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Monday, 5 July 2010

Review: Dead Boy Talking

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.


Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

Wow, what a gripping tale. I love such unusual and unique stories that knock you off your feet, as you said. Great review! It was really great to read it.

Nina said...

Great review Becky! I haven't read a book about knife crime, but this one sounds like it will be the first. I like how the cover reflects the book, they did a wonderful job there!

So Many Books, So Little Time said...

This sounds really powerful. Knife crime doesn't seem to be a feature of many books so it's great that this highlights it.

Dwayne said...

Just looking at the cover makes me bend over in imaginary pain! Looks like this book is a reaaly good one for teens - the abundance of knife crimes in London (and other major cities) should really be addressed like this. Awesome!

BeckyS said...

Irena, gripping! yes indeed!

Nina, yes the cover is spot on. It really reflects the way the story is told. Very clever.

Sophie, I agree. I have read two other books about knife crime and they were also excellent. But this one is particularly great for readers who are put off by longer reads.

Dwayne, LOL. Your first line made me giggle. But you're right, it is such an important issue in our society right now.

Christina/Book Addict said...

This sounds like a good read for some of the reluctant readers I taught last year. Thanks for pointing that out b/c I am always looking for compelling reads for them. I will have to get this one for my classroom library! Great review, Becky!

Lauren said...

I hadn't heard of this one before, but I love the idea of the immediacy (is that a word?) that it seems to have. Sounds like a book with impact. Thanks for the heads up, Becky!

farmlanebooks said...

I didn't realise Linda's new book had been published. I'm a friend of her son and so always like to read what she writes :-) It sounds as though this one is just as gripping as her first so I'm looking forward to reading it. I''m pleased that you enjoyed it.

Becky said...

Christina, that is great. I would love for it to be in your classroom library.

Lauren, I *think* immediacy is a word but even if it isn't, it desrcibes perfectly the way this book is told.

Farm Lane, Dead Boy Talking has only been out a few weeks so perhaps that why you didn't know. I recommend following Linda's blog to keep up to date.

I Want To Read That said...

I'm really liking the sound of this one - thanks for the review:)

Splendibird said...

I've never heard of this one - it sounds great, a really original premise. Great review, as well! Have entered your contest so will keep my fingers crossed...

brizmus said...

I know very little about knife crime, and I don't think I've ever read a book dealing with it.
I'm interested as to how that would play out, the lack of plot deviation. You make it sound fabulous, but it seems like it would be so different from what I normally read.