Blade: Playing Dead

Tim Bowler, Author . Philomel $16.99 (231p) ISBN 978-0-399-25186-3

Bowler delivers an intense, gripping novel that introduces Blade, a 14-year-old British boy with a mysterious past, who is living on the streets. After Blade suffers a beating by a local gang, an offer of help from a Good Samaritan goes awry and he finds himself on the run from a group of mysterious armed men. Along the way, he ends up protecting a toddler named Jaz and the girl's teen mother, Becky (she, in turn, inspires memories of Blade's long-dead love). There's little joy in Blade's world: characters steal, cheat, abuse drugs and kill, and to Blade, little of this bleakness is out of the ordinary (the first chapter reveals that he's lived this way since at least the age of seven). Bowler (Frozen Fire ) imbues Blade with a voice that throws around slang (“porker,” “gobbo,” “Bigeyes”) without needing to stop to explain it, and his reader-directed narration (“I don't trust you one little bit. Why should I?”) carries the novel, even as the plot frustratingly ends with a cliffhanger. Readers who like their thrillers brutally realistic will find much to enjoy. Ages 14–up. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/27/2009
Release date: 05/01/2009
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-14-241781-2
Hardcover - 978-0-399-25431-4
Paperback - 231 pages - 978-0-14-241600-6
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-14-241908-3
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