Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology – Edited by Danielle Binks
24th April 2017, HarperCollins Publishers Australia
336 pages, 5/5 stars
This is an incredible selection of Australia’s best young adult authors. I loved each and every one of these short stories, all from authors I am familiar with except for Danielle Binks herself, Melissa Keil, and Ellie Marney. I think that a few lines on each story might be the best way to review this book, so see below…
One Small Step – Amie Kaufman
The main character in this short story, Zaida, is the first child born on Mars. Earth loves her; her public status has opened many doors. Her parents want her to study medicine back on the home planet. But who does Zaida actually want to be? If there were no outside influences, what would she choose to do with her life? A scary incident brings these questions to the surface. What a fabulous little story about identity, and especially about that tricky moment between high school and university where there are endless opportunities, but you only get to pick one… (Just for the record, I love Amie’s visions of space habitats; she writes space very, very well – see Illuminae.)
I Can See the Ending – Will Kostakis
I loved this story, but my absolute favourite thing is that the cat is called Lara Bengal. GENIUS. (Will, please name my cat!) But, back to the plot – if you knew that something really good was going to end really badly, would you still go through with it? That is the question Adam faces. Will Kostakis aces speculative fiction, just as he does with contemporary. (The Sidekicks and The First Third are both must-reads for any Australian YA fans). Please give me more Will Kostakis specfic! Or just more Will Kostakis books in general!
In a Heartbeat – Alice Pung
Laurinda is honest-to-goodness one of my top reads EVER. And this short story also blew me away. Alice Pung, I love you. Especially for The Gilmore Girls reference. A teenager and her mother are dealing with an unplanned pregnancy; the voice is amazing, and it’s a really touching perspective.
First Casualty – Michael Pryor
Michael Pryor wrote one of my favourite series as a kid, The Laws of Magic. Unfortunately, I don’t own my own copies with the original covers and I will regret this until my dying day. But I was so excited to rediscover his work recently, and now he is in this anthology, with an amazing piece of work. The First Casualty is set in space. There is a huge war going on and two teenagers, on a sort of ‘schoolies’ trip, pick up some alien refugees, sparking government distress. It is such a gentle, yet also forceful, piece of work, which can be related back to the way our world treats refugees. This is a prime example of how fiction can teach us to be better people, with empathy.
Sundays – Melissa Keil
I still feel like I’m in that awkward teenage moment after high school, where you aren’t sure what you’re doing. (Even though I now have a degree and a full-time job – when did I become an adult?) And I love reading about other people in that same moment. Gabe has an incredibly tight-knit group of six friends which revolves around Cameron and Claire, the perfect, stable couple. But then they break up, wanting freedom before they start university. And everybody else’s plans come crashing down too. It’s told over the course of one night, and covers the stages Gabe goes through until she accepts the change that is happening in her life. And maybe she’ll learn that change isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Real warm fuzzy feelings for this story!
Missing Persons – Ellie Marney
I feel that this story would make a lot more sense had I already read Ellie’s Every Breath series. As it was though, it is a story about being displaced, and it encouraged me to move Every Breath closer to the top of my TBR. I want to read more about Mycroft!
Oona Underground – Lili Wilkinson
Two girls navigate their way through overflow tunnels to find the Witch Queen. It’s a bit magical, and a bit sceptical, but all marvellous. The girls each have a wish they want fulfilled. Some really quirky characters, some beautiful scenes, and a great ending.
The Feeling from Over Here – Gabrielle Tozer
There are two sides to every story. Lucy and Cameron were sort of maybe more than friends. And then they weren’t. And Cameron disappeared. But now they’re stuck on an eight-hour bus trip from Canberra to Melbourne. I love Gabrielle Tozer’s writing style – it’s straightforward and sweet. And her characters are excellent.
Last Night at the Mount Solemn Observatory – Danielle Binks
I liked this story a lot! With main characters called King and Bowie, I was immediately intrigued, plus it talks about sign language. AWESOME. And then, there’s an observatory. All the points required for a winning tale.
Competition Entry #349 – Jaclyn Moriarty
Probably the funniest of the bunch. AND IT FEATURES TIME TRAVEL! Really great twist at the end – can’t say too much about this one; I risk ruining the entire thing. But it was fantastic and quirky and TIME TRAVEL.
Which sounds most interesting to you? Do any of your favourite authors feature?
Bestsellers. Award-winners. Superstars.
This anthology has them all.
With brilliantly entertaining short stories from beloved young adult authors Amie Kaufman, Melissa Keil, Will Kostakis, Ellie Marney, Jaclyn Moriarty, Michael Pryor, Alice Pung, Gabrielle Tozer, Lili Wilkinson and Danielle Binks, this all-new collection will show the world exactly how much there is to love about Aussie YA.