Author: Linda Strachan
Release date: June 2010
Genre: Realism, Knife Crime, Contemporary YA Fiction,
Target audience: 12+
Summary from Strident Publishing:
Josh has twenty five minutes left to live.
Yesterday he stabbed his best mate and now it’s happened to him. Lying alone in a pool of blood Josh hasn’t much time to think, but there are things he can’t get out of his head.
Where is his girlfriend, Skye? What happened to his missing brother? And how did he get involved with the gang? As his life slips away the events of the last twenty four hours start to look very different…
Dead Boy Talking is story which will knock you off your feet with the speed of its delivery and the raw, tough realism that it explores. This is the third novel I have read which explores knife crime and Strachan gives this issue her own fresh and very accessible twist. It is the story of Josh and how he comes to be lying in a pool of his own blood on the very first page. The story alternates between his first person account of the minutes after he is stabbed and the third person narrative which reveals how events in Josh's life play the domino effect and to lead up to this horrific moment.
It is a story which doesn't deviate from the path of its telling. Strachan expertly gives you only what you need to know keeping the narrative free of excessive detail and unnecessary asides. It is also a story that isn't in any way sentamentalised. The cover even reflects this clinical telling of the story and it is something that the author should be commended for. Whilst the plot is simple and direct, the characterisation shows a huge depth and understanding of the every day difficulties faced by a number of teens today. Josh is harbering a huge resentment towards his parents as they are absorbed by the disappearance of his brother. Danny is hiding a secret from everyone and I especially liked the exploration of his home life. Skye is an intriguing character. Her story is an original twist which took me completely by surprise.
The issues of how the stabbing comes to pass are not necessarily studied in great detail but in a way that shows you how our mistakes can soon spiral out of control. Strachan creates a fascinating portrayal of the interaction between characters and explores issues of manipulation and control and a pressure to keep face.
Overall, this is an excellent novel which will grab any reader with its shocking and tough approach to the issue of knife crime. The fast pace and direct approach will have a particular appeal to reluctant readers. A definite must have for any school library. A great short sharp burst of a book that will actually take your breath away.
Thanks to Strident Publishing for sending me the review copy.