Infinite Sky by C.J. Flood, reviewed by Ms. Kerin and Ms. Heaphy ⛅🌌
Infinite Sky tells the story of a young girl’s encounter with her first love. C. J. Flood explores the discrimination against the travelling community which creates enormous problems for this young couple, Iris and Trick, who are forced to keep their meetings secret. As their relationship develops, so the tension between both communities increases leading to a tragic climax which is memorable and heart breaking for readers. This story explores the themes of romance, stereotyping and family conflict and is a definite must read for all those who enjoyed The Outsiders!
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, reviewed by Ms. Kerin and Ms. Heaphy 🌈💑
This is a very sweet tale of teenage love and romance. Rowell sensitively deals with the themes of isolation, bullying and family conflict while exploring very honestly the ups and downs encountered by many young people when they fall in love for the first time. Rowell grips her readers immediately by slowly and descriptively developing the budding romance between the two protagonists so that we are just as eager as the young couple to see how it all unfolds. Amidst this gentle story there is a gritty undertone as Rowell tactfully explores poverty and domestic violence. The clever ending left us satisfied by these characters journeys yet hoping for more!
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A letter of review penned by Mr. O’ Donnell 😊
Firstly, I’d like to thank Ms. Ronan for signing me up to The Battle of the Books. I thoroughly enjoyed reading both of the books I was assigned. I would also like to note that The Jewel is the first book in a trilogy, something I didn’t know before starting. However, I am happily reading the second book. Thanks, Doreen.
Seven Days by Eve Ainsworth ⌛⛅️🌙
The story in Seven Days provides a balanced perspective of the lives of two teenage girls, Jess and Kez: the bullied and the bully. The teenage years can be difficult enough without having to deal with a bully, and sadly, Jess is at the receiving end of Kez’s anger. For Jess, school should be an escape from the challenges she faces in her difficult home life. However, Kez and her friends torment Jess. Sadly, Kez deals with her own family issues by targeting Jess. Neither the bully nor the bullied are victimless in this nightmarish story.
The book explores the theme of bullying and challenges the reader to see the point of view of both the bullied and the bully. Both characters narrate their points of view over the seven days. They delve into the challenges of dealing with destructive relationships and self-acceptance. As an adult I was emotionally challenged at certain points in the story and I can imagine that by reading about this sensitive issue a teenage reader would be empowered to deal with a bullying problem, whether it was their own issue or even someone they knew.
The Jewel by Amy Ewing 💎
This is a captivating story based in the wealthy dystopian city called the Jewel. The royal families of the Jewel have developed a surrogate program that plucks teen vessels from their disadvantaged families and places them in holding facility until they are ready to be sent to auction. Violet, the main character, is purchased by the Duchess of the Lake and she is separated from her friends from the holding facility as she awaits her impregnation; her only purpose is to the bear the child of a royal.
Violet struggles as she loses her identity and freedom in her luxurious prison. She finds love in a royal companion called Ash; they engage in a forbidden affair that consequently could be a death sentence for her and her lover. Her growing resentment for her imprisoned reality brings out her inner rebellious self. She is forced to decide to escape, save herself and help bring down the surrogacy program. The result of this would mean abandoning her heart and leaving Ash behind.
When I came to the end of the book I was left puzzled as I realised I would have to wait to discover the fate of Violet. Thankfully, Doreen was there to hand me the next book from The Lone Series.
I put The Jewel forward to the next round because I enjoy the world of fantasy. You go on a journey into a world that is imaginative and surprises you at every turned page.
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Infinite Sky by C. J. Flood, reviewed by Ms. Rabbitte and Mr. Murphy ⛅🌌
Infinite Sky is a compelling coming-of-age story. Iris, her brother and father have been left reeling after her mother recently abandoned them, and further trouble erupts when an unwelcome family of travellers sets up camp on their land. Iris’s fascination with young traveller, Trick, soon blossoms into love, and Iris is forced to navigate the difficult terrain between the traveller boy who has transformed her life at this difficult time, and a father who despises the “thieving, filthy” travellers who have invaded his property.
Although the novel is a ‘slow burner’, the opening page cryptically reveals that a tragedy is looming, and the reader cannot help guessing throughout the novel as to who exactly the victim will be. Tension builds as the novel switches between the blissful, peaceful moments shared by Iris and Trick, to the volatile moments involving her troubled father and brother. (We’ll stop there, to avoid spoilers!)
We chose this novel as our winner, for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was beautifully written. The novel is filled with gems such as, “The sky was the colour of a sucked-out blue ice-pop”. I’m not sure about Mr. Murphy, but I thought I’d died and gone to Simile Heaven with: “As the sun climbed higher, we grew slow and lazy like wasps trapped in a jar.” (… I never could resist a good simile.)
We felt that the novel holds the reader’s attention as it explores the compelling themes of prejudice and forbidden love. However, it wasn’t just the major themes that grabbed us. Even the less significant plot details, such as Iris’s relationship with long-time friend (more like ‘frenemy’) Matty, made for interesting and realistic reading.
Another reason we chose this novel as our winner was for its subtleties; there are several moments when the writer hints at something without explicitly handing it to us. For example, there are many subtle references to the filth and grime in Iris’s house, and they oh-so-quietly reveal just how much her father has fallen apart following his wife’s departure, and the extent to which he is struggling to get through each day.
A final reason—as if you’re not already convinced—why this novel is definitely worth a read, is that the writer does not take the easy way out when it comes to separating the good guys from the bad guys. Nor does she give in to the temptation of an easy, convenient ending. You will notice the shadow overhanging the very first page of the novel, and you’ll just have to wait and see how things turn out for Iris, Trick, and their “death-mark’d love”.
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If any students would like to submit reviews of any of the Battle of the Books selection you can email them to email@example.com and I will post them here, more importantly they will also be entered into the monthly Book Review Competition so you will have a chance to win a €10 book token! 😍💰📚
February’s winner will be announced tomorrow 😊