Friday, July 28, 2017

Soft Sci Fi by a NZ Author

Thieves Trilogy, Ella West
This series was recommended to me by one of the youth in the youth group I serve.  We were on an op-shopping challenge; she picked up the first book in the series and said, "This is really good.  It's the first in a trilogy.  And it's a NZ author.  You'd like it."  I bought that copy, and it went on my TR shelf...for quite some time.  Earlier this month I went on a trip to support this group of youth in service at the temple, packing the recommended paperback as my planned reading for the flight up -- knowing I'd be spending the week with this young woman who told me it was worth reading.  I read the entire flight, then finished the final chapter by the baggage claim while the others in the group watched and waited for their luggage (I don't check baggage if I can help it).  I really enjoyed it. 

I can see why Thieves was short-listed for the New Zealand Post Book Awards and why Tessa Duder's endorsed it.  I can also understand why English classes are studying it.  In spite of all of these things, this series flew way under my radar -- and I imagine it has yours -- which is a real shame.   The series was published by Longacre Press (Dunedin), which has since been acquired by Random House...and nothing new has happened with it since the first editions more than a decade ago.  I think the trilogy deserves repackaging and promotion.  Minimal edits to update the tech content would be worth it, just to bump it into the relate-able mainstream.  Even without those, it's a great read.


It is easy reading at the same time as being well-written; it's sparse and tight, is all. 



In Thieves I was introduced to great pacing and intrigue.  It was simple and yet very engrossing.  There's a lot of New Zealand colloqualisms...and I dug those.  I would be interested to hear how these translate for those from elsewhere.  I also enjoyed the romantic development -- it was more real and less central, and nothing too spicy happens here.

I went and picked up the next two books from the library as soon as I got home.  I read Book 2, Anywhere But Here, in a single night.  The romance develops to feature more mature content (in that they talk about sex), but there are no heavy sensual scenes.  There is some disturbing and violent content, but this is handled tastefully.  I was really happy with the narrative direction.  I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the play-by-play prose -- it's never tedious, but rather just the right details are given so that they are something to savour.  I wasn't thrilled about the ending of this one, and became quite conscious of how young the protagonists were (they seem much, much older).

Book 3, Real Life, I picked up and read the next day.  I enjoyed the conclusion, but found it the least rivetting of the three.  Overall though, the series was a great escape, and I think more YA fans (particularly kiwi YA-readers) should seek out a copy and give it a whirl -- your library is sure to hold one.  Let me know what you think!
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