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Adventure stories

Adventure or action-driven


The "Alex Rider" Series

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

(synthesised) Alex Rider, in some spectacular set piece, (foils a robbery / spikes an evil plan / discovers a hidden plot), at which point MI6 then call him in to tell him that they'll tidy up whatever mess he left behind, but that it would be useful if he were to infiltrate (a computer game company / a Cuban holiday resort / the home of a suspiciously rich man) armed only with (explosive chewing gum / acidic toothpaste / a metal-detecting yo-yo).

Attractive and mostly unobjectionable action-paced young spy stories. Occasional very mild references to a teenage girl's precocious interest in boys. General air of amorality among main characters.

Adventure, Boys

Alone on a Wide, Wide Sea

Style: Good

Attitude: Fairly Positive

One story from two memoirs; the orphaned evacuee who wants to find his roots and his daughter who achieves this.

Two memoirs; the first of a London evacuee from WWII, sent to Australia, where he grew up with the idea of finding his elder sister in England, by sailing a yacht back to GB. He died and – the second memoir – his daughter did the journey alone and met her aunt.

Adventure, Biographical, Documentary, Family, Friendship, Growing-Up, Romantic, Seafaring, Thought-provoking

The Amulet of Samarkand

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

When Nathaniel summons the Djinn Bartimaeus to steal the eponymous amulet from magician Rupert Lovelace as an act of petty revenge, his plan gets out of control and ends in tragedy for the people he lives with.

Witty and well-paced fantasy adventure. Humorous summoning of Djinni as servants. A childish act of revenge resulting in tragic deaths. Bravery & determination to combat an evil scheme.

Adventure, Fantasy, Humorous

The "Animorphs" series

Style: Weak

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

Half-a-dozen youngsters witness the crash of a flying saucer and are given the power to take on the body of any animal they can touch by the Andalite pilot before he is killed by his arch enemy Visser Three of the alien Yeerks: slugs who take over other creatures' bodies.

Conventional young teenage pap. Some redeeming features based on the friendship between the children and the occasional heroism displayed by them, their allies, or on one occasion one of their enemies. Mostly though black-or- white goody-baddy stuff with sporadic moralising.

Adventure, SciFi

Ark Angel

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Alex, recuperating in hospital, is mistaken for Paul Drevin, son of a rich businessman, and kidnapped.

Adventure, Boys

The Arm of the Starfish

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

17-year-old Adam Eddington is going to Europe to spend the summer working on a Portuguese island with the famous biologist Dr O'Keefe.

Accessible mild adventure story. Family closeness with faith, extending to friends. Dolphin intelligence.

Adventure, SciFi, Thought-provoking

Artemis Fowl

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

Artemis Fowl, a 12-year-old criminal mastermind, comes from a long line of rich Irish criminals; however in recent years his father, now missing and presumed dead, managed to squander a substantial amount of the family's fortune and drag the name Fowl into disrepute.

Enjoyably different take on the world of Fairies; the 12-year-old main character's amorality in achieving his ends

Adventure, Friendship, Humorous, Magic

Artemis Fowl - The Arctic Incident

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Artemis Fowl wants to find his father, held hostage in Russia; Holly Short wants to find who's supplying the goblins with human technology; Foaly wants to find out who's disabled all the LEP Technology and pointed the finger at him.

Adventure, Friendship, Humorous, Magic

Artemis Fowl - The Eternity Code

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

The C-Cube, built by Artemis Fowl partly from Fairy technology, and therefore capable of breaching the Underworld's defences, is stolen by a shady American businessman who will do anything to obtain power.

Artemis' growing sense of responsibility to his family and to his employee, Butler. Holly's friendship for Artemis & Butler leading her to risk her job for them.

Adventure, Friendship, Humorous, Magic

Artemis Fowl - The Opal Deception

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Artemis Fowl steals the world's most sought-after painting, but becomes entangled in a revenge bid by Opal Koboi against those who thwarted her previously.

Adventure with a little agonising by Artemis over the direction he should take.

Adventure, Friendship, Humorous, Magic

Ash Road

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

By accident, some boys start a devastating bush fire in Australia.

A small-town book, dealing with peoples' reactions to fire.

Adventure, Coping with

Avenger

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Unobjectionable

Elena becomes involved with a hi-tech mastermind nicknamed Dark Star when she asks him for help, and is drawn into his terrorist plot to gain revenge against the world.

Standard military thriller requiring little interference from the reader's intelligence. Amoral treatment of human beings as expendable pawns. Elena & Danny's loyalty to each other. Brief crude language.

Adventure, Boys

Beyond the Deepwoods

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

The Edge is the land that borders on the emptiness beyond.

While most fantasy introduces the unusual, this book borders on strange. The myriad of bizarre characters would be bearable if they actually took the story somewhere, but by the end you feel like you’ve been bounced and splattered and sloshed all over the place only to reach an unsatisfactory conclusion. The only underlying (and over-emphasised) “value” is that the main character does the unthinkable… he strays from the path.

Adventure, Fantasy, Magic

Black Hearts in Battersea

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

This novel is set at the beginning of the 19th century in an England plagued by wolves and revolutionaries.

