Books

Books are shown according to their most recent publication dates.

To order any of the Jade Draper crime thrillers or Thunderfish adventure novels from Random House Australia, just click on this link:

Random House Australia Simon Higgins Page

then click the book cover of your choice to see the options…

For Beyond the Shaking Time and the Moonshadow series, including foreign versions, just use the handy ordering links under each entry below…

 …enjoy the reviews! :)

Moonshadow: The Twilight War 

Random House ISBN 978 -1- 74274 -314 -1

Moonshadow: The Twilight War cover

Attacked by the powerful Fuma clan, young Moonshadow and the agents of the Grey Light Order fight for their lives.

In the heat of battle, one of their number disappears. Was the Grey Light Order agent abducted by the Fuma or did they leave willingly? Was there a double agent in their midst?

Moonshadow and Groundspider are ordered to the Fuma’s mountain fortress, said to be impregnable. Their mission: discover the truth, then act accordingly. Will their dangerous quest end in a rescue?

Or will Moonshadow be forced to destroy a trusted friend?

Click Here to Order Moonshadow: The Twilight War

 

Moonshadow: The Wrath of Silver Wolf 

Random House ISBN 978-1-74166-405-8

In the land of the samurai, the defenders of peace are now targets…

Power-hungry warlord Silver Wolf plots against Moonshadow and the Grey Light Order.

His schemes could tear Japan apart and the legendary mystic, the White Nun, is caught in the middle. To reach the White Nun’s haunted mountain home, Moon and Snowhawk must survive Silver Wolf’s living weapons: bounty hunters, a vengeful gangster and powerful Clan Fuma agents.

Among them is Chikuma, an assassin who uses no force, weapons or poisons – but may prove the most lethal enemy they’ve encountered yet.

Will Silver Wolf’s wrath destroy Japan’s guardians of peace?

Click Here to Order Moonshadow: The Wrath of Silver Wolf

Download your free Moonshadow 2 Teacher’s Notes here!

Readers and teachers outside Australia & New Zealand please note; Moonshadow: The Wrath of Silver Wolf is titled Moonshadow: The Nightmare Ninja in the US (published June 2011) and The Young Ninja 2 in Indonesia.

Readers in the USA & Canada Click Here to order Moonshadow: The Nightmare Ninja

Reviews:

‘This exciting sequel to the all-action ninja adventure Eye of the Beast delivers the thrilling, stylish fight sequences that today’s young anime-literate readers demand. The book’s major strength, though, is its foundation in authentic Japanese mythology, history and culture.

Higgins’ own personal passion for Japanese martial arts shines brightly, bringing greater depth to the characters and their historically based medieval world. Moonshadow is a powerful young shinobi (ninja) -fast, silent and deadly. He has the ability to merge his mind with animals – to see through their eyes and control them. But his recent victory has earned him a dangerous and determined enemy.

Summoned on an urgent mission with his new companion, Snowhawk, the pair soon find themselves hunted by a team of assassins with powers and abilities even more deadly than their own.

Moonshadow is a terrific hero, honourable and disciplined, he nevertheless struggles with the conflicting lessons of his teachers and with his own insecurities, including his confusing feelings for the beautiful but temperamental Snowhawk.

A perfect formula for boys and girls aged 12 plus, mixing the best elements of anime, fantasy, spy thrillers and medieval action.’

Richard Bilkey

Australian Bookseller + Publisher, October 2009

 

Moonshadow: Eye of the Beast 

Random House ISBN 978-1-74166-283-2

Fragile peace dawns in the land of the samurai.

Any death, man or beast, must be accounted for.

Moonshadow is the youngest agent of the Grey Light Order. As spies for the Shogun, the order must stop fanatical lords re-igniting civil war.

Moon’s first mission: use his unusual powers to steal the plans for a foreign secret weapon that could forever change the way battles are fought. His lurking enemies: a legendary assassin, rogue samurai and perhaps most dangerous of all…

a mysterious, beautiful girl.

Secret allies. Advanced sword skills. Unique powers. And courage. Will it be enough to save a world?

Click Here to Order Moonshadow: Eye of the Beast

Download your Free Moonshadow 1 Teacher’s Notes Here (PDF format)

Teachers and readers outside Australia and New Zealand please note that Moonshadow: Eye of the Beast is titled Moonshadow: Rise of the Ninja in the US.

Readers in the USA & Canada Click Here for to order Moonshadow: Rise of the Ninja

Reviews:

‘Lightning-fast action and gripping intrigue. Higgins’s grasp of Japanese sword skills and spy craft is masterful!’

John Flanagan, Author of Ranger’s Apprentice

‘Moonshadow is the perfect ninja…honourable, brave, and deadly. Higgins has populated his world with all the exotic locations and ice-hearted villains you could possibly desire…an adventure you’ll never forget! Moonshadow is a terrific read, and deserves to be a smash!’

