While some of his later books might arguably be described as courting controversy, this is a brutally honest and gritty story set in a skewed urban landscape that is similar and yet somehow worlds apart from those we know. Burgess takes the worst elements of the 21st century and magnifies them into a desolate universe of greed and corruption. Against this backdrop we meet Fly Pie and his sister Jane, children struggling to 'make good' and escape the trap of their lives to achieve their modest dreams.
The discovery of a seventeen-million-pound baby on the rubbish tip they call home throws in their paths an opportunity to gain everything they have ever hoped for, if only they can seize it. Along with companion Sham, another Rubbish Kid, they struggle against the hands that threaten to crush yet another dream, and risk everything they have to hold it together. They try desperately to believe, in the midst of betrayal and the loss of their remaining innocence, that if they play by the rules and try to retain their honesty and integrity, their good fortune will come along.
This is a stunning, intense, uncompromising and unpatronising novel that does not deserve the connotations of Teenage Fiction. Burgess minces no words, softens no blows, invents no happy endings. Yet within a story of loss and tragedy, Burgess weaves a vein of strangely uplifting goodness in unexpected beauties, love, warmth, humour, resilience and courage. A read that will grip you from beginning to end.