Junk and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more

Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering.
Trade in Yours
For a 1.05 Gift Card
Trade in
More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

Start reading Junk on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Junk [Paperback]

Melvin Burgess
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 5.59 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
You Save: 2.40 (30%)
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
In stock.
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
Want it tomorrow, 24 Aug.? Choose Express delivery at checkout. Details


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition 3.99  
Hardcover --  
Paperback 5.59  
Audio, CD, Audiobook, CD --  
Audio Download, Unabridged 11.55 or Free with Audible.co.uk 30-day free trial
Trade In this Item for up to 1.05
Trade in Junk for an Amazon Gift Card of up to 1.05, which you can then spend on millions of items across the site. Trade-in values may vary (terms apply). Learn more

Book Description

3 April 2014

The love story of two runaway teenagers, Gemma and Tar, and their struggles with heroin addiction.

Melvin Burgess' most ambitious and complex novel is a multi-faceted and vivid depiction of a group of young people in the grip of addiction. It is told in many different voices, from the addicts themselves to the friends watching from the outside who try to prevent tragedy.

Winner of the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize.

Special Offers and Product Promotions

Frequently Bought Together

Junk + Coram Boy + The Other Side of Truth
Price For All Three: 17.12

Buy the selected items together

Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Andersen (3 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1783440627
  • ISBN-13: 978-1783440627
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,600 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Junk is an extraordinary book, and walks a terrain that is at once terrifying and totally compelling.

Tar and Gemma are in love. Tar has reasons for running away from home that run deep and sour, whereas Gemma, with her middle-class roots firmly on show, has a deep-rooted lust for adventure. Together they explore the dark world of the streets as, together, they explore the dark world of drugs, moving quickly on from the first hit of heroin that takes them towards bliss, to the next hit that ultimately leads to despair.

Melvyn Burgess packs one hell of a punch in Junk, a book that is certainly unnerving in its honesty about two teenagers and their very different reasons for wanting to flee their families and their lives.

The narrative is simple and to the point, adding fire to the characterisation of the two main protagonists as they dive deeper into their love affair with heroin and each other. Burgess hits hard with his convincing handling of controversial subjects ranging from alcohol abuse, prostitution, teenage pregnancy and child abuse, skilfully moving the plot and the characters forward with a pace that mirrors Tar and Gemma's spiralling relationship.

Junk is a must-read for any teenager who enjoys gritty realism and a gutsy, honest approach to the books they read. But be warned, this book is not for the faint-hearted: the language is realistic, the situations are occasionally terrifying, and Burgess certainly does not glamorise any aspect of Tar and Gemma's lifestyle. Parents of teenagers should take a close look too. Age 12 and over--Susan Harrison --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


"Everyone should read Junk." (The Times)

"Melvin Burgess's ground-breaking Junk remains the best book about teenagers and drugs to this day" (Julia Eccleshare, Guardian Online)

"Occasionally a 'teenage novel' comes along which makes one reconsider the whole genre and its potential. Such a book is Melvin Burgess's Junk." (Robert Dunbar Children's Books in Ireland)

"Brilliantly and sensitively written, it encompasses the raw, savage and ecstatic world of the adolescent mind... a superbly crafted and important book" (TES)

"Beautifully written" (The Times)

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse and search another edition of this book.
First Sentence
A boy and a girl were spending the night together in the back seat of a Volvo estate car. Read the first page
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Junk 11 Jan 2003
This is one of the best books I have ever read.It copes with so many teen problems. It is frank and realistic and you can relate with the charachters. It's main focus is addiction but also deals with teenage mothers,prostitution and living on the street. The plot is great. The characters are very good and different until heroin becomes they're life. The language the author uses is realistic. So many authors aiming they're books at teens try not to swear and so forth. But what they have to understand is that teens DO swear and Burgess uses slang which teens use. This book leaves you feeling sad but if you want a reason not to be a junkie this will show you them as well as providing a exciting story line. I read it when i was 12 and it made me depressed but I was very pleased I read it. People of that age should be able to read it. I think most 12 year olds can cope with it though I probabally wouldn't reccomend it to anyone younger than 10 or 11 because they may not understand some of it.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, unflinching and never patronising 16 Jun 2007
By I Read, Therefore I Blog VINE VOICE
There's a reason why this book won both the Guardian Fiction Award and the Carnegie Medal and that's because it's simply brilliant - a Trainspotting for teenagers. Told in the first person mainly by teens Tar and Gemma and set in Bristol in the early 1980s, it's a very believable look at how two teenagers descend into drugs and whilst it doesn't hide from how drugs make the characters feel, it's also very good at showing what comes along with that high.

