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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 25 November 2010
Wasted left me totally breathless and had me gripped from the start. It is incredible writing, very atmospheric and with brilliant young characters who I loved. It had me thinking about the seemingly insignificant and trivial choices that we make day to day and the consequences of those choices. It also captures the headiness of true love in your teens in a way that most writers only dream about.

This is definitely not just for young adults, the story and the depth reach out to a much wider audience and you will find something new and meaningful for you whatever your age.
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on 25 April 2010
This is a clever, clever book.

Fundamentally a tale of boy meets girl it is told in such a unique way, with a voice that manages to weave you into the minds of the characters and then take you outside of them, to see what they cannot see, and may never see.

The story is interwoven with "what ifs?", meaning you have to turn the page to discover the outcome of each decision, and the final twist is brilliantly executed, requiring the reader to actively participate. Having made your decision, and chosen your ending, I would urge you not to go back and read the alternative (if only there were some way of making sure you never could!) - not because one ending is better than the other, but because you are in danger of having it mess with your head!

You cannot help but wonder why this hasn't been done before - and it may be that other stories will be done this way in the future, though it is hard to imagine that they could be done better.
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on 21 April 2010
This is an incredible piece of fiction written by Nicola Morgan and for me, definately the new read of 2010 so far. I started reading it as a bookseller and kept wondering how the style, which is very different to anything else I have read for this market, might influence buyers. Then at about page 41, it simply pulled me in as a reader and I loved it! I have absolutely no worries about telling everyone to read this and will be encouraging not just young adults/teens but adults too as it's one of those rare YA reads that will cross-over successfully into the adult market. I made the mistake (?!) of reading it late at night, finishing at about 2am. Then spent a sleepless (yet extremely enjoyable) night thinking, philosophising and reflecting. It's a mighty powerful and rare novel that does all this whilst remaining a stonkingly good story!

The characters are strongly written and very believable clearly getting under my skin and making me care very deeply about what happened to them at the end. And it's the ending, amongst other things that makes this book different, almost unique. The underlying theme of the book is chance/luck/fate - call it what you like. Jack, in the book flips a coin to make decisions about his life and the reader is encouraged to do the same. Two endings, one choice. I flipped a coin, read the ending it chose for me - will the book end the same way for you and how will that make you feel?

The style - it made for some interesting debate at my book club and we all liked it. It's plucky, sinister, all-knowing and yet full of "what-ifs" which keep you biting your nails until the very end.

This book feels like a stroke of genius, combining a fast-paced story with romance and danger, success and family drama alongside some seriously thought-provoking happenstance. Fantastic.
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on 19 May 2010
I have seen comparisons online between Wasted and Luke Rhinehart's book The Dice Man, as well as the film Sliding Doors. The comparisons are valid - but Wasted is very much its own book. Nicola Morgan is a skilful writer who deals lightly with weighty philosophical topics - fate and free will, chance and causality - and deftly with complex social issues - alcoholism, bullying, knife crime. In fact, the reader doesn't even notice these, most of the time, because of the strength and believability of the characters she has created. Occasionally the authorial voice has echoes of 'Dear reader...' but even this isn't offputting, because it makes sense in context.

When I'm reading, I devour books: cover to cover in an evening, for preference. But I couldn't do that with Wasted. It was too good; I had to stop and think, feel, savour the experience so far and the possibilities to come.

In this book, Nicola Morgan does several things I don't like, such as addressing the reader directly and writing in the present tense. But I forgot all about how I don't like those things, somewhere around page 1, because I was so caught up in the story. And that's the bottom line: yes, it's beautifully written; yes, it's thought-provoking; yes, it's innovative - but most of all, Wasted is a really, really good story.

Buy it. Read it. You'll be glad you did.
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on 29 April 2010
I read Wasted as soon as I could get my hands on a copy and I loved it. More interesting, though, was the response of my teenage daughter, who devoured the book faster than I have ever seen her read anything. She said it made her brain spin - and I can see why. There is so much food for thought in this book!

