IA : Initiate, by John Darryl Winston

Publisher: Purple Ash Press  |  Publication date: 19th April 2014  |  Edition: Kindle (review copy)

IA Initiate by John Darryl Winston

A quirky and intelligent fantasy for Young Adults

Welcome to Naz’s world – The Enclave – where he’ll come face to face with opponents from all walks of life: gangs, an unsympathetic foster carer, a enigmatic chessmaster, but mostly himself.

Naz has already experienced his fair share of troubles following the loss of their mother. The young lad is also tasked with taking care of his little sister, Meri, which isn’t easy given the often unfriendly territory they find themselves in.

Coming to terms with a past he has no memory of, he has to release his own potential in this world by accepting the challenges presented to him. But will he select the path that will set him on the right way in life?

Between episodes of sleepwalking and surreal occurrences involving telekinesis, things just don’t add up. Accepting guidance from his doc/therapist, teachers, and not forgetting wise little Meri, Naz shows us that it’s possible to achieve great things without having to embrace the ‘dark side’. 

Quirky and intelligent, this is an edgy fantasy in places and offers an alternative way of capturing everyday issues to show that ‘brains are better than brawn’.  There’s some nice dialogue exchanged between the characters too.

There are a couple of loose ends I would have liked to have been concluded in the finale (then again, I can be a bit of a ‘neat freak’ sometimes!). Perhaps everything will be explored further in a book two…

All-in-all a different and entertaining story that will appeal to a young adult audience.

Rating: 3.5/5

I must take this opportunity to offer my gratitude to the author, who kindly provided this Kindle edition for me to read and review. Thanks for getting in touch (and letting me loose on your book!)

If you wish, you can follow the author on Twitter: @johndwinston


Joe All Alone, by Joanna Nadin

Publisher: Hachette Children’s Books  |  Published 7th May 2015  |  Edition: Kindle, via Netgalley

Counting down the days one by one, Joe Holt shares his ‘adventures’ of the week or so he is home alone.

Joe All Alone

No parents. No rules. No problem? Erm, think again…

From looking at the cover, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a variant of a Macaulay Culkin film – looks fun, doesn’t it?

Well, appearances can be deceptive. Being left alone in a flat would seem like any child’s dream, wouldn’t it? You can do what you want, say what you want, and eat what you want – but what if you couldn’t? What if your primary carers cleared off on a Spanish holiday and left you with nothing but the following basic instructions?:

1. Don’t leave the flat in case people see you. (They’ll report it to the authorities.)
2. Don’t talk to anyone (Refer to no. 1).

Being left behind (abandoned) by his mother and Dean, her current boyfriend, didn’t seem so bad for a short while…

Each day of the story holds its own joy, or new problem to confront.  But little Joe Holt is just a thirteen year old from Peckham. That is until he meets Asha by accident.

Despite building quite a bond with this feisty girl over a short number of days, with her bubble gum and strong opinions, Joe doesn’t tell her the truth about him being alone at first.

When Joe’s folks fail to return home he’s forced to use his initiative to find a more permanent solution to his problems. But when you’ve been told you’re pretty useless and relentlessly start counting stuff under stress, it’s hard to believe you can achieve anything at all.

But never fear! It’s not all total bleakness. In between bullying, a nasty thug who’s watching the flat, and supplies running out, Joe’s quirkiness remains, together with his humour, optimism and a very special friendship.

Hope (if you can call it that) does raise its head, but in a totally unexpected way.  The ending wasn’t exactly what I’d have liked, but I suppose you don’t get everything in life, just like Joe Holt of Peckham.

Rating: 4/5

(My sincere thanks to the publisher for the advanced copy I received via Netgalley.)

You can follow the author on Twitter: @joannanadin | Publisher: @LBKidsUK