Set in nineteenth century England, Black Hearts in Battersea is an enthralling tale of intrigue, conspiracy and suspense where the young characters must face cases of mistaken identity, revolutionary plots, hungry wolves, a shipwreck and attempts at kidnap and murder to save each other, the duke and duchess, and the King of England. It is a great read.

Adventure, Fantasy, Friendship, Growing-Up, Historical

Boy Soldier

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

Danny discovers that his former-SAS grandfather Fergus is back in England, and goes looking for him.

A young man and his girl friend trying to help his wrongly-accused grandfather to clear his name.

Adventure, Boys

Brotherband: The Outcasts

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Hal is left leading the third of the year's brotherbands: all those not chosen for the other two bands.

Courage and wit in overcoming prejudice and disadvantage. Teamwork vs Selfishness. Competence vs brute force.

Adventure, Boys, Fantasy, Friendship

Castaways of the Flying Dutchman

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

The galley-boy of the Flying Dutchman is set free when the Captain's blasphemy brings down God's wrath on him: while the ship and its crew must sail the seas forever, the boy and his dog are set free to roam the Earth, unageing, to do good.

Great premise, disappointing execution; Unobjectionable

Adventure, Fantasy, Spooky

The Chamber of Secrets

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

At the start of the school term at Hogwarts, several people are attacked and turned to stone and Harry is suspected of being the heir of Slytherin, responsible for reopening the Chamber of Secrets in which a monster is known to dwell.

Entertaining schoolboy adventure with magic elements and some rulebreaking.

Adventure, Friendship, Magic, School

The Changes Trilogy

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

One day, without warning, the whole of Britain turns superstitiously against technology and millions of people flee the country leaving the cities and much of the countryside deserted.

A thought-provoking look at what life might be like if technology were no longer available. The need to combine skill and hard work in a post-industrial society. An assumed supernatural premise.

Adventure, Fantasy, Thought-provoking

The Children of Húrin

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

The family of Húrin falls under the curse of Morgoth and while Turin wanders far and wide, earning a reputation as a fierce fighter, driven by circumstances and his own pride, his sister and mother leave Doriath alone to find him until they encounter the Dragon Glaurung.

A family driven by the curse of an immortal. Passionate loyalty and pride. Unwitting incest between brother and sister. Two suicides in despair.

Adventure, Classic, Fantasy

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

The Tooting family restore a classic camper van with a view to travelling abroad, only to discover that it has wings and a mind of its own.

Quirky and heartwarming story about a making the best of every opportunity when all you’ve got is a flying car.

Adventure, Fantasy, Humorous

The Clockwork Three

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Three youngsters become involved in each others’ affairs by accident and help each other out in their overlapping problems.

Simple adventure story with slight touches of the supernatural: an apparently serious séance; a clockwork man animated by Golem clay. Supportive friendship between three youngsters. Violent behaviour from a cruel Fagin-like character and others. Positive, if generic, representation of a Christian pastor. Genuine respect and affection between an elderly master and his young apprentice. Some theft by young people.

Adventure, Friendship, Magic

Crocodile Tears

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Unobjectionable

Alex agrees to help MI6 in return for their ridding him of a journalist who's learned about his secret life.

More of the same from Alex Rider. Page-turning adventure stuff, pleasing to boys, dramatic and well-researched, but without any particular characteristic to set it apart from the rest of the series or from other books in the genre. Alex selflessly puts his life at risk to confound an evil scheme with no hope of reward. A crook uses his apparent (but unreal) conversion to Christianity as a mask for his continued criminal schemes. A thought-provoking if disturbing kidnap scene. Alex continues to fail to grow, but has at his disposal a tremendous ability to think and act his way out of dangerous situations, coupled with an amazing stamina and determination: A "Boys' Own" Boy.

Adventure, Boys

The Death Collector

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

George Archer finds himself under attack from a group who want the information in a diary of which he possesses the only remaining fragment.

Some grotesque scenes involving reanimation of men and animals by mechanical means. A fraudulent séance with a serious element. Possibly lethal violence used in self-defence by the protagonists.

Adventure, Macabre, SciFi

The Donkey's Crusade

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Thomas is 17-year-old child of a family most of whose members are of the Guild of Travellers, undertaking to guide people around the Middle and Far East.

Adventure, Animal, Fantasy, Historical

The Door Within

Style: Weak → Average

Attitude: Positive

Aidan Thomas comes across a set of scrolls which tell a story in which he mysteriously becomes embroiled, travelling to The Realm to join the elite warriors of King Eliam in their attempt to sway the undecided people of Mithegarde.

Perseverance and loyalty to ones Ruler and fellow warriors. Acceptance of ones responsibilities however difficult. The hidden strengths people possess. Partial Christian allegory. Rather creaky style and language.

Adventure, Fantasy

Double Or Die

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

James Bond becomes entangled in the schemes of a rich gambler when a schoolmaster leaves mysteriously and sends James' friend Pritpal a cryptic letter explaning his departure.