Sean Williams, Author of The Changeling and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

‘This is a thrilling and engaging novel that will excite young fantasy readers.’

Viewpoint Magazine, Spring 2008

Readers’ Reviews

‘Set in Japan in a time of Samurai and Ninja, a boy called Nanashi becomes ‘Moonshadow’ to learn to become a Ninja.   For him to become a man he must first complete a daring mission, – steal the prints of a plan from the enemy.   But not everything goes to plan.

This is a quick, action-packed, thrilling adventure novel which I didn’t want to put down.

Recommended for Year 8-9 boys who love action novels.   9/10′

Alex Haw (8G)

‘A young orphan has just finished his Ninja training and is sent on his first mission, where he meets a girl, a cat and his greatest enemy.  This is a well written, exciting and steadily moving book. I liked it because it has action and mystery.  I would recommend it to Yr 7 & 8 boys and girls who like action and mystery stories. 10/10 and gold star!’

Gary Douglas

‘The way that Simon Higgins encapsulates the aura and majesty of the world that the tale is set in is truly remarkable. The way he also blended in magic, superstition, and science is also deserving of credit…it is full of action, mystery, romance and drama…I would give this book 9 out of 10 and rate it highly to any other young readers.’

Kevyna Gardner and Luke Davenport, Balaklava High School, 2008

 

Moonshadow: Das Schwert Des Grauen Lichts 

‘Moonshadow: Sword of the Grey Light’  (German Edition) cbt / Random House Germany

ISBN 978-3-570-30601-7

Click Here to Order Moonshadow: Das Schwert Des Grauen Lichts

The Young Ninja: Dia Yang Tak Tersentuh Maut

‘The Young Ninja’ & ‘The Young Ninja 2′ (Indonesian Editions) Bentang Pustaka

The cool shoutline on the cover of Book 1 reads ‘The One Not Touched By Death’!

Click Here to Order The Young Ninja Series in Bahasa Indonesian

Tomodachi: The Edge of the World

Pulp Fiction Press ISBN 978 0 9751129 1 5

1543. Japan. A strange realm of wealth and warriors, it was said, perched on the fiery, grumbling edge of the world. Tomodachi is Japanese for “friend” and that’s just what young Daniel Marlowe is going to need, shipwrecked and separated from his father in a Japan torn by civil war. Kenji also has a problem that only a trusted friend could help with. He has fled an obligation with a deadly stain on his samurai honour, and must reach his far-off castle home. In his path lie brigands, warlords and their feuding armies. And worse. Temptations and lessons, on the hard road to wisdom. So begins an unlikely friendship, a dangerous journey, and a series of gripping adventures across a beautiful land haunted by the shadow of the sword.

Reviews:

‘Tomodachi is not only a great action-packed ripping yarn which is sure to appeal to boys of all ages, it is also a terrific historical novel which presents Japan’s feudal era in fascinating detail.’

Pamela Freeman Winner NSW History Prize for Young People, 2006

‘The prose is clean and simple and the story quick… Higgins, who has visited Japan, China and the Philippines to study martial arts, uses his experiences to contrast the differences between English and Japanese culture of the period. He has also craftily explained important Japanese terms within the text and left the rest to the glossary, which expounds nicely on some concepts mentioned only in passing…the stage is set…for an entertaining and informative series.’

The Courier Mail September 8-9th, 2007 Author and Literary Critic Jason Nahrung

‘Higgins’s writing is a joy to read.’

GoodReading January 2008

‘…definitely a ‘boys own’ adventure. A very readable novel and I am sure it would be enjoyed by those in the 10+ age group.’

Reading Time Volume 52, No. 1, Feb 2008

Download your  free, comprehensive Teacher’s Notes as 7 Word documents:

Study-notes.doc     Crossword-and-cultural-indicators.doc    Nail-that-character.doc 

I-dont-know.doc      Gaps-and-silences.doc      Multiple-intelligence-matrix.doc

Strengths-weaknesses-opportunities-threats.doc

Or as 7 PDF format files:

Study-notes.pdf    Crossword-and-cultural-indicators.pdf    Nail-that-character.pdf 

I-dont-know.pdf      Gaps-and-silences.pdf      Multiple-intelligence-matrix.pdf

Strengths-weaknesses-opportunities-threats.pdf

 

In The Jaws of the Sea 

Random House ISBN 1-74051-896-9

The year is 2013. The planet’s food chain is collapsing after decades of harsh marine exploitation. Only one man can save our dying oceans: rogue genius Myles Roundtree, now secretly called upon to prevent the extinction of the human race. But Myles is trapped aboard a crippled submarine, deep below the ocean, teetering on the edge of a hull-crushing abyss. His best chance of rescue lies with another marine outlaw, a woman called Kira, and her silent hunter-killer craft, Thunderfish. Kira and her crew are no strangers to daring rescues -but this mission may take a miracle. Assuming they can even get there in time….

