I spend a lot of time reading and writing American fiction, but my home country of Australia produces dozens of new readers and writers every year in the genres of contemporary and commercial fiction. There are some amazing local novels just waiting to be discovered, so I turned to my fellow Australian Bloggers to unearth their favorite AusLit novels!
Cooper Bartholomew is Dead
The best Australian book I’ve read this year (so far) was Cooper Bartholomew is Dead by Rebecca James. The book opens in the aftermath of Cooper’s death. His family and friends are devastated, but girlfriend Libby can’t understand why a young man in love and with the world at his feet would kill himself. Split between Now and Then, James explores Cooper’s relationships with those closest to him and reveals exactly what took place that night on the cliff. Cooper Bartholomew is Dead is a beautiful, raw and brutal contemporary with a compulsively readable mystery at its heart. I know it’s cheating, but I’d also love to include Kate Morton’s books. I’ve listened to three of them on audio in the past year and they’re superb. Morton’s writing is gorgeous and her novels are epic mysteries, split through generations combining contemporary and historical settings. I can’t wait to read her latest novel, The Lake House.
Illuminae is phenomenal. Not only does it test the boundaries of young adult fiction with it’s unique presentation but the storyline is incredible. The storyline is told in a series of recordings, documents and observations that we haven’t seen in young adult before. It blends science fiction with rich, well developed characters and a storyline that will keep readers on their toes. Readers who grumble that they’ve seen it all before, clearly have yet to read Illuminae. This will be a favorite among Aussie young adult readers this year, not only because both authors are Melbournians but because it’s kick ass. Enough said.
The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl
I absolutely fell in love with Melissa Keil’s The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl last year. It is like EVERYTHING I desperately love in a book. The characters were adorable and relatable and loved cake (!! I mean, hello! INSTA CONNECTION FOR ME) and there was art and outback Australia and, best of all, the apocalypse. (I swear it’s a contemporary, but…there is an apocalypse prediction. So stock up on cupcakes, I guess?) The dialogue is witty and fast too. Basically it’s perfection in a paperback and if you haven’t read it yet, what on earth are you even doing with your life? Hmm? READ THIS BEFORE THE WORLD ENDS!
The Foretelling of Georgie Spider
The Foretelling Of Georgie Spider by Ambelin Kwaymullina (Walker Books) is the third and final instalment in Kwaymullina’s epic YA Aussie dystopian series, ‘The Tribe’ that began with ‘The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf’, and continued with ‘The Disappearance of Ember Crow’. Y’know, there aren’t many Australian YA books in which our heroine’s warrior cry is: “Let’s go free a detention centre!” And that one line should tell you something about how clever and important an author Kwaymullina is, and what a statement this whole series has been. It’s a layered science fiction, eco-dystopic saga that also draws on Stolen Generation history and Indigenous mythology, that is all so tied to the Australian natural landscape – it was sometimes heartbreaking and always thrilling, with just enough tantalizing mystery and romance threaded throughout.
These Broken Stars
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner was an AMAZING read! I loved every moment, right from the beginning to the very end. I found the contrast in the characters interesting—as one knew the surroundings they were thrown head-first into, while the other didn’t; also, there were their contrasting personalities, which made for an even more interesting read. These Broken Stars was a little bit like Romeo and Juliet, and Titanic placed into the one book and then… set in space. It’s not your typical sci-fi book that you can expect to read. It’s a different read, but a good different. Definitely a read that is greatly welcomed!
Trent Jamieson’s vampiric novel is more an examination of males, of men and monsters, the deeper male bonds, and the needed support those relationships have in a boy’s slow but gradual evolution into a man. Day Boy will appeal to all types of readers, realistic and fantasy alike, teens and adults. A completely original vampire tale.
Recommendation by Braiden A!
How to be Happy
David writes about topics which are confronting and to some overwhelming but David pulls off this circle of trust and discusses life in a relatable way. He talks about very serious themes in his book such as sex, depression and gender fluidity, in a way that everyone can understand and eventually become comfortable in discussing the topic further. The book should definitely be introduced into school curriculums because of how David tackles these topics with ease assuring kids that life will get better and you will find out who ‘you’ are. My favourite chapter (even though I loved all of them) would have to be ‘ How to Survive Year 12 ‘. Even though I’m graduating the book still helped me. I wish it was published a year earlier so I could read it and conquer grade 12. How To Be Happy is just full of honesty and humour through the eyes of a growing teenager. This book will definitely help anyone who’s having trouble in life.
My Pick – Freedom Ride
My personal pick for the year is Freedom Ride. I wasn’t sure what I expected going into this story about the conflict between Aboriginal and white Australians during the mid 1960’s, but I was pleasantly surprised nonetheless. Despite the obviously horrifying conditions and mistreatment of Aboriginal people at the time, the story was nicely balanced to provide an even perspective without immediately demonizing all white citizens; at the heart of it, this is a YA contemporary/slice-of-life that highlights the troubles of living in a country town where everyone knows everyone, and anything outside the town’s borders is foreign and distrusted. A must-read for both the well-rounded look at 1960’s racial tensions, and for the heart-warming contemporary story at its core.
Thank you to all my fellow Aussie writers and bloggers who helped out with this list of amazing Australian Fiction, it’s an honor to be part of this community and see what our local authors can achieve. Have you read any of these novels? Is there an AusLit recommendation you’d like to give me? Just a drop comment below!
Thanks for reading!