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Feral Youth
Feral Youth
by Polly Courtney
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Gritty and thought-provoking, 20 July 2013
This review is from: Feral Youth (Paperback)
Polly Courtney doesn't do "comfort zones". Her first steps away from the protection of mainstream publishing take her down streets which are creatively and literally dangerous. Exploring the world of south London street gangs and the causes of the 2011 riots could have finished up patronising or preachy, but doesn't due to the skill with which the central characters are drawn. Careful research produces an authentic-sounding use of street slang (there's a helpful glossary at the start) which never sounds fake.

15 year old Alesha is another fine Courtney creation, a seething mass of contradictions struggling in a hard, hard life. It is not easy to empathise with a character who is a violent lawbreaker from the outset, but there seems no alternative until teacher Helen Merfield strays into Alesha's world seeking a stolen ring which becomes central to the plot. Miss Merfield's almost saint-like support gives Alesha a tantalising glimpse of a different life, which heightens the tragedy of what transpires. Both women make mistakes - always a trait of Polly's characters.

This is not a book "about" the riots. They pass in a single chapter and provide the trigger for the stunning denouement. This isn't a fairytale, believe me. It won't necessarily change too many views about what happened in the summer of 2011 but encourages the reader to think about it a little bit more.

Recommended.


Seven Wonders (Angry Robot)
Seven Wonders (Angry Robot)
by Adam Christopher
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.40

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Super!, 9 Oct 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Adam Christopher stormed onto the scene with the wonderful "Empire State" and has consolidated his position as a purveyor of prose comics (sort of the opposite of "graphic novel") with this tale of shifting alliances and superheroics in the semi-fictitious San Ventura, California. The reader is kept guessing by a series of twists and surprises as the book rockets along, opening with new kid on the block Tony Prodoscimi held hostage in a bank and proceeding via betrayals, super punch-ups and a couple of superb space-bound set pieces to a satisfying conclusion. It's another book which begs a sequel, as there is more to unravel in the motivation of the Seven Wonders and villainous sidekick-turned-lead villain Blackbird. How about it, Adam?


Empire State (Angry Robot)
Empire State (Angry Robot)
by Adam Christopher
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Genre-crossing box of delights, 26 Feb 2012
Books are great, aren't they? There are crime novels, science fiction novels, period novels - then sometimes someone throws the whole lot in a blender and out comes something new.

Adam Christopher's "Empire State" starts with a Prohibition-era gangster and a down-at-heel private eye and says "hmm, needs more rocket-powered superheroes. And blimps. And quantum physics." The result is a delightful, intriguing mystery tour through multiple genres as the nearly past-it gumshoe Rad Bradley unravels a puzzle full of deceit, robots and split personalities. From fog-shrouded New York streets (or are they?) to exciting set pieces and a pyrotechnic climax in Battery Park, the book rattles along and creates a world (just one?) full of plausible characters with murky motivations and shifting loyalties. There are iconic images aplenty, some reflected in the striking cover painting.

Highly recommended.


It's A Man's World
It's A Man's World
by Polly Courtney
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars It's a man's review..., 25 Oct 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: It's A Man's World (Paperback)
Polly Courtney continues to confront difficult issues in her latest book, this time finding a new angle on the "harmless fun or exploitation" debate surrounding lads' magazines. Main protagonist Alexa Harris is a typical Courtney lead, intelligent but vulnerable, and tries to be objective when called in to save an underperforming lads' title, "Banter". Some deft characterisation of her supporting cast creates a three-dimensional world where an analytical approach to financial success must factor in the "nipple count", while argument rages throughout about the morality of the genre. The mixed perceptions of Alexa's friends and family (another powerful element here as with previous novels) are augmented by the subtle tactics of lead protestor Georgie Caraway, whom Alexa first meets at a BBC Breakfast News debate.

The only tiny criticism is that perhaps the key event which changes Alexa's mind is a little sketchily portrayed - the television debate at this point in the book would have been very different - but this does not detract from another thought-provoking read. Don't be distracted by the "chick-lit" furore surrounding the publication of this one - it delivers a satisfying plot with well-drawn and sympathetic characters. Recommended.


The Fame Factor
The Fame Factor
by Polly Courtney
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.34

5.0 out of 5 stars Fame Costs, 9 Oct 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Fame Factor (Paperback)
An eye-opening expose of the reality behind the dream, The Fame Factor takes our heroine on an emotional roller coaster as her illusions are cast into a sea of cynicism. Zoe Kidd is flawed, make no mistake about that, but her tribulations attract real empathy from the reader, whether wincing at her mistakes, cringing at conflicts with real pain in them or grinning like a loon at the adrenaline rushes of her successes. There is plenty of humour plus piercing insight into friendship, family and relationships. Polly clearly knows her music, too, as plenty of real artists are name-checked alongside fictitious counterparts.

Is it "chick lit"? What does that mean? OK, it's a bit light on guns and car crashes (although Shannon comes close!) but who said that sharing feelings is something only girls can do? Lovely.


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