Action-packed detective-cum-adventure story, combining fairly realistic if sometimes sickening action sequence and crossword-style puzzles. One boy is poisoned by being forced to swallow Gin. Several boys deceive their teachers and guardians in order to help James. Fast driving by a young teenager which ends in a crash.

Adventure, Boys

Drift

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Rafe, a westener, and Taweena, a native American Indian, visit the cave of a bear and are carried off on an ice floe.

The whole book is geared to showing how unaware the white people are and how deficient their philosophy is, compared to the nature-wise Indians.

Adventure, Coping with

Eagle Strike

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Alex is holidaying with Sabina and her family in the south of France, when he sees Yassen, whom he recognises from [Stormbreaker].

Adventure, Boys

Escape From Genopolis

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Usha and Arlo meet in the gladiatorial Circus, she as a recaptured slave who must fight for her life, he as a Natural who's been raised among citizens and who is now trying to return to the Regions outside the city to find his family.

A warning story about the dangers of cloning and genetic manipulation.

Adventure, Moral Issue, SciFi, Thought-provoking

Floodland

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Zoe lives in an England that has been covered by water as a result of global warming, the city of Norwich is a small island, cut off from the part of the mainland which still remains above the water level.

Adventure, SciFi

Frozen in Time

Style: Weak → Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Edifying

Ben & Rachel inadvertently wake their Great Aunt and Uncle Polly & Freddy, cryogenically frozen since the 1950s and still 12 years old.

Lightweight plot from an interesting premise. Nice juxtaposition of old and new attitudes to people and society. Bravery, courage and affection in difficult circumstances. Moderate violence in justifiable self-defence.

Adventure, SciFi, Thought-provoking, Time-Travel

Gideon the Cutpurse

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Peter & Kate are thrown back to the 18th century and are befriended by Gideon and his new employers, the Byng family.

Two youngsters making friends and mustering resources to return them home. Time travel and paradoxes. Big and small families. Peter's parents' effective separation and reconciliation. Life in the Past and the Present.

Adventure, Family, Friendship, Historical, Time-Travel

The Goblet of Fire

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Harry Potter enteres his 4th, eventuful, year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry.

Adventure, Friendship, Magic, School

The Golem's Eye

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Nathaniel and Bartimaeus try to discover who’s controlling the Golem they believe is responsible a series of high-profile acts of destruction across London.

Engaging magical adventure story with some intriguing discussions about moral convictions and the rise and fall of empires.

Adventure, Fantasy, Humorous

Greenmantle

Style: Classic

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Richard Hannay, after a period as a soldier on the front line, is called in by Sir Walter Bullivant to discover what secret card the Germans hold with which to inflame the Islamic peoples of the Middle East.

Wartime danger and heroism. While the broad brushstroke attitude towards war and other peoples is typical of the period of the book's publication, there is a surprising degree of respect both for the German enemy and for the Turkish religion and mindset.

Adventure, Boys, Classic, Historical, War

Greenwitch

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

The Trewissick grail, found in [Over Sea, Under Stone] has been stolen.

Adventure, Arthurian, Magic

The Half-Blood Prince

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Back at school now the Ministry has acknowledged Voldemort's return, Harry has to cope with Dumbledore's extra lessons for him, Ron's impetuous and public relationship with Lavender and Hermione's response, while preparing himself for the battle he knows must inevitably occur between himself and The Dark Lord.

Adventure, Friendship, Magic, School

A Handful of Magic

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

In a parallel Victorian London, Kit Stixby is the magic-wielding son of the official Witch Doctor to Queen Victoria, while Kit is the best friend of the Queen's son Henry.

Imaginative and engaging children's adventure set in an alternative Victorian London. Mild magical aspects.

Adventure, Fantasy, Magic

The "Harry Potter" Series

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Harry Potter is orphaned at the age of one, his parents killed by the powerful dark wizard Lord Voldemort whose spell unaccountably rebounds off the baby Harry, leaving his attacker helpless and half-dead.

Appealing adventure stories set in a world where evil is gaining the upper hand. Some magical elements. Simple presentation of good and evil. Mostly virtuous leading characters, but some aspects are less praiseworthy. Mostly delicate relationships between the sexes. Established atmosphere of friendship and respect among the nonetheless realistic characters.

Adventure, Friendship, Growing-Up, Magic, School

Heroes of Olympus

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Following on from the [series:percy-jackson original Percy Jackson series], the gods of antiquity are under threat from the earth goddess Gaia and cause the Greek Demigods to throw in their lot with their Roman counterparts whose existence had been hidden from them.

Classical gods fathering half-blood children. Young characters maturing as they overcome adversity. Some very mild young-teen romance based on a trusting friendship and shared adversity. Many classical references in a modern setting.

Adventure, Boys, Fantasy, Friendship, Mythical, Romantic

Hero on a Bicycle

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Paolo & Constanza's mother Rosemary Crivelli agrees to take in some fugitive Allied servicemen risking reprisals by the local Gestapo.

Wartime bravery from a mother and her teenage children. Chaste romance between an older teenage girl and an Canadian serviceman. Betrayal by a villager followed by reconciliation (personal and sacramental). Positively-presented Catholic piety.

