Beast

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Ally Kennen
Marion Lloyd Books
0439951046
June 2006

The cover of this one put me off: textured like the skin of a dinosaur, a huge yellow eye looking out of the beast�s face. Oh gawd, I thought, not horror, not Jurassic Park, not monsters, please.

Just goes to show how wrong you can be.

The book is not about monsters or dinosaurs. There is a creature in there, but he�s not the �beast�. The �beast� is 17-year-old Stephen, reaching the end of a three-year stint at yet another foster home and facing the grim prospect of going on to St. Mark�s hostel next, home to addicts and losers. Stephen speaks to us in conversational first-person, present-tense narration: a lot of that about at the moment. The first thing he gives us is a list of the ten worst things he�s done in his life. Clearly he�s learnt to have a certain perception of himself, and as we meet his foster family, his social worker and other influences in his life, we can see why. For all their wish to do good, even the best of them have marked him down as an outsider, an unreliable entity, a probable �no-good� troublemaker. Yet the person that gradually emerges for the reader is very different. He is responsible, according to his own rules, he has integrity, he is a fighter. Enough of a fighter to break through the self-doubt and the doubts of those around? Enough of a fighter to deal with the mysterious creature and to avoid St. Marks? To get the girl? Read it and find out. But don�t be surprised to find yourself gradually liking this boy more and more as the story unfolds, whatever judgment you made on page one about those �ten worst things�. See, you�re as bad as the rest of them.

A great book from a new Bristol writer. And, in retrospect, a great cover too.


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This page contains a single entry by Patrick Cave published on June 16, 2006 10:59 AM.

Breathe was the previous entry in this blog.

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