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Junk Paperback – 3 Apr 2014

143 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Andersen Press (3 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1783440627
  • ISBN-13: 978-1783440627
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (143 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,938 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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 out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"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)

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A boy and a girl were spending the night together in the back seat of a Volvo estate car. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "a_teenager_from_the_uk" on 11 Jan. 2003
Format: Paperback
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.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By I Read, Therefore I Blog VINE VOICE on 16 Jun. 2007
Format: Paperback
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 21 Jun. 2000
Format: Paperback
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 May 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lorj on 18 Mar. 2005
Format: Paperback
I first picked up "Junk" after trying to find a book that I could relate to, after years of fluffy teenage girl books about romance and happiness-ever-after. It took me a while to get into the book, but once I did, it astounded me. Page upon page of thrilling fiction, sometimes getting so realistic it was hard to believe it was fiction at all. The storyline follows the lives and loves of Tar and Gemma, a young couple that take it upon themselves to run away. But running away brings about what life without authority means: Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. Set around the Punk revolution of the 1970s onwards, Junk is positively thrilling, and there is no book I love more than this one. I'm 17 now and have read it at least 5 times in the last year. It may shock you, however, with the measures the charcters go to, simply to score some heroin for their next fix. I thoroughly recommend this book, not just for mature teenagers, but for adults too, who could well have been facing their own rebellion at this time.
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