Learn more Download now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop now Shop now Learn more Learn more Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more

  • Itch
  • Customer reviews

Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
Format: Kindle Edition|Change

on 12 May 2017
I bought this book (and its sequels) to read as a science teacher keen to find fun and relatable ways to teach my students. Even though it's written for teens, this book had me hooked! I would highly recommend it to both teens and adults!
3 people found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 18 February 2013
Chemistry is widely considered as one of the most difficult subjects to make exciting, but Simon Mayo, radio presenter of the BBC's Drivetime and Kermode and Mayo's Film Review, seems to have discovered the perfect formula for doing so: (explosions x noxious materials) ÷ sinister global corporations. And, utilising this winning equation, Mayo has penned his debut novel, Itch; the story of fourteen year old Itchingham Lofte who, whilst attempting to collect every element in the periodic table, comes into possession of a curious new element with world-changing potential.

At its core, Itch revolves around the relationship of Itch, his younger sister Chloe and his cousin Jacqueline (Jack) as they cope with the problems associated with possessing a radioactive substance the world and his dog would do anything to obtain. And what a charming and absorbing relationship it is; despite being the youngest, Chloe is the most sensible of the trio and keeps her likeable brother in check as his escapades teeter on the verge of disaster. Jack brings an abundance of smarts to the dynamic, helping Itch see through his more risky moments with a tomboyish expertise. Mayo has written all three of the central trio brilliantly, and you can't help but wonder if some traits of his own children have contributed to the mixture.

As for the chemistry included, it's well measured, clear and undeniably fascinating; from learning how the household objects you own relate to the periodic table, to explanations of explosive reactions, there is enough here to justify Itch as an informative text without ever suffocating the exciting plot. I recently wrote a piece arguing that the Pokémon games successfully communicate biological principles to their target audience, and I think it's fair to say that Itch does the same for Chemistry.

Being set in modern-day Cornwall (and being a young adult title), a good proportion of Itch takes place in the central trios' school. Mayo has always been vocal of his love of the Harry Potter series and some of the disastrous goings on at Cornwall Academy echo some of the more memorable happenings in the classrooms of Hogwarts. However, whilst there was always the healing properties of magic to help smooth things over in Rowling's universe, the potential consequences of Itch's exploits are more serious, and this is perhaps the book's greatest strength: whilst tremendous fun, there is the constant, underlying feeling that the main characters in Itch may well be about to come to serious harm.
2 people found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 7 June 2013
This is a truly impressive story. I found myself thinking about it often and even after finishing my thoughts have turned to it. The sign of a great book. It's incredibly well written, with great descriptions and a real sense of place, and wonderful characters.

I was gripped and tense as it played out and did feel quite worried at times. There's some real darkness here. Some very nasty adults and unpleasant consequences for the young people caught up in the adventure. Itch is a great character, he is really clear thinking and bright, and I feel he's a real inspiration for the reader. He's realistic, Simon Mayo hasn't written a cardboard self insert, Itch makes mistakes, some which tun out to be grave, and he's really not sure about the right thing to do at times.

I think this is a morality tale, it's about doing the right thing in the face of adversity and fear, and even overcoming some dire personal discomfort to do so. The decisions made by Itch and his friends may have you holding your breath or wanting to scream at them. I certainly was, but they makes sense from a child's point of view and as such it's a really clever plot.

I'm now off to read the sequel as I can't wait!
One person found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 18 April 2012
Simon Mayo. You probably know him as a radio DJ and might remember that he took over the flagship Radio One Breakfast Show from Mike Smith back in the 80's. You might also know him from his great 5Live afternoon show which included his verbal sparring with Mark Kermode debating the relative merits of the latest movies. Perhaps in recent years you've heard him as the Drivetime DJ on Radio 2, including the excellent Radio 2 Book Club. Well now he's written a novel and quite simply it is a revelation.

"Itch" is primarily aimed at the young teen market. Mayo's hero Itchingham Lofte is a nerdy fourteen year old science geek obsessed with collecting elements from the Periodic Table. Living in Cornwall he yearns to be a cool surfer boy, but can't learn how to catch a wave. However he does understand Chemistry and discovers what appears to be a completely new element with dramatic consequences, for himself, his cousin Jack and his sister Chloe.

This initially started life as a short story to amuse Mayo's youngest son before spiralling into a 94,000 word novel. However you wouldn't know that this was his first foray into fiction as it's a truly assured debut.

Mayo writes with skill and dexterity and seems to have an innate understanding of pace and plot development. He balances a broad range of characters and does a strong line in baddies without resorting to clumsy stereotypes.