Reviews:

‘…undersea action and adventure…Higgins delivers a future world that is richly endowed…exhaustive research renders these fictional scenarios with an accessibility and believability which makes his prognosis for our future all the more dire. Unlike (Tom) Clancy, Higgins imbues his stories with action aplenty without getting bogged down in too much technical detail. Rather Higgins focuses on the human drama of his characters and how they maintain focus on their goals in the face of insurmountable odds. In the Jaws of the Sea maintains its pace with a dual narrative, as the reader moves between two submarines, both locked in a battle against time, with the Earth’s future at stake…not only keeps the action moving, it whets the appetite for more.’

Australian Bookseller & Publisher July 2003 Review by Ben Beaton

Readers’ Reviews

‘Young, rich, beautiful, – what more could Kira want?   Nothing? … wrong … Kira Beaumont, Commander of the UNF  (Under No Flag) Thunderfish, wants to save her boyfriend (a scientist who happens to be the only one who can save the world from fatal destruction) from the Jaws of the Sea.   Teetering on the edge of a massive hole that never ends, at the bottom of the sea, her boyfriend’s sub waits.   Will she have the right equipment to save him?   Or will both subs be consumed by the awe-inspiring power of the Jaws of the Sea?

…before I knew it, the book had me in a grip so tight I couldn’t let go until the very last WORD!

I loved this book, … one of the best conclusions to one of the best book series ever!!!  When I finished I almost cried.   I just wish that Simon had written a fourth one!

This is a great book (and series) for boys and girls in Year 7-9.    1010/10!’

Rebecca McCluskey (8G)

‘”In the Jaws of the Sea” is the sequel to “Thunderfish” and “Under no flag”, the saga of Kira Beaumont, the heiress to a multi-billion-dollar international shipping company. In the first book, she witnesses a crime of modern piracy and her life is changed forever. (I’m sorry, I know how that phrase is grossly over-used in reviews and blurbs and stuff, but it was the only thing I could come up with at the time.) To make a long story short, she purchases an old Kilo attack-class submarine, and goes off killing pirates! – Well, not killing, exactly, but shooting torpedoes at their propellers and virtually stranding them in the ocean, and then calling up the closest NAVY available.

Anyway, in this book, genius -and also Kira’s…um…”friend” ;-) – Myles Roundtree, is trapped aboard a submarine, teetering on the edge of an undersea cliff higher than Mt Everest. And the sub is already below its maximum withstandable water pressure. As you can probably realize, they’re in big trouble. But the reason Myles is needed is much more important. The world’s oceans are threatened by over-pollution, and only Myles can save them. The sub’s only chance of rescue is Kira with Thunderfish, who, incidentally, is halfway around the world. Big problem.

This is a great read, and has spawned my longest review ever! Gripping, life-like, and believable (well, almost…), I rate it 9/10.’

Jarred Whitaker

Expert Eye:

Age 14+ Gripping and claustrophobic are two words that readily spring to mind when describing this latest novel in the Thunderfish series, set in the near future. Thunderfish is a submarine, hence the use of the word, claustrophobic. For someone who suffers from discomfort in small, enclosed spaces, I found this action-packed tale quite realistic. Realistic to the point, where I felt uneasy, as Simon Higgins portrayed the very close and cramped confines of life aboard a submarine. However, as the tension mounted it was a case of read on regardless of any discomfort. I sat on the edge of the seat, compelled to find out if Kira and Myles survived the successive dramas taking place. Central to the plot is Myles Roundtree, a scientist verging on genius, recruited to partake in a scientific expedition to the seas north east of the Queensland coast, where a strange phenomenon has been observed. The expedition is hopeful that its investigations will be useful in halting the collapse of Earth’s food chain, the subsequent extinction of marine life, and possibly life on earth. Myles’s persistent forebodings however, prove to be well founded when his submarine is crippled and stranded on the edge of an abyss, deep below the ocean. His only hope of rescue is the Thunderfish, captained by Kira Beaumont, a marine outlaw. Even though adventure abounds in this aptly titled book, it contains more than a superficial level of action but entwines thought-provoking environmental issues throughout. The story suggests that the oceans are hitting back at man, showing her metaphorical teeth. Also interesting is the concept of ‘art imitating life’. Jules Verne and his futuristic tale, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was written long before the invention of submarines and is paralleled with the ideas of computer and nanotechnology introduced here. In the Jaws of the Sea is an absorbing book; its style compelling and the text interspersed with letters and journal entries, which increase reader involvement. The glossary is very helpful in clarifying unfamiliar or hard to remember terms. It is really quite suitable and a must for those fourteen and upwards.

