TeenSpace by Kay Mercer

'Sup Teen Space?

New and recommended books for young adults to enjoy
Image by: Huia Press

The Pōrangi Boy. Kino Shilo, Huia

Niko Te Kainga-Mataa, descendant of the chief Hongi Hika, is one of the world’s good guys. He’s not “pōrangi” like his cousins say he is. Neither is his beloved Koro. Pohe Bay is the land of their tupuna and Koro remembers things others have forgotten – like the prison some want built is on the sacred land of the taniwha Taukere.

The plot unfolds using a structure of before and after chapters which slowly reveal all the parts of Niko and Koro’s story. Niko’s battle with his bullying cousins and his fight to save the land from destruction is not just good versus evil, it’s a real story of our time about power, colonisation and tikanga. There are some beautiful moments and some very sad, like his mother’s addiction issues. Fortunately, there are some wonderful, and hilarious, characters who bring welcome joy into the dark parts. It’s challenging, but it’s real, it’s life.

I loved the natural language, the colloquialisms, the reo Māori the banter – and no glossary. Kino has great characters that inspire. Niko faces the challenges with compassion and strength, and Wai is the best mate and loyal friend you could have. It’s a truly Māori story about the ‘craziness’ of being called ‘crazy’ for fighting for our land and the effect colonisation has had on our people, along with the importance of tikanga and whānau.

I can’t wait for her next book. I want Niko and Wai to solve a mystery – have an adventure, do something crazy , I don’t want to lose them! Aunty Rangi needs a big part too.


Image by: Publisher supplied

Dear Justyce. Nic Stone

This is the sequel to 'Dear Martin' but it can be read as a stand alone novel. Both books are written from the viewpoint of an African American teenager. Justyce and Quan are friends from playground days but their lives have turned out very differently. Quan is in prison for a crime he claims he did not commit while Justyce is at the prestigious Yale University. Quan's troubled upbringing is brought to light in the letters he writes from prison to Justyce; letters in which he is sometimes hopeful and sometimes totally discouraged. It is through this correspondence that Justyce becomes convinced his friend has been unfairly accused and he determines to right this wrong. This is a powerful, compelling novel in which the reader becomes absorbed in the lives of these two young men. It was hard to put this book down.


I killed Zoe Spanos. Kit Frick

Be prepared to be taken on a roller coaster ride when reading this thriller story. Anna has just moved to the Hamptons to work as a nanny over the summer break. Coincidentally she looks very much like the previous nanny, a local girl named Zoe, who has recently gone missing. A couple of months later Zoe's body is discovered and Anna confesses to murdering her but it becomes very apparent that it was not her. The plot twists and turns and the story ends with an extremely surprising yet satisfying conclusion. This is a rather dark story, told by an unreliable narrator. It is cleverly written and is absolutely gripping from start to finish.