Bad Influence Paperback – 25 Mar 2004
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About the Author
William Sutcliffe is the bestselling author of New Boy and Are You Experienced?, which has sold over 200,000 copies in Penguin. He lives in North London. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Sutcliffe narrates the story brilliantly from a 10 year olds perspective and - particularly early on - there are some very funny bits (Ben's diagrans in particular). But the main strength of the book is how it puts into perspective a lot of the media coverage we consume that concentrates on evil children. It shows how a normal good kid can, under the control of a genuine little horror, quite easily end up doing unspeakable things.
My only regret is that William Sutcliffe does not write more prolifically, as he is very talented at his genre.
Sutcliffe introduces us to Ben, the main character. Ben is ten and Sutcliffe's portrayal of Ben's life, emotions and actions are amazingly accurate. The humour in this book comes from the fact that we can all identify with Ben and what is was like to be ten and think the thoughts of a ten year old. One example being where Ben describes his best friend being taken away as like someone "confiscating your legs", followed by the admission "It's not really like that. If someone pulled off your legs, you'd bleed to death." Many of the initial anecdotes ring so true; many of them, particulary regarding Ben's siblings, actually happened to me!
But Sutcliffe doesn't only capture the funny side of being ten, he also portrays a realistic picture of the chilling side too. I doubt any reader will fail to identify with the peer pressure Sutcliffe so honestly and brutally subjects his main character to. The need to fit in, the need to be the best friend, the jealousy, the pride, the pain of rejection, the lengths children will go to to be accepted. Bad Influence has it all, and while the majority of readers won't have gone to the extremes of the main characters in this book, I believe that every reader will have experienced each and every emotion within Bad Influence.
This is a powerful book, delightful, humourous, touching, brutal and ultimately shocking. Never before have I felt that a writer has so accurately stepped into the shoes of a child's mind and heart. Buy this book - you won't regret it.
I agree with him about that, but at the same time I was entranced by this story of three boys, two of them coming to the end of their last year in primary school, the other, Carl, older, twelve or thirteen and at a specialist Unit, for, we presume, children with behavioural and/or emotional problems. Carl opens up the cosy suburban world for the other two, Ben and Olly, introducing them to smoking, stealing and a general lawlessness that immediately sets Ben's family against him.
Ben is lucky in having a Mum, a Dad, a sister and brother, especially a brother, Donny, who is 17 and knows the kind of problems Ben is going through. Olly perhaps forges a closer bond with Carl because both are only children.
Sutcliffe brings this scenario alive, touchingly and evocatively in this sad story. If there is a touch of tendentiousness in its `moral in the tale' ending, that can, I think, be forgiven, especially when weighed against the realism and understanding Sutcliffe brings to the boys' world.
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