Janette Offermann, Helena College Senior School

Under No Flag 

Random House ISBN 0 091 83981 5

Only a few years from now… The intrepid crew of the rogue submarine Thunderfish face a terrible responsibility. Cornered by the navy after a campaign against illegal whalers, Captain Kira Beaumont has been forced to accept a dangerous secret mission, turning her military-trained crew and hi-tech sub into pawns in a volatile international drama. And the stakes are high: to rescue a crucial diplomat and prevent war, something even greater must be risked… our world’s pollution-sick lungs themselves – the oceans! Short listed for the Ned Kelly Award (recognizing quality Australian Crime Fiction)

Reviews:

‘…this fast-paced action novel is well-constructed with characters who are now developing into real people…Simon Higgins acknowledges the help of a retired Royal Navy submarine engineer…’

Reading Time Vol 46 No 1

‘…the action never stops, with a pace that keeps your hands and eyes glued to the book. If you are looking for a book that will keep you on the edge of your seat from cover to cover, look no further. It’s a 10 out of 10 and a must-read.’

Reader’s Review 1 Illawarra Mercury / Tim Stokes, Year 11

‘Set in an interesting environment, the plot was an intriguing mix of action, rejection, and romance…and environmental issues, that were shown through most of the book…I recommend all adults and teens to indulge in this novel.’

Reader’s Review 2 Yara Website / Mark, Aged 15, ACT

‘…an exciting novel revolving around high pressure situations and constant doubt…gripping science fiction…although this book is packed with action and SF themes, there is a chilling sense of reality that seems very real and possible. It is recommended for people of all ages and earns a well-deserved 9.5 out of 10.’

Reader’s Review 3 Yara Website / Allisa, Aged 13, ACT

‘…in the second instalment of the Thunderfish saga, Kira is faced with her most dangerous mission yet.   The RAN (Royal Australian Navy) and the CIA have asked her to do their dirty work.   With lives and a few square kilometres of ocean at stake, will she risk her life and the lives of her crew for world peace and a stretch of ocean?

…ends up a fast-paced, action-packed, get your heart racing kind of book, with a bit of romance as well.

Loved it, loved it, loved it!!!    Why? … because it’s not what you expect it to be, it’s more.   And I found the characters so easy to relate to.   Fabulously written!

I can’t decide out of boys or girls.   Boys would love the action, but girls would understand Kira and her decisions better.  So I recommend this series highly for all Year 7-9 readers.   9.999/10′

Reader’s Review 4 by Goergina Windebank (8G)

‘…a racing heartbeat almost from the first sentence in this excellent follow up…renegade terrorists are the antagonists, in the climate we live in, a frightening possible reality…don’t just think of this as a book for young adults, although they would love it, go out and buy it for your own enjoyment…’

Jill Smith for Writeabout Magazine

‘Simon Higgins follows up his submarine action novel for young adults, Thunderfish, back in the water again and making a splash with a cracking good read. Appropriately setting the scene with a quote from the first submarine novel’s Captain Nemo (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne is one of Higgins’ favorite books)… ‘I have done with society entirely, for reasons which I alone have the right of appreciating. I do not therefore obey its laws, and I desire you never to allude to them before me again!’ It’s a quote that could also have been uttered by ‘obsessed’ heiress Kira Beaumont, Captain of the refitted combat submarine Thunderfish. This time around the good 19-year-old captain and her military-trained crew must partake in a secret mission of international significance. Rescuing a diplomat to prevent a war is a tall order, especially when the future of the world’s oceans also hangs in the balance. As with other adventures from Higgins, Under No Flag features a great cast of characters and a fast-paced plot while subtly slipping in some of the big themes of the new millennium – military might, nationalism and environmental awareness not being the least.’

From The Word on Books with Jeremy Fenton

 

Expert Eye:

Age 13+ This is the second novel about the submarine Thunderfish and its hardcore crew with a social conscience. Here science fiction is blended with action to engage a wide range of readers, particularly those with a penchant for futuristic weaponry, maritime vessels and technical information. Again, the Thunderfish is commanded by the orphaned billionaire ‘wonderchild’ Kira Beaumont. The mission is to defend whales against illegal whalers in the international waters of the Pacific. Whilst highly effective in protecting these ‘biologics’, the crew operates completely outside the regulations of maritime law and without the protection or direction of any government. The plot is very much like that of an action film, with tension built around scenes of intercepting whalers, deep-sea manoeuvres and the elimination of a terrorist element. In fact, Higgins engages his readers through the use of the conventions and characteristics of a visual genre with which his audience is undoubtedly familiar…. character types with which many cinema-going student readers will be familiar. This is an exciting and accessible read, which will engage reluctant readers looking for some action. Those who have not read the previous title Thunderfish are not disadvantaged, as Higgins provides enough background detail through the inclusion of Captain’s logs and newspaper articles.