Adventure, Romantic, War

Hiding Out

Style: Good

Attitude: Edifying

The Castles & the Fletchers are driving back thro' France to Calais and stop for a picnic.

Adventure

His Dark Materials

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care → Positive

Lyra Belacqua a 12-year-old girl believes herself to be an orphan and is brought up in Jordan College, Oxford, in some recognisable but different England.

Adventure, Fantasy, Friendship

The History Keepers: The Storm Begins

Style: Weak → Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

Jake Djones is caught up in the work of the Bureau of History Keepers when his parents, who have secretly worked for them all these years, disappear while on a mission.

Inoffensive if uninsipired. Time-travelling family & friends with minor heroics against dastardly villains.

Adventure, Time-Travel

Hitler's Angel

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

In 1940 two German-speaking teenagers who have escaped the Nazis and are now living in England are parachuted into Germany to retrieve a young girl who is believed to be an important bargaining piece in the war between the powers.

Mediumweight adventure story. Bravery, heroism and loyalty by youngsters in perilous situations. Very mild, brief sensuality between teenagers. Apparently successful dowsing of the children’s location by a German diviner. Strong respect for human life and dignity.

Adventure, Friendship, War

The Homeward Bounders

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Jamie Hamilton inadvertently discovers "Them": a mysterious group controlling his world as a board game.

Adventure, Friendship, SciFi

Horrendo's Curse

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

As a baby Horrendo has a curse put on him by the old Wise woman because she is fed up of the constant fighting and swearing which goes on in the village.

Simple and enjoyable story, painting a picture of how good manners and good cooking can overcome vice and evil.

Adventure, Fantasy, Humorous

The House of Windjammer

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

The Windjammer family business is ruined when their fleet of merchant ships is destroyed, leaving them at the mercy of the bankers and unable to fulfil their obligations to their employees.

Adventure, Historical

Huntingtower

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

Dickson McCunn "an incurable romantic" sells his grocery shop and goes walking in the highlands.

Adventure, Boys, Classic, Historical

Jack Black and the Ship of Thieves

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Jack Black discovers a plot to wreck his father's airship but is swept overboard before he can warn anyone.

An unashamed Boy's Own Yarn. An enthusastic youngster turns hero when he discovers a plot to sabotage his father's airship and is must convince the unwilling captain and motley crew of a boat to help. There's a smarmy baddie, a dashing aviatrix, a capable female octogenarian castaway and a young boy dashing to his father's rescue.

Adventure, Boys

Jimmy Coates: Killer

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Jimmy Coates is an ordinary 11-year-old, fighting with his sister, grumbling over his homework, until some people turn up at his house and try to take him away.

Genetically-engineered assassin child

Adventure, Family, Friendship, SciFi, Thought-provoking

Jimmy Coates: Revenge

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

Jimmy Coates, along with his family & friends, is hiding safely from the British Secret Service in New York's Chinatown until he starts to experience painful headaches leaving images in his head which he believes point to an assassination attempt against the American President.

Enjoyable action-packed adventure with a certain family warmth and a thought-provoking core. Three genetically-altered assassin-youngsters with issues of free will and responsibility. Political-military complexities between three regimes. Deceptions and subterfuges between supposed allies. The loyalty of Jimmy's family and friends in difficult situations. Brutal action sequences between the youngsters.

Adventure, Family, Friendship, SciFi, Thought-provoking

Journey to the River Sea

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Maia is an orphan who goes with her new governess to live with her nearest relatives in Brazil in the city of Manaus on the Amazon River, a city made rich by the local rubber plantations.

Entertaining and engaging. Caricature of crass and small-minded Westerners among sympathetic natives.

Adventure, Friendship, Historical

The Lady and the Squire

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Tom, translating documents for the English, is taken prisoner by a servant of the Bishop of Reims but escapes with Emily, the Bishop's niece, while Ann, disguised again as Alan, has left the Duke to rejoin the English army proper.

Adventure, Historical

The Lantern Bearers

Style: Outstanding

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

A young Roman Decurion, unwilling to leave Britain with the last of the Legions, lights the beacon of Rutupiae one last time.

Superb story mingling action with authentic historical detail without losing depth or accessibility. Some brutal but not gratuitous violence; positive portrayal of Christianity; loyalty in friendship in spite of many hardships

Adventure, Historical

Larklight

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Art & Myrtle Mumby have to flee when their house, Larklight, is overrun by giant spiders.

Brilliantly imaginative; gently mocking Victorian ideals and sensibilities; quietly reconciling faith and science. Wild battles with gruesome spiders; questionable actions by a powerful being. Easy acceptance of other races and sexes. Undemonstrative love between family members and friends.

Adventure, Fantasy, Growing-Up, Humorous, Romantic

Lion Boy

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Charlie Ashanti, the hero of the story, is able to speak Cat, which is not only the language of the domesticated variety but also that of the wild kind, such as lions.

Interesting and enjoyable. Question of animal intelligence.

Adventure, Family, Friendship, SciFi

A Little Bush Maid

Style: Classic

Attitude: Edifying

Norah can’t wait for Jim to come home for the holidays, and when he does arrive, accompanied by Harry and Wally, every day is full of adventures.

