With the current events in London and some other major English cities a little bit too close for comfort, Stephen Kelman’s Pigeon English seems only the appropriate reading material for the cat. With a theme reminiscent of Anthony McGowan’s The Knife that Killed Me and a narrative voice as innocent and honest as Christopher in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Kelman’s debut is sure to be a critic’s favorite. The fact it has just been longlisted for the prestigious Booker Prize should then come as no surprise. The cat’s got to be honest here and say that Pigeon English only partly lives up to the hype. Read the rest of this entry »
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Tags: knife, knife crime, london, pigeon english, stephen kelman
Categories : ***+, critlit, growing pains
I don’t get it. Adventure? Check! Crime they didn’t commit? Check! Runaway misunderstood teens? Check! Underage sex? Check! Excitement…. Zilch! This book is supposed to be an exciting and thrilling ride from beginning to end, but instead… it’s just plain dull.
Jem is a psychic. Well, at least, she ‘sees’ numbers. Experience has taught her the numbers she sees with her mind’s eye (you know, she can only see them when she looks you in the eye) are the dates when people die. Jem knew her mom would die even before she OD’d and left Jem pretty much on her own. Obviously a traumatic experience for any teenager, but for Jem knowing everyone’s death date is a curse she has to deal with on top of the usual social services misery. Enter Spider, caught up in trouble wherever he goes and of course our protagonist’s love interest. Luckily, Spider also has a dear old Nan who recognizes Jem’s burden. That doesn’t stop the 2 of them to end up in a bundle of trouble and suspected of a terrorist attack on the London Eye, they run away…
Now, when a supposedly adventurous cat-and-mouse game is as boring as watching Jane Campion’s Portrait of a Lady; when a initial interesting idea (the numbers as a metaphor into everyman’s need to foresee and/or prevent their own death) just never takes off; when all the side characters in the book are flat, completely one-dimensional and unconvincing at best , then you can bet your catnip that this cat will not read Numbers 2.
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Tags: boring, london, runaways, YA
Categories : **, living dangerously, Young Adult Fiction
There’s something rotten in the state of Denmark, some obscure English writer once wrote. In Hearts and Minds, Amanda Craig shows that something has been rotten in the state of Britain for a while now too. Like Dickens, another one of those olden writers, Craig shows her concern for social reform in an attempt to takes us back to the heyday of the Victorian novel. However, while Dickens took us to the streets of London in an often poetic and sometimes even sentimental way, Craig’s prose reads more like literary journalism with a crime story twist.
The book starts with the discovery of a woman’s body in Hampstead Heath. In contemporary London she could be about anyone. She is “just one more discarded thing which will be counted as lost, if she is counted at all”. At the same time Polly Noble’s immigrant, illegal, au pair Iryna disappears. Polly, the divorced mother of two can see the irony of the position she finds herself in: to keep up her independent lifestyle, she needs to keep working – as an immigrant lawyer, no less – but she can only do so when she relies on the help of people like Iryna. Unwanted, on the run, often afraid and always insecure. How inconsiderate of Iryna to have left Polly and her family now! Read the rest of this entry »
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Tags: crime, immigration, london
Categories : ***+, critlit, Fiction