Marie Grace, Newman College

Thunderfish 

Random House ISBN 0-09-183 953-X

In the Coral Sea near Australia, Kira Beaumont has witnessed a crime of Piracy that’s changed her life forever. The 18 year old heir to a giant shipping empire, she now has a dangerous obsession. As newspapers speculate about her disappearance, and tabloid magazines invent gossip about future TV weddings, Captain Kira Beaumont fights a secret crusade a thousand feet under the pacific. Goal: Save refugees attacked on the high seas. Enemy: Modern pirates, murderous and well armed. Secret Weapon: A reborn combat submarine, bristling with 21st Century technology to fight an ancient evil. Thunderfish: Some legends were meant to come true. CBC Notable Book of the Year.

Australian Bestseller February 2000. Reprinted continuously since 1999. Has been performed on stage. Available also as Audio Book from Bolinda Publications.

 

Reviews:

‘…another brilliant read by a delightful storyteller..again I will pass this on to the young adult in my home to read and enjoy..’

Writeabout Magazine

‘…Higgins writes a ripping good adventure yarn for young adults…I am usually riveted by a good submarine story and this was no exception..you can probably file Higgins’s work under the same reference as John Marsden, as they both write exceptionally paced, well written adventure books for teenagers without ever striking a single patronizing note..the sort of book that grips and doesn’t let go…’

The Word On Books

‘…action packed adventure stories to entice even the most reluctant reader…the simplicity of style and plot allow the detail of the novel, the descriptions of the futuristic technology and the dramatic action, to capture and maintain the interest of a diverse group of readers…the appeal of this novel for younger readers will lie in the actual adventures and battles…it will leave them feeling satisfied and..have them looking for more.’

Viewpoint Magazine Summer 1999

Readers’ Reviews

‘Kira Beaumont is an heiress to the throne of the world’s richest shipping company.   Just one problem, – she’s missing.   After witnessing a pirate attack on an asylum boat, Kira runs away from it all.   The press proclaim her missing, but in actual fact she’s now fighting.   Leading her own war against the pirates in a Kilo class submarine, hundreds of feet under the sea.

This book is a quick, extremely well-written novel with the MOST unexpected ending.

I loved this book.   It’s actually one of the few non-fantasy, sci-fi books I have loved.

I recommend this book for Year 7-9 girls because it has a lot of powerful females in it.   9/10′

Rebecca McCluskey (8G)

‘Meet Kira Beaumont, a wonderful heroine.   She is 18, beautiful and  fabulously rich.   She also has a heart.   This action story describes her efforts to become a vigilante of the sea and take on the pirates of the world.   To do this she brings to life the legend of the ‘Thunderfish’ – in her own submarine.

Higgins has created some great characters and his descriptions of submarine life are great.   You will either join the Navy immediately or resolve never to even look at a sub!

This is a good book if you enjoy a story of action, tension and interest. There is a sequel, “Under no flag”, so get ready to follow Captain Kira Beaumont on her dangerous missions.

Recommended for Level 7-8 readers or an easy-to-read book for Year 9 readers.’

Mrs R Porter

 

Expert Eye:

Age 12+ Students who enjoy adventure combined with sophisticated computer technology will enjoy Thunderfish. Kira Beaumont, the eighteen-year-old heiress of a gigantic shipping empire, witnesses cruel acts of murder and piracy in the Coral Sea. So she gathers an experienced crew who set out in an upgraded ex-Russian submarine to act as vigilantes for boat people who are being killed by pirates. However, the Australian navy based in Townsville, intercepts some of the vessel’s radar resulting in an unexpected ending. Interspersed with the compelling drama are newspaper reports with ‘alleged’ sightings of the missing heiress, Kira. Higgins maintains the suspense in this finely crafted novel right until the last page. Useful for (the study of) Adventure or Thrillers.

Jenette Graham, Cecil Andrews SHS

Beyond The Shaking Time

Hodder Headline ISBN 0 7336 1173 7

Later in the 21st Century… 18 year old Cass Marshall has survived a global disaster and most of Australia is under water, with survivors scattered in island villages. Cass can handle the freak weather and her makeshift stockade home, but not her over-protective dad Eddie, who won’t let her join Fort Necessity’s Militia. Especially when her best friend has vanished, the scouts are keeping secrets, and there are strange tracks in the forest! Cass is determined to know what it all means, but solving this mystery will drag her into the heart of terror, and the new world into war.

