By Carol Hedges
Ok this is a book aimed at teenagers, the YA readers, so some of the authentic teenspeak dialogue and teenage girl logic sticks in the eyeballs of an adult reader a bit. That aside it's a brilliant story and I was entertained by the slightly eccentric methods used by our Annie to work out who dun it.
Annie is Norwegian and not a happy camper, having been forced to move to England from her idyllic outdoor, polite and egalitarian life in Norway. The move to the UK in her eyes is like a move to Mars, (if you have never attended a British school she is right).
Some key words for American and international readers, "Morning Assembly", all the kids gather to sing songs of praise to a god they don't care or know anything about, then they have to listen to a teacher talking for minutes on end about a god. Brains fired with god spam and brainwashed off their heads, off they go to bully and mock each other, often to the point where someone commits suicide. OK that is the synopsis.
So early on in the book obviously there is a death. Grant an associate of Annie hangs himself. (good move) Annie fancies herself as a detective and at an early stage rules out the obvious motives for ending it all... school assembly and don't forget school dinners (read lunch) they have plunged thousands of English school kids into utter despair.. Yes life in a British school is boring it's a wonder many more kids don't hang themselves.
turns out.. No its not school dinners.. So lets look at the jigsaw pieces... It could be stress she reasoned ..No he was only doing 5 subjects, that got me laughing out-loud, bullying NO, abducted by aliens NO, and nobody liked Grant (murder is a big risk at a British school) nop not that. His mum worked at Tescos all hours god sent ( read poor) work does not pay and that "god" err she does not care either. So what is going on ? I was asking...
Annie (loves US TV shows we are told) improbably hidding in the bushes Annie finds Grant's bike this shortly after Grant's disappearance. She tells nobody,,, so it was obviously not Scooby doo that she had been watching. Thelma would have blabed that to the world in seconds.. so what's going on ?
There is this second sub plot about WWI soldiers, Our Annie is a deep thinker and has a teenage obsession (not for Justin Beaver) but for young romantic poets that died young. In this case during WWI.
Dead soldiers suicide.poetry and evil are ghost that haunt this book. And some darker stuff but I won't mention that... I suppose this is where the book gets interesting as Annie discovers a dark side to the British school gate ... it's a very dangerous place... the most dangerous criminals in the UK can be found at the school gates. The UK police (bless em) it's seems have not figured this out yet. This book is fiction (or is it fact ?)it falls into the category of "you could not make it up" this stuff actually happens.
The UK is a strange place.
I loved the book ...a good read, death is at the gates of this life,,, and this life is a school... Are you ready to exist the gate?... what is waiting for you when you go over the top? What I means is over the top of the trench to face a wall of bullets and certain death, the WWI link is an interesting aspect.
Schools out for summer.
This was a review of the kindle edition, the book is good value and I look forward to reading the author's other books.
Paul Kendall (UK)