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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Junk
This is one of the best books I have ever read.It copes with so many teen problems. It is frank and realistic and you can relate with the charachters. It's main focus is addiction but also deals with teenage mothers,prostitution and living on the street. The plot is great. The characters are very good and different until heroin becomes they're life. The language the...
Published on 11 Jan 2003 by a_teenager_from_the_uk

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Junk" is a convincing story and exciting to read.
The book "junk" by Melvin Burgess deals with two main characters, Gemma and Tar, who leave home because they have problems with their parents. In Bristol they find new friends very fast. They live together in a squat and get into their first contacts with soft drugs and criminality. Finally they both take heroin. Gemma even does prostitution to get money for...
Published on 29 Feb 2000 by weichert@reich-gym.en.nw.schule.de


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Junk, 11 Jan 2003
This review is from: Junk (Puffin Teenage Fiction) (Paperback)
This is one of the best books I have ever read.It copes with so many teen problems. It is frank and realistic and you can relate with the charachters. It's main focus is addiction but also deals with teenage mothers,prostitution and living on the street. The plot is great. The characters are very good and different until heroin becomes they're life. The language the author uses is realistic. So many authors aiming they're books at teens try not to swear and so forth. But what they have to understand is that teens DO swear and Burgess uses slang which teens use. This book leaves you feeling sad but if you want a reason not to be a junkie this will show you them as well as providing a exciting story line. I read it when i was 12 and it made me depressed but I was very pleased I read it. People of that age should be able to read it. I think most 12 year olds can cope with it though I probabally wouldn't reccomend it to anyone younger than 10 or 11 because they may not understand some of it.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, unflinching and never patronising, 16 Jun 2007
This review is from: Junk (Puffin Teenage Fiction) (Paperback)
There's a reason why this book won both the Guardian Fiction Award and the Carnegie Medal and that's because it's simply brilliant - a Trainspotting for teenagers. Told in the first person mainly by teens Tar and Gemma and set in Bristol in the early 1980s, it's a very believable look at how two teenagers descend into drugs and whilst it doesn't hide from how drugs make the characters feel, it's also very good at showing what comes along with that high.

What particularly impressed me is the way that Burgess plays with the reader's sympathies. At the beginning of the book, you find yourself really sympathising with the hapless Tar who is running away from two alocholic parents - one of whom emotionally abuses him, the other physically abuses him. Gemma by contrast is shown as being quite selfish - her biggest concern is to get away from two parents whose love is suffocating and she's happy to use Tar as a means of getting away, giving him sex even though she knows that she doesn't love him. As the book progresses however, you see how drugs affect both characters and as Tar steals to fund his habit and Gemma sells her body to fund hers, you become aware of how selfish and hard Tar is becoming and how Gemma is starting to realise that she can't lie to herself much longer. It's particularly interesting to see Gemma become the stronger character towards the end of the book - she's given something to get clean for and she's determined to do it, even though it means having to return to everything she gave up. There's a good contrast here between Gemma and the apparently glamorous Lily who is unable and unwilling to make the same choices and who is revealed to be living in a pathetic state of self-delusion.

Burgess gives other characters, including Lily, her boyfriend Rob, anarchists and squatters Vonny and Richard and tobacco shop owner Skolly to give an additional perspective on Tar and Gemma's story and also to flesh out the attitudes to and affects of taking heroin. The effect is to reinforce the drastic nature of Gemma and Tar's decline and Burgess is not afraid to pull his punches - his look at Gemma, Sally's and Lily's descent into prostitution is chilling. Neither does Burgess pull his punches when it comes to showing how difficult it is to come off heroin - Tar in particular is used to reinforce what an ordeal it is and Burgess doesn't shy away from describing the physical as well as the mental affects and also how the temptation to use is always there, even when the characters have come off the junk.

It's difficult to find anything to criticise about the book - Burgess keeps his character's voices distinct, the story is always kept moving and he doesn't preach to the reader - leaving them to come to their own conclusions. The only possible nitpick that I could think to make relates to the chapters recounted by Tar's father, which draw an interesting parallel between addiction to alcohol and its effects and addiction to smack to show that father and son are closer than Tar wants to think. For me, the reference to alochol, whilst perfectly valid, seemed a little too much like laying it on although that said, the characterisation of Tar's father was very well handled.

