You thought you had seen the last of element 126 (highly radioactive, extremely dangerous and incredibly valuable) at the end of Itch? Well it is back and causing a whole lot of new trouble for Itchingham Lofte and his friends.
Itch (the first book in the series) has great character development and scene setting but with mainly familiar characters and a continuing storyline Itch Rocks starts with a bang and never really slows down until the boom at the end. Vomit is so last year; blood and broken bones is where it is at now and there is some fantastic bone breaking!
There is something very appealing about books that fall into the young adult category. The best ones, like Itch Rocks, have brilliant stories well told with clear, simple but wonderful language. I don't think the Itch books are kids books, they are just books that happen to have children in them that are suitable for adults and children.
Itch Rocks is also very funny; I kept being told off for giggling and laughing while reading it. Simon Mayo has a terrific sense of humour and this shines through again in Itch Rocks. Simon may have a successful day job on the radio but that is not important; Itch and Itch Rocks are just fantastically well written and enjoyable books.
As with Itch 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 wouldn't know an element from a polo mint.
Itch Rocks is quite simply a fabulous book. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Book 3 - Itch Craft - is out in September 2014 and I can't wait to spend more time with the Lofte clan.
Considering my 12 year old son and I (late 40s..) both loved the first in this series we were keenly anticipating the follow up, Itch Rocks. We are delighted to report that it is a worthy successor and having devoured it over a few days we can't wait for the next in the series.
Itchingham Lofte's life has changed dramatically since his disposal of the "rocks" and he and his family are now under constant surveillance and even have security personnel living with them as well as next door! Any hopes of Itch making new friends are dashed by his living in the spotlight and he lives under the constant threat of being kidnapped as he has refused to tell anyone (even the good guys) about the location of element 126.
Itch Rocks is a really gripping, adventure story with lots of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. As well as introducing some more elements and their more interesting properties, there are more characters to meet all adding to the fun! Never have caesium and bismuth been more appealing...
This is a sequel that beats it's predecessor, which is hard to do. It propels you along, and I found it hard to put down. The cliffhangers from the last story are all solved but it's not simple or clear cut.
I really love the characters. Some of the adults are adorable, especially Mr Watkins. The kids are all great and I do like that Simon Mayo has clearly been mindful not to make this simply a boy's own adventure, the girls are great, and brave and resourceful. There's even a young female baddie, who is rather nasty and brutal.
Of course it has the typical young people's fiction cliche of the children being cleverer than all the scientists and MI5 agents around them. They outsmart the adults at every turn. But it's a cliche that works in fiction, although there were times when I did feel a bit frustrated at just how thick the supposed adult protectors were being.
Still highly recommended, I really hope there are more books coming about Itch and his ideas, this story is resolved for now, but there are quite a few plotlines and characters that could easily be developed.
My son, also 10, received his copy yesterday and hasn't put it down. He read Itch at Christmas in a few days and has been looking forward to the sequel. These books have triggered an interest in all things elemental, perhaps he is a budding chemist! Anything to keep him off computer games- well done Simon Mayo.
I bought a "proper" copy of Itch a while ago and only recently got round to picking it up and it was so good that I had to immediately download Itch Rocks for my kindle the second I finished the first book. The story is really well thought out, very cleverly written and just so fast paced I felt like I could feel the wind rushing through my hair as I sped through Itchingham's story with him!
Even though it's obviously aimed at young folks (and me being a 40 something avid reader) it's not childish or immature in either it's language or content.