Reviews:

‘It is a remarkable tale of adventure set in a recognizable but frightening future world…creativity with language and strong action scenes makes this a challenging read. A fascinating book.’

Reading Time Vol 44 No 4

‘The scenario may belong to the realm of fantasy, what-if, but the author works hard at (creating) an almost super-realist effect. In the case of Higgins, this means considerable research into traditional Aboriginal foods and weapons of the New South Wales -Queensland coast. Staples like Bungwahl bread make his future society viable, as well as credible on the purely literal level. There is much to commend in this book: the character of Cass, and her progress from wayward teenage girl to Amazon; the way Higgins shows a society adapting to change; the interactions of the many interesting minor characters; and a deft grasp of action writing. There is clearly a space for a sequel or two (or three) which I trust will happen.’

Viewpoint Magazine Summer 1999

‘…the most requested book in the Multi-text Future theme…’

Koonung Secondary College Victoria

‘I was visiting Australia on vacation and was on the long plane ride home to the US was when I read this book. I thought it was very good, slightly strange…but still good. Thanks to this book, I spent the 13 hour overnight plane ride wide awake, reading.’

Amanda from America (Rating the book 4 out of 5)

 

Expert Eye:

Age 15+ Set in the not-too-distant future in northern New South Wales and southern Queensland, this story is a variation on the theme of a global, man-made disaster. Machinery and equipment has ceased to operate and the explosions which have caused massive earthquakes have led survivors to coin the term ‘the shaking time’. Much of the land has subsided and is flooded, leaving islands where cities and farmlands once stood. Cass and her father Eddie are members of a community of survivors who must work together to create a new future for themselves. The relatively peaceful Fort Necessity is threatened by a pack of slavers from a neighboring island who have captured some of the Fort’s teenage girls. Cass and her friends, Jadzia and Sarah are locked in the slavers’ supply hut, where they are to be fattened up for sale to other, mainly male communities in exchange for weapons, petrol and machine parts. This action-packed survival adventure handles a mixture of issues with rare ease. The harmony of the multicultural Fort Necessity community is essential to the survival and success of the group as a whole. The ‘might is right’ and ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality of the slavers is challenged, and humanity prevails. Beyond the Shaking Time is entertaining, with a similar style to John Marsden’s Tomorrow series. It has enough originality though, to grab the attention of many adolescent readers looking for a good adventure. Highly recommended.

Graeme Smith, Immanuel Lutheran College (Qld)

Order Beyond the Shaking Time Hachette Ebook

The Dream Web Files 

Random House ISBN 1-74051-903-5

 

The Dream Web Files is an omnibus of the three novels detailed below: Doctor Id, Cybercage & The Stalking Zone, complete and unabridged.

Some nights I dream of a ghostly portal that is slowly dragging the real world in by its edges.
The same thing always happens as the nightmare unfolds. I touch the scar on my face, smell burning wires or gunpowder, then get pulled through the portal.
And I go back.
To a dark, dangerous season in my life. Amazing, really, that the ancient gift itself did not destroy me back then. Of course, I had never wanted it in the first place.
Why would I? In those days I would have said, ‘I’m the scientific type. Technology is practically my religion! Cut me and I bleed CPUs, silicon chips.’
But then there is the other Jade, isn’t there? The one who knows a dreadful curse that people have described since time began. Inside what should be safe, peaceful sleep, a dark curtain slowly parts. Then you glimpse things. Strange, scary, meaningful things.
Naturally, disbelief follows. Starting with your own.
So it was a short, difficult tunnel that took me from girl to woman, and I guess along the way there were five men who between them changed my life.
The two I came to love, occasionally at the same time. When I think of them, certain images always come to me first, fragments I will forever remember as so… them. Wings hands, tracing circles in the air. Strong, fluid, pale blades suddenly darting at imaginary targets. The quick, ambitious eyes of Bruce, shining above that smile he knew how to use so well.
And then there were the other three. Each tried to end me. Each made me know why people fear the black of night, and a strangers steps behind them. I think of those three often too, but rather oddly now. Not as men, not as human, but as a weird procession of beings that crept into my world to slowly encircle my friends and I.
First came a phantom, then the Minotaur, and finally, that angel of death…
From Jade Drapers Encrypted Diary File

The Stalking Zone 

Random House ISBN 1-74051-792-X

 

On a lonely Australian Bush plateau, a young man and two women are about to be hunted. Their pursuer is an expert tracker, skilled with firearms.

Cunning. Dedicated. Insane.
During this life-and-death chase, secrets will be revealed, loyalties tested.
WING TRAN Trained fighter. Obsessed with a family secret. Haunted by a man he can never be.
JADE DRAPER Amateur Sleuth. Target of Internet hate mail. Unwilling guardian of an ancient gift.
LUCY VAN DAAL  Glamour girl? Confused yet confident, and Quarry Number 3 in a diabolical game.
…for deep in the forest, madness is ready to hunt.

