Mar 28 2009 – from the publisher, Bloomsbury, at Gillian’s request

A brilliant, unputdownable read. It reminded me, in tone and content, like a Scottish version of Bali Rai (one of my favourite writers, esp for YA readers). Nick’s voice is utterly convincing and the portrayal of how, through genes and survival instinct, he turns into more of a hard man than he would really want to be is compelling and retains the reader’s sympathy, even when his actions shouldn’t. The violence, when it comes, is as inevitable as a Revenge Tragedy and, while brutal, portrayed in a way that makes it bearable, even for someone as weedy as me. The sense of tension that builds up to the climax of the story is palpable and makes for compulsive reading – a read "just one more chapter" book.

The characters are well drawn. Mum and Dad offer moments of comedy and pathos, balancing the hard edge of the teenagers’ lives but present as full and rounded characters too. Ellie is memorable indeed, and Shuggie and Orla are fantastic characters in their own rights.

There’s more to say but it would spoil the plot!

A word on the cover: The cover does indicate there is violence involved, but it made out to me that there was more ickiness than I could take, and I wouldn’t have attempted the book if indoorrower hadn’t pre-read it for me. Perhaps today’s YAs are more able to reconcile scary covers with thoughtful and mature content.

Thanks again to Gillian for arranging and Ian at Bloomsbury for sending these two copies for BookCrossing.