As a result of reading 'Wasted' (now in the hands of my twelve year old) we've had discussions on free will, the nature of luck and chance, what it means to be lucky - or not so lucky - and quantum physics, too. I've read several of Nicola Morgan's books, and so have my kids, but this is by far her best so far.

The characters in Wasted are whole and real, and I was interested to see that the parents depicted in this book are - true to life - not infallible or perfect or unrealistically wholesome.

My daughter and I both spun a coin to choose our ending. And, oddly, we ended up with different ones. What's that chance of that, I wonder? My daughter particularly loved the interactive nature of the book and the way the narrative made her feel that she was being spoken to directly; really told a story.

Full marks to Nicola Morgan for this highly original, absorbing novel - can't wait to see what she does next.
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on 22 April 2010
I'm a big fan of Nicola Morgan's previous books in particular her edgy YAs Deathwatch, Sleepwalking and Fleshmarket and this one ranks with the best of them. In fact I'd say it surpasses them as far as the uniqueness of the plot, the incredible characters and the thrilling story. I found it completely gripping and stayed up all night to finish it. I couldn't bear going to sleep without finding out what was going to happen to Jack and Jess. I think the voices of the main characters are beautifully imagined I genuinely cared what was going on in their world.The writing is muscular and taut and keeps the action moving.
Teen readers looking for a thrilling, twisty-turny story full of unexpectedness and a truly unique hook, should pick this up without delay.
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on 28 April 2010
Wasted is an intelligent, highly creative and really enthralling read, aimed principally at teen readers but well worth a look at any age. It tells the story, or rather the potential stories, of Jack and Jess - two teenagers on the brink of the adult world about to make choices that could determine their entire future. But how much of their fate is really the result of free choice and how much will be governed by chance or luck?

The principal characters in Wasted are immediately likeable, all the more so because they have real depth and far from perfect lives. Both Jack and Jess have faced bleak times in the past, and the novel certainly doesn't sugarcoat the difficult transition from childhood to independence. It also does an excellent job of describing the world inhabited by its adult characters, each of whom face challenges and decisions of their own.

The reader is drawn from chapter to chapter eager to find out which paths Jack and Jess will take, and to follow those paths to several potential futures. Nicola skillfully weaves 'traditional' teenage themes, such as the power of music and of first love, together with wholly unexpected topics (such as quantum physics), educating and challenging the reader as well as entertaining them. Finally, in a truly brilliant ending, the reader is given an active role to play in determining the way that their version of the book will end.

I enjoyed the book so much that I saved the final chapters to savour them on a quiet Sunday morning. I played Jack's game and I found myself believing in his world completely. Buy this for your teenager and then steal it for yourself.
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My head is still reeling days after reading this book. I will attempt to be coherent : D

Written in 3rd person narrative. The narrator has a strong and powerful presence. Omniscient within the prose, it provides a clever way in which to reveal different aspects of the plot. At times this can be disjointed as the narrator steps into the story to explore alternate avenues for the plot. I am one of those readers that fully immerse themselves in the storyline, I read as if I am viewing a movie in my head. So for me to take a step back from the main storyline to look at alternative threads with the narrator took some getting used to. I have to say it is a very powerful tool used to its utmost effect within this book. The narrator actually became a character within my imagination.

The protagonists are extremely well developed and easy to relate to. Background details are revealed piece by piece, fitting together like a jigsaw puzzle to reveal the whole picture when the last piece is dropped into place.

Jess has always been in the background, putting other people before herself; especially her alcoholic mother, when it comes to taking control over her life and doing the one thing she loves above all else - music. Then fate/destiny brings Jack into her life, helping bring her out of herself. Showing Jess what the world could be like if she let fate take control of her decisions.

However, Jack is almost OCD in his use of tossing a coin to make decisions. Due to events in his childhood he believes he owes fate if something good happens to him. For every good thing that occurs in his life, he has to tempt fate with the toss of the coin. The more contented he is with his life, the further compelled he is to toss the coin for every single decision.

