister not a brother, he is popular, he is good at sports and he has lots of girlfriends. Alex knows that at his core he is not Philip, or Flip, but where is his “unique inner essence”, is he really a “psychic evacuee” and how can he return to his family?
The third and final novel I read was More Than This by Patrick Ness. It has been described as a “tense thriller” about “love and survival.” Our copy in the library has a lovely message at the front of the book from the author especially for Australian and New Zealand readers! In it he explains that this book started as an idea in his head whilst he was in our “part of the world”. More Than This begins with Seth drowning; then he wakes up. Where is he? Is he in hell? Is he dreaming? Is he living in his imagination? Little by little we find out about Seth as he tries to reconcile his past with his present. I wont spoil your delight of discovery by telling you any more, but I would say that this book is perhaps the most demanding and challenging read of the three.