Reviews:

‘First came Dr Id then Cybercage and in The Stalking Zone Simon Higgins continues the slickly exciting adventures…Interwoven in this cliff-hanging tale is a more thoughtful one, that of Wing’s father, Tran Minh, taken from his diary as a soldier against the Viet Cong. A good read…food for thought, great for upper secondary.’
Magpies Vol 17
 
‘…an ultra scary thriller…gripping…’
DMAG January 2003
 
‘…The Stalking Zone does send chills up and down the readers vertebrae…The cocoon of urban safety is totally removed…Simon has developed his central characters further from the original books…don’t hesitate to read the book before you put on the gift wrap, you will enjoy being “creeped out” too…’
Writeabout Magazine
 
‘…no one can put the book down. The Stalking Zone is a book that can be read over and over again. I recommend that everyone over the age of 13 will enjoy this thriller.’
Reader’s Review 1
Yara Website / Tamara, Aged 13, WA

Expert Eye:

Age 14+ This suspenseful novel in the thriller genre has appeal for both boys and girls.
About to sit her final exams, Jade Draper is also dealing with someone sending her hate email. Moreover, her long-time friendly but competitive relationship with Wing Tran becomes complicated when they decide to ‘start being a couple’. Jade is increasingly disturbed by her unwanted gift of horrifying prophetic dreams. When a deranged man, Seamus Roth, kidnaps Arabella the dreams lead Jade, along with skeptical Wing and friend Lucy, to a remote plateau.
Roth’s delusion is that the four teenagers are developers intent on taking over his land. Having honed his hunting skills on feral animals, he intends to stalk and destroy these ‘invaders’. The action scenes of the stalking, and the quick-witted efforts of Wing, Jade and Lucy to protect themselves are intense and well written.
Interwoven through the novel are sections of a diary kept secretly by Wing’s father, who was involved in a special mission with Australian troops during the Vietnam War. Wing is obsessed by the diary, and haunted by the fact that he could never match the bravery shown by his father. The diary entries are introduced very early in the novel, and their relevance may be puzzling at first for some readers. However, they later serve as a relief from the tension of the action scenes, and the connection between the past and the present becomes increasingly clear.
The differing ways the four characters react to their terrifying ordeal is well described. Wing, Jade and Lucy find unknown courage and ingenuity to assist them. Arabella is less well served by the author, tending to hysterics for most of the action, although she becomes a more rounded character towards the end.
Readers who enjoy Jade’s adventures will want to read more about her computer sleuthing with Wing and Lucy in the previous Jade Draper novels, Doctor Id and Cybercage.
Neryle Sheldon, International Grammar School (NSW)

Cybercage 

Random House ISBN 0 09 183971 8

Computer freak Jade Draper’s outing to the experimental building Cybercourt has already become the field trip from hell. Nightmare images make her doubt her own sanity. Then there’s the romantic conflict that just won’t go away. Bad day? Things are about to get worse… In the labyrinth of Cybercourt, Jade must survive a deadly nemesis – fearless prison escapee Haman Callow. Aided by a brilliant young geek, the ruthless, inventive criminal is about to lock Jade and her friends Bruce, Wing and Lucy into a terrifying contest of wits. Escape will depend on controlling the artificial intelligence that runs Cybercourt. That’s another problem: it’s armed… and it’s gone crazy.

Extract published in secondary textbook English Quest 4

 

Reviews:

 

‘…interesting and entertaining…’

Australian Personal Computer

 

‘Here’s a slick, very cool and totally engrossing thriller about a future world that’s almost here…Higgins has created a colourful group of young people who are exciting but also who fall outside of many stereotypical heroes. One of the strong points of the story is its consideration of the reality of prison life and the complex and diverse types of criminal behaviours that are part of the people who find themselves ‘doing time’. Readers who have an Internet connection -or would love to have one- will really enjoy Cybercage and will probably want to read everything else Simon Higgins has written.’

