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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fab to read
I thoroughly enjoyed reading `Boy A' as much as I enjoyed watching the film adaptation for television a number of years ago. It isn't a lengthy novel so it is never going to go into a massive amount of detail. There are reviews that I've read where people would like to see the book being about Boy B and I can see why as there would surely have been more meaty prose to...
Published on 7 Nov. 2011 by SJSmith

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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A formidable moral dilemma
This is not about the Jamie Bulgar case, though it has distinct and unmistakable echoes of that case that suggest it could not have been written without its real-life counterpart having taken place. It has almost the same scenario - two boys, both miserable, seemingly unloved, one under the influence of a brutal older brother, the other easily led, and a day when they...
Published on 13 Sept. 2009 by Eileen Shaw


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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing read focusing on the wrong character, 17 Mar. 2010
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This review is from: Boy A (Paperback)
I bought and read this book as, like many others, I am fascinated by the Bulger case and the motivations of his child-killers. I was looking forward to reading this, expecting to gain thoughtful and intelligent insight into a dark and complex subject and perhaps a deeper understanding of the sort of lives I could only imagine. What I got was a flimsy, often badly written story that merely scratched the surface, if that.

'Boy A' has been given a new life and identity (Jack) after committing an horrific child murder with his friend, 'Boy B'. We follow him as he embarks on this new life with help from his carer, 'Uncle' Terry, starting a job and making friends. So that we may sympathise with Jack before hearing about his crime, details are slowly revealed about his past throughout the story. Or at least I think that was the idea. We are not really given much detail at all about the crime itself, instead we are shown how the press has hounded Boy A and started a coupon campaign to keep him in jail. We don't get to understand Jack's thoughts on his crime as this is barely touched upon at all, just that he seemed to have been dragged along by the bolder and more outspoken Boy B.

We learn that Boy B was the real instigator of the murder, and are given some typically hazy insight into his abusive upbringing. In fact, later on in the story it is even implied that Boy A took no part in the actual murder, something that made me feel a bit cheated and that we were focusing on the wrong character; surely Boy B was the person we should really have been reading about? Instead we get patchy, convoluted accounts focusing on the other characters in the story which are not detailed enough to matter much.

'Fatherhood' seems to be a recurring theme of the story, but while some good ideas are presented they are not really examined in any detail. I felt as though I was reading from a notebook into which a brief outline for a novel had been scribbled. The writing style itself was very simplistic and for me it lacked any depth or real feeling. Maybe this was the point; if it was I didn't get it.

Needless to say, this was a disappointing read that for me, did no justice whatsoever to the subject matter.
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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Missed Opportunity, 10 Mar. 2010
By 
Moony (Ipswich, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Boy A (Paperback)
I read this book as the Bulger case has fascinated me from the day it happened. I was only a year or so older than the 'Boy A and Boy B' Venables and Thompson when it all happened and i could fully comprehend the horror of it all. I have thought regularly about the fate of the two kids and what and how they would end up. So, i read this, what with it being so closely based on those real events, out of real intrigue.

I was hooked to the book, read it in two sittings. BUT, the real intrigue of the book is the subject matter, rather than the quality of Trigell's writing or his handling of the topic. From an infinitely intriguing and complex issue Trigel has managed to write what is effectively a fairly light read. I don't think he gets to the crux of the matters at all. And the characterisation is diabolical and cliched and unbelievable. He has taken his chance to write on a hugely controversial and topical issue, but i don't feel that he's a particularly talented writer and worthy of the job of doing. Fair play for the opportunism, but for us readers, what a let down.

In the main, its fine, but many passages of the book are cringeworthy. I know this has been made into a hugely praised tv film, but it kinda reads like a novelisation of a film whereby all the subtlety and class has been lost in translation.

Therefore, a compelling read (but then every whisper and rumour on the case even if its printed by the monkey hacks at The Sun is compelling), but i was hoping for so so so much more. I just wonder how good this book could have been in the hands of someone like David Peace, i.e., so a) someone who isnt scared to straddle the line between fact and fiction and b) someone who can actually write!!

