Chris loses the ability to speak after his best friend Declan dies in a car crash. Chris and Declan were a double-act, and Chris is lost without him. After the initial shock, Chris quickly loses the sympathy of his classmates, with the exception of Declan's former girlfriend Ariel. There's also Will, the charming new boy who befriends Chris. Soon Chris will need to find his voice and face up to what actually happened on the night of Declan's death...
I sympathised with Chris from the very start of the book. I enjoyed his witty narration and hilarious observations even as Chris was hit with the devastating realisation that he'd lost his best friend forever. The story is told in the second person, with Chris 'speaking' directly to Declan. In some ways, for me, the mystery of Chris's secret and the reason for his silence is secondary to the raw, sharp quips in Chris's monologue and the realistic, moving way they portray the strength of Chris and Declan's friendship and the enormity of Chris's grief.
There's a cast of well-drawn characters, from the headstrong, self-reliant Ariel to the weak-willed, dangerous new boy, and every classmate in between. I particularly loved the casual humour about school life, including the girl who became known for throwing up on a certain school outing. Readers will be absorbed by the increasing darkness in Chris's story as he starts to lose himself to grief, allowing himself to be pulled in uncomfortable directions despite his better judgment.
This book is brilliant. It's gripping, thrilling and moving, and at the same time it's fantastically well-observed, true-to-life and really, really funny. I absolutely loved it and I highly recommend it to young teen readers everywhere.