A vivid depiction of the quintessentially Australian; values such as mateship, hard work and bush hospitality to beautiful illustrations of the outback, Australian character and humour. Heart-warming, humorous and highly enjoyable Australian classic!

Adventure, Classic, Friendship, Girls, Growing-Up

The Load of Unicorn

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Young Benedict “Bendy” Goodrich lives with his adult brothers who run their retired father's scrivener business in Paternoster lane, but his ambition is to work with William Caxton who's pioneering the newly prosperous craft of printing in his workshop by Westminster Abbey.

Interesting historical story around the changeover to printing. A hotheaded young man learns to control himself. Generosity of several individuals when helping others without reward.

Adventure, Historical

The Looking-Glass Wars

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

Princess Alyss Heart flees to 19th-Century England when her aunt stages a palace coup in their home of Wondertropolis, killing Alyss' parents the King & Queen.

A fresh reimagining of Alice in Wonderland. Some violent deaths and oppression. Perseverance and bravery in the face of exile and persecution. Apparent magical creation of life.

Adventure, Fantasy

The Lost Hero

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

Jason, Piper & Leo are thrown into the world of half-blood children of gods and embark on a quest to free Hera-Juno from the clutches of a mysterious enemy.

Classical gods fathering half-blood children. An enjoyable if slightly disappointing adventure quest. Heroism as friends help friends and people have to work together to save the lives of others.

Adventure, Boys, Fantasy, Friendship, Mythical, Romantic

The Machine-Gunners

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Set in the mining town of Garmouth during WWII the story revolves around Chas McGill, who has the second best collection of war souvenirs in the town but desperately wants it to be the best.

Adventure, War

The Mark of Athena

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

The joint Greek-Roman crew of the Argo II must sail to Rome to confront Gaia whose plan is to overthrow the Olympian Gods altogether.

Adventure, Boys, Fantasy, Friendship, Mythical, Romantic

Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

The Flock splits up when Max & Fang visit Dr Martinez to have Max's chip removed and the younger ones are captured and taken back to The School, the lab they grew up in.

Disappointing conclusion to the series. Fast-paced cartoon-style violent action with some casual references to scientific killing (of unwanted clones, hybrids etc). Redemption of a hated character. Continued loyalty of the winged youngsters to each other although with some rifts over the best course of action.

Adventure, SciFi

Maximum Ride: School's Out Forever

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

When Fang is badly injured in a battle with new, fiercer Erasers, the Flock are forced to go to hospital where they are interrogated by the FBI but then taken under the wing of Anne and go to live at her home and go to normal school.

Slow-paced extension to the first book, developing little and establishing few new elements. The older children start to discover relationships with the opposite sex. Iggy finds his real family but they are only interested in the financial possibilities he offers.

Adventure, Moral Issue, SciFi, Thought-provoking

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Max and the Flock, children with wings, have run away from the School, the lab complex where they spent the first part of their lives locked in cages and experimented on.

Grotesque and disturbing genetic and behavioural experiments on young children with commonly fatal results. Tremendous love and supportiveness between the six children. Max's efforts to make sure she and the others do the right thing. Positive reference to religion. The children's desire to know whether they have parents and who they are. Some thefts by the children in difficult circumstances. Serious violence.

Adventure, Moral Issue, SciFi, Thought-provoking

Meltdown

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Unobjectionable

Danny & Fergus, in return for a clean slate, agree to help bring down an impenetrable drugs empire which threatens the very fabric of society.

By-the-book SAS youth thriller with closely-described gruesome action, military jargon, and no real development of the characters. Very fleeting mention of unsavoury topics. Military-style ruthlessness on both sides. An uncomdemned killing by a sympathetic character.

Adventure, Boys

The Midwinter Watch

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

A hundred years ago, an inventor discovered a clock that could turn back time.

Adventure, SciFi, Spooky

Mission Telemark

Style: Weak → Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

Four youngsters are sent into wartime Norway to destroy a Nazi heavy water plant, preventing the Germans from developing nuclear weaponry.

Disappointing. An awkward mixture of kids' caper and wartime resistance story. Courage and heroism in extreme physical conditions. Highly credible Scandinavian setting. Less credible characterisations. Tacit acceptance of suicide.

Adventure, War

Moonfleet

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

John Trenchard, a 15-year-old, becomes involved with a gang of smugglers, flees with their leader and finds a valuable diamond.

Adventure, Classic, Historical

The "Mortal Engines" Quartet

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Edifying

Tom Natsworthy, an orphaned History apprentice on the Traction City of London, is sent in disgrace to the city’s Deep Gut after a bullying fellow-apprentice taunts him into a fight.

An engaging and uplifting story set against an imaginative future backdrop. Cyborg stalkers built around dead bodies. Romantic suicide. Christianity as a force for reconciliation.

Adventure, SciFi

Mr Standfast

Style: Classic

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

To trap a brilliant German agent, Richard Hannay has to pose as a pacifist, assisted by Mary Lamington, Blenkiron, Peter Pienaar and others.

