Great read - young adult fiction with depth,
This review is from: The Traitors (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is an excellent novel written for young teens (or even younger - perhaps about ten if they were a good reader). It also has appeal for adults, as it has depth, and is well written, with elements that wouldn't disgrace a literary novel. There is an element of history here too, which might appeal to an older reader, because the prison Becker creates is a futuristic version of a prisoner of war camp, which he admits is inspired by some of the heroic tales of prisoners who escaped during the second world war.
Adam Wilson betrays his friend when he kisses his girlfriend, and gets sent to the Dial. The Dial is a prison for children who betray someone - what might seem like a minor betrayal attracts a sentence of hundreds of years. But the children don't age in prison - so they are forced to spend hundreds of boring years waiting for release. Then their minds are wiped of their memories of the time spent in prison, and they are returned to their original lives, within a few days or minutes of when they left them. Although they are technically still young, their forgotten years in prison are supposed to leave them older in spirit, wiser, and in theory rehabilitated. Returning them to their original lives not long after they left is possible because the Dial exists on the other side of a time warp. The latter fact also makes it impossible to escape, without the means to activate the time warp, and some sort of ship to cross it. So with a few deft facts, Becker sets up the perfect prison, impossible to escape from, and the perfect setting for ensuring everyone is desperate to escape. Adam is a realistic hero - brave, and yet initially just as afraid and upset as anyone would be in his position. There are some interesting characters amongst his fellow prisoners, and Adam begins to realise there are some mysteries lurking in this prison too.
I enjoyed this book for a number of reasons. It's good science fiction, written well, and suitable for younger readers (I wouldn't have any issues with recommending this to my own son when he's old enough to read it). It's also original, yet harks back to real historical events in terms of its inspiration. It seems to be a one-off as well, in that the story doesn't leave you hanging waiting for a sequel (which is refreshing - so many children's books lately seem to be all about setting up a series, rather than actually writing the story!). It's a good story too, that keeps you reading to find out what will happen. Finally, it has a good ending, that doesn't take the obvious route, and it isn't one of those books where you know what will happen well before the end. Highly recommended.