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Tape [Hardcover]

Steven Camden
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
RRP: £9.99
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Book Description

30 Jan 2014

TAPE is an outstanding debut. Told with crackling prose, shimmering with humour and deeply moving, it will haunt anyone who reads it…

Record a voice and it lasts forever…

In 1993, Ryan records a diary on an old tape. He talks about his mother’s death, about his dreams, about his love for a new girl at school who doesn’t even know he exists.

In 2013, Ameliah moves in with her grandmother after her parents die. There, she finds a tape in the spare room. A tape with a boy’s voice on it – a voice she can’t quite hear, but which seems to be speaking to her.

Ryan and Ameliah are connected by more than just a tape.

This is their story.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks (30 Jan 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007511205
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007511204
  • Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 3 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 175,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


‘Truly gripping… a cleverly structured, movingly characterised and powerful tale.’ The Sunday Times

‘Beautifully controlled – a tender love story about grief, regret, healing and hope… builds to a wonderfully rewarding ending.’ Daily Mail

‘Deftly structured… an impressive debut.’ Telegraph

‘Steven Camden is a born storyteller. Read TAPE, rewind, then read it again.' Phil Earle

‘Time-warping escapism. I loved it!’ Jordan, Rizzle Kicks

'Steven is one of my greatest influences, he is a powerhouse in his field, both looked to and admired. This book is just as original, playful as Steven is. Full of heart.' Laura Dockrill

About the Author

Steven Camden is a leading spoken-word poet, performing as Polarbear. He also writes radio plays, teaches storytelling in schools, and was a lead artist for The Ministry of Stories. TAPE is his first novel. When you read it, you will find this hard to believe.

You can find out more about Steven at www.bearheart.org.uk or follow him on twitter at @homeofpolar.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By K. J. Noyes TOP 500 REVIEWER
I was really looking forward to this. It sounded great, like the next bestseller. I must say though I'm disappointed. So much promise, but it fell a little flat for me.

Two children. 20 years apart. Ameliah's parents are dead. Ryan's mum is dead. Ameliah discovers an old cassette player and tapes of her mother's. Ryan records cassettes. They are about to connect in an unexpected way.

Except the plot doesn't even really take off until page 101. It could be magical - like the film Frequency or the Doctor Who episode 'Blink', with different time periods connected through the communication device. But it's frustrating - it doesn't happen.

The plot is interesting enough but quite slow and it can be confusing who is who at times. When the plot device reaches the pivotal 'aha they are talking through the tape at last' moment it peaks then immediately fizzles away again.

It does reach a satisfactory climax with plot strands brought together (the twist is pretty obvious but it's sweet enough).

But the writing isn't anything extraordinary, it's fine but not anything like the hype and PR suggest. It isn't as funny as the PR declares either.

I also had trouble believing in the immediate connection between Ryan and a girl he sees in the park that in essence IS the story. They are 13. It's not Shakespeare. They are kids. It just didn't feel like an epic romance, the one that the author needs you to believe in for you to take them to heart.

It's quite good, yes. Some great ideas, some good structure in there with the two time periods but it's also slow to start (which I can see on Goodreads has actually put people off part-way through) and the interesting turns you see the book taking are not followed through and leave you (or at least me) a little deflated.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's okay, but I had too high expectations. 13 Jun 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I’m trying to think how I can even begin to review this book. It was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. I loved the cover, I adored the synopsis, I was ready to get stuck in and be blown away, but unfortunately I wasn’t. I found myself confused by the story, and the lack of speech marks in the text really began to grate on me as well. If you can get past swapping from past to present and lack of speech marks, then I think you could potentially really enjoy this book. I know I kept on reading, because I really wanted it to get better and me to connect to it. Perhaps, it just wasn’t the book for me though.

Tape is told from dual narratives. The reader learns about Ryan in 1993, who has lost his mother. His father has remarried to a lovely lady, but he has a terrible stepbrother. Ryan records tapes to his mum, to help him grieve. The reader also learns about Ameliah, 20 years later in 2003. Ameliah has lost both of her parents and now lives with her grandmother. Whilst going through her parents belongings she finds some tapes, Ameliah begins to listen to them. She connects with a voice on one of the tapes and begins to wonder, just who she is listening to.