Viewpoint Magazine Winter 2001

 

Expert Eye:

Age 13+ Jade Draper and friends return! In a sequel to the CBC notable book Doctor Id, Cybercage reacquaints us with Jade, Wing, Lucy and Bruce. Jade, after reading about the new Cybercourt, a court controlled by a computer with the capacity to learn, convinces her teacher to organize a class excursion to the court. Meanwhile psychopathic prisoner Haman Callow plans his escape using Mawson, a newly imprisoned computer hacker. When, during their court appearance, Mawson’s virus enables Callow to take control of the Cybercourt computer, trapping Jade and Bruce inside, a battle of wits begins. Fans of Doctor Id will not be disappointed in this novel. Jade’s romantic crisis with Wing and Bruce is resolved in Cybercage. We are introduced to Jade trying to cope with the aftermath of her encounter with DoctorId. She is undergoing counseling and is traumatized by recurring nightmares. However, readers need not be familiar with Doctor Id to enjoy and understand Cybercage. In fact Cybercage may motivate readers to pick up a copy of Doctor Id and read it retrospectively. Cybercage has strong, clearly defined characters. Much of the plot focuses on the relationships between Callow and Mawson, Jade and Bruce, and Jade and Wing. Especially interesting is the bullying relationship used by Callow to coerce Mawson into working for him. Threats, intimidation and physical abuse force Mawson’s compliance but not his loyalty. Jade provides a strong, intelligent and mature female role model. During the course of the novel she confronts her nightmares and fears, resolves her romantic dilemma and uses her intelligence to outwit both Callow and the Cybercourt computer. Simon Higgins, an Australian author, uses familiar English phrases but he does not rely on colloquialisms or overtly Australian settings. The novel includes some language and allusions that readers may not be familiar with, however everything is clearly explained without patronizing the reader. Technobabble used by Mawson and Wing is explained by the character interactions. The myth of the Minotaur is used throughout the novel and develops as a symbolic code within the context of the story. I enjoyed Cybercage and recommend it for both male and female readers. All conflict is handled in a mature way. The characters are all independent and intelligent. I would not be surprised to see Jade and friends return in another adventure at some future stage.

Nicole Crouch, Hampton SHS

 

Doctor Id 

Random House ISBN 0 09 183469 4

There’s a serial killer on the loose. A killer so clever that Detective Dave Draper’s Special crime Squad has no clues to go on. How does “The Invisible Man” know so much about his victims? How does he choose them and track them down? Jade Draper, teenage computer freak, wants to know. The mounting tally of unsolved murder victims is wrecking her family life. No one is safe. She has her own theory and she wants to test it. With the help of her two admirers she decides to set a trap – a trap that just might work! But who is really setting the trap and who is really after who?

CBC Notable Book of the Year. Published also in Italy & Japan.

 

Mondadori ISBN 88 04 47829 2

Translated into Italian & published by Mondadori, Italy, who also publish thrillers by Agatha Christie, Christopher Pike and Alfred Hitchcock.

Asahi Shimbun Newspaper

English text in 26 abridged episodes, published in Japan by Asahi Shimbun Newspaper Group in their popular Asahi Weekly with original artwork by David Severn.

Reviews:

‘…an exciting, gripping suspense novel to read or recommend..clever young characters, with super computer knowledge who set out to track down a serial killer..cleverly handled without resorting to conventional stereotypes…the family life is well integrated and provides welcome comic relief from the tension that barely lets up, especially through the perpetually hungry, perpetually subversive younger brother, Alan, called ‘the monster’ by Jade. What increases the tension and the creepiness are the interspersed cuts to the Invisible Man and his planning, plotting and stalking…his undoing then is clever, but not before a terrifying, violent confrontation between the young people and him, that is fittingly climactic.’

Viewpoint Magazine ‘On Books for Young Adults’ Spring 1998 edition

 

‘…witty, fast paced and inventive…’

Australian Book Review July 1998

‘…strong and suspenseful…aimed at a younger market, but which has value for all readers…this is gritty and …benefits from Higgins’ experience as policeman & (private) investigator.’

Gold Coast Bulletin   (Michael Jacobson)

‘…a writer with considerable understanding of human behavior…a book which interests teenagers – and treats readers, characters and subject matter with maturity and respect..a gripping and challenging murder mystery. The story’s threads – computers, kids and crime – are woven into a sticky, heart stopping web that will pull teenagers to the edge of their seats.’

The Daily News

‘Higgins calls on his past with the South Australian police to conjure up the scary stuff.’

WHO Magazine

‘…the suspense mounts- this is scary!’

Bookphile

‘…fast paced and very easy to read with a lot happening in a relatively short book…accessible to teenagers of varying reading ability levels….Higgins combines family, friendship and romantic issues with computers, murder and mystery in a very readable way.’

Fiction Focus

‘… a nail biting, suspense-filled, crime novel… contemporary and action-packed… plus a look into real police operations.’

The Northern Star

‘nail-biting suspense intertwined with fast action and little twists that change the story completely…Doctor Id is one of those books that you just have to keep on reading until the end. I am not going to rate this book out of ten because if I did it would go off the scale. I will just say that it is a total success…’

Reader’s Review 1 David Key aged 15

‘…will keep you in suspense the whole time you read it.’

Reader’s Review 2 Joannah Innes Year 8

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