Straightforward plot. Elements of endurance and loyalty. A subtle, if unredeemed, villain. Some demeaning references to native Africans. War as a job to be done.

Adventure, Boys, Classic, Historical, Romantic, War

Operation Red Jericho

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Becca & Doug McKenzie become involved with the Honourable Guild of Specialists when their parents disappear, leaving them in the care or their uncle, captain of the research boat _Expedient_.

Slightly larger-than-life heroes and villains; a broad cultural sweep to the front and backstories; unremarked equality of men and women; courage and steadfastness among (heroic) allies. Impetuous if well-intentioned disobedience and deception by the children.

Adventure, Friendship, Historical

The Order of the Phoenix

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

As his fifth year at Hogwarts fast approaches, Harry Potter the young wizard is certainly in adolescence, with mood swings and outbursts of rage.

Adventure, Friendship, Magic, School

Over Sea, Under Stone

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

The Drew family and their Great Uncle Merry are staying in a Cornish house on holiday when the children find an old map which seems to lead to some treasure buried "Over the sea and under the stone".

Straightforward adventure story, slightly dated; ordinary family life

Adventure, Arthurian, Family, Fantasy

The Paranormal Puppet Show

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

In the 1930s, Arthur Drake and his friends become involved with Professor Bessemer's sinister waxworks when he takes over the warehouse they use as a base.

Adventure, Fantasy, Time-Travel

Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

Percy Jackson finds himself on a quest to rescue his satyr friend Grover, at the same time finding the Golden Fleece which alone can save the poisoned tree that protects Camp Half-Blood.

Based on the idea that the Greek gods are real and take root wherever civilisation is strongest, at present in the USA. Single-parent families as a commonplace. Rites-of-passage style story involving finding inner strengths and powers, overcoming magical and monstrous adversaries, and knowing when to trust people.

Adventure, Fantasy, Friendship, Mythical

Percy Jackson and the Titan's Curse

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Percy Jackson once again finds himself on a quest when his friend Annabeth is captured and used as bait to lure the goddess Artemis in a bid by the Titans to take back the world they lost to the Olympian Gods.

Good-hearted and entertaining adventure story with modern takes on classical legends. The ongoing battle between the selfish Titans and the amoral Greek Gods. Instances of bravery, selflessness, generosity and self-sacrifice. Complicated family arrangements where an absent parent is an Olympian.

Adventure, Fantasy, Friendship, Mythical

Peter Raven: Under Fire

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The year is 1800 as Peter Raven sails as midshipman aboard the Torrone, only to be hurt in a sea battle off France; when he sails again to the Caribbean the ship is attacked by Pirates and he is set adrift to save himself.

An exciting story, well-populated. A few slightly gruesome scenes.

Adventure, Boys, Historical, Seafaring, War

The Philosopher's Stone

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Harry Potter is an eleven-year-old orphan living with his uncle and aunt Mr & Mrs Dursley and his cousin Dudley.

A school tale with magical embellishments; the friendship between the main characters.

Adventure, Friendship, Magic, School

Point Blanc

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

14-year-old Alex Rider is asked once again by MI6 to go on a mission: this time, to infiltrate an exclusive Academy set high in the French Alps.

Adventure, Boys

Predator's Gold

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

Chased by the Green Storm, a breakaway group from the Anti-Traction League, Tom and Hester with their passenger Pennyroyal are forced to land on Anchorage, currrently travelling across the High Ice towards its origins in the Dead Continent of America.

Adventure, SciFi

The Prisoner of Azkaban

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The whole wizard world is on the alert after Sirius Black escapes from Azkaban, the wizard prison.

Adventure, Friendship, Magic, School

The Prisoner of Zenda

Style: Classic

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Erstwhile King Rudolf of Ruritania is drugged and then kidnapped the day before his coronation; his guards Sapt and Fritz happen upon Rudolf Rassendyll, an Englishman abroad, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the king, due to the king's ancestor's having fathered a child somewhere in the Rassendyll ancestry.

Swashbuckling adventure with a dashing hero, a bearded villain and a lovely heroine.

Adventure, Boys, Classic, Historical, Romantic

Prove Yourself a Hero

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Jonathan Meredith, son of a rich horse-dealing family, is kidnapped and held to ransom.

A worthwhile read.

Adventure, Thought-provoking

Ptolemy's Gate

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

As the British Empire starts to implode, the ruling Magicians are unable to subdue the dissent of the increasingly magic-resistant Commoners.

Magic & Djinni in an alternative modern world. Friendship and affection with a light dusting of humour. An appeal to the honour and morality present in people despite the apparent pragmatism of their day-to-day struggles. Heroic self-sacrifice for the common good.

Adventure, Fantasy, Humorous

Ruler of the Realm

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

Henry is captured by aliens and then turns up in the Realm only to be part of a plot to capture Holly apparently with a view to mating with her while possessed by a demon.

Middling adventure story. Background of family breakup including a lesbian affair and a younger girlfriend. A few faintly disturbing descriptions. Loyalty and heroism among young characters.

Adventure, Fantasy

Running Scared

Style: Poor

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Set in mid-80's East London.