It took me a long time to get into this book. I had no idea what was going on and the pace was incredibly slow. Once I had pushed past that and began to understand the characters a little more, I enjoyed it a lot more. I had guessed who Ryan was before it was revealed, but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the story.

I don’t mean to sound overly negative about Tape. I did finish the book, and I thought the writing was straight-forward, but my overall opinion is… my expectations were too high, the story was too basic and the pace was too slow for me to really rave about it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Review by Manou - Year 8 10 Jun 2014
Tape is written in dual narrative. The author separates each character by writing in a different font for each character,adding a visually dynamic element to the story.

The main characters are a girl named Ameliah and a boy named Nathan. Nathan’s story is set 30-40 years before Ameliah’s. As Tape is told from both characters point of view and as well as a different time period making the plot really complicated to follow. It isn’t until the end that you are able to see how the two characters are connected.

Ameliah lives with her Grandmother after her Mother dies in a car crash , her father is already deceased. When Ameliah cleans out a spare room full of her parents old stuff, she finds a tape recorder and starts listening to a recording of someone talking about a person with the same name as her mum.

Nathan’s mum has recently died, his dad remarried; Nathan’s new Step-mother and Step-brother move into their house with them. He records himself talking into a tape recorder, pretending he is talking to his mum, telling her about the new girl next door who is Irish. Her name is Eve.

I didn’t really understand this book because up until the end it didn’t make sense. However, I think it was cleverly written and was an interesting story especially how they made the two characters stories connect across a significant time span.

I wouldn’t change the way in which Tape is written because the ending is really good making the rest of the story, in retrospect, equally as good in the way it leads to the ending.

My favorite character would have to be Nathan’s Step Brother because even though he and Nathan didn’t particularly like each other he still put family first especially in times of tragedy and grief.

I think the author has set the bar really high for future books, I’d be interested to see what he produces next.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely story, beautifully told
I really loved this book. The two main characters, Ryan and Ameliah were completely believable, sympathetic and alive in the novel. Read more
Published 4 months ago by C. S. F. Caless
3.0 out of 5 stars Planning on listening to the tape (i.e. audiobook)
3.5 stars (teetering on 4 while writing this review)

Tape is one of those books that you need to read completely to appreciate fully. Read more
Published 5 months ago by kirstyes
5.0 out of 5 stars A slow burner - I loved it.
A housewarming and very sweet debut from the Polar Bear Poet; Steven Camden.

Takes a while to get going but was such a joy to read that I stayed up all night and read it... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Mr. A. Rollo
5.0 out of 5 stars The Book of 2014
Such a beautifully written novel. Unique, quirky, heartwarming narrative. Literally could not put it down. Was immersed in the story the second I started reading it. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Brendan Suen
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing Read
I must admit I did judge the book by it's cover. Its what made me buy it. And I'm so glad I did. I did find it slow going to start with but it soon picks up. Read more
Published 6 months ago by QwazyChick
3.0 out of 5 stars Not amazing but quite sweet
I saw a blog post about this book and it looked really interesting, I then saw it advertised elsewhere saying it was a great new release and that it could be the 'next big thing'. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Barmy_Bex
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Tape by Steven Camden

I received this book free from NetGalley in return for an honest review. Read more
Published 7 months ago by E
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
There was a lot of 'not much' in this novel. I know I am a grown up, reading teenage or junior fiction (all part of my job), but I got bored and skipped to the end having guessed... Read more
Published 7 months ago by A. Muirhead
4.0 out of 5 stars This book is so cool!!!!!
This book is so cool!!!!!
You only find out whats going on right at the very end and leaves it on a cliffhanger...
Published 8 months ago by Tracey Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Tape
Ryan and Ameliah are two teenagers separated by two decades but united by fate, the magic of the universe, and a cassette tape. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Erin Britton
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