The best books for an introduction to Aotearoa New Zealand's YA writers (IMO)

Who am I?

I love Aotearoa New Zealand books! Our writers are brave, feisty, original - and living in ‘the land of the long white cloud’ at the bottom of the globe gives us a unique take on the world that permeates through everything we write. But we struggle to get our voices heard internationally, so far from the rest of you! This is your chance to push out your boundaries and explore stories that derive from a culture very different from your own, while sharing the same human emotions that bring us all together. As one of these writers, I challenge you to check us out – you won’t be disappointed!


I wrote...

Singing Home The Whale

By Mandy Hager,

Book cover of Singing Home The Whale

What is my book about?

The extraordinary story of how the arrival of a baby orca whale threatens to tear apart a fishing community and forever changes the life of the boy who finds it.

Will Jackson is hiding out, a city boy reluctantly staying with his uncle in small town New Zealand while he struggles to recover from a brutal attack and the aftermath of a humiliating Youtube clip gone viral. After he discovers a young abandoned orca his life is further thrown into chaos when he rallies to help protect it against hostile locals. The boy and whale develop a unique bond, forged by Will’s love of singing. An exciting plot-driven story full of drama, tension, and romance, this magical book captures both heart and mind from start to finish.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Dreamhunter

Mandy Hager Why did I love this book?

Elizabeth Knox is a world-class writer with an exceptional imagination and her fantasy novel, Dreamhunter, is a great introduction to her work. Set in an alternative past, dreamhunters harvest dreams which are transmitted to the public for entertainment and therapy – or worse. Fifteen-year-old Laura Hame must enter The Place of Dreams to uncover what happened to her missing dreamhunter father and in the process reveals how the government has used dreams to control an ever-growing population of convicts and political dissenters. Those who love Philip Pullman or Garth Nix won’t be disappointed.

By Elizabeth Knox,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dreamhunter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Laura comes from a world similar to our own but for one difference: The Place. An unfathomable land filled with dreams of every kind and invisible to all but a select few: the Dreamhunters. Treated as celebrities, the Dreamhunters catch larger-than-life dreams and relay them to audiences in the magnificent dream palace, The Rainbow Opera.

Now, 15 year-old Laura and her cousin Rose are going to find out whether they are part of this prestigious group. But nothing in their darkest nightmares can prepare them for what they are about to discover. For within the Place lies a horrific secret…


Book cover of The Catalogue of the Universe

Mandy Hager Why did I love this book?

Perhaps our greatest writer for children and young adult fiction, two-time Carnegie Medal winner Margaret Mahy, this book won the 2005 Phoenix Award from the Children's Literature Association. Essentially it’s a love story, but not as you’ve ever experienced it before. It’s brainy, surprising, endearing, and really, really worth a read!  

By Margaret Mahy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Catalogue of the Universe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Determined to satisfy her curiosity about her unknown father, eighteen-year-old Angela May embarks on an emotional journey that shapes and forever alters the way she looks at herself, her unconventional mother, and her devoted friend Tycho. Reprint.


Book cover of Under the Mountain

Mandy Hager Why did I love this book?

This book for younger YA’s has some of the creepiest villains you’ll ever meet and knuckle-biting tension as the heroes are chased by the evil Wilberforces, slug-like shapeshifters who live under Auckland’s extinct volcanoes. Their goal is the destruction of the world and only red-haired twins Rachel and Theo Matheson can stop them, with the help of the strange Mr. Jones, who helps the twins unleash their supernatural power.

By Maurice Gee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Under the Mountain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Beneath the extinct volcanoes surrounding the city, giant creatures are waking from a spellbound sleep that has lasted thousands of years. Their goal is the destruction of the world. Rachel and Theo Matheson are twins. Apart from having red hair, there is nothing remarkable about them - or so they think. They are horrified to discover that they have a strange and awesome destiny. Only the Matheson twins can save the world from the terror of what is under the mountain. Also available as an eBook


Book cover of The Raging Quiet

Mandy Hager Why did I love this book?

A writer of predominantly fantasy and historical fiction, Sheryl Jordan’s books have heart and soul. The Raging Quiet, a fantasy novel, introduces us to outsider Marnie, a young widow living in an isolated medieval community. Her only friends are a priest and a weird, "mad" youth called Raven, who she realizes is not mad at all, but deaf. When she teaches him "hand words" they are both suspected of witchcraft and find themselves under attack. It’s a book that pierces your heart and stays with you for a long time afterward. 

By Sherryl Jordan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Raging Quiet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, and 14.

What is this book about?

OUTSIDERS
Widowed just two days after her unwilling marriage to a man twice her age, Marnie finds herself an outsider in the remote seaside village of Torcurra. Spurned by the townsfolk who suspect her involvement in her husband's death, she has only two friends: the local priest and the madman known as Raver, even more of an outcast than Marnie herself.
Marnie makes a remarkable discovers about Raver, whom she renames Raven, and the two forge a deep bond that begins to heal her own bruised heart. But the suspicious villagers see Raven's transformation as evidence of witchcraft, and suddenly…


Book cover of I Am Not Esther

Mandy Hager Why did I love this book?

This gripping psychological thriller centers around a girl who is caught up in a religious cult, her name changed and all her supports ripped away. How will she survive this? Will she be able to escape? Still in print after 20 years, this book won the Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-loved Book 2009.

By Fleur Beale,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Am Not Esther as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

A classic bestseller that's been in print for over 20 years, this gripping YA thriller follows a teenage girl caught in a religious cult.

Imagine that your mother tells you she's going away. She is going to leave you with relatives you've never heard of - and they are members of a strict religious cult. Your name is changed, and you are forced to follow the severe set of social standards set by the cult. There is no television, no radio, no newspaper. No mirrors. You must wear long, modest clothes. You don't know where your mother is, and you…


You might also like...

Lethal Legacy

By H R Kemp,

Book cover of Lethal Legacy

H R Kemp

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Buried Secrets. A web of deceit, betrayal, and danger. Can she survive her fight for justice and truth? Laura thought she knew everything about her late husband before he died. Now, her life and the lives of those she loves are in danger. As Laura delves into his previous role in Iraq, she unravels a web of lies and deceit that goes far beyond anything she could have imagined. What was he researching? And why are people willing to kill for it?

Laura turns amateur sleuth. At fifty-nine, she must summon every ounce of strength to expose the truth and navigate a treacherous landscape where the lines between trust and betrayal blur. Every step she takes brings her closer to the truth, but also deeper into the dangerous realm of those who wish to silence her forever.

Can she triumph over the shadows of corruption and finally bring justice to light? Or will she succumb to the deadly grip of those who will stop at nothing to protect their dark legacies?

Lethal Legacy

By H R Kemp,

What is this book about?

Buried Secrets. A web of deceit, betrayal, and danger. Can she survive her fight for justice and truth?

Laura thought she knew everything about her late husband before he died. Now, her life and the lives of those she loves are in danger.

As Laura delves into his previous role in Iraq, she begins to unravel a web of lies and deceit that goes far beyond anything she could have imagined. What was he researching? And why are people willing to kill for it?

Laura turns amateur sleuth. At fifty-nine, she must summon every ounce of strength and relentless determination…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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