Adventure

Sabriel

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care → Fairly Positive

Sabriel, 18-year-old daughter of the Mage Abhorsen, has to free her father and defeat his enemy before taking on his roles and responsibilities.

Conventional heroic valour and loyalty. Sisterly gentleness of an older girl with younger ones. Brief mention of sexual topics and an overheard sexual encounter. Concepts of necromancy and journeying between Death and Life. Considerable loss of life and gruesome injury in the final battle.

Adventure, Fantasy

Sakkara

Style: Weak → Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Sakkara is a secret US base to which young superheroes Danny, Colin and Renata are taken when their identities are exposed.

Lightweight young superhero thriller with typically violent action scenes. Slightly disturbing prophetic images. Impossible moral decision leading to a character's death.

Adventure, SciFi, Thought-provoking

Scorpia

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Alex, taking advantage of a school trip to Venice, finds his way to the headquarters of Scorpia, where Yassen had hinted he could find out about his father.

Adventure, Boys

The Secret of Castle Cant

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Lucy Wickright discovers a plot to kill the Baron and take over the Barony by controlling the young heir to the title.

Whimsical palace intrigue which turns quite nasty. Trust and friendship between two young girls. An illegitimate child acknowledged. Caricatured villainy resulting in the deaths of loved ones.

Adventure, Fantasy, Girls

Shadow Beast

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Meg, Jonny, Filch and Art try to connect Mr Frederick's lost cat, a sudden plague of rats, and mysterious activity down in the sewer.

Adventure, SciFi

Shadowmancer

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Parson Demurral is using the power of the Keruvim to bring him the power he wants; Raphah, helped by Thomas and Kate, has to recover the Keruvim and stop Demurral before he ends the Time of Captivity and lets loose the fallen Seruvim.

Adventure, Fantasy, Historical, Magic

The Shakespeare Stealer

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Widge is a poor orphan who has the rare ability to write a unique coded shorthand.

A fast-moving historical novel that introduces you to life in 16th century London among the actors of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. It depicts friendship, loyalty and honesty in a positive way.

Adventure, Historical

The Shapeshifter Series

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care → Positive

In [Finding the Fox], Dax Jones discovers that he can turn into a fox and learns that he is one of the Children of Limitless Ability (COLA), to be educated in a secret government school on the Cornish coast.

Children with extraordinary powers: telekenesis, shapeshifting, healing, telepathy, illusion, dowsing and pyrokenesis. Common and sometimes comical acceptance of dialogue with the dead. All the children are motherless for plot reasons. Friendship and support among the children and between them and their teachers. Occasional plot-related brutal or vindictive behaviour including an attempt to auction the gifted children into slavery.

Adventure, SciFi, Thought-provoking

The Silver Branch

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Rome's control over Britain is swaying, and two young Roman soldiers find themselves flung unexpectedly into the power politics of British leadership.

Politics & adventure in Roman Britain. Courage & loyalty to friends and family.

Adventure, Boys, Classic, Historical

SilverFin

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

James Bond is a new boy at Eton and must learn the ropes quickly, while fending off the bullying tactics of George Hellebore and his cronies.

Boyhood adventure with some slightly frightening genetic experiments.

Adventure, Boys, Historical, War

Skeleton Key

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

On the run from the Chinese Triads after foiling one of their plans at the Wimbledon tennis championships, Alex Rider is loaned out to the CIA to infiltrate a Russian ex-General's secret base on an island near Cuba.

Adventure, Boys

Skybreaker

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Matt Cruse learns of the location of the lost airship Hyperion, reputed to be carrying vast wealth.

An enjoyable adventure, if a little slow-moving in places. The pseudo-Edwardian setting with its valve-and-steam technology provides the atmosphere for what is a fairly conventional adventure plus romance story with no real issues. The supporting characters are mostly cardboard but the main leads have just enough depth to them, the female characters in particular having strengths and weaknesses without compromising their femininity.

Adventure, Boys, Fantasy, Seafaring

Slaves of the Mastery

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

The story is set five years after its predecessor and the city of Aramanth has completely changed.

Adventure, Fantasy

Smith

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Smith is a 12-year-old pickpocket in Dickensian London.

Adventure, Historical

The Son of Neptune

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Percy Jackson has lost his memory of Camp Half-Blood and battles his way to the Roman Camp Jupiter where he must convince the Roman demigods that he isn’t a threat to them while he tries to recover his memory.

Adventure, Boys, Fantasy, Friendship, Mythical, Romantic

Starcross

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Art, Myrtle and Mrs Mumby visit the new Starcross hotel on an asteroid near Mars only to discover that a more sinister scheme is afoot, involving mind-controlling top hats, a time-travelling ship from the American War of Independence, and a set of French Secret Agents.

Imaginative cybersteam adventure story. Slightly less pacy than the original. All manner of heroism, bravery, self-sacrifice, humour, and gentle romance.

Adventure, Fantasy, Growing-Up, Humorous, Romantic

The Sterkarm Handshake

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

The Time Tube allows people from the 21st century to travel to the 16th to negotiate deals which will bring now unknown produce from an unpolluted world.

