Top positive review
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Just about a 5
on 2 February 2014
This is a book that's difficult to read at times and so, because I only give 5* to books that I want to read again, I struggled with rating it. But felt I had to give it an extra * for tackling a difficult topic really well.
It's not a "child abuse" story as such. In fact it's pretty hard to categorise it at all. Hackett is a pot smoking freelance photographer, scanning the police radio to try and get his scoop. When he heads to a public toilet in a park, following up on a lead of a brutally murdered man, little does he know what chain of events he is setting in motion.
But the underlying current of the book (without giving too much away) is the pain and helplessness of abused boys and girls. The writing is skilful as, at times, it only takes a paragraph describing a boy who's tired, dirty, hungry and scared to go home to paint a vivid picture. Powerfully written.
And, in between, we come to know Hackett's dysfunctional family, his beautiful and ambitious girlfriend (Chandra) and his deaf geek-withdrawn-from-the-world friend, Fats. When the chips are down and Hackett is in trouble will Fats be able to overcome his crippling agoraphobia?
Don't be put off (as I almost was) by an early passage of chat-room speak between Cipher, Needle, Theresa and others. It's a crucial part of the storyline that the characters in this book are all chained to the Internet in different ways. And not all of them are using it for good things.
I have to recommend that you read this book. There are some difficult (fairly brutal) scenes - but they are kept short and don't feel gratuitous.