Amazon asked me if I was over 13 before it let me write this review, which is quite telling, I think. This isn't a book for children. Holly Howitt's debut novel might be called The Schoolboy, and the protagonist might be the titular character, but it's about an experience of being a schoolboy that (I would hope) nobody reading it would share. The main character, Nick, is little more than a child, confused by his surroundings and life, but somehow allowed to run amok. He's slipped through the cracks as far as all authority figures are concerned and allows himself to act upon every urge that most teenage boys have; in particular, the complete lack of self-restraint.
Nick is a great character, and it's lucky, as he drives this book in every way. His voice is absolute, refined, and the reader cannot help but be sucked along with his journey. This book draws upon the same bank of inspiration as Catcher In The Rye, Lord Of The Flies, God's Own Country and Notes On A Scandal, and yet manages to be nothing like any of them; The Schoolboy takes you somewhere else, somewhere different, darker, unexpected.
This is a simply superb piece of writing, and one that I hope properly kick-starts the career of an astonishing writer.