Book Review

Book Review: Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins by Liz Kessler.

HasAnyoneSeenUnexpectedly discovering you have a superpower can lead to trouble, as 13-year-old Jessica Jenkins finds out in this exciting new adventure from BLUE PETER BOOK AWARD-shortlisted author, Liz Kessler.

Jessica Jenkins is missing…

Jessica Jenkins has always thought she was a perfectly ordinary girl, until the day that part of her arm vanishes in the middle of a Geography lesson! Her best friend Izzy is determined to help Jessica realise what a great opportunity the power to turn invisible could be, but where has her new ability come from? Does this mean she’s a superhero? And, when her friends are threatened, can Jessica use her superpower to help?

I loved the last book of Liz Kessler’s that I read, time slip adventure North of Nowhere (see my review here). When I heard that her new middle grade novel was going to feature superpowers I was really excited, I always feel like I’m not reading enough novels featuring characters with superpowers.

The story is narrated by Jessica. She’s a lovely character, she’s comes across in a very engaging, chatty manner. Her friendship with Izzy is really well written, they’re quite different personality types but there is a real depth to their friendship that is very believable and appealing. I was impressed by the way they approached exploring Jessica’s new power of invisibility – whilst her mastery of it may have felt slightly easy I really appreciated them taking a logical approach to it rather than panicking. (I’m not sure I could be so calm at 30-something let alone 13!)

A key part of any story dealing with superpowers is of course explaining how / why the person with the new powers has them. I liked the way the explanation of this unfolded over the course of the book and the science behind it. With any such story there was to be a willingness on the part of the reader to accept the rules of science being bent a little (like the way Doctor Who fans across the world accepted the explanation of time as being a “big ball of wibbly-wobbly… timey-wimey… stuff.”) I found the science between the superpowers to be well considered and I had no problem at all believing it, if anything I’d say it made more sense than many of the equivalent explanations I’ve come across in recent years.

Throughout the course of the book a few other teenagers join Jessica and Izzy in their quest to understand the new superpowers. They all worked really well, I liked the way the group slowly came together and learnt to look past their initial impressions of each other. The ending of the book in particular was highly satisfying in terms of the group dynamic.

This book is just downright cool. It’s fun and fast and I really enjoyed reading it. I think it could work well as a read alike for Cathy Hopkins’ Love at Second Sight. I also think it would be a perfect book companion to popular CBBC show Wizards vs Aliens – something else I love.

Have You Seen Jessica Jenkins? is published in the UK by Orion Children’s Books. Whilst I was provided with a copy of the book by the publisher all opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review

Book Review : North of Nowhere by Liz Kessler.

NorthOfNowhereWhen Mia’s grandfather disappears, Mia and her mother immediately rush down to stay with her grandmother and offer support. With no friends and no internet access in the little seaside village where her grandparents live, Mia is bored and lonely–until she makes friends with Dee, the daughter of a fisherman from a nearby island, and Peter, who is on holiday with his parents. But Mia’s grandad is still missing, and actually meeting face to face with Dee is proving surprisingly difficult. Mia becomes determined to find out what’s going on, but the truth is much more mysterious than she ever imagined…

When this book arrived in the post the first thing that grabbed my attention was the gorgeous cover. I love the silhouettes of the trees against the stormy twilight sky, straight away I wanted to get reading to find out who the two children on the boat are and what they’re doing.

This is going to be a book that’s a little tricky to review, the plot is clever and needs to be discovered by reading rather than be me trying to describe it without giving anything away. At its most basic this is a story about family and friendship, but it’s so much more than this at the same time. Two or three times as I was reading I started to think I knew what was happening and where the book was going and then was thrilled to find that I was wrong or only half right.

I liked Mia, the main character, a lot. I found that as I was reading I felt like her thoughts were my thoughts from when I was in year 8, so many years ago. I think many young readers will really identify with Mia, particularly those in that tricky stage of trying to be the person they think their peers want them to be when at the same time they don’t really want to give up on things they love just because they might be perceived as babyish.

This book is targeted at the 9+ audience so I found it to be a lovely, quick read. There’s plenty packed into it and I found that I didn’t want to do anything other than keep reading it – there was no quick checking of Twitter or anything else until I’d finished reading, this is an exciting book that complete drags you in. I was really impressed by the book, it’s definitely one that I’m going to be pushing into young relatives’ hands.

North of Nowhere is published by Orion Children’s in the UK from 24th January 2013. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.