J always says if he could have a super-power it would be the ability of hindsight followed by time travel in order to alter some of the decisions we have made over the years. Obviously we are looking at the big decisions that we regret and wonder where we would be in our lives now if we had chosen a different path. Yet we do not consider all the little everyday decisions that we make subconsciously that may also alter the way in which our lives will be affected. Even down to which way we turn at the end of the street. It is these little decisions that can also alter the complete course of your life. Jack's coin game is the most powerful example of how even these little decisions can have huge consequences.

A complex and compelling storyline weaving psychology, quantum physics, philosophy and reality into one. Thought provoking on so many levels. A topic of much debate in our house. J has now gone off on a tangent about string theory and parallel universes. We are such a cool couple LOL.
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One one level, 'Wasted' is an engaging YA novel, about two likable, talented but troubled teenagers. But what distinguishes it from an average story of teen emotions (which this is definitely not) is that Nicola Morgan uses it to ponder the eternal question of luck, chance and determination which has engaged many a great mind over the centuries. Can a series of small random acts makes major differences to our lives? How many times do we say something like: 'if I hadn't missed my usual train that morning, I never would have got that brilliant job (good)or would never have met that drunken lout with a knife (bad). And if I had't have got that job, I never would have met my wife etc etc.

Jack sees his whole life as the result of pure bad luck. He has 'lost',not one but two, mothers to random bad luck. So he has come to believe that's how life works. After all, it's only sheer chance that he hears Jess singing and recruits her for his band--and discovers his soul-mate. So why even bother to reason when you can flip a coin? Heads? Tails? Just let that decide. You might as well. But when you get to the stage that that coin has to be a certain 'lucky' coin and not any old coin, things get complicated. Is this sensible or obsessional and where will it lead?

Nicola Morgan uses Jack and Jess's story to delve further into chance, predetermination and informed choice. She covers clairvoyance and what is called the 'butterfly effect'. How do they work, if at all? Do things always happen for a reason? Doomed Oedipus thought he had avoided fulfilling a dark prophesy only to find that by taking steps to avoid it, he actually fulfilled it. Deep stuff, but neatly and engagingly tackled by Nicola.

At two crucial stages in the narrative, Nicola allows the reader to play the chance game. You have to flip a coin and whether the result is heads or tails, you have to go with it. This is a sophisticated and thoughtful step forward from those 'choose your own adventure' books of yore. You get to deal with life or death decisions.

The great thing about 'Wasted' (like 'Sophie's World' but far less didactic) is that the 'serious stuff' is seamlessly woven into the narrative and doesn't intrude. It turns a good YA novel into something very special indeed. I can see it creating great discussion in classrooms and chat-rooms everywhere. Philosophy made, if not simple, hugely enjoyable.
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on 8 May 2010
Jess longs to be a singer, to go to music college if her near-alcoholic mother will allow.
Jack has a band in need of a singer, but also a dangerous obsession with chance and luck, building his life around a misunderstood, accidentally overheard conversation.
By chance, they meet.
But Jack has reached a point where he can no longer make decisions for himself, he has come to rely too much on the toss of a coin to choose for him and finally when the flip of a coin WILL decide his future will he hesitate too long?
This is one of those rare books that I found really difficult to put down. I was tempted to try to finish it in one sitting though was worried that by dashing at it I would actually spoil it. I DID spin a coin for the ending (heads), though read both, of course.
Truly an amazing book that really makes you wonder about the little chances that life turns on. A story about love, fate and the danger of leaving things to chance. The writing style allows/encourages the reader to sit back and see Jess and Jack's story from a distance, to see the options open and close around them, but also, I felt, to think about other good or bad luck stories one has heard or experienced.

Although targeted at a Young Adult readership, I feel this book would appeal to a much wider range - I absolutely enjoyed it (sadly, no where near Young Adult age) and my 12 year old daughter, having read the first chapter, is anxiously waiting to read the rest.
This is an incredibly compelling read, one I thoroughly enjoyed and one which made me stop and think.
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