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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Thrilling Thursday Review: Drive By by Jim Carrington

Thanks to @EmmaCBradshaw from Bloomsbury and Kirsty (@overflowingklc) at The Overflowing Library for this great YA.

Author: Jim Carrington
Title: Drive By
Genre: Contemporary YA
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Published: 1 Mar 2012

Source: received as 'early bird review' prize in the British Books Challenge

Find it at Goodreads or Amazon UK

Bloomsbury says:
Johnny and his friends have finished school for the summer. One sweltering day, on their way back from a water fight at the park, they spot an old lady who has wound them up by bursting their football. They make a bad decision. The boys pedal up to the old lady's parked car and commit a drive-by soaking, before pedalling away as quickly as they can.

Revenge isn't all that's on Johnny's mind, however, as he spots an impossibly cool, black-clad, pale-skinned girl on the bus. He can't stop thinking about her, but has she even registered his existence?

When Johnny discovers that the old lady suffered a heart attack after the drive-by and subsequently died, he is totally guilt-stricken. And when Johnny wakes up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night, feeling a presence in his room, he believes that he's being haunted and the strain starts to show . . .

An incredibly dramatic, pacy novel about getting in over your head, guilt and facing up to your decisions.

Jim Carrington is fast establishing himself as an accomplished writer for teens. New and existing fans alike will devour his latest offering.

My verdict: great voice, many surprises. This is a many-layered, thought-provoking thriller for teens and up.
I enjoyed this book so much. The blurb intrigued me and - although it is a great premise - the book delivers so much more than the premise offers. What you get is a novel with real depth meditating on themes of responsibility and guilt via a pacy and thoroughly enjoyable read.

The novel is told via two first person narrators: Johnny, our hero, and Summer, the girl on the bus. Their voices and interactions are convincing as contemporary British teens, and it's easy to feel for them both as characters. Jim Carrington clearly has a good ear for dialogue, allowing him to create characters who get under your skin and have you rooting for them, in spite of their flaws. Johnny's friends are also effectively characterised and differentiated, and allow an exploration of a range of reactions to the same event. I also enjoyed Johnny's relationship with his annoying little brother - a further light touch that adds colour and shade to Johnny's character.

It's hard to classify this in terms of genre. It unfolds in a contemporary setting, over a summer holiday, and has elements of thriller and ghost story as well as romance. All these threads are expertly woven together to create a book that I would definitely recommend from young teens upwards.

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