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Jack, Backwell School

Beck

This book's start is... well... unconventional. Yes; that's the word we'll use. Unconventional.
The book continues. And we have some more scenes that are... what was that word?... unconventional.
However, this is, in my view, a great book. I expect that there has been a lot of controversy over it, as there was a few years back, when Mr Dog bites. However, I believe that anyone shadowing the shortlist is mature enough to read it sensibly and maturely. Furthermore, due to the style of writing, anyone who can get far enough to reach the unorthodox moments must, in my view, be mature enough to read the scenes in question.
That brings me to the style of writing. It is more old fashioned than many of the other shortlist books, more similar to the works of Dickens and Hugo. This may put some people off, but to me it is interesting to have such a varied shortlist. This style of writing most certainly makes it the hardest read on the shortlist, except for Stars at Oktober Bend, which one feels as though one must take a Sharpie to the book, adding the much-required capitals. But in terms of writing style, this is a challenging - though very rewarding - read.
Making it more challenging to the less devout readers amongst us is the storyline. It is unclear at first, and slow to move. But when it does begin, it is a phenomenal rites of passage story. The first section is, however, very slow, and works as a deterrent to the less keen of us. It does pick up after that, so if, as a potential reader, you can make it through the first section (of four), the pace picks up wonderfully, and the story progresses in a way I would never have expected.
When I was a little under halfway through, I found out that Mal Peet had unfortunately passed away, and the manuscript had had to be completed by Meg Rosoff. I spent the rest of the book keeping an eye out for the point at which the author changed, but Rosoff has so masterfully continued Peet's work, that the seam is indeterminable. A wonderful achievement, I believe, particularly as Peet's writing style is so unusual for the time, and (having read some of Rosoff's work previously) so different to her own. This in itself deserves an award. Add to this ability to control such a sensitive subject, the wonderful story, and the masterful language, and this book is a serious contender for the award.

Posted on: 28th April 2017 at 01:06 pm

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