Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday! This weekly shared “meme” has a different theme each week and is shared by many blogs. Our ten books aren’t usually in any particular order.
This week’s official topic is ‘books set outside the US’, so I am totally hijacking it for #loveozya. Here are ten fantasy/sci-fi/geeky books set in Australia.
Please note: This is by no means a definitive list! There are SO many more – these are just books I’ve read recently or particularly enjoyed. If I’ve missed any that you’d like to recommend, please do!
Ten Speculative/Geeky Books Set in Australia
1. The Rephaim Series by Paula Weston
It’s almost a year since Gaby Winters was in the car crash that killed her twin brother, Jude. Her body has healed in the sunshine of Pandanus Beach, but her grief is raw and constant. It doesn’t help that every night in her dreams she kills demons and other hell-spawn.
And then Rafa comes to town. Not only does he look exactly like the guy who’s been appearing in Gaby’s dreams—he claims a history with her brother that makes no sense. Gaby is forced to accept that what she thought she knew about herself and her life is only a shadow of the truth—and that the truth is more likely to be found in the shadows of her nightmares.
My favourite series set in Australia is Paula Weston’s Rephaim series. There’s angels and demons and a whole lot of badassery going on in these four books, and above all, they have a very distinctly Aussie flavour.
You can listen to our interview with Paula Weston in episode 28 of TTT Podcast!
2. The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Kiel
Alba loves her life just as it is. She loves living behind the bakery, and waking up in a cloud of sugar and cinnamon. She loves drawing comics and watching bad TV with her friends.
The only problem is she’s overlooked a few teeny details:
Like, the guy she thought long gone has unexpectedly reappeared.
And the boy who has been her best friend since forever has suddenly gone off the rails.
And even her latest comic-book creation is misbehaving.
Also, the world might be ending – which is proving to be awkward.
I only read this adorable book recently and I loved the whimsical style and how random the whole doomsday plot is. Set in a small farming town, this is not fantasy, but filled with geeky references.
3. Threader by Rebekah Turner
It’s the year 2050 and life is increasingly hard for ‘non-citizens’. A slowly emerging young minority has been exposed as ‘talents’; they harbour mutations that give them special gifts – super strength, regenerative powers, psychic gifts or the ability to sink through shadows and travel through time and space. As governments unite to form a global talent registry and powerful corporations step in to take control, a ‘talent’ can be a passport to citizenship and a better life, but there is a cost as Josie Ryder is about to discover.
If young people with special powers sounds like your kind of story, then you should definitely give Threader a read. I really enjoyed this thriller from a local author.
4. Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden
When Ellie and her friends return from a camping trip in the Australian bush, they find things hideously wrong — their families are gone. Gradually they begin to comprehend that their country has been invaded and everyone in their town has been taken prisoner. As the reality of the situation hits them, they must make a decision — run and hide, give themselves up and be with their families, or fight back.
The Tomorrow series may be twenty years old now, but it’s still just as gripping to read about Australia being invaded by a close neighbour and a group of teens fighting for survival.
5. The Road to Winter by Mark Smith
Finn’s a survivor.
A hidden stash of canned food and fuel.
He’s kept himself alive, and clear of the violent gang controlling the north, for two winters – ever since the virus wiped out the town.
But now it’s complicated.
There’s a girl.
She’s on the run, injured, and she needs Finn’s help.
But the secret she carries will change everything.
In a similar vein to Tomorrow, When the War Began, The Road to Winter is a story of survival. This time though, it’s a virus that has wiped out most of the population. Chilling stuff.
6. Lifespan of Starlight by Thalia Kalkipsakis
In 2084, three teenagers discover the secret to time travel. At first their jumps cover only a few seconds, but soon they master the technique and combat their fear of jumping into the unknown.
It’s dangerous. It’s illegal. And it’s utterly worth it for the full-body bliss of each return.
As their ability to time jump grows into days and weeks, the group begins to push beyond their limits, with terrifying consequences. Could they travel as far as ten years, to escape the authorities? They are desperate enough to find out.
But before they jump they must be sure, because it only works in one direction.
Once you trip forwards, there’s no coming back.
Set in Melbourne, the concept of short-hop time travel is an interesting one, but what would happen if you were to hop a lot further forward? The second book in this trilogy, Split Infinity, is now out and I’m looking forward to reading it!
7. Every Breath by Ellie Marney
Rachel Watts has just moved to Melbourne from the country, but the city is the last place she wants to be.
James Mycroft is her neighbour, an intriguingly troubled seventeen-year-old who’s also a genius with a passion for forensics.
Despite her misgivings, Rachel finds herself unable to resist Mycroft when he wants her help investigating a murder. He’s even harder to resist when he’s up close and personal – and on the hunt for a cold-blooded killer.
When Rachel and Mycroft follows the murderer’s trail, they find themselves in the lion’s den – literally. A trip to the zoo will never have quite the same meaning again…
Another book set in Melbourne, this time featuring a Sherlock Holmes-flavoured mystery and a sweet romance. I can’t wait to get stuck into the rest of this trilogy.
8. Yellow by Megan Jacobson
If fourteen-year-old Kirra is having a mid-life crisis now, then it doesn’t bode well for her life expectancy. Her so-called friends bully her, whatever semblance of a mother she had has been drowned at the bottom of a gin bottle ever since her dad left them for another woman, and now a teenage ghost is speaking to her through a broken phone booth. Kirra and the ghost make a pact. She’ll prove who murdered him almost twenty years ago if he does three things for her. He makes her popular, he gets her parents back together, and he doesn’t haunt her. Things aren’t so simple however, and Kirra realises that people can be haunted in more ways than one.
Apart from having the most beautiful cover, this ghost story features a northern New South Wales beach town.
9. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.
Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things.
While occasionally it felt like this story might be having a joke on people who find relationships difficult, like Don, it is still mostly a very endearing romance. Great local flavour as well.
10. The Four Seasons of Lucy Mackenzie by Kirsty Murray
Lucy McKenzie can walk through walls. Sent to stay with her aunt Big in a hidden valley, Lucy discovers the old house is full of mysteries. One hot night, she hears a voice calling from inside a painting on the dining-room wall…
On the other side of the painting, Lucy meets three children. Together they race horses through the bush, battle fires and floods, and make friendships that will last a lifetime. But whoare April, Tom and Jimmy Tiger, and what magic has drawn Lucy to them?
A young girl who steps through a painting and ends up in the past? Yes please! On top of that, this book brings a perfect feeling of the Australian bush in all different seasons.