What particularly impressed me is the way that Burgess plays with the reader's sympathies. At the beginning of the book, you find yourself really sympathising with the hapless Tar who is running away from two alocholic parents - one of whom emotionally abuses him, the other physically abuses him. Gemma by contrast is shown as being quite selfish - her biggest concern is to get away from two parents whose love is suffocating and she's happy to use Tar as a means of getting away, giving him sex even though she knows that she doesn't love him. As the book progresses however, you see how drugs affect both characters and as Tar steals to fund his habit and Gemma sells her body to fund hers, you become aware of how selfish and hard Tar is becoming and how Gemma is starting to realise that she can't lie to herself much longer. It's particularly interesting to see Gemma become the stronger character towards the end of the book - she's given something to get clean for and she's determined to do it, even though it means having to return to everything she gave up. There's a good contrast here between Gemma and the apparently glamorous Lily who is unable and unwilling to make the same choices and who is revealed to be living in a pathetic state of self-delusion.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The book "junk" by Melvin Burgess deals with two main characters, Gemma and Tar, who leave home because they have problems with their parents. In Bristol they find new friends very fast. They live together in a squat and get into their first contacts with soft drugs and criminality. Finally they both take heroin. Gemma even does prostitution to get money for junk. When Gemma gets pregnant she gives up taking heroin. Tar wants to give up heroin by doing a therapy in detox centre. But it`s not sure that he`s really clean.Before I started reading "junk" I thought of the typical junkie-stories where people leave home and take drugs. While I was reading my expectations stood the test. For all that "junk" was different. In my opinion, it`s the way the author developed the book. The story is told from different points of view, so you can get a closer look to all the characters. In fact you get closer to the story because you know exactly the feelings of every character and the things that happen are described from different points of view. This knowledge, e.g. about the feelings, makes the story really understandable and convincing. When you read the book you can set yourself in the people`s situation and try to understand the reasons for taking drugs. For me these reasons aren`t really convincing, but the story itself is close to reality and exciting to read. After having read the book I must say that my attitude about junkies and drugs were confirmed.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
A novel that has a special narrative technique where each chapter is told by different characters giving the reader a deep insight into the life of each person. It is an informative novel which describes how two very ordinary teenagers get wrapped up in the world of drugs. Tar has a valid reason for running away from his broken home where as Gemma sees leaving home as an adventure and a threat to her parents. In the novel we experience a complete role reversal of the two main characters - Gemma and Tar.
The book tackles the real life issues of society today, focussing on both child and drug abuse. The novel is aimed at all ages but is particularly suitable for teenagers because it highlights the growing fashion of drugs.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This book is sooo good...I bought it two years ago here in California where I live (it goes under the title "Smack" here) and I am reading it for my second time!!! It's so interesting and it also really makes you think. It doesn't go telling you "well, drugs are bad and you shouldn't do them." They show reality; no matter what people say there will always be those who disobey. And it really makes you think, God, what if that were me? I myself am not into that scene but if you are it may really get you to rethink your strategy. Well-written and never a dull moment!
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 days ago by Julesta
5.0 out of 5 stars I need this for my childrens literature study it came ...
I need this for my childrens literature study it came promptly and I am looking forward tor reading it over the summer.
Published 1 month ago by carrie
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it from Hannah & Neve
I wrote a lot of good stuff about you then but i delieted it by accedent :3 OK Anyway all i wanted to say is that you are amazing and you inspire so many people! Read more
Published 3 months ago by Hannah
4.0 out of 5 stars compelling and unjudgemental
Told in several first-person voices, Junk (or Smack as 2010 edition is titled) is the prizewinning story of a pair of runaway under-age teens who get drawn into heroin addiction in... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Bobbie
1.0 out of 5 stars Scary
This was a really heavy depressing book and I only read it all through as I'm studying it for OU. If I was a teenager I would not really relate to it either as drugs were never my... Read more
Published 11 months ago by EmmaChops
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it!
Recommended to me by a friend, I caved in to the peer pressure! - I was 'hooked'! A real page turner and interesting read. An insight into 'another world/lifestyle'.
Published 13 months ago by Jessica de Vrieze
3.0 out of 5 stars punk classic
This is right to be labelled as a punk classic and is a good read. At times it does get a bit blah if all the political anarchy goes over your head but this is a book I think... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Priya_kay
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
I read this book with the intention of writing about it as an example of crossover fiction in a university assignment. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Maria
5.0 out of 5 stars junk review
the book is a fanstatic read incredible writer good story about gemma into drugs heroin and love of tar recommend it to anyone
Published 16 months ago by Tracey Haigh
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this book
This book i had to read as part of my reading list for uni. This book is very rare, because it captured my imagination, and I really believed in the characters that were amazingly... Read more
Published 17 months ago by N.Reid
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category