Young adult/teen reading

ROMEO AND JULIET<br><b>Gareth Hind</b><br><i>Candlewick Press</i>
ROMEO AND JULIET<br><b>Gareth Hind</b><br><i>Candlewick Press</i>
But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks? Romeo's words when he sees Juliet at her window could refer to Gareth Hinds' efforts to throw light for teenage readers on the classics of literature, in graphic novel form.

He has previously adapted the texts and illustrated The Odyssey, Beowulf, The Merchant of Venice and King Lear. Romeo and Juliet, his latest, is a colourful rendition of this great romantic tragedy. The text is abridged, but attempts to follow the Bard's original words.

The characters here are depicted as multiracial, to underscore the universal themes of the plot. Footnotes are supplied, and the pictures carry the tale well. It would make a good Shakespeare starter for someone who might otherwise show little interest.

SPEED FREAK<br><b>Fleur Beale</b><br><i>Random House</i>
SPEED FREAK<br><b>Fleur Beale</b><br><i>Random House</i>
• Archie Barrington is a 15-year-old in a hurry. He loves to drive go-karts fast, and he's good at it.

So good, he is aiming to win the Challenge series and claim the prize of a trip to Portugal to race against some of the world's best young talent. Before he can achieve that though there is work to do: attend school, do homework, help his solo dad run their house, score some sponsorship to help with costs, preparation of the kart before each meeting, plus the training needed to stay in good shape for full weekends of racing.

Fleur Beale has presented a snappily written tale here of a young man going places . . . fast. It's a good read, has good characterisation and there's more than just racing involved.

BRAVE COMPANY<br><b>David Hill</b><br><i>Puffin</i>
BRAVE COMPANY<br><b>David Hill</b><br><i>Puffin</i>
• What would it be like to have a brave World War 2 hero for an uncle, one who died fighting for freedom? What would it be like to find out the ''hero'' was actually a deserter?

Boy Seaman Russell Purchas is on his first voyage overseas on HMV Taupo during the Korean War. He desperately wants to restore his sense of pride in his family's honour, after finding a government letter to his mother informing her of her brother's desertion.

The problem is he's not sure he will be brave enough to face enemy fire. What follows is a journey of discovery for Russell: of his own abilities and weaknesses, and of the bravery of Korean civilians, young and old, under extreme conditions. David Hill has hit the target with Brave Company.

THE LAST THIRTEEN<br><b>James Phelan</b><br><i>Scholastic</i>
THE LAST THIRTEEN<br><b>James Phelan</b><br><i>Scholastic</i>
• Ever wished your dream would come true? Ever had your dream come true?

If Sam's dream comes true everything he holds dear will be destroyed, and he has just found out he is one of 13 true dreamers, people whose dreams can become reality. Sam's introduction to his new status is to be abducted from his classroom and taken away by helicopter.

Aboard the chopper he meets Alex and Eva, who seems to know what is going on: as she should, because she dreamed it the night before . . . James Phelan has written this, the first in a series of 13 books, to appeal to those who demand action, and plenty of it.

- René Nol is a Dunedin reader.

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