AUTHOR: Patrice Lawrence
PUBLISHER: Hodder Children's Books
GENRE: Young Adult, Mystery, Contemporary, Thriller
RATING: 3.5/5 Stars
Sixteen-year-old Marlon has promised his widowed mum that he'll be good, and nothing like his gang-leader brother Andre. It's easy when you keep yourself to yourself, listening to your dead dad's Earth, Wind and Fire albums and watching sci-fi. But everything changes when Marlon's first date with the beautiful Sonya ends in tragedy; he becomes a hunted man and he has no idea why.
With his dad dead and his brother helpless, Marlon has little choice but to enter Andre's old world of guns, knives and drug runs in order to uncover the truth and protect those close to him. It's time to fight to be the last man standing.
What I Liked:
- Lawrence did a really great job with developing her characters! I was very excited to see strong women in particular, namely Marlon's mother. My goodness, that woman gave and gave and expected nothing back. I loved her kindness, her dedication and her unwavering love and belief in family values, Marlon's character and the power of good. Read this book just to read about her. Please.
- The setting was so cool for a slightly unusual reason, because it was East London which is where I live! This meant a huge number of recognisable places like Westfield shopping centre for example. I go to that place a lot, in fact Mat works there! It made the chase through it all the more entertaining and thrilling to read. It also made me realise how awesome London could be as a setting.
What I Disliked:
- Sadly there was one major thing that meant I really couldn't get on board with the book completely. The narrator, Marlon. I didn't hate him, and I actually found him an intriguing character to begin with. I certainly liked his story. However, as a narrator he was so frustrating. He made so many reckless, stupid decisions and refused to tell other people about them and to me, it meant I couldn't feel sorry for him when he got into dumb situations. I screamed at him for the entire book.
While there were issues with the book's MC, and I also felt that pacing was a problem at certain points (definitely a few 'blink and you miss it' moments) I ended up mostly enjoying this read. Fantastic character development, strong women, great setting, and most importantly a focus on some great themes: the effects of drugs, family values, gang warfare and the power of friendship. I would definitely love to read more of Lawrence's work in the future and it's definitely a gorgeously diverse #ownvoices novel.