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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.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Review: Acid by Emma Pass

Exciting new dystopia for the YA market 


This is a thrill ride of a book, which hooks the reader quickly and fully delivers on its promise of excitement.

I'm sure some of you who are YA readers are going "I've done the dystopian thing; I'm over it now" but I would urge you to give this one a go. Yes, there are elements which you'll have read before (but I would strongly argue that any story which works is constructed using familiar elements) - the main character against the system, dark forces moving against her, mystery and uncertainty about characters' motivations - but it's also tightly written and refreshingly different in some (to me) indefinable way. Perhaps it's in the way it's put together, perhaps it's the UK setting; I'm not sure, but it is an excellent novel, recommended even to the dystopia-weary. Those of you concerned about sameness in YA novels will definitely want to know that Acid is love-triangle-free.

Our protagonist, Jenna, is tough and smart - as the only female prisoner in a high-security facility for murderers, she's had to be. It's clear from the start that the crime which saw her incarcerated here is problematic, but we are drip-fed these details adding to the tension. The story starts on its feet, all action and  no pulled punches, and this is the pitch we operate at pretty much throughout. It helps that Emma Pass knows her world intimately and leads us through it effectively. We learn exactly what we need to, precisely when we need to with her perfectly judged world-building. I hate things being over-explained or the dreaded info-dump - there isn't a whiff of that here.

I warmed to Jenna quite quickly and found it easy to be on her side. The swift-moving first person present tense narration helps this along, of course - we're right in her perspective, so can't help but understand how she sees things. There are points in the story where things are clearer to the reader than they are to Jenna, which further adds to the tension as those twists and turns keep coming. She's established quickly as someone to admire and not as a victim, holding her own against male inmates.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this one as a pacy, tense read which is extremely difficult to put down.

From the Back Cover

ACID - the most brutal police force in history.
They rule with an iron fist.
They see everything. They know everything.
They locked me away for life.

My crime?
They say I murdered my parents. I was fifteen years old.
My name is Jenna Strong.

*********************
Published 14 May by Corgi Children's/Random House
Visit the author's website for more information
My grateful thanks to the publisher for a review e-arc via Netgalley 

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