Itchingham Lofte is an element collector.This book by Simon Mayo follows his adventures from book one-Itch. He tries to outwit the criminal masterminds all of whom are desperately seeking the rocks made of the dangerous element 126 with help from various members of his family.Itch thought he'd safely disposed of these eight rocks forever in the first story.Since he is the only person alive who knows where the rocks are hidden, he is a wanted man by criminals and by foreign governments.Itch knows, some elements are so dangerous, they can kill. Life is starting to get back to normal for Itch after the adventures from the first book which resulted in Itch escaping the thugs from Greencorps and being exposed to radiation and having to have a bone marrow transplant.He is now back at school but with around the clock surveillance from MI5 for him and members of his family. Criminal forces are still hunting for element 126 and will stop at nothing to find out where Itch has hidden the precious radioactive rocks. These enemies are willing to kill to get their hands on these radioactive rocks. Lucy Cavendish,a girl from Itch's class had always been friendly but is now suddenly aggressive towards Itch, his cousin and sister, for reasons that stay secret throughout much of the book and slowly trickles out as the story progresses. There's a new girl in school called Mary Lee and she has arrived in town due to her father's job which involves travelling around. She is a few years older than Itch in school. Mary informs Itch HER father collects elements also which stimulates Itch's facination, but things are not as they seem.She isn't who she professes to be and Itch would be wise to keep his distance but of course this being a story, doesn't happen. Itch finds out many surprising things about family members (father) and other characters that had been kept hush hush. These rocks need to be got rid of and we follow Itch and co, inc the evil masterminds to a pulsed neutron source lab in Oxfordshire................
I found the writing in this book very good, gripping and witty. Simon Mayo, a writer, I never knew and really, he can write.This book draws the reader in from the start.I felt very sucked in reading it. I didn't read the first book but have since popped it on my to read list.I still felt that I could read Itch rocks stand alone and picked up the history and what had previously happened very easily. The main characters are plentiful and strong, smart and resourceful, even when they are up to no good.I was continuously very impressed with these extremely clever teens often outwitting the seemingly clueless MI5 officers sent to protect them. I understand this is a young adult book and these kind of stories do tend to show teens/children much smarter than the adults in the story in order to grip it's audience. What I did struggle with was the length of violence some of these adults went to against the teens/children in the story.I couldn't imagine in every day life adults would find it so easy or could be so thoughtlessly brutal to children.Kidnapping I could handle but the rest even made my eyebrows lift and I read books with gore and violence in them directed at adults.I also found the hockey match went on a bit too long with needless info that lost my interest for a while.Very different from the rest of the book. However, these are my only negatives.
I enjoyed Itch Rocks. It's fun and enthralling and will appeal to mature adults (I'm 38) and young adults. It was very hard to put this book down.
As a fan of Simon Mayo's radio exploits for many years, and a Primary school teacher, I was interested to hear that he had written a "young adult" book. I was slightly concerned when I found out that it was about an Element Hunter, as I've always hated science, but Itch turned out to be hugely enjoyable.
Having enjoyed Itch so much, I was very excited about the launch of Itch Rocks. So much so that I attended the hugely enjoyable launch! I read the book in just over a day - it really is a page turner! The characters are believable (including the teachers), and I love the descriptions of family life. There is lots of humour, as well as tension, a fair amount of violence and danger, and science that is enjoyable even to those who know nothing about it.
It is well known that girls will read just about anything, but boys are often reluctant readers, who will only read books about boys. Judging by the audience at the book launch, girls do seem to love Itch, and girls are well represented in Itch Rocks (as always in the second book of a series, the characters are much more fleshed out). But how exciting to find a book that should appeal hugely to boys (from late Primary school onwards). And as Mr Mayo himself has said, he writes a book that he wants to read, so it is perfect for adults as well. Recently I have enjoyed a lot of young adult literature, and the best of its kind is never patronising to the target audience, and is also not too juvenile for adults.
I highly recommend this book to all, and wish Mr Mayo well in his endeavour to maintain this high standard in the next instalment of the series.
I bought this and Simon Mayo's "Itch" for my friend's 10 year old son. I enjoy Simon Mayo's radio programme, I find him entertaining and articulate, so was keen to read the reviews of both books. Having done that, I bought them both with confidence and am so pleased that I did. After they'd been read, I was told that they were "Brill!!!" What more can you ask ?