Totally coincidently, i finished this book just a week before Venables was taken back into custody. Evidence that this book has taken a completely glossed over look at what this kid would have turned out like. Its certain that the cut and dry Boy A is a far more superficial creation than the real thing, Venables, one of the most complex case studies in psychology you could feasibly ever imagine. One that we'll never get our head around.

Total. Missed. Opportunity. Damn you Trigell.
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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Topical, contemporary and relevant, but disappointing, 21 Aug. 2009
By 
Spilsbury (UK, Liverpool) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Boy A (Paperback)
Without repeating the previous reviewers comments, i would say this is a very enjoyable book. Where it falls down for me is in the development of the characters. It would have been wonderful to really get inside Jacks mind with some depth. I felt he was still a mystery at the end. The characters never open up in this book, not least hindered by a kind of detached third person narrative that is the manner in which this story is told.
I have spent years as a Police Surgeon, and have met boys A to Z in the course of this work. The overwhelming themes that come through are the horrors of childhood, despair, a poverty which is social, educational and spiritual, and yet on so many memorable occasions , ( often at 4am! ) I have seen hope. I have seen receptive ears that are craving for love, attention and guidance.
I feel therefore that 'boy a' is from my direct experiences a superficial examination of a extraordinarily complicated social phenomenon. It is a little too matey in its language at times for my liking, and i wonder how John Trigell obtained his research material, having spent the last 8 years living on a French Ski Slope!
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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book about and for fathers, 6 Nov. 2007
This review is from: Boy A (Paperback)
When was the last time you thought, the other should do the first step?

When was the first time you thought it is too late now to make amends or say sorry? Who taught you?

This book is about a young man released from Her Majesty's Pleasure after 15 years.

And a book about paparazzi, and the average Joe, and how easy it is to do the wrong thing, and about sensationalism and a book about children, growing, wanting to find peace.

Many parallels to be found in real life - James Bulger, the Sun, Diana's Death.

Most of all a book about and for fathers - those who are never there and those who want to be there but are too shy to ask or to do.
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3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Opportunistic and badly written, 16 Aug. 2010
By 
H. Ashford "hashford" (Sheffield, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Boy A (Paperback)
I read this book because it was chosen for my reading group, so I freely admit that it isn't a book I would have chosen for myself and I wasn't particularly fascinated by the subject matter. But that isn't to say that I couldn't have been impressed by the book, had it been handled competently.

I suspect that people who have been giving this book 4 & 5 * reviews are
(a) already interested in the subject matter (which is why they picked the book, of course)
(b) pleased to have found it thought provoking and/or enjoyed discussing it with friends & family.

However, that does NOT make it a good book!

The characterisations are appallingly weak. OK I can forgive minor characters like Michelle being completely unbelievable. But what about Terry? It would have been nice to understand his motivation more. And how did his relationship with his own son get SO BAD? Come to think of it, Zeb's rather an extreme character too - not really credible, more there as a plot device!

And Jack himself? There's not much to link the man he is now at 24 with the child he was. We get some tantalising glimpses of his life in prison and his childhood - but we don't really get to see how the lost and lonely child turns into a balanced and socialised, almost "normal, young man.

Overall, I felt that this was a rather opportunistic book, written to capitalise on interest in child killers, and also that it represents a missed opportunity to gain some real insight into the mind of someone who could perpetrate such a terrible crime.
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3 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disapointing, 20 Jan. 2008
By 
Jerry Healy (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Boy A (Paperback)
I finished the book yesterday and found it to be ultimately very disapointing. It starts well but fizzles out with too many poorly drawn characters and a clumsy plot.
It does not surprise me that the book was made into a half decent TV drama, because in my experience books that are not overly complex travel well.
With the subject matter this book should have been so much better. Boy A and Boy B were characterised reasonably well, but almost every other character is one dimensional. The plot is impatient, contrived and not allowed to develop naturally. There is no excuse for this as the book is short and consequently has a slightly rushed feel. Furthermore the background detail to the plot - the location and environment is paper thin.
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Boy A
Boy A by Jonathan Trigell (Paperback - 25 Oct. 2007)
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