For the past year and a bit, I’ve been going to the Big Green Bookshop’s Angry Robot Reading Group, where we read some Strange Chemistry books as well as Angry Robot releases. I’ve liked most of the books we read, but I enjoyed the Strange Chemistry ones most of all. They just filled me with glee.
I like Young Adult books in general, and I specifically adore genre YA, so the imprint was a perfect fit for my taste. Now that it’s sadly been closed, I want to look back at a few Strange Chem books I liked.
As readers and fans, all we can do is let the world know we’d like more from Strange Chemistry authors, and from Amanda Rutter, who edited the imprint so brilliantly. If any of these sound good to you, consider buying them from your local independent bookshop. If you don’t have one, give the Big Green Bookshop a shout (on twitter, by email or at 020 8881 6767), they do free UK delivery.
And yes, I will shamelessly pimp my beloved local bookshop, because they are amazing and if anything, the closure of Strange Chemistry & Exhibit A shows us that if we like something we should put some monies towards it.
When The World Was Flat (and we were in love), by Ingrid Jonach
When 16-year-old Lillie meets Tom for the first time, it’s like fireworks — for her, anyway. Tom looks like he’d be more interested in watching paint dry. As they get closer, Lillie suspects he holds the answers to her reoccurring nightmares and impossible memories.
I got a review copy of this book on NetGalley and posted a detailed review of it here. In short, I really enjoyed the mix of high-school drama and high sci-fi concept, slow character build up and humour in this book. This is a great summer read; while the genre elements far from ground-breaking, they work really well with interesting, likeable characters and high emotional stakes.
Emilie and the Hollow World, by Martha Wells
While running away from home for eminently defensible reasons, Emilie stows away on the wrong steamship and finds herself on a journey to the interior of the planet in search of the missing father of her protector, Lady Marlende.
This book was easily our Angry Robot Reading Group favourite read of 2013, and I can’t praised it highly enough. So far, I’ve gifted it to two good friends and I think I might give it to my Mum for Xmas. I love steampunk and travel stories, not to mention a smart, sensible, brave protagonist to root for, so this was a perfect fit for me. It reminded me of His Dark Materials and right now I don’t know HOW I don’t own the sequel yet…
JUST READ THIS BOOK.
Poltergeeks, by Sean Cummings
Julie is the daughter of a witch, so when she witnesses an elderly lady jettisoned out of her front door, she knows there’s a supernatural connection. Poltergeist activity levels are increasing all over town, until Julie’s mother is cursed in an assault on the high school. Now it’s a race to find out how to break the curse.
I won’t lie, I totally picked up this book on the title alone. I love stories about witches, and this book didn’t disappoint, especially when you take into account the heaps of high-school drama and the Canadian setting – strange and exotic to me! I enjoyed the characters and their relationships, particularly the relationship between Julie and her mother, but I was especially intrigued by the revelations about Julie’s magical inheritance.
Skulk, by Rosie Best
Meg’s only escape from her oppressive, not-so-perfect home is her secret life as a night-time graffiti artist. That’s how she witnesses the dying moments of a fox… that shapeshifts into a man. As he dies, he gives Meg a gemstone and his power to shift. Plunged into a shadowy underworld of warring shapeshifters, she must protect the stolen gemstone.
I bought this book to support the author who is a friend of mine, and also because the cover was so damn cool. This book doesn’t pull any punches, and I found Meg’s cruel and selfish mother just as disgusting as some of the gory bloodshed and definitely scarier than the bit with all the spiders and rats. There’s also some great commentary about class in Britain and proper laugh out loud moments.
The one thing I wasn’t terribly keen on was that it reads very much like book one of a series, and I personally found the ending left me wanting a bit more. Rosie has written and done edits on the second book, Rabble, so here’s to hoping we can read it soon in some form or another. I will be reading it when it does come.