Whilst the novel stands on its own without the need for comparisons it is an interesting exercise to compare it with The Philosopher's Stone, and for me it holds up pretty well. Rowling has the edge on inventiveness and pure fantasy, but Mayo has some great material up his sleeve, and some of it is very dark material indeed. He has also left sufficient loose ends and unresolved plot strands to ensure an incendiary sequel, which he is already writing.

Whilst his target audience is undeniably the young teen market the plot is sufficiently dark to provide an equal appeal to older audiences. Ultimately it's a story about great responsibility (hold on...that sounds like a tag-line for the new Avengers movie!).

I would have no hesitation in recommending this marvellous novel, whatever your age.
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 16 May 2012
I would not have been aware of this book if it had not been written by Simon Mayo. I enjoy his radio shows so I guess a little biased and read the book willing it to be great. I was not disappointed.

Simon is hugely talented and makes everything he does seem effortless. Of course this only comes from hard word and massive amounts of preparation, as he says himself. This seeming effortlessness makes him a joy to listen to and this book a joy to read.

Itch is the story of 14 years old Itchingham Loft, obsessed with collecting the periodic table of the elements, not fussed about football or video games. This leads him into increasingly perilous situations.

There is a real enthusiasm for the science but not to the extent that it gets in the way of the story. It is not a science book; it is an adventure story that happens to have some science in it. It all makes sense even if you have no idea what an element is.

The story starts with a bang and shortly thereafter we get lots of vomit. The characters are well drawn and believable. There is a real sense of dread and danger. Actions have consequences and bad things happen to characters. Simon's love of Cornwall comes across strongly. There are some great baddies and the mostly absent parents are handled well. Particularly in the last third it races along at a breathless pace.

I would have loved this book regardless of who had written it. It is a great story, well told and at no time does it feel like a vanity project or something that was quickly thrown together. There is an undeniable quality about the book.

Although I guess marketed at young-adults I am a 40 something who remembers chemistry at school fondly. My even older, science hating, friend loved it too.

I'm now listening to the audiobook; good narrator but wish Simon had done it himself, even if he can only do 4 accents.

I am really looking forward to the next book, next spring apparently (assuming Simon keeps up his 1,000 words a day habit I guess).
One person found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 21 February 2013
I'm a chemistry teacher so clearly I'm biased, but I loved this. It's well-written and well-researched. The science is, with some artistic licence, largely accurate. How wonderful to see a children's book where the hero is an intelligent lad who's interested in science. This is such a rare thing that Itch deserves to be required reading for all teenagers. The female characters are also strong, and there's no silly, cheesy romance here. The plot is intriguing, with plenty of action and compelling twists and turns, and it ends on a pleasingly mysterious note (personally I can't wait to read the sequel). Highly recommended for both children and adults.
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 15 March 2014
A review from my daughter.

"I think that this book is a very good read. It really was enjoyable and I could imagine the flash-backs in my head. I would recommend it to anyone who is over 10; it has 417 pages and is really thick. It also contains some sad events but that is just part of the drama. If you like science or are just looking for a book to read, pick this one.

The cover and first chapter didn't immediately persuade me but the writing sucked me in, it is a page turner!!!"

She has asked for the next book in the series (of two), 'nuff said.
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 11 October 2013
it's not often I would pick up a childrens book on purpose and avidly read from cover to cover ,But here we have a difference, I read a review which mentioned Itch and the Woodingdean Well, something which grabbed my imagination recently. The story of which fascinated me being Brighton born as I am.

Simon Mayo you are Brilliant for creating an easy to read yarn for all ages with an 'element' of fact to it.

Thank you
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 23 March 2013
I bought this for my 9 year old son. Hope he will like it - I did.
Itch is a boy who is obsessed with collecting all the elements in the periodic table - everything that all things are made of. What other collection could possibly be more exciting than that? Of course, not everyone sees it that way. When his Mum bans his stuff from the house, Itch ends up carrying his elements in his school bag. Itch finds some (e.g. arsenic) are very dangerous but others (e.g. sodium and xenon) extremely useful.

Science presenters who use flashes, bangs and smells to try to show that science is "fun" should take note. It's the finding out, the search for understanding that is really the fun bit. This story doesn't provide all the answers - it's just a story - but it does raise the questions and inspire you to find the answers. Now - off to buy a Periodic Table Poster for our wall.
One person found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 26 August 2017
Interesting book for teenagers into chemistry. and for aged folk like myself who never got the chance to learn about it at school.
|0Comment|Report abuse

Customers also viewed these items


Need customer service? Click here