Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus are the creators behind Books on the Rail, a community project to get more people picking up books and reading on public transport (find them on Instagram and Twitter using #BooksOnTheRail). What started in Melbourne has grown nationally, and now books can be found on all manner of public transport all around Australia. I was thrilled to hear that Ali and Michelle were teaming up on another project, a debut novel. For those of you in Australia, you can now pick up a copy of ‘The Book Ninja’ as it is available from 21 May 2018.
Without spoiling the plot, the story follows Frankie (named after the train-line she was conceived on, Frankston!) as she uses her blog and her favourite reads (dropped around Melbourne, much like the real life #BooksOnTheRail!) to find both romantic love, but most importantly, to fall back in love with writing. Everything about the plot was a tick for me very early on – Frankie and her best friend are believable characters with more depth than I typically find in contemporary fiction. From their K-Pop dance classes to their time spent in their workplace, an indie bookstore, these two had me giggling along and wishing I could be joining them for a SIFUB (you’ll have to read the book to catch that reference!)
This was a delightful read that I became completely consumed by and finished in one sitting! Frankie and her best friend Cat are an endearing pair that sweep you up in their quest to return Frankie to her first love in life, writing. The literary references seamlessly slipped into the narrative brought me back to another extremely clever read, Jasper Fforde’s ‘Thursday Next’ series! ‘The Book Ninja’ rewards the well-read reader with quick associations and a particularly funny (yet perfectly apt for this plot!) debate about the merits of literary versus Young Adult fiction.
I often have people asking for recommendations for contemporary fiction by Australian writers – the setting of this book in Melbourne gives locals a great tour of some of the best bars, bookshop and eateries in the area, and is a perfect to-do list for those yet to visit the city! I loved this sweet story and can’t wait to read what Ali and Michelle have in store for us next!
I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher, Simon & Schuster Australia, in return for an honest review.