Adventure, Time-Travel

Stone Heart

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

With the help of the Gunner from the Royal Artillery War Memorial and Edie, a girl of his own age who has special part to play, George is drawn into the war between Spits -- the human statues of London -- and Taints -- the gargoyles and monsters, until he finishes what he started when he inadvertently damaged a statue outside the Natural History Museum.

Fantasy adventure based around the statues of London. Persevering friendship, self-sacrifice and generosity. A religious character portrayed as untrustworthy. Slightly awkward mixture of straightforward physical battles and a mystical quest. Broken family backgrounds including implied violence between father and daughter. Occasional mild coarseness.

Adventure, Fantasy, Friendship

Stormbreaker

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Alex Rider believes his uncle guardian to be a banker.

Adventure, Boys

The Talent Thief

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Cressida Bloom's talent for singing is stolen along with those of many other youngsters at a Convention for Young Genius, and she and Adam must chase the thieves.

A parable of putting the needs of others ahead of ones own talents, however great. Adam's persevering affection for his sister despite her attitude, and her later realisation of this fact. The idea that talents can be extracted, stored and passed on.

Adventure

Talking in Whispers

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

15-year-old Juan Larreta is the only survivor when the car in which is travelling with his father and best friend is ambushed by agents of the military Junta in Chile.

Adventure

The Tar Man

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Kate & her father have returned to the 20th Century unwittingly leaving Peter behind in the 18th and bringing instead the criminal Tar Man who uses his new-found abilities as a time-traveller to steal and plunder in this new century.

Slightly less interesting second story. Some nice family touches especially between the adult Peter and his father. Some uncondoned violence from criminal characters. Series starts to become mired in time-travel technobabble.

Adventure, Family, Friendship, Historical, Time-Travel

The Thief Lord

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Prosper and Bo run away from their uncle and aunt and are caught up in a group of Venice street kids who get money by selling stolen property brought to them by The Thief Lord.

Openness of the Venice children in taking in two runaways. Apparent living off stolen goods. Church/confessional used merely as the rendezvous point for a meeting to arrange a robbery.

Adventure, Fantasy

The Thieves of Ostia

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Several of the watchdogs in Flavia's street are decapitated, and Flavia and her friends suspect a man whose daughter died after being bitten by a rabid dog.

Adventure, Historical

The Thirty-Nine Steps

Style: Classic

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Richard Hannay gives a man shelter for the night, only to find him dead in the morning.

Adventure, Boys, Classic, War

The Three Hostages

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

General Sir Richard Hannay, hero of "The 39 Steps" et al.

Adventure, Boys, Classic, Historical

Time Stops For No Mouse

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Hermux Tantamoq is a watchmaker living a quiet and comfortable existence until an attractive and dashing lady fails to return for her repaired watch.

A gently entertaining book, without originality, but with charm.

Adventure, Humorous

Treasure Island

Style: Classic

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

A dead pirate’s chest throws up a map showing the way to treasure buried on a secret island.

“Buccaneers, and buried gold”. The original Boys’ Own Yarn combining youthful bravery, charismatic villainy and buried treasure. A slow start for the modern reader and never as racy as Alex Rider but very readable nonetheless once you’re immersed in its world

Adventure, Boys, Classic

Voyage of Slaves

Style: Weak → Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Unobjectionable

Ben is captured by slave traders while Ned is rescued from the sea by friendly travelling entertainers who are themselves taken by the slave traders under false pretences.

Easy-reading adventure story with heroism and friendship. Simple characterisations. Surprisingly many violent deaths.

Adventure, Historical, Seafaring

The Voyage of the Arctic Tern

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Lord Hunter travels on the Arctic Tern with a message of peace from Queen Elizabeth of England to the King of Spain.

Remorse at assisting in an evil act, however tempted; redemption by finding and punishing the person responsible.

Adventure, Historical, Seafaring, Spooky

The Wall and the Wing

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

Gurl discovers that she can become invisible at will, then runs away from her orphanage after being forced to steal and defraud to support the Matron's extravagant lifestyle.

Offbeat children's adventure, combining modern day America with a faintly surreal and macabre cast of caricature villains, urban misfits and mysteriously powerful characters. Loyalty and friendship between youngsters. One mysterious character whose role resembles a guardian angel. Soul-searching after the youngsters steal and defraud in difficult circumstances.

Adventure, Fantasy, Friendship

Warriors of Camlann

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Dan & Ursula have just escaped from Roman Britain and find themselves in Arthurian Britain a few centuries later.

Adventure, Arthurian, Historical, Magic, Time-Travel

The Weirdstone of Brisingamen

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Colin and Susan, brother and sister, who have grown up in a city go to visit friends of their mother in a rural part of Cheshire not far from Macclesfield.

Adventure, Fantasy, Magic

A Wrinkle in Time

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Positive → Edifying

Meg crosses dimensions to where The Dark Thing is holding her father captive, taking Charles Wallace and Calvin to help her free him.

Intriguing if slightly dated sci-fi morality tale. Strong bonds of family and friendship. A warning about creating a perfect state if the cost is the loss of individuality and love.

Adventure, Fantasy, Friendship, Growing-Up, Romantic, Thought-provoking