Anyone who thinks that their children will find drugs attractive as a result of reading this book is a fool. It's genuinely horrifying and chilling and I don't think that any teenager with half a brain would come away thinking that heroin is a great life choice.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Junk" is a convincing story and exciting to read., 29 Feb 2000
This review is from: Junk (Hardcover)
The book "junk" by Melvin Burgess deals with two main characters, Gemma and Tar, who leave home because they have problems with their parents. In Bristol they find new friends very fast. They live together in a squat and get into their first contacts with soft drugs and criminality. Finally they both take heroin. Gemma even does prostitution to get money for junk. When Gemma gets pregnant she gives up taking heroin. Tar wants to give up heroin by doing a therapy in detox centre. But it`s not sure that he`s really clean.Before I started reading "junk" I thought of the typical junkie-stories where people leave home and take drugs. While I was reading my expectations stood the test. For all that "junk" was different. In my opinion, it`s the way the author developed the book. The story is told from different points of view, so you can get a closer look to all the characters. In fact you get closer to the story because you know exactly the feelings of every character and the things that happen are described from different points of view. This knowledge, e.g. about the feelings, makes the story really understandable and convincing. When you read the book you can set yourself in the people`s situation and try to understand the reasons for taking drugs. For me these reasons aren`t really convincing, but the story itself is close to reality and exciting to read. After having read the book I must say that my attitude about junkies and drugs were confirmed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Junk - Teenagers enticed into a drug taking society, 21 Jun 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Junk (Puffin Teenage Fiction) (Paperback)
A novel that has a special narrative technique where each chapter is told by different characters giving the reader a deep insight into the life of each person. It is an informative novel which describes how two very ordinary teenagers get wrapped up in the world of drugs. Tar has a valid reason for running away from his broken home where as Gemma sees leaving home as an adventure and a threat to her parents. In the novel we experience a complete role reversal of the two main characters - Gemma and Tar.
The book tackles the real life issues of society today, focussing on both child and drug abuse. The novel is aimed at all ages but is particularly suitable for teenagers because it highlights the growing fashion of drugs.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most intriguing and interesting books I've read, 15 May 2001
By A Customer
This book is sooo good...I bought it two years ago here in California where I live (it goes under the title "Smack" here) and I am reading it for my second time!!! It's so interesting and it also really makes you think. It doesn't go telling you "well, drugs are bad and you shouldn't do them." They show reality; no matter what people say there will always be those who disobey. And it really makes you think, God, what if that were me? I myself am not into that scene but if you are it may really get you to rethink your strategy. Well-written and never a dull moment!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 18 Mar 2005
By 
Lorj (Brighton, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Junk (Puffin Teenage Fiction) (Paperback)
I first picked up "Junk" after trying to find a book that I could relate to, after years of fluffy teenage girl books about romance and happiness-ever-after. It took me a while to get into the book, but once I did, it astounded me. Page upon page of thrilling fiction, sometimes getting so realistic it was hard to believe it was fiction at all. The storyline follows the lives and loves of Tar and Gemma, a young couple that take it upon themselves to run away. But running away brings about what life without authority means: Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. Set around the Punk revolution of the 1970s onwards, Junk is positively thrilling, and there is no book I love more than this one. I'm 17 now and have read it at least 5 times in the last year. It may shock you, however, with the measures the charcters go to, simply to score some heroin for their next fix. I thoroughly recommend this book, not just for mature teenagers, but for adults too, who could well have been facing their own rebellion at this time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent, 29 Sep 2005
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This review is from: Junk (Puffin Teenage Fiction) (Paperback)
I thought the book was amazing and felt that I was pulled into it. I could not put it down. I remember reading it at school and watching the tv film based onit. I have been searching for that film for ages and was wondering if you could tell me where to find it?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gritty Realism, 30 Jun 2001
By A Customer
I felt a sense of relief after I'd read this. Unlike mnost of the drug related books I've read in the past this one shows you the consequences but doesn't once preach. The book really opens your eyes and makes you wonder, not that I was naive before I read this but it takes the point further that Junkies aren't just idiots who take risks and steal money, they're real people who just went down the wrong path. Gemma and Tars relationship is an interesting aspect through out, although sometimes questionable, the book and at the end (not giving too much away) he hasn't sugar coated it off saying, in what would have been a totally unacceptable way that they got of the drugs and lived happily ever after with no real consequences. You can relate with the characters and having each chapter with someone else's thoughts makes you feel far more involved. One of the first 'good' fictional/realism books I ever read
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The story of two addicts is very well shown!, 29 Feb 2000
This review is from: Junk (Puffin Teenage Fiction) (Paperback)
The book "Junk" from Melvin Burgess is about a boy and a girl who flee away from their bad and broken parent's house in order to live in freedom without any rules or any people telling them what to do. But soon they get addicted to heroin and need more and more money. I think that Junk is a book which you can read and understand easily without looking up too many words. The story of leaving home is written in an exciting way, especially because of the narrative technique that is not ordinary. In each chapter another one of the main characters is telling the plot from his point of view, using lots of slang words, so you have a deep insight into the persons. This helps you to follow and understand their lives in a better way without having a distance to the action. You seem to feel with them and it might lead you to change your opinion of drugs and junkies. Furthermore you might not say any more that this cannot happen to me and that I am far away from all this, because the book describes convincingly that the people have a lot of problems. You get to know a lot of strange characters with very weird opinions who are deep in the drug jungle and get money with criminal actions or prostitution. But it also contains the development of characters who lose their personality by and by because of the junk, so they do not have any connection to reality any more. As always their drug career cannot continue like that because there is the lack of money, some deaths, desperation and the fear of life against the laws. Several times the author stresses that you will always be a junkie if you have once tried heroin and even if you are clean, one more shot is enough to make you an addict again. So in my opinion this book is worth reading because it is near to reality and does not try to make this topic harmless and the title does not give away too much from the action. Enjoy reading! ( written by Christine Mankel )
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A journey into the teenage world of drug abuse., 21 Jun 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Junk (Puffin Teenage Fiction) (Paperback)
This book is a "must read" for any young person growing up in today's society. The novel provides an insight into the world of teenage drug abuse but yet deals with the topic in a way that will "hook" the reader. The novel deals with issues that many teenagers will relate to. These range from parental disagreements to the horrors of child abuse and drug related crimes. Burgess portrays characters that appeal to both sexes and uses language that is accessible to all. 'Junk' deals with the issue of drug abuse in a way that not only illustrates the immediate release from reality but also highlights the destructive consequences that long term addiction can have on young lives. The novel uses a narrative style that will entice the reader to enter the world of Gemma and Tar. Even though this book is aimed at the teenage market this novel should and must be read by adults if we are to appreciate the pressures and tribulations of being a teenager.
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Junk (Puffin Teenage Fiction)
Junk (Puffin Teenage Fiction) by Melvin Burgess (Paperback - 24 April 1997)
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